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Monthly Archives: September 2013

September 20

September 20, 2002 – The Studio Ghibli Film Spirited Away is Given a Limited Release in the United States

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“Why should I hire you? Anyone can see you’re a lazy, spoiled crybaby, stupid to boot! I’ve nothing for you – forget it!”

On September 20, 2002, the Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away (known in the original Japanese as 千と千尋の神隠し) was released in the United States in a limited amount of theaters, with a general release on September 27, 2002. The film was written by director Hayao Miyazaki, who was inspired by a friend’s ten-year-old daughter, wishing to write for her a character she could look up to. Disney asked Pixar’s John Lasseter, a fan of Miyazaki’s work, to oversee the English-language version of the film. The film became the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $229,000,000 in the Japanese box office. It would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards; its success helped solidify the popularity of Studio Ghibli films within the United States, with Disney internationally distributing most of the studio’s library.

The film begins with ten-year-old Chihiro sulking in the backseat as she and her parents drive to their new home. Chihiro hates the move, and doesn’t hesitate to let her parents know. They end up lost on a back road, and Chihiro notices a rather strange stone outside. They come across a dilapidated old building, and although Chihiro doesn’t want to explore, her parents let their curiosity get the best of them. Not wanting to be left alone, she follows them. Her father thinks it’s only an abandoned theme park, but Chihiro still has a bad feeling about the place. Her parents then smell something delicious, and discover a delectable feast. Chihiro refuses to eat, but her parents dig right in. Feeling something isn’t right, Chihiro looks around the buildings, and notices black smoke from the chimney of what appears to be a bath house. She comes across a boy on the bridge, who warns her to escape before it gets dark. As she runs back to her parents, she is shocked to find that they have turned into pigs.

Chihiro runs through the bathhouse, looking for her parents, unable to believe they have been turned into pigs

Chihiro runs through the bathhouse, looking for her parents, unable to believe they have been turned into pigs

Chihiro runs around the bathhouse, and finds she is trapped at the bathhouse, as the nearest town is now far away across a river. As she moans to herself that she must be dreaming, she finds herself disappearing. She then sees several spirits making their way to the bathhouse from a ferry-boat and, frightened, she runs away. She is soon found by the boy from the bridge, who has her eat something so she won’t disappear, assuring her that she will not turn into a pig. He then protects her from a strange bird flying overhead, and takes her through several back passageways until they reach the bridge. He warns her not to breath as they cross the bridge, otherwise the spell keeping her invisible will wear off. A frog leaps into the boy’s face, and Chihiro lets out a breath of surprise, revealing herself. The boy, named Haku, continues to protect her, but gives her directions to go to the boiler room to find Kamaji and ask him for work, so she can stay and save her parents. Once she has work, the witch that runs his world will not be able to harm her.

Although frightened, Chihiro follows Haku’s instructions, ending up at Kamaji’s boiler room. When she asks him for a job, he first ignores her, then tells her that he doesn’t need any more help than the susuwatari that work for him. She assists one of the susuwatari by taking his piece of coal to the furnace, causing the rest of the susuwatari to pretend that they can’t carry their coal, wanting Chihiro to do their jobs. Kamaji then tells her that there is no work for her, just as a girl named Lin enters. As she panics upon seeing Chihiro, Kamaji tells her that Chihiro is his granddaughter. He convinces Lin to take Chihiro to Yubaba for a job, which Lin does begrudgingly. Lin then protects her from a suspicious attendant, leaving Chihiro to travel to Yubaba alone with a strange spirit. At first, Yubaba refuses to let Chihiro work at the bathhouse. She tries to find out who helped her, but Chihiro keeps demanding that she should be given a job. Yubaba then taunts her, but Chihiro tries to remain calm, even thought they are interrupted by a rather large baby.

