Each month, Disney fans and D23 Members send us dozens of questions for Disney Legend and Chief Archivist Emeritus, Dave Smith. To get your answers, check back every couple weeks—we’ll be publishing more of our beloved Disney Legend’s answers to your questions about Disney history!
Q: Were these the four names that have been used for Epcot: Epcot Center, Epcot 94, Epcot 95, and Epcot?
Mark, Virginia Beach, Virginia
A: That is technically correct, but the middle two saw limited usage. The original name was spelled with caps: EPCOT Center.
Q: I have reason to believe that I have an original Alice in Wonderland Fantasyland poster and not a remake. I am being told that Authentic Fantasyland posters have Copyright logos in the bottom left corner saying “Walt Disney Productions.” Is there any truth to this?
Dillon, Lacey, Washington
A: For an answer to your question, I turned to Vanessa Hunt of Walt Disney Imagineering, who has co-authored an upcoming book entitled Poster Art of the Disney Parks. According to Vanessa, “‘© Walt Disney Productions’ appeared on attraction posters for all of the Lands for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland up until 1985; the location of the copyright varies from poster to poster, but Alice’s is in the bottom-left corner.” She added that all of the original posters were silk-screened, and produced in a 36″ x 54″ size. The paper is fairly thick and often backed with linen; a reproduction would not be silk-screened and on a thinner poster paper. There were some full-size reproductions done for the Walt Disney Galleries, part of the Disney Stores, in the 1990s.
Q: Cinderella is my all-time favorite movie and my favorite princess since I was very young. I remember seeing the movie in the local movie theater! I have an ongoing “disagreement” for decades with my family and have since found out that this is an ongoing debate for many. So my question is: In the original Cinderella movie, is her ball gown white (silverish/pearlish) or blue? I would love to get an official answer on this one and end it once and for all.
Valerie, Middletown, New Jersey
A: The problem is that in different shading and lighting conditions in the film, the dress looks a different color. It seems to range from a pale blue to a silvery white from scene to scene. Becky Cline at the Walt Disney Archives feels that the primary color is pale blue.
Q: Could you provide a breakdown, by percentage, of Disney World’s land that is used, available for future expansion, and preserved?
Gil, Lyon, Michigan
A: No exact numbers have ever been officially published, but roughly half of the vast Walt Disney World property is composed of wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas.
Q: I have vague recollections of live-action Disney movies geared more to the teen set, Watcher in the Woods, Child of Glass, etc. What were some of the other titles, and how many are available today? Thanks.
Jenny, Chaska, Minnesota
A: I assume you are referring to films that had teenage actors in the lead role, and many Disney films fit that criteria. The two you cited are from the late 1970s and early 1980s. You might include such other titles from that era as Tex, Midnight Madness, Freaky Friday, Candleshoe, Return to Oz, The Journey of Natty Gann, Ride a Wild Pony, My Science Project, Flight of the Navigator, and the Witch Mountain films. Some of these are currently available on DVD.
Q: I was just wondering if you know if and when Susie Q (the 1996 original movie) will be released on DVD. I’m not sure if this knowledge pertains to Archives, but I loved that movie as did many.
Sean, Lakewood, Colorado
A: Susie Q, starring Shelley Long, Justin Whalin, and Amy Jo Johnson, was not a Disney movie, even though it aired several times on Disney Channel in the 1990s. It has never been released on DVD.
Q: I noticed that in the Disney A to Z encyclopedia, all of my most-favorite Disney Channel Original movies were erased—no Susie Q, no Zenon, no Johnny Tsunami. The list is quite long. Why are they all erased?
Loreto, Honolulu, Hawaii
A: You must not have the 2006 third edition of Disney A to Z. They are all there, except for Susie Q, which is not a Disney-produced film.
Q: Dave, in a recent answer to a question about the actors who provided voices for the Dumbo animated feature, you mentioned the elephants Matriarch, Fidgity, Giddy, and Prissy, and then said, “good luck to anyone who knows which elephant is which.” That answer, of course, begs the question: Do you know which is which?
