Today in Disney History

Today will be a little bit different, as I’m actually posting 4 days at once, since I won’t be at or near a computer for those days, and certainly don’t want to “deprive” you all of your Disney trivia!¬† ūüėČ


Disneyland:  June 4, 1958
The Sailing Ship Columbia, an authentic recreation of the famed American ship, the first to circumnavigate the globe, ¬†is officially christened on the Rivers of America.¬† .Admiral Joe Fowler,¬†a former Navy Admiral and Disneyland‚Äôs construction supervisor, is on¬†board dressed as a¬†ship’s Captain of the 1700’s.¬† The¬†Mousketeers are also on board, appearing as the crew.¬† The attraction won’t¬†officially open to guests for 10 days, but when it does, the ship will join an already¬†bustling river, filled with the Mark Twain, Mike Fink Keelboats, the Indian War Canoes and of course the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island.
Walt Disney World:  June 4, 1999
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh opens in¬†Fantasyland at the¬†Magic Kingdom.¬† This newest¬†dark ride based upon the film¬†The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,¬†is located¬†in the spot once occupied by Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which had been in Fantasyland since the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971.
Walt Disney World:  June 5, 1972
If You Had Wings, sponsored by Eastern Airlines (the official airline of Walt Disney World) opens in Tomorrowland, across from ¬†Mission to Mars.¬†¬†The ride takes guests on a journey through some of¬†the airline’s¬†favorite tourist destinations, including New Orleans,¬†Mexico City,¬†and the Bahamas.
Walt Disney World:  June 5, 1995
Walt Disney World formally announces a fourth theme park, Animal Kingdom, will be added to the expanding Vacation Kingdom.  It is further announced that construction will begin just two months later, in August.



Disneyland:  June 6, 1959
The park’s biggest expansion since¬†Opening Day debuts – but won’t be officially dedicated until 8 days later. ¬† This¬†$15 million expansion (nearly as much as the original $17 million it took to build Disneyland in the first place)¬†forever¬†linking (and providing quick and easy access between)¬†Fantasyland and Tomorrowland¬†with the debut of the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the all new Fantasyland Autotopia (both considered to be inside Fantasyland – the new Autopia is intertwined with the¬†existing Tomorrowland Autopia), and the¬†introduction of the first daily-operating Monorail in the western hemisphere, and the famed Submarine Voyage, (both inside Tomorrowland) inspired by the 1954 Disney film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.¬† The 8 submarine vessels (which are not actual submarines since they do not actually¬†submerge) are named Nautilus, Seawolf, Skate, Skipjack, Triton, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Ethan Allen.¬† Each submarine includes portholes, one for each guest, to view the various undersea scenes.¬† Both the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Submarine Voyage¬†become the¬†first ‘E’ ticket attractions.

Walt Disney World:  June 6, 2002
After a complete mechanical and exterior restoration, the Roy O. Disney steam locomotive is rededicated in a ceremony at the Main Street, U.S.A. Train Station in the Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World:  June 7,1975
Similar to it’s Anaheim counterpart,¬†Mission to Mars (developed¬†in conjunction with NASA) debuts in Tomorrowland. It replaces the Flight to the Moon attraction (which opened in December 1971).
Walt Disney World:  June 7, 2006
Walt Disney World announces that the apartment¬†located on an upper floor inside Cinderella Castle, originally designed for the Disney family’s use, will be completely renovated, decorated and upholstered as a ‘royal bedchamber’¬†for up to four people.¬†A single¬†overnight stay in the luxurious suite¬†will be¬†awarded to a guest at¬†any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks each day during the “Year of a Million Dreams” celebration¬†taking place at all eleven Disney theme parks around the globe.¬†
Kingdom, or any park at the Walt Disney World Resort

Southern Swing, Part 7

After a long, uneventful day of driving on Wednesday, we arrived that evening at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.¬† I’d managed to find a decent deal on an oceanfront hotel room in Kill Devil Hills, almost directly across from the Wright Brothers National Memorial.¬† Thank God for off-season hotel rates!

Our first stop Thursday morning was a place called Duck Donuts.¬† Yes, the official story is that it was named after the nearby town of Duck, NC.¬† But I cannot resist trying out a place called Duck Donuts.¬† Especially when the store offers a t-shirt with a cartoon picture of a duck with a donut flying at his head that reads Duck!¬† Donuts!¬† Some of you may have stronger willpower than I do.¬† In any case, these were old-fashioned cake donuts, deep-fried and then offered with your choice of six different glazes.¬† I went for the regular sugar glaze while the kids opted for chocolate.¬† Man, they were good.¬† Crispy on the outside, chewy the center.¬† My cholesterol just went up 5 points by thinking about them.¬† Unfortunately, their coffee was more like Pennzoil.¬† I had to dump about 8 packets of sugar in it before it was drinkable, and that was their “medium” roast.¬† Win some, lose some.

An exact replica of the Wright Flyer. Presumably this would fly, but sadly we didn't get to try.

We entered the Wright Brothers National Memorial soon after it opened and went inside.¬† This place is really well done.¬† In the visitor center, the rangers asked the kids if they wanted to do the Junior Ranger activities–basically filling out a worksheet where they gather answers to the questions from various places in the Memorial, and then requiring them to attend one ranger talk.¬† In return, they’d get a Junior Ranger patch.¬† We thought this was a good deal, and went with it.

The ranger talk was extremely good–a 20-minute re-telling of the Wright Brothers story.¬† Fascinating history.¬† My favorite character was a local from NC who was recruited to help with the plane’s launch.¬† He offered to take the famous picture of the first flight, having never operated a camera before.¬† They only had one shot at a photo.¬† When the time came, the historic first flight took place.¬† The brothers asked the man if he had gotten the photo, and in all the excitement, he said, “Uh…I don’t know.”¬† He couldn’t remember if he had tripped the shutter.¬† As it turned out, he did, and the photo is considered one of the greatest photos of all time.¬† He never took another one.

Later, that same guy was trying to help tie down the plane after it had taken 4 flights and the winds came up.¬† They struggled to hold it down, but finally the 600+ lb. weight was too much to handle, and everyone let go–except for our buddy, who went tumbling [rear end] over teakettle as the plane flipped over.¬† For the rest of his life, he told anyone who’d listen that he survived the world’s very first plane crash.

Outside, there is a monument to the Wright Brothers on Kill Devil Hill, as well as stone markers for the actual take-off spot and the 4 landing points.¬† There’s also an exact replica of the Wright Flyer inside the Visitor Center (the real one is in the Air & Space Museum in D.C.) and a Wright Flyer jungle gym outside for the kids to play on.¬† We’ll come back to that one later.

Stone marker at the spot where the first flight took off

Big Dave reads the results of the first flight in history

The kids completed their tasks, said a pledge (that included a promise to clean their rooms), and got their Junior Ranger patches.  These were promptly lost once we returned home, probably under beds and desks in their pigpen rooms.

The kids promise to clean their rooms. They might as well have promised to cure cancer, too.

Next, we drove to Jockey Ridge State Park, home of the largest sand dune on the east coast.  You can freely climb all over it, so we took off our shoes and took advantage.  And boy, is it big.  At points, you could feel as though you were walking in the Sahara, although once you reached the top, the view of the ocean kind of spoiled that effect.  Great view, though.

Jockey Ridge

Those specks are me and the kids.

We had our daily PB&J ration in the parking lot (admittedly, I was starting to get sick of PB&J at this point) and drove down the way to Cape Hatteras National Seashore.¬† The plan was to drive down to the Bodie Island Lighthouse, just to see one of the famous lighthouses that dot the shoreline here.¬† The next closest one would have been at Cape Hatteras, 55 miles away.¬† That wasn’t going to happen.

As we drove, I saw what appeared to be a water tower in the distance.¬† I figured the lighthouse was beyond that somewhere.¬† Then, as we got closer, I saw what appeared to be scaffolding around the “water tower”, and got a sinking feeling in my stomach.¬† We found the turn for the lighthouse and my suspicions were correct: it was under renovation.¬† The top of the lighthouse had a large white enclosure around it that resembled a large roll of toilet paper.¬† So much for our dramatic, scenic pictures.

The beautiful and scenic Toilet Paper Lighthouse.

