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Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast Episode 51: The History of Christmas At Disneyland

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Transcriptions & Directory of Disney Dish podcasts with Jim Hill and Touring Plans' Len Testa

Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish Podcast Episode 51: The History of Christmas At Disneyland

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Len: Welcome back to another addition of the Unofficial Guide Disney Dish Podcast With Jim Hill. This is episode fifty one and to get you guys into the holiday spirit, Jim and I are talking today about the history of Christmas at the Disney Resorts. In order to tell that story of course, we need the jolly old man himself. And I mean Jim Hill. How's it going Jim?

Jim: Ho ho ho.

Len: So it's early December and that means of course that we celebrate the origins of some Scandinavian mythology that involves an old man, a red suit, and some flying reindeer.

 

Jim: That we do, that we do. And,

 

Len: Nothing says Christmas like Disney, right?

 

Jim: Well, not initially. In fact, that was... I mean, think about it. Disneyland opens July of Nineteen Fifty Five.

 

Len: And America's still celebrating Christmas in the Nineteen Fifties. I totally understand that.

 

Jim: Yes, but at the same time, it was a much more modest holiday. I mean,

 

Len: What?

 

Jim: Well, I mean, think about it. We're still outside of the early Nineteen Sixties... The whole notion of a holiday special. I mean, the Peanuts,

 

Len: ???

 

Jim: The first holiday special didn't air 'til Sixty Four. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And that was part of a GE theatre show. And the one that really sort of... That was one that sort of kicked open the door and the very next year there was A Charlie Brown Christmas and Christmas in American became sort of... transforming during that period. You know, you just sort of, the sixties seventies eighties just got bigger and bigger and bigger. But were still a relatively small holiday at that point. I mean, you can still... If you read the magazines and watch the shows of the period there were even people back then who were bitching about "Oh the commercialization of Christmas." "The lights went up ten days before the..." "Can't Christmas be on Christmas?"

 

Len: I've been going through the old Newhart the original Newhart Show and you're right. I mean, there were episodes that were two weeks before Christmas that literally didn't even mention winter.

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Len: Let alone the holiday. And we contrast that with this year. I don't know if you saw the tv schedule but Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer showed up on television the day before Thanksgiving.

 

Jim: Yeah!

 

Len: There's a special place in Hell for people who schedule that, right? (???)

 

Jim: But at the same time, it actually did better this year than it did last year. I mean, the weird thing is.. whose watching this? We all either own it on VHS or Blu-Ray at this point.

 

Len: Who hasn't memorized it, right?

 

Jim: But that's the thing. Everyone's like "Oh, gotta sit with the family and watch Rudolph. And cry at the,"

 

Len: For me it's the Peanuts Christmas Special.

 

Jim: I don't know. It's always the last five minutes of Rudolph that undoes me. The Island of Misfit Toys. It's like "I know he's showing up. I know it!"

 

Len: Anyway, so all right, back in the Fifties, it was a simpler time.

 

Jim: A simpler time.

 

Len: all right, so Disneyland opens in Fifty Five in July.

 

Jim: Yeah, and look, Walt knew... they knew it was a hit over the summer months and when the kids were out of school. But again, you gotta remember that Fall and the early winter months were huge question marks. Especially during that first year of operation. And that coupled with the fact that people tend to forget that when Disneyland opened up they got... it got miserable press because of that overcrowded party where the people had printed up the faux invitations and people climbing over the back fence and you know... It was... Three years of Walt inviting reporters back before the reputation of the park turned around with the media. On the other hand, with the public, they loved the place right out of the get-go. And when you think about that Disneyland saw its one millionth visitor on September Eighth, Fifty Five, that's just fifty three days after the place opened.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: Those are some amazingly strong attendance numbers, again, given the poisonous press that it had had for that opening. But anyway, you head into the Fall months and now it's like, "All right, how do we properly staff the park? What hours should we be open?"

 

Len: Yeah. All this is unknown, right? Nobody's ever done an amusement park of this scale, right? Year round.

 

Jim: And they were still... three years in before they finally figured out that during Spring and Fall, what they do is they actually close the park on Mondays and Tuesdays. From, seriously, from Nineteen Fifty Eight to Nineteen Eighty Five, if you... that's actually, if you've seen Vacation the movie with Chevy Chase, that's what that actually keys off of. There's a,

 

Len: Oh, right right. They get to Walley World and it's closed.

