Friday, May 30, 2008

Meet Bill Peet

Bill Peet is known to Disney enthusiasts as a storyman with the Disney Studios from the early days. His involvement with the studio's animated films culminated with screenwriting duties on 101 Dalmatians and The Sword and the Stone. Peet also had a second career (outside of the world of Disney) as a children's book author and illustrator. His 30+ published works include How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head, The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg and The Caboose Who Got Loose. In 1989, Bill Peet became his own subject as he penned his autobiography simply titled "Bill Peet - An Autobiography". Although Peet is obviously front and center as the main subject of the book, he spent a good chunk of his life working for the Walt Disney Studios and as such Disney plays an important role in his life story.

His story, however, begins with his childhood and his love for drawing. Somewhat similar to Walt Disney, Peet had a cold and rather harsh upbringing and found peace and escape in his drawings. There were many points in Peet's young life where his talent for art was both a blessing and a curse. He was able to secure some odd jobs with his artistic talents but teachers often found him odd and unfocused. Peet tells about the few wonderful memories he had from his childhood and how they helped shape who he became. Peet met up with the Disney organization in 1937 and was hired on as an "in-betweener" mostly on Donald Duck shorts but also finding some side work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Peet worked for Disney because he needed a job, but he hated the assembly line type work of drawing the same thing over and over. One day after a new assignment of Donald Duck drawings came in, Bill snapped and made quite a scene in the middle of the studio. Fed up with the repeativeness of his job, Bill stormed out of the building hoping to never return. He did return the next day, however only to pick up his jacket. It was then that he discovered that he had been let go from his job as an in-betweener and reassigned to the story department.

Peet went to work in the story department, drawing panels for the storyboards for Pinocchio. His first project was working on images for a proposed scene called Bogyland which featured little creatures and monsters. The scene was eventually cut and Peet went on to sketch storyboards for more films. All the time while at Disney, Bill Peet had hoped to one day on his own create books for children. Many of his ideas he scratched as he lacked confidence in his own writing abilities. After some successful contributions to Walt Disney's Cinderella, Walt asked Peet to develop some ideas of his own into cartoon short subjects. Peet went back to his own personal drawing board and took some of his abandoned ideas and turned them into to animated shorts. Lambert the Sheepish Lion, Goliath II, and Susie the Little Blue Coupe were all stories that originated from the pen of Bill Peet.

This book offers an interesting perspective on Walt Disney, the man. So many works about Walt Disney offer portraits of the man in either extreme. Often you get the corporate-approved, mythical, perfect Walt Disney that did no wrong and had no bad ideas. Other books set out with an agenda to paint Walt as an evil Nazi, racist, control freak. Bill Peet neither idolized nor hated Walt Disney. Peet offers a fair peek behind the curtain at this great man that we all love so much. Walt and Bill had their moments good and bad, and Peet isn't afraid to share what he though about Walt sometimes. As documented in the recent Jungle Book DVD, Peet and Disney came to odds over the script for The Jungle Book and eventually Bill Peet left the studio before the project was finished.

Bill Peet - An Autobiography offers a unique look into both the Walt Disney Studios of yesterday and the man Walt Disney. Oh yeah, and it also gives you a look into Bill Peet's life as well. You'll find this a fair but different portrait of Walt Disney than you are used to seeing. At almost 200 fully illustrated pages, Autobiography is a breezy informative ride into the Walt Disney cartoon factory and a look at a man trapped inside.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Magical Beginnings Maps

If you haven't traveled to Walt Disney World with very young children recently, you may have missed Disney's recent push to promote their resort as a destination friendly enough for kids of all ages. They call this preschool promotion Magical Beginnings. I hear from so many new parents that they want to wait until their kids are older to take them to Walt Disney World so they'll remember it. As most of us that read and/or write Disney blogs will attest, it is possible to remember visits from very early in our childhood, but more important that that - taking your small children to Walt Disney World really isn't about the memories they'll have it's about the memories you'll have. You'll never forget the first time your child runs up and gives Mickey Mouse a hug, or the wide-eyed look on their face as they travel on "It's a Small World" for the first time.

Touring the Walt Disney World resort theme parks with small children does require a different approach than visiting with school aged kids. Disney has taken some of these tips, suggestions and reminders and put them together in a colorful little brochure that can easily be found at any of the parks Baby Care Centers. In addition to all the useful information in this hand-out, the centerpiece of the publication is some really cute simple maps that present the theme parks from a preschool perspective. They look as if they might have been inspired by the Mary Blair art of "It's a Small World". Since this isn't something every visitor to the parks is likely to pick up, I'd thought I'd share these whimsical maps with you...

