Celebrating 90 Years of Mickey and Minnie Mouseby Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer
Mickey Mouse made his worldwide debut with the premiere of the short film Steamboat Willie in New York City's Colony Theater on November 18, 1928. That date is celebrated as Mickey's "birthday," and as Minnie Mouse appeared in the film too, it is considered her birthday as well. On November 18, 2018, Disney Parks on both coasts marked the occasion and D23, The Official Disney Fan Club, hosted Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse at Disney's Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort. More celebrations are planned throughout 2019.
World's Biggest Mouse Party: Disney Parks Celebrations on Both Coasts
While Disney Parks held some celebrations on and around November 18, readers of our weekly MousePlanet.com Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort Updates already know, Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida both plan to start their major celebrations of Mickey and Minnie on January 18, 2019. The in-park parties will feature new and enhanced entertainment along with special decor, foods, and merchandise.
Celebrating Mickey & Minnie's Birthday at Disneyland, November 18, 2018. Video by Todd Pickering.
Celebrating Mickey & Minnie's Birthday at Magic Kingdom on November 16, 2018 (with "Good Morning America"). Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disneyland Park: Get Your Ears On—A Mickey and Minnie Celebration
Starting January 18, "Mickey's Mix Magic" will light up the night. The nightly extravaganza includes a dance party throughout the park, with "DJ" Mickey playing the new celebration song, "It's a Good Time" along with "new, fun takes on favorite Disney songs." Main Street, U.S.A., the water screens on the Rivers of America and the façade of "it's a small world" will all provide viewing areas for projections, lighting and lasers celebrating Mickey Mouse. On select nights, "Mickey's Mix Magic" will also include fireworks.
On January 25, "Mickey's Soundsational Parade," returns with a new, "larger-than-life opening, inspired by classic and nostalgic Mickey pull toys." Chip and Dale bring along a giant celebration cake, as Mickey and his drum corps kick off a procession of Disney characters.
From January 22 through February 18, Disneyland celebrates "the love of Minnie and Mickey for Valentine's month." A new Mickey Mouse flower "portrait" will greet guests along with Valentine's Day décor all along Main Street, U.S.A. Guests may also purchase a commemorative map and stickers set to hunt for "hidden valentines that Minnie has left for Mickey around the park." Completed maps can be redeemed for a special Valentine's "surprise."
Magic Kingdom Park: Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration
Starting January 18, the new celebration song, "It's A Good Time" will play as part of the new "Move It! Shake It! MousekeDanceIt! Street Party" several times daily along Main Street U.S.A. Inside Town Square Theater, guests can meet Mickey and Minnie wearing their new birthday celebration outfits, and can sign a guestbook. Mickey's beloved dog Pluto will also meet guests inside Pete's Silly Sideshow in Fantasyland's Storybook Circus area.
Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse
From November 16 to 18, 2018, Disney's D23, The Official Disney Fan Club, welcomed over 1,000 attendees from around the United States and several countries to Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, for its biennial Destination D event, this time entitled "Celebrating Mickey Mouse." Disney's official fan club is named "D23" in tribute to Walt Disney's first Hollywood studio, which Walt and Roy O. Disney began even before Mickey Mouse. The Walt Disney Company launched D23 in 2009, and in odd-numbered years hosts the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, featuring all the divisions of the Company; the next D23 Expo will be held August 23 to 25, 2019. In even numbered years, D23 hosts the smaller, more focused Destination D events.
D23 provides a wrap-up of the entire weekend's event in this video of just under 3 minutes. Video courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club. ©Disney.
All D23 special events for Disney fans and enthusiasts include speakers, displays, screenings, and, of course, special merchandise. This year's Destination D provided a close up look at Mickey Mouse, plenty of tributes to Minnie Mouse, and a special musical concert and discussion featuring Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, creators of the music for the brand new Mary Poppins Returns ahead of its December 19 theatrical opening. I was privileged to attend as an invited media guest, and provided updates over the weekend on MousePlanet social media channels, which have been collected together into this Twitter Moment full of even more photos and comments than in this article.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney Parks Announcements
Disney Parks fans have come to expect that, like at D23 Expo, no matter the theme of a Destination D event, Disney will share announcements about major new projects and more details about already announced projects underway at Disney Parks around the world. To meet that expectation, first up on this year's Destination D agenda was Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. His presentation was fittingly entitled "…It Was All Started by A Mouse," since, of course, Mickey was the starting point for Disneyland and the rest of Disney Parks. We provided our rundown of the myriad of new announcements he made in our MousePlanet.com weekly Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort Updates, and you can read our full recap of the announced plans, including the latest details for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (which applies to Disneyland Resort), in the Walt Disney World Resort Update for November 20-26, 2018.
