Friday, August 28, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 08-28-2015 - Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan, Part One

By Tim Callaway

Once a Jungle Cruise skipper, always a Jungle Cruise skipper.
Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan.
In the summer of 1955, William “Sully” Sullivan got a job at Disneyland, just days after he watched the park’s grand opening on television. It was the beginning of a career with Disney that lasted nearly forty years. Sully started out as a ticket taker on the Jungle Cruise before becoming a Jungle Cruise skipper. And that was just the beginning. Sully moved up the ranks at Disneyland, with side trips to the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley and the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York. He got to know both Walt Disney and Roy Disney. He even met his future wife in Adventureland. Sully ended his career as vice president of the Magic Kingdom in Florida, and in 2005 was named a Disney Legend. 
In his memoir, From Jungle Cruise Skipper to Disney Legend: 40 Years of Magical Memories at Disney, Sully talks about the many adventures he had during his lengthy career, and he’s going to share a few of them with us today. In part one of our two-part conversation Sully tells us about Walt, the early days of Disneyland, and the four principles that guided Sully throughout his career. Sully Sullivan is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 08-24-2015 - Jungle Cruising with Dwayne Johnson, Kind Words for Cinderella, Banksy's Dismaland

By Tim Callaway

Pirates with the lights on.
Pirates of the Caribbean with the lights on, a Haunted Mansion scolding, hard root beer and coconut-flavored vodka. 

And yeah, I guess Anthony and I talk about some Disney news too.

Inside The Mouse Castle this week, we revisit a few more items from the D23 Expo and Anthony's trip to Disneyland with his parents. We also imbibe a few tasty beverages as has become our habit since we started recording the show late at night. Don't judge.
Here's what else is going on:
  • The long-rumored Jungle Cruise movie, at one time expected to star Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, is back on track, this time with Dwayne Johnson on board.
  • John Lasseter played Jungle Cruise skipper for real last Tuesday, taking guests on a trip through the exotic waterways. And, wouldn't you know? Josh Gad was there to document it.
  • Disney's live-action Cinderella comes out on Blu-ray and Digital HD on September 15th. In the spirit of the little cinder girl's upbeat philosophy, fans are encouraged to "have courage and be kind" at
George Clooney in Tomorrowland.
  • Also available on video beginning October 13th is Brad Bird's Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Hugh Laurie. I was disappointed the first time I saw it, but not so much that I won't give it a second look.
  • Japan's largest airline, ANA, is launching a fleet of Star Wars-themed airplanes (okay, four) featuring droids R2-D2 and BB-8. They'll start transporting passengers, both domestic and international, this fall.
  • A federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Disney, DreamWorks and several other animation studios accusing them of collusion and wage fixing. This follows on the heels of a similar suit that was thrown out in April for falling outside the statute of limitations. 
  • Graffiti artist Banksy is taking a satirical shot at Disney parks with his new exhibition "Dismaland." This "bemusement park" takes up space at an old public pool in Weston-super-Mare in southwest England. Its centerpiece is a rotting, decrepit castle surrounded by a warped mermaid statue and a crashed police van. The exhibition is, of course, staffed by surly greeters and security guards. Over 50 artists from 17 countries have contributed to the project, which takes swipes, both good-natured and cynical, at not just theme parks, but at immigration laws and 21st-century activism. The exhibition will be open through September 17, 2015. 


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 08-21-2015 - Inside the Disney Marketing Machine, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and the Walt Disney Birthplace

By Tim Callaway

A Midget Autopia car on display at the Walt Disney
Hometown Museum booth at the D23 Expo.
Another D23 Expo has come and gone. Hopefully you caught our slightly inebriated recap of the festivities on Inside The Mouse Castle. Today, we’re going to sit down in the Lounge with some of the people who were part of the Expo. We’ve got Kaye Malins and Peter Whitehead with the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Walt’s boyhood home of Marceline, MO. They’re going to talk about their ambitious fundraising efforts to restore the Midget Autopia, which was relocated from Disneyland to the city of Marceline in 1966. It operated in Marceline for a number of years before falling into disrepair and now the Museum wants to bring it back…and you can help.

Another great cause to support is the Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago. It’s the actual home designed and built by Walt’s parents in 1893 and the very place Walt was born in 1901. The Birthplace is undergoing an extensive restoration and Todd Regan will be here to bring us up to date on how it’s progressing.

Author Lorraine Santoli and Dave Mason with
Saturday's Toys at the D23 Expo
Before we get to that, though, we’ll be joined by the former director of corporate synergy with Disney, Lorraine Santoli. She’s also an author who’s had a longtime association with the original Mouseketeers. In fact, Lorraine hosted a celebration of 60 magical years of the Mickey Mouse Club at the D23 Expo. She was joined on stage by Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O’Brien and Doreen Tracey. It was a delightful presentation.

Before the Expo, Lorraine and I chatted about her latest book, a memoir of her 22 years at the Walt Disney Company, Inside The Disney Marketing Machine. In it, Lorraine recalls the many memorable events she was part of in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, including Mickey Mouse’s 50th birthday, Donald Duck’s 50th birthday and Disneyland’s 30th anniversary. She also talks at length about the leadership styles of Disney’s top executives during that time, Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. It’s an insightful look behind the scenes of an entertainment company on the verge of becoming the media giant it is today.


For more fascinating books about Disney history, visit

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 08-19-2015 - Disney's D23 Expo 2015

By Tim Callaway

Meet the Parents: Mike and Darla Reynolds with Anthony
I doubt there's a better way to recap last weekend's D23 Expo then doing it with friends over cocktails at the Anabella Hotel.

Bonus points for having Anthony's parents join us.

Even more points for being able to face off about Disney Infinity in-person with Anthony's dad. 

It was a good night. 

Exhausted, exhilarated and just a bit tipsy, Team Mouse Castle does its best to analyze the highs and lows of Disney's mega fan event. So, pull up a chair, pour a drink and join us, won't you?
"Star Wars Land" concept art.
  • Plans for "Star Wars Land" (or whatever they decide to call it) at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios were the biggest news to come out of Expo. We were all thrilled to see the first concept images, but couldn't D23 have saved them for the Parks and Resorts presentation Saturday afternoon instead of springing them at the Walt Disney Studios show earlier that morning? 
Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Pandora: The World of Avatar will probably look fantastic when it opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom, but does anybody really care?
Finding Dory
  • Animation: Based on what we've seen so far, our thumbs are way up for John Musker and Ron Clements' Moana and Pixar's once-troubled The Good Dinosaur. We liked our first look at Finding Dory, but the jury is still out on the Jack and the Beanstalk epic Gigantic, the Day of the Dead tale Coco and, yes, Toy Story 4 (although the Woody's-search-for-Bo-Peep story line has us intrigued). Try as we might, though, we still can't muster any excitement for Disney's March 2016 release Zootopia
Rogue One
  • Rogue One will be the first Star Wars film that won't be part of a trilogy. The standalone flick will tell the story of how the Rebels stole the plans to the Death Star prior to Episode IV. It will star Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker and Alan Tudyk. Principal shooting has begun under the direction of Gareth Edwards. The film will open in the U.S. on December 16, 2016.
  • Colin Trevorrow will direct Star Wars: Episode IX. Not a bad gig after helming Jurassic World.
  • It was my pleasure to regale Mike with the latest on Disney Infinity 3.0, which hits stores in the U.S. on August 30th. Who wants some sneak peeks?

  • There was also an exciting announcement about the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III:

These are just some of the highlights in today's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle. We also talk about Shanghai Disneyland, lines, the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, lines, the Disney Dream Store, lines and camping overnight (which also involves lines). 



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Friday, August 14, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 08-14-2015 - The Making of 'Pinocchio' with Disney Historian J.B. Kaufman

By Tim Callaway

Pinocchio:The Making of
the Disney Epic
Pinocchio is arguably Walt Disney's most triumphant achievement in animation. The charming, perilous and ultimately heroic story of the wooden boy who wanted to be real has delighted movie audiences for 75 years. It's a film that represents the absolute peak of Disney animation artistry and storytelling. How the movie came to life is as compelling as the story of Pinocchio himself, and author J.B. Kaufman has written an exquisitely detailed book about it: Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic.

J.B. is always a welcome guest in the Lounge. You may recall a conversation I had with him a few years ago about two of his other amazing works of Disney history, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Art and Creation of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film and its companion volume, The Fairest One of All. These are must-reads for any Disney enthusiast, just like J.B.'s meticulously researched book on Pinocchio. He's at the D23 Expo this weekend, but not because of Snow White or Pinocchio, mind you. Because of Silly Symphonies.

J.B. Kaufman
In 2006, J.B. wrote a comprehensive history of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies with co-author Russell Merritt. Drawing on that expertise, both historians were asked to contribute liner notes to the upcoming release of the Silly Symphony Collection on vinyl from the Disney Music Emporium. Tied to that release, you can catch both J.B. and Russell at the D23 Expo along with music producer Randy Thornton. They'll be inside the Anaheim Convention Center at the Disney Dream Store today at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:45 p.m. They'’ll also be at the Expo’s Autograph Central Saturday at 1:00 p.m..

For now, however, let's wish upon a star and go behind the scenes for a look at the making of Pinocchio with J.B. Kaufman, my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 08-10-2015 - D23 Expo Preview

By Tim Callaway

In this week's Inside The Mouse Castle, Anthony and I let our imaginations run wild, speculating on what big announcements will come out of this year's D23 Expo. We're already wrong on one idea. At the time we recorded the show, J.J. Abrams hadn't yet announced there would be no new Star Wars footage at the Expo.

