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Toon Tuesday: How to have a rockin' good time on Mickey Mouse’s birthday

Jim Hill

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Toon Tuesday: How to have a rockin' good time on Mickey Mouse’s birthday

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So where will you wind up spending MM’s b-day?

It’s tomorrow, you know. November 18th. That’s the date that The Walt Disney Company officially acknowledges as being this iconic character’s “birthday” (i.e. the day that “Steamboat Willie” – the first Mickey Mouse cartoon with synchronized sound – was released).

So where’s the best place to be if you’re looking to honor a 81 year-old rodent? Well, you could spend the day at the newly opened Walt Disney Family Museum. Which has the earliest known drawing of Mickey on display.

Earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. Image courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Foundation

Not to mention a wall that allows you to go frame-by-frame through some of “Steamboat Willie” ‘s more memorable moments …

Storyboards for one of the first Mickey Mouse cartoons
Photo by Brad Aldridge

… as well as this Museum’s huge selection of Mickey Mouse-related memorabilia.

Walt Disney in front of his office covered in the first Mickey Mouse toy
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. Image courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Mind you, if you live on the other side of the country … Well, you can still pay tribute to the world’s most famous mouse by dropping by the Broadway Theatre. Which is where “Steamboat Willie” had its world premiere back on November 18, 1928.

The Broadway theater where Shrek the Musical is currently running
Photo by Jim Hill

Of course, what puts a crimp in this plan is that another cartoon character currently occupies what-used-to-be the Colony. “Shrek the Musical” is in the process of wrapping up its far-too-short Broadway run. The New York production closes on January 3rd. Then -- after a short break -- “Shrek” ‘s national tour kicks off in Chicago next June.

So if the Broadway Theatre seems like a somewhat imperfect place to celebrate MM's b-day in NYC, let me now suggest an even more improbable spot. Which is the Hard Rock Café Times Square.

The Hard Rock Cafe
Copyright 2009 Hard Rock Café International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

“Why would I want to go there on the 18th?,” you ask. “I don’t want to see rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. I want to see Mickey Mouse-related stuff.” Well, for the next 5 days, the Hard Rock Café Times Square is mixing its media. This NYC eatery's usual collection of stuff will be temporarily augmented by some truly one-of-a-kind items that Julien’s Auctions is exhibiting in preparation for that Music Icons auction which will be held here on Saturday.

And among the pieces that will coming up for bid is a hand-drawn sketch of Mickey Mouse that Michael Jackson did back in 1998.

Mickey Mouse Pencil Drawing from the Michael Jackson collection at Julien's Auctions
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

Yeah, Michael clearly had an obsession when it came to Mickey. You can see some of the Mouse-related items that the King of Pop had in his personal Disneyana collection in the picture.

The Mickey scrim used in the Michael Jackson Disneyana collection exhibition
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

I’ve even heard tell that Michael borrowed his trademark always-wearing-one-white-glove fashion choice from Mickey.

You can buy this Michael Jackson sequined glove at Julien's Auction
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

Though -- if that were really the case -- then why didn’t Jackson ask Paul Bedard to include Disney’s corporate symbol in the painting that he commissioned from this artist? Which shows all sorts of pop culture figures wearing Michael’s signature sunglasses and single white glove … But no Mickey Mouse.

A PAul Bedard painting commissioned by Michael Jackson showing pop culture figures wearing Micheael's signature sunglasses and single white glove
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

As most you already know, Jackson’s obsession with Disneyana went well beyond the Mouse. He has a passion for the Company’s theme parks too. As is evidenced by this autographed pillow case. Which Michael tossed out of a window at the Disneyland Paris Hotel while he was staying there in 1996 with his then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley.

A signed pillow case that was thrown out the window to fans by Michael Jackson at Disneyland
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

Jackson loved the Disney Parks so much that he tried to replicate their magic in his backyard by building his very own private theme park at the Neverland Valley Ranch.

A map of Neverland Ranch
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

Theme park history buffs who were never able to wrangle an invite to Michael’s own personal Disneyland may want to consider signing up for Saturday’s Music Icons auction. Given that a rarer-than-rare set of Neverland Valley Ranch souvenirs is coming up for bid.

