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Company insiders share all sorts of great stories at the Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention

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Company insiders share all sorts of great stories at the Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention

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Disneyland Park celebrated its 56th anniversary of its opening yesterday. But for those who couldn't wait to get that party started, there was the Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention.

Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Held just down the road from the Park at the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort in Garden Grove, CA., this year's festivities actually got underway on Tuesday with a special off-site luncheon that was held at Garner Holt Productions in San Bernardino.

Once the conventioneers returned to the hotel, it was time for the Disneyana Fan Club's welcoming reception. Where Disney Legend Alice Davis and Maggie Richardson (i.e. the niece of famed Disney artist & designer Mary Blair) shared stories about Walt & Ms. Blair.

(L to R) Disney Legend Alice Davis and Maggie Richardson. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

The next morning, this year's convention officially got underway with a collector's brunch / fundraiser for Ryman Arts. From there, there were all sorts of entertaining panels & presentations. Like the one that noted Disney author & historian Jim Korkis and some yutz-whose-name-I-forget swapped stories about the development & construction of The Walt Disney World Resort.

How come Korkis got the good podium? Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Then Nick Farago & Roger LaRoque gave a talk about how their Disneyland postcard guide served as the inspiration for Bruce Gordon and David Mumford's theme park opus, "Disneyland the Nickel Tour." And speaking of books, Wednesday afternoon's event featured an author's panel where Jim Korkis, Don Peri,  Nancy Temple Rodrigue and Andi Stern all got to talk about their latest Walt-related work.

(L to R) Jim Korkis, Professor Andi Stern, Nancy Temple Rodrigue and Don Peri.
Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Afterwards, conventioneers got the chance to meet with this year's authors as well as purchase autographed copies of their books.

Photo by Jim Hill

Next came Thursday's selection of panels & presentations. Which kicked off with a talk by longtime Disney designer Kevin Kidney ...

Kevin Kidney holds up a Mary Poppins-inspired miniature carousel.
Photo by Paul Schnebelen

... who brought along some of the paper sculptures that he and Jody Daily created which were used to create some of the individual decorative float elements for Mickey's Soundsational Parade.

Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Next up was Karlos Siqueiros, the manager of concept development for Food Operations at the Disneyland Resort. Who - as part of his presentation - talked about some of the seasonal novelty items that his department has created / is creating for the Parks.

Photo by Paul Schnebelen

This panel was a particular favorite with conventioneers. Given that Siquerios brought along Duffys filled with chocolate chip cookies for every attendee at this year's Disneyana Fan Club annual convention.

Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Then - after a lunch break - Ron Miziker took to the stage and took DFC members back to the Summer of 1971. When Walt Disney World was just weeks away from opening and Ron was in charge of crafting / stage-managing that Resort's three-day-long grand opening.

Ron Miziker holds up a copy of the master plan for Walt Disney World's grand opening.
Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Miziker also shared some photos from October of 1971. Including this shot of the very first performance of WDW's Electrical Water Pageant.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

After this, conventioneers got to peek behind-the-scenes at Disney's voice department. As character voice veterans Tony Anselmo (voice of Donald Duck) and Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy) worked with relative newcomer Brett Iwan (voice of Mickey Mouse) and longtime producer Ben Hoppe recreated a recording session for a "Have a Laugh" sequence.

(L to R) Ben Hoppe, Brett Iwan, Tony Anselmo & Bill Farmer. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

The afternoon's entertainment wrapped up with a presentation by noted animation authors Charles Solomon and Jerry Beck.

(L to R) Charles Solomon and Jerry Beck. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

That evening, conventioneers attended a special celebration banquet. Where song stylist Susan Egan performed as well as reminisced about working on projects like Disney's "Hercules" as well as the Broadway musical version of "Beauty and the Beast." After this banquet, attendees got the chat to with this Broadway veteran as well as get Susan's autograph.

Susan Egan meets with her fans at this year's Disneyana
Fan Club annual convention. Photo by Paul Schebelen

That - to my way of thinking - was what made this year's Disneyana Fan Club annual convention particularly enjoyable. That you not only got to hear great stories from company insiders like Bob Garner ...

Veteran television producer Bob Garner. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

... you also got to have face time with Disney animation legends like Mark Henn.

Mark Henn signs autographs for DFC annual convention attendees.
Photo by Paul Schnebelen

I mean, where else are you going to hear Eddie Sotto sharing great behind-the-scenes stories about the design & construction of Euro Disneyland followed by Alan Halcrow interviewing master animator Eric Goldberg.

Eric Goldberg (L) talks with Alan Halcrow about some of the challenges that he
has faced over the course of his animation career. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Of course, for the collectors in the card, Saturday's Show & Sale was the best part of this event. Where they could wander the convention space at the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort and come across one-of-a-kind Disney-related curios (like signs from Marty Sklar's retirement party from WDI) ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... and/or shop for Imagineering-exclusive at the traveling version of Mickey's of Glendale.

Photo by Jim Hill

As you strolled the aisles at the Show & Sale, you'd discover all sort of amazing merch ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... not to mention fan favorites like Margaret Kerry, the original live-action reference model for Tinker Bell in Disney's 1953 animated version of "Peter Pan."

Think Tink. Margaret Kerry. Photo by Jim Hill

This is why the Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention has become a must-do for Disney enthusiasts from around the country. Not only because attendees get to see all sorts of great panels & presentations, but because these people also then get the chance to renew sometimes-decades-long friendships with other Disneyana fans.

