One of the most delicious and elegantly themed restaurants at Walt Disney World is the Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios. While the original Brown Derby restaurants have a rich history of their own, the Florida counterpart also has some interesting tidbits scattered across the restaurant. Today's post focuses on the autograph book proudly displayed to Guests in the lobby of the Derby.
The Florida Brown Derby opened on May 1, 1989 along with the rest of the Disney-MGM Studios. To make sure the restaurant lived up to its name, the opening and early years were filled with visits from celebrities and Disney legends. The latter is what I want to share with all of you.
This is your view when you first enter the restaurant. The book is displayed under Plexiglas and showcases a different page everyday. The one on display in this photo is the book from 1989-circa 2000. There are two version of the Brown Derby autograph book and the second starts circa 2000-present.
The first version is supposedly on loan from the Walt Disney Archives for one year. An interesting tidbit about the second book (usually not on display) is that it contains autographs by Guests. One of the Magical Moments performed at the Derby was to have the family of the day sign an autograph book. Well, there was some confusion and the Guests were given the 2000-current celebrity autograph book to sign instead of the version intended for Magical Moments.
The following pages are from the 1989-circa 2000 book and contain only the folks who played a part in Disney history.
Dickie Jones, the voice of 'Pinocchio.'
Alice Davis, Imagineer.
Marc Davis, Imagineer (pg. 525). Marc is usually confused by Guests as having something to do with 'The Simpsons' since his caricature is similar to the show's style of animation.
Across the page from Marc (bottom) is Andrejas Deja, animator.
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, animators.
Bill Justice, Imagineer and Animator (Page 421).
Starting in the middle, Wayne Allwine, former voice of Mickey Mouse, and Russi Taylor,voice of Minnie Mouse. I've forgotten who signed the top of the page.
Carl Barks, animator.
Dick Nunis, former executive vice president of Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Michael Eisner, former Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company.
Annette Funicello, former Mousketeer and Disney child star.
Many of the signatures in the original book have been identified and are labeled in a document that Guests of the Derby can view upon request. Unfortunately, not all of the signatures in the near 600 page book have been identified. Some were just too difficult to decipher.
Next time we meet, I'll share a story about another Disney great found in the Florida Brown Derby, but this one has a spot all to themselves.