Minnie and I

Minnie and I

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winnie the Pooh Through the Years 1965-Present

1965-1992: Pot Head Pooh
Introducing the newest member of the Disney family, a Pooh named Winnie. In Disneyland tradition, they designed him with a large head. Pooh had red eyes with black pupils, and in sometimes had black eyebrows, red/orange eyebrows or no eyebrows at all. Pooh had a "hunny" pot on top of his head. His honey pot also featured a prop bee on top, although Pooh has been seen without it. On special occasions, Pooh traded his honey pot for a hat matching the occasion. This Pooh had a adorable and awkward look to him. He was adorably awkward. The performer inside had limited use of Pooh's arms, so the performer made up for it by puppeteering Pooh's facial features and ears. The performer's head was inside the honey pot and Pooh's head covered their torso. Pooh's red shirts has his name embroidered on it. This Pooh was used until 1989, but Tokyo Disneyland used this Pooh until 1992.

This was the last of the "Big Head Era" characters to get redesigned. This Pooh costume incarnation lasted 27 years. A living relic of Walt Disney's time. This version of Pooh was used at the parks (Disneyland, Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland), Disney on Parade, Disney on Ice and official events; like Sears promotions.

Pot Head Pooh, 1980's. bigbrian-nc.com

Pooh at Fantasy on Parade, 1966. credit

Mr. Disney with Pooh, 1965. artofdisney.canalblog.com

1972-1974: Disney on Parade
Pot Head Pooh was used in Disney on Parade, but the '72 edition featured a different version of Pooh. This Pooh eliminated the huge head for a smaller, standard mascot head. He now has a different body, humanoid like, with a large belly and short legs. Pooh has black eyes, like his cartoon counterpart. The performer sees through Pooh's snout.

Disney on Parade Pooh

1983-1989: Teddy Ruxpin Pooh
The creator of the popular toy, Teddy Ruxpin, designed and created costume versions of Pooh and the whole gang for the tv show "Welcome to Pooh Corner." This Pooh was designed to have animatronics inside the head. This animatronics allowed Pooh to blink, move his eyes, open and close his mouth. These techniques would be letter used for the Teddy Ruxpin toys. Pooh's body was designed to look like a real teddy bear. Unlike Pooh's cartoon counterpart, this Pooh had white eyes with black pupils. This Pooh was only used on the tv show and educational school films. Also in the French version of the show, Pot Head Pooh makes a cameo in the opening theme.

I need to admit that the first time I saw this Pooh, I got frighted and I was 17. I'm not going to rant about how "scary" this Pooh looks because many of my older friends grew up watching Pooh Corner and have fond memories of this Pooh, not scary ones. Still, he's kind of creepy to me.

Screenshot of Teddy Ruxpin Pooh. video

Screenshot of full body. video

1989-2000: Cute Pooh
A long awaited update was finally done to Pooh. He looses his "Big Head" and now has a standard mascot head. Pooh now has white eyes with black pupils and a smaller smile. Now Pooh has a new humanoid body allowing the performer to have full control, especially the arms. The performer sees through the eyes and Pooh's snout, which is made out of reticulated foam. Pooh's honey pot now becomes a prop for him to carry around. Like Pot Head Pooh, his shirt has the name "Pooh" embroidered into it, but in Disneyland Paris Pooh's shirt has no name on it. This is because the French associate him as "Winnie l'Ourson" instead of "Pooh." Some Pooh heads had fin eyebrows (like the one pictured) and others had thick eyebrows, giving Pooh an awkward look. This adorable version of Pooh lasted until 1999, but Tokyo Disneyland used him until mid 2000.

Cute Pooh, 1997. Flickr User: moacirdsp

Cute Pooh and his "hunny" pot, 1990. Looks familiar, huh?

1999-Present: Skinny Pooh
Disney redesigned Pooh to look more like his cartoon counterpart. They give him a smaller head, smaller ears and black beady eyes. This Pooh's snout is not made out of reticulated foam, but covered with fur. His body changed to a more slim look and gives the elution of Pooh being tall. The color of his fur changed from golden yellow to bright yellow. His shirt no longer has his name on it.

I think Disney keeps Pooh on a "no honey" diet, because this Pooh is skinny. I recall Pooh saying he's "short, fat and proud of that" and this Pooh is everything but short and fat. This Pooh is not as plum as the previous ones.

