This week, as we celebrate the birth of Walt Disney on December 5th, and the grand opening of Dreamers Point in EPCOT on that same date, we embark on a special episode from the WDW Radio Archives.
In this week’s episode, we’re going back to Show # 298, as we embark on a magical journey of Finding Walt… in Walt Disney World. Our mission? To uncover the hidden gems, intricate details, and heartfelt tributes that pay homage to Walt Disney, the visionary pioneer who sparked this world of wonder. As we virtually visit the parks, we’ll connect the sights, sounds (and yes, maybe even tastes) around us with the legacy and spirit of the man who dreamt it all into existence. It’s a fun, fascination exploration as we seek out the essence of Walt Disney in every corner of his magical kingdom, where every step tells a story and every detail has a purpose.
In this episode, as the grand opening of Dreamers Point at Epcot takes place, we commemorate the birth of Walt Disney. We’re on a quest to find Walt in Walt Disney World, revisiting episode 298 and discovering the numerous tributes to the man behind the magic.
We unravel the misconceptions surrounding Walt Disney’s personal history and the determination to honor his real-life influence within the company he founded. Rich in nostalgia and brimming with fascinating details, we revisit the captivating windows of Main Street, the significance of the partner statue, the heartfelt dedication plaques, and the intricate references in attractions like Carousel of Progress and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Joining me is Jamie Hecker as we explore how Walt Disney, often mistakenly perceived as a fictional character, has been immortalized across the parks. From Main Street USA, inspired by Walt’s Marceline memories, to the intimate storytelling of the Walt Disney World Railroad station, we delve into both the well-known and the more subtle acknowledgments to Walt’s legacy.
We reflect on the historical Walt Disney story attraction—an intimate scrapbook of Walt’s life and sit down to discuss our favorite tributes to Walt Disney within the theme parks. We even touch on the lesser-known nods to Walt’s heritage, like the references to his grandfather, Kepple Disney, in Liberty Square and Frontierland.
We’ll take you through a journey of enchantment, touching on classics like the Carousel of Progress and lesser-known references such as Tony’s Town Square and Walt’s own corporate plane, exploring how every detail carries the essence of Walt’s dreams and visions.
Finally, we highlight the Walt Disney Family Museum and the “One Man’s Dream” attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, emphasizing the impact Walt Disney had on nature, animation, and, of course, our beloved theme parks.
So, settle in with your favorite dole whip, and let’s take a walk—in Walt’s footsteps.
Thanks to Jamie Hecker for joining me this week.
Timestamped summary of this episode:
- [05:09] Walt Disney World: Story, Detail, and Tributes.
- [09:10] Interviewees express frustration over Walt Disney misconception.
- [12:25] Train station signifies Walt Disney’s personal history.
- [15:43] Walt Disney’s presence at Magic Kingdom emphasized.
- [19:19] Tribute to Walt Disney statue history explained.
- [21:53] Cinderella Castle holds significance for Walt Disney.
- [25:22] Carolwood park referenced at Storybook Circus station.
- [29:32] Obscure Disney references in the park.
- [33:29] Academy of Television Arts and Science Plaza features TV legends’ busts, including Walt Disney.
- [36:30] Early Disney history referenced in Hollywood Studios.
- [39:24] Walt contributed to the design and imprint.
- [43:54] Attraction has changed, celebrates Walt Disney’s centennial.
- [44:48] Walt’s office replica and early Disney models.
- [48:08] Disney parks feature history and Walt’s story.
- [51:17] Share your favorite tribute to Walt Disney.
The key moments in this episode are:
- Introduction to the Episode
- Recap of the regular archiving practice on WDW Radio
- Announcement of the sponsor HelloFresh and its holiday meal offerings
- Celebrating Walt Disney
- Walt Disney’s significance and commemoration on the occasion of Dreamers Point grand opening at Epcot
- Revisit of episode 298 to discover aspects of Walt within Walt Disney World
- Guest Introduction
- Introduction of guest Jamie Hecker
- Mention of Jamie Hecker’s contribution to Celebrations Magazine
- Public Perception and Legacy of Walt Disney
- Exploring the lack of public recognition of Walt Disney as a historical figure
- Tim O’Day’s quote on misconceptions about Walt Disney
- Richard Benefield’s motivation for establishing the Walt Disney Family Museum
- Tributes to Walt Disney in Magic Kingdom
- Discussion about physical references to Walt Disney in the park
- Memories and nostalgia evoked by the Walt Disney World Railroad
- Recollection of “The Walt Disney story,” an attraction that showcased Walt’s life in the Magic Kingdom
- Learning About Walt Disney Through Park Tours
- Tours like Keys to the Kingdom and Walk in Walt’s Footsteps offering deeper insights into Walt Disney
- Expanding the Search for Tributes
- Ongoing quest to find more references to Walt in Disney parks
- Plans to enjoy a Dole Whip in Adventureland during the next visit
- The Main Street, USA Tributes
- Cinderella Castle and Family Tributes
- Mention of the castle suite intended for the Disney family
- Tribute to Walt Disney’s paternal grandfather, Keppel Disney
- Disney Heritage and Homages
- Keppel Disney’s tribute at Liberty Square and Frontierland
- The Carolwood Pacific Railroad references within Walt Disney World
- Walt’s personal touches on attractions like the Carousel of Progress and Enchanted Tiki Room
- Sentimental and Historical References
- Tony’s Town Square hat box scene homage to Walt Disney’s life
- The significance of dedication plaques at Disney parks
- Subtle and explicit references to Walt in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Artistic Tributes and Memorials
- Blaine Gibson’s bust of Walt Disney at the Television Arts and Sciences hall of Fame Plaza
- Details and history of Walt Disney’s corporate plane, including Walt’s involvement in its design
- One Man’s Dream Attraction
- Lou Mongello and Jamie Hecker’s conversation on the Walt Disney Family Museum
- The immersive experience of the “One Man’s Dream” exhibit showcasing Walt Disney’s life
- Brief mention of Walt’s love for nature and Lillian Disney’s homage through the Empress Lily Riverboat
What is the one question you would ask Walt Disney if you could?
Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.
