We Disney aficionados simply cannot obtain enough neat tidbits of trivia, seeking answers to everyday quandaries that strike us. Fortunately, Disney Editions just released a fine trivia book that puts many questions to rest. Dave Smith, Chief Archivist Emeritus of the Walt Disney Archives, has long been known to help fans with this endeavor in his legendary “Ask Dave” column. Now, Smith, author of this fact-filled title Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered, has compiled together over 1,000 questions, providing responses and well-explained descriptions as well.
In this edition of Disney In Depth, I’ll impart my thoughts on this book, and also share some of the more unique questions and answers that you can find inside Disney Trivia from the Vault. I’ll give you 23 fun facts. Why 23? If you’re a Disney fan you should know the reason. (1923 is the year the company was founded).
At just over 250 pages, this eight-chapter book, each dedicated to a different aspect of The Walt Disney Company, contains a vast variety of little-known pieces of trivia that you can bring up at social events. Well, I’m not sure how relevant bringing up the “Kids Amateur Dog Show” at Disneyland from the 1960s would be, but would you know about that had you not picked up a copy of this? I don’t think so. The allure of trivia books is that they contain such oddball details, each with fascinating and extensive stories, making this a treasure trove.
While you won’t be able to sit down and read this cover-to-cover during a lazy Sunday afternoon, as you would be overloaded with too much information, this works as a handy resource. Each chapter, with the exception of the last one focused on Walt Disney, features over 100 questions, varying in great range according to the subject matter. “Animated Features” contains trivia that dates back as far as seven decades ago, to the Pixar films of today. “Animated Shorts” is more centralized in days gone by, focusing on topics like the Silly Symphony pieces and classic characters like Goofy. “Disneyland,” the longest section of the book, offers insight into the events and attractions of yesteryear. “Live-Action Films” stays predominately within Walt Disney’s time, rarely paying attention to recent hits like Enchanted and The Princess Diaries. “Publications” remains limited to classic comics and magazines, while “Television” rarely veers off of The Mickey Mouse Club, Zorro, Davy Crockett and the early Disney Channel. “Walt Disney World,” as broad a subject as that is, carries through with this portion, as a diversity of topics fills the chapter. “Walt Disney,” of course, centers on the man’s career, personal life and many accomplishments.
I have dedicated much free time to racking up Disney pieces of trivia, but even I was surprised by how much information I had no familiarity with. Rest assured Smith throws in some basic facts, like the names of Walt’s “Nine Old Men” and the reason for the real-life mermaids’ departure from swimming in the Submarine Voyage lagoon. Still, those are more the exception to the rule, as most of the finer points fall under the “unusual” category. Many readers’ questions ask for the name of a certain film, listing the storyline and principal actors, but even more are stranger. For instance, one Canadian asks “Who are Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s parents?” Apparently Donald’s sister, only mentioned once in a cartoon, is named Dumbella. Any relation to the flying elephant? Probably not, but where else would you find an oddball piece of info along those lines?
I was pleasantly surprised by not only the conciseness of Smith’s answers, but also by how he inserted extra knowledge that readers may not have otherwise known. It is apparent that collecting years’ worth of questions was no easy task, and the book excels in its ability to demonstrate that Disney is not just limited to cartoons and attractions, but also connected to world history and pop culture. Few brands have made such an impact on society as Disney, and Trivia from the Vault helps illustrate that fact in demonstrating the comprehensiveness of the corporation that Walt built. The assortment of facts is mind-boggling, and at $9.99 for a paperback on Amazon (or $7.69 for the Kindle), this is certainly worth having in your bookshelf for easy reference. Here’s wishing that a second volume is not too far down the line.
And now, here are 23 fun facts I discovered, paraphrased from Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered.
1. Beauty and the Beast was not Disney’s first movie to be adapted into a stage production in Manhattan, but rather Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which held performances at Radio City Music Hall in late 1979.
2. The “10/6” listed on Mad Hatter’s hat references the cost of the item, or ten shillings sixpence, which was the former currency of Britain.
3. Many Disney animated features contain cameos, including Belle as a city-goer in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, characters from Lady and the Tramp in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and Tinker Bell in The Black Cauldron.
4. When A Bug’s Life premiered on videocassette, the film was available in one of four covers featuring a different character (Flik, Heimlich, Dot, or Francis), and a fifth version showcasing villain Hopper was added at the last minute.
5. Instrumental piece “Clair de Lune” was cut from the original Fantasia, because the film would have been too long, so the tune was instead moved into Make Mine Music.
6. Pluto is supposed to be a mutt, though in his first short film, he is considered a bloodhound.
7. Chip and Dale’s relationship is never explicitly listed, though animator Bill Justice considered and depicted them as friends.
8. With the studio’s permission, Mickey Mouse was featured in several non-Disney productions, including 1934’s Hollywood Party.
9. Mickey Mouse’s height has never been “listed,” per se, though in a recording session, Walt indicated the height of the character was similar to that of a little kid.
10. At Disneyland, the telegraph code at Disneyland Railroad’s New Orleans Square station spells out Walt’s dedication speech at the opening of the park in 1955.
11. The “Disney point” of holding the index and middle fingers together, has been used because of its inoffensive nature to individuals from other nations.
12. Over 4,000 trash cans be found in the Walt Disney World theme parks, excluding those found in the parking lots, resorts, or entertainment districts.
13. During the early days of The Haunted Mansion, Cast Members scared Guests inside the attraction, dressed as characters.
14. Disneyland has been featured in a few films, including 40 Pounds of Trouble and That Thing You Do.
15. Disney taught children about the dangers of steroids in the educational film, entitled Benny and the ‘Roids (A Story About Steroid Abuse).
16. Walt’s relatives made cameo appearances in some of his films, including his daughter Sharon in Johnny Tremain.
17. The way you can tell Donald’s nephews apart is that Huey is dressed in red, the brightest “hue,” Dewey is dressed in blue, or the color of “due,” and the other, Louie, is green.
18. The coins dropped into the waters of the It’s A Small World attraction at Walt Disney World are donated to various organizations, such as Quest, Inc.
19. When Walt Disney World experienced inclement weather, as in the case of 1999’s Hurricane Floyd, animals were moved into secure buildings, and guests in resorts in danger of flooding were moved to other properties.
20. The countries featured in Epcot were sought out by Disney to sponsor the various pavilions.
21. The figures in The Hall of Presidents are grouped according to their respective time periods.
22. Both Walt Disney and Ray Kroc, who launched McDonald’s, trained for World War I in Sound Beach, Connecticut.
23. Walt and all of his siblings except Roy were born in December.
Book grade: B+
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Return back to Disney In Depth next week for another edition of fun.
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