Monday, April 22, 2013
Don’t You Get Board Going So Often?
We are frequently asked why we go so often to Disneyland. The next question is, “Don’t you get board?” Simple and quick answer is NO!
So now for the more difficult answer to the question. So how do we keep from getting board? We make a choice not to be board. Each time we go we have a plan. We don’t do every ride all the time. We also often theme our trips. We work hard to have the right attitude when going and choose to suspend disbelief so we can “fly” with Peter Pan and “swim” with Nemo. Some days are photo trips. We will look for particular shots for themed Facebook Pages, in particular for Walt’s Basement. Other days we choose to do shows and parades. Sometimes it is a shopping day. Often we don’t even ride a single ride, we just people watch. Whatever the plan for the day we try give ourselves time to just relax and enjoy being together in a fun place.
We will talk the day or so before picking our experience. We will talk about what rides or shows we want to ride and see. We will talk about any items we need to purchase at the park. We often purchase gifts at the park.
When we ride a ride such as Pirates of the Caribbean we watch for things that change. Often an animatronic Pirate or animal will be missing. The Pirate might be getting his annual bath or the animal getting a meal. ;-) Sometimes the 3rd shift will have fun and put Mickey Ears on one of the Pirates. It is a fun challenge looking for what is changed.
Another thing we sometimes to is listen to the other guests around us. If there is a family around that are first time visitors we may play tour guide for a time. It is fun to see the park through the eyes of a first time visitor again.
My husband has memory problems caused by an electrical accident. For him it is an art form to choose to not remember every corner of the ride. He chooses to look at the ride as if he had never ridden it before.
Don’t be afraid to have a favorite ride and do it as often as you wish. Don’t be afraid to go and research the history and facts on the ride. Stop and talk to the Cast Members.
So do we get board? Not often.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Is It Safe to Travel?
With all it’s going on in Boston Massachusetts right now you may be rethinking travel plans. Once again I’m going to state I believe that we should not give in to the terrorists! As long as we pay attention to what is going on around us we can be as safe as possible matter where we are.
Let me say again what I’ve said before. A terrorist goal was to cause terror so don’t let them win! Go about your life as you normally would. Go to the market, go to school, go to work and go have fun!
In the coming days security at Disney Parks will most likely be more stringent. Thank God it should be! So what should you do to alleviate concerns and feel safer going to a place like a Disney Park? Here are my suggestions:
· Cooperate with security restrictions
Don’t attempt to bring in items you know are restricted
· Be aware of what is going on around you
Report if somebody is acting suspicious
Report bags that are left unattended
Report anything that seems out of place
· Follow instructions if something happens
· Do not panic
Don’t use the horrible bombings and events that followed in Boston stop you from living and loving life. Do not allow this to spur hatred in your heart. Be angry at the people that did the damage but do not use it as an excuse to harbor hatred towards any specific group of people.
In my humble opinion the trip to Disney or any of your favorite fun places is the best response to the situation. Disney can remind us to laugh and in doing so we can heal. As you walk through a Disney Park many of the rides and shows come from other cultures and lands. When you stopped to watch them they can remind you that each culture has a rich history with good things to learn from it. No matter where you look in a Disney Park you will see people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds laughing and enjoying things together. What better way to remind yourself and more importantly your children that love and laughter is the answer not hatred.
If we respond with love and laughter the terrorists lose! What if instead of causing terror and suspicion they brought us together! Instead of showing our weakness we show our strength. Those that did this, whether done for religious, political or personal reasons are warped and damaged people. No matter what their faith, politics or reason if we stand together we will do nothing but frustrate them and show them they cannot win.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Update on Boy that Drowned on Disney Fantasy
About three weeks ago I told you about a little boy drowning on the Disney Fantasy before they even left port. In the past few days I found this little guy has a Facebook page and his family is doing their best to keep people updated on his condition. The little boy’s name is Chase Lykken, I will put a link to his Facebook page at the bottom of this post.
This is what I want to share. From what I found out before, Chase’s parents either left him for a moment near the Fantasy’s pools or he got away from them. He jumped into the Donald Family pool where another child jumped in and landed on him causing injury and drowning.
Chase was pulled out of the pool quickly and CPR performed but due to the injuries it took a while to get his heart going and him breathing again. At this time, from what I can understand from the Facebook posts Chase is mostly unresponsive. He does open his eyes some but is suffering neuro-storms. He may be moving some on command but not much.
In other words there is major neurological damage. I felt it was important to share what update I could find and to remind all parents to watch their children closely, especially around pools as summer approaches. Remember there is no substitute for an attentive parent.
If you go visit Chase’s Facebook page be positive and supportive. This family has been through a lot and needs all the support they can get. They are not blaming anybody and do not need to be chastised for this horrible accident. They need all the prayer and moral support you can give.