 

Jim: Yeah. There's this great... Doug... oh man, I'm blanking on his name but wrote for National Lampoon... But the family vacation in Nineteen Sixty Two, that... again, ends with going to Disneyland and it's closed for the day and ends up the dad goes to Disney's house and shoots hm in the butt. So. It's a wonderful holiday reading folks, check it out. Anyway, so it's Fall of Fifty Five, Walt is concerned about what's going to happen for the holidays 'cause, again, it's... "Can we actually get people to come out during the colder time of year?" So what he decides to do is he's going to hold a circus. And in fact, in November Twenty-

 

Len: A circus.

 

Jim: A circus. You know, not only that... It's the Mickey Mouse Club Circus. This was presented... if you know the layout of the park... kind of where Small World is now. There were two giant tents. In fact, the biggest tent- and by the way I got this information from Sam Genaway's (???) brand new great history book of Disneyland, the Disneyland Story which published by Keane Communications. Isn't that the company that publishes the Unofficial Guideline?

 

Len: It is in fact. What an odd coincidence.

 

Jim: That's startling. Anyway, this one hour long show was personally produced by Walt Disney. Or so says Sam. To introduce the Mouseketeers to the general public. And I know this is what Sam is saying is true, I've seen the press release which... what cracks me up about this is that the Mickey Mouse tv show debuted on October Third, Nineteen Fifty Five, but here they are, November- "And we're going to introduce them to the world!" And it's like, "I think the world already knows who Annette is." Anyway,

 

Len: Was a month long publicity campaign. (???) Okay, so they're doing a circus.

 

Jim: A circus okay.

 

Len: Over by where It's a Small World is.

 

Jim: Yeah. Opens November Twenty Fourth, Nineteen Fifty Five, which by the way was Thanksgiving Day. And it features acts like George Keller and his thirty savage cats, which according to longtime Disneyland employees that I've interviewed- it's this really sort of mangy looking group of lions, tigers, and leopards that are so heavily drugged that the only real danger that they pose to the public was if they fell asleep on their perch and then fell over on Mr. Keller. But he'd bring them out there and try to get them to stand up but. Anyway,  because this was supposed to be Disneyland's big holiday thing, they sort of shoe-horned in a finale where it's March of the Toys. And so it's,

 

Len: March of the Toys.

 

Jim: Christmas-themed grand finale and so you've got your Mouseketeers along with Jimmie Dodd, who,

 

Len: Who's Jimmie Dodd?

 

Jim: Jimmie Dodd was the Mouseketeer. I mean,

 

Len: Okay, got it.

 

Jim: When you see the show, he's the adult who, you know. "See you real soon!" But he actually came out and served as the ring master for this thing.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: But two shows a day. So, you know,

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: Yep. So anyway, he and the Mouseketeers join some costumed Disney characters. They dance around this magical growing Christmas tree which I guess somebody who had seen The Nutcracker had borrowed the idea from.

 

Len: Sure.

 

Jim: And as it ends, Santa comes in on his sleigh, all right, and that's supposed to be the big finale of the show and at the first performance they hadn't really rehearsed. Santa I guess ran into the center pole of the tent and damn near brought down all of the,

 

Len: All the big cats are running everywhere.

 

Jim: It's like, "All right." So it really wasn't what they envisioned. In fact, what threw them off from day one is that nobody came. I mean, it had very very low attendance for the show. And it turns out it was really more a case of pricing. In that day at Disneyland, what you did is you paid a one dollar entrance fee,

 

Len: Right.

 

Jim: And then you bought tickets for each individual attraction,

 

Len: Oh yeah.

 

Jim: That you went on. And in this case, it was a one dollar fee to go in to see the circus. And a lot of parents just walked all the way back, looked at the circus tent, and saw what the fee was and it's like, "No. I'm not gonna do that." So the show only six weeks. It shut down January Sixth of Fifty Six I believe.

 

Len: So it ran over Christmas. That was their Christmas entertainment. The circus.

 

Jim: That was their Christmas entertainment. Now don't get me wrong. They did... it wasn't the only Christmas-themed entertainment in the park. Jim Korkis tells this great story about how the first Christmas Carolers at the Happiest Place on Earth who turned out were twelve music students from the University of Southern California who would dress up as Dickens characters and wander around performing.

 

Len: Were they hired or they were just showing up?

 

Jim: Well, no, that was,

 

Len: (???) Day.

