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Walt Disney World Resort: One Hundred Years of Celebration

How many Canadians know that Walt Disney’s voice provided the squeaks and squawks for Mickey Mouse’s first cartoon feature? Or that Walt would regularly order live animals into the studio, so that his animators could gather around a live deer to sketch Bambi or a twitchy bunny for Thumper? Or, that he originally pushed for real African elephants and hippos, not mechanical props, to animate his Jungle Cruise ride in Disneyland?

For that matter, how many young visitors touring Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida or Disneyland in California even realize that Walt Disney was a living, thinking inventor—the creator of Mickey Mouse and a slew of imaginary worlds from Fantasy Land to Frontier Land? “We found that many of our guests under the age of 15 did not know Walt Disney was a real person,” said Roger Holzberg from Walt Disney Imagineering. “They thought it was just a company name.” Some company!

Walt Disney was a true original, who guessed correctly what the public wanted. He fought to have animals speak on screen for the first time, delighted in bringing classic fairy tales to life, and was as happy as any kid riding a kid-sized train or getting down on the floor to play with his collection of miniature moving toys. He so loved visiting zoos that when his wife Lilly heard about a trip to Europe, she warned, “Walt, if you’re going to look at more zoos, I’m not going with you!”

And so, to celebrate the man behind the cartoon characters and theme parks, the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando is staging a year-long extravaganza. To honor what would have been Walt’s 100th birthday—he was born on December 5, 1901—the “100 Years of Magic” celebration will feature sparkly parades with elaborate floats, life-size puppets dressed in Cirque du Soleil-like costumes and classic old-time cars, exhibits showing items pulled from the archives for the first time (such as the 1940 Oscar Walt won for Snow White), and new rides such as the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, the first new ride in Adventureland in 25 years.
Walt would probably approve. Visitors fly carpets up and down and side to sidewhile trying to dodge water spouts from spitting camels. As he said once about his park guests, “I want them, when they leave, to have smiles on their faces.”

After his success with cartoons, movie features, television shows, and the Mickey
Mouse Club, Walt had great fun planning his family amusement parks. He would travel
to Switzerland to see a wave machine for his Submarine ride, investigate a volcanic island near Cuba for his Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, and carry a mechanical bird in a cage back from Puerto Rico as inspiration for his Enchanted Tiki Room of singing birds.

No surprise then that each of the four parks will feature new “Discover the Stories Behind the Magic” interactive kiosks that will offer games and trivia. For instance, what did Walt originally want to call Mickey until his wife Lilly pooh-poohed it? The answer: Mortimer.

To help Canadians enjoy this birthday year (stretching to December 2002), the
Disney folks are offering a special 7-Day Park Hopper PLUS Ticket. With the purchase of
one ticket offering unlimited admission into all of the Orlando Disney Parks (EPCOT,
Animal Kingdom, Disney-MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom and the water parks), a second
ticket can be purchased at half price. Ask too about the very popular FASTPASS system. Guests can book times at the busiest attractions to avoid the line-ups.

“Never before have we launched so many things at once,” exclaimed one Disney official. And the reasons for Walt’s zeal remain just as valid today. “It will be a live, breathing thing,” Disney predicted of his kind of amusement park. “Even the trees will keep growing. The thing will get more beautiful year after year.” Happy birthday Walt!

For more information, call your travel agent or 407-W-DISNEY or visit www.disneyworld.ca. For Florida vacation deals, visit www.flausa.com.





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