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  1. #1

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    Lightbulb Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Hello Micechatters!

    I need your help!


    My name is Steven and I'm a junior majoring in Theater & Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. I am in the process of proposing an Honors Thesis that will focus on the history of Disney in performance--in theme parks and on Broadway. At this point, my topic is quite broad and I'm trying to narrow it down. You dedicated Disneylanders know your stuff, so I would absolutely love your feedback, stories, and anything else you'd like to share about your experiences with Walt Disney Entertainment!

    Here's a brief summary of where my thesis is heading: For many children and even adults, the first experience in a theater may not happen in New York, let alone a traditional theater. Rather, one's first theatrical experience may occur at at Disney theme park. Is it a coincidence that Broadway's two current Disney musicals are also playing in scaled-down versions at Walt Disney World: Disney-MGM Studios' Beauty & the Beast and Disney's Animal Kingdom's The Festival of the Lion King? Productions at Disney Theme Parks are constantly compared to Broadway--Aladdin at Disney's California Adventure is billed as a "Broadway-style" musical. Children's first exposure to live theatrical performance is often through Disney.

    Please share your thoughts and stories about parades and shows at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as any "Disney on Broadway" productions you may have seen, whether in New York, or on tour!


    This is the beginning of a year-long process, that will culminate in December 2006 with a 60 page paper. Your thoughts are much appreciated! Feel free to reply to this thread, message me here, or I can also be emailed at [email protected]

    Thank you and have a magical day!
    Genie, I wish for your freedom!

  2. #2

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Well you can talk about all the stories behind the themed lands and attractions in the Disney theme park.

    You can make mention of the numerious stories behind the haunted Mansion that the creators gave to it when it first opened (The story as to why it is haunted and who lived there before it became haunted) You can make mention of the story behind Pirates of the Caribbean (Pirates searching for the cursed treasure) and stories behind Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, New Orleans Square, Main Street, Adventureland, etc.

    Every single thing in Disneyland pretty much has a story to it as if it was a movie itself. Walt intended for it to be that way. The red bricks at the entrance to the park are symbolic to the redcarpet and Disneyland is the show.

    In fact here are some Walt Disney quotes:
    "I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in the Park (Disneyland). I want to feel they're in another world."

    "Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role."

    "Disneyland is a show."

    Believe me, if you do a bunch of research, you will find many similarities on how Disneyland is like live theatre, and the stories behind most of the themed areas and attractions is one connection and the characters are another.

    Walt pretty much approached the Disneyland project the same exact way he approached creating a film. He used the same type of structure that he used when creating his films to make Disneyland. Setting the environment for Disneyland is something that he and his staff could easily accomplish given the fact that they always had to create their own environments for each of their Disney films. All of the people who helped create Disneyland were Disney animators, script writers, and other people from Disney at the time who have only had experience in creating Disney films.

    I suggest you buy "Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland USA". To get more VERY GOOD information that you can use in the report when it comes to talking about Disneyland.
    Last edited by Disney Wrassler; 01-17-2006 at 11:43 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Another good source would be David Koenig's Mouse Tales books. Those a chalk full of stories from "cast members" (I suggest you explain this in Disney terms, the books will explain all)...some experiences good and others bad. Adding with the Haunted Mansion, I suggest you go to the Doombuggies site and read up on the stories of the live knight that used to be in the mansion.

    Another thing that the books I mentioned touch upon are how Walt "casted" for his workers at Disneyland...there are new regulations to make Disneyland a place of equal oppertunity, but back in the day, only tall, beautiful women hosted on the Monorail. It goes into all the specifics.

  4. #4

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Quote Originally Posted by pineapplewhipaddict
    Another good source would be David Koenig's Mouse Tales books. Those a chalk full of stories from "cast members" (I suggest you explain this in Disney terms, the books will explain all)...some experiences good and others bad. Adding with the Haunted Mansion, I suggest you go to the Doombuggies site and read up on the stories of the live knight that used to be in the mansion.

    Another thing that the books I mentioned touch upon are how Walt "casted" for his workers at Disneyland...there are new regulations to make Disneyland a place of equal oppertunity, but back in the day, only tall, beautiful women hosted on the Monorail. It goes into all the specifics.
    Another good suggestion to add onto your Pineapple since you bring up books is to get some of Kevin Yees "101 things you Never Knew about...." books. They have some interesting things. Don't know if it is what fantasmicfreak will be looking for, but definiately worth the look.

    Oh and on the Doombuggies website (PM me if you want the address since we can no longer post links to other websites in less it is done so in the community forum), he can possibly talk about the myths of the Haunted Mansion actually being haunted by real ghosts. If I remember correctly those stories, if they are still available, were told by cast members and Disneyland visitors.

  5. #5

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Well, where do I start? Does your thesis stretch to Disneyland Resort Paris, the Cruise Line and the Tokyo Disney Resort? Just in case it doesn't, I will just concentrate on the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort for now...

