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Jack Lindquist’s “In Service to the Mouse” Provides a Glimpse Into Disney History

4 February 2011 2 Comments

If you are interested in learning about the history of the Disney company — from a source other than Disney — then Jack Lindquist’s book “In Service to the Mouse” may be just the book for you.

Lindquist began his career with Disneyland in 1955, before the flagship attraction was even completed.  He became the park’s first president, and has some incredible stories to tell as a result. 

The memoir, co-written with Melinda J. Combs, spans the entirety of Lindquist’s 38-year tenure with Disney.  He tells of the real reason that Club 33, the exclusive, members-only spot in Disneyland was built in the first place.  According to Lindquist, it all began with Disney, GE, the Carousel of Progress, and the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, held in New York.  Here is an excerpt describing the deal which led to Club 33:

As the fair ended, GE expressed a desire to move the (Carousel of Progress) to Disneyland. Discussions began with WED, and everything was moving along splendidly until an unexpected hitch occurred. GE insisted that a VIP lounge, like the one they’d had at the New York’s World Fair – with a bar – be part of their pavilion in Disneyland. GE was told that alcohol was not allowed in Disneyland, but they insisted. We refused. A critical impasse had been reached. For awhile, it looked like the whole project would crumble. Neither party would budge. Then a compromise was proposed. Disney would construct a private club in New Orleans Square, a new area within the park just under construction at that time.

Entrance to the park club would be limited to park sponsors and their guests, complimentary memberships approved by Walt Disney’s office. These included all sorts of VIPS, like the presidents of the United States; governors of California; U.S. senators from California; Otis Chandler and William Randolph Hearst Jr. (both newspaper / publishing magnates); Leonard Goldsenson, who was head of ABC; the city of Anaheim and Orange County VIPs; plus a select group of Walt’s friends.

This private facility would serve liquor but only with meals. No separate bar. GE and all the other participants accepted the compromise. Thus, the Carousel of Progress was built exactly as debuted at the New York World’s Fair. It became an instant classic at Disneyland.

Club 33 immediately became a big hit, giving Disneyland lessees a place to entertain their customers, sales staffs, PR executives and for employee recognition events, etc. Club 33 also became a place where Disneyland executives could entertain business associates, visiting dignitaries, and other groups. The name, Club 33, came about because Walt seemed to like the number 3 and also because Disneyland’s physical address is 1313 Harbor Boulevard.

Elsewhere in the book, Lindquist recalls how he struggled to keep Disneyland fresh, while at the same time, appeasing the parks many fans.  And later, he even talks of butting heads with former CEO Michael Eisner over their differing philosophies on classic Disney characters in the then newest Disney park – Epcot.

I was very opposed to any Disney characters in Epcot because the characters belonged at the Magic Kingdom. Everything should be in its place. If we wanted characters for Epcot, then Epcot characters needed to be developed. Putting Mickey in Japanese robes for the Japanese Pavilion or Lederhosen for the German Pavilion is wrong. Michael and I argued about that for about two years.

If you would like to know more about this fascinating man, and his day to day struggles as he acted as “Mickey’s chaperone for half a century,” check out “In Service to the Mouse,”published by Neverland Media, LLC, and available via Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle edition

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2 Comments »

  • Melanie said:

    It’s ironic he didn’t want characters in EPCOT. It is my favorite place to meet them! I think the Character Spot fits in nicely.

  • Brooke Fehr (author) said:

    I agree, Melanie, although I really love meeting the “real life” characters in World Showcase. I just think it’s neat when I happen upon Belle, or Snow White, or Mary Poppins over there. I guess he just felt that Mickey shouldn’t come to the guests; the guests should come to Mickey :-)

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