Skinny Pooh, 2013. kennythepirate.com

2004-Present: Stage Pooh
The first Disney Live! was based on the 100 Acre Wood. For this show the whole cast got articulated heads. This allowed Pooh to blink and open and close his mouth. Stage Pooh is based on Skinny Pooh. His snout and lower lip was made out of reticulated foam and later versions eliminated this, covering the snout with fabric. His fur is now golden yellow and the fur is textured. This Pooh was made out of a different fur fabric than the meet and greet one. This Pooh was only used for Disney Live! productions. Currently this Pooh is not being used, but it can return for future events.

Something to note about this Pooh is the features of the articulated head. This Pooh can blink and open and closed his mouth, lip syncing to the audio track. Although this features sound great, their barely noticeable from the audience's point of view. This is because the performer constantly keeps moving around and not allowing you to see the full effect. Pooh's eyes are small and when he blinks, if your not paying attention, you miss it. Plus why does Pooh need to blink? Also the distance between the lower lip and snout is small and when he closes his mouth, is barely noticeable. When the show went to Puerto Rico in 2007, a friend of mine went to see it. Later I asked him about the articulated heads, he answered "wasn't that great, disappointing."

Stage Pooh at Disney Live!, 2004. credit

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Clarabelle & Horace Through the Years 1972-Present

1972-1973: Disney on Parade
The earliest costume appearance of this Disney duo was on Disney on Parade. They appear along side Goofy, recreating their ballet scene from Orphan's Benefit (1941). Clarabelle has a pink face, with cartoon black eyes and blue tutu. Horace has a blue face, with cartoon black eyes, and wearing his caveman outfit from the cartoon. They both wear five fingered gloves.

Clarabelle and Horace on Disney on Parade, 1972

1974-1975: Fantasy on Parade
For this holiday parade, Clarabelle and Horace appeared in their black and white persona. Clarabelle wears a white and gray polka dot dress, with matching apron, a gray bow on her head and what appears to be white feet. Sometimes Clarabelle spotted normal black shoes. Horace has a big check to check grin and wears white overalls with a gray horse collar, black bowtie, white horse bit and gray bowler hat. They both have flesh color faces with black cartoon eyes and wear five fingered gloves. They only appeared on this parade and were not meet and greet characters.

Screenshot of Horace and Clarabelle in Fantasy on Parade, 1975. video

Screenshot of an unlisted video

1992-Present: Modern Clarabelle and Horace
Clarabelle made a come back appearance to celebrate Goofy's 60th anniversary. She was portraying Cleopatra in the parade "The World According to Goofy." After that Clarabelle started appearing with Daisy Duck in the Christmas parades until 1997. She debuted her trademark "Band Concert" outfit in 1998, celebrating Tokyo Disneyland's 15th anniversary. After that, she became a rare meet and greet character. Horace's earliest appearance was in 1998, along side Clarabelle and a Disney pig in Viva! Magic in Tokyo Disneyland. He appeared in his "Band Concert" uniform. Today, Horace makes cameos during the holidays and rarely appears to meet and greet guests. Both characters wear four fingered gloves, matching Goofy's gloves. 

What makes this couple very unique to me is their head construction. Unlike their other pals, Clarabelle and Horace's face is made out of exposed reticulated foam. This is a very common material in the mascot world, but usually in small portions. Their whole face is made out of foam, with painted and added features. This is curious to me because why Disney chooses to make their faces like this and not like the other heads? It doesn't look bad, but it just doesn't make scene to me.

The couple today, 2011. disneyparks.disney.go.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mystery Costco Minnie Mouse

Somewhere around or near Chestertown, Maryland this happened.

This Minnie appeared at some sort of promotion at a Costco store. It might also have been a Sam's Club. I don't know when this picture was taken, or by who. If you know anything about this particular Minnie Mouse, please contact me. Even the smallest detail will help.

Winnie the Pooh Available from Sears

I recently found out that during the 70's and maybe the 80's, Sears started to sell Disney Winnie the Pooh merchandise. To promote the merchandise Sears had a Winnie the Pooh costume at the store, from Disney. Some Sears had their costume performed and other had the costume just as a display.

I don't know all the details, if each Sears had a Winnie the Pooh costume, or the costumes rotated from location to location. Either way, some people claim to have Pooh costumes from Sears. I want to be one of those people. If you know there whereabouts of one of these Pooh costumes, please come in contact with me. Does not matter if is complete or incomplete, in good condition or bad condition, with water or age damage, doesn't matter. I'll be highly interested.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Donald Duck Family Through the Years 1955- Present

The original duck dynasty, Donald's family. I could write only about Donald and Daisy, but I won't. I have noticed during my research that the costumes are all related in one way or another. Not only in the series is Donald related to Uncle Scrooge but also in the mascot world too. Like before I'll be starting at 1955 and on.

