Each week, Disney fans and D23 Members send us dozens of questions for 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: How many presidents have lent their voices to The Hall of Presidents attraction?
Avi, Irvine, California
A: The first President to provide audio for his Audio-Animatronics® figure in The Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World was Bill Clinton, when his figure was added in 1993. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have continued the tradition.
Q: I have a 60th anniversary edition DVD of Dumbo that I’ve had ever since I was little. One of the bonus features promotes the sequel Dumbo 2. When I was little, I thought that this movie would be released on DVD, but it never was. I think that it was shelved, but I would like to know why, and why it was promoted if it never came about?
Linda, Alva, Oklahoma
A: The 60th anniversary Dumbo DVD came out in 2001. At that time, Disney was planning a direct-to-video Dumbo 2. However, John Lasseter, who became the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006, felt that such sequels tarnished the classics, so he put a stop to this one, as well as several others that were being considered.
Q: A long time ago on Vault Disney, I saw a movie about an old man trying to find some kids in a magical land. I’m not sure if they were his grandchildren or not but I remember that everyone was little. I think the kids had been turned into little people as well. I remember seeing a lot of trees and grass and maybe flowers. I can’t remember as much as I would like. I know it was in black and white, and I think I remember the old man in a car singing with his grandchildren. I would really like to know the name of this movie. I can’t seem to find out anywhere.
A: You may be thinking of The Gnome-Mobile (1967). Walter Brennan was the grandfather, and the two kids from Mary Poppins played his grandchildren. In the redwood forests of California, while riding in an old Rolls Royce, they encountered a colony of gnomes who were living there. The movie was in color, but perhaps you saw it in black and white on television.
Q: We took a picture for the Leave a Legacy in Epcot a few years back. We cannot find the picture ID number. Can you locate it? Wayne and Emily are the names on our card.
Carolyn, Bellefontaine, Ohio
A: You can look up the location at Epcot the next time you are there, at the Leave a Legacy Locator in the Camera Center under Spaceship Earth.
Q: Around 1984-86 on Disney Channel, there was a Winnie the Pooh show that was not animated. The characters were in animal suits and acted out the half-hour story. My daughters loved the show because they thought it was real versus the animated show. I have been unable to find any copies or old videos of this show anywhere. Can you help?
Robin, Sterling, Virginia
A: This show is Welcome to Pooh Corner, which aired on Disney Channel beginning in 1983. It has never been released on DVD, but it was on six volumes of VHS tapes available from 1984-1986. As I write this, some of the tapes are available on eBay.
Q: Have there been any stories of any ghost sightings at Disneyland or any of the parks—real ghosts, not on the Haunted Mansion attractions?
Avi, Irvine, California
A: There are a few ghost stories going around. Cast members at Walt Disney World have tales of a ghost, who they have named George, in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. George is supposedly a friendly, though mischief-making ghost. http://doombuggies.com/myths3.php talks about several in the Haunted Mansion, including a little boy at the unload area. Naturally, there is no official confirmation of any of these.
Q: I attended Grad Night at Disneyland in 1971 and want to relive some of those memories. I found a site that listed the entertainment and poster but would like to see what the marquee read, what the ticket books looked like, etc. I do have the Winnie the Pooh plush animal, somewhere, but it is missing the graduation cap. Any information you could share would be very much appreciated. I have been unlucky searching the web.
Shelley, Rescue, California
A: In 1971, Grad Night was held at Disneyland on June 4, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18. We would not know the wording on the marquee, but accompanying this answer is a copy of the ticket.
Q: What significant events changed Walt Disney’s Life?
Georgia, Chicago, Illinois
A: My guesses as to the most significant events in Walt Disney’s life would be his travel to France with the Red Cross in 1918, his trip to California in 1923 to start his company, his marriage to Lillian Bounds and the birth of his two daughters, the creation of Mickey Mouse in 1928, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, his first television series in 1954, Disneyland in 1955, and Mary Poppins in 1964.
A: With the newest Oz feature about to be released, I’m interested in an older feature—I think it was Return to Oz starring Annette Funicello. Was this film ever completed? I’m guessing it would have been around the time she made Babes in Toyland.
Barbara, Mountain Home, Idaho
A: Return to Oz, made by Disney in 1985, starred Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. When she was on the Mickey Mouse Club, three decades earlier, Annette Funicello performed in a segment on The Fourth Anniversary Show, one of the Disney television shows from 1957, introducing an upcoming film to be called The Rainbow Road to Oz. That film was never made.
Q: At the beginning of Phineas and Ferb, Phineas’ voice sounded a lot different than it does in more recent episodes. Was it a different actor, or was the current actor developing his voice for Phineas?
Corey, West Palm Beach, Florida
A: When Phineas and Ferb began back in 2007, Vincent Martella did the voice of Phineas, and he is still doing it today. When the series first began production, Vincent was 14 years old. Now he is 20. No doubt his voice has changed over those six years.
Q: I’m a fan of the attraction. I love it! Has Disney released Mickey’s PhilharMagic short film on DVD or some other format?
Luis, Miramar, Florida
A: No, the film has remained exclusive to the Disney parks, seen in the attraction at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.
Q: I would like to find more information about Holidayland. My grandfather has a couple of pictures that show Disney artists with sketches of Holidayland, some even have Walt Disney in them. Where can I go to find out the artists’ names and anything else about the pictures?
Mark, Irvine, California
A: Holidayland was a picnic area, from 1957 to 1961, under a circus tent outside the Disneyland berm where companies could rent the area for company picnics, then the guests could enter Disneyland itself. We probably cannot identify sketch artists that worked there, but if you want to send copies of the photos to Disney.Archives@disney.com they can look at them for you.
Q: In the “Complete List of Disney Films,” there is one missing; Mosby’s Marauders starring Kurt Russell and James MacArthur. It was released sometime about 1966, originally called Willie and the Yank. Why is it missing from the “Complete List?”
Alan, Midvale, Utah
A: It is not on the list of Disney theatrical features, because it started out as a three-part television show in 1967. It was only released in theaters abroad as a feature film, with the Mosby’s Marauders name.
Q: I was wondering where I could find a copy of the movie Mr. Boogedy? I am looking for it for a friend. Can you please help me?
Kathy, Neenah, Wisconsin
A: This film has not been released on DVD or VHS.
Q: Where can I watch the 1991 Christmas movie In The Nick of Time starring Lloyd Bridges, and where can I watch the 1997 movie Like Father, Like Santa?
Stephen, Concord, New Hampshire
A: In the Nick of Time has not been released on DVD; Like Father, Like Santa is not a Disney film.
Q: Was Sorcerer Mickey in the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo?
Matthew, North Hollywood, California
A: Yes, you can see it on YouTube.
Q: I have really vague memories of some kind of temporary theme in Disneyland related to the Disney Afternoon. I think I remember these from when I was very young (I was born in 1986). I looked online about these memories and only found a name: Disney Afternoon Avenue. But I don’t know if it’s all true. Once again, these are very vague memories of mine, and I could have just dreamed them for all I know. Know anything about this, Dave?
Joseph, Nevada, California
A: The only Disney Afternoon theme at Disneyland was indeed Disney Afternoon Avenue, for eight months in 1991. The area in front of it’s a small world was decorated with building fronts modeled after the ones in the Disney Afternoon TV shows, and costumed characters interacted with guests. The Fantasyland Autopia and Motor Boat Cruise were also themed to Disney Afternoon.
Q: I heard that Walt Disney did not, in fact, ever say the famous quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Is that true? If so, who did say it?
Krystina, Avondale, Arizona
A: He never said this quote. If you check my book, Disney Trivia from the Vault, you can find the true story: “Despite its frequent publication, that is not a Walt Disney quote. We checked with Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald for the definitive answer: ‘I am very familiar with that line because I wrote it! It was written specifically for the Horizons attraction at Epcot and used in numerous ways, from dialogue in the ride to graphics. I find it amusing that the Science of Imagineering DVD series attributes it to Walt Disney, but I guess I should be flattered.’”