Whatever. It happens.

The three-day Disney fan event opens this Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center. I'll be there, taking in as much of the show as I can, but mostly standing in line a lot. And unlike many of the Mouse faithful, I won't be camping out overnight to be first in line for anything.

What secrets do you think will be revealed this weekend? Will attendees get what they want from the show? Will there be details about Disneyland's anticipated expansion and Disney's Hollywood Studios' renovation and rebranding? Will "Star Wars" fans get a full-blown trailer for "The Force Awakens"? What else can we expect from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Animation? Does anyone really care about Avatar Land?

Give a listen to our half-assed opinions and feel free to share yours in the comments below. We'll see you in Anaheim Friday!


For D23 Expo schedule and ticket information, visit We also highly recommend downloading the D23 Expo mobile app for iOS and Android.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 08-07-2015 - Randy Thornton and Disney's Music Legacy

By Tim Callaway

Randy Thornton
Randy Thornton is a long-time producer and restorer of Disney music. In his nearly 29 years with Walt Disney Records, he has received numerous recording industry awards including ten Gold Records, four platinum records, six Grammy nominations and one Grammy win. Randy is the producer of the Lost Chords, a collection of songs originally written for classic Disney animated films like Peter Pan and Cinderella that never made it into the final productions. Some of those Lost Chords found their way into one of Randy’s other projects, The Legacy Collection.

The Legacy Collection is a series of collectible CDs celebrating the anniversaries of great Disney films like Fantasia, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp and The Lion King. They’re available online from Amazon and at the Disney Music Emporium. Currently available only at the Disneyland Resort is the Disneyland Legacy Collection set, three CDs celebrating 60 years of Disney theme park magic. Can’t make it to Disneyland? No worries. The set will be available online later this month. Each Legacy Collection set is handsomely packaged with original cover art by Disney artist Lorelay Bove. The sets also contain song lyrics, concept art and extensive liner notes rich in Disney history.

Randy Thornton is an artist who takes great pride in his work. In his conversation with me, he talks at length about his career and his passion for preserving Disney’s great music legacy. Randy Thornton is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 08-03-2015 - Disney's 'Descendants,' 'Star Wars,' 'Spider-Man' and Saving the Midget Autopia

By Tim Callaway

The cast of Descendants (l. to r.): Booboo Stewart,
Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson,
Mitchell Hope and Sarah Jeffery
Disney's Descendants was a huge hit on the Disney Channel last Friday, attracting over six million viewers. But, was it any good? 

I vote no, but then I'm not in the movie's age 9-14 demographic. 

Still, it's hard to like a film with a dumbed-down story that turns the most evil of Disney's animated villains into buffoons and then adds a rap sequence to "Be Our Guest." 

No. Just, no.

Unlike Descendants, very little is painful about this week's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle. There are even a few things Anthony and I like:
  • Is Star Wars coming to Netflix? All the signs point to yes. We're hearing as many as three new series from Lucasfilm could be in development for the online entertainment service.
  • Rumors abound about who will make up the supporting cast of Marvel's Spider-Man movie in 2017. It could just be wishful thinking, but we'll play along for now. Robert Downey, Jr. returning as Tony Stark, Hugh Laurie as J. Jonah Jameson, Forest Whitaker as Robbie Robertson, Billy Zane as the Vulture, Jason Biggs as Scorpion, Miranda Cosgrove as Betty Brant. We're on board for all of them if the rumors are true.
  • Josh Gad has wrapped up shooting on Disney's live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. He's playing LeFou, sidekick to Luke Evans' Gaston. We're going to miss Gad's social media dispatches from the set. 
  • What's the deal with Bob the Musical and why are so many big names attached to the project? The Hollywood Reporter says Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) is working on the script for Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist). Meanwhile, Oscar-winning songwriter Bret McKenzie ("Man or Muppet") will pen the songs for the film about a man who can hear the inner music in everyone's heart. Oh, and did we mention Tom Cruise might star in it too?
The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki.
  • Animation fans, especially fans of the great Hayao Miyazaki, are going to love the new Blu-ray box set from Disney and Studio Ghibli. The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki will include all 11 of the master's animated classics including Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and The Wind Rises. It will be available only on and will be released on November 17th.
  • In 1966, Walt Disney donated the Midget Autopia attraction at Disneyland to his boyhood home of Marceline, MO, the only time a Disney attraction was ever moved to a non-Disney location. The Midget Autopia stopped operating in the late 1970s, but now the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fully restore the cars and track. You can help by visiting
  • Going to the D23 Expo this month? Download the app that will help you navigate the crowds and presentations at the epic Disney fan event. Get it for free now on Apple iOS and Android.
  • We don't know a lot about what will replace Luigi's Flying Tires at Disney California Adventure, but now we have a name for it: Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters.