Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Off To North Wildwood!

It's that time of year when our WDCC Gang has its annual reunion in North Wildwood, NJ. In July 2008, Michelle organized the 1st Summer Reunion at her condo. We had such an amazing time, it's become an annual event!

This year marks our 3rd Reunion! It's non-stop fun from the moment we arrive and needless to say, the time together always goes much TOO fast :( We gather from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, driving anywhere from 1.5 to 8 hours.

Looking forward to spending time at the beach, walking the Boardwalk, Russo's Subs (the BEST subs I've ever had), Curly Fries, Laura's Fudge, Fried Oreo's and molasses pops from Douglass Fudge .. YUM and most importantly, spending time with the greatest group of friends!

The car is packed, ready to go ... off to Philly, then onto N. Wildwood! For those who follow me on Twitter, expect a lot of pictures throughout the trip as I play with my new toy, my Blackberry Bold!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Fond Farewell ....

The Walt Disney Classics Collection is pleased to announce the immediate retirement of the Woodland Scene from Walt Disney's animated classic Sleeping Beauty.

Prince Phillip and Briar Rose and the Woodland Creatures were released in 2007 as Open Edition releases. Briar Rose and Prince Phillip were sculpted by Margi Wray.

As a reminder, a "Retirement" means there will be no future production this sculpture (it will not return to the line at a future date). Please check with your authorized dealer for availability.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy 55th Birthday Disneyland!!

“To all who come to this happy place … Welcome!”

Disneyland was Walt Disney’s baby, a dream he nurtured for years which eventually turned into a flat-out obsession ... an obsession that had as many skeptics as it had bank creditors demanding that Disney make good on all the loans he needed to make his pie-in-the-sky come true.

Today, The Happiest Place on Earth celebrates its 55th anniversary. Five and a half decades after the world’s first theme park opened, it’s safe to say Disneyland — an original, like Walt Disney himself — has left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment.

As far back as the mid-1930's, thoughts of a family oriented park began percolating in Walt Disney’s fertile imagination. "I had all my drawing things laid out at home, and I’d work on plans for the park, as a hobby, at night," Walt told National Geographic in the early 1960's. Like many of Disney’s ideas, he appeared to be swimming upstream; amusement parks were financial poison at the time. "I talked Disneyland, but no one could see it," Walt said. "So I went ahead and spent my own money."

Once the site had been selected and all the preliminary work was complete, it took about a year from the start of construction to the park’s grand opening. One of the many aspects of Disneyland that clearly separated it from the cheesy amusements parks of the day was Walt’s desire to create a clean, family-friendly atmosphere.

Walt was so committed to the success of Disneyland that he had an apartment above the firehouse in Town Square. Many nights, he was there when the last guests straggled out of the park ... and was up at the crack of dawn to supervise his staff before the gates swung open the next morning.

In the first few weeks of operation, Disneyland was a markedly different place than it is today. For one thing, souvenir and merchandise shops selling Disney products had yet to come into existence.

The rides and attractions in Disneyland during the early years were based on Disney films, cartoon shorts or TV shows and were pretty basic by today’s standards, although classics like the Casey Jr. Circus Train, Alice in Wonderland and the Storybook Land Canal Boats remain to this day resplendent in their simplicity.

Each ride required a ticket for admission, with tickets carrying A, B and C designations — A being the mildest; C more elaborate. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was considered the most "thrilling" attraction in the park; you needed a C ticket, which cost 50 cents, to climb aboard the ride based on "The Wind in the Willows."

Tickets with D (introduced in 1956 with the Skyway ride) and E (first used in 1959 with the opening of Matterhorn Mountain, the monorail and the Submarine Voyage) designations wouldn’t come into Disney lexicon for another few years.

Another unique aspect of Disneyland was the division of the park into themed lands, or "cardinal realms" as Walt often referred to them. These lands — Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, etc. — aren’t separated by gates or fences, but by paint. When you walk from one land to the next, the concrete beneath your feet is painted a different color.

Here are some other interesting Disneyland tidbits:

  • The Submarine Voyage used to feature "real" mermaids poised on top of rocks.
  • Hard as it may be to believe now, Disneyland used to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the off-season. It became a year-round operation in 1985.
  • In Disneyland’s early days, guests were allowed to fish off Tom Sawyer Island. That practice was halted when too many dead fish ended up on Disneyland’s walkways. Tom Sawyer Island, by the way, was designed by Walt Disney himself.