Lou Mongello [00:00:08]:
Hello, my friend, and welcome to another episode from the WW Radio Archives. I am Lou Mangelo and this is show number 761. And this. And every week I'm gonna select an Evergreen episode of the show to share that maybe you haven't heard before, or one that you haven't heard in a long time. From interviews to top tens, relevant reviews, guides, wayback machines, and much more, it's a great way to visit and revisit some of our favorite episodes, including ones that you have suggested that I share from the archives. This week's episode is brought to you by HelloFresh because it is the most wonderful time of the year, and you can say hello to a stressless holiday season with the help of Hellofresh, America's and mine number one meal kit. You can skip the grocery store and save time with easy, fresh, tasty recipes delivered right to your door. And save money because the delicious meals that are delivered cost less than takeout.
Lou Mongello [00:01:05]:
And if you're hosting the holidays this year, like me, do not fear the ghosts of Christmas past and scrambling through a crowded grocery store trying to get and prepare whatever is left on the shelves. And if you're nervous because we all have that one relative that's going to judge you anyway, this year you could make hosting the holidays a joy rather than a hassle. With the help of Hellofresh Market, from crowd pleasing charcuterie boards to Instagram worthy desserts, it is easy to add all of these party pleasers to your weekly order, saving you so much time and money and stress, at least until all of your relatives get there. But HelloFresh has over 45 recipes and more than 100 seasonal add on items to choose from every week, so it's easier than ever to find something that everyone is going to enjoy. We have been ordering and enjoying Hellofresh at my house for years, whether the whole family is home or we just need healthy meals for two. It's easy, fast, and I love the wide varieties of dishes to try. And there's a special offer just for you. If you go to hellofresh.com wdwfree and use code WDWFree, you get free breakfast for life.
Lou Mongello [00:02:20]:
I'm serious. One breakfast item per box while your subscription is active. That's free breakfast for life. Two of my favorite words, free and breakfast for life by going to helloFresh.com WWFree using code WDW Free. So I'm going to open up the archives again this week as we celebrate the birth of Walt Disney on December 5 and the grand opening of Dreamers Point in Epcot on the same date. It is beautiful, by the way, spectacular at night. We're going to embark on a special episode from the archives because we're going to go back to show number 298 and embark on a magical journey of finding Walt in Walt Disney World. Our mission is to uncover the hidden gems and intricate details and some of the heartfelt tributes that pay homage to Walt, the visionary pioneer who sparked this incredible world of wonder.
Lou Mongello [00:03:14]:
And as we virtually visit the parks, we're going to connect the sights and sounds and yes, maybe even tastes around us with the legacy and the spirit of the man who dreamt it all into an existence. It is a fun, fascinating exploration as we seek out the essence of Walt in every corner of his magical kingdom, where every step tells a story and every detail has a purpose. And I'd love to know from you what would be the one question you would ask Walt Disney if you could. You could let me know by sharing your thoughts over in the WWDO firstname.lastname@example.org. Clubhouse. Or better yet, call the voicemail with your answer at four oh 7909 three nine one. That's four oh 7900 WDW One and share your answer and I will play it on the show. But for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's episode from the Archives on the WW radio show.
Walt Disney [00:04:20]:
This the initial stage here has to top what we have, or at least the equivalent of what we have now in California. Welcome to a little bit of Florida here in California. This is where the early planning is taking place for our so called Disney World Project. Everything in this room may change time and time again as we move ahead, but the basic philosophy of what we're planning for Disney World is going to remain very much as it is right now. We know what our goals are. We know what we hope to accomplish. And believe me, it's the most exciting and challenging assignment we've ever tackled at Walt Disney Productions.
Lou Mongello [00:05:09]:
Walt Disney World is all about story and details. And over the years, I've looked to introduce you to many of those throughout the parks and resorts, and we've looked to see how real history has come to life. Our childhood stories that have been retold on a three dimensional stage and peeled back some of the many layers of the onion to reveal the incredible attention to detail and storytelling that the imagineers have woven into the very fabric of everything we see and experience and along the way, we've also been introduced to some of the many remarkable people who've helped make that happen, from Disney legends to imagineers to those people that continue to make magic every single day. But this week, I want to look at where it all really began, not with a mouse, but with a man. So today I invite you to join me on a quest to find Walt as we seek out and discuss tributes to Walt Disney, the man in Walt Disney World. And joining me this week is Jamie Hecker. He is a lifelong Disney fan who, being the good father that he is, is passing on his love of Disney to his kids. He also is a contributor to Celebrations magazine.
Lou Mongello [00:06:19]:
So I want to welcome Jamie to the show.
Jamie Hecker [00:06:21]:
Hey, great to be here, Lou. Thank you very much.
Lou Mongello [00:06:23]:
It's great to have you on, budy. And I think this is a great idea. We've talked about this sort of offline in the past before because I've done shows about Walt Disney, one man's dream and some of the other things that we're going to touch on today. But I really sort know we all have this love and respect and almost reverence for Walt Disney. But of course, most of the people who come to the parks like us, are probably not alive to see Walt on TV. And believe it or not, though, part of what was the inspiration for this was believe it or not, some people actually still think of him as a fictional character.
Jamie Hecker [00:07:03]:
That's right. I was fortunate to be alive briefly when he was alive, and I saw him on the wonderful world of Disney every Sunday night in recorded form. But there's current generations of park guests who don't know about him. I had the good fortune of going to Disney World last spring with my six year old twins, and I realized that to them, this is a brand new, exciting world. And hard to believe that they may not know the entire rich history of Walt Disney the man. They know that it's a brand. They know it's a company, as other guests do. But Walt Disney was a man before it all began.
Lou Mongello [00:07:39]:
Yeah. And I think some people are saying this is impossible. That's not true. It's impossible to quote Luke Skywalker, but it is true. And there's actually a quote from Tim O'Day, who many of you who are familiar with D 23, he is a famous Disney historian. He says that a lot of people, even today, don't realize that he was a real person. They think he was a made up character or a brand figure like the Quaker Oats guy or Betty Crocker.
Jamie Hecker [00:08:05]:
Betty Crocker. He took my words there. Yes.
Lou Mongello [00:08:07]:
And so he tells a story about how a reporter went up to the partner statue, obviously the statue of Walt, of Mickey that we'll talk about today. And he asked some kids to identify the two figures in that statue. He said every kid, of course, recognized Mickey Mouse, but they had no idea who the person was. Right. And so he says, too many people have no idea who the flesh and blood Walt Disney was. And if we can grasp the lessons of his life, the world would be a much better place. Tim O'Day, once again, I agree with you.