If you feel you should or can assist them financially here is a link to a donation site set up to help cover the cost of his medical care. It is going to be a long road to recovery for this little guy.
Fund raising through YouCaring.com
Chase’s Facebook page
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Storybook Land Canal Boats
Storybook Land Canal Boats is one of the rides many people save for the little kids. It is an often overlooked treasure of the park. Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland is one of the special places that people often get engaged on. In fact if you tell the Cast Member at the entrance your plan to purpose they will give you a privet boat and stop beneath Cinderella’s Castle or wherever your favorite character may be in the ride for you to pop the question. At the end of the ride they will ring a bell and call out “Here ye here ye, this couple just got engaged!”
Storybook Land Canal Boats is an attraction located at the Disneyland and Disneyland Park (Paris) theme parks. Passengers embark on a leisurely-paced outdoor boat ride through a winding canal featuring settings from Disney animated films recreated in miniature. The Disneyland version was one of the original attractions when the park opened on July 17, 1955, although the miniature buildings and landscaping were not added until the following year. The version in Disneyland Park, Disneyland Paris, is named Le Pays des Contes de Fées and opened in the spring of 1994.
The ride's concept dates back to Walt Disney's plans for a "magical little park" across the street from his Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. This modestly scaled, never-built amusement park was to include a gravity flow canal boat ride among its attractions.
When plans for the much grander Disneyland were being made, there was to be a "Lilliputianland", inspired by Madurodam, a miniature city in the Netherlands that Disney once visited. However, the technology did not yet exist for creating the miniature animated figures that were to inhabit the "Lilliputian" village, so the canal ride opened under the name Canal Boats of the World. It was intended to be a journey past miniature recreations of the great landmarks of the world, but time and money prevented its completion. The ride was plagued by other problems. The outboard motors were prone to overheating, often forcing the boats to be pulled by hand, and because the attraction opened with little landscaping, it earned the nickname among park executives as "The Mud Bank Ride".
After two months of operation, the Canal Boats closed while Storybook Land was constructed and the muddy banks were landscaped with miniature plants, including a bonsai tree planted by Walt Disney himself. The idea of having Monstro the whale consume the canal boats came from a never-implemented concept for a "Monstro the Whale" ride, in which small boats were to be swallowed by Monstro and then plunged down a watery path into a pond below.
The attraction reopened on June 16, 1956, under the new name Storybook Land Canal Boats. Over the years several scenes have been added to and removed from the attraction. Most notably, the Sultan’s Palace from Aladdin appeared where the miniature Toad Hall had previously stood for a major refurbishment done in 1994. However, Toad Hall returned the following year in another location.
For the 50th anniversary of Disneyland in 2005, the Tinker Bell boat was painted gold and the lighthouse given a gold and maroon theme.
Passengers enter the attraction through a chain queue that winds in front of the loading dock past. A lighthouse at the queue's entrance was once a ticket booth from when Disneyland required tickets for riding individual attractions. Storybook Land canal boats originally required a "D" coupon.
The motor-driven boats are scaled-down replicas of Dutch, English, and French boats. All of the boats are named after female Disney characters except for Flower, the male skunk from Bambi. Passengers are seated along the edges of the boat, facing inward, although children are sometimes permitted to ride on the front flat part of the boat. A costumed guide sits just above the passengers on the back of the boat, perched above the engine housing, and narrates the ride.
After departing from the dock, the boat passes through a short cave sculpted to look like Monstro, the whale that swallowed Pinocchio. Monstro is partially animated: his eye opens and closes, and periodically steam comes out of his blow hole.
The canals past the Monstro cave are landscaped with miniature trees and shrubs. Along the banks are small buildings representing the homes of characters from Disney animated films, although not all the locations were actually depicted in film. Many of these settings feature sound recordings of characters singing or working.
The miniature settings include:
· Pinocchio's cobblestone village with Geppetto's wood shop
· Toad Hall from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
· The Sultan's palace from Aladdin
· London Park from Peter Pan
· The village from Cinderella, featuring a gold-spired castle
· The dwarfs' cottage and mine from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
· An English village, with a church and the entrance to the White Rabbit's hole, from Alice in Wonderland
· The pigs' homes from The Three Little Pigs
· King Triton's underwater castle, partially hidden behind a waterfall, from The Little Mermaid
· Prince Eric's seaside castle from The Little Mermaid
· The Cave of Wonders from "Aladdin"
The boat then returns the passengers to the loading dock from which they boarded.
Because its entrance is located along the parks' parade route, the attraction closes approximately sixty minutes before any parades and reopens after the parade has passed. During all fireworks displays, the boats stop on the canal until the show ends.
Unlike the original in California, a guide does not accompany the riders. The boats here are guided by an underwater wire rather than being propelled by an on-board motor. Passengers enter their boats via a slowly revolving platform. The whole transport system was developed by Intamin (as a Tow boat ride). The Cave of Wonders from Aladdin midway through the voyage replaces the Disneyland version's Monstro cave. The boats also float past these settings, accompanied by music from the respective film and minimal dialogue:
· The dwarfs' mine and house from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
· The gingerbread house of Babes in the Woods
· Rapunzel's high tower with a braid coming out of it, from Tangled
· Prince Eric's seaside castle from The Little Mermaid
· The Greek temple and Mount Olympus from Fantasia
· Snow-covered landscapes from Peter and the Wolf
· The "Night on Bald Mountain" scene from Fantasia
· The Cave of Wonders from Aladdin, which swallows the boats
· A scene from The Sword in the Stone
· Belle's village and the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast
· The Emerald City and the Witch's Castle from The Wizard of Oz
The canal contains 465,000 gallons of water, which flows via underground pipes to the moat around Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Jungle Cruise and to the Rivers of America, where it is pumped back to Storybook Land.
The attraction's 13 boats are powered by outboard motors. When not in use, they are stored in a boathouse hidden behind the waterfall containing Triton's Castle.
The houses in Storybook Land are fitted with six-inch doors and quarter-inch hinges that open and close, so the Disneyland electricians can change the lightbulbs.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Goodbye Main Street Market House ~ Hello Starbucks
Disneyland’s Main Street Market House has closed its doors for the last time. When the doors to the building reopened it will be a Starbucks Coffee Shop. This is a sad day for fans of the Main Street Market House. Gone are the days of free coffee refills.
As we all know Disneyland is always changing. There is a lot of discussion and differing opinions about Starbucks coming to Disney Parks. Many people think it will break the theme or feel of the parks. Many just don’t do well with change and want things to remain as they are forever. Many are excited to be able to get their favorite coffee concoction while in the parks.
As far as the theming of the Starbucks coming to Main Street I believe it will be done well and stay in the same theme as the rest of main Street. Disney and Starbucks did well with the theming of the Fiddler, Fife and Practical coffee shop in Disney’s California Adventure. The FFP coffee shop is a treat to the eyes as well as the taste buds. I expect the same on Main Street.
I am one of the people that is not too happy with change. But, I understand changes must be made to keep the Park growing and enjoyable for the future generations. There are things in the Main Street Market House that I hope to not get lost. There is always been a checkerboard game set up that anybody could stop to play next to a potbelly stove. I hope that chessboard is not removed because it is a look back into a slower paced time in American life. I hope that the Party Line Phones that are place in the Main Straight Market House are not removed.
Starbucks is one of the most popular coffeehouses around. It will be nice for those that like their Starbucks to be able to get their favorite concoction while enjoying the Park.
For now we will just have to wait for the remodel to be done to see how this all works out.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Traveling in Troubled Times
While we need to honor, respect and remember those killed and injured in the bombings at the Boston Marathon and a potentially related explosion at the JFK Library we must not allow it to stop us from living our lives.
We must remember “terrorists” have only one goal and that is to create “terror”. The way to foil them at their own game is to refuse to be terrorized! Do not give in!
Be aware of things around you. Is there an unattended package, bag, backpack or purse? Don’t just leave it lay, report it! Do not touch it, do not approach it just notified security or police.
For those of us who enjoy going to Disney Parks, keep going! Terrorists would love nothing more than to have us cower in our homes in fear. Instead run out go to a Park and enjoy! Be aware Disney will do the wise thing and up their security. If you are planning on going to a Disney Park any time soon be prepared for more stringent bag checks and more security in the parks. This is a reasonable and realistic reaction to the situation.
It would be wise to discuss with your party what to do in the case of a disastrous situation such as what happened at the Boston Marathon. Have two meeting places. Make sure everybody knows where to go if you get separated. If you have young children you do not need to make them afraid and described the possible but not probable situation of a bomb or other terrorist act in a Park. Instead just tell them if anything happens that separate you meet at . . . You could suggest guest relations, the flagpole or any central location. Have a secondary location in mind just in case you can no longer go to the first location.
Teach your children what cast member ID badges look like. Tell them they can always go to a cast member for assistance if they are separated from you. Point out in particular what the security guards look like. Encourage your children to say hi and ask questions of the cast member so that they are comfortable walking up to them.
This is not only for Disney Parks but for anywhere you go. Whether it be a movie theater, the mall, local city park or sports arena, be aware of what is going on around you. Is somebody leaving a bag somewhere it should not be left unattended? Is somebody acting suspiciously? If so keep your eye on them and reported it’s appropriate.
Our safety is our responsibility. I’m speaking of us corporately. You are your brother’s keeper. You want to make sure they stay safe because if they do you will. If you watch out for them they will watch out for you. If we all work together we can make this a safe place to live
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Disneyland Forced to Close 3 Rides
Cal OSHA told Disneyland to close Resort Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Soarin’ Over California for safety violations. These safety violations have nothing to do with guest safety. These are all safety violations having to do with the maintenance of the outside façade of the buildings for these rides.