Chihiro, after her persistent asking, is given a contract by Yubaba

Chihiro, after her persistent asking, is given a contract by Yubaba

Yubaba then agrees to give Chihiro a job as she tried to calm the baby down, and gives Chihiro a contract to sign. Yubaba then takes Chihiro’s name, leaving her as just “Sen.” She calls for Haku, who is tasked to take care of her. As she tries to talk to him, he answers her coldly, telling her to call him “Master Haku.” Haku then calls out to Lin to take care of her, as no one wants to work with a human. In private, Lin reveals that she’s actually a kind person who is happy that Chihiro was able to make it past Yubaba. Lin warns Chihiro to stay away from Haku, as he is Yubaba’s henchman. The next morning, Haku sneaks into the room where Chihiro stays with the other women and tells her to meet him at the bridge, as he will show her where her mom and dad are. As she runs to the bridge, she comes across a strange spirit that seems to be watching her. Haku then meets her and takes her to the pig pen, and she starts to cry after seeing them. As she sits outside, he gives her her old clothes, with the farewell card her friend gave her. Haku tells her that Yubaba controls others by stealing their names, and she needs to remember her real name if she wishes to leave, but must keep it a secret. Haku no longer remembers his real name, but he strangely remembers hers. He kindly offers her food that will help her regain her strength, but she still starts to cry as she realizes what kind of situation she has found herself in. She heads back to her residence and hides her clothes, unaware that the strange spirit from before has followed her.

Work begins for the night, and Chihiro works as hard as she can, although she is given rather challenging tasks. She meets the spirit that’s been following her and leaves the door open for it. Chihiro and Lin are sent to scrub the big tub, which hasn’t been cleaned in ages. Meanwhile, Yubaba senses a spirit coming that she can only call “scum.” As she tries to get a tab for her bath, the foreman refuses her, but the spirit she let in kindly gives it to her. He appears a few minutes later with more tabs, although she refuses them, making him sad. Yubaba is then alerted that a Stink God is at the gate and, while she can’t refuse the customer, she wants to rush it out as soon as possible. Chihiro is then given the job to attend to it, although she struggles due to its stench. The god enters the bath, but needs another tab to clean itself. As Yubaba watches, Chihiro successfully cleans the god, revealing it to be not a Stink God, but a River God. Chihiro then earns the respect of Yubaba and the staff, thanks to her actions.

Chihiro sees Haku getting attacked by the paper birds

Chihiro sees Haku getting attacked by the paper birds

Late that night, the spirit, called No-Face, tempts a frog worker with gold before swallowing him. He then demands to be treated like a customer, using the frog’s voice to speak. He pays everyone with gold he created, and everyone rushes to keep him happy, so long as he gives them gold. Chihiro, however, is the only one not tempted by the gold, and stays in her room. She spies a dragon being attacked by several paper birds, and calls out to him, realizing that the dragon is Haku. The paper birds fly away when Haku crashes into her room, and while she wants to care for his injuries, he flies out to find Yubaba. Chihiro then rushes off to stop him, but is interrupted by No-Face, who offers her a large amount of gold. She refuses him, and No-Face is saddened by this. Angered, he starts eating employees. Meanwhile, Chihiro continues her search for Haku, and breaks into Yubaba’s residence. She then comes across Yubaba’s rather large baby, who threatens to scream and break her arm if she doesn’t play with him. One of the paper birds, which had attached itself to Chihiro, starts talking, mocking the baby. It is then revealed to be Yubaba’s twin sister, Zeniba, who turns the baby into a mouse, and Yubaba’s bird into an insect. She then demands to take Haku to kill him for stealing a magic seal from her, but Chihiro refuses to move.

Haku wakes, breaks the spell that Zeniba cast to appear, and falls down a trap door, taking Chihiro with him. He regains consciousness enough to escape, flying into the boiler room. Chihiro then uses an emetic dumpling she received from the River God to free the seal from inside Haku, which is slowly killing him. The seal is spat out, and Haku is returned to human form, although he is once again unconscious. Kamaji then looks after Haku as Chihiro goes to return the seal to Zeniba. He gives Chihiro a train ticket to help her get to Zeniba’s, although she will have to walk back. As Chihiro looks for Yubaba, No-Face is tearing the place apart, wanting to see Chihiro. He tries to offer Chihiro anything she wants, but she refuses, telling him he should go back to where he came. He tells her that he is really lonely, and demands that she take the old. She gives him the other half of the emetic dumpling, and he releases everyone he ever swallowed. He follows her to the train, once again his silent, semi-transparent self. They all board the train and head to Zeniba’s.

