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There are two types of behind-the-scenes books that you typically
see coming out of The Walt Disney Company. The first type is the highly
scrubbed history (EX: Bob Thomas' "Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast" [Disney Editions, October 1992]) which deliberately
steps around some of the more embarrassing moments that are associated with a particular
The second kind of behind-the-scenes book usually comes
years after the fact (EX: Charles Solomon's "Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast" [Disney Editions, August 2010]). Which -
because they don't tend to gloss over a lot of the hiccups that can happen along
the way - tend to be far more interesting reading.
Which is why - if you're
a theme park history buff and really want to know how the Happiest Place on
Earth made it through that shaky first year & then went on become one of
the world's most popular tourist destination - you owe it to yourself to pick
up a copy of Jack Lindquist's memoir, "In Service To The Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland's First President" (Neverland Media LLC.
Copyright Neverland Media LLC. All rights reserved
Why For? Because this 248-page hardcover (which Lindquist wrote
with Melinda J. Combs) gives you Disneyland's real history. Told by a guy who first
visited the park in April in 1955, back when this theme park was still a
construction site. Hired in September of that same year by Disneyland's first
director of public relations. Ed Ettinger, Jack had then a front row seat to a
lot of Mouse House history. Which he now shares with "In Service to the Mouse."
"What sort of history?," you ask. Well, how about the real
reason that Club 33 got built at Disneyland? Which - according to Lindquist -
can actually be traced back to the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.
As the fair ended, GE expressed a desire to move the (Carousel
of Progress) to Disneyland. Discussions began with WED, and everything was
moving along splendidly until an unexpected hitch occurred. GE insisted that a
VIP lounge, like the one they'd had at the New York's World Fair - with a bar -
be part of their pavilion in Disneyland. GE was told that alcohol was not
allowed in Disneyland, but they insisted. We refused. A critical impasse had
been reached. For awhile, it looked like the whole project would crumble.
Neither party would budge. Then a compromise was proposed. Disney would
construct a private club in New Orleans Square, a new area within the park just
under construction at that time.
Image courtesy of Roger Colton
Entrance to the park club would be limited to park sponsors and
their guests, complimentary memberships approved by Walt Disney's office. These
included all sorts of VIPS, like the presidents of the United States; governors
of California; U.S. senators from California; Otis Chandler and William
Randolph Hearst Jr. (both newspaper / publishing magnates); Leonard Goldsenson,
who was head of ABC; the city of Anaheim and Orange County VIPs; plus a select
group of Walt's friends.
This private facility would serve liquor but only with
meals. No separate bar. GE and all the other participants accepted the
compromise. Thus, the Carousel of Progress was built exactly as debuted at the
New York World's Fair. It became an instant classic at Disneyland.
Club 33 immediately became a big hit, giving Disneyland
lessees a place to entertain their customers, sales staffs, PR executives and
for employee recognition events, etc. Club 33 also became a place where
Disneyland executives could entertain business associates, visiting
dignitaries, and other groups. The name, Club 33, came about because Walt
seemed to like the number 3 and also because Disneyland's physical address is
1313 Harbor Boulevard.
That's half the fun of "In Service to the Mouse." Jack gives
you the unvarnished version of Disneyland history. He writes not as the loyal employee
(Lindquist worked for The Walt Disney Company for 38 years). But - rather - as the
longtime president of Disneyland. Who was often frustrated in his attempts to
keep this theme park fresh & relevant.
Take - for example - "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln." To
Lindquist's way of thinking, anyway ...
... is not a repeat
ride. Guests see it once and that's it. It (is) a show that played for 15 to 20
years to approximately 5 to 8 percent of its capacity. We had a theater with a
capacity of around 500, with only 35 people in it. But every time we talked
about closing that show, we had backlash; we would receive 2,000 to 3,000
letters saying, "You can't take it out. It's what Disneyland is all about. It's
our favorite attraction."
Copyright Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved
Jack is a person with very strong opinions, especially when
it came to the Disney theme parks. And he wasn't afraid of experiencing those
Take - for example - when he got into it with Michael
Eisner, the then-CEO of The Walt Disney Company about which characters should
appear in what parks.
I was very opposed to any Disney characters in Epcot because
the characters belonged at the Magic Kingdom. Everything should be in its
place. If we wanted characters for Epcot, then Epcot characters needed to be
developed. Putting Mickey in Japanese robes for the Japanese Pavilion or
Lederhosen for the German Pavilion is wrong. Michael and I argued about that
for about two years.