1955-1959: The Ice Capades
Donald made it's Disneyland debut in 1955 opening day. His costume was perviously used on the Disney themed Ice Capades. The costume was created for performers to skate around and meant to be seen from a distance. Up close, he's pretty scary. The performer saw through the neck, giving the character an awkward look.

Ice Capades Donald with Mickey, 1955. karinserafin.blogspot.com

1964-1968: The Duck
A new Donald costume was created, but it resembled someone else. Maybe it's Donald or Uncle Scrooge? Since we're not sure if this Donald or Scrooge, let's call it The Duck. I have read some sources and they say this is actually Ludwig Von Drake. Who knows? Hard to tell if this is Donald, because of his blue outfit, or Scrooge, because sometimes he appeared as Scrooge, or Ludwig, because at the time he was hosting The Wonderful World of Color television show. I think is Ludwig, but I'm are not sure. Other sources say it's Donald Duck. The Duck appeared in Disneyland's 10th anniversary television special as a background character, along with Minnie and Goofy. He also made parade appearances. It seems The Duck wasn't a meet and greet character.

What makes The Duck so special is that his head design is still used today! Only a hand full characters have their original molds still in use and this is one of them. Of course is not used for Donald, but for someone else.

The Duck parading among Mickey, 1964

1968-1977: Velvet Donald
The version of Donald started it all. Completely different to the previous one, this design lasted the longest (at least the head mold did). Three decades the head design lasted. I call it "Velvet Donald" because his sailor suit appears to have a velvet texture. Maybe his suit was made out of velvet, possibly not. Looks like it thou. His eyes are gray, because the head's eyes are screen eyes. Meaning the performer could look out the whole eye not just the pupil. They changed that on the next design. Only dwarf people performed this Donald.

Many fans say this Donald head design looks nothing like his cartoon counterpart, I agree. But don't be so harsh on the little guy. My opinion is that Donald's head references a real duck's head. At the time character mascots were a complex idea and maybe the designers said "If Donald was walking among us, what would he look like? He would look like a real duck, with a human body." To me, Donald's head looks more like a real duck's head than his cartoon counterpart.

Velvet Donald. Flickr User: Tom Simpson

Comparison of Donald and a real duck. credit

1972-1974: Parade Daisy Duck
This is Daisy's first appearance as a mascot costume. She was created to accompany Donald in the '72 edition of Disney on Parade. By the looks of it, they didn't put that much thought into the Daisy design. It's just the Donald costume with a bow and a pink blouse with attached white sleeves. She also wears pink high heels and sometimes spots bare webbed feet, like Donald. This version lasted until the end of Disney on Parade tours.

A screenshot of Daisy from Disney on Parade. video

1974-1987: Red Uncle Scrooge
The Duck becomes Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge starts to wear red clothes with a black top hat and gray spats. Some Scrooge heads included head feathers and other did not. Around 1980, Scrooge started to have four fingers. Before that he had five fingers.

This isn't the Red Scrooge from the period, but it's pretty close. 
Uncle Scrooge, 1992. curtisnet.co.uk

1978-1998: Sassy Satin Donald
In 1978, the character department updated all the main character costumes, including Donald. They kept the same head mold from the previous version and updated the rest. Donald's body now looks more like a "duck" and now pots better looking webbed feet. His sailor suit changed to a satin like suit with four buttons with matching hat and a red bow tie. Now Donald has four fingers. His eyes changed to. The performer looks through the pupil and not the whole eye. This Donald was extremly popular during his reign. I call this Donald, Sassy Satin Donald because there is a type of satin called "sassy satin" and his sailor suit looks like satin. I think his suit was made out of spandex rather that satin. Spandex is a common material in the mascot world. Usually a short person performed this Donald.

Sassy Satin Donald Flickr User: Striderv

1978: Riri, Fifi et Lou-Lou
Huey, Dewey and Louie made their debut as costumed characters in 1978, in France. French singer Chantal Goya made a series of songs about the Disney characters. One of the songs was called "Riri, Fifi, Lou-Lou" which are the names of Huey, Dewey and Louie in French. Goya also made music videos featuring the Disney costumed characters. For Riri, Fifi and Lou-Lou's video, the Disney costume department created costume versions of the triplets. It was basically the same costume times three. It was perfect timing because in 1978 the Disney costume department redesigned the primary character costumes. For the triplets, it was the new Donald Duck body with a different head. For Goya's music video, H, D and L used the same outfit, their Junior Woodchuck uniform. It's unconfirmed, but this might have been their only appearance until Donald's 50th birthday, six years later.

