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!
MCL 08-21-2015 - Inside the Disney Marketing Machine, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and the Walt Disney Birthplace

Another D23 Expo has come and gone. Hopefully you caught our slightly inebriated recap of the festivities on Inside The Mouse Castle. Today, we’re going to sit down in the Lounge with some of the people who were part of the Expo. Tim's got Kaye Malins and Peter Whitehead with the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Walt’s boyhood home of Marceline, MO. They’re going to talk about their ambitious fundraising efforts to restore the Midget Autopia, which was relocated from Disneyland to the city of Marceline in 1966. It operated in Marceline for a number of years before falling into disrepair and now the Museum wants to bring it back…and you can help.


Another great cause to support is the Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago. It’s the actual home designed and built by Walt’s parents in 1893 and the very place Walt was born in 1901. The Birthplace is undergoing an extensive restoration and Todd Regan will be here to bring us up to date on how it’s progressing.


Before we get to that, though, we’ll be joined by the former director of corporate synergy with Disney, Lorraine Santoli. She’s also an author who’s had a long time association with the original Mouseketeers. In fact, Lorraine hosted a celebration of 60 magical years of the Mickey Mouse Club at the D23 Expo. She was joined on stage by the likes of Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O’Brien and Doreen Tracey. It was a delightful presentation.


Before the Expo, Tim and Lorraine chatted on the phone about her latest book, a memoir of her 22 years at the Walt Disney Company, Inside The Disney Marketing Machine. In it, Lorraine recalls the many memorable events she was part of in the 1970s, 80s and 90s including Mickey Mouse’s 50th birthday, Donald Duck’s 50th birthday and Disneyland’s 30th anniversary. She also talks at length about the leadership styles of Disney’s top executives during that time, Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. It’s an insightful look behind the scenes of an entertainment company on the verge of becoming the media giant it is today. 


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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 5:25pm PDT

MCL 08-14-2015 - The Making of 'Pinocchio' with Disney Historian J.B. Kaufman

Pinocchio is arguably Walt Disney's most triumphant achievement in animation. The charming, perilous and ultimately heroic story of the wooden boy who wanted to be real has delighted movie audiences for 75 years. It's a film that represents the absolute peak of Disney animation artistry and storytelling. How the movie came to life is as compelling as the story of Pinocchio himself, and author J.B. Kaufman has written an exquisitely detailed book about it: Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic.


J.B. is always a welcome guest in the Lounge. You may recall a conversation Tim had with him a few years ago about two of his other amazing works of Disney history, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Art and Creation of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film and its companion volume, The Fairest One of All. These are must-reads for any Disney enthusiast, just like J.B.'s meticulously researched book on Pinocchio. He's at the D23 Expo this weekend, but not because of Snow White or Pinocchio, mind you. Because of Silly Symphonies.

In 2006, J.B. wrote a comprehensive history of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies with co-author Russell Merritt. Drawing on that expertise, both historians were asked to contribute liner notes to the upcoming release of the Silly Symphony Collection on vinyl from the Disney Music Emporium. Tied to that release, you can catch both J.B. and Russell at the D23 Expo along with music producer Randy Thornton. They'll be inside the Anaheim Convention Center at the Disney Dream Store today at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:45 p.m. They'’ll also be at the Expo’s Autograph Central Saturday at 1:00 p.m..


For now, however, let's wish upon a star and go behind the scenes for a look at the making of Pinocchio with J.B. Kaufman, Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


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Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge08-14-2015.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 1:48am PDT

MCL 08-07-2015 - Randy Thornton and Disney's Music Legacy

Randy Thornton is a long-time producer and restorer of Disney music. In his nearly 29 years with Walt Disney Records, he has received numerous recording industry awards including ten Gold Records, four platinum records, six Grammy nominations and one Grammy win. Randy is the producer of the "Lost Chords," a collection of songs originally written for classic Disney animated films like "Peter Pan" and "Cinderella" that never made it into the final productions. Some of those "Lost Chords" found their way into one of Randy’s other projects, "The Legacy Collection."

"The Legacy Collection" is a series of collectible CDs celebrating the anniversaries of great Disney films like "Fantasia," "Pinocchio," "Lady and the Tramp" and "The Lion King." They’re available online from Amazon and at Currently available only at the Disneyland Resort is the "Disneyland Legacy Collection" set, three CDs celebrating 60 years of Disney theme park magic. Can’t make it to Disneyland? No worries. The set will be available online later this month. Each "Legacy Collection" set is handsomely packaged with original cover art by Disney artist Lorelay Bove. The sets also contain song lyrics, concept art and extensive liner notes rich in Disney history.