Chihiro and her friends sit on the long journey to Zeniba's

Chihiro and her friends sit on the long journey to Zeniba’s

Haku wakes up later that evening, and asks Kamaji where Chihiro is, and what happened, as he doesn’t remember anything, other than Chihiro calling out for him in the darkness. He then goes to Yubaba, asking if she still hasn’t noticed that she’s lost something precious. She finally realizes that her baby is longer with her, and the gold is just sand. She panics, looking for her baby, and angrily demands that Haku tell her where he is. When she finds that he’s with Zeniba, she sits down in dismay. Haku agrees to get the baby back, but only if she allows Chihiro and her parents to be sent back to their world. Meanwhile, Chihiro and her friends arrive at Zeniba’s, and are greeted by a lamppost that will show them the way. Inside, Zeniba proves to be a kindly witch, but sadly tells Chihiro that she can’t help her, and she will have to do it on her own. When Chihiro tells Zeniba she must go back, she provides Chihiro with a magic hairtie that will protect her. Haku then appears at Zeniba’s, and Zeniba forgives Haku, making him promise to protect her. She then keeps No-Face as her helper as she flies away on Haku’s back. Suddenly, Chihiro has a flashback to when she was little and nearly drowned in a river. She was rescued by Haku, the spirit of the river, and reveals his true name to be Kohaku. He turns back into human form, and thanks her for saving him by giving him back his real name.

They arrive back at the bathhouse, and Yubaba tricks Chihiro again, as Chihiro must guess which pigs are her parents in order to break the spell. Chihiro correctly answers that her parents aren’t there, and the contract is broken, freeing Chihiro and her family. Haku takes her back to her parents, but he can’t take her further than the gate, but he promises they will meet again, although she must not look back when she goes through the tunnel back to her world. Her parents act like nothing has happened, and Chihiro quickly makes her way back, resisting the urge to look back. Chihiro joins her parents as they set off for the new house.

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September 19

September 19, 1952 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Pluto’s Party is Released to Theaters

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“Pluto! Come down here! You’re playing too rough!”

On September 19, 1952, the Mickey Mouse short film Pluto’s Party was released to theaters. This is the only short since the 1930s that features Mickey’s nephews. It was directed by Milt Schaffer, with story by Bill Berg and Leo Salkin.

Mickey is coming out of his house with a giant cake, with Pluto trailing not too far behind. It’s revealed to be a birthday cake for Pluto, as it’s the dog’s birthday. As Pluto tries to sneak a bite of the cake, Mickey calls him out, reminding him that he has to take a bath first. Pluto sulks, and tries to sneak away, but is tricked by Mickey into lading into the washbucket. After his bath, he sits at the table again, wearing a fancy collar, and once again tries to steal some cake. Mickey once again calls him out, telling him to wait for his little guests. Pluto pouts, but soon hears the knocking at the garden gate, and rushes over happily.

All of Mickey's nephews arrive for the party, bringing Pluto a large bone-shaped present

All of Mickey’s nephews arrive for the party, bringing Pluto a large bone-shaped present

All of Mickey’s nephews rush in excitedly, knocking poor Pluto flat. They bring him what looks like a giant bone for his birthday, and he happily licks them all in turn. When he opens the package, however, it is revealed to be a little red wagon instead. The nephews attach the wagon to Pluto’s collar and try to make him pull them across the yard. They all leave the wagon, distracted by something else, sending Pluto flying towards the cake, which Mickey saves before Pluto can swipe at it, and he ends up crashing into a tree. The nephews start having “fun” with Pluto, torturing the poor dog, alhtough Mickey admonishes the dog for “playing too rough.”