    Animazement was a 1990s show at the Fantasyland Theatre @ Disneyland showing a multitude of recent Disney animations brought to life on stage, but many animations have been dramatised at the Theatre. Most currently Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, one of the most expensive regularly-performed shows in the parks' history. Maybe that is why it is on hiatus?

    Yes, many Disney productions are so lavish they are compared to Broadway. You may like to mention future Disney productions actually on Broadway: Tarzan will debut this year, and the Little Mermaid will debut in 2008 - Mary Poppins was a co-production between Disney and Cameron Mackintosh. Is the thesis on productions featuring Disney characters, because Disney have also made Aida and are developing a Broadway version of Spellbound. Jeez... there is so much I could tell you.

    You definitely need to mention the facts about the Broadway BatB. It is playing in like eight cities or something like that at the moment, and is what, the 4th longest running show on Broadway? The Lion King has broke loadsa records me thinks, and Mary Poppins is an interesting take as it doesn't follow the movie's storyline, strange considering Disney co-produced it.

    Currently performing in Disney parks over the world:
    Fantasmic! - Disneyland
    Aladdin - DCA
    Beauty and the Beast - Disney-MGM Studios
    Fantasmic! - Disney-MGM Studios
    The Festival of the Lion King - Disney's Animal Kingdom
    Tarzan Rocks! - Disney's Animal Kingdom*
    Legend of the Lion King - Disneyland Paris
    Tarzan - Disneyland Paris
    The Golden Mickeys - Hong Kong Disneyland
    The Golden Mickeys - Disney Cruise Line
    A Cinderella show - Disney Cruise Line

    *Although due to close at the end of the month to make way for a Finding Nemo show (maybe something else to answer), it may be worth noting that Tarzan is due to begin a production on Broadway... there is also a Tarzan show still running at DLP.

    Are you going to mention fireworks and parades? Especially the fireworks, which are shows unto themselves, with music and other things making them not just cannons of gunpowder.
    BACKPACKING REALNESS

    DISNEY TRIPS
    October 2000 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2001 - Walt Disney World Resort
    April 2002 - Disneyland Resort Paris
    October 2003 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2004 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2005 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2007 - Walt Disney World Resort
    December 2008 - Walt Disney World Resort
    July 2009 - Disneyland Resort Paris
    July 2011 - Disneyland Resort California
    July 2012-13 - UK Cultural Representative Cast Member at Epcot
    February 2013 - Disneyland Resort California
    February 2013 -Tokyo Disney Resort

    (VERY OLD!)
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  6. #6

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    I had a conversation with someone who is in the disney marketing. Apparently there is a whole subdivision of the Disney Entertainment, that is going into high schools and middle schools, doing Aladdin Jr. and a few other plays. She was talking about how the disney company recognizes that the younger generation AS A WHOLE does not go to see broadway or off broadway plays. Now I told her that I know tons of kids and teens who go to see these shows. But she told me that, it is because i am involved in theater, and that i know many people who go to see these shows. She told me to ask myself of how many people at my high school of 4000 have seen a play in the past 4 years. I would have said less that 3%. So apparently they are going into schools and exposing theater to kids, by putting them into these plays. I would contact someone at Burbank, and ask for an interview, because it sounds like there is a ton of info to be found there. Good luck.

  7. #7

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Hi

    What a great idea for a thesis.

    It got me to thinking of some of my earliest Disney musical memories.

    The first Disney movie I ever saw was Jungle Book and I absolutely loved it. When I was listening to "I wanna be like you " the other day , it made me wonder if it was such a hit because Jazz had gotten so popular in 1967.

    I also remember going to see the Sleeping Beauty ballet at the Circle Star theater in Redwood City when I was about 8 years old. From that point on, I loved Sleeping Beauty and wanted to learn ballet.

    My kids have seen just about every Disney movie there is....Little Mermaid was the first one for my twin daughters, Lion King was the first one for my
    son, and Pocahontas was the first one for my other daughter. My kids have also been to many non-Disney theater productions...some they have loved , others they think are just so-so.

    The most recent musical type events they've seen at DL and DCA are Snow White and Aladdin. We all thought Snow White was kind of creepy...the whole dancing animals thing just didn't do it for us! But we loved Aladdin and saw it a few times. I think they did an excellent job on it and I would think that would inspire parents to take their kids to other theater productions as well.

    Good luck with your thesis.

    Please keep us updated!

  8. #8

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    Re: Berkeley Honors Thesis on Disney Entertainment

    Yeah, BTW I would love to do a thesis like that when I go to uni!
    BACKPACKING REALNESS

    DISNEY TRIPS
    October 2000 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2001 - Walt Disney World Resort
    April 2002 - Disneyland Resort Paris
    October 2003 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2004 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2005 - Walt Disney World Resort
    October 2007 - Walt Disney World Resort
    December 2008 - Walt Disney World Resort
    July 2009 - Disneyland Resort Paris
    July 2011 - Disneyland Resort California
    July 2012-13 - UK Cultural Representative Cast Member at Epcot
    February 2013 - Disneyland Resort California
    February 2013 -Tokyo Disney Resort

    (VERY OLD!)
    TRIP REPORTS


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