 

Jim: That was kind of the interesting aspect of this. What they did was there was Doctor Charles Hirt, he was the director of music at UCLA. And as it turned out he was a good close personal friend of Walt Disney and Walt really leaned heavily on this guy during the first four or five years when it came to- Disneyland didn't have an entertainment department at this point. And it was like, "Ugh, it's Christmas. What am I gonna do?" And Charles was like, "Well, let me grab some of my students." And brought twelve of them down and they raided the costume department at the studio and so they had these Dickens Christmas Carolers working the park but... this was also during the period where they couldn't quite decide what to do with the bandstand for Disneyland. I mean, it used to be,

 

Len: Sure.

 

Jim: Down at City Hall Plaza and in fact what they found is it blocked the view of the Castle as people entered the park. So they then, for a while they moved it all the way out to basically the corner of Frontierland and Adventureland. So...

 

Len: Sure, bandstand haha. What the British would have done when they were colonizing Africa. Sure.

 

Jim: But this is the thing that I particularly enjoy about it. Especially when you understand that this is the year that they've launched Jingle Cruise at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. It's like, but even back then, people were riding the Jungle Cruise and looking at the lions and tigers could still hear vaguely in the distance, Silent Night. "What's going on?" But yeah these twelve kids came out and performed and the interesting thing is that component was so successful, by Nineteen Fifty Six what they did is at this point they'd actually moved the bandstand back over by the castle. In fact, it ended up pretty much in the place where the Carnation Plaza with that new Fantasyland extension has been built.

 

Len: Right, right.

 

Jim: And they strung up some lights and then this area then became known as the Disneyland Christmas Bowl. And you could go there and watch the Dickens Carolers sing. They'd bring in the Disneyland band... would stand there and perform holiday music. And they also again began bringing in local high school groups and college choirs who also performed holiday music. And what's kind of interesting about that- and again, this is Charles... this is Dr. Charles Hirt who put the idea together- he noticed how the crowds were reacting to these choirs and if he brought multiple choirs together, they'd get even bigger crowds. And he was the guy who was like, "Why don't we do a mass event? Why don't we do something of size and see if that works?" And Walt gave him the go ahead.

 

Len: What year is this?

 

Jim: This is Fifty Six, Fifty Seven. And in  Fifty Eight he finally gets the go ahead for the very first Candle Light Procession. And,

 

Len: Nineteen Fifty Eight. That long ago?

 

Jim: That long ago.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: Yep.

 

Len: Okay.

 

Jim: We are coming up on for Disneyland... what is that, that's the...

 

Len: Fifty Five years.

 

Jim: Fifty five years! So.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: So. But yeah. The first group whose... the first time around it was sixteen choirs together moving down Main Street to the Plaza. And what was kind of- again, would have been kind of an interesting visual- while they're singing, the members of Hirt's Dicken's choir are actually standing on Sleeping Beauty Castle up on the balcony they're performing.

 

Len: I thought you were going to say the parade is coming the other way 'cause that would have been equally interesting but okay. Your thing (???). All right, go ahead.

 

Jim: But you know, just they were trying.

 

Len: Yeah.

 

Jim: They really were trying. But, it just... Every year was sort of like... 'Cause nobody had ever done this.

 

Len: Right.

 

Jim: It's like "What are we going to do next?" And in regard to the Christmas Parade which is now a Disneyland tradition... That really... If you're hung up on details, yes, there was a parade in Fifty-Five, but it was a circus parade. And yeah,

 

Len: A circus parade with Santa Claus.

 

Jim: That's it exactly. Just sort of tacked on. It wasn't... the really first holiday parade at the park didn't happen 'til Fifty Five and even then it was one of these things where it's "Christmas in Many Lands!" I mean, there's a name that's just says magic, doesn't it, Len?

 

Len: Wait what year?

 

Jim: This is December Fifty Seven.

 

Len: Christmas in Many Lands.

 

Jim: Christmas in Many Lands. And again, why it was called Christmas in Many Lands was that Disneyland would reach out to the Sons of Norway or,

 

Len: In Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Branch of the Sons of Norway. Okay, all right.

 

Jim: That's it exactly. Or like... The deal was, "Look, come to Disneyland, march in our parade, perform a Christmas song, and we'll give you free admission to the park and free tickets." And that's how they padded out their parades. It's just, all these, "Well sure, I'll come and perform at Disneyland. Sure, I'll march in the parade." But yeah, it's just, because again, you had this fledging entertainment department that really didn't know what to do.

 

Len: So what were the Many Lands that were celebrating Christmas? Are we talking about like Wisconsin or what?

