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Best. Press Release. Ever.

Those of you who’ve been around here a while might know of my disdain for and propensity to mock press releases. There’s something about the modern entertainment industry press release that grates on me so; perhaps it’s because, by their very nature, they’re intended to herald any event or product as if it were the second coming of pie – regardless of the commodity’s actual quality. Thus we get legitimately exciting announcements made in the exact same manner and tone as singularly uninspiring news. California Adventure got promoted with the same fervor – if not more so – than the new Fantasyland. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is re-released with the same breathless anticipation and flowery rhetoric as Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. There’s no room for nuance or comparison in the press release; everything is the most awesome thing, ever, even if the writer and the reader both know that’s not true. It’s an strange and warped institution.

Occasionally, though, you get the odd press release that actually contains what it should – valuable and germane information about breaking news. And sometimes you see one that’s just odd.

I recently found this specific press release while researching an unrelated topic. It’s from 1987, so it’s definitely not current, and that might explain some of its unique properties. Mostly, though, it’s just the best press release ever. Let me show you the first paragraph, and then we’ll discuss:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA., Sept. 29 /PRN/ — Beginning Sept. 30, Walt Disney World will introduce two new shows saluting the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, a daredevil circus starring international and intergalactic performers, Disney Dollars, a monkey-breeding program to aid quadriplegics, a joint experiment with NASA to find a way to grow food in space, and a Constitution-era exhibit including a Liberty Bell cast from the original mold, and the Brasher Doubloon, the world’s most valuable coin.

Ok. So. I’m not sure where to start. I wish I could recapture my reaction as I first read this, because I was kind of tired and my eyes skimmed the paragraph picking up only keywords. Monkey. Quadriplegic. Daredevil. Intergalactic. Doubloon. Breeding. Circus. NASA. On a percentile basis, I’d say that there are more words that I’d never expected to find than in any other paragraph written about Disney World, ever. At least, I didn’t expect to find them in this specific configuration. Maybe this paragraph made more sense in context, right? Yeah, not so much:

INTERVIEW AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES

LENGTH: 943 words

DATELINE: LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA., Sept. 29

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA., Sept. 29 /PRN/ — Beginning Sept. 30, Walt Disney World will introduce two new shows saluting the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, a daredevil circus starring international and intergalactic performers, Disney Dollars, a monkey-breeding program to aid quadriplegics, a joint experiment with NASA to find a way to grow food in space, and a Constitution-era exhibit including a Liberty Bell cast from the original mold, and the Brasher Doubloon, the world’s most valuable coin.

Walt Disney Imagineers will also do presentations for the media of projects under construction and conduct tours of building sites including the Disney-MGM Studio, Grand Floridian Beach Resort, Norway Showcase, Pleasure Island nightclub complex and Typhoon Lagoon water park.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 30

8:00 a.m. Projects presentation by Walt Disney Imagineers in Contemporary Resort Ballroom of the Americas.

9:00 a.m. Construction site tours.

1:00 p.m. ”America the Musical” debut in Magic Kingdom. Unabashedly patriotic stage show. (Also at 4:30 p.m.)

2:00 p.m. Astronaut Gordon Cooper, ”Roots” author Alex Haley and Walt Disney Attractions President Dick Nunis dedicate Liberty Bell replica cast from original mold at Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom.

3:00 p.m. ”All America Parade” premier. Bicentennial of Constitution salute to the U.S. from sea-to-shining sea. Led by ”We the People” float with Mickey and Minnie in colonial garb.

3:15 p.m. Raising by helicopter of the largest U.S. Flag as the parade moves down Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Flag is 235 feet long, 104 feet wide and weighs three-quarters of a ton.

THURSDAY, OCT. 1

9:00 a.m. OCALA, Fla. Opening of first Walt Disney World Information and Reservation Center at I-75 and State Rte. 200.

2:00 p.m. Premier performance of Epcot Center Circus Spectacular featuring Jay Cochrane walking tightrope 180 feet above ground, Flying Rodriquez Family from the Moscow State Circus and the Winn Family, 1987 winners of circus’ highest honor, the Gold Clown Award

7:00 p.m. Walt Disney World Culinary Olympic Team demonstration at Epcot Center Land pavilion, sampling of handwich, Disney’s futuristic transportable meal, demonstration by Disney chefs of preparation of food grown in The Land.

