Friday, September 11, 2009

An Inside Look at Walt Disney in the 40’s with Walt & El Grupo

When you think of Walt Disney films animation usually comes to mind; but what about documentaries? Come to think of it, when you’re enjoying Orlando theme parks like the Walt Disney World Resort do you ever stop and think about the inner workings of all of the magic? The latest film to come out of the Disney group is Walt & El Grupo. If you’ve ever been on the Grand Fiesta Tour attraction at the Mexican Pavillion at Epcot, you might have seen a trio of comical characters featuring Donald Duck, a rooster by the name of Panchito and a parrot by the name of Jose Carioca. This comical trio is better known as The Three Caballeros and they were a direct result from a trip to South America Walt Disney took with a company of animators in 1941.

Those were trying times for Walt Disney. There was an animators strike, the world was at war and the fate of Disney appeared dismal. The US government recruited Walt and a group of his hand-picked animators to go to South America on a mission of goodwill. Walt and his group visited Argentina, Brazil and Chile to meet with famous Latin American artists and musicians and collaborate on a project. The result of this trip was two movies: The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos.

Walt Disney was only 39 on this trip and Disneyland hadn’t even opened yet! But it was an imperative mission to the world of Walt Disney and one that produced some animation firsts. The Three Caballeros featured a combination of live-action cinema and animation. It also featured some prominent Latin stars from the era including Aurora, the sister of Carmen Miranda, Dora Luz and Carmen Molina. The title song of The Three Caballeros was composed by legendary Mexican composer Manuel Esperon.

Walt & El Grupo is expected to be a great inside look into the world of Walt Disney, a man surrounded by many legends. Fans of the animation genius will get a rare glimpse at what life was like during the early stages of the Disney empire and see how the trip influenced Disney’s multicultural aspects as shown by attractions like It’s A Small World and the World Showcase Pavillion. If you’re a Disney fan, Walt & El Grupo is a must see.


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