Q: I’ve been fortunate to meet Disney people like yourself at Disney events. Nearly 25 years ago, I met Disney animator Harry Holt at Disney World where he was signing pictures. I have his scene from Bambi framed on my wall. I’ve read where some people say that these are pencil drawings, some say they’re photostatic copies, and others say a combination of the two. Could you please clarify?
Lou, Rego Park, New York
A: I passed this question on to former Walt Disney World artist Russell Schroeder, who worked with Harry Holt, and here is his reply: “When Harry Holt first started drawing in the park, he did completely original pencil sketches for guests. Because of the high demand and to reduce guests’ wait time, he soon created an assortment of original sketches that were then printed on quality paper, but he left a space for something hand-drawn to be added. Guests could also get the art framed at that location. If Lou’s copy has multiple characters in it, it is likely one of those combination printed and hand-drawn pieces.”
Q: While waiting to ride Radiator Springs Racers, I was told by a cast member that the license plates on the ride vehicles represented some sort of background information on the Imagineers who worked on the ride. Is this true, and if so what is the relationship?
Marc, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
A: They are initials and birthdays of the Imagineers and Pixar animators who worked on the attraction. This is true also of the baby tractors in Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
Q: I have always loved Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, partly because of its history and the fact that it was the first full Audio-Animatronics show. At the time of the Tiki Room‘s opening, in 1963, there was a full control room for the show located right underneath it (as seen on the Disneyland 10th anniversary show). This control room looked to be very complex for its time. Since Audio-Animatronics technology has certainly advanced by leaps and bounds since the Tiki Room‘s opening, what is this control room used for today, if anything?
Fred, Placentia, California
A: The room is still used for its original purpose, though the technology has indeed changed.
Q: Dave, you are such a wealth of Disney knowledge. Do you ever present your own symposiums or provide Disney Lectures anywhere? I would love to listen to any presentations you might have.
Keith, Port Orchard, Oregon
A: I occasionally do lectures at Disney events, fan conventions, and on Disney Cruise Line ships. You just missed, in March, a short lecture at a luncheon at the Ronald Reagan Library in conjunction with the Disney exhibit, which closes in April, and another for annual passholders at Disneyland.
Q: You mentioned that the merchandise from the 1930s had a copyright notice of Walt Disney Enterprises. Was that like a written notice or a sort of stamp?
Kris, Miami, Florida
A: It was not a stamp, simply a written copyright notice. Depending on the size of the object, and thus the space available to write it, it could have been © Walt Disney Enterprises, Walt Disney Ent., WD Ent., or WDE.
Q: Why is Trenchcoat still not branded as a Disney film when it is tame in comparison to current Disney films like The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, and John Carter. Has it ever seen a DVD release?
Andrew, Smyrna, Georgia
A: The film was released on VHS in 1983 and on DVD in 2012. It was released originally without the Disney name during a period before Disney had come up with its Touchstone label for more adult-themed fare. Normally for later releases, changes are not made on how a film is labeled.
Q: I am trying to get confirmation as to which show was the first to run on Disney Channel on April 18, 1983. I know both Good Morning Mickey and Welcome to Pooh Corner ran that morning, but unsure which show actually owns the title, “first show run on the Disney Channel.”
Kim, Natick, Massachusetts
A: According to the premiere issue of the Disney Channel Magazine, the very first show to air was Good Morning Mickey, followed by Mousercise, Welcome to Pooh Corner, and You and Me, Kid, in that order.
Q: My grandfather Paul Heinig was an artist. Two of his watercolors are featured in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute. Our family has always believed that he was employed by Walt Disney as an artist sometime between 1940 and 1960. Do you have any information that could help me to unlock this family history? Any help you may be able to offer would be appreciated!
Sue, Dubuque, Iowa
A: We have no listing that he was ever employed at the Disney Studio in California, though it is possible he could have worked in the art department at Disneyland. The Archives does not have their personnel records.
Q: I have always wondered if the hatbox ghost rumors are true in the Haunted Mansion. Can you tell me about the hatbox ghost?
Sammy, Phoenix, Arizona
A: There is a whole website devoted to this character from the Haunted Mansion. It did not last long essentially because the effect of a head appearing and disappearing in the hatbox never worked well enough. It was removed, and possibly cannibalized for parts for other figures.
