A Few Days in Disney History

SEPTEMBER 18

Disneyland:  September 18, 1986

 

Captain EO a 3D sci-fi musical spectacular opens in Tomorrowland at Disneyland.  The film, which first premiered 6 days earlier at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center, brings together three “greats” of the entertainment world – producer George Lucas, director Francis Ford Coppola, and pop star Michael Jackson, who is Captain EO in the film.  The film tells the story of Captain EO and his ragtag crew as they try to spread a positive message through the fantasy galaxy they inhabit.  The 17 minute film cost nearly $30 million dollars to produce – the most expensive film ever produced on a per-minute basis.  

 

 

SEPTEMBER 19 

 

 

DISNEYLAND: September 19, 1959
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev arrives in Los Angeles, California during his thirteen-day visit to the United States. He is famously turned down on his request to visit Disneyland, due to security officials not being able to guarantee is safety.  The disgruntled Premier and his family attend a luncheon at Twentieth-Century Fox Studios instead.

Disneyland:  September 19, 1986
Following the Grand Opening of Captain EO the day prior, Disneyland hosts a 60-hour party for this newest 3D Tomorrowland attraction!  The park staying opening at 10 am and remaining open until 10 pm on September 21st.. Upon entry to the park, each guest receives a coupon (to be validated when they see the film) which allows them to exchange the coupon for a free T-shirt.
 

SEPTEMBER 20

Walt Disney World:  September 20, 2003

Construction begins on Soarin’ , an exciting new IMAX-style film-based attraction to highlight a re-vamped The Land pavilion in Epcot‘s Future World.   Soarin’, which first premiered as Soaring Over California on February 8, 2001 at Disney’s California Adventure park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA.  The imagineer who designed the attraction originally used an old “erector set” found in his attic as a way to boost capacity.  The film takes visitors all around the great state of California, and includes scenes with special, playful touches such as wind & smell to enhance the sensory sensations.  The film climaxes with a dramatic fly over of Disneyland at Christmastime, and includes the famous Mickey-head fireworks.   

SEPTEMBER 21 

Walt Disney World:  September 21, 1994

Apple Computers begin sponsorship of Innovations East at EPCOT Center.

Walt Disney World: September 21, 1996

Illuminations 25 begins at EPCOT Center.  It is a brand-new show replacing the original Illuminations, designed to showcase Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary.  (It will officially have it’s “Grand Premiere” in October).

Today in Disney Parks & Resorts History

Walt Disney World:  September 15, 1996
The Universe of Energy at Epcot reopens after a lengthy refurbishment as The Universe of Energy: Ellen’s Energy Crisis, and now features comedian Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye “The Science Guy”, TV game show host Alex Trebek, and actree Jamie Lee Curtis.  (The attraction will later be re-named Ellen’s Energy Adventure).
 
Walt Disney World:  September 15, 1997:
At Downtown Disney, the all new West Side premieres..This 66-acre addition to the existing Downtown Disney shopping, dining, and entertainment complex (which originally opened in March 1975 as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village) features Wolfgang Puck Cafè, House of Blues, Bongos Cuban Cafè, Virgin Megastore, plus an expanded AMC cinema, now called the the AMC Pleasure Island 24. This new addition is the largest of the three Downtown Disney areas (which includes Pleasure Island and the original section, the Marketplace).

Today in Disney Parks & Resorts History

Walt Disney World:  September 12, 1986
Captain EO a 3D sci-fi musical spectacular opens at EPCOT Center in the Imagination pavilion.  The film brings together three “greats” of the entertainment world – producer George Lucas, director Francis Ford Coppola, and pop star Michael Jackson, who is Captain EO in the film.  The film tells the story of Captain EO and his ragtag crew as they try to spread a positive message through the fantasy galaxy they inhabit.  The 17 minute film cost nearly $30 million dollars to produce – the most expensive film ever produced on a per-minute basis. (Six days later Captain EO will debut in Tomorrowland at Disneyland.  It is the first non-parade attraction since Walt Disney World opened to be produced for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland simultaneously – previously The Haunted Mansion held that distinction, but it was produced simultaneously while the Walt Disney World resort was still under construction).
 
 
Disneyland and Walt Disney World:  September 12, 2001
The day following the attacks on the United States by terrorists, all domestic Disney theme parks re-open to guests.  In order to better insure the safety of all guests, the decision is made to immediately increase the security measures within the parks. The most apparent of these measures is the individual inspection of all bags (backpacks, purses, strollers, etc ) that are  carried by guests prior to entering the parks.  Temporary bag check locations are erected at each park, as well as barriers put in place in front of park entrances to keep vehicles from approaching the main entrances.  At Walt Disney World‘s Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney, the nightly New Year’s Eve Celebration is cancelled.  At Disneyland the Sleeping Beauty Diorama walk-through attraction inside the castle is closed.

 

Hong Kong Disneyland:  September 12, 2005
After more than 6 years of planning, more than $1.8 billion dollars and 2 years of construction, Hong Kong Disneyland throws open its gates and celebrates its Grand Opening.  Hong Kong Disneyland is the Walt Disney Company’s 5th vacation resort and 11th theme park.  The resort is built on over 310 acres on Lantau Island, and includes the new theme park, two hotels (Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel), and retail, dining and entertainment facilities stretching over 310 acres on Lantau Island.  Hong Kong Disneyland opens with 22 attractions, and boasts the largest Adventureland of any Magic Kingdom park in the world.  In honor of the original Disney theme park that opened 50 years before this newest park, the imagineers utilized the original drawings and concept art for this new park, giving Hong Kong Disneyland the same more intimate, midwestern feel to Main Street, U.S.A. as the Anaheim original, as well as recreating the original Sleeping Beauty Castle as the Anaheim original.  Imagineering legend Marty Sklar attends the Grand Opening, and is the only Disney company official to have attended all 11 theme park Grand Openings over the past 50 years.

Today in Disney Parks & Resorts History

September 11, 2001
After the morning terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.,  and in the air over Pennsylvania,  both the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort close without incident.  On both coasts all resort hotels remain open and provide accommodations to guests who are unable to leave. Phone charges are suspended so that guests can reach family.
 
At Walt Disney World, cast members in each of the theme parks join hands forming a human wall, gently walking towards the hub of each park and eventually to the park exits; Security cast members follow each human wall to make sure no one gets past or remains in the parks. This procedure calmly forces every guest to leave the parks.
At Disneyland, due to the time difference on the west coast, both parks never even open for the day.  Food and beverage locations in Downtown Disney and at the hotels remain open offering their products at no charge for guests who are on property.  Additionally the AMC Theaters at Downtown Disney show free Disney films for stranded Resort guests.  This closures marks only the second time in Disneyland’s history that the park has locked its gates due to a national tragedy – the first time followed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.
Elsewhere, all Disney Stores nationwide close for the day.  Additionally each of Disney’s theatrical productions on Broadway in New York and all touring productions cancel performances.