Jim, Cape Canaveral, Florida
A: In doing more research, I see that the elephants have not always been referred to by the same names. Fidgity and Giddy were also called Catty and Giggles. According to John Grant in his Encyclopedia of Walt Disney’s Animated Characters, at the beginning of the film, Matriarch has the pink-violet headdress, Catty has the yellow, Giggles the blue, and Prissy the red. Matriarch is the leader of the group; when the stork asks if she is the one receiving the baby, she haughtily replies, “Certainly Not.” Prissy’s reply is “The very idea!” Later on, when the elephants first see Dumbo’s huge ears, Catty is the one who says in an undertone, “Just look at those E.A.R.S.,” with Giggles responding, “Those what? Oh, ears!”
Q: Was there going to be an attraction or land based on the film Island at the Top of the World at Disneyland?
Brett, Newport Beach, California
A: When Island at the Top of the World (1974) was in production, some executives in the company felt that it was going to be a huge hit, so the Imagineers began working on an attraction based on it. The company’s 1976 annual report had a description and drawings of what Discovery Bay, as the area was called, might be; besides Island, it was also meant to have a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. The annual report said the area would “bring to life a time and place that climaxed an age of discovery and expansion.” For many reasons, Discovery Bay was never built. First and foremost, the company got busy with work on EPCOT and Tokyo Disneyland, but also a partnership with George Lucas and suggested attractions based on Star Wars and Indiana Jones took precedence, with the feeling that they would have more interest to Disneyland guests. Of course, another reason was that Island did not do as well in theaters as was hoped. But some of the Discovery Bay ideas, including the Hyperion airship, were reborn in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris.
Q: In traveling through South Carolina, we pass by Francis Marion University. I remember him from the Disney series, The Swamp Fox. Have these show been put on DVD?
Phillip, Paducah, Kentucky
A: The Swamp Fox films were released on DVD in 2005 in the Walt Disney Treasures series with The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca.
Q: My young-adult niece claims that when she went to Disneyland in California when she was younger, they had a special giveaway. There was a character on everyone’s ticket and whomever had Donald Duck’s that day got a coin with him on it. It has since been lost and I’m trying to find out what coin this was.
Louise, Laguna Niguel, California
A: The only Donald Duck giveaway coin at Disneyland that I can think of was released during the park’s 45th anniversary celebration in 2000. There was a Character of the Month Collector’s Coin, and Donald Duck was in July. The coins sold for $12, or were free with a $50 purchase in the Disneyana Shop or the Disney Gallery.
Q: Do you know if D23 Members can get discounted tickets for Disneyland?
James, Westport, Connecticut
A: You can write directly to the D23 team here.
Q: I have been wondering for quite a while now if it’s at all possible to view the old videos of Walt Disney himself that he put along with the movies he released while he was still alive. I have seen a few of them on the Disney DVDs such as Peter Pan, where Walt talks about why he made Peter Pan, but I was wondering if there’s a way I can watch them all?
Devin, Corona, California
A: The primary films featuring Walt Disney himself were the introductions to his evening television show from 1954 to 1966 when he acted as emcee. These have not been gathered and released on DVD, though, as you say, some have been included as bonus material on DVDs.
Q: Your name came up so often as I wrote a book about my father, George Sherman, who was head of Publications at Disney from the 1950s to 1974, when he died of a rare cancer.
Cathy Sherman Freeman, Ashland, Oregon
A: George Sherman was a favorite of mine, and one of my first contacts at Disney back in the 1960s. I would love to read your book—you can send it to me in care of the Walt Disney Archives, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521-3040.
Q: I have read that The Three Caballeros features a musical composition called “Pandeiro & Flute,” written by Benedito Lacerda. Can you tell me where in the film this piece can be heard, and when it was written?
Jeremiah, Fairfax, Virginia
A: While written by Lacerda (1903-1958) and licensed by Disney, it was developed by Charles Wolcott and Lacerda was uncredited. The piece appears at the end of the Baia train sequence and just before the “Os Quindins de Ya-Ya” sequence. A pandeiro is a Brazilian version of a tambourine.
Q: I recently found that in the early 1960s, Mr. Disney had considered the St. Louis riverfront as a possible site for Walt Disney World before settling on central Florida. Was this a serious consideration? Does the Walt Disney Archives have any plans or sketches of what he was considering?
Tracy, Lexington, Kentucky
A: There was indeed serious consideration of Disney doing a project in St. Louis, but not on the scale of Walt Disney World. For more details, I suggest that you find the book, Walt Disney’s Missouri, by Brian Burnes, et al., published in 2002. There is a chapter on the St. Louis project, including copies of plans.