Jamie Hecker [00:08:37]:
Great quote. Great quote there.
Lou Mongello [00:08:39]:
Yeah. You've mentioned this was sort of maybe the catalyst for not just stuff we're going to see in the parks, but this sort of helped bring about the creation of the Walt Disney Family Museum.
Jamie Hecker [00:08:51]:
That's correct. Yeah. The director, Richard Benefield, was quoted as saying, part of the motivation to come up with the museum to Walt the person was to address the public perception that he was a character created by the company level, not a real person, just something like we said. Betty Crocker.
Lou Mongello [00:09:10]:
Yeah. And I'm sure many people sort of scratch their heads and people who knew Walt. That's got to be frustrating for them, because one of the greatest benefits of doing the show and what I've done is getting a chance to meet and interview people that have met Walt and worked with Walt and knew him well. And you see how they still speak about him with such reverence and such love and respect, to the point that it elicits an emotional response. So when they probably hear the fact that some people today still don't realize that there was a man behind this and he's not the Quaker Oats guy, it's got to be frustrating. But that's one of the reasons why I think what we're going to do today is going to be a lot of fun, because I think there's a lot of different ways Walt has been brought to the parks in tribute, in physical form, in subtle reference. So what I thought we would do is go park by park, and then maybe sort of end on what may be kind of that ultimate tribute to Walt Disney. So I think it's fitting that we start really where it all began, on Main Street USA.
Lou Mongello [00:10:14]:
And I'll sort of kick this off by saying, rather than me looking at it, when I was thinking about these tributes in the parks and going park by park, as I was taking sort of a virtual tour of Main street in my head, the first thing I thought of was not something specific, but it was all of Main street itself. Right, because it's not a recreation of it, but it very much was inspired by and modeled after his idealized memories of Marceline, Missouri.
Jamie Hecker [00:10:42]:
Yes, he lived there for four years, but they were very informative, catalytic years for Walt. Marceline was the idyllic small town America to him, and it stayed with him the rest of his life. And it served as the inspiration, working with Harper Goff and his memories of Fort Collins, Colorado, and putting together the idyllic Main street and that first on Disneyland, then in Disney World.
Lou Mongello [00:11:08]:
Yeah. And if you look at pictures of Marceline and sort of their main street, Kansas Avenue, you could see how it influences some of the architectural elements of Main street, primarily in Disneyland, but even in Walt Disney World as well, too. So I think a lot of people think this is where Walt grew up, but it's not. It's very much. Look, Walt Disney loved America. He believed in America. He literally lived the American dream. So this idea of this idealized, turn of the century small town, Main Street, USA, with simple buildings and things like that, really very much hearkens back to Walt Disney himself.
Jamie Hecker [00:11:47]:
Yes, it does. And even before you enter Main street, you're actually walking under the Walt Disney World Railroad station. And the railroad itself is a manifestation of Walt the man, how his childhood of Marceline, his teenage years in Kansas City, working on the railroad lines as a news butcher, the railroad really does give us a sense of Walt the man in the park, beginning with a carawood Pacific in his backyard. That's something that he carried forward to all the parks.
Lou Mongello [00:12:25]:
And I think when you look at the train station, it does represent so much. And when you think about things like the Carroll Pacific, and we all know the story about this one eighthale model, I think this is not only a reference to Walt, but his also very understanding wife, Lillian, when he says, listen, by the way, I want to build this thing in the backyard, she's like, just fine, do whatever you want. Just build it with your tunnels and your mountains and things like that up in the Holmbee Hills section of Los Angeles, but even beyond the Cowwood itself and what it represented to Walt, on a personal level, from his love of trains, how it now encircles every of the Disney theme parks, there's even more that you can find on the railroad itself and inside the rail.
Jamie Hecker [00:13:08]:
Yes. Yes, there are. We're talk about the train. Look, when I've never won with the Walter E. Disney beautiful train, and his wife, his patient and loving wife, gets a roan train as well. It's only fitting. The Lily Bell. And Roy O'Disney, the brother who made it all happen behind the scenes in terms of making the dream come alive, he gets his own train as well.
Jamie Hecker [00:13:36]:
And of course, Walter, Roger Brogie has the fourth train.
Lou Mongello [00:13:41]:
Yeah. And one of these days, I intend to do a show about Roy because I think Roy very much. Not only there are many references to Roy as well, but I think his story needs to be shared as well. But, yeah, so that number one train, that Walter E. Disney, I think there is something special about the train. And look, I've been to Walt Disney World hundreds and hundreds of times, but there's something still that is special about that. I don't know if it's because these are authentic early 1920s locomotives that Disney found in the Yucatan Peninsula or because it is that close connection to Walt Disney that does it. But even inside the train, you can see Walt's personal love of trains.
Lou Mongello [00:14:24]:
You can see his connection to the Santa Fe Railroad. There's great storytelling in the train bulletins referencing not only Disney films, but Walt's love of trains. And like you said, people like award Kimball or a Roger Brogee.
Jamie Hecker [00:14:39]:
Absolutely. And it's not just the trains themselves. It's the sounds of the trains, the sights. You don't have to be there in the park. You can hear the train whistle, and you're instantly transported there. And so that is how it all comes together for me. I will watch videos and just listen to the train whistle.
Lou Mongello [00:14:56]:
Yeah, there's something there. A simple pleasure. A simple sort of romantic pleasure. Excuse me, about riding the train. But before we even move into Magic Kingdom, we might as well reference one of the multiple other physical references to Walt Disney. And that's on the train station itself. Even before you pass under that movie credit that goes to Walt Disney.
Jamie Hecker [00:15:21]:
Yes. It's appropriate enough to guess. When you walk in the park, the first thing you see is Main Street. And Then Cinderella Castle behind you is the first reference to Walt. And it's nicely tucked away, and it does a great job of talking about the reason that you're there. Walt Disney the man.
