Ever think a book like Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland would make an interesting TV documentary? Wouldn't you just love to see with your own eyes all those fascinating backstage areas?
Your wait is almost over. Since the weekend before last, a crew from the Travel Channel has been filming the inner recesses of the Disneyland Resort to produce a pair of specials on The Secrets of Disneyland and The Secrets of Disney's California Adventure."
Surprisingly, the park gave the video crew seemingly free rein to film and talk about the parks' most clandestine quarters: the basketball court in the attic of the Matterhorn, Walt's apartment over the Fire Station, and every inch of Club 33. They even spent hours shooting Disneyland's not-yet-officially-opened Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction which, they discovered, has exactly four Hidden Mickeys.
Interviews for the shows include Marty Sklar, Richard Sherman, Tony Baxter, Bob Gurr, Bruce Gordon, Barry Braverman, Rich Langhorst, Tom Williams, Mark Sumner, Jeff Plumb, Dave Durham, Wing Chao, Tony Bruno, Michael Jordan (no, not that Michael Jordan), and writers Tim O'Brien of Amusement Business and myself.
The shows promise wonderful images as well as anecdotes. Just don't expect anything too un-Disney. This is the Travel Channel, after all, and their purpose is to encourage travelers to visit not avoid the places they profile. I expect the stories I shared about Inner Space (hey, they asked!) to end up on the cutting room floor, along with several cutting comments by a certain acerbic Imagineer.
The filmmakers promised me the production would be as exciting as poking about backstage yourself. This is the Channel's first production in widescreen, surround-sound, High Definition Television. It's amazing, one crewman said of the HDTV format. It picks up every freckle. (This was of little comfort to those of us who had to be onscreen.)
The shows should begin airing this summer and will repeat every so often for the next five years.
Guest of honor Beverly Butrum (right) with retirement party organizer Brett Tomberlin.
Disneyland's French Quarter recently bid adieu to its most popular personality, long-time merchandise hostess Beverly Butrum. During a wonderful retirement party at the shuttered Cafe Orleans, co-workers presented Bev with her own window in the style of the tributes over Main Street.
Disney artist Stacia Martin, who previously worked with Beverly at the Disney Gallery, painted:
Mme. Beverly's Galerie d'Art
Fine Art and Antiques
Superior Service for Over 35 Years
Beverly J. Butrum, Proprietress
Another highlight was the reading of a poem written by Disney cast member Lynn Sexsmith, based on memories of Bev by dozens of her co-workers.
Bye Bye Bev
We've gathered here to say farewell and do it all in rhyme.
Let's wave good-bye to our dear friend, a legend in her time!
In the Spring of '67, after Walt had passed away,
Bev Butrum joined our Disney Cast and decided she would stay!
New Orleans Square was opened the same year Bev arrived,
And everyone remembers her as being so alive!
A storytelling expert, she kept us entertained,
With stories of her family, our attention never waned!
She'd speak about Hawaii and daughter Michelle as just a tyke,
How proud she was of daughter Kim, son Craig, and husband Mike.
She'd paint a lovely picture and was the envy of all she knew.
It made us want to move on in and be her family, too!
The stock crew in New Orleans OH... remembers how Bev
In the old One-of-a-Kind Shop and the buzzer that she'd buzz!
They labeled it Bev's Buzzer and it never seemed to stop!
They almost ripped it off the wall to hand it to her in the shop!
Returning from her breaks each day, visits to the Perfume
Shop she'd include.
Then back to her location...WHEW! The smell of Chloe would exude!
It caused us a few good headaches, making some of us feel ill.
It's burned into our nostrils and we think we smell it still!
There were days spent with Iola, they would laugh and chitty-chat,
While entertaining Pam, who wore a fancy custom hat!
One day, as she has told us, much to her great joy,
She got to take a picture with Walt Disney's brother, Roy!
Years later, after Roy had died, come the shocker of her life,
When she received that picture from none other than Roy's wife!
'87 was the year The Disney Gallery was born,
And Bev was there to greet the guests on that July 11 morn.
Young, or old, or famous, Bev shined with Disney class.
The warmth she shared was genuine, and we hate to see it pass.
Michael Jackson she would tend to, regardless of his fame,
And befriended Doogie Howser, Neil P. Harris was his name.
She was known for her good memory and the names she'd
She'd chat as if she knew you, even though you've never met!
She shared her expertise with all, her love of Disney art.
Helped some add to their collections, and made others want to start!
When guests would make their purchases, she'd bubble-wrap then taut.
So well, in fact, they'd look at it and forget what they had bought!
We remember all those late-night breaks Val Hardin
used to take,
Beneath the counter cash wrap with some coffee she would make!
The APs caught on quickly and would ask if Val was there.
But Bev would say, She's on a break, ten minutes would be fair!
She's molded oh so many, and scared just one or two.
But once they got to know her, their awe of her just grew!
So now, our friend, we honor you with love and hugs
And each would like to shake your hand before we head for home.
You are a Disney Legend, that's in our history book,
Who's really irreplaceable, believe us, we have looked!
We could go on forever, but our time together ends.
We raise our glass to sadly say good-bye to you, our friend!
But as you scan this one last time and pass right out
Rest assured you're in our hearts, you're part of Disney lore!
The Gallery won't be the same without your smiling face,
But the values you've instilled in us aren't easily erased!
Old friends who come to visit now will need not shed a tear,
Because through us, they all will know, Bev Butrum has been here!
(Send an email to David Koenig)
David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.
After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999) (All titles published by Bonaventure Press).
He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.