Monday, May 26, 2008

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor...

At Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, the walkways around the 101 Dalmatians buildings are covered with various bones and doggie treats. The multi-colored bones are provided courtesy of Kanine Krunchies, the official sponsor of the dalmatian puppies favorite television program Thunderbolt.

In the movie 101 Dalmatians the Kanine Krunchies jingle is sung by voice actress Lucille Bliss. Ten years earlier, Lucille Bliss provided the voice of stepsister Anastasia in Disney's Cinderella. It would be many decades later before she went on to her most famous role as Smurfette on the popular Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning series The Smurfs.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hangin' Out In Andy's Room

I spent the last week in Walt Disney World where my family and I had an amazing time, as always. On Sunday night at Disney's Hollywood Studios we were on our way to visit Walt Disney: One Man's Dream but instead of making it inside that great attraction we were invited to take the brand-spanking new Toy Story Midway Mania for a spin! Best of all...there was no wait!

The new attraction, which has an advertised opening of Summer `08, is a delight for Disney Theme Park fans. First of all, it starts off with a wonderfully elaborate and detailed queue. Add to that, a new ride system that blends elements of an omni-mover with a carnival scrambler ride. Now top it all off with the most impressive use of 3-D technology in any of the parks plus interactive game play that makes Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin seem old fashioned and you've got a home run of fun!

Here's some of the pictures I took as I raced to get on board before there was a breakdown:

The queue takes you through Andy's room where there are all sorts of toys and pop culture items as seen through the eyes of the toys.

One of my favorites was this giant View Master reel, which of course is Disney related and makes me want to snatch it and use it in the big View Master at the Buzz Lightyear ride.

The famous Candy Land squares lead the path in one section of the queue.

A nice tribute to all the work Pixar has done over the years, the company's mascot Luxo (the desk lamp) makes an appearance near the end of the queue area.

There are several items and references from the Toy Story movies, like the homemade cardboard box houses that Andy uses in the films.

After the first room of never ending isles for the queue, you go upstairs and then down again to the loading platform.

Here's a couple of shots of the ride vehicles leaving the ride area and entering the ride load station:

While Toy Story Midway Mania may not elicit the same kinds of "oohs and aahs" as Soarin' or Everest , it's a real fun ride that sure to make it to the top of everyone's must-ride list! Kids are going to love it and older guests will enjoy the technology behind this one of a kind attraction!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm Going To Disney World!

That's my younger brother all tuckered out after a day of fun at the Magic Kingdom back in 1978. Speaking of taking a nap, The Blog Wore Tennis Shoes will be asleep until Friday, May 24. We're packing up the minivan and making the 900+ mile overnight trip to Walt Disney World tonight! But, for all the new visitors who've sailed in here from a plug at The Disney Blog please bookmark us and comeback next weekend for lots more fun!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 36 Year Old Disney Sandwich Pick

When I told my mom I was looking for anything she might have laying around her house from our numerous trips to Walt Disney World, she was very quick to offer this little gem. What's more, she knew exactly where this item was...tucked away in a drawer that I don't think I ever even went in all the years that I lived there! Anyhow, I was delighted to be handed this plastic pick from one of the dining establishments at the then newly opened Polynesian Village Resort - 1972. It looks like the kind of pick they'd use to stick an olive on top of a big ol' sandwich, but my mom seems to remember it coming from a drink. So, perhaps it's the kind of pick they jab through a piece of fruit and a cherry and drop in your drink. Bottom line is: It's cool, it's old, it's bizarre that someone would still have it and it's the kind of neato thing that pops up on someone's Disney blog. As you can see, the pick features the Polynesian Resort logo and the words "Walt Disney World - Florida".

Monday, May 12, 2008

Eastern Winds Lounge

In my last post I shared some pictures of the Polynesian Village Resort circa 1972. One of the pictures featured an old ship docked at the resort. I was pretty sure that ship was no longer at the Poly, but I had no other info on it. Well, I seemed to get some pretty healthy feedback on this particular picture as it spotlighted one of Walt Disney World's earliest hidden treasures. The photograph I used last week was a wallet sized photo but I was able to also find the regular sized picture so I scanned that larger picture so that I could share with you a slightly more clear image. Here it is:

The ship, known as a Chinese Junk, was apparently part of the Polynesian Village Resort from 1971 to 1978 and was home to Eastern Winds a nightclub/lounge that I'm sure played a fair amount of disco. The ship was 65 feet long and had a deck lounge as well as a cabin lounge. You could also find staterooms on board. One of the selling points of this venue that was used in various publicity at the time pointed out the attractiveness of the cocktail waitress and their authentic costumes.

