Short of Glory: Top 5 Movie Contributor Omissions from the Disney Legends Program

Please join me in welcoming back one of my most favorite Disney friends and guest contributor, Andrew Carrieri.  (Thank you, Andrew, for a thoughtful, entertaining and interesting take on unsung Disney Legends!)

Short of Glory: Top 5 Movie Contributor Omissions from the Disney Legends Program

by Andrew Carrieri

In 1987, the Walt Disney Company commenced the “Disney Legends” program, a hall of fame for major contributors to the company over the years. Honorees, numbering 276 through 2017, have come from various aspects of the company, including “Animation,” “Imagineering,” “Television,” “Film,” “Administration,” “Publishing,” “Character Merchandise,” “Music,” and “Parks and Resorts.” As with any hall of fame, fans enjoy debating the merits of the various inductees as well as notable omissions. Here, I will focus on the latter debate, giving my top-five omissions from the “Film” category, broadly defined.

Before beginning, however, I should note that two huge names are missing from the Legends list: Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney. Disney Chief Archivist Emeritus Dave Smith, who was named a Disney Legend in 2007, has speculated that the Disney brothers are not in the company’s hall of fame because they “essentially were the company during their lives, and it didn’t seem necessary to give them the Disney Legend award (which bore their name).” (1) Take that for what it is worth. Now, onto my list!

5) Joe Flynn: Ok, as a huge fan of the Disney comedies of the 1960s and 1970s, this choice is perhaps a stretch, but Flynn, who tragically died in a 1974 swimming pool incident, appeared in or voiced characters in nine Disney films—Son of Flubber (1963), The Love Bug (1968), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), The Barefoot Executive (1971), The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972), Superdad (1973), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), and The Rescuers (1977)—and he played the major role of the bumbling Dean Eugene Higgins in the three installments of the Medfield College trilogy: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, and The Strongest Man in the World. The quantity of his contributions should get Flynn inducted; other actors, including 2004 inductee Buddy Hackett, have been honored despite appearing in far fewer films for the company than Flynn, three in Hackett’s case.

4) Ron Miller: Walt Disney’s son-in-law contributed much to the company, though the quantity of his efforts generally outweighed the corresponding quality. In 1984, for example, with Disney threatened by corporate raiders and its film division at a nadir, Miller’s stint as company CEO ended with his ouster in favor of Michael Eisner. Still, Miller was the brains behind Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label, which allowed Disney to release more adult-oriented films, including the highly profitable Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and Pretty Woman (1990), and he served as a producer for a whopping fifty theatrically-released Disney films between 1962 and 1985, including fan favorites Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), Pete’s Dragon (1977), and The Rescuers (1977).Walt Disney's Office Display in One Man's Dream

3) Jeffrey Katzenberg: Upon bolting Paramount for Disney with Michael Eisner in 1984, Jeffrey Katzenberg helped transform Disney’s blundering motion picture division into a powerhouse. The ascension of the department peaked in the early 1990s, when two animated masterpieces, Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992), were released with Katzenberg serving as chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

Katzenberg’s biggest individual contribution to Disney was The Lion King (1994), the first animated feature in the company’s history to be created from an original in-house story instead of a fairy tale, a children’s book, or any other outside concept. On a flight from London to Paris in the summer of 1990 to promote The Little Mermaid (1989), Katzenberg was pondering coming-of-age stories with colleagues Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider, when the proverbial lightbulb went on: Katzenberg told Roy Disney and Schneider that he wanted to relay such a story in an African setting with animals instead of humans. Although the resulting film was arguably the most popular animated flick in Disney history, The Lion King proved to be Katzenberg’s last hurrah at Disney, and it was hardly a pleasant hurrah. Katzenberg departed the company in August 1994 after infuriating Eisner, who refused to appoint Katzenberg President of the Walt Disney Company following the death of the previous president, Frank G. Wells, in a helicopter crash. Katzenberg proceeded to found DreamWorks, the animation studio behind films such as Shrek (2001) and How to Train Your Dragon (2010), along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

2) Bobby Driscoll: Driscoll’s post-Disney life was tragically troubled, the former child star dying a pauper in New York City at only thirty-one years-of-age in 1968. Driscoll’s limited on-screen credits, however, are impressive: lead roles in three of Disney’s most significant films—the controversial Song of the South (1946), So Dear to My Heart (1949), and Treasure Island (1950), the latter the studio’s first completely live action effort—and the voice of the title character in Peter Pan (1953).

1) Don Knotts: In 2004, Karen Dotrice and the late Matthew Garber were named Disney Legends. Having appeared together in each of their three Disney film credits—The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963) and The Gnome-Mobile (1967) in addition to Mary Poppins (1964)—the co-induction of the former child stars was fitting. That same year, however, Disney missed the boat by naming Tim Conway a Disney Legend sans Don Knotts, the actor who is proverbially tied to Conway’s hip in Disney lore. Indeed, when many Disney fans ponder Don Knotts, they add three words to his name: “and Tim Conway.” The comedic duo co-starred in three Disney films—The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), Gus (1976), and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).

Comparing Knotts’s overall credentials to Conway’s, Knotts appeared in more theatrically-released live action Disney films, six, than did Conway, five, and none of the films that starred Conway without Knotts are significantly superior to the films that starred Knotts without Conway—Conway’s The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973) and The Shaggy D.A. (1976), like Knotts’s No Deposit, No Return (1976), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), and Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978), are highly entertaining, if unspectacular, Disney comedies. Knotts also voiced Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Disney’s 2005 animated film Chicken Little and Sniffer in the 2006 direct-to-DVD film Air Buddies.

Notes

1) Smith, D. (2012). Walt Disney. In Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered (p. 250). New York: Disney Editions.

Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? What other contributors to Disney films do you think should be named Disney Legends? Sound off in the comments!

DIY Disney Christmas Ornaments From Pins

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to be crafty, but an idea popped into my head a while back and it wouldn’t go away.  Creative thoughts flowing, I formulated a plan that was, of course, both easy and cheap.  ‘Cause you know, with DIY stuff, that’s how I roll.

DIY Disney Christmas Ornaments From Pins

It started a few weeks ago when I found, tucked away, yet another bag of Disney pins purchased on a trip to Disney World some time ago.  As I was stuffing lovingly adding these rediscovered treasures into our “Disney pin drawer”, I thought it was a terrible shame that we keep our pin collection tucked away.  Couldn’t I find a way to display at least a few favorites somehow?  What better place than on our Disney Christmas tree!

I’ve got mad skills with a hot glue gun and I’m a ribbon hoarder.  I’m also cheap.  Starting there, I purchased two additional items and I was ready to go!  You artistic types that like to measure stuff will love this project.  I didn’t measure anything and I’m not all that artistic and I made some pretty cute ornaments.  Joseph took one look at them and called them banners, so we’ll go with that.  Let’s make some Disney pin banners!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Disney pins and/or buttons
  • Ribbon in different colors and widths
  • Wooden sticks either plain or painted
  • Wire (I found colored wire at my local discount store)
  • Extras like buttons or flowers for embellishments

Here’s what you do:

Choose pins and ribbon that will compliment each other.  I selected pins based on the ribbon colors I already had.  You could pick out your favorite pins and buy ribbon to match, but then you wouldn’t have the fun of using leftover ribbon in an awesome way.  I bought a pack of sticks and spray-painted them silver because…yep, you guessed it, that’s the color paint I found in my laundry room cabinet.  You don’t have to paint the sticks at all if you don’t want to.  I punched holes in an empty k-cup box, stood the sticks up in the holes, sprayed them, waited for the paint to dry, turned them over and painted them again.

Combine ribbons anyway you want to or not at all.  For some pins, I hot-glued ribbons together side-by-side to make them wider.  For others I glued layers of ribbons together to make a more interesting background.  (If it looks like there’s hot glue everywhere in these pictures it’s only because there was!)  Fold the ribbon over, hot-glue it to the stick and pin on the pin – the beauty of this project is that the pin comes right back off if you want to do something else with it in the future.  I added some buttons to Mickey’s banner and a rose to Mulan’s for fun, but that’s only because I already had that stuff.

Finally, add something to hang the banner up with.  I used inexpensive colored wire and I just wrapped the wire around the ends of the stick and added a little twist at the top to hold the ornament hook.  Tah-Dah!!!  Easy-peasy!  If you have kids, this might be a fun project while they’re out of school for the holidays.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you decide to make this project or a variation thereof, please share pictures here or over on Facebook.  I’d love to see what you make!

 

Disney’s Bay Lake Tower – All About Shapes!

Where at Disney World can you find circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, cylinders, ovals, parallelograms, and more specifically combined in endless combinations?  Which resort features modern design, pops of color and whimsical artwork with an emphasis on harmony through geometry?  Which unique place beautifully captures the artistry of lines, curves, and angles everywhere you look?  Of course, I’m talking about Bay Lake Tower.

Disney’s Bay Lake Tower – All About Shapes!

