The Mouse Castle Lounge Podcast: Disney News and Interviews, Cocktails and Conversations
Disney artists and Imagineers, animators and authors, even Disney Legends have visited with host Tim Callaway in The Mouse Castle Lounge. Join Tim as he delves into Disney movies, music, books, television, theme parks and history. From Mickey Mouse to Mulan, from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, from Pinocchio to Pixar, it's always good times and great conversations...and a few surprises. Welcome to the party. Come on in! www.TheMouseCastle.com

When you know as much stuff about Disney history as Jim Korkis does, you get asked a lot of questions. Sometimes it’s pretty basic like “When did Disneyland open?” Other times it’s more obscure like “When did Mickey Mouse start wearing gloves?” Then there’s the question that’s totally off the wall like “How much does Walt Disney World weigh?” No, really, someone asked him that once.

By the way, the answers are July 17, 1955, in the 1929 cartoon The Opry House, and haven’t got a clue. But, I digress.

Jim is back in the Lounge once again, finishing up a conversation we started last week. We heard all about his latest book, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World. Today, we take a look at his other recent publication, The Vault of Walt: Volume 4. Jim always has terrific stories to tell about Disney. Today is no different.

Earlier this month, I took a trip up to the San Francisco Bay Area and paid a visit to my friends at the Walt Disney Family Museum. I finally got to see their special exhibition Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination. By all means, go see it. It runs through January 3. While I was there, I was also invited to drive an hour down the road to San Jose to visit the Winchester Mystery House. Now, unless you’ve lived in the Bay Area, like I once did, you may not be familiar with the Winchester Mystery House. It’s a sprawling Victorian mansion in San Jose once owned by the widow Sarah Winchester. Sarah’s late husband, William Winchester was heir to the Winchester firearms fortune. Sarah was quite well off financially.

In 1884, Sarah purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and commenced adding onto it--for the next 38 years. At the time of Sarah’s death in 1922 the house spread over six acres and contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. Why Sarah kept building all those years remains a mystery. Was she distraught over the deaths of her husband and a daughter in infancy? Did she believe that continually building would somehow appease evil spirits? Was she just a kindly woman who chose to spend her money supporting local builders, carpenters, landscapers and artisans? Whatever the reason, the continuous construction resulted in a labyrinth of rooms and hallways, staircases running into ceilings, doorways leading to nowhere and all manner of building oddities.

You can still tour the house today and marvel at its mind-boggling construction and design. Visit during the holidays and you can see the house decorated in Christmas finery with over 20 custom designed Christmas trees. On select nights you can enjoy, like I did, the Spirit of Christmas with carolers, festive beverages and holiday treats. Don’t be surprised if you see some snow fall too. Here to tell us more about the Winchester Mystery House is Janan Boehme.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge12-20-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 6:00am PDT
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We are just days away from the release—finally—of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh episode in the Star Wars saga and the first since Disney plunked down $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm and its assorted intellectual properties. It’s been ten years since we saw a new Star Wars film in theaters and—let’s be honest—32 years since we saw a really good one. The Force Awakens comes with ridiculously high expectations from older fans who grew up with Star Wars as well as generations of younger fans gearing up for the next wave of new Star Wars films that will be coming out every year until at least 2019.

No pressure, but the future success of the franchise really hinges on how good a film director J.J. Abrams delivers this week. Certainly $100 million in advance ticket sales and early positive reviews aren’t hurting The Force Awakens one bit. We’ll see if the fan base embraces it as well. I’m catching it Thursday night and I cannot wait. I especially can’t wait until you see it so we can have dorky conversations without worrying about spoilers.

Anyway, flashback to Monday night for this special edition of The Mouse Castle Lounge. We are eavesdropping on the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard for the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, in the annals of Hollywood world premieres, this ranks up there as one of the biggest if not the biggest ever. The red carpet stretched about four blocks—a quarter of a mile—in front of the El Capitan, Dolby and Chinese theaters, all three of which screened the film for celebrities, invited guests and lucky fans. The majority of the red carpet was covered by tents which housed an after-party following the screenings. It was an epic night for the latest installment of the epic Star Wars saga and we’re about to hear from the cast right now in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge12-16-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 6:00pm PDT
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This week, the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank unveiled and rededicated the restored office suite of Walt Disney. It was a painstaking labor of love by Disney studio employees and archivists to recreate Walt’s office exactly as it appeared at the time of his death. It was authentic down to the actual furniture and personal items that were there in 1966. On hand for the dedication were Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, Walt’s granddaughter Joanna, and Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Dave Smith. We’ll be hearing from all of them in today's show.

Before that, though, we welcome the return of Disney historian Jim Korkis to the Lounge. Jim is a meticulous researcher and a marvelous storyteller and his two most recent books, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, belong in your collection, as do Jim’s many other books. Please welcome Jim Korkis, Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge12-11-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 6:00pm PDT
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On December 17, PBS SoCal will air the musical special Richard M. Sherman: Songs of a Lifetime. It’s a one-hour studio performance by the songwriter and Disney Legend. Just him, a piano, and a few friends to sing along. It celebrates the decades-long musical collaboration that was the Sherman Brothers and it’s certain to include tunes from such classic Disney and non-Disney films like Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and so many others.

