There’s no question that Walt Disney’s life changed the world. As the mastermind behind Mickey Mouse and the entire Disney enterprise, his life’s work has inspired children and adults alike for decades. And when he passed away due to lung cancer in 1966, the world truly lost one of the greats. This exclusive, rare interview with the man himself gives you an insight into just how brilliant a visionary he was.
However, Disney made an impact in another (little-known) way, as well. Legend has it that he wrote one last message before being hospitalized prior to his death, says Disney historian Jim Korkis. Titled “TV Projects In Production: Ready for Production or Possible for Escalation and Story,” the note listed four names: Ron Miller, 2 Way Down Cellar, Kurt Russell, and CIA—Mobley.
Still, the note’s true meaning remained a mystery for decades. What did Disney’s last message to the world intend to convey?
Walt Disney over the years
Walt Disney over the years
UNSPECIFIED - NOVEMBER 27: Walt Disney's father and mother late 19th century (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
Actor Leslie Howard and producer Walt Disney shake hands after playing in a polo match together.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney (1901-1966), famed orignator of full-length animated motion pictures, at work at his drawing board.
(Original Caption) Portrait of Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966), originator of the vast Disney empire consisting of theme parks, cartoons, and movies. Disney is waving and smiling for the camera in this 3/4 length photograph.
Walt Disney with kittens.
(Original Caption) 2/1942: Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Walt Disney, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, John L. Sullivan, Assistant to the Secretary George Buffington, Disney Artist Joseph Grant, and Disney writer Richard Huemer look over Disney's sketches for 'The New Spirit,' Disney cartoon for the Treasury Department.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney takes an imaginary spin high on an old Eagle racing bike while his daughter, Diane, paces him on an 1870 model tricycle. The bikes are part of a collection in Ford's Edison Museum. Undated photograph.
(Original Caption) Walter E. Disney, famous producer of animated cartoons, is shown with doll replicas of his most famous characters which were responsible for his being conferred an honorary degree of Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University Commencement. President James Bryant Conant made the presentation before 5,800 special guests, alumni, students, faculty and members of the graduating class.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, with Louis Lumiere, French Grand old man of films, during the former's visit to Paris.
American film producer and creator of Disney World, Walt Disney, holds sheet music with actor Eddy Nelson.
(Original Caption) 1939-Los Angeles, CA- Shirley Temple presents an Academy Award to Walt Disney for his outstanding cartoon, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' one big statue and seven little ones, at the 11th Annual Academy of Motion picture Arts & Sciences dinner.
(Original Caption) Arriving on the Rex is Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is the animated cartoon character who cavorts his way over the silver sheet much to the delight of America's younger generation.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney learns to do El Gato, one of the colorful and traditional dances of the Argentine countryside. During the survey trip which Disney and a group of his artists made to South America, they spent many hours studying and recording through sketches and photography, the ins and outs of numerous dances and costumes.
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According to former Disney archivist Dave Smith, who found the note, Disney was listing possible future projects for his franchise. And one name stood out: Kurt Russell’s.
Disney had expressed his awe of the 15-year-old’s talent before, praising him on television and personally ensuring that the boy received a studio contract. In October 1966, just months before his death, Disney even predicted “a great acting future” for Russell. But ultimately, it was Disney’s last words that ended up launching Russell’s career as an actor. And that’s not the only time Disney’s words proved life-changing—these timeless Walt Disney quotes continue to inspire people around the world.
Russell confirmed this suspicion in a 2013 episode of The View. “I assume, as [does] everybody else, that he was talking about some movie that he was thinking about having me in… I don’t know what to make of it other than that,” Russell said.
The young actor would go on to star in dozens of Disney films, including The One and Only and Original Family Band. So in the end, we have Disney to thank for one of the most memorable (and hunkiest!) talents on-screen. Of course, Disney fanatics may already be familiar with this story, but you may not know these mind-blowing facts you never knew about Disneyland.