 

Jim: That's right. "Cheese, holiday cheese, Gromit!" No, I've seen a listing of this and what's kind of interesting is that if you want a real sense of how this was done, go on Youtube. Right now there is actually the grand opening of the Matterhorn.

 

Len: Yeah.

 

Jim: Television special from Nineteen Fifty Nine. And they have an opening special and basically all the groups that are marching in this parade are the very same groups that have been tapped for Christmas of Fifty Eight. So it's like uugh, there's just, you know, Swiss bell ringers and some Norwegian dance troupes and... it's this fascinating mix of cultures that... again, you have to understand that Disneyland at that point, there was no place on the Earth entertainment-wise that was hotter. And if somebody said "Hey, you wanna come perform at Disneyland?" and "We'll give you tickets to the attractions to enjoy afterwards."

 

Len: Oh my God, you're right. It is.

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Len: I'm looking at the Youtube video.

 

Jim: Yeah. But seriously, you have to go check this out, folks. It just... You can watch the parade and get a sense of... And more to the point, Len, look at how homemade... This is not... these aren't,

 

Len: Yeah, this looks like stuff you and I could do with a quick trip to Michael's and a thousand dollars.

 

Jim: That's it exactly.

 

Len: That's some interesting... it looks like the floats are built on baby carriage... Wow that's interesting. Huh, how about that.

 

Jim: Pretty much. So, but now to, also to give you some idea of the progression of Christmas at Disneyland... Starting in Fifty Eight was the first time you started to see significant decorating in the park. I mean, not just individual wreaths on doors and things like that. This is the first time they strung garland across the street with lights on Main Street USA. But again, Walt was kind of a stickler about Christmas. He was one of these guys who really wanted to celebrate Christmas around Christmas so,

 

Len: Yeah yeah.

 

Jim: Decorations went up two weeks before December Twenty Fifth and came down on January Second. Just as long as Walt was calling the shots, that's what happened. So. Meanwhile, in regard to the official Disneyland tree.

 

Len: There's a Disneyland tree?

 

Jim: Yeah. That started... Town Square... I wanna say Fifty Six, Fifty Seven. It was definitely there by Fifty Eight. And at this point it's twenty feet tall but again, it's one of these things where it's like... There's not a design shop that's making individual ornaments. They gone out locally and just bought boxes of ornaments and hung them up on the tree. But the other thing and what's kind of interesting is you do Goggle or do some investigation of Disneyland Christmas Nineteen Fifties Nineteen Sixties,

 

Len: Oh, so real quick, the reference video you want is titled on Youtube is Holiday Time at Disneyland  Nineteen Sixty Two.

 

Jim: There we go. There we go.

 

Len: Forty five minutes. It's actually a, so I guess they did a World of Color,

 

Jim: Yeah, actually there are two of them. In fact, another one folks want to reference is... I think it's called Holiday Time at Disneyland. In fact, what's kind of ironic about that one- oh no, the... what is it... Seasons?

 

Len: No, Holiday Time at Disneyland in Nineteen Sixty Two, yeah.

 

Jim: But there's actually another one in Sixty Six, Len. I think it's called Seasons- ah! Disneyland Around the Seasons Nineteen Sixty Six. And in fact, what's kind of ironic about that one is, again, Sixty Six, this is Walt,

 

Len: Oh, you're right. Sixty Six.

 

Jim: Just before he passed away but that- we'll get to that one in a little bit here.

 

Len: Okay.

 

Jim: Anyway, so we have our Christmas trees... in fact, if you want to get a sense of what Disneyland looked like- in fact, I can't recommend this enough, the next time you're actually out at the Disneyland Resort. Go over to the Disneyland Hotel. In fact, what you want to do is take the escalator next to Goofy's Kitchen, go upstairs and there's a series of function rooms up in that area but outs- so, then- and be good! Don't wander in any of these meetings and that sort of thing. But outside in the hallway are these amazing pieces of concept art that have just. You know, these giant canvases of early Matterhorn, early Big Thunder Mountain. But one of the paintings there is an early concept of what the Disneyland Castle would look like at Christmas.

 

Len: Oh.

 

Jim: And they have- but again, it's a very Nineteen, late Nineteen Fifties early Nineteen Sixties. So these are white metallic Christmas trees stuck in the middle of the lagoon.

 

Len: That's the way God intended. God intended Christmas trees to be aluminum, Jim. As an owner of a mid-century modern house, let me tell you how Christmas trees should look.

 

Jim: Well there you go. But picture them stuck in the middle of Lagoon, all right. With lights that would rotate from pink to,

 

Len: Color wheel. I think that's absolutely perfect.

