LP Lotion: Book Signing With Julie Andrews Turns Into a Magical Day at Disneyland
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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 is a date that many fans of Julie Andrews had been anticipating. Disney’s own Mary Poppins had scheduled a book signing, to take place that afternoon in the Main Street Opera House.
To ensure that they would be among the 250 lucky guests who would actually meet Julie Andrews, a few eager fans took a place in line the previous evening at 10pm. By 5am, the line was full. A system of wrist bands and vouchers was used to identify 500 guests. 250 received pre-signed books, and 250 were ushered into the Opera House lobby to meet Julie Andrews and have their copies personally signed.
But hundreds more had an opportunity to see Julie Andrews that day. A special ceremony was scheduled for 10am at the carousel in Fantasyland. Julie Andrews was to rededicate Jingles, the “lead horse” of Disneyland’s wooden pack of valiant steeds.
In his welcoming comments, Disneyland Resort President Ed Grier noted, “The King Arthur Carousel is one of those great Disneyland attractions that dates back to July 17, 1955, the opening day of Disneyland.” After a few more comments, Grier introduced Disney Legend and Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar.
There was a round of applause as Sklar took the stage. Sklar opened his comments, saying, “Walt really did love Fantasyland. In fact, during his original dedication speech, he said this: ‘In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn.’ Walt was determined to make sure that a sense of wonder and make-believe was supported by every single element in this whole land.” With a gesture, Sklar took in all of Fantasyland. He went on to detail the history of the carousel, an antique original purchased for Disneyland, then given special treatment at the Disney Studio.
“Right up there with railroad trains, Walt loved the carousel,” Sklar said, adding, “In fact, one of the most famous carousel scenes ever filmed for a motion picture was in Walt’s landmark picture of 1964, Mary Poppins.” At the mention of the beloved classic, cheers erupted from the watching crowd. Sklar then acknowledged Julie Andrews as, “a legend in her own right. Not only is she a celebrated actress of both stage and film, but she’s also an esteemed author and a devoted philanthropist.” Continuing his remarks, Sklar reminded the crowd that Julie had been inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991, and had won over a new generation of fans as the Queen of Genovia in the Princess Diaries films. After mentioning her newly written memoir, Home, and promising that Julie would be joining them on the platform momentarily, Sklar turned the program back over to Ed Grier.
Grier thanked Julie for serving as Disneyland’s Honorary Ambassador during the 50th Birthday celebration. He said, “Cast members who’ve joined us today (and they’re all over the place!) and others from around the world want to thank Julie for representing this landmark occasion with such with such style and grace.” Part of her duties, he went on to say, included the dedication of Jingles to represent the Carousel as a member of Disneyland’s Class of 1955 attractions. At that time, Jingles was painted gold. But, as Grier noted, the time had come to restore Jingles to his former appearance. In fact, he said, “he’s been given what you may say is an extreme carousel makeover! To thank Julie for being such a marvelous Honorary Ambassador, we’ve chosen to rededicate Jingles in her honor.”
Julie Andrews then joined Ed Grier and Marty Sklar on the platform. The crowd showed their appreciation with applause and cheers, then waited with anticipation as Grier and Sklar unveiled Jingles. The gleaming white horse was adorned with floral garlands, and sparkled with touches of gold. Julie examined various details, before stepping up to say, “Oh, this is such an honor. First of all, I love horses, Secondly, I love carousels. This is a surprise I never expected. It’s just beautiful.” She mused, “I consider myself, along with all of you cast members, as a cast member—I’m an old one! I’ve been here a long time.”
Julie then shared warm memories of her first visit to Disneyland in 1962. Her personal guide was a proud Walt Disney. Showing her the brand new Swiss Family Tree House, he noted it’s thousands of realistic leaves, then joked, “And they say only God can make a tree!”
As chuckles died down she continued, “I’ve been so proud to be a part of the Disney family all these years. I’ve never been out of touch, whether it’s Disney parks and resorts, or the Disney Studios. It took me forty years to come back and make another movie for Disney-- that’s between Mary Poppins and Princess Diaries. But I’ve never lost touch and never lost my feeling of family with Disney and I am so proud to be a cast member. I love all that you do, all that you stand for, the idea that you all, we all, I suppose, give so much pleasure and magic and a moment’s respite to people, where we can come and feel safe, and forget everything that bothers us for a few hours. This is a really wonderful gift. And I guess it’s Walt’s great legacy.”
She concluded by noting, “This is just another wonderful thrill for me. I’ve been here, as Ed said, for the fiftieth anniversary; I opened Disney World, when it first opened; oh my, I’ve been here for so many events, but this one’s the icing on the cake. And this lovely Jingles is going to stay in my memory and stay on this carousel, I hope, for a very long time. Thank you all for being here. I’m so thrilled. Thank you.”
As Julie acknowledged the cheers of the crowd, Ed Grier asked her to remain, as another surprise was in store. As she stood by, Ed described special touches that have been added to Jingles to acknowledge Julie Andrews and Mary Poppins. Since her passion is gardening, flowers in pastel colors have been added to the decorations. There are new gold accents, representing the fiftieth birthday. A very special surprise was a gift, a special gift in thanks from the entire cast of the Disneyland Resort. At that, Marty Sklar unveiled a beautiful, small scale replica of Jingles. Julie’s delighted reaction was one of genuine pleasure. Created by master carver Ed Roth, the horse is a faithful copy of its full scale namesake, complete to the smallest detail. One minor difference is the inclusion of a miniature replica of the brooch Julie wore as Disneyland’s Honorary Ambassador.
Ed Grier then shared the inscription for the presentation. “Jingles, leading the way. Presented to Julie Andrews, Honorary Ambassador, fiftieth anniversary of Disneyland. With admiration and appreciation from the cast members of the Disneyland Resort.” There was a final round of applause, as Ed Grier thanked all for attending, and Julie Andrews added her thanks.
VideosA complete video of the Jingles rededication with Julie Andrews, Ed Grier and Marty Sklar is available by clicking below.
Julie Andrews’ scheduled book signing was held on Tuesday, April 8 at 1pm.
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Crowds had gathered through the night before being admitted to Disneyland.
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Activity for the signing centered around the Opera House.
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Activity for the signing centered around the Opera House.
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250 lucky guests acquired a personal autograph.
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