100 years is a long time, especially in mouse years. Ninety-nine years and counting have passed since Walt Disney Animation Studios began as The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio on October 16, 1923 in a small office in Los Angeles for around $10 in rent.
The brothers Walt and Roy began producing black-and-white animated films in the small studio, and in 1928 a familiar face came to life on a page, Mickey Mouse. This would cement the beginning of its legacy as one of the most far-reaching global media entities, continuing to entertain, inspire and bring joy to those who watch the shows and movies, and to those who tour its theme parks.
The Disneyland Resort is celebrating the momentous 100th anniversary of Walt Disney Animation Studios with platinum-infused décor throughout the park, limited-time merchandise, food and beverage offers, two new nightly shows at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure, the reopening of the new and improved Mickey’s Toontown and its new centerpiece attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, to a historical tour that showcases the company’s animation art and technology over the years.
When Walt Disney Studios kicked off the celebrations at the famous original theme park in late January, we had the opportunity to interview several cast members who talked about their experiences working for Disney and the various new offerings now at the Disneyland Resort to celebrate the Disney100.
Evan Palomeque, Disneyland Resort
Could you present us the reasoning behind this 100 year celebration?
We are here to celebrate 100 years of The Walt Disney Company. This is the company that Walt Disney started with his brother in 1923. Back then it was called Disney Brothers Studio and the company went through several name changes until 1986, when the name The Walt Disney Animation Studios was established. So that’s what we’re celebrating, the founding of this company, which includes the theme parks and the movie studios.
The reason why we are celebrating it here at Disneyland Park and at the Disneyland Resort is because this park was very important to Walt Disney, because this is where a dream he had came true, that he wanted to have a place where Families could get together, they could have fun and be safe in a clean place.
And mainly, something that he wanted was to have a place where his characters that he had in his animated movies could come to life and they could be with the visitors, with the families. So for that reason he built this park. And for him it was very important.
Can you talk about the new attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway?
If you can be here, you will see that during that celebration we have different colors and we have different decorations, right? And something that is very important is that we have Mickey Mouse at the center of this celebration, because he, when the Disneyland Park was ten years old, during a speech, Walt said ” I hope you don’t forget one thing, that it all started with a mouse”, which was Mickey Mouse.
And that’s why we’re pitching in this park. At this time we are launching the attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is the first attraction where the protagonists are Mickey and Minnie Mouse. So that’s why we have this ride and that ride is nice and it’s something special, because when people are in line to get on the ride, they get to see everything that the character’s history is.
We have Mickey from the 1920s, Mickey from the 1930s, 40s, 50s, even present day Mickey, so all of that can be seen on the ride. But in this celebration we also have the animation history of all Walt Disney cartoons.
Could you talk about the new evening shows?
We have two shows that are nightly. One in the Disneyland park and the other in the Disney California Adventure park, in California Adventure it is called “World of Color – ONE” and that ‘one’ refers to the fact that one event can cause many things to happen. So it’s like a drop of water when it falls into the water, it creates these ripples and those ripples can become a wave. So Mickey Mouse is the character that started that whole wave and now we have everything that comes his way.
“World of Color – ONE” is also special because it is the first presentation that we have fountains of many colors, we have some water screens where these images from the movies are reflected, but this is the first time that we see that we are going to have characters From Walt Disney Animation Studios, we’re going to have characters from Disney animated movies, Pixar movies, Marvel movies, Avengers and Star Wars. So all of that is going to be in one show. And we have all the emotion, we have the music, that’s part of this presentation.
So they’re all going to be here and we have the music and we have devotion. So when we see the Movies, one is touched by the heart and there are some people who shed a tear and that is what we are doing here. We’re having a celebration with those nightly shows.
We have the attraction, but we also have food, we have the characters, we have everything, everything, everything that people can imagine. And something that is very nice is that everyone has access to this information in Spanish at disneylandespañol.com.
So there you can see all the information, you can make your reservations, buy your tickets and find out everything you need to make the trip, to come here to Disneyland and enjoy everything we are doing during that celebration.
As you are celebrating 20 years of employment with Disney, what is your favorite thing about celebrating these moments here at work?
Well, the beauty of being here is that there is always something new, and it is part of the Walt Disney philosophy. Because one of the things that he also said, “Disneyland is never going to be complete as long as there is imagination in the world.” So that’s part of the philosophy that we’re always changing, we’re always bringing new things.
So you don’t get bored here because there is always something new and the idea is that people have fun and that everything is happy. This is the happiest place in the world, right? So you can’t be angry, you can’t feel bad because the only thing you have to do if you’re in the office and you’re very busy, is go for a walk in the park and see the people, see the children who are having fun and one rejoices.
And that is the beauty of being here, that one never has a bad moment because there is always joy and there are new and beautiful things that one can experience.
