Thursday, March 27, 2014

Terri Hardin Puppeteer & Imagineer

Terri Hardin Puppeteer and Imagineer

Terri Hardin fell in love with art and drama as a young child. She was active in her school dramas. When she saw Master Puppeteer, Shari Lewis perform she was inspired to create her own version of Lewis’ iconic Lamp Chop.

Hardin’s skill as a puppeteer opened doors for her in Hollywood. Her first job was building the stillsuits for the film version of Dune and acting as stunt double for Sean Young. Later at Columbia Pictures she worked on Ghostbusters playing both of the demon dogs at the “Temple of Zuul” and served as puppeteer for both the Stay-Puft Marshmallo Man and the ghost librarian. She is also a Muppet Puppeteer.

In 1987 Hardin was working for Universal designing “walk-around” character costumes when she was contacted by Disney. After 8 interviews she was given the assignment of helping to design Big Thunder Mountain and the Dragons Lair attractions at Disneyland Paris. Her passion was not unnoticed and she was assigned the job of designing the entire Dragons Lair.

Her work can also be seen at Disney California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom.

Terri Hardin and Tony Baxter will be at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn April 20th to do a meet and great. The Barn is open 11 am to 3 pm.

Check out some videos of the Dragons Lair at Disneyland Paris. I found these on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Special Private Tour Day at Walt’s Barn

A Special Private Tour Day at Walt’s Barn

I’m a volunteer at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn. Walt’s backyard “Happy Place” was moved to Griffith Park after Lillian Disney died. It is open for the public to enjoy the 3rd Sunday of every month.

Every so often a special tour group comes into Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park. Yesterday was one of those “special days”. Adventure by Disney (AbD) pulled off a surprise visit for a tour group. AbD had not told their guests that they had arraigned for the barn to be opened for them. This group of about 40 Disney fans were being shown around So. California visiting various Disney Destinations such as the Disney Studio, Muppet Studio, Walt Disney Imagineering and other locations. Walt’s Barn was a surprise stop. I had the pleasure of being the designated Barn tour guide for the event.

As the group came across the small scale train tracks, between properly gage railroad crossing arms you could see the look of realization they were at someplace special. Several were wiping tears from their eyes and one gentleman came over to me and made comment that he had dreamed of visiting the Barn for a long time but had never been able to arrange it, he was just the first to make that comment to me.

As I showed the people around the barn people were surprised by the amount of history in this rather small 30’ x 30’ barn. They were overjoyed to be allowed to hold and have their picture taken with a real Disney Legend Award (belonging to George Bruns). (This is only allowed during private tours with small groups and strict supervision.)

At the end of the tour as people were getting ready to get back on the bus and travel on to their next destination several came back to me and thanked me for the tour. All thanked the entire Barn Crew for coming in to open the Barn for them. I must say it was an honor to be part of sharing the magic of that is Walt’s Barn.

Walt’s Barn is run by the Carolwood Historical Society and Carolwood Foundation. It is staffed totally by volunteers who act as tour guides/docents. The volunteers also maintain, clean and repair items in the Barn as well as the Barn grounds and work on adding to the extensive collection of Disney memorabilia.

Walt’s Barn is located at 5202 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, Ca in Griffith Park.
The Barn is open to the public,
free of charge (Donations GREATFULLY Accepted)
the 3rd Sunday of each month.
Carolwood website:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Peter Pan ~ Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

New post up in my Pixie's Faith Blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review ~ The Revised Vault of Walt

The Revised Vault of Walt
By Jim Korkis

There are many books out about Walt Disney. Some are glowing reports of what a saint he was and others deride Walt as a sinner. Revised Vault of Walt share the real human Walt Disney who was both Saint and Sinner. Jim Korkis shares the good and the bad through stories he has gathered over many years working for the Disney Company.

The stories range from the history of the carrousel at the Magic Kingdom and the wonderful woman who was in charge of the carrousel maintenance to a look at Walt’s view of faith. The book is broken into 4 sections, The Walt Stories, Disney Film Stories, Disney Park Stories and the Other Worlds of Disney Stories. These stories give you a look into the person of Walt Disney. These stories tell you Walt was a complex and caring man who could be both sinner and saint.

The forward was written by Diane Disney Miller and shares how she enjoys the stories that Korkis shares because they show a balanced view of her father and faithfully express who he was. She even shared how she had not heard some of the stories before but she could see her father in those situations.

I highly recommend this book for Disney fans and people wanting to know more about Walt the man.

I am looking forward to reading another of his books, “Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Carolwood Dick VanDyke signing Postponed!

