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Disneyland Article
Marvelous Mechanized Magic Kingdom
Steven Orsinelli
About five or six months ago I received an e-mail from the 1313 Club & Ape Pen Publishing Informing me of an event to take place at the Disneyland Hotel. The event, "The Marvelous Mechanized Magic Kingdom" was to feature the talents and stories of current and former employees and imagineers as they worked for Walt over the years. The 1313 Club and Ape Pen are both are created and run by Carlene Thie, Carlene's family has been involved with Disneyland from the beginning since Walt Disney first broke ground for the original Disneyland park. Her Grandfather Mell Kilpatrick, was a freelance photographer who took photos of the first nine years of the parks construction and operation. Carlene's father, Blaine Sissel, was also part of the construction crew who helped in building the park, working on Sleeping Beauty's Castle and many other buildings there. Even her Grandmother worked at the park for nearly two decades in the bait shack on Tom Sawyers Island, the Model Department, and other locations in the park.

I give you this background because this little lady has "Disney Blood" flowing through her veins even if she is not a direct descendent of the Disney family. I know this because of the hard work and sweat she puts herself through to put on some great shows. By seeing, meeting and talking to these past & present employees at these events, it has given me a glimpse of what it was really like to work for Walt and his incredible company, sometimes great, and sometimes not. I have been to two of her shows, the first was a tribute to the Golden Horseshoe review, it was fantastic and very entertaining. I even got to meet Wally Boag the head comic entertainer at the Horseshoe for years, as well as other Disney fans and employees at the park.

I had such a great time at the previous show, I decided to make plans to attend the Mechanized event inviting one of my film students as well as a pal that creates all my robots and weird props that I need from time to time to produce the short films we produce. Appropriate dress was stressed, asking us guests to wear semi-formal attire. Once I read this, my hand almost veered from buying the tickets, thinking, what, I can't wear my normal, ratty black t-shirt with the Panavision logo on the back! How is anyone going to know I am a filmmaker! Once I calmed down, and thought about it a bit, I realized it might be fun to dress up and go to an event like this. Hey remember it was not that long ago that my parents and yours, dressed up to the nine's just to attend a movie back in the day.

So, after donning my Black Blazer, my Tan pants, Blue shirt, Red Mickey Mouse tie, Red Artist Beanie, and Big Round Black Glasses, off we went to the show.

Upon arriving at the Disney Hotel I started to get excited, it was a blast being dressed up at the hotel, everyone was starring, probably at my silly French hat, but hell I didn't care. I was kind of going for a Ward Kimball look, (He was one of Walt's nine old men) they say "one of the wilder ones" he was an amazing animator, and train enthusiast. He was the one that inspired Walt to build the train in his back yard, and that led to bigger and better trains at the park.

Ok I am getting side tracked (no pun intended) . As we waited in line to gain entry into the Grand Ballroom at the hotel, people started showing up in their semi-formals. Man we were all looking good! I saw Carline going down the line looking for her guest speakers, she was all work as usual, but flashed a friendly smile when you caught her eye. I was standing in line with the fellow who produces and hosts "Window to the Magic" I only knew this because of his black polo shirt logo, he had flown in from somewhere far away and did not have time to change, he looked a bit frazzled but happy to be there.

As the line moved, I also met a nice fellow that flew in from Texas for the show, wow here I thought my driving two hours to the gig was far! We checked in and headed toward the entryway. Upon entering the lobby of the ball room we knew immediately it was going to be one enchanting night. To my left were two restored "People Mover Cars" on a track. Big bright and yellow, these cars really brought back some great memories as a kid in the park.

About 5 foot in front of the cars, was the original Ride Operator Panel , a man standing next to us said "hey guys go head and operate it" well it did not take long before we were pushing all the buttons , we were making the roofs of the car go up and down and more. Weeee this was too good to be true!

As we walked through the exhibit, all around us were unique artifacts, like Original Disney Art and many Disney related props and one of kind pieces up for a silent auction, there was an original car from Mr. Toads Wild ride, a working Wally's head that you could operate from the film "Wally". Just when I thought it was over, we stepped into the next exhibit room and there, all over the room, were animatronics of all kinds. A crawling spider, a working robot, Scully from Monsters inc, and cool props from rides and more.

I past the first wet bar, and got myself a nice diet coke, with a diet coke chaser, man I was livin'! I noticed Bob Gurr was right in front of me, Bob was the imagineer who designed the Monorail, Autopia, the Double-Decker bus and Antique cars that roam main street. He was also responsible for more than 100 other Disney attractions around the globe. We talked for awhile, he told me his latest passion was making short films! Wow, I said that's what I teach, he seemed very interested. I gave him my card hoping he would call to set up a talk for my film kids someday, but you know how those things go.

At the very end of the room I heard some live music, as I turned the corner there was a band playing music from the Haunted House and other choice original material. Man this show was so cool! My friends and I were very glad to be here, again Carlene outdid herself.

The doors opened to the main ballroom, the salads were already on the tables. We found our table, number six, pretty close to the front. Everyone sat down and started to munch. I was sitting next to a gentleman who had flown in from Florida for the event, while here he wanted to visit our Disneyland for the first time. Seth was his name, he told me he liked our park better. He was also a contributing writer for the Orlando Weekly, as he sat there, he went through three pens as he wrote on two full legal pads about the show and its guests. Wow, I started to think, man I should be doing that, then I came to my senses, I wanted to enjoy the show, then write about it.

I realize I am writing quite a lot in this month's article, I guess it's because the show ran from 3:300 to 11:30 pm so the fun never ended. Neal Patrick Harris ( Doogie Howser fame) was the main host of the show as well as Brian Sommer voice over talent for many projects. I admit I was never a fan of Brian Sommer, it would really get old hearing him on a now defunct Disney internet site always saying in the his Disney Park voice "Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, so many times I wanted to reach out and strangle him. That being said, I had to change my mind quickly because he was professional, funny and only said that line one time. He really was a great host when he was questioning the guest speakers. One thing I liked was, he let them talk as much as they wanted and never interrupted them.

Man I could go on and on, but the night was filled with magic, Bob Gurr came out in a mock Monorail that moved about 3-inches and hour to get across the stage, it was so funny we were all on the floor laughing hysterically. Retired Imagineers where there lined up across the stage sitting and sharing the mic about unheard funny story's of Walt and how many rides and films came about. They also talked about the hurtles they had to overcome, and working with ideas and themes that had never been built before. Carlene had great film footage of the park being built in the 50's that had never been seen taken by her Grandfather.

Oh what a night! The food was great, the coffee amazing, and show was out of this world. I kept looking around the room to see how many people had left during the break. I was glad to see most all of us stayed to hear Carlines fabulous guests talk about their heyday working at the studio and the parks. As Alice Davis and Xavier Atencio were interviewed, we were all on the edge of our seats with smiles like we 10 years old listening to Mark Twain tell a story in person. Most all of the guests had many years working for Walt and the company, they were all adorable and had stories of building Mr. Lincoln and more, just too many memories to mention here. Kathryn Beaumont was the voice of Alice in Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan, she was on stage still looking fabulous, telling us her Disney life story. We were visited by R2 and C3P0 moving all around the stage delivering great lines and cracking us up to no end.

There was the train guys, Michael Broggie, Rodger Broggie Jr. Telling us tales of building the Disney railroad and just a host of others that made the evening "a one of a kind event". Carlene and her club put on the greatest show ever for us Disney types and it is something my pals and I will never forget. Unfortunately she told me it was the last one.

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