It was the longest, continuous running swing dancing venue in the United States and possibly the world. Louis Armstrong played there. Walt Disney danced there. It was located in California’s most iconic location, Disneyland. It was the Carnation Plaza Gardens. While the stage was forever altered with the addition of Fantasy Faire Village, the memories and history of Carnation Plaza stage has been captured forever in a remarkable little documentary that we are delighted to share with you today.
In April of 2012, just before the final night of swing was held at the historic venue, plans were set into motion to produce a non-profit documentary, which would forever document the history, stories, and memories of the people who brought this location to life.
This film would be given the title, ‘The Stage Walt Built’ and celebrated its premiere Friday night at the Atomic Ballroom in Irvine, among swing enthusiasts and Carnation regulars.
To make this film, the producers sat down with nine long-time patrons of the Carnation Plaza Gardens selected by Cheryl Gilbert, who runs a several pages on Facebook to keep swinger’s up to date on Disney dancing events. Throughout the process, over six hours of footage were captured. All of these stories, moments, and memories had never before been shared online. The youngest interviewed was Rachel McEuen, who was introduced to swing dancing for medical reasons. One of the oldest couples share a name known to all regulars: Phyl and Bill.
Those interviewed shared personal and touching stories about how the Carnation Plaza Gardens changed their lives for the better:
Walt Disney once said that as long as he was alive, swing dancing would never leave Disneyland. On Friday, May 17, Disneyland announced the ‘limited time’ return of it’s Saturday night swing parties to the Carnation Plaza, now dubbed the Royal Theatre.
Cast Members even took the time to call up vocal members of the Disney Dance Community to share the good news. Even so, there is still the question of what this ‘limited run’ means. Hopefully, it will become permanent once again.
Now it’s your turn to experience the most complete archive of the history, legacy, and heritage that began when Walt Disney introduced swing dancing to his beloved park in 1956. We are delighted to share the entire documentary with you here: