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Monthly Archives: November 2012

November 23

November 23, 1998 – The Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Resort Opens

Image Credit: Official Walt Disney World site

“The Kona Café infuses a bit of Asian zest into traditional American breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.”

On November 23, 1998, the Kona Café in Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort opened. The restaurant is mid-sized, and is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. It is known for its Tonga Toast, a breakfast dish consisting of French toast stuffed with deep fried bananas, topped with sugar and cinnamon. Kona Café is also known for its 100% Kona Coffee, and its open pastry kitchen that provides desserts.

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November 22

November 22, 1991 – The 30th Animated Feature Film, Beauty and the Beast is Generally Released to Theaters

“Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast.”

On November 22, 1991, the 30th animated feature film, Beauty and the Beast, was generally released to theaters, after a New York premiere on November 13. The film was based on the French fairy tale La Belle et la Bête, written by Jeanne-Marie le Prince de Beaumont. The idea to use the fairy tale as an animated feature goes all the way back to the 1930s, with Walt Disney originally showing interest after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.The project was resurrected during the beginning of the period known as the Disney Renaissance and was the first Disney animated feature to use a screenwriter for the script; the first treatment had the film set in Victorian France, with no musical numbers. However, in 1989, this treatment was scrapped, forcing everyone to start from scratch. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise were asked to direct, and the team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were asked to write the music for the film. The film stars Paige O’Hara as Belle, Robby Benson as the Beast, Richard White as Gaston, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth, Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Rex Everheart as Maurice, and Bradley Michael Pierce as Chip.

The film would go on to win enormous accolades from the critics, and until 2009, was the only animated feature to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.The music from the film was the last project that the team of Ashman and Menken, as Ashman passed away from AIDS-related complications before the film was finished. The film was dedicated in his honor. The team won two Oscars : one for Best Original Score, and one for Best Original Song for the title song, sung by Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts). The film was so successful that it was made into a Broadway musical in 1994; a song originally cut from the film, “Human Again,” was reinstated in the musical, and was placed back in the film when the film was rereleased on DVD in 2002.

A powerful curse was placed over the castle, after an enchantress realized that the prince who lived there did not know how to love

The film begins with the story of the Prince, who turned an old beggar woman away from his door when she offered him a rose in exchange for shelter. The beggar woman was actually an enchantress who, after seeing there was “no love in his heart,” punished him for his cruelty by turning him into a beast. The Beast hid himself away from the world, with only a magic mirror to let him observe the outside. The rose the enchantress had offered was a magic rose, which would bloom until his 21st birthday. If he could learn to love, and earn love in return by then, the spell over the castle and the Prince would break; if not, he was doomed to remain a beast. The Prince grew weary over the years, as he wondered “who could ever learn to love a beast?”

Dawn breaks over a nearby provincial village, and Belle is seen walking to town, wishing to find something more than the “provincial life.” The townspeople remark how odd she is, as she has her head up in the clouds, and loves to read and imagine. Belle is pursued by Gaston, the hero of the village, and incredibly vain to boot. The only reason Gaston pursues Belle is because she is considered “the most beautiful girl in town,” although all the townspeople think she and her father, the inventor Maurice, are rather peculiar. Belle constantly turns down Gaston’s advances. She arrives home after another ambush by Gaston, and the two cheer each other up, with Maurice finally getting his invention to work. He heads off to the fair with his invention, but ends up lost in the woods, stumbling across the beast’s castle, and being sent to the dungeon by the Beast himself.

Belle offers her life to the Beast in exchange for her father’s

Belle is ambushed by Gaston once again, who sets up a wedding for the two without her knowledge. After she rebuffs him again, her father’s horse, Philippe, arrives home; seeing her father has gone missing, she has Philippe take her to the castle. She tries to find her father, with the servants secretly leading the way, and finds him sick and locked in a cell. She comes across the Beast, and offers her life in exchange for her father’s. Although her father objects, she remains firm in her offer. The Beast tries to make Belle comfortable, with everyone in the castle hoping she will be the one to break the spell. Maurice, having been taken back to town, tries to get the townsfolk to help him retrieve Belle, but they all consider his pleas as the ramblings of a madman. This gives Gaston an idea to finally get Belle to marry him, which he and his henchman, Lefou, prepare to implement.

The Beast and Belle have a difficult time adjusting, as the beast has a problem with his temper. He warns Belle never to enter the West Wing, but when she does, he loses his temper, and she flees from the castle. She is attacked by wolves in the woods, but is soon saved by the Beast. As he lays injured from the fight, Belle is tempted to continue to run, but helps him back to the castle, as thanks for saving her life. She tends to his injuries, and the two come to a new understanding. Back in town, Gaston is beginning to set his plan in motion: have Maurice committed to the insane asylum, with Belle’s agreement to marry him the only way to prevent Maurice’s incarceration.