In sum, Bob Chapek provided the latest details about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, opening at Disneyland next summer and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World late next fall. The Destination D attendees were the first to learn that legendary Oscar-winning composer John Williams is creating original music for the new land, and were the first to learn the names of the new attractions for the new lands, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. He also provided more information about the hotel being developed in Florida to provide "a fully-immersive, multi-day Star Wars adventure aboard a luxury starship complete with high-end dining, space-view cabins, and all of the exciting action you would expect from an authentic Star Wars experience." (Disney has not indicated when the new hotel will be completed, but it is not expected to open with the new land itself.)
He also provided additional details about the new resort in development on Bay Lake named Reflections, A Disney Lakeside Lodge, as well as the multi-year transformation of Epcot, including a few more details about the new attractions under construction (Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure), a brand-new Beauty and the Beat sing-along show being created in collaboration with producer Don Hahn, a new seamless circlevision film being created for Canada pavilion (following the China edition that he announced last year), and a temporary Epcot nostalgia-based fireworks show named "Epcot Forever" ro replace IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth next fall followed by the 2020 debut of a new nighttime spectacular celebrating Disney music and animation. He announced that the Disney Skyliner gondola transportation system that connects Epcot with several resorts and Disney's Hollywood Studios will also open next fall and he unveiled one of the gondolas for all attendees to see. He also announced that Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway would open in Fall 2019 inside the Chinese Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios (a bit more about the attraction was shared later during the panel presentations, as this was a celebration of all things Mickey Mouse and this will be the first ride-through attraction starring Mickey.)
At the conclusion of his presentation, Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products Chairman Bob Chapek was joined by Mickey Mouse and all the Destination D attendees in taking a #ShareYourEars photo kicking off the campaign's second phase which, ultimately, led to a $3 million by Walt Disney Company to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Photo Courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club ©Disney.
Celebrating Mickey Mouse Presentations
Most of a Destination D weekend is filled with presentations by panels on subjects celebrating the event's theme. Most of the panels this year celebrated Mickey, but some went a bit beyond and, of course, a full panel was devoted to Minnie too. As a special evening attraction for attendees, Marc Shaiman performed and he and Scott Wittman discussed their creation of the music for Disney's new feature film Mary Poppins Returns with Disney Parks Blog host Mark Daniel.
A Mouse in Shorts: Animating Mickey Through the Years
Legendary film producer Don Hahn, master Disney animator Mark Henn, and animation legend John Pomeroy looked back at the animators who defined Mickey's career, and peeked behind the scenes of some of his most famous roles, including Steamboat Willie and Get a Horse!
Mark Henn painted the official portrait of Mickey for his 90th birthday, joining Disney Legend John Hench who painted official portraits for Mickey's 25th, 50th, 60th, 70th, and 75th birthdays, and artist Paul Felix who painted the official portrait for Mickey's 80th birthday. Both Mark Henn and John Pomeroy each returned to the stage later to teach attendees the art of drawing Disney characters in "Animation Academy" sessions.
Weird Disney: The Early Mickey Years
Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline shared some of what today would probably be called "off-model" Mickey moments, merchandise, and more! Most of the strange and bizarre representations are from Mickey's early years, including his appearance in the Fanchon and Marco Vaudeville show, "Mickey Mouse Idea," from the 1930s. She concluded her presentation by showing one of her favorite Mickey shorts, the more recent but still weird Runaway Brain from 1995.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka (except as noted).
After their presentations, Becky Cline, Don Hahn, Mark Henn, and John Pomeroy met with invited media to discuss more about their careers, "Weird Disney," and Disney animation through the years. As for "weird" Disney projects, producer Don Hahn revealed that he worked on a musical sequence about the bends for Epcot's Living Seas pavilion. Animators Mark Henn and John Pomeroy talked about how touched they are when they see folks dressed as the characters they created. And Becky Cline advised that folks that want to become a Disney animator should go "watch the films" and the rest of the panel concurred, noting how much easier that is in today's digital age.
After their presentations, Director of the Walt Disney Archives Becky Cline, Legendary Film Producer Don Hahn, Master Disney Animator Mark Henn, and Animation Legend John Pomeroy met with invited media at D23's Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse. Photo Courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club ©Disney.