For all planning on going to the Dick VanDyke signing event today, March 16, 2014 at the Carolwood Barn please note the following:

Dick Van Dyke Signing POSTPONED
The Carolwood Foundation regrets to announce that our public day signing guest Dick Van Dyke is under the weather, and has had to postpone his appearance. We will be rescheduling the signing as soon as it can be arranged. Walt's Barn will be open on Sunday, March 16 for our regularly scheduled public day.
For our guests who purchased a Priority Access, we will give refunds, if desired. However, you may retain your reserved spot to be the first to enter on the new date. You will be notified as soon as Mr. Van Dyke has rescheduled.
Please note that the new date for the signing with Dick Van Dyke may not be on a regularly scheduled third Sunday of the month. Please check on our Facebook page (Walt Disney's Barn) and follow us on Twitter (@waltsbarn) for up-to-the-minute developments.

The Barn will still be open today so do stop by and visit and enjoy seeing the birthplace if Imangineering and where Walt Disney loved to spend his free time. Learn some about Walt the man and his love of Live Steam Trains.

You can also get information on when this event is rescheduled at The Carolwood Foundation Website
And their Facebook page

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Picking a Disney Cruise Ship

Picking a Disney Cruise Ship

You’ve decided to go on a Disney Cruise! Congratulations!!!! Now what ship are you sailing? You don’t know? You can’t pick? Ok, let’s talk about picking a Disney ship.

The Disney fleet has 4 ships, 2 sets of almost identical twins. Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are the eldest and smaller of the ships. The Disney Magic just underwent major refurbishment. The pools that were the same on both ships have been changed with a new twisting slide and the AquaDunk added. The kids clubs also went through a big change bringing in the Marvel characters to the cruise ships for the first time. The Disney Wonder is still much as it was originally built with only a couple of minor alterations to make it more comfortable on deck in the cooler Alaskan weather.

Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are the newer and larger of the 4 ships. They were put into service in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Both have an upgraded Animators Pallet Restaurant with an interactive dinner show. The Disney Fantasy actually has 2 different shows. Both have interactive “Magical Art” that comes to life around the ship. Both have Goofy’s Sports Deck that is larger than the sports decks on the older ships and has Miniature Golf that is not available on the smaller ships.

The main difference between the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy is the length of cruises they offer. The Disney Dream only offers 3 and 4 night cruises while the Disney Fantasy offers 7 nights and longer. Be aware that the 7 night and longer cruises offer more special things such as demonstrations/talks given by Disney Imagineers, Disney Authors and Documentary Film Maker along with others. They also have cooking lessons with visiting Disney Chefs, we had the pleasure of having cooking demonstrations with the head chef of Club 33.

There are two ways to pick a ship to cruise on. First you need to pick length of cruise 3, 4, 7 nights or longer? Second you need to pick the departure port. Third, most people consider where the cruise goes. Are they places you wish to go and feel comfortable? Most Disney Cruises leaving from ports in Florida go to Disney Privet Island Castaway Cay, but not all do. If a stop at Castaway Cay is important to you check the itineraries offered.

No matter the length of your Disney Cruise or the Disney Ship you pick you can be assured there is something from everybody. The kids are entertained in the Kids Clubs and in the kids areas and you can enjoy the adult spots when you wish to get away from them. All the ships have Kid only, Family and Adult only areas so everybody is happy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Walt's Barn Dick VanDyke signing POSTPONED

This was just posted at Walt Disney's Barn:
Dick Van Dyke Signing POSTPONED
The Carolwood Foundation regrets to announce that our public day signing guest Dick Van Dyke is under the weather, and has had to postpone his appearance. We will be rescheduling the signing as soon as it can be arranged. Walt's Barn will be open on Sunday, March 16 for our regularly scheduled public day.
For our guests who purchased a Priority Access, we will give refunds, if desired. However, you may retain your reserved spot to be the first to enter on the new date. You will be notified as soon as Mr. Van Dyke has rescheduled.
Please note that the new date for the signing with Dick Van Dyke may not be on a regularly scheduled third Sunday of the month. Please check on our Facebook page (Walt Disney's Barn) and follow us on Twitter (@waltsbarn) for up-to-the-minute developments.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What is at Walt’s Barn? ~ Carolwood Railroad Control Panel

What is at Walt’s Barn? ~ Carolwood Railroad Control Panel

When Walt did anything he did it all the way, even if it was just for home use.

Walt wanted a way to control his 1/8 scale train from the barn. He also wanted a way to tell where his train was on the track from in the barn. He built what is widely considered to be the first ride control system! From this control panel Walt could tell where his train was and control the switches to move the train from one track to the next.

For this and many other reasons Walt’s Barn is considered to be the birth place of W.E.D. now called WDI or Imagineering.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What is at Walt’s Barn? ~ Retlaw 101 Combination Car

                              What is at Walt’s Barn? ~ Retlaw 101 Combination Car

One of the wonderful things that is at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn is the Retlaw 101 Combine Car. So what is the Retlaw 101 Combine and what is the story?