November 20, 2012 a worker cleaning the outside of the Space Mountain fell and was badly injured. According to documents Cal OSHA informed Disneyland of violations in regards to safety protocol and equipment used when cleaning that attraction. Disneyland was given time to appeal the decision and or make ordered changes.
I do believe that Disney Parks are the safest of any amusement park you can be in. I also believe they do their best to maintain a safe work environment. But, the nature of the attractions in the parks does bring a certain level of risk to both guest and worker. As a guest I accept a certain level of risk. If I were to work at a Disney Park, especially maintenance I would expect a higher level of risk. It is incumbent upon both guest and employee to follow existing safety protocols/rules.
Cal OSHA is known for wanting to keep everybody in padded rooms so no one gets hurt. I honestly believe they would ban paper or require warnings to protect people from paper cuts if they could. Many of their policies are overreaching and greatly overreacting to incidences. I know in the past Cal OSHA, in my humble opinion overreacted and requiring wailing on wide easily walked tracks that are not very high on the Alice in Wonderland ride.
Cal OSHA is notorious for requiring redundant safety systems such as portable fire extinguishers when there is a fire sprinkler system in the facility. Once Cal OSHA shows up is almost impossible to get them to leave.
If Disney did not provide proper safety gear, guidelines and training for those maintaining the outside of the bride buildings (Space Mountain, Matterhorn Mountain and Soarin’ Over California) they should be penalized. It appears that in the case of Space Mountain it was an outside company hired to clean the building that employed the worker that fell. It was not a Disney Cast Member cleaning the outside of Space Mountain. So the question is who is responsible to make sure the worker follows proper safety rules and uses adequate safety gear?
Here is a link to the DOSH document in regards to the alleged safety violations.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Disney Cruise Future Dreaming
Okay there’s been a lot of rumors out on the internet about future plans for the Disney Cruise Line. At this time there are no confirmations from the Disney Cruise Line as to what future plans are. Rumors run the gambit from major refurbishment of the Magic and Wonder to the addition of two ships to the Disney fleet. Some rumors even state the possibility of the Disney Magic being retired (the Magic is about 15 years old).
With all the possibilities being tossed around and knowing an announcement is coming April 24th I thought I’d toss my two cents out. No, I don’t know what the Disney Cruise Line is up to. I’m just stating what I’d like to see at what I think would be good for both the cruise line and guests.
I would love to see two new ships in the Disney fleet. If that happens here are some fun ideas for itineraries that I have.
Island hop Hawaii. This could also include two week cruises from Los Angeles to Hawaii with stays at Disney’s Aluani resort.
United States Pacific Coast cruises. Leaving from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco stop at one of the other California major tourist ports listed above and then cruise on into Oregon or Washington State with a stop in Canada. Travel to Mexico is no longer that attractive to many people due to the drug cartels. The Wonder could also spend part of the year going to Alaska. I’ll be honest, I’d like to see them head to Alaska from a US West Coast port.
Dream and Fantasy:
Leave them where they are! Maybe alter the itinerary some as to where they stop but continue to keep them at Port Canaveral.
New Ship One:
For at least part of the year run out of New York doing cruises to Canada, Bahamas and the Caribbean. Continue stops Port Canaveral with a day at WDW.
New Ship Two:
For at least part of the year go out of Galveston Texas as the Magic has been.
Any of the ships to be taken for a few months out of the year to Europe for cruises in the Mediterranean.
Having been on the Disney Wonder just two years ago I can tell you the older ships do need some downtime. The ships are still beautiful and well maintained but some of the fine detail is beginning to show its age. That is to be expected after this many years in harsh seawater and whether. I believe it is time for both the Magic and the Wonder to get some tender loving care. I do not believe that either one of the ships has reached the end of its life. I do believe that Disney will not behave like other cruise lines (that shall remain nameless and that I’ll never sail on) and use the ships beyond their useful life. A well-maintained cruise ship is designed to survive 30 years at sea with proper maintenance. The older ship in the Disney fleet, the Magic is 15 years old so she still has more good years ahead.
Some of the fun things I’d like to see added to the Magic and Wonder when they go down for refurbishment is the addition of some of the fun things they have on the newer ships, Dream and Fantasy. I’d love to see the interactive art and the multiple popcorn songs. Updating Animators Palette is also a good idea.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Disney’s Castaway Cay
Disney’s Castaway Cay is their private island for guests of the Disney Cruise Line. A stop at Castaway Cay is an enjoyable day “stranded” in a tropical paradise. It is located off of Freeport, Bahamas.
Castaway Cay was not always filled with Disney Magic. Back in the 1770s it is said that Gorda Cay (now Castaway Cay) was a pirate haven. In the early 1990s the gentleman, a real estate developer that owned this small beautiful island for years decided he had to sell. He had found that drug runners had taken over his island. They were using the airstrip he had built on the island for his personal use to bring in drugs to the United States.
