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Ruminations: Another look at the “Behind The Magic” exhibit

Ruminations: Another look at the “Behind The Magic” exhibit

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One of the delights of the"Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland" exhibit that's currently being presented at the Oakland Museum of California is that there are so many great items waiting at every turn.

For every Disneyland fan, there is something that evokes memories of a favorite time at the Park. Call it a measured response if you will, but sometimes all it takes is a glimpse of something to take you right back to that first time you experienced the joy of a moment.

Ah, if only Dole Pineapple Whip was available here…

During the press conference for the exhibition, Diane Disney Miller and Marty Sklar both commented that this kind of relationship to a nostalgic feeling is one of the elements that is a part of the success of Disneyland. And with Walt Disney intending the Park to be a place for families to enjoy together, it should not be a surprise that guests have so many great memories to choose from in this exhibition.

Marty Sklar and Diane Disney Miller.

Marty related that the strength Walt had in telling a story was also something he brought to Disneyland. Attention to the details was one way that the story was presented for Park guests. For example, to Walt, Main Street was just like that of any small town with all the shops. Marty’s first job at Disney was to produce a small tabloid newspaper for Disneyland – again, just like that of a small town. It was that kind of detail that Walt felt would bring the story to life in a way that was believable to the people who would visit.

Diane shared memories of some of her first visits to Disneyland with the press assembled. She had occasional visits with her dad to the site, first as it was nothing more than a dustbowl. But the most memorable early visit was to the Park for Walt & Lillian’s 30th wedding anniversary party (on July 13, 1955), four days before the big opening day. “That was fantastic! I had never seen my dad happier -- ever, ever, ever! In every photograph, his face is just glowing, beaming. All of his friends, family, there at this party. Mint Juleps on the Mark Twain. And then everybody went in to the Golden Horseshoe. Dad loved that show.”

She then shared how she was not at Disneyland on opening day. Walt had told Lillian and his two daughters that he “didn’t want any of you women out there. It’s going to be a mess and I don’t want to have to worry about you, too!” Marty then related some tales from his “Black Sunday” experience. Everything from how tickets to the event had been counterfeited, and how instead of the 15,000 invited guests, 30,000 people got in before they closed the gate. Disneyland just was not ready for so many people that day. His biggest memory of opening day was his second assignment, to be helping on Main Street. “I remember Fess Parker riding up on his horse, and he saw my name tag, he said Marty, help me get this horse out of here before it hurts somebody!” But after such a horrible day, everyone was down about it, but Walt. He said, “Okay, now we have to go work!” The challenge was to go on from that day and make Disneyland a success. And well, you know the rest of the story…

The “Behind The Magic” exhibition has many stories to share, too. The challenge for visitors is not to miss any of them. Walk through too quickly and you might pass right by something that connects you to that memorable Disneyland moment.

In the words of Wally Boag, “This thing will never sell!”
How many of you still have yours?
A Disneyland Davy Crockett coon skin cap!

Or how about a closer look at some of those “details”? Here are some from another fan favorite, Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion”:

A pair of portraits from the stretching room.


Such a nice little bat…

Perhaps something a bit more technical appeals to your Disneyland interests? Perhaps this Audio Animatronic programming console and disc cabinet will get you attention?

From the days before laptop computers
were used to program figures.

Maybe you are curious about what it takes for the Imagineers to bring a concept to life inside the Park? Check out this interactive display on “Show Design Intent” for Mickey’s Toontown. You can “toon up” a building to match the architectural style they were looking to present for the area.

Go ahead! Try you hand at design.

The exhibition is spread throughout the Oakland Museum of California. I think that works well as Disneyland has become a part of the state and vice versa. There are plenty of wonderful things to see that tell of life in the Golden State from the earliest days right up to and including the 21st Century.

As you walk through the other permanent exhibits, don’t forget to look for those hidden Mickey’s. And one not so hidden Mickey, too.

Mickey & other entertainments of the Golden State.

If you look close enough you’ll find them…

Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland” will be on display at the Oakland Museum of California until August 20th. Check out the links for further information.

So far, only three folks have shared any “car” stories with me in an effort to win those tickets for the Cars premiere in Charlotte, NC. As great as they are, I would love hear more from you before I make my decision. So drop me a note to [email protected] with your story, won’t you?

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