First off let’s start with start with the name. Retlaw, stands for Retlaw Enterprises the company that owned and operated the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, all the Main Street Vehicles and the Mark Twain Paddle Boat. Flip it backwards and Retlaw becomes Walter. Yes, Walt Disney had a privet company that owned and operated the stated vehicles at Disneyland. They were not owned by the Disney Company or Disneyland in anyway, they were his personally.

The number 101 means this was the first car of 6 that ran in a set on the Disneyland Railroad. On opening day there were 2 locomotives, #1 C. K. Holiday and #2 E. P. Ripley. The cars pulled by the #1 Holiday were 101-106 and the #2 Ripley were 201-206. So the 101 Combine was the first of the passenger cars pulled by the C. K. Holiday.

I’m going addressed why it is called a Combination or Combine car. This car is a combination of passenger and mail/cargo car. The first 1/3 of the car is for mail/cargo and the last 2/3 if the car is for passengers. This was standard on trains when Walt was a boy and when he was a boy Walt was a news butch on the trains selling newspapers and apples from his family farm. He would often take a break in the cargo section of the combine car so that type of car had one made for his park. Now this is not practical for an amusement park. It can’t carry as many guests and it also was not easy to load or unload guests. So why did Walt demand there be a combination car? I believe it was because it was historically correct and it brought back fond childhood memories. It is reported that the Retlaw 101 Combine (the only Disneyland Combine) was Walt’s favorite car.

In 1968 the Grand Canyon Diorama was added to the Disneyland Railroad. This required the change of the rolling stock because the front facing passenger cars were making it hard for people to see the Diorama. The cars were tipping slightly on the track as everybody moved over to see the Diorama. That is why this car is no longer in use at Disneyland.

The Retlaw cars were stored in the Disneyland Roundhouse for several years and then sold to privet collectors. Eventually the Combine ended up at the Carolwood Foundation and has been restored. 102-105 are in the hands of a privet collector that runs them in Northern California and the 106 or last car in this set was the Grand Canyon and has been re-imagined as the Lilly Bell VIP Presidential Parlor Car. The Lilly Bell is still being run at Disneyland and is for the use of VIPs, Club 33 members and daily tours.

If you are interested in the Lilly Bell Tour check out my other blog post for more information:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What's At Walt's Barn? ~ King George V Locomotive

What’s At Walt’s Barn? ~ King George V Locomotive

When Lillian Disney died the Disney Estate was sold and the new owner decided to demolish the home and Walt’s barn where he worked on his backyard trains. Diane Disney Miller, Walt & Lillian’s daughter asked if she could have the barn.

The barn was dismantled moved to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Club/Museum (LALS) in Griffith Park, Ca. Walt was a member of the LALS and had donated the track from his trains to the club before his death.

There are many wonderful items in the barn today. You will find items that belonged to Walt and some that belonged to some of his top animators, Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson along with others. There are also many items from Disneyland.

Today I’m going to share about the King George V Locomotive that sits in the middle of the barn. This is a beautiful old locomotive belonged to Walt Disney and has an interesting story to tell, if only it could talk.

In 1951 Walt and Lillian took a holiday to Europe. While there Walt went into the Bassett-Lowke Ltd. Shop in London to look around for a train to add to his new backyard train set. It was early in the day and Walt made the purchase with the agreement to come back in the afternoon to finalize the purchase and arrange shipment back to the United States.

Shortly after Walt left the shop another American came in and wanted to buy the locomotive Walt had just purchased. The shopkeeper told the man the locomotive had been sold but to come back that afternoon to see if the purchaser changed his mind.

That afternoon both men met at the train store and got to talking over this locomotive. Walt asked the man what he did for a living. When he said he was an artist Walt told him to come talk to him when he got back to America. Walt did not let the gentleman have the King George V.

This second American train enthusiast was none other than Harper Goff! Harper did look Walt up when he got home and ended up designing the Nautilus Submarine for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He worked on many other Disney movies. He also developed conceptual ideas for Disneyland including Main Street USA and the Jungle Cruise.

Walt and Lillian took a cruise ship home to America. He had the locomotive crated and shipped home on the ship with him. On the way across the “Pond” the crate with the prized locomotive became soaked with sea water and the locomotive suffered water damage. Walt never repaired the King George V locomotive. He was too busy with “plans for his little park”, Disneyland. The locomotive has sat in storage unrepaired and unused since 1951.

On a funny note, Walt could never have ran the King George V on his tracks as his existing layout was 1/8 scale and the King George V is a different scale.

This train, along with a picture of a dejected Walt Disney checking out the water damage after getting it home are on display at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn.

I’ll be posting more stories from the barn in the coming days.

To find out more about the Carolwood Barn check out their website.