Eduardo Orozco, Disneyland Resort
So, the first question is what do you hope for the people who are in attendance at “World of Color – ONE”?
“World of Color – ONE” is an impressive program that I love because using lights, water, fire, mist, water fountains that shoot water up to 200 feet high, characters from Star Wars, Avengers, Disney Animation, Pixar Animation come to life, so that people have memories that have never, ever been made here.
And what are some of the technical parts that are new this time?
There are parts of it that seem like the fountains are playing the music, specifically the song “Start A Wave,” and that’s an original song that’s part of the new show. And “Start A Wave” talks about how a drop of water can be a ripple and that ripple can become a wave and that wave will be the change, it can change the world. It’s almost saying the same thing that Walt Disney, a young man with a Mickey Mouse drawing, made the future we have right now, which is the Walt Disney Company. So this show “World of Color – ONE” is celebrating the legacy of storytelling that Walt Disney started a century ago and it’s a very nice thing.
People come here to make memories and here Disney tries to get the emotion out of everyone, young, old, all the same, because all of us who are going to see the show are going to have something connected to it.
And that’s the beauty of “World of Color – ONE”, because just like Walt Disney was a man who changed the world with his drawings, this program and the song “Start A Wave”, anyone can be the next person to make a change. You can be that person.
Laura Bustamante, Disneyland Resort
What is the message you want to give about Disney100 at Disneyland Park?
We are celebrating 100 years of Walt Disney Animation Studios. And this being the first park in Walt Disney’s original magical kingdom, it is the perfect place to celebrate this 100-year celebration that celebrates the movies, the artists, the creators of what all these movies have been in 100 years that you can imagine what it is.
And the most special message we have for right now, where we are sitting here, we are in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and this is one of the places where you can see the projections of a night show to celebrate these 100 years.
We do it in a way that no other one does with any other person, entity, company, like Disney does, we have done it all in a big way.
Here we are specifically talking about what “Wondrous Journeys” is. It’s a nighttime show that’s going to last all year, it’s going to be daily, and we’re going to have select nights, when it also includes fireworks.
And for me, the most special thing about “Wondrous Journeys” is that we are celebrating 100 years of movies, 100 years of creations, and it’s more like the narration of the movies, which is good, even now I’m feeling tears and thinking about the journey of the characters that break their hearts, laugh, cry, face many challenges to make their dreams come true and that is what it represents for me.
And you will see it projected in different places, like a canvas, like a blank piece of paper where the artists begin to draw, beginning with rough drafts and it’s going to be something where we’re going to feel like we’re part of that rough draft, part of the making of all these movies.
And even though it’s 100 years of movies, you’re going to see a little something from every movie ever made. It can be Moana, it can be Coco, it can be Encanto, Frozen, Big Hero Six. So it’s going to be from all the movies. And this is the challenge that I am going to give you, come see it and count how many films are represented by making lines.
It’s going to be in four areas here in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle, also in the waters of Rivers of America and Main Street USA on the facades and also the “It’s A Small World” facade.
And each one has their list of specific movies that they are going to show.
Over time, you will see how animation is specialized in each area. But if you want to see a little of each movie, you will have to come many times and see all the facades. But also another very special thing is that a Baymax figure from Big Hero 6 is going to fly above the castle and for me it’s like a representation of what the future is, what the unity we have here at Disney is.
And so the hope is that those who are here, for the adults, well, reliving that moment where magic was something real for them, and for the children, hoping to experience the scenes.
Speaking of the emotions of Disney movies, which movie was the moment where you said “This is magic, and this is mine. Something for me”?
For me it was Coco. Ah, because in the character of Coco I see my mom.
You think, “Oh they got to know my mom when they wrote this.” But the truth is, I’m not the only one saying that. A lot of people say they “met my granny” because obviously Coco is the granny. And I don’t know how they did it. So it’s magic like that that makes Disney very special and it is very important.
That is why the 100 years of Walt Disney Animation Studios should be celebrated and it is celebrated here in this park, which was the original park of our founder Walt Disney, where it all began. Their films began to unfold here and then in attractions that were made here, they began to unfold into their films. So it’s like one gives to the other and the other gives back, the two worlds.
Disney is making more effort right now to ensure that there is a representation of our people, of the Latino culture. So how important is that for them, to continue with that goal, with these shows?
Yes, you have to represent everyone. For me as a Latin American, well Coco and Encanto were something wonderful and I know that for many other cultures to see themselves represented has been a great thing and something that to Disney it is very important that we continue to move forward with those types of goals, of how we are going to continue to represent and broaden the representation of what different cultures are. And with cultures I mean ethnicities, sexual orientation, people from all over. Let there be representation of all. And that’s one of the things that excites me the most as well.
The Disney100 celebrations are now happening at the Disneyland Resort.