I am saddened by the loss of "Disney" Magazine for many reasons including the fact that I remember the excitement in my family when the very first issue appeared in our home since my dad was a member of the Magic Kingdom Club through his work.

There was a real feeling of being on the "inside" and "special" and knowing something that the other kids at school didn't know.

The "Disney News", the "official magazine for Magic Kingdom Club Families" Vol. 1, No. 1 was released December 1965 (to cover the winter months of December as well as January-February 1966).

Eleanor Heldt, the Magic Kingdom Club Administrator, had a column entitled "As I See It" where she explained it all:

"We've outgrown 'Disneyland News', changed from a newspaper to a magazine, altered our name to 'Disney News' and put on a good bit of weight. We're pretty happy about the new publishing venture and we hope you will as pleased.

We believe that most people are interested in learning about different businesses, and ours, show business, is the wackiest, craziest in the world...but it's fun, and we hope to impart this feeling to you, along with serious sidelines too. We plan to take you behind-the-scenes, not only here at Disneyland but to the Studio in Burbank and into other areas of this entertainment industry. Incidentally, I'm going to send 'Disney News' subscriptions as Christmas gifts to all my nieces and nephews back home. I think they'll be thrilled to have a magazine sent to them directly from Disneyland. What do you think?"

While you could send subscriptions ($1.00 for "eight exciting issues mailed directly to the home" over the next two years), "Disney News" was primarily a magazine perk for Magic Kingdom Club members.

What was the Magic Kingdom Club? It was California's largest and most unique membership club that in 1966 began its ninth year of offering its benefits not just to Southern California as it had in the past but all of California. More than 1400 industrial and military organizations distributed the then green and gold membership card.

That card provided members with special values at Disneyland including the Magic Key book that was not available to the general public. Those ticket books included admission and ten coupons good for ANY attraction or adventure (with the exception of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room). It was an $8.00 adult value for the cost of only $4.00. Juniors (12-17) paid only $3.50 (for a $7.20 value) and children under 12 paid $3.00 (for a $5.60 value). This ticket book was only available at Disneyland's Main Gate when you showed the Magic Kingdom Club membership card.

"So that young people may become better acquainted with one of the greatest figures in American History, all Disneyland visitors 17 years of age and under are invited to be Walt Disney's guests to spend a few 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln'. A complimentary admission is included with main entrance ticket."

The Magic Kingdom Club card also provided substantial savings at the Disneyland Hotel and Golf Course. In addition, the Club planned special events for members on a continuing basis including Magic Kingdom Club Family Fun Days (where on a special day...usually three or four a month...Disneyland was opened for one hour earlier just for MKC families to have unlimited use of everything in Disneyland "except shooting galleries".), and the annual MKC Kids Christmas Party.

Membership was open to any organization in California having 100 or more on their permanent payroll. Employees would talk to their personnel manager or special services officer if part of a military base to obtain their card. Membership was free but not available to individuals not a part of a company. I personally remember the thrill of my dad coming home each year and showing us his new membership card signed by his boss because it meant we were going to Disneyland and if we wanted we could ride ten "E ticket" attractions.

Another thrill was getting in the mail the "Disney News" magazine with the Disneyland return address. It was sent Bulk Rate and we were warned that if we moved, we better send in a change of address at least four weeks in advance since the Post Office "will not forward copies and we cannot send duplicates of copies that go astray".

That first issue was about an inch taller and a quarter inch wider than a regular magazine. It was a total of twenty pages, counting the covers. That first cover was a beautiful color picture of Walt in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle surrounded by the Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and one of the Three Little Pigs (the one with the green hat) costumed characters. The back cover was a montage of pictures of the rhino menacing the safari, the monorail, the interior of the Enchanted Tiki Room, the entrance to Tomorrowland with the Douglas rocket, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Vessey Walker leading a marching band down Main Street and more. The interior was all in black and white.

That first issue contained letters from MKC members: "I really didn't think there were any improvements that could be made that would make the Park more realistic, but the new additions to the Amazon River are outstanding. In other words, Disneyland holds continued enchantment for everyone" and "I was very excited about the new attraction 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln' but I thought I was never going to be able to get rid of the lump in my throat and tried hard to keep the tears brushed away without letting my eight year old son see me but after glancing out of the corner of my eye I soon realized that everyone else was having the same difficulty."

There were many articles, the longest being only a page in length, covering such things as Walt Disney and Peter Ellenshaw aboard the sailing ship "Eagle" that was used by the Coast Guard for training, Connie Swanson taking over from Julie Reihm as the Disneyland Ambassador, WED moving into new quarters in Glendale, the new Disney movies and new Disneyland attractions that were going to be premiering that summer (including an article on how Polaris Missile technology helped spawn audio-animatronics), samples of Disney comic strips (like Scamp, Mickey Mouse and True Life Adventures), how Dean Jones accidentally ended up actually hitting Neville Brand on the set of "That Darn Cat" and what happened to Hal Stalmaster who played the part of Johnny Tremain (He got a B.A. in English Literature from UCLA and was an Army Lieutenant for awhile and his brother Lynn was a highly successful casting director...yes, Lynn Stalmaster whose name you have seen on countless shows).

And what was planned for the next issue? Stories about "Wardrobe Mistress to the World's Largest Costume Collection, Disneyland Skindivers, Behind the Scenes of a Full Length Animated Cartoon Feature, What Are Little Elephants Made Of?" as well as the "regular features": television page, movie page, children's page, As I See It, Letters, and Families of the Month.

Over the years, the magazine (which closely resembled the official Disney employee magazine and often used the same photos and articles) grew and shared information that has never been reprinted anywhere else in the Disney histories. In the last two decades, it became a newsstand magazine as the Magic Kingdom Club disappeared to be replaced with a wimpy Disney Club that also disappeared.

Without a doubt, the "Disney" Magazine could still capture that sense of wonder that I got as a kid paging through that skimpy first issue but only with an editor of vision and a company that didn't fear and ridicule its fans as the current administration has demonstrated too many times in recent years.