The clip below is a beautiful montage of photos and video clips to the song, 'Remember When' from Disneyland's 50th Birthday, written by Richard Marx and sung by LeAnn Rimes.

The clip below was originally released on in 2005. It not only entertains you with clips from opening day, but shows construction of Disneyland park and some old footage of some pretty important people who visited. Watch how Disneyland park evolved from Walt’s dream of a place “where the parents and children could have fun together” to an additional four Resorts around the world and a world-famous cruise line.

Thanks to Disney Parks Blog, YouTube and my good friend Greg for their contributions to this entry! Happy 55th Disneyland!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

More of Via Napoli Becomes Visible!

Even more of Via Napoli is now visible after another piece of the construction scrim has been removed.

Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, expands the dining choices at World Showcase and includes pastas, wood-fired pizzas and scoops of sweet gelato. The pizzeria will be the newest flagship restaurant in the Patina Restaurant Group’s portfolio.

Photo courtesy of

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Via Napoli Opens Next Month at Epcot!

Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, the new 300-seat restaurant at the Epcot Italy Pavilion opens next month! This restaurant expands the dining choices at World Showcase and includes pastas, wood-fired pizzas and scoops of sweet gelato.

The pizzeria will be the newest flagship restaurant in the Patina Restaurant Group’s portfolio. One of the special touches at the Epcot location will be the water. It will be imported from a source where the composition most resembles water used in Naples, Italy, to make the authentic Italian dough

The menu was created by CEO Nick Valenti and based on his travels in Southern Italy and his time developing and overseeing the successful Naples 45 Ristorante e Pizzeria in New York. Valenti spent time in Naples studying the art of dough, crust, sauce and oven temperatures at the famous pizzerias Da Michele and Trianon. A feature at Via Napoli is its wood-burning ovens, cleverly named after the three active volcanoes in Italy – Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli.

Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria will be 14,000 sq.ft of traditional Florentine architecture, featuring 300-seats with outdoor dining. The restaurant will feature wood-burning ovens, genuine Italian dishes and vaulted ceilings.

Here is a first look at the menu for the new restaurant:

Appetizers: Sicilian eggplant with olives and raisins; salad of lettuce, fagiolini (string beans), fennel and tomatoes; arancini (fried saffron risotto balls) with meat ragù, mozzarella and pomodoro sauce; corn-crusted fried calamari; and minestrone with basil pesto. Or share a plate of arancini, mozzarella, calamari, portobella mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini and carciofi (artichokes).

Main course salads: Manzo (filet of beef) with greens, red onion, gorgonzola, apple and cucumber with a red wine-mustard vinaigrette; chopped salad with lemon chicken, greens, cantaloupe, cucumber, red pepper, green beans, onions, almonds and pasta crisps with honey-citrus vinaigrette; calamari with arugula, carrots and fennel with orange vinaigrette.

Pastas: candele (long, tube-shaped pasta) with sausage ragù; linguine with seafood; malfadineguanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon) and pomodoro sauce; lasagna verde. (ribbon pasta) with

Piatti alla Parmigiana: (dishes topped with Parmesan and mozzarella gratinée): veal, chicken and eggplant.

Wood-fired pizzas: made with caputo flour imported from Southern Italy, San Marzano tomatoes, handmade mozzarella and water from a local spring just like in Italy’s Campania region – 10-inch, 20-inch or 1/2 meter to share: a dozen choices, from a simple pizza Margherita with tomato, mozzarella and basil to carciofi with artichoke, potato, pecorino cheese, prosciutto and cantaloupe.

Sweets: tiramisù, zeppole di ricotta (ricotta cheese-fried dough, whipped cream and chocolate sauce); apple cake with almond sorbetti; gelatie; and vanilla gelato with almond cookies and amarena cherries.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

“Destination D” Details Released!

This year is the 55th anniversary of Disneyland Resort, and D23 is celebrating this milestone year with the premiere of Destination D: Disneyland ’55, a brand-new, two-day event that illuminates the fascinating history behind Disney’s flagship park.

Destination D: Disneyland ’55 will take D23 Members on a mesmerizing journey through the design, creation, debut and magical history of the world’s first Disney theme park. The event will offer two full days of special presentations, panels, screenings and guest speakers that give fans an inside view of this fascinating era in Disney history and let them meet and talk with key figures in Disneyland’s history. Future Destination D events will explore other important aspects of Disney’s amazing creative legacy. Following its premiere in September, Destination D will alternate annually with the enormously popular D23 Expo.

