Destination D at the Disneyland Hotel Packs plenty Into a Weekend of Fun

Written by Sue Kruse. Posted in Features, Sue Kruse

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

frontpagepic

Published on August 17, 2012 at 1:40 am with 6 Comments

This past Monday, Dateline Disneyland brought you a glimpse of last weekend’s DestinationD and I’d like to touch on that subject again today with a little closer look at the event. I was there as invited press and I have to confess that had I not been invited, I probably wouldn’t have gone. I thought the $225.00 price tag was a bit steep and I’m not that into animation, Disneyland is my Disney area of interest. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Disney’s animated films, but I’m not a student of the art so I thought the event wasn’t something I’d enjoy spending two days doing. Boy was I wrong. The event was tremendous, one of the best events D23 has produced to date and I really wish that when D23 started advertising the event, they would have done a better job filling everyone in on just how awesome an event DestinationD was going to be so more people would have bought a ticket. That $225.00 price tag turned out to be a bargain for what you got. I have yet to speak to anyone who attended DestinationD and wasn’t blown away by how great it was. In short, it was a master class in the art of Disney Animation. Bravo D23, from the opening panel to An Evening With Alan Menken, it was a job well done.

Every single panel that was presented was so interesting and I could, with no trouble, write volumes on each so it was hard for me to narrow it down to what I was going to tell you about. It was a bit like being asked which of my children is my favorite. One simply cannot choose. In the end, I decided to touch upon two different panels from the weekend. One I knew I’d enjoy — Animating The Disney Parks.  The second panel I chose to discuss is one that surprised me. It was about Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell is not a favorite character of mine. If the panel had been about Belle or Clopin, I would have been all over that, but Tinker Bell? Not for me. Again, I was wrong. The panel investigated Tinker Bell from her origins back when J.M. Barrie was dreaming up Peter Pan to what she’s up to today. It was truly fascinating stuff. It turns out I just may be a Tinker Bell fan after all.

 

So let’s get started with discussing Animating Disney Parks. That panel was hosted by Becky Cline, the director of the Walt Disney Archives, and Tim O’Day, Disney historian and author. Panelists were Tony Baxter, Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Vice President of Creative Development, Eddie Sotto, former Disney Imagineer (who among other WDI projects worked on designing Main Street at Disneyland Paris), and Tom Morris, Walt Disney Imagineering Vice President of Creative Development. The topic was how Disney animation skills have been used in creating Disney parks.

Tony Baxter began by speaking about his mentor Claude Coats. Claude graduated from University of Southern California in 1934 (where he met another Disney Legend, Mary Blair) with degrees in architecture and fine art. He was hired as a background painter at the Walt Disney Studio in 1935. All of those gorgeous watercolor backgrounds you see in Pinocchio were painted by Claude. Both Claude and Mary Blair worked on the backgrounds of many of the same Disney films (Saludos Amigos, Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan, to name a few) and Tony noted that their style was very similar, so much so that he felt they were at times, interchangeable.

When Walt began work on Disneyland, Claude was one of the Disney Studio artists he selected to help with the designs. Claude’s work on the Disney film, Alice In Wonderland, breathed life into that attraction. Sadly, the outside portion of the ride isn’t so pretty today but Tony addressed that issue saying, “We all know the mess that’s out in front. I’ve heard we got approval to go in and clean it up.”  He noted that the inside of the attraction will get a refurbishment too and will end up looking better than ever. Perhaps in a dig at the bean counters, Tony added that above Claude Coats’ office door, Claude kept a sign with a motto that read, “Who cares about accountants.”

Tony remembered when Claude was working on a project, he liked to build models to use in aiding the understanding of spacial relationships and to get the character’s point of view of whatever scene he was working on. During the development of 101 Dalmatians, Claude built a model of Jim and Anita’s living room to get the doggie perspective. One of the more interesting stories about Claude’s model-making involved the Big Rock Candy Mountain, an attraction that had been proposed for Disneyland but never built, although today you can see an homage to it in the window of Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure. Claude’s model was constructed entirely out of real candy and it was pretty spectacular to look at … at first. But, being real candy, it started to have problem and began to decay. It got more and more rotten until finally, one day Claude walked in and the thing was crawling with ants. Luckily, that’s not going to happen to the DCA version of the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

After reminiscing about Claude’s studio work, Tony talked a bit about Claude’s designs for Disneyland which are all through out the park. One of the largest pieces he designed at Disneyland can be seen from the train. The next time you take the Grand Circle Tour aboard Disneyland’s railroad, give a little nod to Claude as you glide past the Grand Canyon diorama. The beautiful backgrounds you see painted there are his work.

