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    Posted April 11, 2013 by
    Chicago, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    All ears: Your Disney memories

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    Mickey Mouse Ears Through the Years


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     WaltDtdWorld told me of that fateful first trip, ' I remember driving down this really long road toward Magic Kingdom and listening to the AM radio where a prerecorded message giving information about the park was being broadcast. And I remember my grandpa riding Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and thinking he was really driving.'
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

                For just about every Disney milestone of my childhood, I seemed to have a different pair of Mickey Mouse ears. As a kid, I didn’t know that the classic Mickey Mouse Club ears were designed by Roy Williams and based on a gag from a 1929 Disney cartoon called “The Karnival Kid”. I just knew I was crazy about Mickey and the Mouseketeers and the ears were the perfect way to let the world know it.

             In 1977, Disney came out with a new syndicated version of the Mickey Mouse Club. This was a really big deal for a four year old. Because there were no DVRs or internet then, it was really a treat to see Disney cartoons outside of an occasional movie or episode of “Wonderful World of Disney”. I knew there had been an “old” version of the Mickey Mouse Club (the successful syndication of it actually led to the new version) and I thought the new show was the best thing to ever air on television. I wanted to be a Mouseketeer and get to ride in their flying ship and dance around Disneyland.

    I loved all of the Mouseketeers, especially pre “Facts of Life” Lisa Whelchel. Depending on the day, the Mouseketeers wore different outfits but my favorites were the colorful polyester jumpsuits with matching ears that had a black visor brim. I already had a pair of black mouse ears with a bow that someone had given me from Walt Disney World so I would proudly wear them while watching cartoons on the show such as “The Ugly Duckling” or “The Old Mill” or while playing around the house.

             When Mickey Mouse turned 50 years old in 1978, The Walt Disney Company had a huge promotion built around it called “50 Happy Years”. When Mickey made an appearance at Wieboldt’s department store to celebrate his birthday, I happily posed with him while wearing bright magenta mouse ears that were a tie-in from “The New Mickey Mouse Club” show. I later got blue and purple ears.

    Unbelievably, when I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in 1978, my mouse ears didn’t get packed. I ended up buying a Donald Duck cap with a beak that squeaked instead of mouse ears. I think the logic was that since I already had so many ears at home, it was better to get something different. To this day when I look at the pictures, it just doesn’t seem right when I see a duck on my head instead of a mouse. It felt like I was cheating on Mickey. When I went back to the Magic Kingdom a few years later, I made up for it by getting a red pair that that had white velvet ears.

    During the rest of my childhood, Mickey Mouse ears seemed to be on my head all the time. I would wear my purple ears while looking at Disneyland View-Master slides. I’d plop my blue ones on before playing the Mickey Mouse Disco album and of course I’d wear them when any Disney show came on TV.

    Recently one of my friends got to attend a press event for the opening of New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World. He said he had gotten a special promotional item during the event that he was going to give to me. Is it any surprise that it was a pair of Mickey Mouse ears? The next time I go to the parks, I’m going to make sure they get packed this time.

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