Voices of the "Fab 3"
Voice actors Bret Iwan (voice of Mickey Mouse) and Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy and Pluto), along with host Ashley Eckstein (a voice actress herself, best known as Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels), discussed the voices of Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto through the years, sharing their own personal insights on voicing some of the world's most iconic characters for films, Disney Parks, video games, and more.
Host Ashley Eckstein led a discussion with Bret Iwan (voice of Mickey Mouse) and Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy and Pluto) about care-taking the voices of Mickey, Goofy and Pluto. Image courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club © Disney.
Archiving the ShowMouse of the World
Disney archivists Kevin Kern and Mike Buckhoff showcased special items from the Walt Disney Archives representing key moments in Mickey's career.
Collecting Mickey, the True Original
From the first Mickey Mouse wristwatch to the fashion collaborations of today, the panel looked at the past, present, and future of Mickey Mouse collectibles. The panel told stories of how some of the earliest licensed Mickey products helped bring several companies back from the brink of oblivion-companies that are still around and, indeed, several early relationships continue as Disney licensees today. For example, the first Mickey Mouse licensed wristwatch was created by Ingersoll in 1933 in connection with the Chicago Worlds Fair; Ingersoll was on the brink of bankruptcy at the time, and with sales of this watch through Sears, it regained its financial footing. The company, now known as Timex, remains a Disney licensee today. Toy train manufacturer Lionel was in receivership in late 1934, but was able to get the financing necessary to turn the company around in 1935 on a Mickey Mouse licensed train.
Some of the other long-time licensees the panel discussed included: Hallmark (1934), Fisher Price (1940s), and Mattel that started its relationship in connection with the Mickey Mouse Club (mid-1950s).
Mickey at the Movies
Legendary producer Don Hahn paid tribute to Mickey's cinematic legacy, sharing rare clips of many of his biggest—and lesser known—movie moments. Mickey's most famous cinematic appearance may be his turn as the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" in Fantasia (which was shown to attendees in its entirety), but he also starred in roles such as The Prince and the Pauper, Fun and Fancy Free, Hollywood Party, and more.
An Evening of Music with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Disney Parks Blog host Mark Daniel welcomed Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the songwriters behind the music of Disney's all-new original musical sequel Mary Poppins Returns to the stage for a behind-the-scenes look at the new film—including a special video featuring stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt sharing a favorite memory from making the film. Marc Shaiman, who also wrote the new film's score, took to a piano to perform some of the film's new songs.
Panel host Mark Daniel chats with Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, the songwriting team from "Mary Poppins Returns." The duo presented a special behind-the-scenes look at their original songs from the film and shared their lifelong love for the original "Mary Poppins" film during "An Evening of Music with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman." Photo Courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club ©Disney.
Mickey's Lost Adventures: Uncovering the Magic of Disney Storytelling
Disney archivist Kevin Kern and Walt Disney Imagineering's Steven Vagnini shared stories behind some of Mickey's adventures that never made it to the screen. Bret Iwan (voice of Mickey Mouse) and Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy) performed a live table read of a lost radio show episode.
Inside Mickey's True Original Exhibition
Becky Cline (Director of Walt Disney Archives) and Darren Romanelli (Creative Director + Designer, MTO) provided an inside look at the making of Mickey: The True Original Exhibition, which is now open in New York City. New works were created celebrating Mickey just for the exhibition by contemporary artists that had been given access to Disney Archives materials to inspire them. You can read more about the exhibit in this article by MousePlanet contributing writer Gregg Jacobs. D23 Gold and Gold Family members can save $10 on tickets for Tuesday through Thursday visits to the exhibition starting January 2, 2019 (see details on this page of D23.com).
Dressing Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
A panel of members of Disney's Character & Costume Design & Development team shared details about the extensive wardrobe of costumes worn by the famous duo at special events and at Disney Parks, Resorts and Cruise Ships around the World. Mickey and Minnie each showed off a number of different outfits and then Mickey and Minnie donned their new 90th birthday party attire and were joined on stage by Pluto, Daisy, Donald, Chip and Dale, and (as a surprise) Clarabelle Cow, all in their party costumes as well.
Goofy, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Chip, Dale, and Clarabelle appeared on stage in their special celebration costumes for Mickey's 90th. Image courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club © Disney.