FRIDAY, OCT. 2

8:30 a.m. East Coast introduction of Disney Dollars. Real currency that can be spent at Walt Disney World and Disneyland: Mickey Mouse on $1 bills, Goofy on $5 bills, signed by Treasurer Scrooge McDuck who will meet the Wells Fargo truck delivering bills to Epcot Center.

9:25 a.m. Disney Dollar introduction in the Magic Kingdom.

10:00 a.m. Press conference with Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner, Walt Disney Co. President Frank Wells, Walt Disney Attractions Executive Vice President Marketing Jack Lindquist at Disney Story in Magic Kingdom.

10:15 a.m. Kraft/NASA press conference at The Land for food and science writers.

11:30 a.m. Walt Disney Co. President Frank Wells, Kraft President Michael Miles and astronaut shuttle pilot Steve Oswald dedicate NASA experiment designed to find a way to grow food in space.

WEDNESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY –

Boston University psychologist M.J. Willard available for interviews on Helping Hands, Simians for the Disabled. Walt Disney World is establishing the breeding colony on Discovery Island for capuchins (organ grinder monkeys) in cooperation with Dr. Willard who has developed a program in which the monkeys are trained to aid quadriplegics.

Noted cookbook author and home economist Maggie Murphy who tested and interpreted the 350 recipes in the best-selling ”Cooking With Mickey Around Our World” is available for interviews.

CONTACT — Disney World Publicity, 305-824-4531

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

DISTRIBUTION: TO STATE AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

Now that’s the good stuff. No focus-grouped marketing strategy, or big rollout of the latest film or television tie-in. Just a nice assortment of completely random and brilliantly obscure events tied up in a three-day period. Alex Haley, Gordon Cooper and Dick Nunis debuting the Liberty Bell? All that’s missing from that scenario are a priest, a rabbi, Bette Midler and Sir Edmund Hillary.

Then we have Epcot Center Circus Spectacular, one of the great early examples of Eisner’s complete failure to grasp the significance or point of EPCOT. Then again, what model city of the future doesn’t need elephant poop and motorcycles careening overhead? From the Moscow State Circus came… the Flying Rodriquez Family? I guess the Great O’Shaughnesseys of Shanghai were already booked. I also love that “circus’ highest honor” is the Gold Clown Award. It’s the only major award that will also haunt your dreams.

Debuting at the Magic Kingdom was America the Musical, which sounds like something from a Christopher Guest movie and is billed as “unabashedly patriotic”. I love that phrasing; it’s so oddly defensive, like people had been whispering around town that the Magic Kingdom wasn’t really patriotic. Or that Busch Gardens had some bicentennial show they were trying to one-up: “You think you’re patriotic?! How about now?! In your face, Sea World!!”

If all that and the “raising by helicopter of the largest U.S. Flag” wasn’t enough excitement for you, how about a demonstration of “Disney’s futuristic transportable meal,” the Handwich ™, by the members of the Walt Disney World Culinary Olympic Team. Again, I understand all those words individually but the way they’re placed together makes my brain hurt. I guess I’m showing my hand a little here in that I’m currently researching the Handwich ™ (as mentioned in our very first post, way back when), but it was worth risking someone poaching my investigative topic to share this article. My favorite thing about it is that they were having a “demonstration”. Of a sandwich. Gentlemen, behold!!

Thought: How many NASA/Kraft press conferences do you think there have been in all of history? My guess – not many.

Finally we have Dr. Willard, from Simians for the Disabled. Obviously, it’s a noble cause with a good purpose, but… “Simians for the Disabled”? How about “Ungulates for the Obese” or “Cetaceans for the Deranged?” Capybaras for the Mundane? I could do this all day. The point is, they describe the breeding program that had been established on Discovery Island – before it had been left to rot – but I love that they actually clarify that these are “organ grinder monkeys”. What, was the grizzled news editor sitting in his office, chomping on his cigar, thinking he needed to spice up the press release a little bit? “Sure, sure, we got all this monkey stuff but the rubes won’t go for this! What kinda scientific bunk is that – ‘capuchin’? Just put ‘organ grinder monkey’! They’ll get that out in the sticks!

Oh, for fun.

We’ll return to your regular schedule of news and analysis forthwith, but thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me as we shared what is, clearly, the greatest press release ever.

The end.

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13 comments to Best. Press Release. Ever.

  • Another Voice

    What’s most shocking is a press release from Disney that doesn’t have “Magic”, “Dreams”, “Wishes” or “Wonders” as every third word.