I think my favorite Tony Baxter story about Claude was his own personal remembrance of the first time he and Claude met, years before they were paired together at Imagineering. When Pirates of the Caribbean was about to open in 1967, Tony Baxter was just a regular old front of the line Disneyland cast member. He scooped ice cream when he wasn’t hard at work studying and doodling bits of rides in the margins of his boring history class textbook. Pirates was nearing completion and Tony was itching to get in there and have a first-hand look. One day during a break at his Disneyland ice cream-scooping job, he decided to head over to Pirates and try to see what was in there. Dressed in his red & white striped ice cream scooper costume he ran into a man who offered to show him around. Tony didn’t have a clue who the man was, but the tour was so exciting, and the man so enthusiastic about what he was showing Tony, that Tony lost all track of everything and went way beyond his allotted break time. He was very late getting back to work. Anyone who has ever worked at Disneyland will tell you, late = bad. You get docked, you get a mark on your record. It’s definitely a no good, very bad thing. Tony suffered the consequences without an ounce of regret, “It was worth it,” he said, as he loved seeing what was going on in the Pirates show building and it sparked his creative desires. On his first day being paired with his mentor at Imagineering, he learned that Pirates tour had been conducted by none other than Claude Coats, “Do you remember that kid in the striped jacket that you toured around Pirates of the Caribbean,” he asked Claude Coats. “Sure do, that was you?” Claude replied.

Tony wound up his Claude Coats stories with a little bit about Walt Disney. Walt, he said, was a guy possessed of a genius for putting the right people together to get the job done. Sometimes it might seem the people he paired were rather disparate, but he was rarely wrong and results were usually spectacular. Such was the case with the Haunted Mansion, the last job Claude Coats and Marc Davis would work on together. Marc was a guy more interested in character and Claude was more interested in environment. Anyone who’s ever ridden the Mansion in any of the Disney parks can attest to the genius of that pairing — memorable characters in a spectacular setting in one of the best Disney attractions ever built.

Herb Ryman was discussed next. Herb is responsible for so much we see in the Disney parks. You may remember the story about Walt needing a sketch that he could take to financiers to get them to cough up with the cash to build Disneyland and the artist who drew that sketch in weekend. More about that sketch in a minute but the amazing artist who drew it was Herb Ryman. Former Imagineer, Eddie Sotto was lucky enough to be mentored by Herb and it sounded like Eddie learned much from him, he described Herb as being his Yoda.

The first time Eddie met Herb, Herb asked him who he admired. Eddie was quick to answer that Hollywood art and production designer, John DeCuir was a favorite of his. “That’s interesting,” Herb Ryman replied, “I was his teacher.” We were shown an illustration that DeCuir had done for a New York street set design on the production of Hello Dolly. Eddie pointed out all the things that were going on in the drawing and talked about how Herb always stressed that when designing something, the designer must look at what the people will be doing there, how they will use the space — purpose of space. Eddie urged everyone in the audience to take a close look at that famous weekend Disneyland sketch Ryman did for Walt’s investors, because in that sketch there is a myriad of activity happening in amongst the buildings. There are trains moving around, people doing things — you see purpose of space.

Purpose of space was something Eddie talked about repeatedly in regard to Herb Ryman. Ryman’s work is filled with little observations that most people would overlook because they look but don’t see — Eddie mentioned a specific example of a circus painting of Ryman’s in which a clown is closing a door with his stomach.  He also mentioned nuns. If you’ve ever seen at Ryman’s series of New Orleans Square concept paintings (The Square 1964 and Candy Shop c.1964), you’ve probably noticed nuns à la Sally Field’s Sister Bertrille walking all around. I’ve often wondered why all those nuns are at Disneyland. The book, A Brush With Disney, says that the Sisters of Charity nuns were a common sight in 19th century New Orleans, and Herb loving the study of history may well be the reason they are there. But Eddie Sotto offered up another explanation. Herb constantly filled sketchbooks and in that time frame he was also working on a film that had nuns in it, so Eddie speculated some of Herb’s sketchbook nuns made it into the New Orleans Square paintings in a combination of purpose of space and observation.