Mickey then has the boys engaged in a game of “Pin the Tail on Pluto.” When it’s Pluto’s turn, one of the boys grabs Pluto by the tail and spins him fast enough that Pluto can’t stand up, let alone walk straight. He ends up wrapped around a tree and, after peeking, thinks he can easily pin the tail on the picture; he doesn’t realize that his own body is perfectly blocking the picture. Pluto then accidentally stabs himself, and flies towards the picture in pain, perfectly placing the tail on the picture, winning the game. Soon after, Mickey calls everyone over for cake, and Pluto is told to make a wish. Pluto then wishes for all the nephews to disappear. After he blows out the candles, the cake suddenly disappears into the mouths of the nephews, leaving Pluto without a slice, and the nephews quickly leave, declaring the party to be over. Poor Pluto is dismayed to find he didn’t get any cake, until Mickey surprises him with the last piece. Pluto gratefully licks Mickey in-between bites of cake.

September 18

September 18, 1989 – The Animated Series Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers Airs in Syndication

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“There’s no case too big, no case too small, when you need help just call!”

On September 18, 1989, the animated series Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers began to be aired in syndication. The series first premiered on March 4, 1989, and proved to be one of the more popular shows of the Disney Afternoon programming block. The series itself was originally created to be a companion show to the popular DuckTales series, with no mention of the famous chipmunk duo. The pair was added to bring back some established Disney characters, as was also seen in TaleSpin. The first episode to show in syndication was a television film called “To The Rescue,” which gave the story of how the Rescue Rangers became a team; it was later split into five parts when shown in the weekday run. The series ran as part of the Disney Afternoon until September 3, 1993.

September 17

September 17, 2002 – The Compilation Album Disneymania is Released Through Walt Disney Records

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“Superstar artists sing Disney…their way!”

On September 17, 2002, the first album in the Disneymania series, Disneymania (also known as Disneymania 1) was released through Walt Disney Records. The idea of the album was to have popular modern musical artists perform various Disney standards, with some songs having music videos released on the Platinum Releases of Disney animated films. The album peaked at number 52 on the Billboard 200 chart, and achieved Gold certification status from the RIAA. Artists involved in this project included Usher, N’Sync, Hilary Duff, and Jessica Simpson. Four singles were released to promote the album: “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera, “Beauty and the Beast” by Jump5, “Colors of the Wind” by Ashanti and Lil’Sis Shi Shi, and “I Wanna Be Like You” by Smash Mouth.

September 16

September 16, 1933 – The Silly Symphony The Pied Piper is Released to Theaters

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“In the town of Hamelin, many years ago, the citizens were crying out a tearful tale of woe…”

On September 16, 1933, the Silly Symphony The Pied Piper was released to theaters. The short is based on the German tale The Pied Piper of Hamelin, which has been written by the likes of the Brothers Grimm and Robert Browning. The short was directed by Wilfred Jackson, and the score was done by Leigh Harline.

The short begins in the German town of Hamelin, which is under an infestation of rats. The people try all sorts of means to rid themselves of the rats, but to no avail, and the rats begin to devour every bit of food they can find. The citizens complain to the mayor, who agrees that they must get rid of the infestation. As he declares that he will give a large sack of gold to anyone who can get rid of the rats, a Pied Piper, who has just strolled into town, takes on the challenge. The mayor promises him the gold, and the Piper begins to play his instrument. The rats, mesmerized by the tune, follow him away from the town, dancing happily.

The Piper takes the rats skipping out of town, thanks to his magic pipe

The Piper takes the rats skipping out of town, thanks to his magic pipe

The people cheer as he sends the rats on their way, and the Piper makes the rats disappear into an illusion of a giant block of cheese. The Piper heads back to Hamelin to collect his gold, and the mayor refuses to pay, since all the Piper did was “pipe a tune.” Angered, he calls the town dishonest and ungrateful, and declares that he will save the children of the town from becoming such horrible adults. The mayor believes him to be bluffing, but the Piper pipes his magic pipe, calling all the children of the town to leave their chores and follow him. Happily, the children follow him, including two babes just brought by the stork. The townspeople watch in horror as the kids are lead away to the mountains, and the Piper leads them to a place for children called Happyland. They disappear into the mountain, never to be heard from again.

