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: In an episode of Disneyland entitled “The Fourth Anniversary Show,” Walt tells the story of a visit to the studio by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev who proceeds to play Peter and the Wolf for Walt, inspiring him to make the animated version that appeared in Make Mine Music. Is there any truth in this story, or was it just staged for television?
Templeton, Louisville, Kentucky
A: The TV show version was staged, but the meeting did actually happen. Prokofiev visited the Disney Studio on February 28, 1938, with his lawyer Randolph Polk, to play the piano score of Peter and the Wolf for Walt Disney and Disney composer Leigh Harline. Supposedly Prokofiev had written the piece with Walt in mind. It took a while, but a contract was finally signed three years later, and our Peter and the Wolf came out in Make Mine Music in 1946.
Q: How much is the first Disneyland ticket valued at, and would it ever be sold?
Josselin, Moreno Valley, California
A: There is really no way to estimate a value. It is a part of the permanent collection of the Walt Disney Archives and will never be sold.
Q: I found an old copy of Art of Animation in my house a few years ago, and stuffed between a couple of the pages are hand-drawn sketches of what looks like Pinocchio storyboards. While I doubt they have any actual historical significance, is there any way to verify that?
Haylie, Granada Hills, California
A: You could send scans to the Disney Animation Research Library and ask the staff there.
Q: I found two stuffed-animal-head hats that my mom and I wore when we got to be a part of one of the parades at Disneyland. One is a pink panda and the other is an orange lion with a plastic raffia mane. If I remember correctly, cast members randomly picked out guests to be in the parade. I believe it was the Happiest Homecoming Parade in 2005. Am I right?
Nicki, Chatsworth, California
A: In Disneyland’s 45 Years of Magic Parade in 2000, guests chosen to participate in the parade were given tutus and brightly colored animal hats to wear along the parade route. Perhaps this is the parade you recall.
Q: Has Pixar ever helped with any Disney animated movies?
Kobe, Delaware, Ohio
A: John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar, is also chief creative officer at the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, is also president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. So, yes, the two groups consult with each other.
Q: What do you do with the recordings of current presidents at the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World after the person is no longer president?
Avi, Irvine, California
A: The recordings are maintained in the sound department at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Q: I have a Disney doll and I think it is a Mortimer. There is no labeling or paperwork. I am trying to find out exactly what it is and what year it was made and the value, if any.
Vicki, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A: You can try sending a photo to Disney.Archives@disney.com.
Q: Found in my brother’s storage: “The Juvenile Drama Pollocks Regency Theatre with the Characters and Scenes for The Sleeping Beauty,” ”Made in England.” It’s never been opened. Can you tell me about this, and who would be interested in having it?
Jerry, Corona, California
A: Sorry, the Walt Disney Archives has little information on foreign-produced Disney merchandise. This item is unfamiliar to me.
Q: We have an 8mm black-and-white Steamboat Willie cartoon reel. How much would it be worth, if anything?
Jamie-Lee, Sonoma, California
A: Old 8mm Disney films have little or no value—few people have projectors anymore, and the films have all been released on other media.
Q: I’m wondering if Disneyland has a banner of any kind that I might put on my bedroom wall behind my growing Disney collection on the shelf. And do you have past years of yearly snow globes like from 2005 and 2006.
Marshall, San Diego, California
A: These are not things that you could get directly from Disney. You might try eBay.
Q: When EPCOT first opened in 1982, there was a special on TV (I don’t remember if it was on Disney Channel or network TV), but it had a short biography on Walt Disney. As the short film was being played, Mac Davis sang a song called “Marceline” in reference to Walt’s boyhood hometown. Is there any place I could find that song? Was it ever released on a CD or album? I remember as a kid watching that over and over just because I liked the song “Marceline.”
Jason, Greer, South Carolina
A: The song, “Marceline,” actually came from the Disney television show Walt Disney—One Man’s Dream (1981). It was written by Ken and Mitzie Welch, with the composers nominated for an Emmy® Award for their song. I am not aware of any CD or album releases.
Q: My friends and I are doing a history fair project on the cultural transformation of Mickey Mouse. We are trying to find someone to email for a primary source. Is there email information that you could give so that we can ask questions?
Syd, Odessa, Florida
A: Send your email to me c/o Disney.email@example.com, and they can forward it.
Q: I have some old DQ series records (LPs) from the late 1950s that were recorded and pressed from Capitol Records. I was wondering if you could tell me what DQ stands for.
Jeff, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
A: DQ was the designation given to the budget line of Disney long-playing phonograph records, which began in 1959. DQ stands for Disney Quality.
Q: My husband has the second-only known copy of the Mickey Mouse Book (Christmas Variant) that values in the Robert M. Overstreet price guide at $8,000. We think it belongs in the Archives.
Monica, Riverside, California
A: We appreciate the offer of the book, but the Archives already has several copies of it. Many variations exist, with additional printings often added by theaters that sponsored Mickey Mouse Club chapters and gave the book to their club members.
Q: I’ve heard there was a preview center for Disneyland in 1954-55. I can’t seem to find any information about it or even reference to it when performing an online search. Did such a place really exist and if so, is there any information about it and photos you could point me to?
Rob, Olympia, Washington
A: There was no preview center for Disneyland; the first one for a new Disney park was for Walt Disney World.
Q: I have a question regarding the Winnie the Pooh franchise that I hope you can help me shed some light on: How come the character Gopher hasn’t been used in any productions since the animated series The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh?
Dennis, Borås, Sweden
A: Evidently the producers of the Pooh films have decided that Gopher was not an especially strong character. He was created for Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and never appeared in the A. A. Milne books. Thus he was not as “authentic” as the other characters in the Pooh films.
Q: As I understand it, Piglet wasn’t used in the first Winnie the Pooh featurette, but he was mentioned (and shown) in the Winnie the Pooh theme song. Was there a different theme song for the first Winnie the Pooh featurette, or was he simply mentioned but never shown in the actual film?
Dennis, Borås, Sweden
A: Piglet does appear briefly in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, in the “book illustrations” shown during the theme song at the beginning of the film.
Q: My grandfather was a strafing fighter pilot in WWII in the Navy, serving in the Pacific. He flew for the VC-11 squadron aboard the USS Nehenta Bay. The artwork for the squadron was created by Disney, and I would like to get a copy, in full color, of the artwork if possible. The artwork is of an ape up in the clouds with machine guns at his feet and bombs grasped in his hands. Thank you in advance.
James, Wichita, Kansas
A: The Archives does not seem to have a color photo of the VC-11 squadron insignia, sent to the unit in January 1944, but I can provide a description of the colors—ape: brown with light yellow hands, feet, ear, and face; background: yellow; cloud: light blue; machine guns: gray and black; bombs: black with red noses; muzzle flashes: yellow.
Q: I have a movie of Mickey Mouse dated 1932. Is there any value for this?
Hank, Petaluma, California
A: There is little or no value to the early Mickey Mouse films that were released for home use on 8mm or 16mm. They have all been released on later media.
Q: I would like to get a job at The Walt Disney Studios. I would like to become an idea guy and actor like Walt did in the past. What do I need to do?
Joe, Poulsbo, Washington
A: Check out the Disney Careers website to see what type of jobs are available. You will see that most require a college education; you can select a college major that will fit in with the qualifications of the jobs available.
Q: I am so hoping you can help me find a copy to view or purchase of the series The Horse of the West, “The Story of Bay Lady,” season 4, episode 13, December 11, 1957.
Jennifer, Bloomington, Indiana
A: I regret that Horse of the West has never been released on DVD.
Q: I was hoping to purchase a DVD of the movie Hocus Pocus. Is it not available?
Nancy, Palo Alto, California
A: Hocus Pocus was released on DVD in 2002. Copies are currently available on eBay.