Concluding his thoughts about Herb Ryman, Eddie Sotto said, “Herbie’s work brought dreams to life and he allowed us to see ourselves.”

The panel left me with the understanding that what sets Disney theme  parks aside from other theme parks is not only the attention to detail, but just how much thought is put into every single detail. They don’t just construct a building and call it a day, they really look at how that building will be used and design it based on that usage. So much of the way of designing Disney theme parks has seeped into the “outside world.” This was reinforced when the press got to pose a few questions to the panelists.

When asked if he got to choose who he wanted to talk about, Tony Baxter responded, “Tim (O’Day) is really good about knowing all of us and so he knew in my case and certainly in Eddie’s case I think, that both of us worked directly with the people we were talking about. It was fairly easy to talk at length about their unique ways of working. In my case, I think it was the strongest bond because Claude and I shared a very similar perspective. I’ve always favored the environments. Not that I don’t like the characters and so forth, but I think the movies, the Disney movies, build the characters. And they’re very delightful in their own format or the theatre format.”

“You go on these trips where you enjoy the characters but the distinguishing factor about going on the Peter Pan ride versus the Peter Pan movie to me, was best characterized by Ray Bradbury, who said, ‘I will be eternally grateful that today I flew out of a child’s bedroom window, out over moonlit London on my way to the stars.’ And that’s very different than the characters of Wendy and Peter and all that which is the realm of film, so I’ve always shared that. Only at Disneyland can you go to a jungle in an environment that today is as hot as it is or freezing cold in the winter where we have to heat it, and it’s thriving there when it shouldn’t be. It should be a desert. If we turned off all the sprinklers and the heaters in the winter, it would be dead, you know? The word virtual reality, to me, is not so much what lives in hand held devices, it’s the Jungle Cruise. It is virtually real and you virtually go through a jungle cruise. So I think in a way, Disneyland defined this ability to take you out of the world you live in.”

 

“It’s something that’s going on, because I was meeting with the creative directors of the television series on ABC called Once Upon A Time, and they have a community called Storybrooke, where people come into this community and then assume roles from these fairy tales. So when we brought them in, I said, ‘Imagine a place where you go to a magic portal and come out the other side and you’re in an altered universe. You’re in some world that doesn’t exist in the world every day people live in.’ And they go, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do.’ I said, that’s Disneyland.”

The Peter Pan attraction is one thing but Imagineers have taken it to a completely new level with Cars Land. When a guest walks into Radiator Springs and down Route 66 they enter the world of that movie. It’s exponential growth in the immersive experience.  Tony was asked what’s next, what other environments, what other Disney films? How does Imagineering continue that progression forward?

 

Baxter responded, “You know there’s a great thing that’s happened in Radiator Springs. It’s called Lots Of Money. And that does allow you to create something that you couldn’t afford for the 17 million dollars. But on the other side of the coin, emotion can engage you even more strongly than having to build physical things and so for me, I look at being able to take people out of the way the real world functions and put them in something you couldn’t dare to do or couldn’t conceive of doing unless you were a very skilled person.”

“I think that’s the joy of going on Soarin’ (Over California). Most of us would be comfortable hang gliding over all of the scenes you see in there. But when I took my 95-year-old professor from college on it, she looked at me and she was almost in tears. I don’t know how your eyes function when you’re 95, but she’s very physical and she said, ‘I never dreamed at my stage in life that I would be put into a situation like that,’ and she said, ‘I now feel as though I now know what it would be like to soar over the world in that way.’

“I’ve got a thing going right now that allows you to do something, I better be careful here — they’ll kill me, it allows you to do something competitively, not with video games and getting a score and all that. I think that’s a whole world thing, it’s not a theme park thing in the end. What I’m working on allows you with other guests to compete with one another to get somewhere ahead of them. I don’t think we’ve ever provided that before. So that excites me. It’s not any one thing, it’s not necessarily more expensive, it’s just allowing you to deliver something that we can’t get on our own devices.”

Next question asked what he’d do if he could wave a magic wand and apply design concept to Main Street USA?

Tony Baxter laughed and passed the question off to Eddie Sotto, who designed Disneyland Paris’ Main Street, “You should answer this.”

