n this day of August 29th, we bring forth a loving celebration of Michael Jackson’s Birthday. And what better place to throw a party for him then on a Disneyland blog labored by a pair of avid Walt Disney fans? Growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s like we did, there were two things every kid worshipped: Disneyland and Michael Jackson, and that is in no order, and with no exception. Even if you were a child in the 50’s, 60’or 70’s, you were lucky enough to grow up alongside Disneyland and Michael Jackson, considering he was alive – and then, famous - for almost as long as Disneyland has been around. And it comes as no surprise that the two are synonymous with each other these days, and those days too; Michael had a great role model.
“I have such admiration for Mr. Walt Disney and what he accomplished with the help of so many talented artists. When I think of a joy he and his company have brought millions of children & adults the world over, I am in awe.” – MJ, 1984
Like most of us, Michael’s love for Mr. Disney and Disneyland began at a very young age. Of course, it doesn’t take long for an artist to spot their kindred. Given Michael’s young start in show business and his tumultuous childhood, it's probable that Disneyland simply brought Michael the same thing it brings to all of us... a little permission to just be ourselves. Michael also idolized Mr. Disney’s businessmanship and creativity so much that Jackie Jackson has been quoted saying, "(Michael) always studied Walt Disney. He loved Walt Disney. He read books on him every day on the road. He worshipped the guy." It is with great pride that we can say Michael Jackson was not only one of the greatest entertainers of our time, and even as untouchable as he seemed to be, he was also one of US.
Just like artists (and usually one-in-the-same), Disneyland aficionados can also spot each other right away. Even without the blaring attribute of Michael’s very own home, Neverland Ranch, complete with a main entrance homage to Disneyland and steam train (giving Grand Circle Tours!), it’s easy recognize that Michael knew how to hang with Disneyland’s finest. A fan photo with Ward and Betty Kimball or an after-hours snapshot as a passenger on a Main Street Omnibus couldn’t be more suitable examples. Michael knew the who’s and the how’s of Disneyland's heartbeat because he loved and understood art and the social struggle the world has in order to find inner happiness. The playful-yet-powerful message in his music perpetuates this, and therein live the fibers of a true Disneyland aficionado.
When we were kids and we'd hear the news report a 'Michael Jackson sighting' at Disneyland earlier that day (which was always top news!), MJ would suddenly upgrade all of his talent - as if that had even been possible! - and transform into a magical creature simply by merging with the most fantastical thing we knew, and the world had significantly changed. But - as we’ve come to find with our research - Michael Jackson had been changing the world long before we were in it.
It’s quite appropriate that the first words the world ever heard Michael Jackson sing were to ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’, as the opening track of The Jackson 5’s debut album, ‘Diana Ross presents The Jackson 5' back in 1969.
Not long after, MJ’s first official Disneyland-related appearance happened in ‘Sandy in Disneyland’, an incredible 1974 Disneyland TV special starring Sandy Duncan. Young Michael is aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia (as the former ruler of the Queen’s navy!) with The Jackson 5. We’ve seriously never wanted to dance on the closed grate to the Sailing Ship's below-deck museum more in our entire lives and we do so every time we can:
And just a few years later in 1980, we find Michael in yet another Disneyland TV Special, helping celebrate Disneyland’s 30th Birthday – kalamazoo style. I bet you want to stand on that rock now, don’t you? It looks more inviting on every visit:
Fortunately for us, the best was yet to come and we were about to be lucky enough to take part in it. In 1986, and at the very height of his career, Michael Jackson made Disneyland history – and just about blew the minds of every kid alive - featuring in an actual Disneyland ATTRACTION. And, get this, it was in 3-D!!! Captain EO quickly swooped into our hearts when it crash-landed in Tomorrowland’s Magic Eye Theater, and with all the talent behind the attraction and film, what was there NOT to love?? Children began peeking beneath their purple 3-D glasses as the Supreme Leader threateningly snapped her claws at them and loved every moment of it. Adults enjoyed the sensational performance and appreciated the skill of the talented cast and crew. In our opinion, Captain EO is easily one of the best short films of all time. It is one of the last of its kind, style-wise; a swan song testament to an era when art that you could make with your body was more important than
what you could make a computer do. Just add the talents of Michael Jackson to that magic and you have quite a Gift on your hands. We'd also like to point out that when they pulled Captain EO from Disneyland in 1997, nothing could properly replace it. It was a pleasant surprise in 2010, even considering the many years of jeering fans begging for a re-run, when the Disney suits decided to return the attraction from its undeserved exile. It seems it's true that when an artist dies, the value of his work increases. Even as a ‘Tribute’, Captain EO still holds true to the test of time and continues to captivate us creatively and artistically each time we join this rag-tag band as they embark on their very important mission that we can "not only SEE, your highness – but HEAR!". And speaking of aural sensations, it is also quite important to mention that this coming Friday, August 31st, marks the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jackson's 'BAD' album, including Another Part Of Me, Captain EO's featured track!
|Here, Eric lets us see his Gift.|
One visit to Walt Disney’s Disneyland, and you will undoubtedly end your day wanting to give immense credit, and a big fat ‘WOOOO!’, to those who created it. One of the defining assets of this land is that it “is YOUR land” and with this, we the fans find a great camaraderie with the generations of people that have grown up with and fallen in love with Disneyland on their way. One of these Guests just happens to be the late, great Michael Jackson, and on this amazing man’s Birthday it is important to remember that when Michael sang to us that he was ‘here to change the world’, he meant it, and he certainly did.