The servants are excited about the growing feelings between the Beast and Belle, hoping that Belle will help them break the spell

The Beast is starting to feel something for Belle, and wishes to do something nice for her. He surprises her with his grand library, which he says is all for her. She is truly touched by his gesture, and the two begin to grow closer. The servants plan an elaborate dinner and dance for the two, which they hope will culminate in the beast confessing his feelings to Belle. Although the evening is a success, and Belle is happy at the castle, she still misses her father. The Beast gives her his magic mirror to see him, and when she sees that her father is sick and traveling alone in the woods to find her, she asks to go help him. The Beast, having fallen in love with Belle, lets her go, also giving her the magic mirror to be able to see him at any time. Belle reaches her father in time and brings him home, only to have the town gather around their house to watch Maurice be carted away to the asylum. When Belle proves the existence of the beast with the magic mirror, Gaston realizes that the Beast is a romantic rival for Belle, and vows to rid the village of the Beast.

The town locks Maurice and Belle in their root cellar and set off the kill the Beast. Luckily Chip, the child of one of the servants, has stowed away in Belle’s bag and frees the two, and the two quickly make their way to the castle. Inside the castle, the servants gear up for a fight with the villagers. When they warn the Beast, he says to let them come, as he is still heartbroken that he let Belle go. Gaston searches for the Beast, and is angered when the Beast refuses to put up a fight. When the Beast hears Belle’s cry, his strength is renewed, and he dangles Gaston from the roof. Having a change of heart, he orders Gaston to leave, then climbs to the balcony where Belle is waiting. Without warning, Gaston stabs the Beast in the side, but loses his grip and plummets to his death.

The spell breaks when Belle confesses her love, and everyone lives happily ever after

The Beast lies dying on the balcony, telling Belle that he was happy to see her one last time. As he drifts away, Belle confesses her love right as the last petal on the enchanted rose falls. As everything thinks all is lost, suddenly, the Beast transforms back into the Prince. Belle, confused, doesn’t believe it when he says it’s still him, until she looks into his eyes. The spell is broken all over the castle, and everyone lives happily ever after.

November 21

November 21, 1952 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Pluto’s Christmas Tree is Released to Theaters

“Okay Pluto, let’s get our tree!”

On November 21, 1952, the Mickey Mouse short film Pluto’s Christmas Tree was released to theaters. Although labeled a Mickey Mouse short, Pluto is the main character, with Chip and Dale as his antagonists. It was directed by Jack Hannah, with story by Bill Berg and Milt Schaffer.

It’s a snowy day in suburbia, when Mickey and Pluto leave their house to go find the perfect Christmas tree. As Pluto sniffs around, Chip and Dale are nearby, gathering nuts. Chip throws one at Pluto, startling the dog. Pluto playfully chases after them, until they hide in a pine tree – the same one Mickey decides to chop down. Mickey and Pluto drag the tree home, and Mickey begins to decorate it. Chip and Dale, having fallen asleep on the journey home, wake up and marvel at the decorations now adorning the tree. Dale spies a candy cane and tries to grab one, but becomes more amused at his reflection in an ornament.

Pluto tries to alert Mickey to the appearance of the chipmunks, but they disappear just as Mickey turns around

After Mickey finishes decorating, Pluto notices a strange light flickering from the side of the tree. He investigates and finds Chip and Dale hiding inside, with Dale throwing ornaments to distract the dog. Pluto tries to alert Mickey to the appearance of the chipmunks, but Mickey just dismisses the dog, leaving Pluto alone again to track down the pair. When he chases Dale, Dale takes the hat and beard off of one of Mickey’s Santa candles and puts them on, trying to fool the dog. When Pluto barks, Mickey goes to light the candles; so as not to catch on fire, Dale blows the match out once it comes close. Pluto once again resumes his chase of the chipmunks, and dives into the tree. A fight that includes Mickey ensues, ending with the tree’s destruction. While initially mad at Pluto, Mickey is surprised to see the chipmunks in the tree. Mickey invites them to stay, as it is Christmas. They hear Goofy, Donald, and Minnie caroling outside, and all watch from the window.

November 20

November 20, 2007 – The Soundtrack to the Feature Film Enchanted is Released Through Walt Disney Records

“How does she know you love her? How does she know she’s yours?”

On November 20, 2007, the soundtrack for the feature film Enchanted was released through Walt Disney Records. The soundtrack contains 15 tracks, with the score composed by Disney Legend Alan Menken, and lyrics written by Stephen Schwartz. Menken said of being asked to compose the film: “They were looking for someone to hire who could parody Alan Menken music. But they couldn’t find anyone, so thank God they hired Alan Menken. So I did a parody of Alan Menken.” There were five original songs on the soundtrack, performed by Amy Adams, James Marsden, Jon McLauglin, and Carrie Underwood. Many of these songs were considered pastiches of classic Disney songs, ranging from “I’m Wishing” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. Three songs were nominated for Academy Awards: “Happy Working Song,” “So Close,” and “That’s How You Know.”

