By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Medfield College



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

MEDFIELD COLLEGE

By Jim Korkis

Unlike Disneyland, WDW is home to several references to Medfield College, a beloved part of Disney heritage.

Underneath the Main Street train station is a board listing the arrivals and departures of trains. One entry shows the arrival of a train from Medfield while another entry shows the departure of a train from Rutledge, home of Medfield’s traditional rival college.However, the other entries that all reference classic Disney live-action films should be a hint that Medfield is also a fictitious location that appeared in several Disney films, including The Absent Minded Professor  (1961) as well as its remake Flubber  (1997), Son of Flubber  (1963) and the “Dexter Riley” trilogy: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes  (1969), Now You See Him, Now You Don’t  (1972) and The Strongest Man in the World  (1975).

The town of Medfield where Medfield College is located is the setting for the Disney film The Shaggy D.A.  (1976) which seems to imply that Medfield was also the location for The Shaggy Dog  (1959).

Medfield College was named after the town of Medfield, Massachusetts. Before World War II, Walt Disney came to Medfield on several occasions to visit friend Justin Dart who began the Dart Drugstore chain. Dart lived on Holiday Farm on Elm Street.

Today’s soccer fields behind the Ralph Wheelock School back then contained his private dirt air-field where supposedly Walt would land a plane on these trips. It was on these visits that Walt Disney picked up the name “Medfield” as a nice collegial setting. The cornerstone of Blake Middle School (formerly Medfield High School) has a Walt Disney quote inscribed on it: “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”

The Medfield College scenes in both The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber were filmed on the campus of Pomona College in Claremont, California, as well at the Disney Studios in Burbank.

When Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell) and his friends gather outside the college’s administration building, they are at an outdoor patio near the entrance to the Disney Studios Animation Building.  The only change was lettering placed by the entrance identifying it as a Science Building.

Since 1921, Pomona College has been used as an educational institution setting in dozens of feature films, television productions and commercials. Because of the overwhelming number of requests, Pomona’s policy now limits most location filming to periods when the College is not in session, and to projects that feature “significant involvement” by Pomona alumni, trustees, faculty, staff or students.

For the 2002 revamp of the Journey into Imagination attraction at Epcot, several visual references were included that suggested that the Imagination Institute had connections with Medfield College. In the queue line are several office doors. One is for Professor Brainard from the Absent Minded Professor films while another is for Dean Higgins, the role actor Joe Flynn played in the Dexter Riley films. In the first film in the series, when Higgins is looking out his meeting room window, he is looking at the same panoramic backdrop of the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank used for Walt’s filmed introductions to his television series.

In addition, the glass-fronted computer room has a sign on the door indicating “no tennis shoes allowed” referring to The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes movie, and the room also contains a Medfield College letterman’s jacket

By the way, the fight song of Medfield College which can be heard during the credit sequence of The Absent-Minded Professor was composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest,  The Vault of Walt Volume 7: Christmas Edition, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

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