“Well, I don’t work for the company any more,” Eddie said, “so I think when you look at these things what I would like to see is that Main Street would have more depth to it. I think there’s so much Disney merchandise on Main Street and I’d like to see more story. I’d like to feel more of the authentic richness of what a main street was because it really had a sense of community. Not to say that all of the things that were in 1955 were relevant to me, because they’re not. No one’s going to go to a bra shop today.”

“But those leeches would be great (in reference to the Upjohn Pharmacy shop that used to occupy the piece of Main Street where the  Fortuosity Shop is now and the jar of leeches that sat in the shop — which btw, I loved too),” Tony Baxter interjected.

“The leeches would be great,” Eddie agreed, “I’d love to see just a little bit more to Main Street though. My own personal magic wand, I would do more with the Main Street Cinema, maybe show some silent films or something like that. I guess I’d like to see a little more balance of merchandise and story. But I don’t know how you guys feel about that.”

“We work for the company,” Tony Baxter quickly added.

“Okay,” Eddie joked, “Tony’s passing me a note under the table.”

But what about the other way around, taking the Disneyland design and putting it into a real main street, came the next question

“Well,” Tony responded, “That’s called The Americana, it’s in Glendale. Have you been there?”

Sotto added, “I work on the outside now so I work for other concerns that want to do things that are sort of Imagineering-ish. I think people want a sense of story, they want to feel something. I think a lot of the richness of detail sometimes can be done for its own sake. Sometimes  things should be fancier. Something like The Grove gives a sense of a home town but I don’t think it would have been as good without the Farmer’s Market next to it because the Farmer’s Market gives it the credibility.”

“An authenticity,” agreed Baxter.

“Yes, an authenticity that it needs,” Eddie Sotto said. “I know on Disneyland Paris’ Main Street we tried to make it half museum half theme park.”

“In the sense of the shopping thing at The Americana and The Grove, tend to kind of bring that thing along,” Baxter added, “It’s what you experienced at Disneyland as a kid, there are cable cars going down the street, the music is playing, there’s a fountain show. I remember Steve Wynn said that in a market place like Vegas that was tawdry and recognized for all the sins, he said, ‘I think that as the next generation comes of age spending money, they’re gonna want do it in the quality of the environments that Walt created at Disneyland for kids.’ “I think the transformation that happened in Las Vegas in the 80’s and 90’s is really a reflection of Disneyland and how it impacts the real world.”

Next the question asked how Imagineering is prepared to deal with a generation growing up with handheld devices that they’re on constantly. How do does a designer who is essentially a storyteller get that generation to take their face out of the device?

Tony Baxter was quick to respond that inside the Disney parks, kids aren’t on their phones as much as one would think, “If you go into the park and observe the behavior of the kids with the devices, you do notice that their faces are in them less than if they were walking down any other street or the mall. So I think there’s something that happens when they come into our parks where it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, I’m allowed to put this away for a little bit.’ And the technology that we’re developing at Imagineering is designed really to enhance or provide additional information about things that they might be interested in if they walk through Disneyland. They’re deep divers, they want more information about the inspiration for Main Street or information about particular plants that they see. And so I think it depends on the venue and it depends on the circumstance, but I’m really happy to see that through the major areas of the park, there isn’t a lot (of mobile device use), not as much as you see at the mall, for example.

“There are two things I miss,” Eddie Sotto added, “one of them is that there used to be a balance in the parks of American history or world history that sort of appeals to adults. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is the sailing ship Columbia, it’s this beautiful artifact that’s there that adds credibility to all the fantasy that’s going on. So there’s this balance of real things from real history mixed with that. Those credible experiences mixed with the fantasy, I thought always helped everything.”

“But on the device side,” he continued with an interesting observation, “I think another phenomenon that’s going on is that there’s a ghost layer of guests who are not at Disneyland that are experiencing Disneyland because of Instagram and all these photography things that are going on. It’s very difficult to alter people’s behavior. It’s like addicts and habits. They’re gonna look at their phone. They’re gonna do this as a nervous habit. What I am noticing with my own two kids, they’re continually photographing the park, sending to Instagram, closing the deal, saying, ‘Hey I’m on this, I’m eating at the Cozy Cone, I’m doing this, I’m doing that.’ There’s a whole guest group at Disneyland that is not (actually) there. They’re just vicariously enjoying a lesser experience. And these guests that are posting to Instagram and the like are getting off on ‘I’m there and you’re not and I’m feeding you this and we’re having this kind of experience.’ I don’t know if it’s good or bad. It’s just what’s going on.”