Minnie's big anniversary was celebrated with a countdown of nine things that we love about her—from her multi-talented musical skills to her impact on fashion. The panel, hosted by Ashley Eckstein, along with Fabiola Garza, and Biana Brost, shared rare clips of Minnie (including a music video with Elton John) and a special announcement that Ashley Eckstein is designing special limited edition Princess Leia-inspired Minnie ears that will be available next year.
Mickey and Pals at Disney Parks
Walt Disney Imagineering's Alex Wright, Wyatt Winter, and Jason Grandt shared details and stories behind Mickey and his friends' history at Disney Parks around the globe. From Mickey Mouse Revue, which opened at Magic Kingdom with the resort in 1971 before moving to Tokyo (now retired) to Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway under construction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the panel shared details about how attractions, experiences, and more were created throughout the history of Disney Parks.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Catching Up with Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
Walt Disney Imagineering's Kevin Rafferty and Charita Carter shared behind-the-scenes details on this upcoming attraction, including that some of the sound effects will be made using whistles originally used in Steamboat Willie. The attraction is scheduled to open at Disney's Hollywood Studios inside the Chinese Theatre in fall 2019.
An all-new Mickey Mouse short, Mickey Mouse in Perfect Picnic, was created for the ride's pre-show. It sets the stage for the ride and introduces the new theme song by composer Chris Willis (who has composed music for the current run of Mickey shorts that play on Disney Channel). The music for the attraction was recorded by a 65-piece orchestra. To create the theme song itself, Chris Willis followed the three elements that Disney Legend Richard Sherman says he learned from his famous composer father: singable, simple, and sincere.
During the ride, guests will travel into the film itself via a locomotive (with Goofy as the engineer) that serves as a character in the story and has been painted to look good in both "black light" and "white light" parts of the attraction. The imagineers say that the attraction uses "every trick we know" and that they employ a lot of "cartoon logic," so they hope riders will not expect what will happen next along the way. The locomotive, in turn, also appears in animated form in the short, but, with Goofy at the controls, what could possibly go wrong?
Mickey's PJ Party
The conclusion of Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse was a pajama party featuring Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy in their PJs. In addition to sweet treats, guests were able to check out Four Artists Paint One Mouse, where artists Jeff Shelly, Fabiola Garza, Richard Terpstra, and Tim Rogerson all painted their own special renditions of Mickey in their individual styles.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
D23's Michael Vargo, joined by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy led the D23 attendees in singing Happy Birthday to Mickey and Minnie. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Sights of Destination D and Merchandise
Walt Disney Archives Exhibit
During breaks from the main presentations, attendees were free to view the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, Mickey's Magical Kingdoms, which was put together specifically for Destination D with photos and artifacts from the archive's vast collection. Archives Director Becky Cline said Mickey is the "host" of the Disney theme parks all over the world, and has attended the opening of all of them. The exhibit was designed to reflect Mickey in the different eras in the parks from Disneyland's 1955 opening up to the present.
The archive boasts an image collection numbering over four million. For the photo collection display at Destination D, Becky Cline and the archives team worked to provide alternative photos taken on the same day as some of the more famous photos fans have seen before. For example, many have seen film footage and photos of Walt Disney holding a plush Mickey Mouse aboard one of the locomotives at Disneyland on its 1955 opening day. At the Destination D exhibit, not only was that Engineer Mickey plush doll on display (a one-of-a-kind, nearly three foot tall creation specially made for opening day), a rarely publicly seen photo from an opening day photo shoot with Walt, the locomotive, and that doll was on display too. Reproductions of three of the exhibit's photos were also available for sale to attendees as limited edition canvas prints.
Becky Cline (Director, Walt Disney Archives) speaks with the invited media about Mickey's Magical Kingdoms, the special exhibit put together by Walt Disney Archives just for Destination D this year. Photo Courtesy D23: The Official Disney Fan Club ©Disney.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Another popular activity enjoyed by attendees at Destination D between the main presentations was posing for photos in front of the three-dimensional backdrops set up by D23. All of the scenes, of course, paid homage to Mickey.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka (except as noted).
