Walt’s presence on screen, and I would imagine in person, is incredibly mesmerizing. I am fairly certain that The Walt Disney Company knows this as they continue to roll out events and tributes that honor their namesake. Some recent examples include Disneyland Park’s 50th Anniversary celebration, the perfection that is Buena Vista Street, and Wednesdays with Walt in the Opera House in Disneyland Park. In Spring 2014, Disney Vacation Club celebrated Walt Disney with a touring event titled, “Great Moments with Walt Disney.” Because of the popularity of this free event, Disney Vacation Club scheduled additional stops across the country throughout November and December. Being Disney Vacation Club Members who call the San Francisco Bay Area home, we were able to attend the celebration that was hosted at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
The celebration was hosted by Disney historian and author Tim O’Day and Disney Files Magazine Editor Ryan March. The two of them were very fun to watch as they presented a number of different audio and video clips of the “real” Walt Disney, who was not so different than who we all see on screen. Ryan and Tim would preface each clip with a story of what was taking place at the time and what to listen and look out for, including Walt’s mood and outtakes.
I would imagine that some of us have heard and seen these classic moments before and probably know the stories behind them. A favorite moment of mine was listening to Tim setup one of my favorite clips, which actually premiered on the Wonderful World of Disney television show when they celebrated Disneyland’s Tencennial. Leading up to the part of Walt walking the first Disney Ambassador Julie Reihm around Imagineering to share all of the attractions being developed for Disneyland, we heard about an interaction that famed Imagineer John Hench had with Walt prior to filming. John was working on what we now know to be the Plaza Inn at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. One of Walt’s ideas for this new location was to include live birds in cages overhead throughout the restaurant.
Could you imagine eating under a caged a bird?
John Hench didn’t think it was such a great idea either and suggested that Walt reconsider.
We also learned that John was not a fan of being referred to as “Johnny” and had a reputation for being somewhat of a playful flirt with the ladies. With all of that being shared and the recording taking place afterwards, you will see John’s discomfort in his interaction with Walt beginning at roughly 4:30 in the link below.
With any event that is titled Great Moments with Walt Disney, my first question is, “Are there any moments with Uncle Walt that are not great?” He and his brother Roy have changed millions of lives as a result of never giving up and fighting to pursue their dreams. These celebratory events are a great reminder of why we love the company that the Disney Brothers built. I am thankful that we were able to attend this local celebration and I look forward to many more great moments in the future.