Eastern Winds is really one of those old WDW spots that really only survives through guest's memories. There is very little information about this nightspot online or in any of the older published materials that I looked through. Even a Resort Guide that I have from a 1978 visit does not list Eastern Winds among the Poly's offerings. However, while looking for info I came across this great website that I had never seen before: Tikiman's Unofficial Disney's Polynesian Resort Webpage. This site is filled with tons of images, stories and information about the resort. Maybe ya'll have heard of this site before, but it was a new find for me and I spent quite a bit of time reading through all the pages Tikiman has to offer. I even swiped a couple of pictures of the Chinese Junk from his page to share here.

I guess tomorrow would be a good time to share a really odd souvenir I have from the early days of the Polynesian Village Resort...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Polynesian & Contemporary - 1972

Here's the last set of photos I have from my parents honeymoon to Walt Disney World in June 1972. Most of these shots are pretty unremarkable but this first one is pretty cool...

Before Space Mountain, the Contemporary Resort is in plain sight from the Magic Kingdom. You can still see the Contemporary from the park to this day, but without Space Mountain the resort almost sits right in the Magic Kingdom park. I guess it's architectural style fits in with the original look of Tomorrowland. Also, check out the (in-use) station for the Sky Way in the background. Nowadays, the Sky Way is gone but that building lives on as the world's largest building to house regular sized rest rooms.

Here's some shots of the Polynesian Village (as it was known then.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008


In an episode of the classic children's series "Beany and Cecil" (and later in a comic book) the title characters learn of their creator's plans to build a theme park that bares a striking resemblance to a certain California theme park that we all know and love. Beanyland was to be an out of this world theme park built on the moon. Instead of Fantasyland, Beanyland was to feature "Castle Wall Street" where you could buy stock in the show's characters. While Disney has it's Matterhorn, Beanyland featured a whole mountain range called the "Amos and Andes." Tomorrowland became "Science-Fictionland" and in a slightly eerie bit of foreshadowing there were also plans for a section called "Thrillsville" featuring the "Rock `n' Roller Coaster".

This was all in a cartoon, but in real life a struggling Santa Monica, California amusement park known as Pacific Ocean Park contacted Beany and Cecil creator Bob Clampett (also of Looney Tunes fame) in the hopes of creating some park attractions based on elements from his television series. However, Clampett's plans for converting Pacific Ocean Park into Beanyland never saw the light of day and Pacific Ocean Park went belly-up after just ten short years of operation. (Disneyland is still open.)

Onosko, Tim. Fun Land U.S.A. Ballantine Books; New York. 1978

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tencennial Parade - 1982

These selections from the ol' family photo albums are of Walt Disney World's Tencennial Parade, a daily event which celebrated the Florida park's 10th Anniversary. The parade appeared at the Magic Kingdom for one year beginning October 1981, these photographs were taken in January 1982.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Breakfast with the Chipmunks

Here's the original flyer for one of the earlier versions of a character meal at Walt Disney World. "Chip & Dale's Country Morning Jamboree" was a revamped version of "Breakfast with Melvin the Moose" another old school character offering. The shows kind of served as an early morning edition of the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review. They served plenty of food, offered a family-friendly Hee-Haw style show and provided guests interaction with Disney characters - mainly the Country Bears and then later Chip n' Dale were added to the mix. It appears the Ft. Wilderness breakfast shows sprung up in the mid-80's but were all but a memory come the early 90's.

All I can really offer you here is a scan of the brochure. If you want more info on this attraction check out Walt Dated World for pictures, memories and a little more detail.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mickey Mouse's Truck Book

I realize I've already covered one kids book this week here on the blog, but yesterday we dug this great little book up from the bottom of a basket of books in our living room. It's honestly been a couple of years since I've seen it. Mickey Mouse's Truck Book is a simple little board book from 1984 that shows Mickey doing different jobs all with the help of a truck. I guess it's supposed to tap into that natural fascination that little boys have with trucks. As I was reading the book to one of my kids I was appreciating how simple and low-key the illustrations were. I guess I'm getting used to Mickey books being rendered in the new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse style. The pictures here seem almost old fashioned and then I noticed that the book is only 24 years old...and then I felt old! Anyhow, I thought some of you guys might also have the same appreciation for these quiet drawings so since the book is only 10 pages long, I scanned the whole thing.