Disney’s D23 Fanniversary Event Celebrates a Multitude of Disney Anniversaries

Article and Photos by George M. Gensler

Last night, I had the privilege of attending D23’s Disney FaNNIVERSARY 2012 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City.  D23?, you ask.  That’s Disney’s “official” fan club.  Official here means that Disney itself, not fans, runs the club, with dedicated Cast Members (Disney lingo for employees, who, at Disney, are always in the “show”) and prime access to Disneyana (Disney lingo for memorabilia, props, etc.), park locations for events, and, most notably tonight, the Disney archives.  Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name, D stands for Disney, of course, and 23 comes from 1923, the year Walt Disney arrived in California to begin creating his world-wide empire.  Continue reading for more impressions of this special New York City D23 event.

Editor’s Note: “Adventures by Daddy” is pleased to welcome traveler, runner, chocolate connoisseur and Disney fan George Gensler to the site.  This is her first post for “Adventures by Daddy,” and hopefully not the last.  Please see her bio below.

D23’s Disney Fanniversary 2012 honors more than 40 anniversaries that Disney will celebrate this year (see full list below).  The Walt Disney Archives worked with D23 to create a presentation touching on these anniversaries, pulling audio and video clips, photo stills, and anecdotes together to follow the timeline from Oswald the Rabbit through the 20th anniversaries of Disneyland Paris and Fantasmic! Becky Cline, the Director of the Walt Disney Archives and Jeffrey Epstein of D23 presented the show, which included classic Disney touches like the voice-over announcing the countdown to the show’s start and the presenters identifying audience members from their social media posts.

And now, on to the show.  There were so many wonderful moments honored in the presentation, that I won’t be able to describe them all, but here are some of my favorite moments:

  • the footage created from sketches for Oswald the Rabbit’s 9th film, Harem Scarem, which has been lost – there are no known copies of the film available today
  • the footage created from sketches for a never produced Mickey Mouse movie called The Expedition
  • the clip of the introduction of Daisy Duck
  • learning that “Man in the Forest” was code for “visitors in the building – get back to work” during the creation of Bambi
  • hearing the joke about how many Imagineers it takes to change a lightbulb (“Does it have to be a lightbulb?”)
  • seeing the Z in tape that Jeffrey had affixed to his shirt while we watched the Zorro clips (when the clip ended and the we turned our attention back to the presenters, Jeffrey, who had his back to us, turned to reveal the Z)
  • the entire Pirates of the Caribbean section, especially
    • i) the December 2, 1966, footage of the first ride-through of Pirates of the Caribbean (before the ride was even open)
    • ii) the April 19, 1967 footage of the media event, with Wally Boag as a pirate and a pirate band invading Disneyland and using a battering ram to take over the ride

  • hearing from Dick Sherman about Louis Prima’s work on The Jungle Book, which was the last animated feature personally supervised by Walt Disney
  • seeing footage of the original 1972 Main Street Electrical Parade
  • being shown the Hidden Mickeys in Tron and Aladdin
  • hearing Barnette Ricci, creator of Fantasmic!, talk about putting the show together and watching her eyes fill with tears and hearing her voice fill with emotion when she got to the roar of the crowd after the first preview
  • And last, but not least – in fact, so far from least that it was saved for last, the Diamond (75th) Anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (my own favorite princess movie):
    • it was the highest grossing film of all time until Gone with the Wind
    • alternate names for the dwarfs included Duffy for Dopey, Winky for Sleepy, and Toots for Happy
    • it was the first movie to have a soundtrack record released
    • it was the first movie to have a merchandising plan in place before the release of the movie (one ad for hats based on the dwarfs’ hats included Ann Miller and Lucille Ball as models)
    • Seeing the footage of Walt Disney talking about the premier was priceless.

What an incredible evening!  Dave Smith, the first Disney archivist, has done an incredible job finding, maintaining and preserving the history of Walt Disney and the Disney companies.  In addition to the memories created by the presentation, D23 members also took home a Fanniversary pennant, a Chip & Dale D23 button, and a postcard advertising a new series of books filled with rare and never-before-seen artwork from the Disney archives: Story; Animation; Design, Layout & Background.

The D23 Disney Fanniversary road show is sold-out, but there are spots available on the waitlist for the Orlando appearance on June 23rd at the Premiere Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  D23 members must be in good standing to get tickets and each member can bring one guest.  Tickets cost $18 for members and $25 for general admission (if available).

2012 Disney Anniversaries

80 years – first appearance of Goofy, originally Dippy the Goof
75 years – “Silly Symphonies: Flowers and Trees” (first use of Technicolor)
75 years – “Silly Symphonies: The Old Mill” (first use of the multi-plane camera)
75 years – Huey, Dewey, and Louie first appeared in a comic strip
75 years – first appearance of Daisy Duck (in “Don Donald”)
75 years – “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
70 years – “Bambi”
60 years – “Little House,” “Trick or Treat,” “Susie the Little Blue Coupe,” and “Lambert the Sheepish Lion” (all inspired by the artwork of Mary Blair)
55 years – “Old Yeller”
55 years – Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (opened by Shirley Temple)
55 years – “Zorro”
50 years – “In Search of the Castaways”
50 years – creation of WED Enterprises
45 years – Pirates of the Caribbean
45 years – New Tomorrowland (largest Disney expansion ever, at the time)
45 years – “Jungle Book” (last feature-length animated film personally supervised by Walt Disney)
45 years – “The Happiest Millionaire” (Walt’s last film)
40 years – Walt Disney World’s If You Had Wings
40 years – Main Street Electrical Parade (based on WDW’s Electrical Water Pageant)
40 years – Mouse Factory (Ward Kimball’s tv show – ahead of its time)
35 years – “Pete’s Dragon”
30 years – Tron
30 years – EPCOT Center ($200-600M over budget and worth every penny)
25 years – Star Tours (so innovative they had “spacesickness” bags for riders)
25 years – Ducktales
25 years – Disney Dollars (Scrooge McDuck signed the bills and delivered the first bags of Disney Dollars to Disneyland)
25 years – Disney Store opens in Glendale
20 years – “Aladdin” (highest grossing animated feature to date)
20 years – “Newsies” (CD soundtrack has never been out of print)
20 years – “Honey I Blew Up the Kid”
20 years – “Mighty Ducks”
20 years – Disneyland Paris opens as EuroDisney (it is still the #1 tourist destination in Europe)
20 years – Fantasmic!
15 years – “Hercules” (launched with an Electrical Parade in NYC)

Bio: George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends.  She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents.  She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland.  Her first visit to Disney World was in early 1972 (first year).  She’s a huge runDisney fan and has legacy status at the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Tower of Terror 13K, and the Expedition Everest Challenge.  In 2010, she ran every runDisney race (including the 5k fun runs) earning 13 medals in 11 races.  She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises.  She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.  BUT – she is not a member of D23.  Go figure. 😉

Editor: Thanks to George Gensler for this report.  Disclosure: George Gensler received a complimentary ticket from D23 to cover this event for Adventures by Daddy, but all opinions expressed are her own.  Have you attended Disney’s D23 Fanniversary event?  Were you hoping to see it but couldn’t get tickets or weren’t close to the event?  Please leave a comment below.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.