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: Do you have any idea how the Sherman Brothers came up with the word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?
Melanie, Northfield, Ohio
A: Richard Sherman said in an interview that it was “a word we sort of concocted from our childhood when we used to make up double-talk words.” He also recalled that he and his brother brainstormed some words that could be part of it: “Super-colossal” and “atrocious” helped lead the way.
Q: Which actor or actress was cast in the most Disney films?
Barbara, DeWitt, Michigan
A: That answer would be difficult to determine because there are actors who have played many minor roles in Disney films. So we can guess at a few. As a leading actor, Dean Jones appeared in more than 25 films and TV shows; John Ratzenberger has done voice roles in all the Pixar features along with other Disney work; Clarence Nash, as Donald Duck, provided a voice in more Disney theatrical cartoons than any other voice artist.
Q: How long have the Christmas parade specials at the parks been televised? My favorite was when Animal Kingdom was featured. There were many years when I wasn’t able to see them. Will they be released on DVD someday, with or without the guest artists’ performances… perhaps highlights?
Leslie, Las Vegas, Nevada
A: The Florida parade, then titled Walt Disney World’s Very Merry Christmas Parade, debuted on ABC in 1983, with Joan Lunden and Mike Douglas as hosts. It has appeared most years since that time, with the exception of 2000. Segments from the Disneyland Christmas parade have often been included on the show, which is now known as the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. There are no plans for releasing the early parade telecasts on DVD.
Q: I was wondering if you know what happened to the Tin Man and the house that was in Oz from Return to Oz.
Zach, Antioch, California
A: I do not know about the house, but we do have the Tin Man, along with Tik Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead, in the Walt Disney Archives.
Q: My husband’s dad, Art Philo, worked on many of the Audio-Animatronics® and was a personal friend of Walt. We have several pieces of memorabilia, including a rough clay model of Mickey Mouse from Fantasia. It’s about seven inches tall, and I would like to find someone to tell us what we should insure for. Is there someplace I could take it?
Linda, Oxnard, California
A: It is almost impossible to guess values of unique items such as yours. Its value would be what someone is willing to pay for it, and you wouldn’t know that unless you put it up for sale at auction or someone made you an offer.
Q: I bought a pair of vintage Mickey and Minnie dolls from a woman who had been a secretary in the Animation department for many years. The notation was that they had been replicas created by a woman named Edna Allen in 1934. Do you know anything about Edna Allen and her connection to the Animation group? How would I go about determining the origin and value of these models? They are about 20 inches tall and are hand-sewn using fabrics of silk, velvet, and flannel with some sort of wood or hard substance inside the base of the feet. Might they have been models for the animators?
Maureen, Houston, Texas
A: Sorry, I am not familiar with the name Edna Allen. She is not listed among the Disney employees in 1934. Models for the animators were never dolls with clothing, but rather made of plaster or, more recently, resin. The Studio did not have a model shop in 1934.
Q: Who are the voices behind some of the attractions? For instance, I found out that Paul Frees is the voice behind the Haunted Mansion ghost host, and I was wondering who are all the others?
Debra, Manalapan, New Jersey
A: Disney has generally not publicized the actors whose voices have been used in the park attractions, though some of the Haunted Mansion actors have indeed become well-known: Paul Frees, Thurl Ravenscroft, and Eleanor Audley, to name three. Royal Dano provided the voice of Abraham Lincoln for attractions at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and Disneyland park. Pete Renoudet has done voices for a number of attractions. You can find websites that list other Disney park voices.
Q: My son has a trip planned for Disney World in July and would like to know if you can take a cooler with drinks inside the park? I don’t know if you are the one to ask but thought I’d start here.
Ginger, Sherwood, Arkansas
A: Generally small coolers, which can fit in the parks’ lockers, are allowed, but no glass or alcoholic beverages.
Q: Do D23 Members get into the Disney Expo for free? If not what is the price?
Louis, Yucca Valley, California
A: Tickets for the 2013 D23 Expo will go on sale August 9, 2012, and information on them will be on the D23 website.
Q: I purchased four Disney prints at a garage sale for 50 cents. There is no date on them that I can find. They are “Forest Secrets, Told by Thumper to Bambi,” “Bambi Meets his Forest Friends,” “Snow White’s Last Call for Dinner,” and “Good Friends, All!” They are 10×12 inches and say, “Copyright New York Graphic Society, Fine Art Publishers, published with cooperation of Walt Disney Productions, California” in left corner and “Litho in USA” on the right corner. I called New York Graphic Society, and they couldn’t tell me anything as their online records didn’t go back that far. Can you tell me about these and where I may find out what they are worth?