Q: I was hoping to learn more about Alice Estes Davis and her life in Escalon, California, before she moved with her family to Southern California. I’m from Escalon and a huge Disney fan so to read about a Disney Legend that came from the same hometown as me would be amazing! Are there any books about her I could read? Maybe you or the Disney Archives have more information about her?
Katie, Escalon, California
A: The Walt Disney Archives does not have biographical information on Alice Davis’ childhood, but we do know that she was born in Escalon in 1929, and moved from there to the Los Angeles area when she was four. For those who don’t know, Escalon is a small town in California’s San Joaquin Valley, not far from Stockton and Modesto.
Q: Does anyone remember the name of a cartoon movie I’ve only seen once in my life? It is about a boy and sister and it was in the winter and he got an ice sliver in his eye that the Snow Queen sent. And he turned mean to his sister and was put under a spell and he forgot he had a sister, but she kept looking for him and they broke the spell. I think it was a Disney movie but I’m not sure, and I’ve never found it or seen it again. I’d like to find it and watch it with my grandkids. I know it’s been over 50 years and it’s an old memory, but does anyone else remember that movie, because I know every Edgecumbe kid saw it. I’d love to get a copy of it and pass it on to my grandkids.
William, Anchorage, Alaska
A: You are thinking of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Snow Queen. It was not made into a movie by Disney, but there was a well-known Russian-made animated film in 1957 that was dubbed into English and had a wide release in the U.S. in 1959. Disney Legend Tommy Kirk provided one of the voices. There have been other filmed versions of the story, most of which have been released on DVD, including a 2002 television movie, starring Bridget Fonda.
Q: I’ve been searching for a copy of a TV special that I believe aired on ABC many years ago starring Dick Van Dyke about the opening of EPCOT. In it he sings, “What if Nobody Comes.” It also had Mac Davis and Marie Osmond. If possible, how can I get a copy of it?
John, Haverhill, Massachusetts
A: The two-hour television movie was Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, airing on December 12, 1981; it has not been released on DVD.
Q: My grandma was cleaning out her cottage, getting it ready to be sold, and I came across an ashtray. When I looked closer, it turned out to have the Sleeping Beauty Castle on it. When I asked my grandma where it came from, she told me it belonged to my great grandma when they traveled to Disneyland. The question I want to ask is, when did they sell and stop selling ashtrays with the castle on it?
Chase, Pickering, Ontario, Canada
A: We know that there were metal and ceramic Disneyland ashtrays in the 1950s (a 1959 mail order catalog lists a porcelain smoker set with a cigarette box and two ashtrays for $1.25). By the 1960s, Disneyland had stopped selling ashtrays.
Q: We really appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. With all the exciting additions to Disney California Adventure about to open, I’m curious—can you tell us some of the items from the original California Adventure that were removed from the park and are now at the Archives? What about the big “California” letters that used to stand at the entrance?
Robert, Kissimmee, Florida
A: The CALIFORNIA letters were too large and heavy for the Archives’ collection, but according to Kevin Rafferty of Walt Disney Imagineering, they have been donated to the California State Fair in Sacramento. The Archives did get the two Intolerance elephants from the entrance of Hollywood Blvd., some signage from Baker’s Field Baker and Bur-R-R-Bank Ice Cream, and the neon sign from the Golden Zephyr.
Q: I am helping to create a flight jacket for a wonderful WWII veteran, who wore (I think) a Disney-designed fighter squadron patch on his A-2 jacket back in 1945. I plan to surprise him with this jacket in July. Problem is, I’d like to confirm this patch was Disney-designed, and my Air Force records show the patch in black and white, and I don’t know the exact colors. It is the 364th Fighter Squadron? Is there somewhere I could quickly get an answer?
Jerri, Upland, California
A: While Disney designed some 1,200 insignia for military units during World War II, there is no record that we ever designed one for the 364th Fighter Squadron. Insignia were also designed by a number of other animation studios, and some units designed their own. There are color pictures of the insignia, which featured a crow riding on a snake, on the Internet.
Q: I read in a magazine article recently that the idea for having roving photographers at Disney parks was suggested to Walt Disney by Art Linkletter. The article claims that Linkletter was touring Disneyland with Mr. Disney and, after seeing all the families walking in the park, Linkletter told Disney he ought to hire young adults to take pictures of the families and offer the photographs for sale. Disney liked the idea and began that program shortly thereafter. Is there any truth to this?
