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Thurl Publicity Photo

Not Thurl

Thurl's involvement with Disneyland goes back to opening day, when he was the announcer for many of the events, including the opening of Fantasyland (0:32). His voice was heard on many Disney attractions which have been retired. For example, the Mellomen were heard on Adventure Through Inner Space (1967-1986) singing the song "Miracles to Molecules" (1:35). Also, Thurl was the original narrator on Submarine Voyage (1959-1998).

Here are some of the attractions in the Disney theme parks on which Thurl was featured. One a couple of these rides, Thurl's voice has been replaced, but on many of these attractions he is still heard by thousands of visitors each day.

The Disneyland Railroad (1955)
Thurl was the onboard narrator at Disneyland until 2001 when his recordings were replaced. He was also the original voice on the Walt Disney World Railroad, though he has been replaced there also. His original recordings were also used at Tokyo Disneyland.

The Mark Twain Steamboat (1955)
Thurl did the voice of the First Mate on the Mark Twain, though again in 2001 his recordings were replaced. Listen to his opening (0:15)and closing (0:07) lines from the Mark Twain.

Peter Pan's Flight (1955)
Listen for Thurl as part of the chorus singing "You Can Fly".

Alice In Wonderland (1958)
The Mellomen can be heard as the cards who are "Painting the Roses Red". These recordings were from the 1951 Disney film.

The Sailing Ship Columbia (1958)
As the Columbia circles the Rivers of America, listen for Thurl singing. The selection of sea songs played on board the ship are actually from the Norman Luboff Choir album Songs of the Sea and include the "Boston Come All Ye" (2:01). For more information about the Norman Luboff Choir visit the Vocal Groups page.

The Enchanted Tiki Room (1963)

Tangaroa in the Tiki Garden at Disneyland

Tangaroa, the tree of life

Fritz in the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland

Fritz, the German parrot

At Disneyland, in the waiting area just outside the Tiki Room, Thurl is the voice of Tangaroa (0:39), the tree of life. Inside, he is Fritz (0:10), the German parrot. He also does the voices for other parts of the show, including some of the masks on the wall. The Mellomen are also part of the chorus on "The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room" (2:38). 

At Walt Disney World, the Tropical Serenade was renamed "The Enchanted Tiki Room, Under New Management." Thurl, Wally Boag (Jose), and Fulton Burley (Michael) all came back to the studio in 1997 to reprise their roles for the new show. Ernie Newton (Pierre) had passed away and was replaced by Jerry Orbach.

Pirate trio in Pirates of the Caribbean ride

Thurl voices the tall pirate in the black hat playing the accordion as well as the dog

Pirates of the Caribbean (1967)
Thurl makes several vocal appearances in Pirates of the Caribbean. He is part of the group that sings the theme song, "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me" (1:04). He also does the voice for a drunken pirate (0:59) singing along while leaning on a lamppost. In the trio of minstrels, Thurl is the voice of the accordion player (0:59), and he does the vocalization of the dog (0:58) that is "singing" along with them.

The Haunted Mansion (1969)
Without Thurl and Paul Frees, the Haunted Mansion would not be the same. Paul Frees is of course the Ghost Host throughout the ride, but it is Thurl's voice that makes "Grim Grinning Ghosts" (1:01) so memorable. The Haunted Mansion may be the only Disney attraction where guests can see Thurl's face. He appears as one of the singing busts in the graveyard scene. For anyone who is not sure, he is the second bust from the left, the only one which is broken off its base. The others in the group are Chuck Schroeder, Bob Wright, Jay Myers, and Vern Rowe. They are not the Mellomen, as some people have reported. Thurl recorded a slower version of Grim Ginning Ghosts (2:37) in 1996 for a sing-along video called Disneyland Fun.

Buff in the Country Bear Jamboree from Disneyland

Buff, the Buffalo head

Country Bear Jamboree (1971)
Unlike most of the attractions in which Thurl has a featured role, Country Bear Jamboree debuted at Walt Disney World, not Disneyland. Walt Disney World was patterned after Disneyland's successes. However, when the Magic Kingdom opened in Florida in October 1971, Country Bear Jamboree was one of several brand new attractions.

In March 1972, Country Bear Jamboree opened at Disneyland when Bear Country was created from a portion of Frontierland. In 1988 Bear Country was renamed Critter Country.

Though the attraction is still running at both the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and at Tokyo Disneyland, the Disneyland show in California closed in 2001 to make way for a new ride called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Thurl voices Buff (0:05), the buffalo head on the wall. In addition to Thurl, two other members of the Mellomen, Bill Lee and Bill Cole lend their voices to characters in the show.

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