Friday, December 3, 2010

Disneyland's Disney Gallery: Fascinating and Educational

"Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" was Mr. Disney's personal favorite, and for that reason, I always save a visit to the Opera House for last when I visit Walt's Magic Kingdom.

Since 2005, when "Great Moments" was temporarily replaced by "Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years" for Disneyland's 50th and "Great Moment's" refurbishment, the lobby of the opera house has transformed into the Disney Gallery, with fantastic models and a wealth of information about the park's inception, opening day, and everything else that's happened in its 55 year existence. The Disney gallery has been around for a while though, its old space having been taken over by the Dream Suite.

It's the little things that make the gallery great
I have to say, none of the models are quite as great as the "Disneyland of Walt's Imagination" at the Walt Disney Family Museum, but the smaller models, this time of Sleeping Beauty's castle and Splash Mountain were great, as well as the model of Disneyland on opening day. I love seeing the intricacies of the attractions and land marks, and models have always caught my attention. Someday I hope to get into trains like Walt, and at an early age, my father did.

Then there are the artifacts, like the early sketches for attractions around the parks, pictures of forgotten attractions, and one of the coolest pieces of Disney history, the bench from the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round where Walt first imagined building the Happiest Place on Earth.

Then there's the gift shop, where you can buy special edition Marty Sklar autographed books, apparel unique to that shop, and prints of some of the great artwork the gallery has on display. Oh how I wanted to get a couple of those prints, but adding more junk to my nomad-esque lifestyle would do me no good. Maybe later, when I have an actual income.

Walt's Bench
It's a great thing that Disney sees value in recognizing its past finally, something I feel it forgot in the 90's under Eisner and his inflated ego. Of course, I would love to see the Disney Family Museum and the Disney Company get along, but the company did some terrible things to Ronald Miller, wounding his wife and Walt's only biological child Diane in ways that will never heal.

But the company has a vast amount of artifacts from walt, and it's great they found some places to display them. An attendant told me of two display cases from "20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea" that the company had taken out of storage, refurbished, and used in the gallery. It's great that they still have the Steve Martin/Donald Duck hosted film playing in the gallery, giving vistors to the opera house the best of both worlds.

To me, there is nothing more fascinating than the history of the Walt Disney company and Disneyland, and being able to learn new things about it while in Disneyland is a great treat, and something more people should take advantage of.

Who thought this was a good idea?
One thing that seemed a little out of place though: a section of the wall devoted to the great musicians of our time: Elvis, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson...and Miley Cyrus. C'mon Disney, we get she's your brainchild, but that's insulting to the artists who share that wall space. Maybe now there's that incriminating video of her on TMZ, Disney might try to distance itself from the troublemaker's new 18-year-old image. Overall, Disney doesn't seem to have the best track record when it comes to turning young girls into celebrities. Better stick with the gender making pu the majority of the photos that aren't of Hannah Montana.

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