John, Egg Harbor City, New Jersey
A: I do not know about roving photographers, which did not seem to have been around Disneyland in the early days, but according to the story we have heard, Walt Disney asked Art Linkletter if he would participate in the Disneyland opening-day telecast. Since Walt was short of money, Art supposedly agreed to help; in lieu of a fee, he requested exclusive rights to the camera and film concessions for 10 years. So, while Kodak had a Main Street, U.S.A. shop beginning on opening day, that shop only provided service (quick camera repairs, help loading film, etc.) and information; adjacent to it was Linkletter’s separate shop that sold film, cameras, and photo accessories.
Q: My husband and I love discovering all of the personal touches around Disneyland that honor individuals that made Disney what it is today. Among other things, we have noticed Disney’s family crest above the castle, a nod to his father and other animators and Imagineers on windows. Are there any other hidden treasures around the park that honor his wife, daughters, brother, or any other family members?
Crystal, Reseda, California
A: Here are some: If you look above New Orleans Square, you will see WD and RD in the wrought iron of the balcony. The special parlor car on the train is named the Lilly Belle after Walt’s wife Lillian. There used to be a Willard P. Bounds Blacksmith and U.S. Marshal location in Frontierland, named for Lillian’s father. There is also on display the chunk of a petrified tree that Walt gave Lillian for their wedding anniversary. And, of course, there is the bronze statue of Walt with Mickey in the center of the Hub.
Q: The earliest picture of the Disneyland marquee that I have found is from August 1959, and the video footage from opening day does not show a marquee at Disneyland. Did Disneyland have a marquee prior to August 1959?
Anakaren, Glendale, Arizona
A: That is a big unanswered question. We have not found any pictures of a Disneyland marquee or sign from the early years (1955-’58), so if anyone took a picture on a family trip, we would love to see it. We know that the original large marquee at Disneyland was constructed in 1958. It was 42 feet high and had seven flags at the top, and read: Disneyland—Park & Hotel Entrance. A message board was added in the mid-’60s, and the subtitle replaced by “The Happiest Place on Earth” in the mid-’70s. That original marquee was replaced by a new, larger one, measuring 67 feet high, in 1989. That marquee was removed in 1999 and replaced by an arch over the entry road.
Q: I recently bought a CD made in 1996 that has music from the parks as performed by famous artists. On the CD is “Grim Grinning Ghosts” as performed by the Barenaked Ladies. It sounds very similar to the version heard in HalloWishes. Are they the ones who performed it? I always thought the same male vocalist could be heard in Fantasmic! Am I correct, or is that wishful thinking?
Erica, Antioch, California
A: According to Steve Davison of Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, the Barenaked Ladies recording was not used in HalloWishes. The male vocalist is Tim Davis, who currently serves as the vocal/session director for Glee.
Q: I have a question with regard to the 16mm Disney films that were available to order for schools back in the ’70s. I have a friend who called me and has acquired a copy of the Disney film, Make Mine Music, part 1 and part 2, 16mm reels. The box says that it was shipped on 5/21/1974 from Burbank, CA on Riverside Dr. They wanted to know what the reels are worth today?
Peter, Monrovia, California
A: The film was released on DVD in 2006, so there would be little interest in a 16mm film print. Besides, that is a copyrighted film that is technically the property of The Walt Disney Company, so sale of it is not legal.
Q: When is Disney going to have another studio wardrobe auction?
David, Burbank, California
A: Since those early auctions, the Walt Disney Archives started saving all the important, distinctive costumes and patches, so it is doubtful that any will come on the auction market.
Q: How do we go about possibly donating/giving an item to be stored in the Disney Archives? Also do you ever buy items to go into the Archives?
Avi, Irvine, California
A: You can contact the Archives at Disney.Archives@disney.com.
Q: I have come across a watercolor art work that I suspect is Disney Studios-made; it is unsigned 8.5 x 11 inches, and may be viewed on my Flickr page. Is there a place where this can be researched?
Jeffery, San Bernardino, California
A: It does not seem to me to be a Disney piece. The only possible film would be Dumbo, and the character is unlike any of the characters in that film.
Q: I am a big fan of the websites yesterland.com and davelandweb.com. Are you affiliated with any of them?