Join Disney's Mickey and Minnie for new surprises in the Magic Kingdom. Sign the Celebration Guest Book and meet the duo (in their new party outfits!) for a picture inside the Town Square Theater. Then join them outside in front of the castle for their new Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party.
The new outdoor dance parade features a new song called "It's a Good Time," and classic cast members like Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Chip 'n Dale and more.
Choreographer Cindy Wilson told the Disney Parks Blog, “The ‘Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It!’ Street Party is a throwback to the Mickey Mouse Club, with wonderful music that everybody’s going to want to get up and dance to, and it’s contemporary at the same time. I think when [the characters] all come off the floats, guests are going to want to just jump in.”
At the start of 2019, Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios transformed into a Municiberg city block. The park features a party for Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible and Frozone to honor their victories and a meet-and-greet with Edna Mode and her best creations. In addition, guests can look throughout Pixar Place for clues on where to find the youngest member of the Incredible family, Jack-Jack.
Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy
Opening: March 31, 2019
Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy is a new show using high tech screens. Guests (rookie racers) will learn the rules of the road from "Cars" star Lightning McQueen. There will also be a new character meet-and-greet with Cruz Ramirez.
Wonderful World of Animation
Opening: May 1, 2019
The Wonderful World of Animation is a new projection light show that will take place at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The show will take guests on a journey through more than 90 years of Disney and Pixar animations with favorites including "The Incredibles," "Coco," "Sleeping Beauty" and more.
Epcot is opening a new space-themed restaurant called Space 220. According to Disney Food Blog, the restaurant will showcase simulate space views while guests sit in a restaurant modeled after a space station. It will seat more than 350 guests, those of which will be "transported" to the restaurant by elevators covered in digital screens that will mock a trip to space.
A job posting seeking staff for the restaurant lists April 2019 as when applicants can join the cast, so we can assume this restaurant will be open by summer.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Opening: Fall 2019
Both Disney World and Disneyland will be opening a Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The park is being made to look like the planet of Batuu, which is a remote outpost that was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes and is now a safe haven for those avoiding the First Order.
There will be two main attractions where guests can fly the Millennium Falcon and another that puts guests in a Star Destroyer in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
Other fun additions will include Luke Skywalker's blue milk, a marketplace and toys, apparel and characters like BB-8 and Chewbacca.
If you like taking the monorail into the parks, you'll want to check out the new Skyliner Gondolas. Similar to a lift you'd find at a ski resort, the gondolas will take guests through two parks, offering spectacular views.
For more on the Skyliner Gondola system, see here.
Disney's Riviera Resort
Opening: Fall 2019
The new Disney Riviera Resort hotel is inspired by the "grandeur of Europe." It will have transportation to the parks, a fitness center, a rooftop restaurant and wide range of room sizes.
The Riviera Pool, a family-friendly pool, will be decorated with stucco façades, a slide that winds around a column tower (pictured) and a kids interactive water play area that slightly mimics the public fountains of Europe.
For adults seeking peace and quiet, there's a separate area called the Beau Soleil Pool.
While there's no set opening date yet for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, their first ride attraction, it's set to open sometime this year. The ride will begin with guests viewing a new cartoon short with the mice getting ready for a picnic As Mickey and Minnie are leaving, they drive alongside a train where they see that Goofy is the engineer and the ride takes off from there.
There isn't a whole lot of additional information, but according to the Disney Parks Blog, "Imagineers have been hard at work creating Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, using breakthrough technology to transform a two-dimensional cartoon into an amazing real-world experience."
Opening: Fall 2019
Epcot's famous IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nighttime lights and fireworks show is sadly ending at the end of Summer 2019, but will be temporarily replaced with a show called Epcot Forever. The new show will feature classic Epcot tunes, combining music with fireworks, lighting, lasers and special effects kites.
Then, keep an eye out, because in 2020 Disney is gearing up to replace Epcot Forever with a new nighttime show called A Celebration of Disney Music with floating set pieces, custom-LED panels, fountains, lights, fire and lasers.