In the late 1990s Disney went looking for an island and they came across the beautiful 1000 acre Gorda Cay. With the help of Bahamian and US law enforcement Disney booted out the drug running pirates and renamed the island Castaway Cay. You can still see the remains of the airstrip and in fact you use it as part of the trail to head to the adult Serenity Bay area of Castaway Cay.
Disney has not developed much of the island, approximately 85% of the island remains in a wild state. Guests are not allowed into the undeveloped area.
Approximately 100 Disney Castaway Cast Members lived full-time on the island. These brave souls sign up for a six-month stay on the island. They maintain the equipment, clean the facilities, train stingrays and repair storm damage.
Castaway Cay was hit by both hurricanes Francine and Janine in 2004. They have been hit by many hurricanes before and since this time. Francine and Janine took out the majority of the amenities of Castaway Cay. Yet within two months over 90% of the repairs were done. For the safety of the Castaway Cast Members Disney has built a hurricane bunker. Those living on the island can find shelter there.
There are at least two Castaway Cats! Nobody knows exactly how these fastidious felines decided to join the House of Mouse. Everybody is fairly sure that the cats did not come in on one of the Disney Cruise Ships. (Disney cruise ships are the only cruise ships to stop there.) It is possible that the cats came in on one of the local Bahamian supply ships. One of the cats is black and appears to be missing part of one of its ears. This beauty seems to have picked up the name of Casey (I saw one report saying his name is Stitch) from its adoring fans and even has its own Facebook page. Many stories tell of Casey walking up to guests to get his ears scratched and he’ll often settle down next to guests as they sit on the beach. The second cat is a red tabby. Casey’s buddy is not as friendly and tends to stay as far away from people as he can. I know I’ll be looking for both of theses ‘s cats when I go on my next cruise!
You may wonder why the Disney cruise ships always leave Castaway Cay long before sunset. The reason is simple, sand fleas. These vicious little bugs come out after sunset. By having guests off the beach long before this the guests are saved any discomfort and inconvenience.
Castaway Cat Facebook Page:
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Alternative Way to Get Items to Your Disney Cruise Ship
So you’ve joined a Fish Extender Group, good for you! Now you have to figure out how to get your Fish Extender goodies to the ship! Don’t worry Disney is there to help you.
You can mail ahead of box that will be delivered to your stateroom when you arrive! There are some very simple rules about what you can send ahead. Here are the rules in a nutshell.
What you cannot pack in the box:
· food products (all and any food products)
· baby food/formula (unless shipped through Babies Travel Lite)
· beverages (liquor, water, etc.)
· any item prohibited from being brought aboard by other policies
All boxes will be inspected by Custom Officials. They will walk their dogs to the warehouse and if their dogs alert to anything in your box your box will be open. If the dog alerts to food, weapons or chemicals your box will be inspected in your items confiscated.
Your box must arrive by the following timeframe:
· Sailing on Saturday or Sunday the package must arrive by 3 PM the Friday before you sail.
· Sailing on a weekday the package must arrive by 3 PM the day before the cruise. For example, if you’re leaving on Thursday the box must be there by 3 PM Wednesday.
The following information must be on the box be delivered.
*State room Number
*Packing slip that details the contents of the package. (For prescriptions, a copy of the prescription is sufficient.)
The address to ship when sailing from Port Canaveral is:
Disney Cruise Line Warehouse
8633 Transport Drive
Orlando, FL 32832
Phone: 407 566–8196
Fax: 407 566–3505
Because other ports such as the Port of Miami, Galveston, New York, Los Angeles and others are temporary ports I’m not going to list the addresses for them. You can contact the Disney Cruise Line for that information.
You can contact them at:
or by phone
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Now Its Time to Say Goodbye
I remember watching the Mickey Mouse Club when I was a little girl. I remember each of the Mouseketeers coming out and calling out their names for roll call. Annette was always the one that made me smile. Like many boys and girls of the late 1950s and 60s watching the original Mouseketeers original airings and then (those like me) watching the reruns they all became like friend/family. Annette’s smile made her stand out. As I grew Annette was head of me showing how to be positive and wholesome. She set a standard for generations of children.
When I heard Annette was diagnosed with MS I was saddened as many fans were. I have been in awe of her strength of character and determination to stay positive. She reached out and encouraged people to think of others less fortunate and help them. She did it not to find pity for herself but to help many others besides herself. She shined a light on the horrible illness that evidentially took her from her family, friends and fans way too soon.
If you wish to honor her memory go to her site and see how you can donate to help find a cure for neurological disorders. Click the link below:
Annette Joanne Funicello (October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013) was an American actress and singer. Beginning her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve, Funicello rose to prominence as one of the most popular "Mouseketeers" on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she transitioned to a successful career as a singer with the pop singles "O Dio Mio," "Tall Paul" and "Pineapple Princess", as well as establishing herself as a film actress, popularizing the successful "Beach Party" genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s.