Photo by Paul Schnebelen

Special thanks to Paul Schnebelen for allowing JHM to make use of many of the photographs that he took at this year's event. If you'd like to learn more about the Disneyana Fan Club, please click on this link.

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  • 56th anniversary.  Not 57th.  When the very first sentence of an article is factually wrong, the author tends to lose credibility...

  • Terrence. It is a typo. When one presents himself like an obnoxious over-critical prick you tend to lose credibility as well...

  • Terrence & Anonymouse --

    You're both right in that this mistake was a typo (I was rushing to get this story done yesterday afternoon before I then headed out for the airport & my flight back home to New Hampshire. Which is why I then didn't proofread this piece perhaps as closely as I should have). But -- at the same time -- it's kind of a boneheaded mistake (especially when you work in this field) to get Disneyland's anniversary year wrong.

    Anyway ... That error is now fixed. Thanks to Terrence for pointing out my mistake. And now -- if you'll excuse -- I think I'll go fall into a jetlag-induced coma.


  • Was the podium for the "Yutz" designed to make "him" look less credible or was that really the best they could do?

  • Chris --

    RE: The second podium ... Actually, it was a gag. When I arrived at the Cabo San Lucas room (or whatever it is that the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort calls its convention rooms  / function space), I noticed that the Disneyana Fan Club only had one podium set up on stage at this time. Which then got me thinking about how I could turn this to Jim & my advantage, maybe create some comedy by quickly establishing some pretend tension between the two speakers. You know? Like Tom & Dick Smothers' "Mom always liked you best" schtick?

    So I talked with Korkis. And being the old pro at presentations that he is, Jim immediately got on board with the idea. I then scoured backstage, looking for the makings of a funny, slapped together podium. I came across those three electrical supply storage cases sitting in a corner and thought "Perfect." I got permission from the stage manager to repurpose his equipment for one presentation ... and the rest is history.

    The whole "How come you got the good podium?" bit, followed by me quickly building my own lectern out of a electrical supply storage cases got a big laugh from the audience. Which immediately set the tone that I was hoping Jim & I could set for this particular trading-stories session (I.E. That this particular presentation was supposed to be fun & informative, but mostly fun). And given that -- once this talk was over -- the fact that DFC members immediately came up to Korkis & I and asked whether we'd be willing to giveanother one of these sorts of talks at their next convention ... Well, I have to assume that at least some folks in the audience were amused.

    But as for Chris's suggestion that the Disneyana Fan Club deliberately set up that podium because they wanted me to " ... look less credible" ... It was a joke. A highly successful gag that I myself dreamed up on the fly that got a big laugh at the start of this presentation. Which is something that every speaker tries to get at the very start of their talk because that then breaks the ice a bit and allows you to make a quicker connection with your audience.

    Long story short: This sight gag worked. It got the laugh that I was looking for. More importantly, the DFC had no idea that I was going to pull it. Only Jim Korkis & the stage manager were in on this gag in advance. So to suggest that this was done out of a sense of mean-spiritedness and/or " ... was that really the best that they could do" is pretty mean-spirited unto itself.

    Which leads me to my next question: Is everyone here in the States in a sour mood right now because of the heat & humidity, or is there something else going on here?

  • C'mon, folks - anybody who knows anything about the DFC knows that we wouldn't treat one of our guests that shabbily.  Thanks for joining us, Jim (and Jim) - hope you'll do it again soon!

  • The Disneyana Fan Club treated both Jim and I warmly and were very generous and gracious during our time there.   I am sorry that more folks were unable to come and enjoy not only the informative and entertaining presentations but also the friendly and enthusiastic Disneyana Fan Club members.

    Why did Hill get the funny podium?  Because Jim Hill is indeed funny...and much cleverer than I am because he instantly saw the possibility for the visual humor.  It did get a good laugh and was taken in the right spirit and commented on during the following days of the convention..  I would also like to point out that Jim was very careful to take the time just minutes before we were to go on stage to  ask the technicians in advance if he could borrow the crates (instead of just grabbing them),  telling them what they would be used for and even in the rush of attention after the presentation, he made sure that he first returned the crates to their proper locations in good condition.

    It was a delight sharing the stage with Jim and sharing some great generally "unknown" stories about the creation of Walt Disney World.  We each have our own perspectives, our own information sources and even when we interviewed the same people, we asked different questions.  Several years ago, Hill and I did a "Dueling Jims" presentation for a Jim Hill Media Christmas event that got a great response and also a joint tour of the Magic Kingdom that also got a great response.    Perhaps when October rolls around with the official Walt Disney World birthday, Jim will share some of those amazing stories to the readers of this site.

    We had been talking about this presentation for months wanting to capture the spirit of some of the great entertaining Disney historian teams of the past like Bruce Gordon and David Mumford.  In fact, two folks were kind enough to say that our presentation reminded them of that sadly missed team.   It was a huge compliment.  I would look forward to doing similar presentations in the future because Jim made me shine up there on stage.  It really did seem to be a Smothers Brothers routine of "oh yeah?"   In fact, Jim wanted to take it even further and suggested entering late and dropping his papers and more so there was even more of a distinction between us.  I'm glad he didn't go that far.......and by the way, there were no "typos" in his part of the presentation.

  • Thanks for sharing, it is a nice summary of a fun intimate convention this year, the 27th annual.

  • "Terrence. It is a typo. When one presents himself like an obnoxious over-critical prick you tend to lose credibility as well..."


    Says someone too cowardly to even pretend to give their name.

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