Today in Disney History

Walt Disney World:  May 25, 1973
Walt Disney World’s Country & Western Spectacular kicks off for the first of three days at the Magic Kingdom. This special event is included in regular theme park admission, and the special guests include Freddie Hart, Anne Murray and Faron Young.
   
Walt Disney World:  May 25, 1990
Here Come the Muppets, a live-action and puppet stage show starring Jim Henson’s loveable Muppets, opens at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park(Its’ run will be short-lived, however, and it will be replaced by the Voyage of the Little Mermaid in 1992.)
 
  
Walt Disney World:  May 25, 1998
The Walt Disney Company expands their animation operations eastward, with the opening of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida at Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.  The new Magic of Disney Animation tour includes an expanded viewing area where guests might meet Disney animation artists and see ongoing work on future animated releases, including animation clean-up and the ink and paint process. 

Today in Disney History

Hong Kong Disneyland:  May 24, 2004  

After the first official announcement of the new Disneyland theme park to be built in Hong Kong, an 18-month publicity campaign for the newest Disney theme park is begun.  The park will be closely modeled after the original Anaheim location, including using an identical copy of the more Midwestern-style Main Street, U.S.A. (vs. the more Victorian-style found in Orlando, Tokyo and Paris), as well as the more intimate Sleeping Beauty Castle (vs. the larger and more imposing Cinderella Castle).  The park is slated to open during the second half of 2005 and the worldwide celebration of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. Once opened, Hong Kong Disneyland will become the 11th Disney theme park around the globe.

 

Today in Disney History

Disneyland:  May 23, 1983
After more than a year of construction, Disneyland celebrates the grand opening of the completely renovated “New Fantasyland“.   28 years later, the children of the original kids that first crossed the castle’s drawbridge in 1955 are the first to enter the newly renovated land. In the presence of Walt’s widow, Lillian Disney, the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty Castle is lowered for only the second time in the park’s history! A completely new and unique attraction joins the Fantasyland roster – Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, an all-new “dark ride” joining such classics as Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventures.  A brand new Dumbo the Flying Elephants, now soaring above a ring of water, has replaced the original; and a relocated Mad Tea Party is better situated located next to the Alice in Wonderland attraction.  The entire land has been rethemed from its’ original circus-tent facade feel, to better fit in with the charm and theming of each story told – European architecture is found throughout the land.  The all-new dining facility Village Haus, similar to that found in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is now located next to Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.  Additionally, a brand new path to Frontierland, the Big Thunder Trail has been opened up, taking guests behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, improving the flow of guest traffic between both lands.
 
 
Tokyo Disneyland:  May 23, 1983
In a record yet to be rivaled by any Disney park worldwide, Tokyo Disneyland welcomes its 1-millionth guest in less than 2 months of operation.  (Disneyland by contrast welcomed its’ one millionth visitor after just 11 weeks,  The Magic Kingdom after more than 3 months)
 
 

Disneyland:  May 23, 1997
After a highly touted year-long retirement campaign for the venerable, world-famous Main Street Electrical Parade throughout 1996, the highly anticipated (and marketed) replacement “nighttime streetacular” Light Magic premieres.   The floats are all covered with fiber optics, and move along the famed parade route, stopping in two “performance corridors” – one along Main Street, U.S.A., the other in the “Small World Promenade”.  The music is celtic-inspired.  The films depicted in the streetacular include:  “Bambi”, “Beauty & the Beast”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Mary Poppins”, “Cinderella”, “Pinocchio”, and “The Little Mermaid.”   (It opened to extremely poor reviews, and was quickly removed from the park a mere four months later, never to be seen again).

  
Walt Disney World:  May 23, 2001
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin soar to life in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom
 

Today in Disney History

Walt Disney World:  May 22, 1968
The Walt Disney Travel Co. is incorporated in Florida. The company will work with travel agents and individuals planning vacations to the yet-to-be-open Walt Disney World Resort. (Four years later the company will expand their services to California and Disneyland vacations as well).
 
 
Disneyland:  May 22, 1998
Disneyland continues unveiling its newly renovated Tomorrowland.  New additions include Rocket Rods (a high-speed attraction running on the former PeopleMover track), Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port (a restaurant located inside the building that formerly housed the Mission to Mars attraction), NASA Space Experience (a display based experience filled with various artifacts from NASA’s history of space exploration), and the 3-D film attraction Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (which replaced the former Captain EO).   Also re-opening is the Astro Orbitor attraction (originally known as the Rocket Jets), which has been relocated from above the PeopleMover station to ground level at the entrance of Tomorrowlandthus making the ride the new focal point as guests step from the Central Plaza or “hub” into Tomorrowland 

Today in Disney History

Walt Disney Studios: May 21, 1928
Walt Disney’s trademark application for “Mickey Mouse” is filed with the United States Patent Office.   As Walt Disney once said, let us not ever forget that it was all started by a mouse! 
 
 
Disneyland:  May 21, 1998
The “new” Tomorrowland is unveiled after being given an extreme facelift, which includes the addition of the all-new “Rocket Rods” attraction which utilized the former PeopleMover track.  There will be openings and dedications over the next two days. Among the special guests are legendary astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Wally Schirra.  This is the 2nd major update Tomorrowland has received since the park first opened in 1955, the first update being in 1967. 
 

Today in Disney History

Walt Disney World:  May 20, 1973
Tom Sawyer Island,  the Tom Sawyer Rafts, the Plaza Swan Boats, and the Richard F. Irvine (WDW’s second Liberty Square Riverboat) all debut at the Magic Kingdom. 
 
Like it’s predecessor at Disneyland, Tom Sawyer Island is a large outdoor play area inspired by the
famous works of author Mark Twain, located in the middle of the Rivers of America.  It features Injun Joe’s Cave, Magnetic Mystery Mine and old Fort Sam Clemens. The only way to and from the island are the Tom Sawyer Rafts, over in Frontierland.  
 
The Plaza Swan Boats , located in the moat surrounding the Central Plaza or “Hub”, are powered by natural gas engines, and are designed to run with an electric guidance system.  (Unfortunately the guidance system fails early on in the attraction’s life span and gives way to a new steering mechanism – two jets of water below the hull (one in front, one in back) that can swivel 360 degrees and move the boat in any direction. Thanks to slow loading and very low capacity, the attraction closed in August 1983.) 
 
The Richard F. Irvine is so named for Dick F. Irvine, a set designer who began working at the Disney Studios in 1942.  In 1953 he was asked to join the Disneyland team as an early “Imagineer.”  Guests board the riverboat and traverse the Rivers of America from Liberty Square. (The Richard F. Irvine will later be completely refurbished and renamed in 1996 as the Liberty Belle Riverboat).
 
 
Walt Disney World:  May 20, 1996
Fantasia Gardens opens.  It is located between the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan hotels, and is a 36-hole minature golf adventure.  Fantasia Gardens features two distinct golfing adventures – Fantasia Gardens – an 18-hole course themed to Walt Disney’s 1940 classic animated film, “Fantasia”, and Fantasia Fairways – an 18-hole “challenge” course designed with strategically placed bunkers and hazards