Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh! Disneyland and Family History

"Laughter is America's most important export."
Walt Disney, quoted at

WARNING - This is not a serious post - well, not too serious anyway.

I love magazines, really I do. I don't subscribe to as many as I once did, but I look over the recent ones at bookshops each month to find articles that would justify the cost. I recently brought home the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine (isn't it only May?) largely because of two articles I noticed - one on searches and one about genealogy software for beginners. (Maybe more about that later.)

Then I just had to take the quiz on the back page (page 72) in uprooted: A trivial look at famous family trees by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. I was 'Notably Knowledgeable' but you will see this quiz is mostly in fun. It's about the genealogy of Walt Disney.

When I was young, we went to California several times on vacation. This was then quite a big trip from British Columbia, Canada. Now I wish we'd visited those missing DRUMMOND/SMITH relatives at Long Beach, but we went sightseeing in Carmel, San Francisco and Los Angeles instead.

Of course, we went to Disneyland, which was pretty new when we first visited in 1958. All I seem to remember is watching women doing the can-can in the Golden Horseshoe, whirling around in the Mad Hatter's Teacups and being scared half to death by an all-too-real-looking snake on the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland.

These two poor little photos seem to be our only snaps from Disneyland and they were taken with my own little camera, I think - likely by me. I must have been fascinated by the Skyway buckets above as none of us are even shown in these photos. Maybe someone knows exactly where these were taken?

The quiz reminded me of the photos, but also brought out one of my very pet peeves.

Walt Disney's grandfather was apparently born in Ireland and came to America in 1834 with his parents and settled in what is now Ontario where the family lived for decades.

One answer in the quiz is: "They intended to settle in America, so they didn't stay in Canada for long."

Oh, dear, oh dear... Ahem! Not that funny...

Some say Walt Disney's paternal kin came to America in 1834 and settled in Canada. Then in about 1877/78 they left for the United States. That's over 40 years later. I'll wait till I see someone has a serious study of the family's earlier years in America to think about that part of the comment, but the rest?

America is a very big place -no matter how you count the continents - and includes both Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Mexico and the United States, as well as many, many other countries. Easy to see in any world atlas on-line or off. Please!

Now has anyone done a genealogical study of this DISNEY family in Canada? I see there is a one name study and a DNA group too.

Walt Disney's Paternal Line Surnames: DISNEY, LARK, RICHARDSON, SWAN: Ireland to America - first to Canada, later to the United States of America.


Walt Disney genealogy -

Elias Disney (Walt Disney's father) - Wikipedia

Also helpful might be Walt Disney: the triumph of the American imagination by Neal Gabler (New York, USA: Knopf, 2006) Limited search available on-line at Google Books.

Walt Disney Family Museum - biography, Disney family photographs Note that content here is no longer being updated

Yesterland - Featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

DisneyLand Park (Anaheim) - Wikipedia


Susan said...

You echoed my sentiments exactly!

kinfolknews said...

Hi! I really love the photos of Disneyland. I have a few taken in the early 60's when my parents and brother went. (That was Before My Time.)
You asked where the photos were taken... the second one is definately in Fantasyland. You can clearly see "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" ride. Unfortunately, the bucket ride is long gone!

Brenda said...

Someone had to set the record straight! :-D