Destination D: Celebrating 75 Years of Disney Animated Features – Part 2

Alright, now that I’ve kept you on the edge of your seats long enough for part two of Destination D, here it is!

What a day the first day was! It’s hard to find the right words to describe just how incredible it was to hear all of the stories, see artwork, and to be a part of this wonderful event! My mom and I opted to do a Magic Morning in the California Adventure on Sunday, which was really fun! We headed straight for Cars Land like everyone else, but there weren’t as many people as there would be at park opening. We pretty much walked onto Radiator Springs Racers, and did Luigi’s Flying Tires for the first time. There were a few panels we missed out on that morning, but we had a really good time in the park, and then resting up for the rest of the day.

Later that afternoon, we went to the last two panels of the weekend. The first was a salute to character voice actors, which featured Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy and Pluto), Lisa Davis (Anita, 101 Dalmatians), David Frankham (Sgt. Tibbs, 101 Dalmatians), Kathryn Beaumont (Alice, Alice in Wonderland), Chris Sanders (Stitch, Lilo and Stitch), and Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli, The Jungle Book and Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree). Each of them told their story of how they got their parts, and some of them told of their encounters with Walt, as he wanted to be called. Lisa Davis’ story in particular stood out, because she had worked with Zsa Zsa Gabor on a film and was able to do a spot on impression of Zsa Zsa. Walt was looking for that type of persona for Cruella de Vil, and had Lisa read for Cruella, while he [Walt] read as Anita. About half way through the reading, Lisa realized she was more like Anita than Cruella, and said, “Mr. Disney, could I read as Anita and you read as Cruella?” It was a bold move, she said, but it got her the part as Anita. In addition to hearing stories, Bill (Goofy and Pluto) and Chris (Stitch) both spoke a few lines as their characters, which was really fun to hear.

And last, but not least, the final panel was about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, of course, the film that started it all. Musicologist and historian Alex Rannie discussed many of the musical aspects of the film, and shortly after, introduced Marge Champion, who, at 93, came out doing the can-can. Marge was the live action reference model for Snow White when she was just 14 years old. She spoke of her dance background, her audition, and the fact that she waited 6 months until she was given the job as the model. It turned out, they had someone else as the model. Since Marge was a dancer, as her father was a dance teacher, they got the opportunity to teach Shirley Temple ballet. The 2 girls became friends, which was a fun tidbit of information to learn. Afterwards, my mom and I left so we could get in line for the Alan Menken concert.

I wanted to get in line early in order to get a good seat to see Alan, because I also wanted to get good pictures and video. We ended up waiting about 3 and a half hours, which was fine, because we could rest, get dinner, or chat with other people in line. It was fun to talk with people around us, because we all have a common love for Disney and are simply excited to be there. I met Nicole from sparklyeverafter.com, her boyfriend Jim, Lou Mongello of WDW Radio, and some of their friends. It was also fun to see Dave and Becky of Mousetalgia, as I’ve known them for years since Becky was one of my 8th grade teachers. I also got a super brief chat with Lisa Davis in passing, she is so sweet!

7:30pm couldn’t come fast enough, as that’s when we were going to be let into the ballroom. My mom and I had great seats, which were the middle isle, so I had a straight, unobstructed view! Once there, we noticed that there was quite a commotion in the rows behind us, which were the VIP seats. Well, Richard Sherman of the Sherman brothers, had just been seated. Tony Baxter was next to him, and other legends included Dave Smith, Bob Gurr, Marge Champion, Alice Davis, Kathryn Beaumont, and many others. I had met Dave Smith at a tour of the Walt Disney Studios and archives last November, so I went to thank him for showing us the archives. I also met Tony Baxter and thanked him for his contributions in the parks. I’m big on thanking people, especially those who create the Disney magic that has made an impact on my life.

Finally, 8 o’clock came, and Steven Clark came out to welcome everyone to this evening, which would be a rare treat as Alan doesn’t really do concerts. He acknowledged all of the legends that were present, who were all right behind me, and then introduced Alan Menken to the stage. To get everyone excited, Alan started off with “Prince Ali” from Aladdin, and talked about his career from the early beginnings. Then, he covered almost every single project he’s worked on, in chronological order. There were even some scrapped songs and projects as well. I bet you didn’t know that there was a Roger Rabbit prequel planned that ultimately never happened. Well, Alan worked on that, as well as the Aladdin show that is coming to Broadway soon. Alan had so many stories to tell, which were wonderful to hear, and spoke highly of many people he’s worked with over the years. He even played a song called “Disneyland” that Howard Ashman, a former music partner, wrote years ago. What surprised me, is that Alan is quite the funny guy. The piano kept rolling because he moved so much and was so into the music, so that when he went to move the bench, he smashed his hand. He said “ouch!” so loud, that the audience gasped, and he held his hand, looked at the crowd and said, “well, my career is over!” He waited a second for the pain to subside and then started playing again. We were just laughing, as it was so funny, but we were relieved that he didn’t injure his hand as bad as we thought. At the end of the show, Steven Clark came back out to thank Alan, as the audience roared and applauded, and gave him quite the standing ovation. He walked off stage, but of course came out for an encore. He played “Proud of Your Boy,” which didn’t make it into Aladdin, and dedicated it to the late Howard Ashman. He got quite emotional as he talked of Howard, and he did a wonderful rendition of the song.

After the encore, Alan was once again given a standing ovation, and thus concluded Destination D. His concert was supposed to be an hour long, but it ended at about 2 hours. I wasn’t complaining, and I don’t think anyone else was either. People filed out into the lobby, chatting with friends and Disney legends, while my mom and I waited to see if, by some chance, Alan would come out and greet people. My mom waited with my for a few minutes, but decided to head back to the room as another early day awaited us. I decided to stay for a few more minutes and I’m so glad that I did! David Frankham (Sgt. Tibbs) had been walking around, greeting people and signing autographs. I didn’t want to disturb him, as every time he walked by, I thought he was leaving. But, the very last time he walked by, which was right where I was standing, I said, “Thank you so much for being here and sharing with us today. It was fun to have you here.” He gave me a big hug, said “Aww, thank you, you just made my weekend,” and blew me a kiss as he left. It was truly a moment that I will cherish forever. That moment was the finale of the wonderful two days that were Destination D.

My mom and I capped off the weekend with another Magic Morning on Monday in Disneyland, followed by a character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen. The trek home seemed long, but that’s because it was a wonderful weekend! I had a great time being with my mom, enjoying the parks, making new friends, experiencing the magic of Destination D, and making new memories.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my report on Destination D as well as the photos! Check out Mr. DAPs YouTube page for a video of Alan performing “The Little Mermaid” medley!

Caitlyn

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