Richard M. Sherman: Songs of a Lifetime is produced by Tim's guest today, a gentleman who’s also made significant contributions to the Disney legacy. Don Hahn’s producer and executive producer credits include Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Emperor’s New Groove, Waking Sleeping Beauty, Frankenweenie, Maleficent, and the Disneynature films Oceans and African Cats. Don is a respected author, whose latest book, Before Ever After, recounts in exquisite detail the history of the artists’ training program at the Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s and ‘40s. Don is also a tireless supporter of preserving animation and film history. You know, someone should probably give him an award for that. Don Hahn is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge12-04-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:00am PDT
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Disney is returning to the Pride Lands for a new Disney Channel animated series based on The Lion King called The Lion Guard. The series itself will get underway in January, but you can get your first look at the next generation of Lion King characters when The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar debuts on Disney Channel on November 22 at 7:00 p.m. It’s a one-hour movie that introduces us to Kion, the second-born son of Simba and Nala—if you’ve ever seen the direct-to-video Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, you might recall Kion already has an older sister, Kiara.

Kion is tasked with forming the Lion Guard, a group of young animals responsible for protecting the Pride Lands. And while the Lion Guard has traditionally been an all-lion team, Kion opts to include a variety of animals with their own special strengths. So you have Bunga, a brave honey badger; Ono, an intellectual egret; Fuli, a confident and very fast Cheetah; and Beshte, a good-humored and well-connected hippo.

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is voiced by a mostly youthful cast, but there are some returning veterans. Just as he did in the original Lion King, Ernie Sabella will voice Simba’s loyal warthog friend Pumbaa and James Earl Jones will be heard once again as Simba’s wise father Mufasa. Simba is voiced by The Grinder’s Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union provides the voice of Nala.

On Saturday, I got to hang out at the Walt Disney Studios for the premiere of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar and chatted with members of the cast, including Max Charles, Joshua Rush, Dusan Brown, Atticus Shaffer, Ernie Sabella, Eden Riegel, Sarah Hyland, Madison Pettis, Jonny Rees and Khary Payton. They are all my guests today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge11-17-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT
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If you’re a collector of rare and unique Disney memorabilia, or even if you just want to see some pretty amazing stuff, November is the perfect month for you. There are two auctions scheduled for later this month that you really need to check out. On November 21, Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California, is auctioning off a massive assortment of Disneyland items, some dating back to the park’s opening in 1955. This is the second time this year that Van Eaton Galleries has had a Disneyland auction of this magnitude. Looking for a Space Mountain ride vehicle? They’ve got one. A Skyway bucket? Yep. How about a PeopleMover car? Tim might fight you for that one.

This auction isn’t just big-ticket items either. There are plenty of more affordable things like Disneyland brochures, menus, ticket media, park guides and maps to satisfy any collector’s curiosity. All told, there are over 800 items in the collection.

Also this month, the auction house Bonhams is partnering with Turner Classic Movies to present Treasures from the Dream Factory. It’s a collection of nearly 400 items of movie memorabilia, with some pretty amazing pieces like Judy Garland’s dress from The Wizard of Oz, a replica Rosebud sled from Citizen Kane and an authentic golden ticket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For Disney fans, though, the prize of this collection is an assortment of original signed photos of Walt Disney taken in Europe during his Red Cross service at the end of World War I. Included among these items is a scrapbook of signed cartoons drawn by Walt around the same time. It’s believed that never before have this many items with this much historical significance in Walt’s early life ever been sold at auction. Not surprisingly, they come with a heavy price tag too. The photos are priced as high as $60,000 each and the scrapbook between $250,000 and $300,000. It will surprise no one if these items end up selling significantly higher.

Joining Tim in the Lounge today from Bonhams is Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia. Following her we’ll hear from Mike Van Eaton with Van Eaton Galleries. It’s all about history, auctions and vintage Disney collectibles today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge11-08-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:00am PDT
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MCL 10-23-2015 - Disney Author and Historian Jim Fanning, 'The Disney Book'

You’d be hard pressed to find a more prolific Disney writer than Jim Fanning. For over 30 years, Jim has written countless articles for publications ranging from Disney News to Disney Magazine to Sketches to Disney twenty-three. He’s contributed stories to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney Newsreel and Persistence of Vision. His work internally at Disney has spanned nearly every division including Feature Animation, Home Video, Publishing, Interactive, Online, Educational, Character Voices, Disney Stores and Consumer Products. Not bad for a kid who started his career at Disney in the mail room.

Jim has written a number of books and his latest is a compendium of Disney history called The Disney Book: A Celebration of the World of Disney. It reads like a greatest hits package, spotlighting the many watershed moments of Disney animation, live-action film, television, theme parks and merchandising. It takes us from Walt’s humble beginnings as a cartoonist and animator in Kansas City all the way to the gargantuan construction of the Walt Disney Company’s latest resort enterprise, Shanghai Disneyland.