Randy Thornton is an artist who takes great pride in his work. In his conversation with Tim Callaway, he talks at length about his career and his passion for preserving Disney’s great music legacy. Randy is Tim's guest today in "The Mouse Castle Lounge."
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 10:11pm PDT

MCL 07-31-2015 - Snow White, Silly Symphonies and the Disney Music Group
The D23 Expo is coming up August 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center. At a Disney fan gathering where the Walt Disney Studios and Disney Parks and Resorts typically get the lion's share of attention, the Disney Music Group this year will have a much higher profile. DMG oversees the various Disney recording labels like Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records and also runs Disney Music Publishing. In addition, they manage a very cool website where you can purchase all manner of Disney collectible music items, the Disney Music Emporium.
At the D23 Expo, the Disney Music Group and the Disney Music Emporium will present a concert called Disney in Concert: A Silly Symphony Celebration. They’ll screen a selection of Walt Disney’s famous musical cartoons backed by a 32-piece live orchestra. How cool is that? The concert will tie in with the release of an epic musical boxed set—on vinyl—called The Silly Symphony Collection. Contained in the set will be remastered audio recordings of all 75 Silly Symphony cartoons released between 1929 and 1939. Expo attendees will be the first people able to pre-order the Silly Symphony set. After that, it can be ordered online at the Disney Music Emporium beginning on August 17. The set will list for $399.98 and will include a free digital download. If you pre-order it, you’ll also receive a 10” vinyl single with "The Skeleton Dance" on Side A and the "Three Little Pigs" on Side B.
Recently, Tim paid a visit to the Walt Disney Studios and sat down with Jon Heely, director of music publishing and concert licensing at the Disney Music Group. They talked about Silly Symphonies, of course, but they also talked about an amazing limited edition book release from the Disney Music Legacy Libraries. It’s the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Master Score. And by master score I mean a reproduction of every piece of sheet music from "Snow White" illustrating how the music synchronized with the film. The printed score even includes notations by numerous artists and technicians that helped bring the movie to life. Only 400 of these are being released. The first 200 are available now at the Disney Music Emporium. Another 200 will be available at the D23 Expo.
Jon Heely is my first guest in The Mouse Castle Lounge today. I also chat with Randy Thornton with the Disney Music Group and Kevin Augunas, Neil Schield and Jesse Obstbaum with Fairfax Recordings.
It's a great time to be a Disney music fan. Enjoy!
CORRECTION 8/5/15: When I originally posted this story, I indicated that the notations to the Master Score were made by "Snow White's" original composers, i.e., Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline and Paul Smith. That may be a possibility, but since this was a working document, the truth is a number of artists and sound technicians would also have made notations to the score to assist with the recording and audio synchronization including (possibly) studio engineer Bill Garity and director Wilfred Jackson. We can't be exactly sure who made what notations--but doesn't that make it even more interesting?
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 7:39pm PDT

MCL 07-24-2015 - Disney, Dali and 'Destino' with Ted Nicolaou

It was inevitable—call it destiny, if you will--that the creative paths of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali would one day cross. Both men were born in the early 1900s, and although they were continents apart, they shared similar upbringings. Both had artistic ambitions and both would eventually become the standard-bearers of their respective mediums: Walt in animation and visual storytelling, Dali in fine art and the surrealist movement.

Their personalities could not have been more different. Dali was the flamboyant eccentric, Walt the more reserved, but no-less driven, filmmaker.  Each saw the other as a kindred spirit, though. And what began as a distant mutual admiration, evolved into a creative collaboration and later a lifetime friendship.

In the late 1940s, Dali would come to the Disney Studios to help craft "Destino," a surreal short film intended to push the limits of animation and storytelling.  It was not to be, however, What Dali called “a magical exposition of life in the labyrinth of time,” Walt called “a simple love story—boy meets girl.” It was there the two artists remained at odds. After less than a year’s work on the project, "Destino" was shelved. Decades later, the Walt Disney Studios would resurrect the film from more than 150 surviving story sketches by Dali and Disney artist John Hench. The resulting film would be released in 2003 to critical acclaim, winning numerous film festival awards and being nominated for an Academy Award.

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco is hosting an exhibition about the two friends and showmen. “Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination” explores the artistic collaboration between the two men, showcasing not only original works of Dali, but also that of Disney artists Mary Blair, John Hench, Eyvind Earle and Kay Nielsen. Ted Nicolaou is curator of the exhibition. As a filmmaker, Ted has directed a number of horror films including cult favorites "Terrorvision" and "Subspecies." He’s also created a number of DVD and Blu-ray bonus documentaries for Walt Disney Home Entertainment, most notably “Dali & Disney: A Date with Destino” which was included on the 2010 Blu-ray release of "Fantasia 2000."

Ted Nicolaou is Tim's guest today in "The Mouse Castle Lounge."
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 4:29pm PDT

MCL 07-17-2015 - Disney Historian Didier Ghez Talks About Disney Legend Eric Larson

Eric Larson was truly one of the greats of Disney animation. He was one of Walt's Nine Old Men and was best known for animating Figaro in "Pinocchio," Friend Owl in "Bambi" and Peg in "Lady and the Tramp." He also worked on other classics including "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan" and "Sleeping Beauty."

