The Mouse Castle Lounge Podcast: Disney News and Interviews, Cocktails and Conversations (entertainment)
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!

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.

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge11-17-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

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.

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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

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.

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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge10-23-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 3:06pm PDT

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

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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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 10:51am PDT

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.

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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:39pm PDT

MCL 09-19-2015 - 'The Muppets' on ABC and 'The Emperor's New Groove'

Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great, the whole gang is back for a new show on ABC. The Muppets premieres this Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. And the thing that has us really excited about the show is it’s taking the behind-the-scenes antics that were part of the original Muppet Show and bringing them up to date. So, instead of seeing what goes on backstage while the Muppets desperately attempt to put on a theatrical review, we get to see what goes on behind the scenes as the Muppets attempt to produce a night-time TV talk show, Up Late With Miss Piggy.


The Muppets is a reality show—well, as much of a reality show as a show about the Muppets can be. It comes complete with handheld camerawork, celebrity guest stars, and intimate one-on-one conversations with the cast. In fact, we’re going to get a little taste of that in today's show. Joining Tim today are some of the cast of The Muppets, starting with the green guy himself, Kermit the Frog.



On Monday, September 21st, one of our favorite modern-era Disney animated films is going to be celebrating its 15th anniversary with a special screening at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. The Emperor’s New Groove will be shown at 7:00 p.m. and will be introduced by an esteemed panel of artists: the film’s executive producer Don Hahn, director Mark Dindal, producer Randy Fullmer and screenwriter David Reynolds. In May of last year, Don Hahn was Tim's guest in The Mouse Castle Lounge and among the many things they talked about was The Emperor’s New Groove. Return with us, if you will, to that show and hear what Don had to say about this extremely funny, irreverent and unlikely fan favorite.

For our friends in the Los Angeles area, tickets are still available to see The Emperor’s New Groove on the big screen (and Don Hahn and Mark Dindal and Randy Fullmer and Mark Reynolds). Just call 1-800-Disney6 or visit The doors open at 6:00 Monday night and the screening starts at 7:00. We highly recommend you get there early for trivia, a costume contest and a whole lot more. 


Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge09-19-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 3:49am PDT

MCL 09-11-2015 - 'Walt Disney' Producer and Director Sarah Colt

Nearly 50 years after his death, Walt Disney continues to fascinate us. A giant entertainment and media company that he co-founded thrives under his name, and dozens upon dozens of fansites, blogs and podcasts—including this one—exist because of what Walt created: a universe of fantasy and adventure where wishing on stars makes dreams come true and anything is possible with a little faith, trust and pixie dust. While many respect, even idolize Walt, he wasn’t without his detractors—no one who achieved as much success as he did is beyond reproach. For all his talent, creative vision and charisma, he could also be stubborn, short-tempered and distant. In other words, human.


Much has been documented of Walt’s myriad accomplishments in animation, live-action film, television and themed entertainment. That’s the easy part. More complicated is understanding what made Walt tick. What fueled his ambitions? Was his true nature that of the avuncular host TV viewers saw every week, or did he just use it to hide a deeper, darker persona? Many a historian and researcher has attempted to answer these questions with varying levels of success. Filmmaker Sarah Colt is the latest person to join the conversation. Her four-hour documentary, Walt Disney will air over two nights September 14th and 15th on PBS as part of the network’s American Experience series.


Sarah has worked in public television for nearly twenty years. She’s an Emmy Award winner whose directing and producing credits include the documentaries Henry Ford and The Polio Crusade, both for American Experience. In their conversation today, Tim and Sarah talk about how her Walt Disney project came to be and how she managed to make her film with the cooperation--but without the interference--of the Walt Disney Company. We also explore Walt Disney’s legacy and discuss how best to judge his 20th century persona through a 21st century filter. Sarah Colt is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 5:43pm PDT

MCL 09-04-2015 - Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan, Part Two

We hope you're having a great Labor Day weekend. Tim is at the Disneyland Resort this weekend, not only for Force Friday--did you get any cool Star Wars Merchandise?--but also here for the 10th anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon. His guest in the Lounge today has nothing to do with either of those events, but you're really going to like him. He's Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan and you're going to hear part two of Tim's conversation with Sully about his nearly 40 years with Disney.


Sully started out as a ticket taker on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland in 1955 and finished his career in 1994 as vice president of the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Between those times, he got to know both Walt and Roy Disney. He worked at the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley in 1960 and the New York World's Fair in 1963 and '64. Last week, Sully told us much about those adventures and in part two of our conversation, he picks things up in October 1971 as Walt Disney World is closing in on its Grand Opening.


Sully also shares some of his fondest memories of both Walt and Roy, as well as the day he got the biggest surprise of his career: the letter from Michael Eisner telling him he'd been named a Disney Legend. It's part two of Tim's conversation with Sully Sullivan in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:34pm PDT

In the summer of 1955, William “Sully” Sullivan got a job at Disneyland, just days after he watched the park’s grand opening on television. It was the beginning of a career with Disney that lasted nearly forty years. Sully started out as a ticket taker on the Jungle Cruise before becoming a Jungle Cruise skipper. And that was just the beginning. Sully moved up the ranks at Disneyland, with side trips to the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley and the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York. He got to know both Walt Disney and Roy Disney. He even met his future wife in Adventureland. Sully ended his career as vice president of the Magic Kingdom in Florida, and in 2005 was named a Disney Legend.


In his memoir, From Jungle Cruise Skipper to Disney Legend: 40 Years of Magical Memories at Disney, Sully talks about the many adventures he had during his lengthy career, and he’s going to share a few of them with us today. In part one of our two-part conversation Sully tells us about Walt, the early days of Disneyland, and the four principles that guided Sully throughout his career. Sully Sullivan is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge08-28-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 5:19pm PDT