Pretty much everything in the book is the glossed-over “official” version of Disney history, which is unsurprising given the book was published by DK, an official licensee of Disney. Nevertheless, it’s an enchanting read with plenty of photos and artwork that serve as a perfect introduction for those new to Disney, and a nostalgic reminder to the rest of us of how Disney magic hooked us in the first place. Today, Jim talks about the creative efforts it took to bring The Disney Book to life, the many Disney Legends he’s gotten to know over the years, and why some of his projects you may never quite understand. Jim Fanning is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge10-23-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 3:06pm PDT
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MCL 10-16-2015 - Disney Historian Didier Ghez, 'They Drew as They Pleased'

Disney historian Didier Ghez is once again paying a visit to the Lounge—this will be his fourth time. He just can’t get enough of us.

It’s always a pleasure to have Didier on the show and today he’s here to talk about his latest project, They Drew as They Pleased, a book series celebrating the great concept and story artists of Disney’s past. 

Before an animator begins to work magic with a character, he or she draws inspiration from the sketches and designs of concept artists. The Disney Studios set the standard for this artistic collaboration beginning in the 1930s, bringing aboard major talents such as Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Horvath, Gustaf Tenggren and Bianca Majolie. Didier’s first volume shines the spotlight on these artists, whose influences can be seen in numerous Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony short cartoons of the era as well as feature films like Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Fantasia.

Much of the art Didier has compiled comes from rarely seen private collections or from deep inside the vaults of the Disney Animation Research Library. It’s a genuine treat to be able to see them publicly for the first time. Just as fascinating are the book’s biographical notes, which give a compelling look not only at the talent and temperament of the artists profiled, but also insight into what it was like to work for Walt Disney at the beginning of the studio’s first golden age. We cannot recommend They Drew as They Pleased enough and we cannot wait to see what the future volumes hold.

Here today to talk as he pleases is Didier Ghez, Tim's guest in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge10-16-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 7:07pm PDT
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MCL 10-03-2015 - Tom Sito, Part Two, and the CHOC Walk in the Park

For over 50 years, the Children’s Hospital of Orange County has provided state of the art pediatric care to children throughout Southern California. Walt Disney himself was among the many community leaders who championed the need for an area children’s hospital in the early 1960s and helped make it a reality. CHOC Children’s, as it’s known today, has grown from a 62-bed children’s hospital into a complete pediatric health care system with numerous facilities serving multiple counties. CHOC Children’s has been recognized nationally for both its critical care and nursing excellence.

Each year, the Disneyland Resort partners with CHOC Children’s to put on the CHOC Walk in the Park, the largest single pediatric fundraising event in the country. It’s a three-mile stroll through Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney that draws thousands of participants annually. Since 1990, the CHOC Walk has raised over $24 million to support the health and well-being of children. Joining Tim in The Mouse Castle Lounge today is Zach Abrams, director of special events and corporate relations for the CHOC Children’s Foundation. He’s going to tell us everything we need to know about this year’s event coming up on October 11th.

Before we get to Zach, though, Tim wraps up part two of his fascinating conversation with author, historian and former Disney animator Tom Sito. Last week, Tom shared stories about his memorable animation career, where he worked alongside many of the greats including Richard Williams, Shamus Culhane, Art Babbitt, Glen Keane and Eric Goldberg. Tom appeared recently on the PBS American Experience documentary “Walt Disney” and last week he talked at length about the documentary and its portrayal of Walt, his life and his legacy. Tim and Tom pick up that part of the conversation by looking at one of more persistent—and false—rumors that continues to dog Walt Disney’s reputation. 

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge10-03-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 10:51am PDT
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MCL 09-27-2015 - Author, Historian and Disney Animator Tom Sito, Part One

Tom Sito has devoted his life to creating animation and preserving the animation profession’s rich history. Tom was an animator and story artist at Disney during the studio’s second golden age, contributing his talents to classic films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas. In the years that followed, Tom spent time at both DreamWorks Animation and Warner Bros. His credits at those studios include The Prince of Egypt, Antz, Shrek, Osmosis Jones and The Looney Tunes Movie.

Tom served three terms as president of the Hollywood Animation Guild and his fascination with union history, particularly the 1941 Walt Disney Studios strike, resulted in Tom’s 2006 book Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Tom is a former vice president of ASIFA/Hollywood, the International Animated Film Society, and in 2010 he received one of the organization’s highest honors, the June Foray Award, in recognition of his significant lifetime contribution to the animation industry.

Tom is currently professor chair of the School of Animation and Digital Arts at USC and he recently appeared in the PBS American Experience documentary, Walt Disney. Tom is a consummate storyteller and in part one of our two part conversation, he shares with us some of the highlights of his animation career. Tom Sito is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Enjoy!

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge09-27-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:39pm PDT
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