In 1992, Funicello announced that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died from complications of the disease on April 8, 2013
Annette Joanne Funicello was born in Utica, New York, to Italian Americans Virginia Jeanne (née Albano) and Joseph Funicello. Her family moved to Southern California when she was four years old.
The Mickey Mouse Club
Annette took dancing and music lessons as a child to overcome shyness. In 1955, the 12-year-old was discovered by Walt Disney when she performed as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at a dance recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. Disney cast her as one of the original "Mouseketeers". She was the last to be selected, and one of the few cast-members to be personally selected by Walt Disney himself. She proved to be very popular and by the end of the first season of Mickey Mouse Club, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month, according to her Disney Legends biography.
In addition to appearing in many Mouseketeer sketches and dance routines, Funicello starred in several serials on The Mickey Mouse Club. These included Adventure in Dairyland, Walt Disney Presents: Annette (which co-starred Richard Deacon), and the second and third Spin and Marty serials – The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty.
A proposed live-action feature Rainbow Road to Oz was to have starred some of the Mouseketeers, including Darlene Gillespie as Dorothy and Funicello as Ozma. Preview segments from the film aired on September 11, 1957 on Disneyland's fourth anniversary show. By then, MGM's The Wizard of Oz had already been shown on CBS Television for the first time. Theories on why the film was abandoned include Disney's failure to develop a satisfactory script, and the popularity of the MGM film on television. Disney ultimately replaced this film project with a new adaptation of Babes in Toyland (1961).
In a hayride scene in the Annette serial, she performed the song that launched her singing career. The studio received so much mail about "How Will I Know My Love" (lyrics by Tom Adair, music by Frances Jeffords and William Walsh), that Walt Disney issued it as a single, and gave Funicello (somewhat unwillingly) a recording contract.
Singing and acting
After the Mickey Mouse Club, she remained under contract with Disney for a time, with television roles in Zorro, Elfego Baca, and The Horsemasters. For Zorro she played Anita Campillo in a three-episode storyline about a teen-aged girl who arrives in Los Angeles to visit a father who does not seem to exist. This role was reportedly a birthday present from Walt Disney, and the first of two different characters played opposite Guy Williams as Zorro. Annette also co-starred in Disney-produced movies such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey's Uncle.
Although uncomfortable being thought of as a singer, Funicello had a number of pop record hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers and including: "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," "O Dio Mio," "Train of Love" (written by Paul Anka) and "Pineapple Princess." They were released by Disney's Buena Vista label. Annette also recorded "It's Really Love" in 1959, a reworking of an earlier Paul Anka song called "Toot Sweet"; Anka reworked the song for a third time in 1962 as "Johnny's Theme" and it opened The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on television for the next three decades. Paul Anka was noted to have a crush on her, however, Walt Disney overprotected Annette, which broke Paul's heart. This resulted in his song "Puppy Love", which was inspired by his hopeless romantic crush on Annette.
In an episode of the Disney anthology television series titled "Disneyland After Dark," Funicello can be seen singing live at Disneyland. Walt Disney was reportedly a fan of 1950s pop star Teresa Brewer and tried to pattern Funicello's singing in the same style. However, Funicello credits "the Annette sound" to her record producer, Tutti Camarata, who worked for Disney in that era. Camarata had her double-track her vocals, matching her first track as closely as possible on the second recording to achieve a fuller sound than her voice would otherwise produce. Early in her career, she appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood.
Beach icon and spokeswoman
Funicello moved on from Disney to become a teen idol, starring in a series of "Beach Party" movies with Frankie Avalon for American International Pictures. These included Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Pajama Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). The wholesome image earned in these films gained her a reference in the Grease song "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee."
When she was cast in her first beach movie, Walt Disney requested that she only wear modest bathing suits and keep her navel covered. However, she wore a pink two-piece in Beach Party, a white two-piece fishnet suit in the second film (Muscle Beach Party) and a blue and white bikini in the third (Bikini Beach). All three swimsuits bared her navel, particularly in Bikini Beach, where it is visible extensively during close up shots in a sequence early in the film when she meets Frankie Avalon's "Potato Bug" character outside his tent.
She and Avalon became iconic as "beach picture" stars and were re-united in 1987 for the Paramount film Back to the Beach, parodying their own surf-and-sand films two decades earlier. They toured the country as a singing act.
In 1979 Funicello began starring in a series of television commercials for Skippy peanut butter.
Her autobiography, dictated to Patricia Romanowski and published in 1994, was A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story. The title was taken from a song from the Disney movie Cinderella. A made-for-TV movie based on the book, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, was made in 1995. In the final scene, the actress portraying Funicello (Eva LaRue), using a wheelchair, turns away from the camera — turning back, it is Funicello herself, who delivered a message to a group of children. During this period, she produced a line of teddy bears for the Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company. The last collection in the series was made in 2004. She also had her own fragrance called "Cello, by Annette".
On her 50th birthday in 1992, she was inducted as a Disney Legend.
Funicello's best friend was actress and singer Shelley Fabares. She and Fabares had been friends since they were young teenagers in a catechism class, and Fabares was a bridesmaid at Funicello's first wedding. She was also very close to fellow Mouseketeers Lonnie Burr (she later claimed in an autobiography that he was her first boyfriend during the first season of the Mickey Mouse Club), Sharon Baird, Doreen Tracey, Cheryl Holdridge, her "Disney" co-star, Tommy Kirk, and her "Beach" movies co-star, Frankie Avalon.
Marriages and children
Funicello was married to her first husband, jack Gilardi, from 1965 until 1981. They had three children: Gina (b. 1966), Jack, Jr. (b. 1970), and Jason (b. 1974). In 1986, she married California harness racing horse breeder/trainer Glen Hold. The couple were frequently seen at Los Alamitos Race Course and Fairplex in Pomona in the 1980s and 1990s attending harness horse races.
In March 2011, her Encino, California home caught fire. She suffered smoke inhalation, but was otherwise unharmed.
After the fire, Funicello and Holt then began living full time at the modest ranch that they purchased decades earlier, located just south of Shafter, California (north of Bakersfield). That remained her primary residence until her death.
In 1987, Funicello reunited with Frankie Avalon for a series of promotional concerts to promote their film Back to the Beach. She began to suffer from dizzy spells, but kept her failing health from her friends and family. In 1992, Funicello announced that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. She had kept her condition a secret for many years, but felt it necessary to go public to combat rumors that her impaired ability to walk was the result of alcoholism. In 1993, she opened the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation.
On October 6, 2012, the CTV flagship current affairs program W5 profiled Funicello as an update on her after she had spent fifteen years out of the public eye. The profile revealed that her disease had severely damaged her nervous system; Funicello had lost the ability to walk in 2004, the ability to speak in 2009, and, at the time of the profile, required round-the-clock care to survive. In the profile, Holt and Fabares discussed Funicello's current state, as well as the numerous medical interventions and treatments attempted to improve her condition.
On April 8, 2013, Funicello died at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, California, at the age of 70, from complications due to her multiple sclerosis. Commenting on her death, Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said,
Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney's brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.
Click the link below to go to the Disney D23 tribute page for Annette:
Numbers in parentheses indicated peak position in Billboard charts.
· Annette – Vista BV-3301 (1959)
· Annette Sings Anka (#21) – Vista BV-3302 (1960)
· Hawaiiannette (#38) – Vista BV-3303 (1960)
· Italiannette – Vista BV-3304 (1960)
· Dance Annette – Vista BV-3305 (1961)
· The Story of My Teens – Vista BV-3312 (1962)
· Annette's Beach Party (#39) – Vista BV-3316 (Mono)/STER-3316 (Stereo) (July 1963)
· Muscle Beach Party – Vista BV-3314/STER-3314 (April 1964)
· Annette On Campus – Vista BV-3320/STER-3320 (1964)
· Annette At Bikini Beach – Vista BV-3324/STER-3324 – (September 1964)
· Pajama Party – Vista BV-3325/STER-3325 (November 1964)
· Something Borrowed Something Blue – Vista BV-3328/STER-3328 (1964)
· Annette Sings Golden Surfin' Hits – Vista BV-3327/STER-3327 (July 1965)
· Annette Funicello – Vista BV-4037 (1972)
· Annette Funicello Country Album – Starview 4001 (1984)
· Best of Annette – Rhino RNDF-206 (1984) (also released as a picture disk on Rhino RNLP-702)
· Annette: A Musical Reunion with America's Girl-Next-Door – Vista 60010 (1993)
· A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Time/Warner 520564 (April 16, 1995)