Lou Mongello [00:15:43]:
Yeah. So if you keep this idea of a movie theater analogy in your head, when you first walk into the Magic Kingdom, you're sort of standing there in the lobby, and when a film starts, the first thing you see is the name of the producer, the producer or director, and that's Walt Disney. And on the railroad station, the first window you see, it says, keeping dreams on track. Walter E. Disney, Chief Engineer, again referencing his love of trains. It's the first one you see on your way in. It's the last one you see on your way out. And that holds true when you walk into the park and walk down to Cinderella Castle, because as you turn and start walking out, you'll see the second reference to Walt Disney over the ice cream store.
Lou Mongello [00:16:23]:
And that reads Graduate School of Design and Master planning.
Jamie Hecker [00:16:28]:
What a masterful job. He know, it's just finding those tender references within the park and seeing that up there and knowing that there is a reason why it's all put together.
Lou Mongello [00:16:43]:
And I think, like a lot of the windows on Main street, what the inscription, what the tagline is for it as well, too, not only necessarily may reference the person or what they did, but I think this one is very telling because I think that's what Walt Disney was. He was a designer, he was a master planner. Look, he was admittedly not the best artist in the world, but what he did, what made him and this company successful, is he surrounded himself by the people who he knew were the best at what they did. And the other names that are around this window are names like Richard Irvine and John Hench and Marvin Davis and Bill Martin and Chuck Mile, all these guys who worked for wed that helped sort of bring everything we see in the Magic Kingdom together.
Jamie Hecker [00:17:26]:
And General Joe Potter as well, built the.
Lou Mongello [00:17:30]:
Absolutely. Absolutely. So when we were talking about this before, we, you know, you said, yeah, there's two windows on Main Street. And I said, no, there's actually three. And this is one that I like showing to people because I think it's one that's often overlooked, but is one of my favorite windows, even though it's not really a window, it's kind of a door, because in 2005, if you look by Disney clothiers on the west side of Main Street, USA, there is a casting agency door that honors all the current and former cast members. And so while all the winners you see on Main street honor Disney legends, people who are instrumental in the building of the company and the literal building of Walt Disney World, Walt Disney is mentioned here as founder and director emeritus. And the quote is one that I love. And I think that this, Jamie, I'm sure you agree, is what makes Disney different.
Lou Mongello [00:18:23]:
It takes people to make the dream a reality.
Jamie Hecker [00:18:26]:
You can't do it without the people. Absolutely.
Lou Mongello [00:18:30]:
And the funnel cakes and the funnel. That's really what Walt was talking about, was the people.
Jamie Hecker [00:18:35]:
And some doll whips, too. There's your obligatory food reference.
Lou Mongello [00:18:39]:
There you go. It didn't take very long to get that in.
Jamie Hecker [00:18:43]:
So moving down Main Street, I guess, toward the hub, is the partner statue. This is an actual manifestation. You talked about it, how kids were interviewed, and I know who Mickey Mouse is, but who's the other gentleman? And Blaine Gibson, masterful sculptor for Disney, put together the loving tribute to Walt here. And it's a great photo opportunity when it's not crowded around it, and it's a nice way to put it all together.
Lou Mongello [00:19:19]:
Yeah. And I think this is what people, I think when they think of tributes to Walt is most logically the first thing that comes to mind. And look, there's a great history and a great backstory to this. I want to reference you to show number 219, where we actually did a very detailed look, sort of a Disney scene investigation on the partner statue. But beyond looking at the statue itself and the details that are on it, like the reference to Smoke Tree Ranch and the clatter ring, that was very personal to he and know read things like the plaque where it says, we believe in our idea, a family park where parents and children can have fun together. And if you listen to the show, you'll learn about how this was inspired by a print that was created in 1981 and then eventually this desire to create a statue for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. But I think, Jamie, one of the things that's important about this is how and when Walt was depicted, because when people talk about a movie about Walt or an audio animatronic Walt, how and where do you do it? And Gibson wanted to really make Walt appear, not as he was very late in his life or very early in his life, like the storyteller statue out at Disney California Adventure on Buena Vista Street. But this is really like Walt in the mid to early 1950s.
Lou Mongello [00:20:40]:
1950, 419 55, really, when Walt was sort of at his prime.
Jamie Hecker [00:20:45]:
Absolutely. That's like when they're hitting on all cylinders, the company, the man, the dreams.
Lou Mongello [00:20:51]:
Yeah. And one of the things I love about the story, too, is, again, the many different incarnations that the statue went through about what he was going to be doing, was going to be by himself, was going to be with Mickey, was it going to be Lillian standing, sitting. And there's a lot of different iterations where Walt was holding plans for Epcot, or Mickey was holding an ice cream cone in his hand. But I think the story about how they were able to determine the reference point for how tall Mickey Mouse was is really interesting because they never had it. They never really saw Mickey with an adult human, except for one thing. And that was in fantasia when Leopold Sikovsky leaned over.
Jamie Hecker [00:21:29]:
Absolutely. And that's your reference point there.
Lou Mongello [00:21:31]:
Yeah. And the other thing, too, is it's a little bit skewed because Walt was about 510. This statue is about six five. Again, just to give it a sense of scale.
Jamie Hecker [00:21:40]:
Larger than life, worse perspective.
Lou Mongello [00:21:42]:
I need people to do that with pictures of me. I need to look taller than I really am in real. I have to get Blaine Gibson down here.
Jamie Hecker [00:21:48]:
YeaH, well, it helps if you have a pedestal also.
Lou Mongello [00:21:53]:
And I think maybe one thing that I wanted to reference, which may not be something as you sort of go through in your mind, references to Walt, is actually in the castle itself, because you look at the castle and it is Cinderella Castle, obviously. But I think it's important to note that the castle suite, which is located in there now that Disney put in in 2006 to make that castle suite that they use for year of million dreams, that originally was planned to be an apartment for the Disney family. Obviously, there's an apartment in Disneyland over the train station. This was meant to be one for the Disney family, obviously, because he passed away so early in the development. They left that space there, and it was used for a number of different things, like where the telephone operators were storage. But ideally, that's where Walt's apartment was supposed to.
Jamie Hecker [00:22:45]:
And that's. This is the top item on my Disney Bucket list. I don't know how I'll get up there, but that will end everything for me, just getting up there and seeing that prime location and the views of the park and just knowing the history of it all. He's not there to enjoy it. The family's not there, but that it was created with him in mind for the East coast park. That's very telling.