Shannon, Bode, Iowa
A: The New York Graphic Society was a Disney licensee for those prints from 1945-’49; they made Disney prints in several different sizes. We do not know values, but obviously it would be more than you paid.
Q: Which cartoon or film has some reference to Italy (like the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp)?
Diletta, Rome, Italy
A: The main one, of course, is Pinocchio, whose story is set in Italy. There is a scene in Italy in Cars 2, and one of the Scat Cats in The Aristocats is an Italian Cat.
Q: I was recently at the Walt Disney World Fanniversary, which was great. They mentioned a few different Disney characters and movies that are turning 25 this year, but I didn’t write them down. I’m planning a surprise for my Disney baby who is turning 25 this year and would love to include these things.
Donna, Jensen Beach, Florida
A: I asked Steven Vagnini, who co-presented the Fanniversary event at Walt Disney World. These are the 25th anniversaries that they noted in the show: Disney Dollars (May 5, 1987, at Disneyland), Star Tours (January 9, 1987, at Disneyland), Disney Store (March 28, 1987), and Ducktales (September 21, 1987).
Q: I am the youngest son of Eustace A. Lycett, one of Walt Disney’s original employees starting on Hyperion in 1937. My father passed away in 2006, just shy of 92. He was a two-time Academy Award® winner, as well as several nominations. I have several items that may be of interest. One item is an original program for the world premiere of Mary Poppins, which is signed by Walt Disney, Julie Andrews, and Dick Van Dyke. I also have a notebook of handwritten formulas for the special effects of some of his films. My question is, do these items have any value?
Victor, Orange, California
A: I knew Eustace well—a very nice and talented man. Your items would indeed have value to collectors. If you want to sell, you might try eBay or an auction house like Profiles in History that specializes in movie memorabilia.
Q: Which episode featured a pack of dogs running into Walt’s office and leaping into the air from his desk?
Michael, Millbrae, California
A: That was Walt Disney’s introduction to Bristle Face, Part II, which aired on February 2, 1964.
Q: I know that having a window on Main Street, U.S.A. is the highest honor in the company. I was just wondering, as there are now quite a few Main Streets, are any one of them more “honorable” than another (for example, is a window on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland a higher honor than one on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom?) or are they all equal and one is put in wherever there’s room?
Jonathan, Woodmere, New York
A: I would say that they are all equal. Of course, one could argue that the original windows at Disneyland might be more significant because Walt Disney himself selected the people to be honored, but I would deem it a tremendous honor to be commemorated on a Main Street window in any of the Disney parks.
Q: The King Triton statue that used to sit in Ariel’s Grotto over in the Disneyland Resort has been removed. Is it the same one that is now on top of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure? If not, where is it now?
Cooper, Salt Lake City, Utah
A: Yes, that is the same King Triton statue.
Q: The closure of my favorite Walt Disney World ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, got me thinking about the decommissioning process. What role does the Disney Archives have in the process? How is it decided what elements of an attraction are saved or reused? Does the Archives get first “dibs?” For items not retained by Disney, are they destroyed or sold?
Jenny, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A: The process has not always been the same. Essentially today, first dibs go to Walt Disney Imagineering in case they have another attraction in which to use the item. Then the Archives is allowed to select what it wants. Remaining items are sometimes destroyed or have been sold as surplus property.
Q: Can you confirm (or not) that Earl Harper was the original Santa Claus at Disneyland, as well as a friend of Walt’s? And thanks for all you do (and have done) for establishing and preserving the Disney Archives.
Ronald, Lahaina, Hawaii
A: He was not the first but an early Santa Claus at Disneyland. A former police officer in the city of Vernon, California, he had started at the park as a security guard in 1966. He returned to perform at the park’s 50th anniversary party thrown by the Disneyland Alumni Club in 2005.
Q: I was invited to a preview of the original 5th Avenue New York “House of Disney“ Disney Store back in 1996 and still have the original invitation. It is a three-dimensional card that opens up to show a formally dressed Mickey and Minnie dancing under a dangling chandelier. While I have no intention of selling mine, I am curious if these types of invitations were sent out for other special Disney openings.
Louis, Rego Park, New York
A: While there have been other Disney Store opening invitations, yours is probably one of the more elaborate ones.