· The Best of Annette – Vista (August 14, 1991)
· "How Will I Know My Love"/"Don't Jump To Conclusions" – Disneyland 102 (1958)
· "That Crazy Place In Outer Space"/"Gold Doubloons and Pieces of Eight" – Disneyland 114 (1958)
· "Tall Paul" (#7)/"Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me" – Disneyland 118 (1959)
· "Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy" (#73)/"Lonely Guitar" – Vista 336 (1959) (later pressings feature "Love Me Forever" as the B-side)
· "Lonely Guitar" (#50)/"Wild Willie" – Vista 339 (1959)
· "Especially For You"/"My Heart Became Of Age" – Vista 344 (1959)
· "First Name Initial" (#20)/"My Heart Became of Age" (#74) – Vista 349 (1959)
· "O Dio Mio" (#10)/"It Took Dreams" – Vista 354 (1960)
· "Train of Love" (#36)/"Tell Me Who's The Girl" – Vista 359 (1960)
· "Pineapple Princess" (#11)/"Luau Cha Cha Cha" – Vista 362 (1960)
· "Talk to Me Baby" (#92)/"I Love You Baby" – Vista 369 (1960)
· "Dream Boy" (#87)/"Please, Please Signore" – Vista 374 (1961)
· "Indian Giver"/"Mama, Mama Rosa (Where's The Spumoni)" – Vista 375 (1961)
· "Hawaiian Love Talk"/"Blue Muu Muu" (#107) – Vista 384 (1961)
· "Dreamin' About You" (#106)/"Strummin' Song" – Vista 388 (1961)
· "That Crazy Place From Outer Space"/"Seven Moons (Of Batalyre) (By Danny Saval & Tom Tyron) – Vista 392 (1962)
· "The Truth About Youth"/"I Can't Do The Sum" – Vista 394 (1962)
· "My Little Grass Shack"/"Hukilau" – Vista 400 (1962)
· "He's My Ideal"/"Mr. Piano Man" – Vista 405 (1962)
· "Bella Bella Florence"/"Canzone d'Amoure" – Vista 407 (1962)
· "Teenage Wedding"/"Walkin' and Talkin'" – Vista 414 (1962)
· "Treat Him Nicely"/"Promise Me Anything" (#123) – Vista 427 (1963)
· "Merlin Jones"/"The Scrambled Egghead" – Vista 431 (1964)
Duets with Tommy Kirk
· "Custom City"/"Rebel Rider" – Vista 432 (1964)
· "Muscle Beach Party"/"I Dream About Frankie" – Vista 433 (1964)
· "Bikini Beach Party"/"The Clyde" – Vista 436 (1964)
· "The Wah-Watusi"/"The Clyde" – Vista 437 (1964)
· "Something Borrowed, Something Blue"/"How Will I Know My Love" – Vista 438 (1965) (B-side is a new version of Annette's first recording)
· "The Monkey's Uncle"/"How Will I Know My Love" – Vista 440 (1965) (A-side features Annette with The Beach Boys)
· "Boy To Love"/"No One Else Could Be Prouder" – Vista 442 (1965)
· "No Way To Go But Up"/"Crystal Ball" – Vista 450 (1966)
· "What's A Girl To Do"/"When You Get What You Want" – Tower 326 (1967) (Annette's name is misspelled on both sides as "Annettte")
· "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes"/"Merlin Jones" – Vista 475 (1970)
· "(Together We Can Make A) Merry Christmas"/"The Night Before Christmas" – Pacific Star 569 (1981)
Duets with Frankie Avalon
· "The Promised Land"/"In Between and Out Of Love" – Starview 3001 (1983)
· The Shaggy Dog (1959)
· Babes in Toyland (1961)
· Elfego Baca: Six Gun Law (1962) (compilation of episodes from Wonderful World of Color serial)
· The Horsemasters (1962) (compilation of episodes from Wonderful World of Color serial)
· Beach Party (1963)
· The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)
· Muscle Beach Party (1964)
· Bikini Beach (1964)
· Pajama Party (1964)
· Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
· The Monkey's Uncle (1965)
· Ski Party (1965) (Cameo)
· How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)
· Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) (Cameo)
· Fireball 500 (1966)
· Thunder Alley (1967)
· Head (1968)
· Back to the Beach (1987)
· Troop Beverly Hills (1989) (Cameo)
· Mickey Mouse Club (1955–1959)
· Zorro (1959; 1961)
· The Danny Thomas Show (cast member in 1959)
· The Horsemasters (1961)
· Escapade in Florence (1962)
· Wagon Train episode "The Sam Pulaski Story" (1963)
· "Rosetta", The Greatest Show on Earth (1964)
· Easy Does It... Starring Frankie Avalon (1976) (Four-week summer variety series)
· Love, American Style segment "Love and the Tuba" (with Frankie Avalon, 1973)
· Frankie and Annette: The Second Time Around (1978) (unsold pilot)
· "Ghostbreaker" episode Fantasy Island (1978)
· The Mouseketeer Reunion (November 23, 1980)
· Lots of Luck (1985; made-for-TV movie)
· Growing Pains episode "The Seavers and the Cleavers" (guest star, 1985)
· Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (guest star, 1988)
· Full House episode "Joey Goes Hollywood" (guest star with Frankie Avalon, March 29, 1991)
· A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (1995; made-for-TV movie)
· The Mickey Mouse Club Story (1995; documentary)
· Funicello, Annette and Patricia Romanowski. A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story 1994, ISBN 0-7868-8092-9
· The Annette Mysteries: Includes The Desert Inn Mystery, The Mystery at Moonstone Bay, The Mystery at Smugglers' Cove, and Sierra Summer