Lou Mongello [00:23:15]:
Absolutely. So let's stay in the Magic Kingdom, because believe it or not, there's actually a lot more, even beyond Main street and the castle.
Jamie Hecker [00:23:22]:
Well, keeping in the family tradition, Walt himself has, obviously, a rich genealogy heritage. His paternal grandfather, Keppel Disney has a couple of tributes within the park, and Keppel has a nice Germanic sounding name to it. It's actually Irish, and it's a small. It's not even a plaque. It's more of a decorative heart. It's the Dutch American tradition, given that the backstory of the German family that lives here, and it says, Keppel, established 1779, fits in beautifully with the story of Liberty Square and the Yo Christmas shop. But Keppel, there's a nod to Walt's.
Lou Mongello [00:24:04]:
Grandfather, and I love this one. And I think this is one that so many people walk by, and it's difficult to make the connection, because Keppel, they don't know. Is it a surname? Is it somebody's last name? Because for the story of Liberty Square, it is. It's that Pennsylvania German, that family that is the tailors of the tailor shop, along with the word Carver Shop and the musician shop, Ichabod Crane. And most people, I think this is one that a lot of people will see and never make that connection to Walt, too.
Jamie Hecker [00:24:36]:
And it's not the only capital in the park now, because if you go to frontier land, in one of the shops windows, you'll see a feed bag that says, uncle Keppel and Sons feed and farm supply. So we have Keppel getting two tributes within the park.
Lou Mongello [00:24:53]:
And I figure as long as since we're going to mention Keppel, right. We can say that he was born in 1832 in Ireland. He came over to America when he was a child. When he married Mary Richardson, they had eleven children.
Jamie Hecker [00:25:06]:
And that's a stunning thought.
Lou Mongello [00:25:09]:
Eleven children, one of whom was the father to Walt and Roy, and that was Elias, who also has a window over on East Center street on Main Street, USA.
Jamie Hecker [00:25:19]:
Yeah. So we've got the family tree in the park, not just Walt.
Lou Mongello [00:25:22]:
Absolutely. And speaking of parks, we mentioned at the beginning the Carrollwood Pacific Railroad, and the reference to it at the Walt Disney World Railroad, the Main street railroad station, certainly it's over at Wilderness Lodge as well, too. But recently there was another addition, and I love this, and I love where they put it as well, too, because over in storybook Circus, there is a reference to Carolwood park as well, because the train station there that they rebuilt when they took down that oh so very temporary Mickey's birthday land train station. The Cowwood park station totally fits in with this late 30s, early 40s idea of this traveling circus coming to town. They are the most beautiful restrooms in Walt Disney World, I kid you not. But it's a great reference. It's a great reference, and I like the fact that iT's there in Storybook Circus.
Jamie Hecker [00:26:17]:
Yeah. I was there briefly in the not so surprising summer rains of Florida, and we made a beeline for the train station to get back to Main street, and I had a beautiful opportunity to take in Carolwood Park.
Lou Mongello [00:26:30]:
Yeah. And trust me, go there for the restrooms next. Go first, Dumbo. Stay for the restroom. And there's one that we want to sort of save what I think is one of probably the most obscure and overlooked and possibly very personal to Waltz to the end. But there's one, too, that I think we have to mention in specifically an attraction. And look, a lot of the attractions, obviously, Walt had his hand in. Walt very much touched.
Lou Mongello [00:26:59]:
The country bear Jamboree was Walt's last laugh. And we know about his connection to things like Pirates of the Caribbean. And it's a small world. Right. But I think we have to mention specifically an attraction I think we need to include in this list. Walt Disney's not only is enchanted Tiki room, because it is Walt Disney's enchanted Tiki room, the audio automatronic bird was sort of the catalyst for everything, and that came from his personal travels with Lillian, because Walt loved to travel. But I think more specifically, Walt Disney's Carousel of progress has Walt's hand. It has Walt's imprint on that.
Lou Mongello [00:27:36]:
And you can see Walt in the queue singing along with the.
Jamie Hecker [00:27:42]:
That's. That's that, to me, also brings it all back. It's an old school attraction. I hope it stays there. And I love the way that you can really touch and feel Walt's imprint and hear it.
Lou Mongello [00:27:56]:
So for those kids who think Walt Disney is like Betty Crocker, you can hear him. You can still see him on screen singing with Richard and Sherman. So, but let's go back to one that we sort of round out Walt Disney World's magic kingdom with, and that could be found on Main Street, USA. And it's not where people think it most likely is.
Jamie Hecker [00:28:18]:
That's right. We're going to talk about. If you want to have some more food again, you can maybe eat at Tony's Town Square. And looking across the street. Well, actually, Tony's Town Square, obviously is a reference to lady and the Tramp. And you look across the street to the chapot hat, you'll see a beautiful pink hat box recreating a wonderful scene from the movie in which Jim Deere gives his wife, darling, the puppy from the box. And it's appropriate enough that that is a chapot. The hat store.
Jamie Hecker [00:28:51]:
That's fine. That's kind of where the reference is. But there's more, because that scene from the movie was inspired by a real life event from Walt giving Lillian a pet dog under the Christmas tree, a chow dog named SuNY, I believe. And hearing him tell about the story, how he had to get the dog into the box, the box under the tree, without his wife catching him. And then the dog starts to wiggle within the box and catches Lillian off guard. So it's a sweet story how it seems to be a movie reference. The movie reference is real, but it was inspired by Walt himself.
Lou Mongello [00:29:32]:
And that's what I love about this. I love how you're able to connect the dots. I don't said the dogs connect the dots. From Walt to Lillian, to the film, to the hat box to the park and the hat box located directly across the street, one that seems to be a disconnect for most people now, hopefully will help let them bring it together. So I think that is one of my favorite, sort of very much overlooked, very obscure Walt Disney references in the parks. One that's not obscure, but that's going to help us sort of go to some of the other parks, is obviously the dedication plaque that's right in the center of Town Square. It was dedicated on October 25 by Roy O. Disney, where the statue of Roy and Minnie that's sharing the magic statue sits right in the shadow of Roy's window on Main Street, USA.
