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Hall-of-Fame Rocker Neil Young and Mickey Mouse: the Surprising Connection

selective focus photo of boy standing near miniature train toys

Neil Young’s star was taking off just as Walt Disney’s was setting. Young was touring Canada as a solo artist in 1965. In 1966, he formed the “Mynah Birds” with Rick James, which was signed to Motown. The group had problems when James was arrested for being AWOL from the U.S. Military. Still, Young went to Los Angeles where he formed the highly successful Buffalo Springfield in the same year. It was also the year Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, died.

Neil Young’s Invention

Ben Young, Neil’s son, has cerebral palsy. Growing up, Neil wanted to be able to connect with his son, so he built a 700-foot model train track. He then designed a controller that Ben could use to control the trains. In 1995, Lionel Trains was threatened with bankruptcy. Neil put together an investment group and bought the company, so he could continue his experiments with model trains. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2008.

Mickey Mouse Hand Car

Flashback to May of 1934, and the great depression has taken the life out of the Lionel. It’s facing bankruptcy but goes into receivership. Two months later, Disney’s marketing genius Kay Kamen comes to Lionel with a plan because he believes in the company. Lionel could make and sell a windup Mickey Mouse Hand Car. They do, and by Christmas, Lionel had paid off its debts, and by January, it was out of receivership.

The Connection

While Walt Disney had a love trains in common with Neil Young, the connection Neil shares with Mickey Mouse is they both saved the same model train company from bankruptcy.

Lessons of Creativity

Neil Young is in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. His creativity comes out in his music, but that didn’t stop him from dabbling in something new. He wanted to share his love of trains with his son. He saw a need and figured out how to fill it. Neil Young was no dabbler in trains though; he had been playing with them since he was five. It was Kay Kamen’s belief in Lionel that led him to offer the company the opportunity to turn their fortunes around. The company said yes to the offer. “Yes” is often the most powerful word.

For more on creativity, follow this blog and join our Patreon. You can also get my books: “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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Fantasmic! at the River Belle Terrace

Everyone loves Fantsmic! Water, video projected on water, fire, fireworks, special effects, magic, and a catchy tune make this one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland. Even after more than 25 years, people stake out their seats early and cause traffic problems on the Rivers of America to see Mickey’s imagination run wild as he faces off against some of Disney’s scariest villains.

More colorful than years before, Fantasmic! 2018 features new segments and a tighter script (especially the Jack Sparrow segment). While Mickey and the Sword of Truth no longer face Maleficent in dragon form (instead, he vanquishes her as the sorcerer’s apprentice), the whole show is well-produced and choreographed.

The best seats in the house (of the mouse) aren’t necessarily in the front at the edge of the Rivers of America where spectators are likely to get wet. Instead, the River Belle Terrace offers an elevated view above the crowds and away from the water. This dining package includes a lanyard and a menu full of great food to choose from. Better, you don’t have to stake out your seats because you’ve reserved them far in advance.

The corn chowder is spicy, warm, and tasty. It hits the right spot during a cool winter evening in Frontierland, and it fills the belly and soul with goodness. The tater tots are spiced to be addictive. (As someone who isn’t a huge tater tot fan, I couldn’t get enough of them and found myself popping them in my mouth even after I was full.) The beef brisket was good, too. The showstopper, however, was the Maleficent dessert: chocolate and spice in a raspberry sauce makes it amazing.

The tables may be a little wobbly, and the seating area doesn’t have any heating elements, but the views are positively Fantasmic! And Early show viewers can stay to see the fireworks form the comfort of their table on the River Belle Terrace. Check out my Disneyland page.

From the 2017 show
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Speakers’ Club celebrates Mickey Mouse

We talked about Mickey Mouse, his place in cinematic history and what he has meant to the success of companies and stars. But the most exciting part of the evening was that we drew Mickey Mouse. The following two photos are included because one shows the Mickey Mice… Mouses… drawings better and the other two show the faces of the students better. Be sure to check out the lesson plan for more info on Mickey Mouse!

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!

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Speakers’ Club Nov. 17, 2018

Speakers’ Club Nov. 17, 2018

The Rules?

Win, Lose or Draw: https://youtu.be/Q5O7rCQaVDw

Three of these things: https://youtu.be/pzVbRmrc9-Q

Your questions?

Baby It’s Cold Outside: https://youtu.be/hnH_RGyzbSU

Do You Hear What I Hear? https://youtu.be/Cm8goTp16js

Who has a birthday on November 18?

Steamboat Willie: https://youtu.be/BBgghnQF6E4

The first fully synchronized sound cartoon, 1928

The Lionel Caboose and the Mickey Mouse Watch Ingersoll, 1930s

The Band Concert, Mickey’s first color cartoon, 1935: https://youtu.be/qLbmWE-0Rmk

Fantasia, 1940: https://youtu.be/3hKgEylk8ks

Mickey Mouse Club, 1955: https://youtu.be/qq6Kgf6Tnus

Stars from the Mickey Mouse Club, 1990s: https://youtu.be/J0vjHWrYL7g

How to Draw Mickey Mouse: https://youtu.be/R-JFC6cyTmc

America?

New Year’s Eve?

Book?