His greatest legacy, however, may be as the teacher and mentor to an entire generation of young animators that joined Disney in the 1970s and '80s. He had a passion for his art and a commitment to uphold the standards established by Walt Disney. Eric's memoir, "50 Years in the Mouse House," is a fascinating and heartfelt testament to that passion.

His book, however, was almost lost forever, and the story of Didier Ghez's search for the missing manuscript is nearly as compelling as Eric Larson's life itself. 

Didier edited Eric Larson's original manuscript and combined it with material taken from interviews Larson gave and lectures he presented at the Walt Disney Studios. Didier adds "50 Years in the Mouse House" to his impressive output of historical Disney works including all 16 volumes of "Walt's People" and his upcoming tribute to Disney concept artists, "They Drew as They Pleased." Didier Ghez is my guest today in "The Mouse Castle Lounge."
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 6:44pm PDT

MCL 07-10-2015 - Ron Diamond and the Animation Show of Shows

Ron Diamond is passionate about animation. He’s executive producer of Acme Filmworks, a commercial animation studio that utilizes the talents of gifted filmmakers and animators from both the U.S. and abroad. Ron’s pet project, though, is the Animation Show of Shows. For over 16 years, Ron and his show have had one purpose: to bring the best animated short films from around the world to the attention of major animation studios like Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. It’s an opportunity for independent filmmakers, with otherwise limited reach, to have their work seen by respected and influential artists and industry leaders. The Animation Show of Shows has largely been a private enterprise over the years, limited to animation professionals and mostly unseen or heard of by the general public. That’s about to change.


Earlier this month, Ron completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 to fund the Animation Show of Shows and help it reach an even larger audience. The Animation Show of Shows is now a registered non-profit organization with the long-term goal of being seen by audiences around the world while still honoring its mission to showcase the best work of animators everywhere. Ron Diamond is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 4:07pm PDT

MCL 06-25-2015 - Doug Lipp Talks About Disney University and Disney Legend Van France
The Summer 1967 issue of "Disney News" magazine contained an article entitled, “University of Disneyland: An Institution of Smiles.” The story told of the park’s in-house training of more than 5,000 cast members each year, cast members who were taught to “welcome each guest with a smile that’s sincere” and ensure every new employee became a “people specialist” before he or she actually set foot on the job. This progressive, people-centric approach to training was the brainchild of Van Arsdale France, who joined Disney in March 1955, just months before Disneyland’s grand opening. With the support and encouragement of Walt Disney, Van France created the University of Disneyland, which would soon become the gold standard of employee training programs. Over the decades, the program would evolve into what is now called Disney University and to this day it takes its cues from the principles and standards France developed 60 years ago.

Doug Lipp was hired by Disney in the late 1970s and would later work with and be mentored by Van France. Fluent in Japanese, Doug was part of the start-up team at Tokyo Disneyland in preparation of the resort’s grand opening in 1983. Since leaving Disney, Doug has gone on to become a renowned speaker and training consultant with Fortune 100 companies. He’s written eight books, including his most recent, “Disney U.: How Disney University Develops the World's Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees.” He has a lot of stories to tell about Walt Disney, about Van France and about the guest experience at Disney Parks worldwide. Doug Lipp is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:58am PDT

MCL 06-07-2015 - Former Disney Animation Story Man Steve Hulett, Part Two
Two weeks ago in the Lounge, Tim began a two-part conversation with Steve Hulett. In the 1970s and 80s, Steve was a story man at Disney Animation, following in the footsteps of his father, longtime Disney artist Ralph Hulett.  In part one, Steve shared how he started his career at Disney—working for writer Larry Clemmons—and ten years later, how his Disney career ended. Today, in part two, Steve tells more behind-the-scenes stories about some of the Nine Old Men including Woolie Reithermann, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. 

Steve talks candidly about the departure of Don Bluth and a group of other Disney animators to form their own studio in 1979, the challenge of working for animator and future Disney Legend Ken Anderson, the arrival of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg in the mid 1980s, and finally, the notorious internal memo that incited the wrath of Disney Feature Animation president Peter Schneider. Steve Hulett is Tim's guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

You can read more about Steve Hulett's Disney exploits in his book "Mouse in Transition: An Insider's Look at Disney Feature Animation," available from and Theme Park Press.
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:50am PDT

MCL 05-28-2015 - 24 Hours of Disneyland in 40 Minutes

Relive Disneyland's 24-hour party with Team Mouse Castle. Throughout the resort's 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration kickoff on Memorial Day weekend, Tim and his friends recorded as much of the craziness as they could, sharing their thoughts and experiences. Hear them take on the Hatbox Ghost, Harold the Abominable Snowman, parades, fireworks and crowds, crowds, crowds. What did they think of "Disneyland Forever" and "Paint the Night"? Did they get trapped in Disney California Adventure? It's an incredible day and night of good friends and insane Disney fun in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
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Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:38am PDT