Lou Mongello [00:30:23]:
But I think it's significant, and I mention it here because this plaque very much is about Walt. Right? It says, walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney. And then it goes on to say the talents and the dedication, the loyalty of the entire Disney organization. But it's about them making Walt Disney's dream come true, this idea of creating this happy place where everyone can come together and laugh and play and learn. So that dedication is not about this theme park. It's not about what it represents. It's about a tribute to Walt Disney.
Jamie Hecker [00:31:00]:
And the fact that it's Walt Disney World instead of Disney World just gives it a little bit more humanity.
Lou Mongello [00:31:06]:
Absolutely. And I think this dedication plaque connects to one of. And I'm sure we're probably overlooking more than one, but I think this is one that lets us jump over to Epcot center, because that dedication plaque as well, in the very first sentence, says, to all who come to this place of joy, hope, and friendship, Epcot is inspired by Walt Disney's creative visions. It's about Walt. It brings it back full circle to Walt and how Epcot now is about human achievements and imagination and wonders and enterprise and benefits for all and what Epcot represents. But it starts off by saying that it is about Walt Disney's creative vision. And the interesting thing, Jamie, is that when you leave that plaque and start going to some of the other ones, like when we go over to Disney's Hollywood studios, the dedication plaque there does not mention Walt Disney, although it sits next to a statue of young Walt as a director at the end of Hollywood Boulevard.
Jamie Hecker [00:32:10]:
I know exactly what you're talking about there. Yes. He's got his eye behind the lens and he's got the director's cap on, and it's a young, dapper Walt, much like he would be there on Buena Vista street in Disney California adventure.
Lou Mongello [00:32:26]:
Right. And even though it doesn't reference Walt, I mean, Disney's Hollywood Studios. Yeah, we know the story about how it came about being inspired from an Epcot center attraction, but it does go back to Walt Disney's Hollywood studios in and of itself, goes back to Walt. And if you listen to some older episodes where I tour the park with Charlie Ridgway, who's a Disney legend, or Jim Cork, as we talk about how Hollywood studios goes back to what Walt wanted to bring out to the studios out in DisneylanD. But there's a lot of other references to Walt here as well, too, some of which may be a little bit more apparent than others.
Jamie Hecker [00:33:04]:
Yes. And if you thought the partner statue, as beautiful as it is, is just a little bit out of touch, you can't get up close to it. Well, then walk over to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences hall of Fame Plaza, because there is a bust of Walt Disney, and you can pose with it. You can get up close and personal. It is there. My kids have done that. I'll do that on my next trip when they're not hogging the camera.
Lou Mongello [00:33:29]:
Yeah. So the Academy of Television Arts and Science hall of Fame Plaza, located next to the American Idol experience, is a great way that you can find busts of legends of TV like Lucy Ball, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Newhart, and, yeah, of course, Walt Disney. And this, honestly, Jamie, goes back not to necessarily this statue, this bust, the sculptor, Blaine Gibson. But it sort of was the catalyst for the partner statue as well, too, because this was created in 1962 by Disney legend Blaine Gibson, actually, at the request of Dick Irvine. And so Blaine created this sculpture, which he was actually not very happy with. But when he showed it to Walt, Walt's like, what are you doing? Statues are for dead people. He never wanted a statue of him, although at some point, he obviously lost his say. But what is also unique about this is if you look very carefully at it and go to the back, there is actually something that's unique about this in terms of Blaine Gibson, because this is the only statue you can find of Blaine Gibson that he actually signed, and it has his name and the date 1991 on the back.
Jamie Hecker [00:34:48]:
And Disney fans will know the name or the work of Blaine Gibson, but not necessarily the name or the face. But famous sculpture, Disney legend in his own right. And here's his one signature in the park.
Lou Mongello [00:35:02]:
Absolutely. And I think people, this is one of the things that people have probably walked by a thousand times. And if you've never taken two minutes to stop and look for it, I think that you should.
Jamie Hecker [00:35:11]:
Yeah, they're all just bronze busts. There are others in there. And if you're not looking for it deliberately, you will walk past it.
Lou Mongello [00:35:18]:
Absolutely. So one of I love the obscure. These are the things that I get excited. These are the things that I look for as I go through the parks. And something like a chapau, which might seem as though it has no connection to Walt. It's just an excuse to have the hat store, because that's exactly where it is on Main Street, USA. Throughout Disney's Hollywood studios. We've touched on this on shows in the past.
Lou Mongello [00:35:44]:
There are lots of references to Hollywood lore, Hollywood legends, Hollywood fake lore, sort of this imagineered idea of this Hollywood that never was. But there's also references to real places and real people. And if you go to another one of my, we got to bring this back to food. In the Echo Lake area, across from Min and Bill's Dockside Diner, you'll find PV's Polar Pipeline, which, kids, it gets to be 113 degrees in the summer. A frozen coke is your best friend. But there's also great references to one of my favorite Disney movies, the Rocketeer, here. But I digress. If you're looking at PV's to the left and the right and around that entire Keystone Clothiers building, you'll find a number of doors.
Lou Mongello [00:36:30]:
Some are false, some will lead to some cast member areas. And one of them says, holly Vermont Realty and believe it or not, this is a direct reference to Walt in the very, very early days of the Disney Company, when he couldn't afford to have this full blown studio and to pay rent for an entire building, he paid $10 a month for a room at the back of a real estate office. Holly Vermont Realty this started back in 1923 on Kingswell Avenue in Los Angeles again. So it's appropriate story wise for being in this section of Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's where they began. They very quickly outgrew it again, I think there's a show where Jim and I are walking around talking about references to Hollywood studios. I have a video. I'm going to put out this as well, too, to help you kind of find it.
Lou Mongello [00:37:21]:
But I love this because it's about the brothers themselves. And how they eventually sort of move from Kingswell Avenue over to Hyperion Avenue, and the Disney Company know, grows exponentially from there.
Jamie Hecker [00:37:37]:
It's a fascinating story. I'm in the process of rereading Bob Thomas's biography of Walt, and we talk about the early years of Walt struggling in Los Angeles. And you arrived in town with a wooden cardboard suitcase and $40 cash. And he quickly got to business of realizing his dreams. And you got to start small. So you'd rent a back room of a local realty office. And appropriately enough, above, in the window above the door, it says for rent because Walter has moved on.