Chantal Goya album cover with the ducklings, 1978. credit.

1978-1982: Baby Face Daisy
This is a tricky one. I originally wasn't going to include this version of Daisy, but there's to much going on with her to ignore her existence. Lets start with this is a rare Daisy.

Daisy is not part of the "fab five." The fab five includes Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie and Mickey. No one really paid attention to Daisy. Celebrating Disneyland's 25th anniversary, they decided to include Donald's gal. Unlike Minnie's head mold being the same as Mickey's, this Daisy had a custom mold. Her head was opposite to Donald's. This Daisy head had a small beak, almost baby like. Her head is similar to Riri, Fifi and Lou-Lou's head. She includes bouncy eyelids. Meaning every time she moved her head, the eyelids moved up and down freely while not covering the whole pupil. Daisy wears now lavender clothes. She wears a lavender dress, shoes, bow and bracelet with matching her eyelids. Also she has fin eyebrows, almost like "sharpie" eyebrows. Daisy's leggings would sometimes change from orange to pink.

Now this Baby Face Daisy only lasted about three years and at the time she wasn't a meet and greet. You saw her mainly at live stage shows and parades. She didn't appeared that much, making her a rare find.

Baby Face Daisy at WDW, 1979. credit

Lavender Daisy, 1980. disneyonparole.blogspot.com

Disney World publicity photo, 1978.

1982-1998: Sassy Satin Daisy
I strongly believe that Feld Entertainment made the transition from the previous Daisy to this Daisy. For Disney on Ice's Great Ice Odyssey, 1982 and Magic Kingdom on Ice, 1983 included Daisy. For this shows Feld Ent. redesigned Daisy. They eliminated the current mold and using Donald's head mold for her. Daisy now wears a lavender free outfit. She wears yellow shoes, a pink dress with white trimmings, yellow bracelet (sometimes a pink bracelet) and a yellow bow going around her head. The yellow shoes are the same as Minnie's. The first Daisy head used the same mold as Donald's. They just added the bow and lavender eyelids. This Daisy head was only used for about two or three years. For Donald's 50th birthday, they created a custom mold for Daisy. Similar to Donald's, but with a smaller beak and bouncy eyelids.

The character department is very strong on character continuity, but sometimes they overlooked continuity. On rare occasions, the character department used Baby Face Daisy with Sassy Satin Daisy's makeover. Meaning that Baby Face Daisy would be dressed like Sassy Satin Daisy. This didn't happen often. On a personal note, Sassy Satin Daisy is my favorite version of Daisy, don't ask me why.

Sassy Satin Daisy, 1989. www.schuminweb.com

Screenshot of Baby Face Sassy Satin Daisy, 1986 video

1984-1986: Ludwig Cameo
Celebrating Donald's 50th birthday the whole duck family was invited, even Ludwig. He appears in the same float with Donald. This Ludwig used the same head mold as The Duck. His attire was the same as his cartoon counterpart. He looked like Scrooge, but with gray head feathers. If you listen to the parade track you can hear him. Ludwig was located towards the pack of the Donald float beside Grandpa Duck. He also made an appearance at Disney World's 15th anniversary parade.

Grandpa Duck, Donald, Uncle Scrooge and Ludwig greeting Clarence Nash (voice of Donald) at Disney World, 1984. ebay listing.

1984-1993: Grandpa and Grandma Duck
Because of their popularity on the comic books, these ducks made their debut on Donald's 50th birthday parade. They only appeared only on parades, mainly christmas parades. These ducks weren't meet and greets.

Grandma Duck's head mold was the same as Daisy's. She wears a feather bun on her head and glasses. She wears a lavender dress and black shoe pumps with yellow spats.

Grandma Duck, 1984. disneyparks.disney.go.com

Grandpa Duck's duck head mold was the same as Donald's. He wears a red coat with yellow shirt, green bow tie and white spats. On his head he spots a cowboy like hat and curled up feathers.

