Today In Disney History ~ December 24th

Today In Disney History ~ December 24th

Where In the World Is Santa Claus?
Published December 24, 2000 in the La Time by SUSAN KING

On Christmas Eve, youngsters everywhere are hounding their parents with the question: “Where’s Santa?”

Help for beleaguered parents is finally here. ABC’s “The Wonderful World of Disney: Walt Disney World ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” premiering Sunday, is hot on the trail of Santa and his reindeer-powered sleigh as he travels the world delivering presents to boys and girls.

Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles (all seen on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) star as the ever-diligent members of the Santa tracking team. Performances by 98 Degrees, Jessica Simpson, ‘N Sync, Monica, Billy Gilman and SheDaisy–taped at the Walt Disney World Resort– will be shown between reports on Santa’s whereabouts.

Mochrie believes this two-hour special recalls the old “Wonderful World of Disney” holiday specials he watched as a kid. “This is sort of a big deal,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Wow.’ I’m working with elves in nice, little red suits.  “Ryan is sort of the main host,” Mochrie continues. “Wayne gives weather updates, and I am the Santa expert, having lived with elves in the North Pole for two years. I am there to give a little insight into the man we know as Santa.”

Mochrie visits the Santa sleigh-testing center, where elves put the famous vehicle through various testing conditions for its journey. “It faces extreme heat and extreme cold,” he says. “We also have an interview with Mrs. Claus. She’s lovely.”

Mochrie visits the Santa sleigh-testing center, where elves put the famous vehicle through various testing conditions for its journey. “It faces extreme heat and extreme cold,” he says. “We also have an interview with Mrs. Claus. She’s lovely.”

As for Santa, says Mochrie, “we don’t really get to know the real man. I don’t think we ever will. He is just one of those mystery men.”

Though the jokesters were given a script to follow, Mochrie says they were also allowed to have fun with their parts. “It’s always fun working with Ryan and Wayne. We have a great time working on ‘Whose Line’ and a great time outside of ‘Whose Line.’ It’s almost criminal what we get away with. It’s almost too much fun.”

Muniz, who turned 15 on Dec. 5–which happens to be Walt Disney’s birthday–is excited about his role as the Santa tracker reporting from Disneyland. “It seems really cool, because I have never done anything like this, of course,” says Muniz, a few days before taping his segment.

“I am the ‘go’ man on the West Coast. So that’s really cool. It’s going to be fun. I haven’t been to Disneyland during Christmas, so it’s going to be really cool.”

The plan, he says, is to hang out at Disneyland during the day of his taping and then film his segment at night. “We’re going to do it all in the park,” he says. “It’s going to be really fun.”

And he’s looking forward to meeting “Malcolm” fans. “That’s the cool thing about being in the business,” he says. “You can see how many people are really watching the show.”

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is taking the place of the traditional Walt Disney World Christmas parade, which usually aired on ABC Christmas Day.

“We kind of reinvented ourselves,” says executive producer Barbara Phillips. “The Santa tracking kind of replaces the parade. You’ll still get to see all the Disney characters [including Mickey and Minnie], but it will be packaged differently.”

This past summer, says Phillips, focus group participants were asked about the traditional holiday parade. “Our viewers said we love to see a little bit of the parade, but we love entertainment, and the Santa tracking [idea] just scored off the charts.”

The special is an international affair. Not only is it being taped at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but EuroDisney and Tokyo Disneyland. The production even got several NASA astronauts to tape a segment in the shuttle simulator.

“The tracking system goes down, so we go to NASA and the space shuttle,” says Phillips. “The astronauts give us the coordinates for Santa.”

TMSM Today in Graphic by Sherry Rinaldi DeHart;

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Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the books “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” “How Many Sleeps Till Disney?” and “How Many Sleeps Till Disneyland?” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 107.3 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. ~ I enjoy writing personal perspective blogs, doing TMSM Meet Ups for our readers, and keeping the constant interaction going with others, sharing the Disney Magic to people when they can’t be at their Happy Place.

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