Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Drawing by Walt Disney on a postcard written to his mother

Q: What is your favorite piece in the Walt Disney Archives and why do you cherish it so much?
Ryan, Romeo, Michigan

A [Dave Smith]: I think my favorite piece is a drawing by Walt Disney on a postcard written to his mother when he was 15 years old. Such things are rarely owned by collectors; we are lucky to have it in our collection.

[Marcio Disney]

Walt sent the postcard to his mother Flora while she was in St. Louis, boasting about success on an exam, and illustrating his "P.S." message with a clever drawing on the front.

T r a n s c r i p t  i o n

P.S. 10 below here

K.C. 2, 2, 1917

Dear Mother
Every thing is going well here, I got 100 in my grammar to-day, glad to hear
Uncle Harry is much better
Loving Walter

[Addressed to:]
Mrs. E. Disney
2842 LaFayette
St. Louis Mo.
C/o Harry Call

Monday, April 18, 2011

Discovery Island in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World

Q: Dave, is there any truth to the rumors that there are still animals living on the old Discovery Island in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World? Was all the wildlife transferred to Disney's Animal Kingdom when it closed?
Jennifer, Bristol, Connecticut

A [Dave Smith]: While Disney no longer has any animals on the island that are cared for by its Animal Programs staff, there are now quite a few wild animals, including many buzzards, that call the island home. Some of the original animals were transferred to Disney's Animal Kingdom, while others were sent to zoos.

[Marcio Disney]

Discovery Island is an 11½-acre island in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Between 1974 and 1999 it operated as Treasure Island for Disney.

The island opened as Treasure Island on April 8, 1974, as a place to observe wildlife. It closed to the public on April 8, 1999, but continued to operate until July 9, 1999, at which point all of its animals had been relocated to new homes at Disney's Animal Kingdom (whose Safari Village hub area was renamed Discovery Island) and other zoos. From the early 1900s, the island was known as Raz Island, named after the family that lived there.

In the late 1930s, it was purchased for $800 by a man named Delmar "Radio Nick" Nicholson, who renamed the island "Idle Bay Isle" and lived there for 20 years with his wife and pet crane. It was later sold, renamed "Riles Island," and used as a hunting retreat. Disney bought the island in 1965 as part of its secretive property acquisitions before building Walt Disney World Resort.

After its closing, Disney considered teaming up with the makers of the Myst video game to create a cutting-edge interactive experience to be called "Myst Island". Guests to the island would explore unusual locations and unravel a mystery about the island's previous inhabitants. This attraction never got beyond the concept stage.

The island's facilities were the home of the last known dusky seaside sparrow before it died in 1987. The species was declared extinct in 1990. The island remains closed to the public. It can easily be seen from Disney's Contemporary Resort and from Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, as well as from boat trips between them. The island is adjacent to Disney's River Country water park, which is also closed.

On April 23, 2010 Orlando NBC affiliate television station WESH reported that "urban explorer" and blogger Shane Perez secretly visited the abandoned island, and the station broadcast some of the video images Perez claims to have captured. Perez told news reporters that he and several friends swam to the island under cover of darkness. During their visit they reportedly discovered "abandoned buildings, cages, preserved snakes in jars, even old employee photos". According to the television news story, Disney officials are considering banning Perez for life from Disney properties. Perez claims that the visit predates the Florida four year statute of limitation for trespassing.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Figaro, the Cat

Q: I recently watched one of Walt Disney's cartoons called Pluto's Sweater. Minnie had a cat in the cartoon, but I didn't listen carefully enough to hear the name. What is the cat's name? Did this cat appear in other cartoons?
Andrew, Seattle, Washington

A [Dave Smith]: The cat is Figaro, who first appeared in Pinocchio in 1940. Figaro appeared in several short cartoons after that, including Figaro and Cleo and Figaro and Frankie.

[Marcio Disney]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The 1st Donald Duck Comic Book Published in Norway

Q: I have an old Walt Disney and Co. comic. It is from 1948, written in German or Dutch I believe. It has a red cover with Donald and his three nephews on the cover and also has the following text on the cover: "Pris 50 ore and NR. 1 December 1948 - 1. ARG." Can you help me find some information on this comic? How rare is it? What value does it have?
Joe, Brooksville, Florida

A [Dave Smith]: This is the first Donald Duck comic book published in Norway. An original would be worth several thousand dollars, though I understand the comic was reprinted in the 1980s and the reprint would be worth significantly less.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What the Ferrari said in Italian to Guido at the end of Pixar Cars

Q: I was wondering if you could tell me what the Ferrari said in Italian to Guido at the end of Cars?
Julie, Long Beach, California

A [Dave Smith]: When Luigi faints, the Ferrari says, "Spero che il tuo amico si riprenda. Mi dicono che si eta fantastici." Perhaps you know an Italian who can translate that for you.

[Marcio Disney] He said "I hope that your friend recovers. They say that age is fantastic."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Alice in Wonderland - The Letter that Glows Bright Red

Q: In the animated Alice in Wonderland, when the walrus is under the sea talking to the oysters, why does the letter glow bright red when the mother is looking at the calendar?
Kimberly, Duncan, Oklahoma

A [Dave Smith]: The "R" in March flashes due to the old tale that one should only eat oysters in the months that have an "R" in the name.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The original Mickey and Minnie Costumes

Q: I'm watching the Disneyland: Secrets, Magic, and Stories DVD and just watched the footage with the original Mickey and Minnie costumes (the ones that looked a lot like Halloween costumes as the narrator noted). I wanted to know if Disney still has these costumes saved or are they lost to history?
Ryan-Philipp, North Hills, California

A [Dave Smith]: The character costumes used at Disneyland on opening day were borrowed from the Ice Capades and later returned to them.

[Marcio Disney]

Click Here to see the Characters Costumes throughout the Years at the Jim Hill Media! 

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