Screenshot of Grandpa Duck, 1984. video

1984-1996: The Trio
Huey, Dewey and Louie got an update for Donald's 50th birthday parade. The Huey (red), Dewey (blue) and Louie (green) head mold was used previously as Baby Face Daisy. Since their debut H, D and L had pupil changes. Some heads had pupils like Donald's, others had small pupils with blue eyes and others had small pupils with white eyes. The primary heads were the ones that had the pupils just like Donald's.

Screenshot of Huey, Dewey and Louie with small pupils and blue eyes, 1989. video

1987-1996: Blue Scrooge
Scrooge gets an update, to match his DuckTales' counterpart. He now wears a blue and red coat with red spats. Like before, some Scrooges had head feathers other did not. Sometimes you saw Scrooge carrying a cane and a bag full of "money."

1992: The World According to Ludwig
To celebrate Goofy's 60th birthday, Disneyland made a parade called "The World According to Goofy." The opening float was Ludwig Von Drake introduction the parade. After the parade's run, we don't see Ludwig again for a long time. Like with the Disney dvds, he went back to the vault. This Ludwig design was a custom mold and not a recycled one. He resembles his animated counterpart very well.

1996- Present: Modern DuckTales
In 1996, the Disney costume department redesigned the whole duck gang. This included Donald, Daisy, Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louie. This new update eliminated the previous design. All of the ducks got a new head mold, new body pattern and new feet mold.

Scrooge got a brand new head mold, looking more like his cartoon counterpart. H, D and L kept their head shape and got new eyes. H, D and L's eyes have now eyelids. Their eyelids gives them a tired look, I wish they eliminate their eyelids. They're youngsters, they're full of energy therefore they can't look tired!

1995-2006: "Cartoony" Donald and Daisy
Daisy keep her attire from the previous version; yellow bow going around her head, new custom yellow shoes (previously was using the same as Minnie's), yellow bracelet and pink dress with white trimmings with added white petticoat. She got a new head design with a new beak and almond shaped eyes with tacky lavender eyelids. Donald got a new head designed with a new beak and new eyes with eyelids. His suit changed to match the new body pattern. His suit is now baby blue color. Both Donald and Daisy's eyes don't fully rest on the bill, unlike their cartoon counterpart.

The new update was excellent with Scrooge, H, D and L but it didn't look so good on the main ducks, Donald and Daisy. Donald and Daisy look like they're related to Howard the duck. Daisy's eyes look awkward and for some reason Donald has eyelids. Both Donald and Daisy's beaks are almost closed. These version on lasted in the parks from '95 to '02. Disney on Ice used this versions until 2006.

Full body shot of Cartoony Daisy, Tokyo Disneyland 1999.

2002- Present: Modern Donald and Daisy Duck
To celebrate Disneyland Paris' 10th anniversary, Donald and Daisy were redesigned. The other parks adapted these versions in 2003. These replaced the previous "cartoony" ducks for good.

Donald and Daisy changed completely. Donald got a new head with a larger beak and larger eyes, getting rid of the eyelids. His clothes changed from baby blue to electric blue and now he only has two buttons. I personally prefer the baby blue clothes. Donald's feet changed to a new mold. Daisy now look a lot better than any of her past renditions. She eliminated her previous attire and got a new one. She now wears pink shoes, a pink dress with lavender flounce and white trimmings, lavender bow and bracelet. Daisy has a new head with larger eyes with lavender eyelids and a smaller, more feminine beak. These versions are fanatic and in a way, superior the previous ones.

The duck couple today. Flickr User: sidonald

2006- Present: Talking Ducks
Talking and blinking version of the ducks first appeared at Disney Live! Mickey's Magic Show. Disney uses these articulated versions of Daisy and Donald (mainly Donald) on Disney Live!, Disney stage shows, advertising, promotions and official events. These costumes are for performing purposes only, not meet and greets. If you want to know how the costumes work, read Mickey and Minnie trough the years blog.

Clear view of articulated Donald

2008- Present: Ludwig out of retirement
As early as '08, Ludwid Von Darke made a comeback. He's out of the vault! I'm glad Ludwig is part of the gang again, but I didn't expect him to look like this. You would think he would look like he did back in '92 in the Goofy parade. Nope, he looks like he did back in '84 using "The Duck" head mold. I don't know why Disney didn't used the '92 mold. I wish they will change him, to give Ludwig a more accurate look. On the other hand, I'm glad their still using a mold from back in the 60's, keeping up with Disney tradition. On the other, other hand while doing my research, I noticed that if you add gray feathers and glasses to "cartoony" Donald Duck's head... Omg! He looks like Ludwig. If Disney wanted, they could used the "cartoony" Donald mold for Ludwig, which is a more recent mold. At the end, I'm not complaining about this Ludwig. I think he looks amazing. I just don't understand if they already had a custom mold for Ludwig, why use this one?

"Ello There!" Flickr User: ciltancil

It took me a little less than a month to write this blog. I could have just written about Donald and Daisy, then the others but as you can see, all the costumes are related to each other in one way or another. 

Keep checking out the blog for more Disney characters costumes through out the years!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mickey and Minnie Through the Years 1955-Present

UPDATE: There's an updated version of this post. Here's the link.

I have a great passion for costumes; and the Disney ones are one of my favorites. I want to write about how costumed characters changed over the years. I know some websites have done it, but I want to explain with greater detail.

I will be explaining how the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse costumes changed over the years. For the sake of time I will the discussing the costumes from 1955 and present. Prior to 1955 the were many variations of Mickey and Minnie costumes. There's so many, it's hard to keep up accurately. Let's start at 1955.

1955-1959: The Ice Capades
Walt Disney opens Disneyland. For opening day Mr. Disney wants his characters to roam the park, so he barrows costumes from The Ice Capades. The Ice Capades has been making Disney themed shows as early as 1950. Disney loved the idea of characters roaming the park and greeting people, so he decided to keep the characters around.

There's at least two versions of the Ice Capades Mickey and Minnie costumes; specially the heads. The first heads had large view points (spots where the performer can see out of) all over the face of Mickey and Minnie. These view points are excellent for the performer to skate around, but not so much to greet a child. The view points looked awkward and creepy. The next pair of head removed the large view points. Making them a much cleaner look.

Opening day at Disneyland. First versions of The Ice Capades Mickey and Minnie

Second version, with cleaner faces photobucket.com

1959-1961: The Bobble-Heads
Disneyland is about to celebrates it's 5th birthday and they redesigned Mickey and Minnie. It looks like they only redesigned the heads and kept the Ice Capades body costume. I call this version the Bobble-Head Mickey and Minnie. These din't last long. Sometimes an Ice Capades Mickey will show up along an Bobble-Head Minnie, and vise versa. Still awkward.

The Bobble Head couple anikabozic.com

Bobble Head Minnie along with Ice Capades Mickey femalemag.com

1960-1963: Big Head Era
At this period they redesign and created many Disney character costumes, eliminating the Ice Capades versions. Many costumes were designed so the character's head would take over half of the performer's body; starting the Big Head Era. Characters like Mickey, Minnie and others were Big Head characters. This was great because the characters look cartoony and less scary (debatable). But Mr. Disney noticed that the performers in the Big Heads (specially Mickey) could not interact with guests with freedom and ease. Kids started to doubt the character's "real-ness". An order was placed to redesign Mickey and a few others.

The Big Heads at Disneyland teicharchives.blogspot.com

1962-1977: The Common Mickey
A new Mickey and Minnie costume was created. Completely different to the previous ones. The mold created for this style of Mickey and Minnie was used until the late 80's. On another note, Mr. Disney wanted Mickey to have a consistent performer and he found a man named Paul Castle. Mr. Castle (1923-2010) was a professional figure skater and performed on the Disney Ice Capades (coincidence?). He was a short man, about 4' 6" tall. Walt hired Castle to be the main Mickey Mouse performer. When ever Walt went somewhere, he took Mickey and Paul was always the performer. Paul Castle performed as Mickey at Disneyland and other events for over 25 years. To read more about Paul, click here. This style of Mickey was used at Disneyland, Disney World and Disney on Parade. While Mickey had a constant wardrobe, Minnie had several wardrobe changes during this time.

Paul Castle as Mickey with Walt Disney Flickr User: ozfan22

Mickey's uniform from this era, displayed at D23 Flickr User: lorenjavier

1968-1974: Bootleg Mickey
There's little known facts about this particular Mickey. Mickey's head almost looks like a bootleg version, but trust me it's an "official" Mickey. This Mickey rarely appeared. It was used to celebrate Mickey's 40th birthday outside of Disneyland and to promote Disney World outside of the U.S.

Bootleg Mickey with Goofy and Pluto, 1970

Bootleg Mickey promoting Disney World in England

1964-1975: Steamboat Minnie
This Minnie's wardrobe was styled over her first appearance in Steamboat Willie and the previous Big Head Minnie. She had a pink skirt, with cartoony bloomers, a pink collar and a pink hat. During this point Minnie is rarely seen by guests. This Minnie mostly only appeared on parades and special events. After 1970, this Minnie version was retired, but Disney on Parade used a similar style of this Minnie version. Minnie in Disney on Parade spotted yellow high heels with a red skirt with yellow polka dots. She also wears a red hat with a flower sticking out.

Steamboat Minnie Flickr User: Tom Simpson

Sorcerer Mickey and Minnie in Disney on Parade, 1973.

1969-1977: Yellow Dress Minnie
Minnie changed to a more decent attire and now joins Mickey to greet guests. Here she wears a bright yellow dress with red trimmings and a red bow going around her head. This is my favorite Minnie from this era.

Yellow dress Minnie Flickr User: Tom Simpson

1976-1978 & 1984: Pre-Polka Dot Minnie
This Minnie I call "the pre-polka dot" dress Minnie, because this dress is almost a prototype to Minnie's now iconic polka dot dress. This Minnie wears a small polka doted red skirt with matching top, a straw hat with polka dot trimming and a flower. This style of Minnie only lasted 2 to 3 years before the next change.

French singer Douchka included Disney characters in her singing repertoire. In 1984, she made a music video called "Elementaire mon cher Baloo" (Elementary my dear Baloo) and Minnie appeared in this attire, minus the hat with was replaced by her traditional bow and she was wearing four fingered gloves.

Pre-polka dot dress Minnie Mouse favim.com

Minnie in Douchka's music video, 1984. video

1978-1992: The 80's Version
To celebrate Mickey's 50 birthday, the company updates Mickey and Minnie. The Mickey/Minnie heads now better looking, but still using the same molds as before. Mickey gets a new suit and trousers. The trousers were patted to look round around the belly and hips. His shoes are now mascot shoes and his gloves are four fingered. They previous version had semi-custom shoes and five fingered gloves. The learn more about Mickey's gloves, read my previous post. Mickey spots black eye liner around his eyes. This was used on the previous Mickey and was applied to this Mickey. They added the black eye liner to make Mickey's eyes stand out, pop out. So kids and adults would make direct eye contact with Mickey. I call this Mickey, Emo Mickey.

Minnie now wears her trademark red polka doted dress with white trimmings, a matching bow and yellow mascot pumps. The fabric used for Minnie's dress was already been in use as Practical Pig's bandanna from the same time period. Minnie now wears lavender eye liner.

This version Mickey and Minnie were used at Disneyland, Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disney on Ice, and other official events. These are my personal favorite versions of Mickey and Minnie.

80's Mickey and Minnie disneyonparole.blogspot.com

1986: Western Winkin' Mickey
Its been brought to my attention that in a Disney World commercial from 1986, Mickey winked at the camera. This is certainly not cgi, this Mickey head was modified to have a winking mechanism witch the performer controlled. I spoke to someone that performed at Disneyland during the 80's and she recalls this Mickey being used for special televised events and private events. By the looks of it, this Mickey only winks (right eye) and doesn't fully blink with both eyes closing. Maybe this was a "winking only" Mickey and had another that fully blinked.

Winking 80's Mickey footage, slowed down. video
Special thanks to Brandon for sending me the footage.

1987-Present: Modern Minnie Mouse
Since the dawn of cartoons, the male's girlfriend would always be the same male in drag. The Minnie head was the same head as the Mickey; with added red lip stick, lavender eye liner and puffy eyelashes. But someone (probably someone from Feld Entertainment) said: "Hey, we need to something about Minnie!" Disney created a new head for Minnie, with smaller ears, smaller nose and smaller widow's peak. Completely different to the Mickey head. Shortly after that, Disney redesigned Mickey's head after Minnie's new head.

New Minnie along with Emo 80's Mickey toontownantics.blogspot.com

1987-Present: Modern Mickey Mouse
It's Mickey's 60th birthday celebration and since Minnie got a make over, so did Mickey. Nothing much changed, only a few changes like the new head design and Mickey loosing his black eye liner. This design of Mickey and Minnie are still used today.

The current Mickey and Minnie costumes

1992-Present: Tokyo and Euro Disneyland
The new costumes of Mickey and Minnie were in, but Tokyo Disneyland din't got the new versions until '92. Euro Disney (Disneyland Paris) was about to open and that means new costumes for Euro Disney; why not Tokyo too? At the same time Euro Disney got there costumes, Tokyo Disneyland got the new costumes of Mickey and Minnie; just in time to celebrate Tokyo Disneyland's 10th anniversary a year later. Tokyo Disneyland have received the new costumes before '92 for The Electrical Parade, but only for that parade. Now all the parks have the same version of Mickey and Minnie costumes.

2004-Present: Talking Mascots
During the 1980's and 1994, Disney started testing a new articulated version of Mickey. This allowed Mickey to open and close his mouth and blink. In 2004, Disney officially made their first Disney Live! show. This show included a talking and blinking Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Mickey and Minnie can now lib sync to audio tracks, and blink once in a while. This was done manually by the performer inside the suit. Two cables run from the head of the character to the performer's hands. One cable controls the mouth and the other controls the eyes. The performer has triggers on the index finger and triggers are very sensitive. Just a slight move of the finger and it actives the mechanism. The mouth mechanism is very simple, it works just like a bicycle break. The performer presses the trigger and the mouth closes. The performer lets go of the trigger and the mouth opens. The eye mechanism is also simple, but their's a catch. The performer presses the eye trigger and a wire pushes down the eye lids of the character and it springs right back. Here's the catch of the blinking mechanism, the performer usually sees through the character's eyes. The character's pupils are dark lenses, like dark sun glasses. When ever the characters blinks, it cuts of the performer's view. This is dangerous because in the worse case scenario the mechanism can malfunction and the eye lids wont spring back. Meaning the performer would be unable to see out of the head. Characters like Mickey and Minnie have two view points, the eyes and inside the mouth. If happens to them, the performer has another spot to see out of. Now Donald and Daisy (with these mechanisms) you can only see through the eyes; and a tiny little bit form the inside the mouth. If blinking mechanism breaks with Donald or Daisy, boy the performer is in trouble. I saw a performance online with the Daisy blinking mechanism braking in the middle of her performance. The performer was trying to lift up the eye lids with her fingers because she could not see. Luckily, Daisy made it backstage safely.

The best way to demonstrate the articulated Mickey and friends is with videos.

Try to keep an eye on Mickey's fingers.

Here is Daisy's eye incident (2:00 mark). Keep a close eye on Daisy (no pun intended)

This version of articulated characters were only seen on Disney live shows, like Disney Live!, Disney World and Disneyland stage shows. Now a days they're mega popular with Disney advertising. Every Disney Parks commercial has these articulated costumes, and it's annoying. This is annoying because when I go to take my picture with Mickey at the Disney Parks, I won't get this talking and blinking version. Mainly because is a safety hazard for the performer and because the triggers are on the fingers and if I shake hands with Mickey, I might active one the triggers. Or am I?

2010-Present: Robo Mickey!
Meeting Mickey Mouse is an exciting experience by it self, but how can Disney make this experience more magical? Have Mickey actually talk you!; and blink! Sort of!...

Remember that Disney was working on a articulated Mickey in 1994? Guess what, around the same time Disney was also working on a speech transformation system. Here's the patent. In short words, a speech transformation system allows a performer to talk into a mic and sound like Mickey's voice. In 2010 Disney finally tested this system. Mickey now can talk to you, live in person... sort of. After many tests with this Mickey, Disney decided to have Mickey say prerecorded phrases. This is disappointing, if you ask me. Because instead of Mickey saying your name and noticing your princess shirt, Mickey would say generic phrases and conversations like: hi-ya pal, hot dog, cheese, bye, ect. This is sad when someone would come up to Mickey, talk to him and the best Mickey can say is "oh boy". Kind of a let down. Personally, I prefer the standard Mickey to the this robotic, prerecorded Mickey.

First live speech Robo Mickey testing, 2010

Here's another live speech Robo Mickey test, 2011

One of many examples of prerecorded Robo Mickey, 2014

The articulated costumes are only used at Disneyland, Disney World and Disney Live! You will not find these versions outside the U.S. Also, Robo Mickey is currently only at Disney World; and might make an appearance at D23.

I'm not going into full length detail explaining how Robo Mickey works, because I'm still studying this version of Mickey. I'm not so sure how this Mickey works with all the mechanics and all that jazz. When I know for certain how this Mickey works, I'll write another blog.

Any questions or suggestions, email me at otero.santiago@yahoo.com. Hope you enjoy this! It took me about two weeks to research and write this blog accurately. Keep checking out my blog! Because I will be writing more about character costumes through the years; like Goofy, Donald Duck, etc! This is only the beginning!