 

“I have two observations about that generation’s behavior,” Tony added, “One — I was with students from Carnegie Mellon and I said to the students you guys have heard all of this about all our stuff that we’re trying to do, and they said, ‘We’re not that much different from how you were in the sixties.’ I was talking about how we all watched the Beverly Hillbillies on Wednesday night because we had to, there was no choice, nothing else to do. They said, ‘We still go to great movies. We still go to great sporting events. We still read books. We just don’t deal with mediocrity because we can pick exactly what we want.’  So the relevance to what it is that’s gripping that group is what becomes more and more critical because you hear everybody say, ‘I don’t watch much TV any more. I’m watching the Olympics but it’s the first time I’ve turned the TV on in years.’  “Now in my case,” he continued, “it’s because there are much better things that we have access to.”

“The other phenomenon that I think is extraordinary is,” Baxter continued, “It all goes back to content. While everyone is rushing around to figure out the next one of these (referring to one reporter’s recording device), you forget that it really boils down to this lady who sat in a pub with no heating because she didn’t have any money at home and she wrote this series of seven books that every kid in the same generation that we’re talking about, stood in line at Barnes and Noble at midnight to buy. And unfortunately,” he lamented, “We don’t have that property in our park, but that lady was also smart enough to say just what Eddie is saying — ‘If another company competing with Disney wants it, they’re gonna deal with me and I’m going to make sure that everything in that place is perfect in the way that Walt Disney would have insisted that everything in Disneyland was perfect.’ And the result is awesome.”

“I think when you look at something like Cars Land, there was a time when we could deal with things that weren’t tied to a relevant product but in this crowded marketplace to find something that signals a broad, shared experience, because it is a shared experience, but when you get to this (Baxter pointed to a cellphone), it’s an individual experience and it says I don’t care about you. But when those books came out and you got in line at midnight, it was just like back in the sixties three days later when everybody had to review Beverly Hillbillies. Everybody was talking about, ‘What about when Hermione did this and what about when that happened?’ So once again, you’re creating a communal environment and I think we (Imagineering) are kind of victims of having to deal with that without the advantage that Walt had of putting Disneyland on TV a year before it opened.”

“Everyone says there wasn’t pre-determined content but then he would flood the airwaves with ‘here’s the castle and there’s these five lands and each week we have a Davy Crockett story or a man in space story’ or something that puts you in those worlds so you understand what the land is about and who lives in those lands and what the things you’re gonna ride on are about. And if it was new, like Pirates or Haunted Mansion, we got at least an hour if not more, of indoctrination on TV when every single guest was watching TV. Now, other than the Olympics and the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl, you don’t really get that penetration. So you have to look for these opportunities that have somehow picked up a global phenomenon along with them. I wouldn’t want to build Big Thunder and there’s nothing, there’s no ID for it at all. You’re also dealing with the fact that you’re not the only one in the company. You’ve got marketing, you’ve got stockholders and all that. There’s a comfort that comes with an Indiana Jones or a Cars Land.

Wrapping up the interview, the question was asked as to whether it’s necessary for Disney Parks attractions to have movie tie-ins because after all, the Swiss Family Tree House is still doing great in Florida but how many people know the Swiss Family was a Disney film?

Tony Baxter didn’t really answer the question but offered an interesting tidbit about how Splash Mountain got its name, “Well, you know the Matterhorn is based on Third Man On The Mountain. Walt went to Switzerland and filmed the movie about this mountain that had a very definitive peak. He said, ‘If I build that mountain, everyone will recognize it because it’s so unusual at the top.’ But here we are 50 years later and nobody knows that film. Does anyone think about Splash being a Darryl Hannah movie? That was where the name came from. I think if a ride or an attraction is good, where its origins are become less important than to just sell it to get it going. I remember the name on Splash Mountain was going to be River Run, which sounds awful to me now. But I remember when the suggestion was made, to change it to Splash because there was a big marketing campaign aimed at that film. But of course when we talked about the idea of putting a Darryl Hannah figure at the end, waving good-bye to everybody, that went away. But the name stuck and it was probably the right decision.”

On Sunday we were treated to the Tinker Bell panel. Hosted by Mindy Johnson, a Disney historian and author of the upcoming book Tinker Bell: The Evolution of A Disney Character it was quite a comprehensive look at one of Disney’s most iconic characters. I’ve always wondered why Tink’s name isn’t spelled Tinkerbelle. The panelists (Margaret Kerry, Ginni Mack, — both Tinker Bell models, Mae Whitman and Peggy Holmes) answered that question and a whole lot more.

The character of Tinker Bell began as a germ of an idea born out of the fairy pantomimes popular in Peter Pan author, J. M. Barrie’s time. Barrie would accompany the Llewelyn Davies family to outings in London’s Kensington Park.  Intending to write a fairy pantomime for the children, he kept notebooks about their adventures in the park. When the youngest Llewelyn Davies boy, Michael, was very small, he would point to what he wanted with his toe which earned him nickname of Tippy Toe. In 1902, while the family and Barrie were on vacation, Michael pointed his toe to what he swore was a fairy.

Two years later the play, Peter Pan, opened at The Duke of York Theatre in London. Tinker Bell didn’t exist as we know her today. At that point in time she was referred to as Tippy Toe, having gotten her name from Michael’s fairy sighting on the family vacation, and was a little ball of light. Barrie knew he wanted her to have a sound — that of a tinker’s bell. Tinker’s were people who traveled from place to place mending things and they would announce their arrival in town by ringing little bells. During the play, the stage manager’s direction for Tippy Toe’s entrance was ‘Queue the tinker’s bell.’ Eventually the name Tippy Toe was changed to Tinker Bell and we have called her that ever since.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard of Margaret Kerry, who was the live action model for Disney’s Tinker Bell but that’s not the whole story. There were actually two models who gave life to Tinker Bell. There’s Margaret Kelly, of course, an absolute darling of a women who is a pleasure to see. But there’s also Ginni Mack. Who is Ginni Mack, you ask. Never heard of her? Me neither. During her research on Tinker Bell, Mindy Johnson came across a photo of young woman posing with the Mickey Mouse Club’s Roy Williams. The photo’s caption identified the two as Roy and Tinker Bell. So the young woman was somehow involved with Tinker Bell, but Mindy wasn’t able to track down exactly who she was. This past June through a serendipitous connection, Mindy finally identified Ginni and it turned out she was the face model for Tinker Bell.

Ginni worked in the Ink & Paint department at the Studios and would occasionally be called in to do photo ops. She remembered having to pose with Walt Disney which made her very nervous. He told her, “Just look at my ears and pretend I’m Clark Gable.” That broke the ice for Ginni and she wasn’t nervous around Walt any more. One day, she got a call to come in and pose for a pixie. That pixie turned out to be the character who would become Tinker Bell.

Over the years, Tinker Bell went through a lot of transformations before she became what we know today. At one point she resembled the Blue Fairy, she had a bell bustle, she was dressed with a little powder puff-like tutu, she had bells in her hair, she looked a whole lot like child actress, Shirley Temple, her hair was brunette and her hair was red. Look quickly at the model department scene in the 1941 film, The Reluctant Dragon and you’ll spot a red-headed Tinker Bell maquette in the background. If World War II hadn’t come along and caused the Peter Pan project to be temporarily shelved, the Tinker Bell we know today would look very different … and she’d have red hair.

All the above is just a small taste, an amuse bouche, if you will, of what will be in Mindy Johnson’s book, Tinker Bell: The Evolution of A Disney Character, which will be published in fall of 2013. There’s way too much more to detail here — her first appearance at the Hollywood bowl (that led to Tinker Bell flying over Disneyland), her life as a commercial “spokes pixie” for among other things, peanut butter and bread, her TV appearances (she’s one of television’s longest running icons), Tinker Bell merchandise (I’d pay big bucks to still have the souvenir glow in the dark Tinker Bell wand I got at Disneyland in the 1950s), a 1958-59 series of comic books (wherein she’d go to a wishing well once a year, toss in a coin, and wish she could talk — all to explain why she was talking because up till then she had remained silent).

