Wouldn’t it be cool if you got a letter from your child’s school saying to report to “Captain Hooks” office for a meeting? Yea, that’s how you know your child attends Walt Disney Elementary School..
I first wrote this article in November of 2013 when we were Diclajia’s Disney Dreams. I thought to myself that I needed to share this great story with everyone again in case some of you didn’t know this little tidbit in history.
Surfing the net I came across an Awesome bit of information.. Let me just say that if I would have elementary school kids, they would sooooo be attending this school. Did you know that there are over 60 schools in the world named after Walt Disney? Now keep in mind that schools are normally named after famous American historic figures, but in the case of these 60 schools, the children had someone else in mind and Disney was the name they all wanted. Now there is one school that you can say is the first and ‘original’ Walt Disney Elementary School and it’s located in Levittown, PA and that is where I’ll be taking you today.. 😉
Our story begins in the spring of 1954 where there was a new school in the planning stages and the Tullytown School Board asked the students whom did they want their new school to be named after and of coarse you guessed it, they all chose Walt Disney. See back then Walt was very known for his TV Shows like the ‘Mickey Mouse Club‘ aside from his famous character voices and the Disneyland Theme Park which had just recently opened. Disney was the bulk of children’s entertainment. There were Disney Books, Magazine, Toys and Movies, so it wasn’t a surprise that the kids would choose someone they all came to know and love as was Walt Disney. Eventually the school board notified Mr. Disney and boy was he ever surprised that there would be a school named after him, no other school had ever given him that honor so he immediately agreed, he was so excited that he even said that he would be at the school’s dedication and even sent over Disney artists to decorate the school’s interior. The original plans were designed with Disney philosophy and characters in mind. The school still displays Mr. Disney’s personal contributions to it, from various forms of artwork, an acoustically sound theater, classrooms that are named for Disney characters with the appropriate movie cells hanging in each room, and a large portrait of Walt in the lobby. The wooden frames that are around the school of the Disney characters were cut and shipped from the Disney Studios and painted by local artists. It is true ‘Disney Magic‘.. 🙂
On Saturday September 24th, 1955 a little after 3:00PM a Pennsylvania Railroad train approached the Levittown station. Leaning out of the window of the diesel locomotive, wearing a railroad engineer’s cap, and smiling and waving to the crowd that overflowed the platform, was Walt Disney. After being driven by motorcade through a tour of the town of Levittown, Disney was taken to the new school where he was greeted with the school band playing songs from his movies. He walked the halls and visited every classroom. Special Saturday classes were in session for the occasion, and the master story teller delighted students by telling stories and imitating some of his characters. (A little tid bit that I haven’t told you yet is that the classrooms of the school aren’t numbered like other schools.. Not at Walt Disney Elementary! The classrooms here are named after Disney characters; there’s the Mickey, Donald, Pinocchio and the Snow White room just to name a few. The principal’s office door reads Captain Hook, the cafeteria is The Castle of Dreams, the girls restroom is Mermaid Lagoon while the boys’ restroom is Pirates Cove. The nurse’s office was Pegleg Point and the telephone booth was Tinker Bell. The door to the boiler room, which no student was allowed beyond that point would read, Never-never Land) I love it!!! 🙂
Anyhow, continuing where we left off.. Walt would tell stories and imitate some of his beloved characters. In the Bambi room, he told them parts of the Bambi story. In the Donald Duck room, he imitated Donald. In the Mickey Mouse room, he was the voice of Mickey. In the Pluto room, he stood at a piano and played, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” He posed for pictures and joked around with the parents and teachers. Those who were there that day still remember that Disney seemed to enjoy himself as much as the children. Later that evening, the children then entertained him in the auditorium with their own special ‘Disneyland’ show. After the days activities Mr. Disney was asked if he would ever come back to visit the school, he answered that he had no immediate plans to return, but that someday he probably would. Now, here comes the sad part to this story.. Sadly Walt never got to visit the school again because 7 years later he passed away succumbing to cancer at the age of 66. 🙁
Another sad note is that compared to the children of 1955 that grew up watching Disney everyday on his television shows, most kids now a day that attend the school don’t even know who he is. In an article in the Bucks Local News website dated October 21st 2010, the principal at the time Mrs. Fay Manicke was quoted saying; “It’s sad that many of the children who today attend the school look up at the large framed photograph of Disney in the school lobby and ask, “Who’s that?”
Is one of the over 60 schools named after Walt Disney in your town, we would love to know.