Q: We were watching Enchanted last night and in the big song-and-dance number in Central Park, they have what I believe are things that represent the next set of Disney/Pixar movies all over the place. Like when Giselle is singing with a little girl who is in a play of Rapunzel. Then there are dancers with clusters of balloons. And in one small section of the screen you can see a green flag, the same shape and color like in Brave. Any truth to this? Or is this just my overactive imagination?
Jon, Laguna Hills, California
A: I have not seen anything to prove your suspicions, so I assume the items you noticed were simply coincidental.
Q: Thank you for having your new book, Disney Trivia from the Vault, available on Kindle. I pre-ordered it as soon as I saw it.
Sheryll, Garden Grove, California
A: Thanks for buying it. It is the first of my books to be available on Kindle, so hopefully that will give it wider distribution.
Q: Can you tell me at which cinema in London, England, the Disney film The Rescuers premiered? I’m doing some research on Disney’s first-time releases in London.
Robert, London, England
A: The Royal European Premiere of The Rescuers was held on October 13, 1977, at the Odeon Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane in London, in the presence of H.R.H. the Princess Margaret. The premiere was a benefit for Girl Guides.
Q: In trying to find items not in the Archives collection, do you have someone that scans eBay for items you might need that have been lost? If so, is it “buy it at any cost” to acquire it? If so, how frequently are items purchased off eBay or antique stores annually to have in the Archives?
Jeff, Simi Valley, California
A: The Archives staff does not regularly scan eBay for interesting Disney items, but occasionally some are brought to our attention. The Archives actually purchases very little for its collection.
Q: I found a souvenir postcard pack from opening year at Walt Disney World. It includes “26 Colorful Photos of The Vacation Kingdom” from Walt Disney World. The original price listed is $0.35. Some of the included are The Polynesian Village, Fantasy In The Sky fireworks spectacular, and the Magnolia Golf Course, home of the PGA-Walt Disney Open. I was wondering what the current value of this collectible is.
Eileen, Emerson, New Jersey
A: One is on eBay right now with a “buy it now” price of $4.97.
Q: Is it true that there was once a walk-thru miniature “ride” at Disneyland? I was told that it was so popular that people would stay and gaze at the dollhouses for so long that it had to be shut down since it proved impractical. If there was, are there any photos? I’m a 30-plus year miniaturist, and I would love to see pictures.
Toni, Los Angeles, California
A: Walt Disney was a collector of miniatures, and he originally envisioned a series of settings in which miniatures could be displayed. He even built Granny’s Cabin, a pioneer farm home filled with miniature furniture and other pieces, which was exhibited at a 1952 “Festival of California Living” show in Los Angeles. But he soon realized that capacity per hour would be extremely low for such an attraction, so one was never built at Disneyland.
Q: In a recent question of mine, you explained that the musical composition “Pandeiro & Flute” by Benedito Lacerda can be heard in the film The Three Caballeros at the end of the Baia train sequence and just before the “Os Quindins de Ya-Ya” sequence. No music is played in between these two segments, and it seems that a single piece is played during the entirety of the train ride to Baia, as opposed to exclusively at the end. Is this the piece that you were referring to? Also, was the piece written originally for the film, or did it previously exist in some form?
Jeremiah, Fairfax, Virginia
A: It is the flute piece played during the train sequence, according to the film’s music cue sheet, running for one minute, three-and-two-thirds seconds. It is followed by silence, then “Os Quindins de Ya-Ya.” I have assumed it was not written for the film, but was simply licensed, though I have not seen evidence to back up that assumption.
Q: At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the animation tour used to feature a great introduction with Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite called “Back to Neverland.” It was one of my favorite Disney scripts, with Robin Williams’ humor before he did the voice of Genie, but just as funny. Has that footage ever been released on DVD as a “behind-the-scenes” or “remembered-attractions” type of bonus material?
Jeffrey, Orlando, Florida
A: Disney has never released it, but I see there is a version taped by a fan on YouTube.
Q: What does 4351-700 mean to Disney? Why is it on Goofy’s license plate and a sign in An Extremely Goofy Movie?
Adynna, Pasadena, California
A: That question has been on the Internet for more than 10 years, with no answer given. Sorry, I cannot help with this one.
Q: I got your book Disney A to Z, and there’s no listing for the Lucky Luke character for which Disney released VHS tapes in 1981. Would you have any more info on this?