November 19

November 19, 1906 – Imagineer and Disney Legend Bill Cottrell is Born

“…it was Uncle Bill who was Walt’s counselor and right-hand man.” – Imagineer Marvin Davis

On November 19, 1906, William Cottrell was born in South Bend, Indiana. After graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, Cottrell had a stint with George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat” before he was offered a job with the Walt Disney Studios working cameras. He then worked as a cutter and animation director before transitioning into the story department. One of shorts he is most known for is Who Killed Cock Robin? Cottrell also served as a sequence director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and contributed to the story on Pinocchio. He also was chosen to be part of the goodwill tour to South America with Walt Disney.

In 1952, Cottrell was named the vice president of WED Enterprises, using his skills from the story department to develop the story lines and dialogue for the new Disneyland attractions. He also helped develop the Zorro serial for the Disneyland television series. In 1964, he was named President of Retlaw Enterprises, the Walt Disney family corporation, a position he held until 1982. Cottrell became the first person to receive the 50-year Disney service award, and was named a Disney Legend in 1994. Cottrell passed away in 1995.

November 18

November 18, 1928 – The First Mickey Mouse Short Film, Steamboat Willie, Premieres

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

On November 18, 1928, the first Mickey Mouse short film, Steamboat Willie, premiered in theaters. Not only is it notable for being the first Mickey Mouse short film released (although not the first Mickey Mouse short produced), but it is also notable for being one of the first cartoons with synchronized sound, and the first to have a fully post-produced soundtrack. When Walt Disney was unable to get a deal with RCA or Western Electric for the film, he turned to Pat Powers and his bootleg Powers Cinephone process. The initial recording session was a disaster, which ended with Disney hiring a 15-piece band to play, and Walt Disney voicing all of the characters. The film’s title was a parody of a Buster Keaton film called Steamboat Bill Jr. The Disney film premiered at the Colony Theater in New York, and was an instant success, skyrocketing Mickey and the Disney Studios to stardom.

A steamboat is heading down the river, with Mickey at the wheel, whistling a “Steamboat Bill.” Pete appears behind him, yells at him for taking control of the boat, and sends the mouse flying onto the lower deck. The boat reaches Podunk Landing and the cargo is loaded quickly. A frantic Minnie Mouse sprints to catch the boat before it leaves, only to just miss it. Luckily, Mickey hears her cries and uses the hook on the boat to bring her aboard. She drops her guitar and sheet music, which is soon devoured by a nearby goat.

After the goat eats Minnie’s sheet music, the two use the goat to play the tune “Turkey in the Straw”

As Mickey tries to pull the guitar away from the goat, he and Minnie come to the conclusion that the goat can be worked like a turn-crank record player. Using whatever materials he can find, including an animal menagerie, the two begin their own rendition of “Turkey in the Straw.” After the performance, Mickey turns around to find Pete waiting for him angrily, and is sent to the galley to peel potatoes.

November 17

November 17, 1907 – Animator, Member of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and Disney Legend Les Clark is Born

“I remember, I was in the Annie Awards ceremony with Les Clark’s widow, and there was a picture of Walt up there with a drawing of Mickey…and she was like [whispering], ‘Les did that drawing.’”- Animation Director John Musker

On November 17, 1907, Les Clark was born in Ogden, Utah. His family moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated high school. During high school, Clark worked a summer job near the Disney Brothers Studio at a lunch counter that Walt and Roy Disney frequented. When Clark asked Walt for a job one day, Walt asked him to bring in his drawings. “He said I had a good line and why don’t I come to work on Monday,” Clark recalled. “I graduated on a Thursday and went to work [the following] Monday.” In 1927, Clark joined the studio, with Disney warning him that it might be just a temporary position. The temporary position began a lifelong career at Disney, and Clark became one of the first members of the Nine Old Men, Disney’s affectionate name for his top animators.

Clark was adept at drawing Mickey Mouse, able to draw a scene in the debut Mickey Mouse film, Steamboat Willie. One of his notable segments in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the scene where the dwarves dance with Snow White. Clark was also responsible for animating and directing on nearly 20 animated features, including Pinocchio, Dumbo, Saludos Amigos, So Dear to My Heart, 101 Dalmatians, Song of the South, Fun and Fancy Free, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. Clark also contributed to more than 100 shorts. After being the sequence director for Sleeping Beauty, Clark moved to directing television specials and educational films, which included Donald in Mathmagic Land and Donald and the Wheel. Clark retired from the Disney Studios in 1976, and passed away in 1979. He was named a Disney Legend in 1989.