Mickey and Minnie in their Italian garb at last year's grand opening of World Showcase's new Via Napoli restaurant. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
"We're going to have Disney characters in Epcot," he
"Fine, you're the man," I told him. "But you're wrong."
People don't go to Epcot without going to the Magic Kingdom
at Walt Disney World, so having Mickey at Epcot isn't going to bring people
there. If they want Mickey Mouse, they can go where he is.
I think some characters lost their uniqueness through
merchandising and overexposure. We were unsophisticated merchandisers ... People
still buy the merchandise but there's just too much, store after store after
store. Maybe the merchandise is done differently in various places, but the overkill
So again, when we try to apply K-Mart or Wal-Mart
merchandising standards to Disneyland, I can say it's overkill, but when we
look at the bottom line, people are buying. That gets back to the image, and to
two questions: Does it mean as much today to have something with the Mouse on
it as when it was harder to find?
And should the Mouse be everywhere, like in the German
Pavilion near the beer garden?
As Mickey's chaperone for a half-century, I would never let
my charge be frivolously exploited.
Jack Lindquist proudly wears a set of Mickey Mouse ears at Disneyland's 50thanniversary celebration. Photo by Adrienne Helitzer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Never thought you'd ever hear a member of senior management
of The Walt Disney Company talk like that? Well, that's why you really owe to
yourself to purchase a copy of "In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey
to Becoming Disneyland's First President." So that you can then read all of Jack
Lindquist's terrific tales.
Like the time when - while attempting to recruit sponsors
for Epcot's World Showcase - Lindquist was actually threatened with beheading. How did that happen? Well ...
... We went to Morocco for help with their pavilion at Epcot
but didn't have any success initially. We brought a model on our first visit and
left it there. However, a year-and-a-half later, we established ties with a new
minister of Tourism. When we returned and started negotiating again, WED
Enterprises wanted the old model back because they didn't want to have to start
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
After we told them that we needed to get the model back to
the United States, somebody let us know that the model was at the palace in the
prince's quarters. We were told that we had to speak to the king, who then told
us to retrieve it from the prince's room.
When we walked into the prince's room, we found our model
with an electric train running through it. The 10-year-old prince had turned it
into a toy. When we started to take out the model, the prince threw a royal
He said to all of us, "I'll have you all beheaded."
More people came in to help us and stop the fit. They
finally scooted the prince out of the room, and we took our model.
Trust me, folks. The stories that I've excerpted above are
just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "In Service to the Mouse." So if
you want to read a radically different but still genuinely entertaining take on
Disneyland history, get ahold of Jack Lindquist & Melinda J. Combs' book
I can only find it in Kindle version. :-(
Click on the Neverland Media LLC link in today's article. That will then give you access to a dedicated website from which you can order a physical copy of "In Service to the Mouse."
I was so pleased to find that it was available on Kindle. In the old days I would have added this book to my list to look for on my next bookstore trip...today I had the eBook bought and downloaded to my Kindle before I had completely finished Jim's article :-)
Jim, where is your follow up article to Tron Legacy???
Check in next Tuesday. Based on what people at the Studio have been telling me, the Martin Luther King three-day weekend will probably be the very last time that "TRON: Legacy" racks up decent box office numbers. At least on the domestic front. At that point ... I think that it will be pretty safe to talk about where this Joseph Kosinski film stands. At least in Hollywood's eyes.
I purchased "In Service to the Mouse" a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The stories were unique, authentic, and often hilarious and told of a world that in some ways has sadly left us. Jack Lindquist's journey has been amazing and I would highly recommend this book to anyone. When I ordered my copy I also received a Jack Lindquist autographed Disney Dollar so it's well worth the price.
Got the book as a gift from Jack's daughter in law, Karen Lindquist. LOVE IT
Ha, an old man with Mickey's ears looks so cute and funny. I want too that golden Mickey's hat ;(
Sounds like a great read. Looking forward to sitting down with it.
Someone please give an Jack Lindquist's address to I going to him and take his hat. It's awesome, and even gold. WANT IT!!!!!!!!!
I couldn't agree with Jack Lindquist more - characters (other than Figment & Dreamfinder) don't belong in EPCOT. I was appalled to hear that Tinkerbell and friends will be moving there thanks to the revised Fantasyland plans...
Tinkerbell and the Disney Fairies are going to DHS, not EPCOT. At least, that's what I've been reading.