Anakaren, Glendale, Arizona
A: No, these are private websites created by Disney fans.
Q: I have always been curious as to why most Disney characters have fathers, but not mothers? Is there some significance to that, or just coincidence? The few that have mothers, usually die, such as Nemo’s mom and Bambi’s mom. Always wanted to know.
Dawn, Stoughton, Massachusetts
A: Regarding the animated features, you are forgetting mothers in such films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (stepmother), Dumbo, Cinderella (stepmother), Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Lion King, Hercules, Mulan, Toy Story, The Incredibles, and The Princess and the Frog. Even Rapunzel in Tangled had her Mother Gothel, not to mention her real mother.
Q: I would like to know how many fireworks shells are used each night at Disneyland.
Larry, Walker, Louisiana
A: The exact details on the fireworks at Disneyland have not been released, but we know that in the 1970s and 1980s, there were 200-220 shells in each show, and these days, starting in 2000 with the Believe…There’s Magic in the Stars show, there are more.
Q: Will the stage show Aladdin ever come to Walt Disney World?
Nancy, Canton, Ohio
A: There are no plans to bring the Aladdin show, currently in the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure, to Walt Disney World, but it is featured as evening entertainment on the new Disney Fantasy cruise ship during its Caribbean cruises.
Q: In Golden, Colorado, there is a place called Heritage Square. It is rumored that Walt Disney had something to do with this place. Also a place that has now closed in Denver called Celebrity Sports Center was a bowling alley and indoor pool, and it’s been said that Walt was an investor along with Art Linkletter. Do you know anything about either one?
Carissa, San Jose, California
A: Disney had nothing do so with Heritage Square, but several former Disney employees (including early Disneyland vice president C. V. Wood) were involved in its inception. It was originally created as an amusement park called Magic Mountain in 1959, but it closed due to financial difficulties the following year. A decade later, the park was reborn and opened as Heritage Square. The Celebrity Sports Center was indeed a Disney facility. It was opened in 1960, having been built by a group of celebrity investors that included Walt Disney and Art Linkletter, but in 1962 it was purchased from the original investors by Walt Disney Productions. Disney kept the Center until 1979, when it was sold. It had been used by Disney to train personnel who would be involved in similar occupations at Walt Disney World. The Center was demolished in 1995, and a Home Depot store is now on the site.
Q: I am a Disney media collector and use your book as reference. I wonder what your position is about The Avengers franchise aside from the 2012 movie that you listed in the Appendix. For example, the DVD releases of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that plays on Disney XD… Would that be considered a Disney film?
Rodulfo, Mexico City, Mexico
A: In Disney A to Z, I generally do not list individual DVD releases, so, no, this show’s DVDs will not be listed there. On the other hand, it was made by Marvel after Marvel had been purchased by Disney, so technically it is a Disney film.
Q: I am looking for the Pigs is Pigs poem I used in elementary school for a public speaking event. It was in a red hardcover Disney book that had many stories in it. Is there a copy of that book out there somewhere for purchase or even just a copy of the poem version for my students to use in the same way?
Annette, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
A: This poem was created by the Disney story team for our 1954 cartoon, based on the well-known story by Ellis Parker Butler. It was indeed published in the Golden Press book, Walt Disney’s Story Land, first published in 1961 and kept in print into the 1990s.
Q: I found a Snow White’s Last Call For Dinner picture published by the New York Graphic Society Fine Art Publishers and am wondering if you could give me any information about it?
James, Seattle, Washington
A: The New York Graphic Society was licensed from 1945 to 1949 to do full-color lithographic prints of scenes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi, and they did several from each picture. Purchasers could buy a 20 x 24 one for $4, a 15 x 18 one for $2, or a 10 x 12 one for $1.
Q: Classic Disney park songs like “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me),” the Tiki Room song, and “Grim Grinning Ghosts” have such a warm characteristic sound. Were those songs recorded in a Disney studio, or was that work done elsewhere?
Todd, Locust, Virginia
A: According to Glenn Barker at Walt Disney Imagineering, all of these were recorded on “A” Stage, the large orchestra stage, at the Disney Studio in Burbank. The organ for “Grim Grinning Ghosts” was recorded on the 24-rank Robert Morton pipe organ at Whitney Recording Studio in Glendale, California.