Steven, Auburn, Massachusetts
A: These were indeed French films, not Disney-produced ones, but shown on Disney Channel and released on video by Disney. They originated from a popular French-Belgian comic book series created by Maurice de Bevere.
Q: Is there any footage of behind-the-scenes looks and deleted scenes of Hocus Pocus? Will they ever be released?
Jake, United Kingdom
A: There was no bonus material on the DVD release, and I know of no plans for a future release. I believe one deleted scene was glimpsed in the film’s trailer.
Q: My grandmother was given a gift from Disney for her help with Grad Nite ’77. It’s a Mickey Mouse figurine, approximately three inches tall, and I was wondering if you had any information on this piece.
Eric, Las Vegas, Nevada
A: If you send a picture to Disney.email@example.com, the archivists may be able to help. Perhaps it was a figurine being sold in the park in 1977.
Q: May I ask as to where Walt Disney learned art. I have heard that he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Do you know when he went there and what classes he took?
Richard, Council Bluffs, Iowa
A: When Walt was 14 years old, he enrolled in children’s art classes three nights a week at the Kansas City Art Institute. The next year, when he was 15, the Disney family moved to Chicago, and besides enrolling in high school, Walt attended night classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. There he studied pen technique, anatomy, and cartooning, but he learned the most from professional newspaper cartoonists teaching there, such as Carey Orr of the Chicago Tribune and Leroy Gossett of the Chicago Herald.
Q: About a decade ago, I saw a French poster for Fantasia unlike any other encountered before or since.
Alan, Artner, Illinois
A: We do not have a copy of that poster in the Walt Disney Archives. Fantasia was first released in France in 1943, and it has had several subsequent reissues.
Q: I am a Minnie Mouse fan and am curious how and when Figaro the cat became associated with her? I believe he made his debut as Geppetto’s cat in Pinocchio. Was he always Minnie’s cat, and is Figaro her official pet?
Breanne, Sacramento, California
A: The first cartoon in which Figaro appeared with Minnie Mouse was First Aiders (1944), four years after his debut in Pinocchio. He would continue to appear with Minnie and Pluto in a few more cartoons, ending with Pluto’s Sweater (1949). So, at least during that five-year period, he could be deemed Minnie’s pet.
Q: Would they bring back Mickey Mouse Revue?
Tim, Bardstown, Kentucky
A: The Mickey Mouse Revue debuted at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1971, remaining until 1980. Then it moved to Tokyo Disneyland, where it appeared from 1983 to 2009. The Mickey Mouse figure from the show is currently in the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. There are no plans to bring back the Mickey Mouse Revue to a Disney park.
Q: At the end of Brave, the movie was dedicated to Steve Jobs. Why?
Jeff, Tampa, Florida
A: Steve Jobs, who helped found Pixar Studios in 1986, passed away while Brave was in production.
Q: Was wondering: Is there anyone still left at The Walt Disney Company who Walt Disney hired, or anyone who remembers working with Walt Disney who’s still working for The Walt Disney Company?
Larry, Tampa, Florida
A: Sadly with the passage of the years (45-plus), there are only two people left at the Disney Studios who were hired during Walt Disney’s lifetime: animation director Burny Mattinson and publicist Arlene Ludwig. There are still several people at Disneyland who were hired pre-1966.
Q: Do you have a channel where you can watch movies that you play on Disney Channel? Like you can watch some shows on demand.
Kathryn, Council Bluffs, Iowa
A: If you check the on-demand listings from your cable provider, you may find some Disney titles. These titles vary from time to time, and from provider to provider.
Q: Do you know if there has ever been a collectible coin produced with Figment featured on it? The one time that I was not able to make a journey to Walt Disney World with my family, they said they saw one in the Imagination Pyramids store. When I went back two years later, I couldn’t find it and I have not been able to locate any on the Internet. Figment has always been a favorite of mine.
A: I am unaware of one, and we do not have one in our large Disney coin collection in the Walt Disney Archives. Do you think your family might have been referring to a Figment pressed-penny?
Q: Walt Disney hosted a party for the Quiz Kids (popular radio program in the 1940s), April 7, 1941. Does your Archives have any photographs of the Quiz Kids with Disney? Or any reference to this event?
Laura, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
A: Yes, we do have photos. According to his desk diary, Walt Disney went to the party at 2:00 that afternoon. The Quiz Kids did a broadcast from the Disney Studio.