 

Jim: Well, I am glad to hear that 'cause that's what it was like and they have this beautiful painting up there on that,

 

Len: It's Southern California.

 

Jim: There you go. But speaking of giant light up Christmas trees, we have to talk about the Matterhorn. Which, again, opened in July of Fifty Nine and by Nineteen Sixty One or thereabouts... What Disneyland used to do to celebrate the holiday season is they'd bring a giant crane in,

 

Len: Uh huh.

 

Jim: And hoist at the top of the Matterhorn a twenty foot tall rotating Christmas star. That lit up at night.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: In fact, again, if you want to Goggle this and do "Matterhorn Christmas Star," there is one of the most horrifying photographs in the history of man. Basically it's a black and white photograph of the star being winched into place at the top of the Matterhorn and Santa is standing at the top of the Matterhorn sort of waving it in. But if you look closely at the photograph, Santa is standing at the top of the most rickety wooden ladder you've ever seen in your entire life. So it's just sort of like,

 

Len: Oh, I'm seeing it. My toes are curling. Oh dear God! Wow, you can see the orange groves.

 

Jim: Yeah! Again, this is gives you some idea of what Anaheim was like back then. But think about it, it's this guy is,

 

Len: He's literally standing on a ladder. On the top of the Matterhorn.

 

Jim: That's right, that's right. So the photos that followed this of Santa tumbling to his death,

 

Len: "Santa's just sleeping, kids!"

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: But again, I'm thinking this was probably done on a Monday or Tuesday, so. So anyway, but what's really cool about this is they put the star into place and then what they do on the nights around Christmas is- again, you've got this giant lit up star but they're throwing green spotlights on the Matterhorn. So in effect, the Matterhorn,

 

Len: (???)

 

Jim: Has become Orange County's Christmas tree for the, in fact there's,

 

Len: Aw.

 

Jim: So if you talk to a lot of baby boomers from that period, they will tell you memories of being in the back of the family station wagon zooming along the Five and there's this giant Christmas tree at Disneyland. So. But yeah, it's just that,

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: Again, just lots of... What do you think about it, compared to what they do today, that was low tech but sounds charming. You know, just sort of like how cool that must have been. But, all right, anyway. We're jumping ahead into the Sixties here,

 

Len: All right.

 

Jim: And we have to go back to Christmas of Many Lands for a little bit 'cause we took a a really interesting turn in December of Sixty One. This was the year that Disney's version of Babes in Toyland opened in theaters. And as a really kind of clever, you know, bit of stop motion (???) coupled with the fact that these things are just sitting around a warehouse or the studio. We gotta do something with them. Walt had all the oversized toys that had been built for Tom Tom's battle with Barnaby,

 

Len: Uh huh.

 

Jim: He had them folded into that year's parade and,

 

Len: Oh.

 

Jim: While this Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands movie wasn't the hit that Walt was hoping for, the oversized toys sure were. Which is why Walt turned to Bill Justice who along with X Atencio, another Disney legend... these are the guys who did the stop motion sequence in that movie, who designed a lot of the toys and then hand animated it. And Walt turned to Bill and said that, "Is there a way we could create a walking... a version of that Tin Solider costume that people could wear and walk around the park in?" And so Bill created that for the Sixty Two version of the parade which was such a hit. Walt just turns around and just tells Bill, "You're it. You're the guy who designs the parades. You're the guy who designs the walk around costumes for the park now." And his... the full size version of his parade, which, again, if you watch that tv special on Youtube that Len and I were just talking about... Disneyland Around the Seasons. They have the full Nineteen Sixty Four Fantasy on Parade parade which features all of Bill's weird character costumes. You've got things like- stuff you've never be able to get away with at Disneyland today. For example, there's a two person camel that walks through the park but it's also led by the most offensive creation of a person from the Middle East you could possibly imagine.

 

Len: Sure.

 

Jim: You know.

 

Len: Oh God.

 

Jim: It's again, just, our Nineteen Sixties take on how to do these sorts of things. The other thing that premiered with this parade is the silly reindeer that people used to love so much about the Disneyland parade that got replaced recently by I guess more anatomically correct reindeer. Oh, before we step away from Babes in Toyland we have to- I gotta tell one of my favorite stories about history of the park. You gotta understand that the Main Street Opera House, now the home of the Walt Disney Story and the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,

 

Len: Sure.