So we did the next best thing, which was visiting a cheap t-shirt outlet followed by mini-golf.¬† We chose Professor Hacker’s Treasure Hunt, since you could ride a “mine cart” (a trailer attached to a poorly-disguised riding lawnmower) to the Adventure Course.¬† Mini-golf with our kids is mostly herding cats, if the cats have been injected with liberal doses of sugar and caffeine.¬† Dave and Scotty like to barge 2 or 3 holes ahead, then run back, play a hole as fast as possible with no regard to score, and then run down the path again.¬† We spend our time yelling at them to get back here while attempting¬†to putt juggling a putter, scorecard, pencil, and camera.¬† Then the kids start getting competitive with their scores, bragging about their good holes and making fun of their siblings’ struggles while we play peacemaker.¬† I had 2 holes-in-one, and Scotty announced that he needed to pee starting at the 15th hole.¬† Good old-fashioned family fun.

That's either Scotty's Heisman Trophy pose, or he really has to go.

Late in the afternoon we returned to the Memorial to let the kids play on the playground.¬† The Grumpy Ranger Lady in the ticket booth didn’t want to let us in, and resignedly announced that we only had 10 minutes, and they’d be closing at 4:45 p.m.¬† Look, Miss Grumpy Ranger Lady, the sign says you’re open till 5:00.¬† I don’t care if you’ve been sitting in this sweaty ticket booth all day and want to leave.¬† Buy a fan next time.¬† We went in anyway.

We parked and raced over to the jungle gym, determined to get our playtime in.¬† The kids had a blast climbing all over the Wright Flyer, while I amused myself taking stupid pictures with the statues scattered around.¬† You really shouldn’t let me have the camera.¬† Ever.

Orville didn't care for my airline food jokes.

We got Sarah into the act as well. Here she's ready for her close-up.

Of course, my wife was encouraging me here.¬† Honest.¬† She’s the one who took the shots, after all.

We played for 15 minutes or so, thank you very much, and then piled into the van.  As we left, it was 4:52 p.m.  Grumpy Ranger Lady was placing traffic cones across the entrance.  I started encouraging the kids to wave and laugh at her as we passed, but this idea was shot down by my wife.  So I gave her the stink-eye instead.  I was getting good at that.

Dinner was at Pigman’s Barbecue, where we confirmed our opinion that Slow-barbecued pork = Awesome, Carolina vinegar-based sauce = Just OK.¬† Then, it was back to our hotel for an evening walking on the beach, watching the sunset, and trying to avoid the melancholy that comes with your last night of vacation freedom.

Another potential Christmas card candidate.

Sarah took this one. Note our family proudly displaying Disney propaganda.

It's all fun and games till somebody gets thrown into the ocean.

Coming Up Next:  The return home, including an historic meeting of DIS Dads that was years in the making.  Either that, or I called him up last minute since we were driving through his hometown.  I forget.

Dave at 10:30 p.m. He sat like this for a few minutes. I think this calls for a caption contest, for an OFFICIAL (tm) Captain Oblivious No-Prize.

Today in Disney History

Disneyland:  June 2, 1962
In a continuing effort to¬†enhance and expand the nighttime entertainment offerings (following the very successful April national tv broadcast of “Disneyland After Dark”), Walt Disney and Disneyland¬†host the Calvalcade of Big Bands for the very first time.. This week-long event¬†features Tex Beneke,¬†Ray Eberle & the Modernaires with Paula Kelley, Charlie Barnet and the legendary Count Basie and his orchestra.
Walt Disney World:  June 2, 2002
The all-new Journey Into Imagination with Figment is dedicated at Epcot.  This third version of the opening day attraction located within the Imagination Pavilion, brings back the beloved purple dragon, Figment, (who was removed from the second version) and plays a much larger role appearing in every scene throughout the revised attraction.

Today in Disney History

Disneyland:  June 1, 1956
Walt Disney gives President Sukarno of Indonesia, and his family, a personal tour of the park. 
Walt Disney World:  June 1, 1982
In preparation for the opening of EPCOT Center later in the year, the Monorail line is extended from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the new park. 
Walt Disney World:  June 1, 1989
Typhoon Lagoon officially opens.¬† This new 56-acre water park,¬†featuring one of the world’s largest wave pools in the U.S., includes water slides, a lazy river, a salt-water coral reef where guests can swim with sharks¬†– and the water remains a comfortable 75-80 degrees year-round.¬†¬†The park’s centerpiece¬†is the¬†Miss Tilly, a shrimp boat impaled upon¬†Mount Mayday, a¬†volcano¬†erupting¬†a 50-foot geyser of water each¬†half hour. a Gator
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