D23 Disneyland U.S.A. Event

On July 17th, 2009, D23 hosted an evening that included a showing of the film Disneyland U.S.A. with a panel discussion, as well as a fireworks dessert party (with special cupcakes) for 200 lucky D23 guests.

I was very fortunate to have gotten in!  The D23 events are often very limited (I also have photos from the D23 Flowers and Fireworks event) – but the two I've been two have been wonderful.  You can also see my video of the Magical Fireworks show (taken at a different time).

We had gotten our wristbands for the event outside of the Disneyland gates, and were given a time to meet at Small World.

 

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Jeffrey Epstein takes a photo of the D23 members waiting to get backstage for the film.

 

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We were ushered backstage to see the film and panel discussion, hosted by Tim O'Day,  that included former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist, Chief Disney Archivist Dave Smith and Imagineers Tony Baxter and Bob Gurr.  We were told that cameras weren't allowed to be used at all backstage.  It was a longer walk than I expected from Small World to the auditorium (but I could use all the walking I could get before the dessert party!) Before entering, we were treated to some information about the Disneyland fireworks, including the mention that there would be a new Hallowishes show.  Everyone was then given bags of candy, pretzels and a bottled water before being ushered inside.

We watched the beautifully restored version of Walt Disney's 1956 "People and Places" featurette in CinemaScope, "Disneyland U.S.A."  We were given a few things to watch for ahead of time, I was surprised that there used to be fishing at Disneyland – but that soon ended, due to guests leaving their fish behind in the park (which created an odor problem). We were told that there were 17 Disney songs in the film, and you can hear Old Yeller, even though it wasn't yet out.

After the film, each panel guest talked for a few minutes. Bob Gurr talked about how Walt had seen a monorail in Germany, but wanted Bob to design a better one.  Gurr had 8 months to design the monorail, but was still learning engineering – he trained himself at Disneyland.   He said how it took 13 years to get the Autopia car just right, and that those 1968 cars are still running – and the original subs as well.  Gurr also does not like roller coasters, he rode one just to be able to tell Walt that he was doing research for the Matterhorn.  Gurr said of his job, "I was paid to design, not ride this stuff".

Jack Lindquist said that one of his most touching moments in the park was on one Christmas Eve, before the park closed at 6pm.  There were only a handful of people left in Disneyland at 5pm, and he fell into step behind a family walking down Main Street.  One of the two children in the family turned to their mother and said, "You know mom, you were right.  This was better than having a visit from Santa Claus".

One of my favorite stories of the evening was when Lindquist and Marty Sklar were throwing a party on the evening before the World's Fair.  They ran out of ice, and Lindquist went through an apartment building looking for some – knocking on doors until he finally found a couple who had some to spare.  The couple talked to him, and then asked Lindquist if he knew their nephew – Marty Sklar.   He did not tell them that Marty had been in town for months!

Geri Bumpass was also one of the panel guests, she was a hostess that can be seen in old film footage and photos with Walt Disney.  She told a funny story about how she once slapped Walt's hand away from reaching from her chest, but it turned out that he was just wanting to take a look at a new pin he'd not yet seen.  Bumpass eventually left her job at Disneyland, but returned to work there again many years ago because "I still had Pixie Dust in my blood".

At one point, we were told that it was okay to bring out the cameras for a photo.  Mine was buried deep in my bag at that point, but I was able to get it out in time to get a few shots:

 

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The dessert party included Celebration cupcakes, along with coffee and tea.  The cupcakes were probably half frosting, which is just the way I like them! 🙂  The area isn't the best for the fireworks, but I saw Magical around 10 times during my trip with castle-front views, so I enjoyed more spending time with friends in a non-crowded setting.

 

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With Jeffrey Epstein of D23:

 

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Tony Baxter:

 

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And Dave Smith:

 

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I actually hadn't realized that there were two areas of D23 guests in front of the Plaza Pavilion, I spent the evening trying to figure out where some friends were – it turns out they were with Bob Gurr.  🙂  My friends Sean and Pamela were in my area though:

 

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Catching up with Dusty and Fishbulb from Micechat, two of my friends I was looking for during the dessert party.  I found them after the fireworks:

 

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 And the D23 staff:

 

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This was a wonderful event!!!  Thank you so much to D23 for treating us so well, and for the great cupcakes too. 🙂  Thank you to Jeff at JeffLangeDVD.com for hosting my video and offering a few photos to this blog entry!