Memorabilia from the Neverland Ranch private theme park
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

Now please keep in mind that Saturday afternoon’s Music Icons auction will be preceded by a MusiCares and the Musicians Assistance Program (MAP) fundraiser that Julien’s Auctions is doing with Steven Tyler.

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith
(L to R) Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith.
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

And this charity event will literally allow Aerosmith fans to take the clothes right off of Steven’s back. Or – in the case of one item listed in this Julien’s Auctions catalog – slide those Looney Tunes-themed boxer shorts right off of Tyler’s skinny backside.

You can buy these Tazmanian Devil boxing shorts in Julien's next auction
Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions. All Rights Reserved

And speaking of Aerosmith … Some Disney theme park fans expressed concerns last week when rumors began to circulate that this legendary rock band was breaking up. “If Aerosmith goes away,” they asked, “What will then become of that Disney’s Hollywood Studios thrill ride, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith?”

Disney's thrill ride Rock'n Roller Coaster in Disney's Hollywood Studios
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

To get an answer to this question, I made a few calls to friends in Burbank & Glendale. And what I learned is that The Walt Disney Company initially signed a 10 year licensing deal with Aerosmith. Which then allowed the Imagineers to use the band’s likenesses as well as their music as part of a new thrill ride. This is how we wound up with the WDW version of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (which opened in June of 1999) as well as the Walt Disney Studios Paris version of this indoor coaster (which opened in March of 2002).

Euro Disney's Rock'n roller coaster in Paris
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Now the language used in this licensing deal does allow the Mouse to extend its licensing agreement with Aerosmith. But from what I hear, Disney Corporate have been toying with the idea of cutting these rock stars loose in favor of retheming Rock 'n' Roller Coaster around some homegrown (more importantly, more affordable) talent.

Hannah Montana poster
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

After all, back when WDI was initially struggling to come up with a group of performers that it could conceivably build a rock 'n' roll-themed thrill ride around, Walt Disney Records wasn’t the industry powerhouse that it is today. Featuring a roster of entertainers like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers who regularly sell out arena-sized venues.

The Jonas Brothers poster
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

So the thinking within the Michael Eisner building – especially since the Company is so into cross utilization these days – is that it would make real sense at some point to drop Aerosmith in favor of a group and/or artist who is already under contract to Walt Disney Records. Thereby eliminating the need to pay that rather sizable licensing fee  to Steven & Joe.

I'm In the Band
Disney XD’s “I’m in the Band” stars Logan Miller as Tripp, Stephen Full
as Ash, Steve Valentine as Ian and Greg Baker as Burger.
Photo by Bob D’Amico. Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

“Who knows,” said one Mouse House insider that I spoke with last week, “If Disney XD’s new series, ‘I’m in the Band,’ winds up being a hit, we could eventually retheme Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster around Iron Weasel, the fake band that's featured in that show.”

Rock'n Roller Coaster pin with Rockin' Mickey Mouse
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Which makes me wonder what Walt would think of all this. Having the Disney Company go from Steamboat Willie to Iron Weasel in just 81 short years.

Whatever the case, here’s hoping that Mickey Mouse has a rockin’ good birthday.

Your thoughts?

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Happy Holidays!

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  • Jim...  Might want to check your math.  Mickey is 81 years old this year.

  • Isn't the band Queen on Hollywood Records?  Their music would be a great fit, and they're a beloved band just like Aerosmith, and if they're already on a Disney label, it'd reduce costs!

  • Your story was featured in DisMarks! Here is the link to vote it up and promote it: http://dismarks.com/GeneralDisney/Jim_Hill_Toon_Tuesday_How_to_have_a_rockin_good_time_on_Mickey_Mouses_birthday

  • QUEEN....


    They are recognizeable and I would love to ride the attraction with that theme.

  • Can you just imagine seeing a giant Brian May's Red Special guitar in front of the building?

  • yeah! Queen should be on Rock N Roller Coaster theyre under Hollywood Records(owned by disney and the label jonas bros and Miley are signed in as well)

    I can see it now Rock N Roller Coaster feat. Queen

    it'll reduce cost and itll be nice if disney used thing they own rather than borrow/by rights to stuff(like star wars)

  • That Rock 'n Roll Mickey with the guitar is fierce!

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