Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th
Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th is a special event hosted by D23, the official Disney Fan Club, and will be the first such event hosted at the Walt Disney World Resort. Since it coincides with the 40th anniversary year of Disney World (opened in 1971) this event will focus on celebrating the people and events that happened to create the Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney Legends such as: Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, Charlie Ridgway, Richard Sherman, Bob Matheison, Bob Foster and more will take part in the two day event to share their experiences and memories. This will truly be a one of a kind event for Disney World fans.
Here is the D23 Announcement:
Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th presents the largest gathering of Walt Disney World Resort pioneers ever assembled for a public anniversary.
If you consider yourself a die-hard Walt Disney World Resort fan there is no better place to be May 14-15, 2011, than at Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th! Come join your fellow D23 members for a truly unforgettable celebration of four decades of Walt Disney World — a fun-filled event for fans of all ages filled with fond memories, laughs, surprises, and heart-touching moments. It's the biggest official event retrospective on the history and development of Walt Disney World Resort ever mounted by The Walt Disney Company. D23 is proud to present the largest gathering of Walt Disney World Resort pioneers ever assembled for a public WDW anniversary, including these notable Disney Legends who helped make the "Vacation Kingdom of the World" a reality:
Debby Dane Browne
1971 Walt Disney World Ambassador Debby Dane Browne was originally cast as a hostess at the Walt Disney World Preview Center, which opened in 1970 at Lake Buena Vista (the very first facility to open to Guests on the property). Along with her peers, Debby was the "face" of Walt Disney World to more than one million curious guests who came to see the "World" before it opened. As the inaugural resort Ambassador Debby participated in the official grand opening of the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort Hotel and many other areas. Today she joins us as an ambassador of the incredible heritage of Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney Legend and Imagineer Orlando Ferrante started with WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) in 1962. His Walt Disney World connection began in the late 1960s when he coordinated the installation of all attractions for the opening of Walt Disney World Resort. In the early 70s Orlando was named vice president of Administration and Production, overseeing all of WDI. He moved on to serve as vice president of Manufacturing and Production in 1979 in anticipation of the opening of EPCOT Center in 1982. He also oversaw show/ride engineering, production and installation at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea, plus helped launch the Disney Wonder before retiring in 2002.
Under the pseudonym of "Robert Price" (his real name is Robert Price Foster), Bob was the Disney lawyer who headed to Florida in 1964 to begin acquiring the land necessary to build "A Whole New Disney World." After he finished dealings in Florida (buying land for the future Lake Buena Vista/Bay Lake area) he would often fly to Kansas City before returning to California. Roy Disney (aka Roy Davis) and others on the land-buying mission used this tactic in order to throw-off the media and other land speculators.
Disney Legend and Imagineer Bob Gurr helped to create and design a "Disney World" on the move with such conveyances as the world-famous Walt Disney World Express Monorail System, WEDWAY PeopleMover, OmniMover System, Main Street Vehicles, double-decker busses for EPCOT Center, plus Audio-Animatronics® figures.
Disney Legend Jack Lindquist was hired by Walt Disney as Disneyland's first advertising manager in 1955 and eventually played a key role in the marketing of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. During his 38 years with the company he spearheaded a myriad of Disney projects including Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom Club, Disney Dollars, the Ambassador Program, Grad Nites, and WDW's "Tencennial" celebration. Now retired, Jack is the author of the new book In Service to the Mouse, which will be available at the event for purchase and signature.
During his 23-year career Disney Legend Ron Logan led the evolution of entertainment for Disney Parks and resorts from simple marching bands and costumed characters to spectacles, fireworks, music spectaculars, and Broadway-style stage musicals. In 1978, Ron moved to Florida as Walt Disney World music director and in 1987 he was promoted to vice president of Creative Show Development for all of Walt Disney Attractions. He was responsible for creating, casting, and producing all live entertainment products for The Walt Disney Company. He produced dozens of shows for the parks, including Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage! , Fantasmic! , Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth and Tapestry of Nations.
