QUESTION:  The Disney California Adventure Park opened next to Disneyland in 2001 on land that had previously been dedicated to what purpose?
A)  Waste treatment
B)  Parking
C)  Nature trails
D)  An airport

Yesterday's discussion of Walt Disney has inspired the blog to delve a little deeper into the man who created an empire.  Aside from the fifty-five animated features developed at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and numerous other films both animated and live action created by Disney and their affiliates, they have also become the world leader in theme park destinations. That all started in Anaheim, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. During the 1940's and early-Fifties, Walt Disney received countless requests from fans to visit his animation studios.  Aware that they would not be all that exciting, he tried to think of a way to please his fans. Meanwhile, he took his two daughters to Griffiths Park, a wooded refuge in downtown L.A. dominated by an observatory used in numerous films. There was also a carousel owned by Ross Davis. Disney's daughters, Diane and Sharon, loved to experience the carousel and its Wurlitzer band organ (more on that in another blog), but Walt and the other parents found the experience somewhat boring. He wanted to be entertained, too, and suspected other parents would agree.

In 1955, Disneyland opened with great fanfare. The day was July 17th, averaging at 101 degrees Fahrenheit, which proved difficult. Asphalt poured that morning was still hot enough that women's high-heeled shoes sank into them. And there were problems with the plumbing, such that they had to choose between keeping the toilets working or the water fountains. They wisely opted for the former, although visitors accused Pepsi of rigging things to improve sales of their beverage. And only about half the people who entered the park had legitimate tickets. Others either obtained counterfeit tickets or climbed the fences to get in. So yes, there was a lot of chaos, and some criticism.  Walt invited the 'legal' visitors to come back the next day for free for a second chance. People have been going ever since. In fact, there are currently twelve parks around the world: two in Anaheim, four in the Orlando, Florida region, two in Tokyo, two in Paris, one in Hong Kong, and the newest one in Shanghai, China. 

ANSWER:  B)  Parking.  It had been the original parking garage for Disneyland.

Walt Disney

QUESTION:  What was Walt Disney's middle name?
A)  Adolph
B)  Edward
C)  Alfred
D)  Elias

The staff of the American Treasure Tour hope to delight our visitors with our wonderful collections that span the twentieth century (dabbling in both the nineteenth and twenty-first as well).  One name that is triggered throughout the tour, though, is that of Walt Disney. Disney not only created the first animated full-length feature film, but he also developed the first modern theme park, effectively creating a worldwide entertainment industry that has only become even more influential since his untimely passing in 1966. Highlighting the addition of our wonderful papier-mache Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs, who joined our tour in October, it seems right to call out the man who changed the way families watch movies and take vacations.

Walt Disney was born in 1901 in Chicago, although the family soon moved to Missouri, where he spent his formative years. He dabbled in drawing as a child, and turn it into more than just a hobby when he got a job for an art studio in Kansas City. When they laid him off, he and his friend Ub Iwerks opened their own studio and manager to make enough money to move to Los Angeles. He was 28 years old when Mickey Mouse first appeared, and his fortunes dramatically changed - he became famous for his short cartoons with the iconic Mickey, as well as other characters. Innovative to the end, he was the first animator who incorporated sound in a cartoon and, of course, the first to make a full-length animated feature.  By 1955, his successes were unparalleled and he went in a new direction, designing what would become the most famous theme park in the world:  Disneyland.  When he died at the age of 65 due to lung cancer from a lifetime of heavy smoking, his legacy was secure, and his name synonymous with entertainment.

ANSWER:  D)  Elias