    As bad as those things were – and the circus at EPCOT Center was one of the worst things ever (you have to find the TV special they made for it) – somehow you can still sense Disney was trying to do something. Look at all the projects they were going to update – Grand Floridian, Pleasure Island, etc.

    These days Disney can get crowds to cheer the Princess Faire with KidCot tables planned for Toontown.

  • Rob

    This post made me laugh out loud…hard. Thanks for sharing!

  • philphoggs

    Best Press Release Ever… now that headline is in no way hyper boil! Hysterical in a mind numbing way is more the case! Thank heavens you’re dedicated enough to sort through this sort of stuff Mike, and it’s appreciated. A shout to AV, you don’t happen to have a blog somewhere, I keep seeing your in depth analysis here at my favorite web site ( hey shootin’ for the Golden Clown :} ) and don’t want to miss out by not adding it to the list of daily hits. If not, glad to see you posting here.

  • Keep lobbying! I’ve been trying to persuade AV to guest blog some :)

    The Daredevil Circus was indeed… dire. I missed the special, though!

    As to PrincessCOT, I can’t complain – no Mr. Toad, but it’ll still be nicer to look at than Toontown!

  • philphoggs

    Yea I got to say that I’m with ya on the PrincessCOT, its turning blue from amputations and strangulation, time to get some life back there!

  • Thanks for that…great writing…it made me smile. I’m sure the copywriter for that press release was having a good time writing all that…but then again, maybe the writer was some underpaid intern in the College Program trying to make a name for himself. Look ma! My first real press release!

  • Foxxy

    I laughed myself silly. Thanks. :)

    The dedication of the Liberty Bell sounds like the lead-in to a weird joke. “So Alex Haley, Gordon Cooper, and Dick Nunis all meet up at Disney World one day..”

    I look forward to your epic history of the Handwhich. If you really want I can compile a list of every place they were available in the parks. :) I’m sure you have those maps too, but hey, maybe you don’t. :p

  • Another Voice

    I wanted to thank Michael for the amazing work he’s done in digging up these great, quircky aspects of Disney. No one else on the web could have found that great press release or have the courage to dig up the history of the handwich (I still remember those signs spread throughout The Land claiming this great new wonderous invention – I’m eagerly awaiting the article).

    With all the other sites seemingly dedicated to only finding hidden mickeys in churro charts, pictures of pretty princess parades postings and this week’s DVC/AP/Disney Dining code for discounted Dole Whips – it’s great to have found a place the really loves the great detail and real history of the company.

    P.S. – There are whispers floating about that the origins of the MK Fantasyland expansion go back to the Disney Regional Entertainment efforts. As I sure everyone knows, Disney has been trying for over a decade to create an urban-based “enterainment complex” that could be cloned in cities all over the world. One hears rumblings that an ‘Enchanted Forest’ area – a place where guests could meet and interact with the Disney Princesses – was always a key element. When the deal for Singapore fell through and the Oriental Land Company cancelled its version, Disney moved the plans to the Magic Kingdom. I guess we’ll have to see if the Fantasyland “expansion” becomes a prototype for furture developments.

  • Aww shucks you guys are the bestest readers a bloggist ever did have…

  • Smaha

    Every once in a while, I come across an older post that MUST be seen by newer members to this site. This might just be the BEST. POST. EVER. Maybe this comment will help guide you here….classic.

  • My God, this is beautiful.

    Today I learned that there is an award called the Golden Clown, that there was a circus at EPCOT for reasons that are unclear, that the Handwich was actually a thing that existed, and that Capuchins were once more commonly known as “Organ-Grinder Monkeys”. There’s a band name in that last bit.

    Another Voice – I always thought that DisneyQuest (“It’s a theme park in a box, we will build them everywhere!!!”) was the last gasp of Disney Regional Entertainment?

  • Oh, it’s all true. The Handwich was most definitely a thing. And, unfortunately, there totally was a circus at EPCOT!

    See – EPCOT is the educational park!

  • RO93461

    At WDI we were all involved in inventing food products that guests could carry and eat, the “Handwich” was one of them. I think it may have been Eric Jacobsen that thought of it. there were all kinds of internal tastings and so forth till WDW got a hold of the concept and took it from there. I tried one in the park and it was a far cry from the fun “Cone Food” we have all tried at WDI.

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