I grew up with a fairly strong dislike for all things math-related (a polite way of saying I loathed arithmetic!).  English was my favorite subject and science was fine, I simply didn’t get the lure of numbers…until 10th grade geometry.  I’d finally found a form of math I loved!  Oh, the fun of arcs, lines, angles and shapes and all the measurements within!  Maybe that explains why while others find Bay Lake Tower lacking in theme, I find it wonderful.  From the lobby through the halls and elevators, even along the walkway that connects Bay Lake Tower to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, I find the use of shapes amazing and like everywhere else at Disney World, I always find something I’ve never noticed before.

I’ll admit, It may not have the Contemporary’s Mary Blair mural or the Grand Floridian’s Victorian charm.  There’s no tropical Polynesian foliage and certainly no majestic, soaring lobby.  But that doesn’t mean Bay Lake Tower is boring, it means the place has a quality and ambiance all its own.

From the majestic, curving edifice to the tiniest interior details, Bay Lake Tower is a feast for the shape-loving eye.  Enhanced by soothing neutrals and splashes of bright color, our favorite home-away-from-home is to us, a fun and cheerful corner of the World.  Those imaginative design elements and Bay Lake Tower’s location right next door to Magic Kingdom make it practically perfect in every way.  If you every get the chance to stay in this particular Disney Vacation Club resort, prepare to be amazed by the creative use of all things geometric!

Have you stayed at Bay Lake Tower?  What did you think?

 

Disney Dining at Yachtsman Steakhouse (Round 2)

The first and last time Raymond and I ate at Yachtsman was in February of 2015.  It was a great experience and we are always up for a good steak.  When we were discussing dining plans for November, Yachtsman came up and we decided it was time for a return visit.  To be perfectly honest, the food was better this time and the service was better last time.  Even so, I still recommend you give Yachtsman a try if you get the chance.  Let me tell you why.

Disney Dining at Yachtsman Steakhouse

For us, there are three go-to steak places near Epcot.  One of them, actually in Epcot, is Le Cellier (Canada Pavilion).  While wildly popular with many Disney guests, this old favorite has kind of fallen out of favor with us for one simple reason – we can easily walk from Epcot to places we like much better.  Places with better food for the price and where the tables aren’t so close together we feel packed in like sardines with no privacy.  Le Cellier is considered a Signature Dining location and takes two Table Service credits on Disney Dining Plans.  (For comparison purposes, the filet is $54 and includes Mushroom Risotto, Asparagus-Tomato Relish, and Truffle-Butter Sauce.)

For an absolutely outstanding dining experience and one of the best steaks anywhere, Shula’s Steak House at the Dolphin offers a fine-dining experience we absolutely love.  The menu is a meat-lover’s dream and the steaks are perfectly prepared to order.  Where the in-park atmosphere at Le Cellier is very casual, the much more formal setting of Shula’s makes us want to get dressed up a bit to eat there.  It’s also relatively expensive and does not accept Disney Dining Plans.  (Currently, the 12 ounce filet is priced at $55 and side dishes are a la carte/additional cost.)

Not too casual, not too fancy, Yachtsman is just right!  The atmosphere is one I’d describe as neutral and even with a pretty good number of guests, the dining room doesn’t feel overcrowded.  One thing we loved is that on both visits, the hostess was the same wonderfully kind lady from Louisiana.  She loves her job and it shows!  The menu is not currently available online at Disney’s website, but this one seems to be up to date.  Notice the prices?  My 6-ounce filet and Raymond’s Elk Tenderloin were each less than $50 and they both came with sides!  On the Disney Dining Plan, Yachtsman, like Le Cellier takes two Table Service credits.

Disney Dining at Yachtsman SteakhouseI mentioned the service not being as good on our recent visit and I should stress that it had nothing to do with our server.  He was professional, knowledgeable, and, best of all, didn’t hover (we hate that).  We ordered lobster bisque to start and the filet and elk tenderloin as our entrées.  Disney Dining at Yachtsman SteakhouseThe bread service is especially good here; served with butter, olive oil, and roasted garlic – YUM!  Disney Dining at Yachtsman Steakhouse We also ordered some butternut squash risotto…which we did not receive until we were finished eating.  Our server took it off our bill and brought it out to us to taste anyway.  He sincerely felt terrible and was extremely apologetic, but we were overly full anyway and didn’t miss it at all. Disney Dining at Yachtsman Steakhouse The only reason we ordered the risotto in the first place is that I make it at home and we wanted to compare flavors.  For dessert we enjoyed the Seasonal Sorbet Trio and some coffee.  Our meal was great!Disney Dining at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Signature dining at a decent value in a great location – Yachtsman Steakhouse is an excellent choice!

What’s your go-to Disney restaurant for a good steak?

(Note: all three restaurants mentioned accept Tables in Wonderland if you have or are considering that option.)