Sorcerer's Apprentice Ballroom was set aside as the Imagineering pop-up shop Mickey's of Glendale, providing attendees an opportunity to shop for Walt Disney Imagineering and other themed (often exclusive or limited edition) merchandise. There were also tables set aside outside the Fantasia Ballroom featuring the Walt Disney Archives prints and other specialty items.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
D23 Announces Upcoming Events
During Destination D, D23 announced a number of special events planned over the course of 2019, including the "anchor" event, the D23 Expo, August 23-25, 2019, at the Anaheim Convention Center, which will include Mousequerade costume contest, the Design Challenge, and a new exhibit from Disney Archives. 2019 also marks the 10th anniversary of D23 itself, which it will celebrate with a year-long "Fanniversary Celebration" including special giveaways, events, and exclusive content. Many D23 events are only available to paid members (Gold and Gold Family levels), but some are available to all members (complimentary memberships are called General Members).
Highlights of 2019 D23 events include:
- RETURN TO WALT'S BIRTHPLACE: In 2016 and 2017, D23 Members had the amazing opportunity to visit Walt Disney's birthplace in Chicago. The home, which is being restored, was constructed by Walt's father, Elias, and designed by his mother, Flora. This June, D23 Members will have the chance to see the incredible progress made on bringing the home back to its initial glory.
- SCREENINGS ON THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS LOT AND AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT: Throughout the year, D23 will once again offer special screenings on both coasts of classic Disney favorites. As part of D23's anniversary celebration, all the films screened will also be celebrating milestones, including Up (10th anniversary), Sleeping Beauty (60th), Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (35th), and The Lion King (25th).
- THE OFFICIAL WALT DISNEY STUDIOS TOUR—PRESENTED BY D23: D23 Gold Member-exclusive tours of the historic studio lot return, and the tour—traditionally held four times a year—will run monthly starting in March including VIP experiences on select tours; tours will be open to all membership levels—General, Gold, and and Gold Family. Guests are able to take a look inside the Walt Disney Archives and see Walt Disney's office suite during the tour, which offers fans a unique perspective on historic moments from Disney films, television shows, and theme parks.
- D23'S LUNCH WITH A DISNEY LEGEND: Beginning in January, D23 brings back these exclusive luncheons with Disney luminaries. This year, D23 will be crossing the country so more fans than ever can enjoy the opportunity to meet Disney Legends and hear their fascinating stories, including an intimate lunch with Linda Larkin—the speaking voice of Jasmine in Aladdin—in New York City next April.
- D23 HEADS TO THE HOLLOW: To celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow—and its infamous headless villain—D23 will hold a special event in Sleepy Hollow, New York, with a screening, special guests, reception, and more.
- ADVANCE SCREENINGS: Next year, D23 Members can look forward to a host of exclusive, advance screenings across the country in partnership with our friends from The Walt Disney Studios. This year, D23 brought movie magic to 35 cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Plus, this year D23 Members attended the red-carpet premiere of Disney's Christopher Robin. D23 Gold Members across the U.S. will once again be selected at random to receive complimentary movie passes, and in honor of D23's 10 years, 10,000 pairs of tickets will be sent throughout 2019.
- SIGNATURE EVENTS: D23 will bring back foodie favorite Sip & Stroll during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Walt Disney Imagineering's exclusive merchandise store, Mickey's of Glendale, will open its doors to members. Guests at Walt Disney World Resort will once again make the holiday season bright next December, and on the west coast, members will be invited back to The Walt Disney Studios to Light Up the Season. The Walt Disney Family Museum will extend a warm welcome to Gold Members for an exclusive look at a new exhibit in May. Also, D23's Behind-the-Scenes Experiences will return, offering exclusive, one-of-a-kind events to D23 Gold and Gold Family Members.
- MEMBER MIXERS: After mixing and mingling at complimentary gatherings in places such as Houston, Seattle, and San Diego in 2018, D23 will bring more mixers to U.S. cities in 2019, including a special San Diego Comic-Con mixer to celebrate Marvel Comics' 80th anniversary.
Jeffrey Epstein (The Walt Disney Company Director, Corporate Communications), and Michael Vargo (Vice President, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club), speaks with invited media about D23 Expo 2019 and upcoming D23 Member Events. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Of course, D23 EXPO 2019: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event returns. It's D23's biggest event of the year, when all of Disney's "wonderful worlds" come together once again August 23–25, 2019, at the Anaheim Convention Center for three days of once-in-a-lifetime live performances, star-studded presentations, exclusive collectibles, and more celebrating Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. Expo details and contest rules can be found on D23expo.com.
Dates, ticketing information, and more D23 events will also be announced throughout the year. Full details on D23's lineup of 2019 special events can be found on the fan club's website at D23.com/events. As always, all events and dates are subject to change.
The Mickey floral bed outside Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center provides an appropriate image to close this article highlighting "Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.