September 15

September 15, 2004 – Tokyo Disneyland’s Disney’s Halloween Event Begins

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“This is Halloween, this is Halloween!”

On September 15, 2004, Tokyo Disneyland’s two-month Halloween event Disney’s Halloween began. The festivities helped to give the American holiday more popularity in Japan; celebrations of Halloween in Tokyo Disneyland actually began six years prior. Disney’s Halloween incorporated the Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare that was popular in the Disneyland resort, and added a special Halloween parade, decorations, and special merchandise to make the event more palatable to the Japanese. Thanks to an addition of trick-or-treating, guests were able to come in various elaborate costumes of their favorite Disney character, although guests had to wear a sticker that identified them as a guest. The event was a huge success, and has led the way to more elaborate events in Tokyo Disneyland.

September 14

September 14, 1985 – The Animated Series Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears Premieres on NBC

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“Gummi Bears, bouncing here and there and everywhere, high adventure that’s beyond compare, they are the Gummi Bears.”

On September 14, 1985, the animated series Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears premiered on NBC. The series was Disney’s first major serialized animated series, setting a precedent for later animated series, including those of the Disney Afternoon lineup. The show was very popular, spanning 65 episodes over 6 seasons. Overall, the series tells the story of the Gummi Bears, a mythical, long-running family that lives in Gummi Glen in the time of the Middle Ages. The bears work to protect the secret of their Gummiberry Juice from Duke Igthorn and his army of ogres, and are assisted in this by Princess Calla and her page Cavin. The series was created by Jymn Magon and Art Vitello, and stars Bill Scott as Gruffi Gummi (replaced by Corey Burton after Scott passed away),  Paul Winchell as Zummi Gummi (replaced by Jim Cummings in the final season), June Foray as Grammi Gummi, Lorenzo Music as Tummi Gummi, Katie Leigh as Sunni Gummi, Noelle North as Cubbi Gummi and Princess Calla, Rob Paulsen as Gusto Gummi, and Michael Rye as Duke Igthorn. Cavin had several voice actors through the show’s run, with Christian Jacobs for Season 1, Brett Johnson for Season 2, David Faustino for Season 3, Jason Marsden for Seasons 4 and 5, and R.J. Williams for Season 6.

The first episode, “A New Beginning,” begins with Duke Igthorn preparing to destroy the Castle Dunwyn with his ogre army. Meanwhile, Cavin sets out to bring lunch to the woodcutters with Unwin, who would rather practice his swordplay. Unwin bullies Cavin, who belittles him for his belief in Gummi Bears, as they are seen as just a fairy tale. Cavin doesn’t realize that he’s being watched by someone. When ogres attack the woodcutters, Cavin is rescued by a mysterious group. He falls off the side of a cliff and is left unconscious. Back at the castle, Princess Calla tries to escape from the castle for some adventure, and finds that Cavin has been left behind.

The Gummis have found Cavin, and while Sunni wants to help him, Gruffi refuses, saying that they’ve already done enough. Zummi realizes that Cavin is wearing a Great Gummi Medallion, and Grammi wonders where a human boy would get such an important medallion. Cavin wakes up and is happily surprised to find that Gummi Bears do exist. The bears flee, but Cavin follows them. The bears once again have to flee from an ogre, and Cavin accidentally ends up in the Gummi Bear house. The bears soon tie Cavin up and plan on interrogating him. They ask where he got the medallion, and when he asks for something to drink, Tummi accidentally gives him Gummiberry Juice. For a short time, Cavin displays great strength, scaring the bears, but once it wears off, the start to talk and become friends. Zummi then takes Cavin to the Great Book of Gummi, and makes him swear on it that he will never tell a living soul about the existence of the Gummi Bears. Sunni and Cubbi then take Cavin exploring with them.

