This past weekend was the bi-annual D23 Expo, the Ultimate Disney Fan Event, in Anaheim. Whistling distance from Disneyland! I was so excited to get to the 3 day event on Sunday & while I did miss a lot unable to be there the entire weekend, I was pleasantly satisfied with my one day.
I spent the bulk of my time at the Walt Archives Exhibit; I thought it was going to be a strong emphasis on the making of Mary Poppins, as they gear up for the upcoming film about that process, Saving Mr. Banks, with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Yet, you can imagine how happy I was to see quite a bit about Walt’s long love for one of my favorite stories, The Wizard of Oz!
Above, are 2 photos I snapped in line while we awaited to get into the exhibit hall. While working on The Mickey Mouse Club, Disney was dreaming up a film of his own, The Rainbow Road to Oz, with some of the Mouseketeers set to star as the beloved Oz characters. Several reasons are said to be why Walt never finished up with this movie….not satisfied with the script, concerns audiences may not warm up to a film based on the already adored Judy Garland classic….from what we got to watch, I think it would have been adorable….
This was the model plan for Candy Mountain, another proposed idea for Disney to have his fans enjoy The Wizard of Oz. Candy Mountain would have been a land at Disneyland…how awesome would that have been?!
Instead, Walt himself decided to move on from his ideas to bring one of his favorite stories to fruition & instead made films with definite Oz vibes; Babes in Toyland, complete with Scarecrow himself, Ray Bolger, as one of the stars & then, Mary Poppins & Bedknobs & Broomsticks. While they definitely are not adaptations of The Wizard of Oz, they do share that great, wild imagination we all love.
Then, fast forward to 1985. Disney Pictures, owning the Oz rights, decides to create a dark, somewhat obscure fantasy sci-fi movie, Return to Oz. Which, believe it or not, is actually a more closer, accurate account of the book series. We meet Dorothy after her journey to Oz & her family thinks she’s insane & opt for shock therapy to help the ‘crazy’ girl. This movie soon gets, dare I say, very weird! But, growing up, when I was around 5, I was absolutely obsessed with Return to Oz, much to the surprise of my parents, since I was usually afraid easily. Nope. I loved The Wheelies. The psych ward. The head museum.
So, you can imagine my NERDING. OUT! at all the props in the exhibit I got to see…Tik Tok (above), Fairuza Balk’s slippers (below) & Ozma’s dress (also above)….how I loved Princess Ozma as a kid…we all hope for someone like her to help us when we’re being held captive for shock treatment, right?!
Then, last, but not least, Disney finally made their proper, ultimate Oz experience: Last year’s Oz: The Great & Powerful. Seeing some of the witches gowns were stunning (above) & even….The China Girl! I could totally tell shes petite, but feisty 😉
I hope Walt Disney would be pleased at his company’s awesome triumphs over the years to keep his Oz love alive. I know I am. xo