Event highlights include our Mickey Mouse Club 55th Anniversary presentation, reuniting original Mouseketeers Sharon Baird, Doreen Tracey, Bobby Burgess, Karen Pendleton, Sherry Van Meter (formerly Alberoni), Tommy Cole, Cubby O’Brien, and Mary Geoff (formerly Espinosa) for a delightful trip back in time to the dawning of the television era with the club that was, like D23, “made for you and me.”

Destination D will also mark the debut of the Disney Legends Celebration, a heartfelt tribute to those who have made a lasting contribution to the Disney legacy. All Destination D attendees and Disney Legends will be invited to attend E-Ticket: Music from the Disney Parks, a concert of memorable tunes through the years at the Disneyland Resort with some very special guests, including Disney Legend Richard Sherman.

All guests will also receive a limited-edition set of colorful, vintage Disneyland postcards from the Walt Disney Archives Collection. It’s a reproduction of actual postcards sold when Disneyland opened in 1955 — it’s just a coincidence that the complete set features 23 images!

There will also be a selection of limited edition merchandise available for purchase at the event.

Shown below is the current lineup for Destination D: Disneyland ’55 (times to be announced later this summer; panels and talent subject to change):


Mickey Mouse Club 55th Anniversary
Join original Mouseketeers including Sharon Baird, Doreen Tracey, Bobby Burgess, Karen Pendleton, Sherry Van Meter (Alberoni), Tommy Cole, Cubby O’Brien and Mary Geoff (Espinosa) for a magical walk down memory lane as they recall their favorite behind-the-scenes stories from the classic Disneyland attraction Mickey Mouse Club Circus.

Weird Disney
From the startling visuals of the 1930′s Fanchon & Marco “Mickey Mouse Idea” vaudeville shows to Disneyland’s “Kap the Kaiser Aluminum Pig” and the “Crane Bathroom of Tomorrow,” Disney’s history has included some pretty offbeat stuff. Join Archives Director Becky Cline and Disney historian Paul Anderson as they act as your tour guides on a fun-filled, irreverent and often-surprising road trip through the wonderfully weird and wacky side of Disney.

From Quirky to Collectible: The Wonderful World of Disneyland Merchandise
Curiouser and curiouser! From a Mark Twain Riverboat AM radio to a Matterhorn bank, we will present a treasure trove of timeless trinkets and unique souvenirs. Merchandise mavens Stacia Martin and Paul Anderson and Disney Archivist Rob Klein will take you to a collector’s Cloud Nine, including the “Top 5 Rarest Pieces of Disneyana” and the “Top 5 Strangest Items of Disneyland Memorabilia.” You won’t believe what they have found!

The 1964 New York World’s Fair and the Development of Audio-Animatronics® Characters With so many incredible Disney achievements over the years, it’s hard to pick one as most impressive. But one milestone — Disney’s contribution to the 1964 New York World’s Fair — arguably stands far and above any other for its impact on Disneyland, the dawning of Walt Disney World and now, the Disney theme park experience around the world. Hosted by historian Paul Anderson, this is a fascinating and remarkable story of how 50 years ago Walt and his Imagineers broke the barriers of technology and pioneered an entirely new chapter in the history of entertainment, and in doing so, drastically changed the course of Disney theme park history.

Imagineering the Magic of Disney
Disney Legend Marty Sklar hosts a prestigious panel of some of Disney’s most creative minds made up of Imagineering Legends and current Imagineers. Join us as Bob Gurr, Blaine Gibson, Dave Durham, Kathy Mangum, Kevin Rafferty and other Imagineers share their memories and favorite moments about creating iconic attractions at the world’s most popular theme parks.

E-Ticket: Music from the Disney Parks
As part of this year’s inaugural Disney Legends Celebration, D23 Members are invited to join some Disney Legends for a colorful concert of music from the past and present of Disneyland Resort. Highlighting the concert will be Disney Legend Richard Sherman, who — along with his brother Robert — has contributed a multitude of songs to the Disney parks legacy, including “it’s a small world,” “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and many more. Performing will be a host of special guests, including John Tartaglia (Avenue Q, Johnny and the Sprites), Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Wilson Cruz (Rent, My So-Called Life), members of the Disney Employee Choir and many more, all paying tribute to some of the most enduring tunes in the Disney canon.