Q: Will you be at the Disney Expo this year?
Kyle, Phoenix, Arizona
A: I hope to be.
Q: I once heard that Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland is federally protected land like a national park, and it has something on it from every state. Is that true?
Max, Chatsworth, California
A: No, that is not true.
Q: Our small school is interested in producing two presentations of Beauty and the Beast. Please direct to a contact person to get permission.
Dan, Branford, Florida
A: Beauty and the Beast and Beauty and the Beast Jr. are both distributed by MTI (Music Theatre International). You can check their website.
Q: I am hoping you can help me with finding out the history of a Disney record I recently acquired. The record is titled Disney’s Family Reunion and includes a 12-page, illustrated lyric book. According to the sleeve, the record is “Presented by Kraft in celebration of Disneyland’s 25th Anniversary.” Was this record released by Disney, or was it simply licensed to Kraft?
David, Fairfield, California
A: This LP record album was released in 1979, and it is indeed a Disney product, created for Kraft Foods to use as a promotion. The catalog number was DL-3518.
Q: I am a twin who played Little Ricky on the I Love Lucy show from the third through fifth seasons. We were doing the part of Little Ricky during the grand opening of Disneyland, so my mom took us down, and I am told that there were some pictures and/or footage of one of us with Lucy and Desi taken in the teacups.
Joe, Portland, Oregon
A: Lucy and Desi are not on our list of celebrities that were at Disneyland on opening day, July 17, 1955. We know that Lucille Ball visited Disneyland on July 1-2, 1957; July 17, 1958 (Desi was with her at least this time); August 12-13, 1959; April 12, 1960; and August 6-7, 1961. It would not be easy looking for a photograph without knowing which date.
Q: What was the first Disney movie, either live-action or animated, to be sold on DVD?
Avi, Irvine, California
A: The first day of release of a Disney movie on DVD was December 2, 1997, but there were eight films released that day so it is impossible to designate one as being the first. The titles included George of the Jungle, Phenomenon, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, The Rock, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Q: One of my favorite songs out of the Disney songbook is “What, No Mickey Mouse?” written by Irving Caesar in, I believe, 1932. I have only heard two recordings, one featuring a male vocal ensemble from the 1930s and another by Phil Harris. Are there any other recordings of this song, and what is the history behind it.
Jared, Terre Haute, Indiana
A: Those are the only two recordings of which I am aware. The 1932 78-rpm recording (Brunswick 6389) featured Ben Bernie & All the Lads; the Phil Harris recording was put out by Buena Vista Records on a 45-rpm record, F-477, in 1970. The song was also published on sheet music.
Q: Back in 2005, I bought the summer issue of Disney Magazine. The cover story was about the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. Was this the last issue of Disney Magazine?
Justin, Appling, Georgia
A: Yes, the Summer 2005 issue was the last one.
Q: I have always heard that Mickey’s birthday was November 18th, but I have a vinyl album in my collection that celebrates Mickey and on the back it reads that Steamboat Willie‘s big debut was actually September 19, 1928, at the Colony Theater in New York. The album was made by the Disney Company. So why am I hearing two different dates?
Alex, Fortville, Indiana
A: Mickey’s birthday has always been determined to be the date that Steamboat Willie opened at the Colony Theater. We have a program from that theater in the Archives from the actual date. It was November 18, 1928, not September 19.
Q: Is there a copy of the song “It Won’t be Long ‘Til Christmas” from the movie The Happiest Millionaire, sung by Greer Garson and Fred MacMurray? The song on the soundtrack as well as the Sherman Brothers’ Songbook have others singing this song. I just want the original song by the original actors. The song has so much heart, I hope there is a way to find the original.
Rebecca, Chesapeake, Virginia
A: Greer Garson and Fred MacMurray sang the song on the soundtrack, but it was cut from the film before release. It is on the Restored Roadshow Version, put out by Disney on DVD in 2003.
Q: I recently heard at Walt Disney World that Walt’s favorite character was Goofy. This surprised me because naturally, I would have thought that Mickey was Walt’s favorite character. Which is true?
Kyle, Winter Park, Florida
A: I also believe that he was partial to Mickey Mouse.