#2

#2 - Truth Be Told

Prior to social media and the 24-news cycles, movie fans watched their characters' fates unfold before their eyes. When Luke Skywalker learned his father was the Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader, the Star Wars faithful's jaws dropped, screamed a collective "nooooo", then ran to tell anyone who'd listen. 

Fun fact: In order to keep Luke’s father news under wraps from the public, cast and crew, George Lucas instructed David Prowse (Darth Vader) deliver the line, “Obi-Wan killed your father” while shooting the scene. Only later, during final production was James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, given the script – which he couldn’t believe himself!

#3

#3 - Beginnings

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse." Walt Disney In 1928, the world said “hello” to Mickey & Minnie Mouse via Walt Disney’s first synchronized sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. From here, the beloved characters and the Disney brand emerged to become one of the most recognizable on the planet. Iconic doesn’t do this piece justice. Historic may be more apropos, as it’s embedded into the fabric of Americana – all for the total production cost of $4,986.

Fun fact: Steamboat Willie premiered at Universal's Colony Theater in New York City and played ahead of the independent feature film Gang War, which is all but forgotten today.

#6

Walt Disney Productions’ 1953 animated feature Peter Pan wasn’t only a huge box office success (and re-released theatrically in 1958, 1969, 1976, 1982, and 1989) but was also one of Walt’s personal favorite stories. In fact, Peter Pan was initially intended to be Disney’s second feature after Snow White, yet he wasn’t able to secure the rights until much later. The classic’s production was also caught in the midst of World War II.  After Pearl Harbor, the U.S military took control of the studio and commissioned them to produce war propaganda films, delaying Peter Pan as well as other Disney productions (Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Song of the South, Mickey and the Beanstalk, etc.) to be put on hold.

In the end, Peter Pan continues to have social relevance and tremendous popularity, including  several subsequent film/television productions such as the Tinker Bell film series (at last count six feature-length films as well as a short film) and the Disney Channel television series Jake and the Never Land Pirates (includes Hook and Smee as the main characters, as well as being set in Never Land.) For decades, Disneyland’s Peter Pan’s Flight continues to anchor the Fantasyland attractions. Peter Pan certainly has generous portions of Disney’s pixie dust throughout, and appropriately so.

Fun Fact: The melody for "The Second Star to the Right" was originally written for Alice in Wonderland (1951) for a song that was to be called "Beyond the Laughing Sky.”

#7

#7 - FRIENDS FOREVER ...AND BEYOND

Let’s be honest, as Woody and pals headed down the conveyer belt toward the incinerator, there wasn’t a dry-eye.  This powerful sequence reminded us what personal connections we had built with our Pixar friends since the film’s first installment in 1995. Rather than struggle, the gang’s final traumatic moments were hand-in-hand, huddled closely, accepting of their ultimate destiny. It’s this insight into mortality, even if through the eyes of inanimate plastic toys, which makes this moment so relatable and personal.

Fun fact: Toy Story 3 is the first sequel to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar without any of its predecessors being nominated.

#12

This tale truly is as old as time, with the earliest known Beauty & the Beast work being Italian author Giovan Straparalo in 1550. Disney’s adaptation in 1991 took nearly four years to produce with the full time help of over 600 animators, artists, and technicians, over 226,000 individually painted cels and over one million drawings. Beauty and the Beast pioneered combining traditional animation with computer animation scenes together to create new visuals of grandeur for the audience. The ballroom sequence was a defining moment,  featuring the first computer-generated color background to be both animated and fully dimensional,  creating a more dramatic effect.

Fun Fact: Belle is the only person in her village who wears blue, which is meant to symbolize how different she is from everyone else.

#18

#18 - Part of Your World

In 1989, Ariel and her quest to become human, became Disney's first animated fairy tale since Sleeping Beauty (1959). The Little Mermaid is widely credited for launching the Disney Renaissance, an era of renewed creativity, brilliance and box office success for the company's animated features. Mermaid was followed by several subsequent hits, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, were again relevant and profitable. In addition, the film earned three Academy Award nominations, making it the first Disney animated film to earn an Academy Award nomination since The Rescuers in 1977. The film won two of the awards - Best Song ("Under the Sea") and Best Score.
Ironically, the iconic tune "Part of Your World" was almost cut from the wildly popular 1989 animated film because test audiences thought it slowed the film.

Fun Fact: Jodi Benson, who performed both Ariel's speaking and singing voices, recorded "Part of Your World" with the studio lights turned down low to get a better underwater feel.

#19

#19 - The Great Escape

When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom burst on the scene in 1981, college professor of archeology and quasi-hero Indiana Jones possessed a unique balance of cynicism, romance, imperfections and brilliance. Han Solo ~ I mean Harrison Ford ~ brilliantly embodied the believable treasure hunter. His pratfalls and near-misses only drew us closer to him, along with his abundance of strained relationships. With boulders crashing toward him, we cheered, we laughed, we were riveted.  Only moments later, we were equally drawn to the complex dramatic sequences on religion and faith. Indiana Jones is the complete package which has stood the test of time: just check the wait times for Indiana Jones Adventure attractions at Disney’s theme parks.

Fun Fact: Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.

#21

#21 - Flynn's New World

In many respects, the release of Tron in 1982 spawned the beginning  of the comic book, computer programming, video game and all-around geek cool culture. The revolutionary visual effects, coupled with the hybrid animation and live action sequences created a stunning adventure into the computer mainframe, better known as “the grid.” While the film was met with mixed reviews, the sensational special effects and computer graphics were a milestone in the industry, gaining appreciation and cult status over the years. In an era when Pac-Man and Pong were the extent of many people’s “grid” experience, Tron’s illuminated Frisbees, light cycles, fluorescent tank mazes and “bit” and “byte” references may well have been beyond our grasp and ahead of its time.

Fun Fact: The beloved arcade game Tron, which we all stood in line for hours to play, was a massive hit and actually outgrossed the film.