Disneyland Through the Eye of Television
Archivist Rob Klein presents this unique look at the history of Disneyland as it was first seen by the general public — on television. This vibrant presentation includes Walt’s first announcement of Disneyland, highlights from the original Disneyland television anthology series showing progress on the park and classic anniversary specials, as well as rarely seen promotional spots for Disneyland from the ’60s and ’70s for the Matterhorn, Main Street Electrical Parade, “New” Tomorrowland 1967 and much more!

Disney Undiscovered
No creative idea, no matter how marvelously imagined, is guaranteed to make it from the sketchbooks of Disney Imagineers to the parks. 2010′s D23 Member gift, Disney Undiscovered, pays tribute to Disney’s enduring creative spirit by celebrating the work of some of Disney’s greatest dreamers and artists, whose feats of creative daring — even if never completed — will stand the test of time as masterpieces of the imagination. Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the further fascinating details about these rare, never-produced park attractions and the Imagineers who dreamed them up.

Disneyland: The Happiest Place in Pop Culture
A humorous and informative journey through 55 years of popular culture as reflected in the original Magic Kingdom. Featuring rarely seen photos and film clips, the presentation, hosted by Disney authority Tim O’Day, will take you down memory lane, narrowly escaping bad fashions, bad hair and park entertainment, and events and attractions that definitely belong in Memoryland.

Disneyland: The Way We Were
Remember the Mickey Mouse Club Circus, Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, TWA Rocket to the Moon, The Frito Kid, or America Sings? Join Disney Chief Archivist Dave Smith as we explore some vintage images of Disneyland: first some rare color photographs taken during the park’s construction, then a look at some beloved, gone-but-not-forgotten attractions, shops and restaurants. Throughout this presentation, Dave will reminisce about early visits to Disneyland, taking the audience back to some classic moments in the park’s rich history.

A Word from the President
Disneyland President George Kalogridis shares a very special presentation with D23.

The Wonderful World of Vintage Disneyland — In Color!
Media Preservationist Ed Hobelman and Imagineer Tony Baxter share a trove of archival treasures and screen rarely seen color footage of Disneyland from the 1950s and 1960s.

Disneyland, U.S.A. Screening and Panel
A big-screen presentation of the classic 1956 People and Places featurette, Disneyland, U.S.A., followed by a panel featuring members of the film’s restoration team, Disney Imagineers and Disney Legends who experienced the park first-hand during those early years, including Tony Baxter, Ed Hobelman, Dave Smith and Geri Bumpass. Hosted by Tim O’Day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

D23 Announces the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt!

Disney’s Official Fan Club Creates an Extraordinary, All-Day
Hunt Throughout the Disneyland Resort in Conjunction With
the First-Ever Destination D Event in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. – July 7, 2010 – From Downtown Disney to the Disneyland Hotel, from the Matterhorn to Midway Mania, Disney fans will embark on an all-day search that will take them throughout the Disneyland Resort on September 26 in the very first GREAT DISNEY SCAVENGER HUNT from D23, the official Disney fan club.

It’s the ultimate Disney test, with teams of up to four people racing against the clock to gather as many points as possible. The top 10 teams will win Disney prizes. Any Disney fan can register for the GREAT DISNEY SCAVENGER HUNT by visiting Registration opens July 12 and is $50 for a team (up to four people) of D23 Members and $75 for a team of non-members.

The GREAT DISNEY SCAVENGER HUNT will begin at 8:45 a.m. at the Disneyland Hotel, and teams will need to scour the entire Disneyland Resort for clues. (Note that theme park admission is not included in the registration fee, but special convention-rate admission will be available during the weekend’s Destination D: Disneyland ’55 event.) Teams will have five hours to search everywhere from Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Resort Hotels to Disney’s California Adventure and, of course, Disneyland.

For the top 10 teams, D23 has assembled an amazing array of prizes from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, the Walt Disney Collectors’ Society, Disney Publishing, Walt Disney Records and more.

The GREAT DISNEY SCAVENGER HUNT caps an exciting weekend for D23 Members, as they’ll also have the opportunity to take part in the first Destination D event, a two-day celebration of the Disney’s legacy of magic and creativity.

Destination D: Disneyland ’55 illuminates the fascinating history behind Disney’s flagship park, taking members on a mesmerizing journey through the design, creation and debut of the world’s first Disney theme park.