Lou Mongello [00:38:10]:
Walter's moved on. But if you've ever seen any of the Alice comedies, that's where they were created. I mean, you don't need a lot of room. They were created in the back of that real estate office. So it sort of gives you a sense of what was created where before they started to move on to bigger and better spaces. So what's another one for you? What's another one of the ones that you find or that you like or. We want to sort of point people to references to Walt at Hollywood studios.
Jamie Hecker [00:38:34]:
Well, my kids love the backlot tour. I think they're fascinated by the catastrophe canyon, but the nice tribute there. And they'll come right on. Say it. As you're doing the backlot tour, you see the corporate plane. N two, three, four. Mm. All planes have to have a registered FAA code name.
Jamie Hecker [00:38:55]:
Appropriately enough, the Disney corporate plane is for Mickey Mouse. And you talk about how Walt and the corporate leaders had to very clandestinely purchase all the land in Florida. This is the plane that helped fly them over to make the decisions. Looking down on Bay Lake and seeing the beautiful property there. That's where he came up the decision to pick Florida. And there's a piece of actual corporate history. Walt flew in that plane. And there it is on the back lot.
Lou Mongello [00:39:24]:
Yeah. So, and the other thing, too know, Walt had his imprint on that plane as well, too. Not just because he flew in it, but he helped to contribute to the design of the plane. And Lillian chose the colors and the patterns and the materials that were going to be used in it. Walt actually used to like to sit in the cockpit. There was a little jump seat behind the cockpit, although I'm sure it was probably frowned on having Walt in the cockpit. But that November 2 three four Mickey Mouse was a, that tail number was actually used on a number of different planes going way back to when they had a queen air and then a king air and then moved it over to this Gulf Stream, one that you have on the tour. But you're right.
Lou Mongello [00:40:06]:
What I like about this is that this brings it back to that very first time, that time that Walt flew over, actually the day that President Kennedy was shot and looked down on Riles island in Bayles and said, this is it. This is where we're going to build. So that connection is not just to Walt's mode of transportation and way he would sort of travel back and forth, but really was instrumental in the selection of this location for Walt Disney World.
Jamie Hecker [00:40:32]:
I love that little history because I'm fascinated by how it all came about Project X and how do you purchase 43 sq mi without getting on anyone's radar?
Lou Mongello [00:40:45]:
Exactly. Not going to happen in 2012, certainly.
Jamie Hecker [00:40:51]:
Lou Mongello [00:40:54]:
I think we should mention another one, too. And as you go through some of the different attractions in Hollywood studios, I think there's one that you don't need to get a fast pass for it. It's not Toy Story mania, but it's one that I love. And it's actually the magic of Disney animation. And this is one that has changed a lot throughout the years. And one of the things I really like about this, and we covered this on show 261 in more detail when we looked at Walt Disney and the Oscars. And in here, you can find in a display case in sort of the Animation gallery area, a number of Oscars that were given to Walt Disney, including the special Oscar that was created just for him for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Jamie Hecker [00:41:42]:
And those are bEautiful. Everyone knows the iconic scene of Shirley Temple giving him to Walt Disney. Aren't they just wonderful? And it's the 1937 a feature length animation had never been done before Walt's Folly. It made history. The rest is history. So seeing these, and I believe these are replicas. I think the family museum has the originals.
Lou Mongello [00:42:06]:
Right. But I think there are some there. I think there's a couple that are real. Obviously, he received so many, a record setting number of Academy Awards. You'll see some there for some of, like this true life adventure series in there as well, too, or some of the other awards he had gotten for some of his other films. So I think some may be real, some may be replicas, like the Snow White ones, which I believe are at the museum.
Jamie Hecker [00:42:32]:
Yes, yes. That's another item on my any Disney fans bucket list is to get out to San Francisco, to the Presidio, to see the family Museum up close and personal.
Lou Mongello [00:42:41]:
We're going next year. We're taking WWE radio on the road. And we're going to San Francisco. We need to make the pilgrimage to the Walt Disney Family Museum.
Jamie Hecker [00:42:50]:
I think I need a fundraiser.
Lou Mongello [00:42:52]:
It's a research trip. You need to come for research.
Jamie Hecker [00:42:57]:
I'll keep that in mind.
Lou Mongello [00:42:58]:
There you go. All right. I think what we should do is, I think, again, we've tried to sort of save the ultimate Walt tribute at Hollywood studios for last. And clearly that is an overlooked attraction, one that I think every Disney guest and Disney enthusiast needs to go to see more than once, because it changes. And certainly it's Walt Disney, one man's.
Jamie Hecker [00:43:20]:
Dream, and I cannot spend enough time in this room. It is so fascinating, the timeline, the details, seeing the miniature scale models in there of attractions, the jungle cruise as it was being conceived, the wed camera when he was giving his famous Florida speech. And it's just a beautiful arrangement. And I encourage everyone to go see it, not just once, but as you said, multiple times, because you'll get something new out of it every time.
Lou Mongello [00:43:54]:
Yeah. And what I like about this is, like you said, it does change from time to time. It changed again recently. But I think, Jamie, what is great about this is this attraction opened in 2001, and the reason why was to celebrate not Hollywood studios 10th anniversary or so, it was to celebrate the centennial of Walt Disney's birth. Right. It goes all the way back to Walt with this. And I think there are so many different elements to this attraction. Like you said, that walk through sort of a pre.
Lou Mongello [00:44:25]:
It's really kind of a preshow area. Right. Which is. Yes, it really is a museum of Disney artifacts. Some are replicas, many of them are original. I love Granny's cabin, which it is touched by Walt. Walt built this by hand. And it takes you through a chronological journey through his life, his personal life, and his professional career.
Lou Mongello [00:44:48]:
That replica of Walt's office from the Disney Studios, and obviously the film as well, things that models. Right. So now the model of Fantasyland is in there, as well as models from some of the very early Disney World and Disneyland attractions. I like the fact that it chronicles not just his business life, but his personal life as well. And it's not just about all of his successes. It talks about some of his failures as well, which I find inspiring as well. I think this is something, like you said, everyone certainly needs to see. And again, I have to go back and reference show number 140, which we did.
Lou Mongello [00:45:26]:
Wow. Three years ago, we actually did a walking tour of Walt Disney, one man's dream. Jim Corkus. Nye. To give you sort of an audio tour of it to give you a sense of what is in there and what you have to make sure you don't miss on your next visit.
