As a journalist for the Staten Island Advance in New York, Chuck Schmidt covered a variety of news assignments from politics to crime to travel to sports. His favorite assignment during a long newspaper career was covering the “Disney beat.” He has visited the parks countless times, and he continues to return whenever he has the opportunity.
Schmidt also has attended many of the Disney special event parties, news conferences and media junkets on the cruise ships. He even has interviewed and developed longtime personal relationships with Disney legends who trace their time with the company back to their personal conversations with Walt Disney.
In his latest book, On the Disney Beat, Schmidt shares never-before-told stories and backstage tales about how he and many other journalists covered the news related to the many major events in Disney parks history. Schmidt also incorporates relevant news of the period, including Disney’s role with the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, into the timeline of historic theme park moments. The story reflects on the author’s personal ups and downs in life during this same time while preserving his inner-child excitement about and love for Disney entertainment.
Stories From Disney Legends
On the Disney Beat provides the reader with a variety of inside stories and information about the publicity events, the park attractions and the people who have lived most of their corporate lives in the shadow of the famous mouse. The author dovetails his storyline with insight about the corporate decisions that were made about attractions and the parks. Schmidt also provides minute details and interesting facts about specific rides, including the time when winter coats were needed for the “It’s A Small World” attraction.
Schmidt freely shares with readers his personal friendships with Disney legends such as Imagineer Bob Gurr, Imagineer/Senior Executive Marty Sklar and former journalist turned Disney publicist Charlie Ridgway. The author also illuminates the spotlight on some lesser known Disney stars:
- Van Arsdale France created Disneyland University that to this day provides comprehensive training for all new employees. France was hired by C.V. Wood, a key man who brought to life Disney’s California dream but of which little, if anything, is mentioned by the Disney folks today. Wood left abruptly within a year of the opening of Disneyland and he is one of the most controversial former employees. After leaving Disney to create his own theme parks, including Freedomland U.S.A. in The Bronx, New York, Wood hired France to train that park’s Friendly Freedomlander employees. (Learn more about Freedomland on Facebook.)
- Winston Hibler’s voice is the second-most recognizable company mouthpiece after Walt Disney. Hibler narrated a special Disneyland television show during 1955 that described every attraction of the park several weeks prior to opening day. A very important but the least-known Disney role for Hibler was his input into Walt’s opening-day speech that included “Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be the source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
- Ron Dominguez, whose parents owned the house and 10 acres of orange groves that now is the site of the California’s park’s Pirates of the Caribbean and New Orleans Square. He started in the ticket office at the park upon college graduation and became an executive vice president.
Forever A Disney Citizen
In all his years as a journalist, one of Schmidt’s greatest honors must be the Walt Disney World “honorary citizen” designation that was bestowed upon him several years ago. Though no longer involved with the daily grind of the newsroom, Schmidt still remains on the “Disney beat.” He continues to write a blog—Goofy about Disney—for the Staten Island Advance.
On the Disney Beat (and the blog) is a must read for every Disney fan. Find the book on Amazon.com and ThemeParkPress.com. As with Schmidt’s first book, Disney’s Dream Weavers, portions of the new book’s proceeds will be donated to animal welfare causes and to Ryman Arts, a Los Angeles fine arts program for underserved students.