In 1966, following many roles at Disneyland, Disney Legend Bob Matheison became the head of the research and development team for Walt Disney World, presenting facts and recommendations to Walt about sizing, facilities, and more. He also helped develop a 13-week executive training program for Walt Disney World, a forerunner of Disney's current corporate training program. In 1970, Bob was named director of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort where he outlined an operating plan for the new Magic Kingdom park. He was promoted to vice president of Operations in 1972, and bumped up to vice president of the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT in 1984. Three years later, Bob was promoted to executive vice president of Parks, Walt Disney World before retiring in 1994.
The last time Disney Legend Tom Nabbe paid to get into a Disney Park, it was July 18, 1955 — the first day Walt Disney opened Disneyland to the public. Tom was a rusty-haired 12-year-old, enjoying his day at Disneyland. The very next day he landed a job as a "newsie," hawking The Disneyland News to Main Street Guests. In 1956, Walt Disney personally cast him to portray Tom Sawyer in the park. After outgrowing the role, Tom went on to manage attractions. In 1971, Tom was transferred to the newly opened Walt Disney World in Orlando, where he started as manager of the monorail. He also helped in the opening of Disneyland Paris. Forty-eight years later, in June 2003, 60-year-old Tom retired from his job as manager of Distribution Services at Walt Disney World. He was the last working member of Club 55, a group of original Disneyland cast members named for Disneyland's inaugural year and for their chief qualification of membership — a paycheck from Walt Disney dated 1955.
Journalist-turned-publicist-turned Disney Legend Charlie Ridgway joined Disneyland's publicity office in 1963. Even before he was hired as a cast member, Charlie promoted Disneyland as a news reporter. In 1966, Charlie was promoted to Disneyland's publicity supervisor, until 1969, when he was bumped up to publicity manager (and later, director of press and publicity) for Walt Disney World, which was then under construction. He helped launch the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 and EPCOT Center in 1982. He also helped launch Disneyland Paris in 1992, as well as special projects for celebrations such as Donald Duck's 50th birthday. After more than 30 years with Disney (and over 150 media events), Charlie retired in 1994. Since then, he has consulted on special projects, including the launch of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney Cruise Line. Charlie is the author of the book Spinning Disney's World, which will be available at the event for purchase and signature.
Richard M. Sherman
Disney Legend and Academy® Award winner Richard M. Sherman will make a rare Florida appearance in concert at Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th. Highlighting the incredible film scores he and his brother Robert B. Sherman composed for such classic Disney movies as Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and The Parent Trap, Richard will also showcase their major contributions to the musical legacy of Walt Disney World Resort such as "The Tiki Room Song," "The Best Time of Your Life," "It's a Small World (After All)," "One Little Spark," "Magic Journeys" and many, many others.
Retired vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Martin A. ("Marty") Sklar stood as a dedicated torchbearer of Walt Disney's philosophy since first joining the Company a month before Disneyland opened in 1955. Among his many accomplishments is a 20-minute movie devoted to communicating Walt's vision of EPCOT, his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow originally intended to help resolve the urban challenges found in American cities. Marty first became an Imagineering officer in 1974 when appointed vice president, Concepts/Planning, a role in which he guided creative development of EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In 1979, he was named vice president of Creative Development, followed by executive vice president in 1982. He served as president and vice chairman from 1987 to 1996. In 2001, the Company honored Marty with a special award for 45 years of service and leadership.
Beginning in 1955 Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan progressed from ticket-taker to ride operator to operations supervisor at Disneyland, learning all aspects of the operation on the way. Sully participated in the operations management of a number of lavish Disney film premieres, including Mary Poppins at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and The Happiest Millionaire at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. He relocated to Florida for the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971. While in Florida, Sully served a stint as director of PICO (Project Installation and Coordination Office), coordinating operational design input and installation of owner-furnished equipment at Epcot, after which he was the director of Epcot Center operations. In 1987, he was named vice president of the Magic Kingdom, and was responsible for operation of the Park including attractions, merchandising, transportation, entertainment, ticket sales, Guest relations, costuming, foods, custodial, maintenance, planned work, and horticulture. Sully retired in 1993 after 38 years with Disney.