Destination D will also feature a special homage to the 55th anniversary of the Mickey Mouse Club, with original Mousketeers in attendance, including Sharon Baird, Doreen Tracey, Bobby Burgess, Karen Pendleton, Sherry Van Meter (née Alberoni), Tommy Cole, Cubby O’Brien and Mary Geoff (née Espinosa).

Throughout the two days of Destination D – which will be held September 24 and 25 – guests will also enjoy panels, presentations and guest speakers, including explorations of the development of Audio Animatronics; Disneyland’s unique place in pop culture; amazing never-completed Disney attractions; and an appearance by Disneyland President George Kalogridis.

Tickets to Destination D: Disneyland 55 and the GREAT DISNEY SCAVENGER HUNT will be available separately beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, July 12.

Attendance at Destination D is reserved for members of D23, Disney’s official fan club, while the GREAT DISNEY SCAVENGER HUNT is open to all Disney fans.

Disney fans can become members of D23 by visiting, select shops at the Disneyland® and Walt Disney World® Resorts, and at

Every day of the year, D23 Membership brings exciting Disney discoveries, special savings, and a host of benefits. Gold-level D23 Memberships are $74.99 and include a one-year subscription to the exquisite Disney twenty-three magazine. Silver-level memberships, which offer all benefits except the magazine subscription, are just $34.99 a year. All discounts and special promotions are available to both Gold- and Silver-level D23 Members.

About D23
The name “D23” pays homage to the wonder and excitement that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his fledgling studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official community for fans in Disney’s 85-year history. D23 gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication Disney twenty-three; a rich website at; a collectibles line, The Walt Disney Archives Collection; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ilene Woods, the Voice of Cinderella, Has Passed Away

Disney Legend Ilene Woods, who voiced Cinderella in the 1950 classic, has passed away at the age of 81. Woods was born on May 5, 1929 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.A. and was both a singer and actress. 2010 marked the 60th Anniversary of this animated classic film.

In 1948, as a favor for songwriter friends Mack David and Jerry Livingston, Ilene Woods recorded "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo," "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," and "So This is Love." She didn't know that Walt Disney would hear the demo recordings and hire her as the title voice of his upcoming animated feature "Cinderella"."

I learned a very good lesson," she later recalls. "Never pass up doing a good deed for friends!" Born May 5, 1929, Ilene had wanted to become a schoolteacher. Her mother, however, guided her toward a singing and radio career and by 11, she starred in her own show which aired in her hometown of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. By 1944, she had her own weekly radio show at the ABC Network in New York City.

During World War II, she toured with the United States Air Force Orchestra and many Hollywood stars, promoting war bonds. Because of her appearances for the USO, as well as at army and navy hospitals, she was invited to sing for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his Hyde Park home Christmas party and for President Harry S. Truman at the White House the following year.

By the time she was 18, Ilene had worked with Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, and Paul Whiteman. She was a featured performer on Jack Carson's "Sealtest Village Store," when selected from a field of nearly 400 hopefuls to voice Cinderella.

During recording sessions, Walt would drop by to offer suggestions, including asking Ilene if she could harmonize with herself on "Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale."She recalls, "It was such a beautiful sequence - Cinderella scrubbing the floor and each time a soap bubble would rise with another image of Cinderella, so would another voice. When we heard the finished product, Walt kidded, 'How about that? All of these years I've been paying three salaries for the Andrews Sisters, when I could have only paid one for you!"

Later, Walt admitted to Ilene she was his favorite of the Disney heroines. She recalls, "Once I went into his office and he said to me, 'You're my favorite heroine, you know.' I said, 'You mean Cinderella?' 'Yes,' he said, 'there's something about that story I associate with.'"I think it was the rags-to-riches tale," she says. "Of course, then I didn't know how many times Walt had risked it all to realize his dreams."

After "Cinderella," Ilene moved into television appearing on "The Steve Allen Show," "The Gary Moore Show," and "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends". During "The Gary Moore Show," Ilene met her husband-to-be, Ed Shaughnessy, Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show drummer," and raised two sons with him. "Those were the happiest years of my life," she says.

In 1985, Ilene launched a new career as a portrait artist and says she loves painting children's portraits.

On February 12, 2001, she appeared at a Cinderella Ball celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the motion picture, held at Disneyland. O n her birthday, the following May, Ilene Woods united with the voice of Sleeping Beauty, fellow Legend Mary Costa, for a Cinderella Birthday Ball held in Knoxville, Tennessee, benefiting Childhelp U.S.A.

Ilene Woods was named a Disney Legend in 2003.