Today we have a whole new world of Tinker Bell adventures. In 2008 Pixie Hollow arrived at Disneyland, Tink has the distinction of being the smallest is figure at Madame Tussauds, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and coming this fall, Tink’s latest film, Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings, will be released. The film stars Mae Whitman as the voice of Tinker Bell with Peggy Holmes serving as animation director. The story is set in the world of the winter woods where Tink discovers she has a sister born of the same laugh.

After the panel, Mindy Johnson spoke about writing Tinker Bell’s story, “No one had ever connected the dots before. With my work spending lots of time in the Disney Animation research library, going through all of the great, amazing animation work and the storyboard pieces, we unearthed images that even they didn’t know existed, which has been a lot of fun.”

Mae Whitman, who genuinely seemed choked up during the panel when she spoke about how special it was to her to be the voice of Tinker Bell said, “Oh yeah, I literally had to get it together because being with all these people, well I love this family so much. I love everything Disney. I’m a total fanatic. So to be able to be a part of this, to actually have an emotional connection to this whole team, is overwhelming. It’s a big part of my life. To be reminded of the huge legacy that it is and seeing all the pictures and all these people — it’s overwhelming. I hope I’m sitting on that stage when I’m 93 and the new people doing Tinker Bell are coming in.”

I believe you’re going to like Tinker Bell. We fell in love with her.

— Walt Disney

 

About Sue Kruse

Browse Archived Articles by

6 Comments

Comments for Destination D at the Disneyland Hotel Packs plenty Into a Weekend of Fun are now closed.

  1. Thank you, Sue!
    That was one of the best articles I’ve ever read about Disney!

  2. Fantastic article Sue. I feel like I was there. What a great lineup of guests.

  3. Sue that was a brilliant article. Long, and choc full of good info. I particularly liked the exchange with Eddie Soto and Tony Baxter. “I work for the company” should be Tony’s new tagline.

  4. I mainly joined D23 when I heard of this event. The $225 price tag was my only option, as I wasn’t ready to drop $1000 on an event, even if it did give me super-duper-exclusive access. By the time the second day had dawned on the Destination D event, I wasn’t even thinking about how I’d itemize a $225 expense (much the same way that Disneyland and DCA erase my thoughts about ticket prices once I’m through the gate).

    I’m kind of the opposite of you: Disney Animation is my #1 love, and the Disney Theme Parks are my #2. While the theme park talk was very informative, I loved hearing from and seeing the guys who I had read about or heard of for many years on making-of specials, and my ‘art of’ books.

    Andreas Deja was amazing to hear and see in person, talking about part artwork, and showing us how he drew some of the characters he created.

    Also loved Eric Goldberg and Jerry Beck showing us that even Disney Animation could be just as wacky as any Looney Tunes. I got the chance to say hi to Eric as he sat in the room during the rest of the presentations. He was incredibly nice, and was able to answer a question that had plagued me since 2005. Plus, he signed my ‘Making of Aladdin’ book that I had brought along, doing a small profile image of the Genie!

    I posted one of my longest blog posts earlier this morning about the whole event, and found I had to keep my information concise, lest it run over 5000+ words.

    I did censor myself, as when Joe Hale mentioned the incident where he found Ward Kimball sleeping at the studio after a rather bad evening.

  5. What a wonderful article, Sue! Thanks for all of the quotes and anecdotes and everything else that you wrote that made me so damned envious of you. :)

  6. Glad you were able to attend as comped media to share your experiences here.
    For non-members like myself or those more cost-concious MiceChat readers there are numerous other ways to hear and meet the Disney Animation greats. The have gallery shows of their own personal artwork & attend the openings of their co-workers as well. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hold events showcasing animation and animators with their annual Marc Davis series which cost $5 for the general public. ASIFA-Hollywood also hosts events such as The Little Mermaid 20th Anniversary event and Don Hahn’s book release panels for $7, not to mention their annual Annie Awards. All of the above have had mentions and posts on MiceChat.

    I was lucky to have been invited to attend a mini-concert by Alan Menken in the small theatre that is now home to Turtle Talk with Crush in DCA as part of the Aladdin stage show video conference and chat up Tony Baxter regularly at the DLR. I even had Chris Sanders sign my copy of the Walt Disney Archives Series – Design in the DLH lobby prior to his Sunday afternoon appearance just by dropping by so Destination D has a slightly different definition to me!