 

Jim: Wasn't open to the public from July Fifty Five to November Sixty One. Mostly because this was actually the park's carpenter shop. If anything that was built at Disneyland... If you... wooden railings for the Golden Horse Review or the stairs, anything got built there.

 

Len: Really?

 

Jim: Yep. So anyway, what with Babes in Toyland being the most expensive movie that the studio had produced up until that time... It's a budget busting three million dollars Len. Oh my!

 

Len: Haha, three million dollars.

 

Jim: Yes. That's pretty much the Danish budget for My Magic Express. But we'll get back to that. "You want coffee?" Anyway, Walt was determined to make the most of what he'd spent so- and since the props... they had an exhibit over in Tomorowland that had literally been thrown into that part of the park at the last minute. In Fifty Five... basically props and costumes were Twenty Thousand Leagues and they even brought the rubber squid in.

 

Len: Wow.

 

Jim: And that was this huge hit. And so Walt's like, "Well, that worked." And we got this empty building so it's like, "We're gonna send the sets from Babes in Toyland over to Disneyland and set them up." And now I know at the Disney parks now when you look at something like The Legend of Jack Sparrow or this sort of thing of bringing movie props in for people or sets to walk through is kind of a cliché but this was really different. Something interesting in Sixty One. And what was kind of ironic is that when the movie opened in December 14th Sixty One, it really was not well received. In fact, a lot of the critics complained that it looked like Walt had shot it at Disneyland. You know, just this sort of really sugary mess. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that they basically broke up into three lands  and if you've seen the movie, they did... one room was Mother Gooseland and the end was the  Toy Factory in Toyland. But in the middle was the Forest of No Return.

 

Len: The Forest of No Return.

 

Jim: Have you ever seen this movie, Len?

 

Len: No.

 

Jim: Oh, you have to at least for this number because they have these giant rubber trees that... these really menacing awful looking rubber trees that sing and dance the Forest of No Return song.

 

Len: It sounds scary.

 

Jim: It is, all right. But what was great about this room is that they brought six of these costumes in.

 

Len: Okay.

 

Jim: But what the kids didn't realize is, so you walk in and you look at the cat (???) costumes and there's a cast member in one of them. So you wait for the children to walk in the room and sort of eyeball things, wait 'til they turn their back, and then the tree steps off the platform and goes after the child. And it was like, evidently they began selling,

 

Len: Undergarments?

 

Jim: There we go. Just because of the number of children who were frightened by the walking tree. But that was one open from December Seventeenth, Sixty One through September Thirtieth of Sixty Three. At that point, sort of as a place holder, the Mickey Mouse Club had sort of a place where you could go and sign up for the club or see memorabilia and that sort of thing 'til July of Sixty Four. And then they shut it down and then it becomes home for Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. But anyway, it just... But during this period Disneyland really is coming into its own when it comes to the holidays. They've got a design package in place for virtually every part of the park. In fact, one of the cleverest ideas is you'd come up to the Hub and here's the house of the future. Again,

 

Len: Yep.

 

Jim: Big plastic house. Only to make it look like it's Christmas time, they had a giant ten foot red bow on the top and huge ribbons that ran down the side. And they had started putting garlands around other parts of the park. You know, up at Golden Horseshoe and all that. It was really... You know, going to Disneyland really, at the holidays, really became something to do. And people were so looking forward to what was going to happen next. When it's suddenly December of Sixty Six and we lose Walt Disney. And this is, it was a very strange holiday season because obviously people turned out but you had a lot of employees who were still trying to wrap their heads around what happens to a Walt Disney productions, a Walt Disney company when there is no Walt Disney.

 

Len: Right.

 

Jim: That's a story we'll get to in part two of our Christmas at the Disney theme parks.

 

Len: That's right, we're only through about ten years of our fifty year journey.

 

Jim: Yep. So okay, go get some Christmas cookies folks. This is gonna take a while.

 

Len: That's fantastic Jim, I'm looking forward to the episodes. All right, for Jim Hill, this is Len Testa. You've been listening to part one of our Christmas special about Walt Disney and Disneyland Christmas. Please rate us on Itunes and let us know what else you'd like us to talk about, especially as the new year starts. Jim and I are looking for more adventures in 2014. For Jim this is Len. You've been listening to the Unofficial Guide Disney Dish Podcast With Jim Hill. Thanks for listening and we'll see you on the next show.

 

Jim: Happy holidays, folks.

 

 

Attachment: http://www.superfluffybunny.com/Disney_Dish_51_History_of_Christmas_at_Disneyland.mp3
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