CLOSE
hbvideos via YouTube
hbvideos via YouTube

A Giant Sandwich? The Wacky Way Disney Celebrated America’s Bicentennial in 1976

hbvideos via YouTube
hbvideos via YouTube

Disney Parks have long been known for their elaborate parades. And after setting the bar high with the Main Street Electrical Parade, which debuted at Disneyland in 1972, the company knew they would have to create something spectacular for America’s Bicentennial in 1976. They turned to Bob Jani, orchestrator of the Main Street Electrical Parade, to create something that would absolutely delight guests. Here’s what he came up with:

Chris Knittle via YouTube

Yep. It’s a giant sandwich. From June 1975 through September 1976, Disney cast members at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Park in Florida performed Jani's America on Parade, a tribute to America’s history set to a song written by the Sherman Brothers. The parade featured all of the textbook highlights you’d expect: Christopher Columbus on a ship, the first Thanksgiving, Betsy Ross sewing the American flag, and covered wagons heading west, among other things.

But there were also some rather unexpected elements. For starters, as described in the video below, two of the pilgrims were being disciplined for being “mischievous,” with one in the stocks and one being dunked in “chilly” water. The section featuring the “traditional Sunday picnic” included a massive sandwich layered with eggs and celery. A gigantic pot of mustard trailed behind. And the celebration of electricity featured larger-than-life versions of an Edison bulb, an old radio, and an iron.

If you weren’t one of the 25 million people who caught this parade during its brief run in the mid-’70s, or if you did and would simply love to recreate the magic, here’s America on Parade in all of its (abbreviated) glory:

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Pop Culture
Why Mickey Mouse Could Soon Be in the Public Domain
iStock
iStock

Mickey Mouse debuted to the world in the 1928 animated short Steamboat Willie, and has since transformed into an icon recognized around the world. But the mouse’s status as Disney's exclusive property is under threat. As Ars Technica reports, Steamboat Willie is set to enter the public domain in 2024, and unlike in previous years, there have been no moves from Congress to stop that from happening. Once it does, in theory, anyone could use Mickey's image for free.

This is the third time the cartoon has been on the verge of losing its copyright protection. The first came in the 1970s, back when copyright terms only lasted 56 years. That meant every book, song, and movie made in 1923 was scheduled to lose its protected status in 1979, and Steamboat Willie would follow on its 56th anniversary in 1984. But in 1976, under pressure from companies like Disney, Congress extended the statute to 75 years, keeping all works made after 1923 from becoming public domain until 1998 or later. Mickey remained safely out of the public domain for another two decades. Then, when copyright terms were again scheduled to expire in 1998, Congress extended them a second time, this time to 95 years.

Now, the clock is ticking down for these older works once again as the 2018 expiration date of that copyright extension nears. Only this time, it looks like Congress may let them become public property without a fight.

Today’s constituents tend to care more about copyright law now than they did in 1976 or even in 1998. The rise of online streaming and easily accessible pirated content has made the issue more relevant to the life of the average person than ever before. The defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 made this clear to legislators. That bill, which would have empowered law enforcement to punish or block sites sharing pirated content, was so controversial that it sparked protests across the web. Because of the sheer scale of that public response, lawmakers are now hesitant to change any existing copyright protections, including those set to expire on January 1, 2019.

But even if those protections expire, Disney could still find a way to prevent rival studios from using Mickey’s image when 2024 rolls around. While copyrights are designed to be temporary, trademarks have the potential for serious lasting power. That’s because copyrights only protect a single work of artistic expression (in this case, the film Steamboat Willie), while trademarks are attached to images and logos that represent a brand (so Mickey Mouse, the character). As long as Disney can prove that Mickey has evolved beyond his first screen appearance into a symbol that’s synonymous with its corporation, he’ll remain a protected property. And if you take a look at their theme parks, cruise ships, media, and the dozens of Hidden Mickeys they've hidden in their movies, you’ll see that they can easily make that case.

But few works of art made in the 1920s have taken the same path to corporate dominance as Mickey Mouse, even other works made famous by Disney (like Winnie the Pooh, first introduced in A.A. Milne's stories in 1926). Even if Disney manages to protect Mickey, the public should have a big new batch of copyright-free content to access in the next few years.

[h/t Ars Technica]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Matt Stroshane, Disney/Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
The One Phrase Disney Theme Park Characters Aren't Allowed to Say
Matt Stroshane, Disney/Getty Images
Matt Stroshane, Disney/Getty Images

The 14 Disney theme parks located around the world attract so many attendees each year that the company recently decided to increase admission for peak times by 20 percent to help decrease crowd congestion. Anaheim’s Disneyland is such a popular tourist attraction that some days the park is actually at capacity.

What keeps visitors packed in like sardines? The promise of a suspended reality—one that treats the various Disney characters as though they had just stepped out of a movie. There’s a laundry list of employee policies to help sustain that illusion, and Travel + Leisure recently uncovered one of the most interesting ones: Actors dressed as Disney characters are never allowed to say “I don’t know” to guests.

The motivation is understandable: Disney never wants people to feel as though they need to wander around looking for information. If they pose a question to, say, a Disney Princess, the actor is expected to communicate with other employees or areas of the park in order to find the answer. If Elsa doesn't know where the nearest restroom is, she's tasked with finding out before your kid's bladder gives up.

If a guest is looking for general directions, there’s also protocol for how to point. Performers are not allowed to use their index finger by itself. Instead, they use it in conjunction with their middle finger. In addition to index finger-pointing being considered rude in some cultures, legend has it that the gesture was partly inspired by Walt Disney himself, who once roamed the park grounds pointing at structures with two fingers that pinched a cigarette.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios