Iago: Hey Zazu, I just watched a funny Mickey Mouse cartoon that I'd never seen before.
Zazu: Oh? Which one was it?
Iago: It was called "The Band Concert." What a hoot!
Zazu: Oh my, yes. "The Band Concert" is a classic. It was the first Technicolor cartoon. In fact, this Tuesday, 23 February, marks its 64th anniversary. It was released in 1935, and is now being screened daily at the Town Square Exposition Center at the Magic Kingdom.
Iago: I remember you telling me that Mickey was a conductor, but I thought you were talking about the kind of conductor who punches tickets and yells, "All aboard!" How lame! Now where would I get an idea like that?
Zazu: <ahem!> I haven't the foggiest notion. But if you step outside during the next thunderstorm, I can show you how a parrot can be a conductor of electricity.
Iago: Not this parrot. I always got poor marks in conduct.
Zazu: I'm sure I can show you the key to better conduct. Now where did I put my kite?
Iago: I think Team Tuxedo took it the last time they auditioned for us. They wanted to practice their "Let's Go Fly a Kite" number to impress Mary.
Zazu: Oh, that's right. Well, perhaps we can try the parrot-on-the-end-of-an-umbrella experiment instead.
Iago: No, José Carioca warned me never to use an umbrella in an electrical storm. He said it was danger -- Hey! Wait a minute. Are you trying to fry me?
Zazu: Heavens no! I leave the frying to your Aunt Polly. I just thought you'd get a charge out of being a feathered Van de Graaff generator.
Iago: Van de Graaff? Zazu, you know I can't eat pork & beans. The last time I tried them....
Zazu: Yes, yes, I know. It generated sparks.
Iago: Not to mention wind. And speaking of big winds, In that "Band Concert" thing....
Zazu: Oh yes, that reminds me. Did you know that there was once a Magic Kingdom attraction that featured Mickey as an orchestra conductor?
Iago: Really? Which one?
Zazu: It was called The Mickey Mouse Revue.
Iago: Ooh, did that play at the Diamond Horseshoe?
Zazu: No, it played at the Fantasyland Theater, where Legend of the Lion King is now shown. It ran from 1 October 1971 to 14 September 1980. Then it was shipped to Japan, and on 15 April 1983, it opened at Tokyo Disneyland, where it still plays today.
Iago: Were there any can-can girls?
Zazu: No, of course not!
Iago: What kind of revue doesn't feature can-can girls?
Zazu: Well ... there was a dancing Disney Princess in it.
Iago: Now you're talking! Tell me more.
Zazu: The idea for the attraction can be traced to 1962, when Walt Disney, in an interview with Newsweek, described a theater attraction that would house audio-animatronic versions of all the Disney characters. He said, "The figures will not only put on the show but be sitting in the boxes with the visitors, heckling."
Iago: Heckling? Sounds like Waldorf and Statler over at Muppet*Vision 3D. Or Arnie and Claude in the Mask Room at the Adventurers Club.
Zazu: Hmmmm. It also reminds me of a certain pair of birds.
Iago: Heckle and Jeckle?
Zazu: Er, them too. As it turned out, the Mickey Mouse Revue didn't feature hecklers, but it did have 81 animatronic figures. Though there were actually only 73 characters in the show, some of them had more than one incarnation. There was an eight-minute preshow film, which followed the career of the Big Cheese, and how sound was used in his movies. At the end of the preshow, the characters were shown emerging from the castle to the music of the Mickey Mouse Club March, and Mickey himself called for the audience to follow him into the theater.
Iago: Did he say, "It is time," like Rafiki?
Zazu: No, he said, "Come along folks, it's time for the Mickey Mouse Musical Revue!"
Iago: So what did the theater look like?
Zazu: It was a large room with 13 rows of seats, and an 86-foot stage, along with two smaller stages on the sides. There was a red curtain with a pair of comedy and tragedy masks on it.
Iago: So Arnie and Claude were in the show!
Zazu: No, not Arnie and Claude. These masks had Mickey ears on them.
Iago: Hehehe. Thanks, Zazu. You've just given me a great idea for Thursday night.
Zazu: Just don't try that idea with Babylonia.
Iago: I don't think they make Minnie ears that big.
Zazu: Thank goodness. Now where was I? Oh yes. Both Mickey and his orchestra rose from the pit at the start of the show. There were 23 orchestra members, including such classic characters as Minnie and Goofy, along with later film characters like Dumbo, the Mad Hatter, and even Winnie the Pooh. Kaa from "The Jungle Book" used his tail as a flute.
Iago: Hey, José Carioca uses his bumbershoot as a flute! But not during electrical storms. And in "The Band Concert," Donald has an unlimited supply of flutes. What's so great about flutes?
Zazu: I don't have the slightest idea. But they're hollow, and they make noise when hot air is blown through their holes. Rather like your head.
Iago: No wonder I'm so musically gifted.
Zazu: Moving right along ... after an overture of Disney melodies, there was a Three Little Pigs number, with that famous song....
Iago: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Zazu: No, Edward Albee breath, it was "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"
Iago: Did you ever see Elizabeth Taylor in that movie? She was big and bad. And to tell you the truth, I thought she was kind of a pig.
Zazu: Be that as it may, you have the wrong song. The next selection in the Mickey Mouse Revue was the "I'm Wishing" number, featuring Snow White.
Iago: Oooh, a Princess. Now I'm wishing.
Zazu: The Seven Dwarfs then played "The Silly Song." By the way, the molds used to create the Dwarf figures were also used to make the Dwarfs that are seen in the cottage during Snow White's Scary Adventures.
Iago: Moldy Dwarfs? Now that's scary!
Zazu: The Dwarfs were followed by Alice in Wonderland, who was herself dwarfed by giant flowers as she crooned "All in the Golden Afternoon."
Iago: Speaking of dwarfs and giants, what is this obsession that Disney has with changing characters' sizes? I mean, Alice follows Steve Martin's advice and "gets small," and then she gets big, and all those "Honey" movies have people shrinking and growing, and then there was the Mighty Microscope in Disneyland, and Body Wars at Epcot, and that Giant that Mickey had to face. Just how big was the Big Cheese in this attraction, anyway?
Zazu: Mickey was 42 inches tall. And you're right about the odd scale. For instance, the Dormouse from "Alice in Wonderland" was only twelve inches tall.
Iago: There you go! If you were Minnie, who would you date?
Zazu: Hmmm. You have a point. But if height were Minnie's only concern, she could date Baloo, who was six feet tall in this attraction, or perhaps Mr. Lincoln over at the Hall of Presidents. He stands six feet four inches tall. My guess is that Minnie is a smart girl, who is looking beyond outward appearance. And Mickey, though he looks like a simple guy on the outside, is actually quite a complicated fellow. As conductor of this Revue, he had 33 different functions packed into those 42 inches. The exact same amount as the lanky Mr. Lincoln!
Iago: So you're saying it's not size that matters; it's how you function, and how many positions you're capable of achieving?
Zazu: Er, yes. Well, no. That is, not exactly. Ummm....
Iago: Sheesh! Forget it. No wonder you never have any dates. What was the next scene in the Revue?
Zazu: Oh, you'll like this one. It was our three Latin American cousins -- well, two Latin cousins and a duck.
Iago: The Three Caballeros?!
Zazu: That's right. Complete with magic serape. They performed their theme song, rapidly shifting from one side of the stage to the other, like Mexican jumping beans, as Panchito's pistols fired streaks across the theater. This was definitely the comic highlight of the attraction.
Iago: How come you didn't think it was funny when I shot streaks across the theater?
Zazu: Because you didn't have a gun, Burrito Butt!
Iago: It wasn't a burrito. It was the Van de Graaff pork & beans. Maybe Mexican jumping beans would be better.
Zazu: Just stay away from anything with the word "bean" in it: green beans, snap beans, vanilla beans, bean bag chairs, beanie babies....
Iago: Does this mean we can't watch that "Mr. Bean" movie tonight? I thought that Rowan Atkinson guy was your favorite.
Zazu: Don't you go near my VCR with that video, or I'll get Judge Roy Bean after you!
Iago: OK, but I think you're making a mountain out of a hill o' beans.
Zazu: <sigh> This discussion of rude sounds emitted from the body brings us to that exceedingly strange incantation, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo." In the next scene from the Revue, the Fairy Godmother transformed Cinderella into a beautiful princess. The song that followed was "So This Is Love," accompanied by dancing silhouettes of Cinderella and Prince Charming. The final individual scene began with the Splash Mountain boys -- Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear -- singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah." As they sang, all the other characters from the show joined in. A rainbow appeared as the song ended.
Iago: A rainbow? Gee, that sounds kind of sappy, Zazu.
Zazu: It was nine-and-a-half minutes of charming entertainment, I assure you.
Iago: Charming doesn't put fannies in the seats.
Zazu: It was an E-ticket.
Iago: You're kidding!
Zazu: Well, truth be told, it was demoted to a "D" in 1973.
Iago: What a coincidence! My English teacher demoted me to a "D" in 1973, too. Listen, don't get me wrong, I think this attraction had possibilities, but they didn't make it thrilling enough.
Zazu: Thrilling? Did I mention that all the characters sang the "Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater" at the very end? That always gave me a thrill.
Iago: Zazu, clipping your toenails on Saturday night gives you a thrill. I'm talking real excitement. I think they should redo the attraction and take their cue from "The Band Concert."
Zazu: What do you mean?
Iago: Well, for one thing, that rainbow bit near the end has to go. Or maybe they could put that at the beginning. But anyway, what they really need is a tornado, like in the cartoon. See, all the characters would get swept up in this twister, and fly around the room. For instance, Clarabelle the Cow could go flying past you. Or the Three Little Pigs' house could go spinning around.
Zazu: So it would be an attraction with a rainbow and farm animals, where the audience watches a tornado, with a flying house and cow.
Iago: Exactly! And there would be other Disney characters too, of course. Like Scar, and Buzz Lightyear, and that scary crow from "Sleeping Beauty."
Zazu: Diablo? I believe he's a raven.
Iago: Well, what's the difference? He's a big black bird.
Zazu: I see. So there would be a cowardly lion, a tin man, and a scary "crow."
Iago: Actually, I think Buzz is made of a titanium alloy. Or maybe he's chrome.
Zazu: Oh, pardon me.
Iago: And we'd have to have that Old Hag from "Snow White." And that Chihuahua from "Oliver and Company." He cracks me up.
Zazu: A witch and a little dog....
Iago: Right! And you know what would be really cool?
Zazu: I can't imagine.
Iago: If they all flew over the rainbow in the tornado!
Zazu: Oh my, you're just brimming with original ideas that have Universal appeal. Why, you're a regular Imagineering Wizard! And I suppose there would be a girl in this attraction, too.
Iago: Not just one girl. Lots of girls! Disney babes all over the place. In fact, I think Minnie Mouse should conduct the orchestra, instead of Mickey. I know she can do it. There was a cartoon on TV just last week called "Maestro Minnie," where she did something like that. Think of it, Zazu. All those dresses, and all that wind....
Zazu: And what would you call this attraction?
Iago: Let's see ... how about "Minnie, the Moo, and the REALLY Blustery Day?" ... Zazu? Why are you crying?
The music chosen to accompany this page is the theme from "Twister" by Mark A. Mancina.