Sunni, Cubbi, and Cavin stumble over Duke Igthorn’s plan to destroy the castle, and Cavin tries to convince the Gummi’s to help rescue the King. Cavin is disappointed that the bears refuse to help, and throws down his medallion in disgust. When Zummi wears it, it begins to glow and drags him to the Great Book of Gummi. The medallion opens the long sealed book and, after reading some of the pages, decide that they should help Cavin in his quest to protect the castle. Cavin is quickly captured by the ogres. Zummi uses an invisibility spell on Gruffi to get Gummiberry juice to Cavin, but the spell begins to wear off. Fortunately, he is able to throw the juice to Cavin, who uses his strength to beat up the ogres. The King is alerted to Igthorn’s scheme, and sends his knights to stop the Duke. The bears and Cavin work together to destroy the catapult and keep the ogres busy. Igthorn manages to intercept the Gummiberry juice from Gavin, and marvels at his strength. The bears and Cavin roll the catapult away, but while Igthorn boasts he doesn’t need the catapult anymore, he is squashed by the boulder once the juice wears off, and is sent flying through the castle. Cavin’s sleeve is caught in the catapult as it rolls towards the castle, but manages to remain unharmed after it crashes into the castle. Calla congratulates Cavin for his bravery, and Cavin almost gives away the secret of the Gummi Bears, but Zummi is relieved to find that Cavin keeps their secret safe. The bears return home, and enter in their brave deed in the Great Book of Gummi.

September 13

September 13, 1997 – The Programming Block One Saturday Morning Premieres on ABC

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“What would make you feel real fine? One Saturday Morning!”

On September 13, 1997, the programming block One Saturday Morning premiered on ABC network’s ABC Saturday Morning lineup. The block, advertised as “five hours of summer, once a week,” consisted of a variety of programming, which included the shows Doug (acquired from Nickelodeon), Pepper Ann, and Recess. Interspersed in the broadcasts were short segments from a roving reporter named Manny the Uncanny, The Monkey Boys, and Mrs. Munger’s Class. One segment, entitled Great Minds Think for Themselves, featured the character of the Genie, voiced by Robin Williams, who gave viewers a look at great figures in history, including Jackie Robinson and Clara Barton. The Great Minds segments received two Emmy nominations during its run. The programming block ended its run on September 7, 2002.

September 12

September 12, 1986 – The Film Attraction Captain EO Opens at Walt Disney World’s Epcot

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“We are here to change the world.”

On September 12, 1986, the 3D science-fiction adventure film opened in Journey to Imagination, located in Walt Disney World’s Epcot park. The film replaced the Magic Journeys film, and was based on a story idea from Walt Disney Imagineering artists. The film is noted as the first “4D” film, which not only incorporates 3D filmmaking, but adds another dimension of experience through in-theaters effects, such as lasers and smoke, synced with the film. It is also regarded as a “space opera,” as it incorporates two songs written and performed by its lead actor, pop singer Michael Jackson. The attraction was also opened in Disneyland on September 18, 1986; Tokyo Disneyland on March 20, 1987; and Disneyland Paris on April 12, 1992. The Walt Disney World version closed on April 7, 1997, and was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. After the death of Michael Jackson, the film was brought back in tribute, opening on June 30, 2010. The film was produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and stars Michael Jackson as Captain EO, Anjelica Huston as the Supreme Leader, and Dick Shawn as Commander Bog.

September 11

September 11, 2009 – Buzz Lightyear Returns to Earth on the Space Shuttle Discovery

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“Disney-Pixar Buzz Lightyear space ranger action figure disembarks from Space Shuttle Discovery following its landing at Edwards Air Force Base.”

On September 11, 2009, the Space Shuttle Discovery returned to Earth after 15 months in space on its STS-128 mission. On board was a 12-inch figure of Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear, as part of an educational and public outreach program partnership between Disney and NASA. During the time on the station, the figure was the star of several education videos posted on the NASA website; after the landing, Disney and NASA continued this partnership by creating an online game and a contest to create a patch. The figure, and Discovery, landed at Andrews Air Force Base; the figure was then treated to a ticker-tape parade at Walt Disney World.