Jamie Hecker [00:45:40]:
Yeah, I finally recall that episode. I listened to it multiple times just because I can't spend myself enough time in this exhibit. So hearing him retell the stories, it brought it all back to me. So this is, again, it'll be on my next trip in January, so can't wait for that.
Lou Mongello [00:45:57]:
And so we were talking offline beforehand, and I'm sure as soon as we're done, I'm going to bang my head into the microphone because I'm sure there's ones that we forgot. But as we were mentally going through Disney's animal kingdom, we were having a tough time picking out any specific mentions of Walt Disney. We know of Walt's love of nature and animals, and it goes back to his true life adventure series and his desire for what he wanted the jungle cruise originally to be. But specifically by name or by reference, we were unable to find any. So if we missed some, I would love people to.
Jamie Hecker [00:46:34]:
This is where the feedback we need.
Lou Mongello [00:46:35]:
Absolutely. Email me at email@example.com Tell us what we missed over at Disney's Animal Kingdom. But I think it would be fun. Jamie, too. There's a couple of extinct attractions or locations that referenced Walt that were very personal to him. Why don't you take the one that you mentioned over in downtown Disney?
Jamie Hecker [00:46:56]:
Absolutely. Downtown Disney has been there since 1975, I believe, as the world marketplace. And what is now Fulton's Crab House was originally the Empress Lily Riverboat and named, appropriately enough, after his wife Lily. And again to casual guests who may knew that at the time or know it now. Putting two and two together, it's just another weaving into the family history of Walt, how his presence is felt in all four corners of Walt Disney World.
Lou Mongello [00:47:30]:
Yeah. And what I like about this Jamie, too, is that it was designed by imagineering to really not only make it as true to life as possible, but this was named for Walt's wife. We talk about Walt, we talk about Roy, how instrumental Roy was. The quote is true. I speak from experience that behind, not that I'm saying I'm a great man, but behind every great man is a great woman. And Lillian certainly needs her credit and her due as well, too. She was there when the Empress Lily greeted guests for the first time. She christened the ship when it first opened.
Lou Mongello [00:48:08]:
And I like the fact that there are and were references to Lillian as well in the parks, the one that I was thinking of when I was thinking of extinct attractions takes us back to the Magic Kingdom. It Takes us back to Main Street, USA. And it is, of course, the Walt Disney story. Again, like one man's dream was sort of the predecessor that told the story of his personal life and professional life. It was in what was then known as the Gulf Hospitality House Retro from 1973 until 1992. So when you look at what is now the town Square Theater, if you look off to the side and in the back, that theater was constructed specifically for this film. And it actually was a project that went back all the way to 1969, but didn't preview for years later. But they really wanted to accurately tell Walt's story, right? So they had 75 hours of interviews and 200 people that were working on this production that would eventually play both in Disneyland and in Walt Disney world as well, too.
Lou Mongello [00:49:14]:
It's a shame that that is not there anymore, because I think this was like one man's dream. It really was a great telling of Walt Disney's personal story. It was a free attraction. So remember the A three ticket?
Jamie Hecker [00:49:30]:
I do remember those. I go back that far.
Lou Mongello [00:49:33]:
But it really was like, unlike one man's dream, this was sort of like a photo album, right? And sort of, as the pages would turn, different parts of his personal life and his career would sort of come to life. And it used a lot of audio clips from Walt himself, too. So that was one of the things I really, really used to enjoy.
Jamie Hecker [00:49:53]:
And sadly, that's a tribute I never got to see. I have been to the Magic kingdom over the decades, but I guess I'm always in the rush to get to Space Mountain, so I missed that. And sadly, it's no longer with us.
Lou Mongello [00:50:08]:
Got to slow down, man. Slow down.
Jamie Hecker [00:50:10]:
Lou Mongello [00:50:10]:
Look up and look around. The other thing I think we should mention, too, are certainly some of the tours that you can take throughout Walt Disney World. Keys to the kingdom at the Magic Kingdom is a great tour. Backstage Magic is seven and a half, 8 hours. It's a long day, but it is a fascinating tour. And if you go to Disneyland, I need to definitely put this on my bucket list of things to do. They have a walk in WalT's Footsteps tour because obviously it is where Walt walked. You get to see Walt's apartment.
Lou Mongello [00:50:39]:
You get to see at least the lobby of Club 33. You get a private lunch on Main Street USA. It really sort of brings it back to Walt Disney himself. So I definitely want to hit the walk in Walt's footsteps, but definitely check out some of the other tours because they really help connect this to Walt Disney as well, too. In Walt Disney World.
Jamie Hecker [00:50:58]:
Yeah. The keys to the Kingdom Tour I had the pleasure of doing several years ago. Fascinating. Not just the history of the Magic Kingdom, but it tells you a story about Walt and the company and what everything that brought you up to that moment. And of course, there's the Utilador's tour, which really makes it pretty cool.
Lou Mongello [00:51:17]:
Absolutely. So look, we hit a know. I think when people think about Walt Disney the Parks, they probably think of the partner statue, they think of one man's dream. They think of the obvious, right. But I'm sure that there's a potential that we missed any. So if we did, let us know. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet, come to the show notes for this week, over@wdwRadio.com Leave your comments There and answer the question for the week, which is simply what is your favorite, what is your favorite tribute or reference to Walt Disney in any of the Walt Disney World theme parks? Again, visit the comment section at the show notes. We can keep the conversation going there as well.
Lou Mongello [00:51:56]:
Jamie Hecker, I want to thank you for joining me this week again. You can find Jamie's articles and work over in celebrations magazine in print and on your iPad. You can check it out email@example.com we will definitely have to do this again. And next time you come down to the parks, we'll do some more searching, we'll do some more wandering as we search for more references to Walt and the parks.
Jamie Hecker [00:52:19]:
We'll do that as long as we swing through Adventureland and get a doll whip.
Lou Mongello [00:52:23]:
Clearly, you know me very well.
Jamie Hecker [00:52:26]:
I know your tour is always in there. So yes, that sounds good. It's been a pleasure and a lot of fun putting this together and working with you, and I hope our listeners enjoy this.
Lou Mongello [00:52:36]:
Awesome. Thanks again, buddy.
Jamie Hecker [00:52:38]: