Thursday, January 12, 2012

Downtown Disney opens at Disneyland Resort


Jan 12, 2001
Downtown Disney opens at Disneyland Resort

Eleven years ago today, the Downtown Disney District—an exciting dining, entertainment, and shopping promenade located adjacent to Disney California Adventure Park and Disneyland Park—first opened to guests on space previously occupied by the original Disneyland parking lot and Disneyland Hotel. Downtown Disney was constructed as part of a larger Disneyland Resort expansion and was designed to encourage locals to visit and increase resort visits. The “shoppertainment center” includes such stores as Disney’s Pin Traders, Fossil, Disney Vault 28, Sephora, to name a few. Restaurants include Rainforest Café, Napolini, Uva Bar, and House of Blues.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, is born in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. He is the first president born outside the original Thirteen Colonies. Lincoln will be the subject of such Disney attractions as Great Moments with Mr Lincoln (originally created for the 1964 World's Fair) and Walt Disney World's The Hall of Presidents - click here to read Lincoln's HOP speech. (Walt Disney was always fascinated with the life of Lincoln. As a young boy, Walt recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to his elementary class ... dressed as Abe!)

Walt Disney Productions files an application for a trademark of "Mickey Mouse" for use in books and newspaper comic strips.

At Todd Shipyards in Long Beach, California, the steel hull of Disneyland's newest ship Columbia is completed. It is the only three-masted windjammer constructed in the U.S. for over 100 years! The vessel will be transported to Disneyland and installed in the Rivers of America where the rest of the construction will be completed.

Siegfried and Roy appear on the TV special Disney's Magic in the Magic Kingdom. The illusionists make Sleeping Beauty Castle disappear!

Disney fans dress up in tuxedos and formal gowns to attend the Royal Ball held at the Disneyland Hotel in California for Cinderella's 50th anniversary. The night includes stories from the Disney legends that created Cinderella including the voice talents who brought Anastasia, Drizella and Cinderella to life.

Ilene Woods - the original voice of Cinderella - appears at a Cinderella Ball in Disneyland to celebrate the anniversary of the motion picture.

The Tokyo Disneyland CD Cinderellabration: Lights of Romance is released.

Disney announces that they’re producing The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as a live-action feature starring Nicholas Cage as the Sorcerer. The film will be based on Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s original poem, not the Mickey Mouse sequence in Fantasia.

As part of the massive grand opening of the new American Idol Experience attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, American Idol winners David Cook and Carrie Underwood sing a duet for the media inside the new attraction's theater. Also in attendance are Idol celebrities including all 7 winners, Paula Abdul, and Ryan Seacrest. Although the new attraction will officially open February 14, guest park Mark Ellis (from Pensacola, Florida) is awarded a Dream Ticket during this day's gala premier of the attraction for his performance of "Superstition."

A Disney Cruise Line exhibit opens in the Visitors Centre of Meyer Werft (one of the largest German shipyards, headquartered in Papenburg). Meyer Werft is currently building the Disney Dream, which will hit the high seas in 2011.

Special Guests to Join Renowned Primatologist Jane Goodall for Safari VIP Weekend

Disney and the Jane Goodall Institute have worked together on a variety of conservation programs over the years, and we’ve been thrilled that Dr. Jane has been able to take time out of her extremely busy schedule to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom from the park’s earliest days, including being an honored guest on opening day in 1998.

Dr. Jane Goodall Visits a Carving of David Greybeard at the Tree of Life

Here, Dr. Jane visits a carving of David Greybeard, a chimpanzee that holds a very special place in her heart, at The Tree of Life. In 2006, it was our pleasure to honor Dr. Jane with a Conservation Legacy Award from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

As Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrated its 10th anniversary, Dr. Jane and 100 young people from 28 countries participating in the 2008 Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit at the Walt Disney World Resort took time out to join the festivities. The young people were representatives from Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, a program that engages hundreds of thousands of children and teens in almost 120 countries to make positive change happen for communities, animals and the environment.
Next month, Dr. Jane will be hosting a Walt Disney World Safari VIP Weekend, a fund-raising event for the Jane Goodall Institute. She will be meeting with her Guests during this special trip. More details about joining Dr. Jane February 18-21 are available at

Magic on the Water

Preparations continue for the arrival of the Disney Wonder to its new home in the Port of Los Angeles, as well as the inaugural voyage of the newest ship in Disney’s fleet, the Disney Dream in Port Canaveral, Florida. In the coming weeks, The Disney Gallery will pay tribute to all the ships on land and at sea, including some of those near and dear to our hearts at our very own Disney Parks.

Explore Castaway Cay Aboard the Disney Dream

This new exhibit, titled “Magic on the Water – The Art of The Happiest Fleet on Earth” will highlight nearly 60 years of nautical designs by Walt Disney Imagineers, from the smallest Storybook Land canal boat to the newest modern classic for the Disney Cruise Line, the Disney Dream.

From submarines and sailing ships to jungle launches and pirate bateau, water and watercraft have always played a key role in the design of Disney Parks. Through the years, the Disney maritime fleet has taken guests through uncharted jungles, under the polar ice caps, across lagoons to the Magic Kingdom and a World Showcase at Epcot, to a storybook land of enchanted fairytales and around the world on the happiest cruise to ever sail the seven seas.

“This particular exhibit is different from any other because it displays concept art from all our theme parks around the world. Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris, all join Disneyland Resort art to form a display of various types of interesting watercraft, Disney style” says Walt Disney Imagineering Director, Concept and Show Design, Kim Irvine.

'Ariel,' by Larry Nikolai
'Pirates Dream,' by G. Scribner

Also in store for you as we launch this new exhibit will be Disney Cruise Line-inspired original art, giclees and deluxe prints by notable Walt Disney Imagineers, Disney Design Group and Disney-inspired artists including Jeremy Fulton, Greg McCullough, Larry Nikolai, Noah, Randy Noble, George Scribner, Mark Seppala, SHAG, and Darren Wilson.

Special Tip: On Saturday, Jan. 29, Jody Daily, Jeremy Fulton, Kevin Kidney, Larry Nikolai, Noah and George Scribner will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The Disney Gallery. For details visit

So set sail with us on a retrospective voyage of memories – and prepare for an ocean of new ones.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grand Opening of Walt Disney World Swan Resort


Jan 11, 1990
Grand Opening of Walt Disney World Swan Resort

On this day in 1990 the Walt Disney World Swan Resort held its grand opening, allowing guests to glide in to the deluxe hotel designed by award-winning architect Michael Graves. This waterfront resort consists of a central 12-story building with an arched rooftop featuring a pair of graceful 47-foot swan statues. Across Crescent Lake sits the Graves-designed sister hotel, the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. The swan and dolphin were chosen for the resorts because they represent classical and contemporary symbols of water.

The Hollywood Reporter runs the front page headline: WALT DISNEY PLANS TV SHOW. Roy O. Disney has announced to stockholders, in a controversial move, that a Disney television show would be "designed not only to produce revenue but also to publicize all of the company's product."

Disneyland kicks off its 35th anniversary celebration. On hand for the first time since 1955 are all three of the original hosts of the park's grand opening live broadcast. Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan reunite in front of Main Street station before taking part in the Party Gras Parade - featuring New Orleans-style floats and 40-foot-tall balloons.

Meanwhile down in Florida, the Walt Disney World Swan Resort holds its grand opening. The deluxe hotel, designed by award-winning architect Michael Graves, is a 12-story building with an arched rooftop featuring a pair of graceful 47-foot swan statues. Located between Epcot and Disney-MGM Studios (later renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios), it is owned by Tishman Hotel Corporation and operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide under the Westin brand. (Its sister hotel the Walt Disney World Dolphin will open in June 1990.)

The 5th Annual Walt Disney World Marathon takes place in Florida. Santiago de Araujo of Sao Paulo, Brazil, wins with a time of 2:23:25.

Other winners on this day include:
Women’s Overall: Lyubov Klochko, Gainesville, Fla., 2:44:47
Men’s Masters: Jeff Delie, Palm Harbor, Fla., 2:33.32
Women’s Masters: Bonnie Moser, Miami, Fla., 3:08.46
Men’s Chair: Saul Mendoza, Col Ramos Milla, Mexico, 1:47.59
Women’s Chair: Katherine Hunter, Orlando, Fla., 2:42.59
Men’s Half: Keith Brantly, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 1:09.58
Women’s Half: Joan Samuelson, Freeport, Maine, 1:18.13
Men’s Half Chair: Joe Dowling, Old Greenwich, Conn., 1:07:30

A star-studded, high-energy party marks the Grand Opening of the Downtown Disney District at The Disneyland Resort in Southern California. At this one-of-a-kind premiere benefiting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, donors and celebrity guests (like Sylvester Stallone and Paul Glaser) enjoy entertainment, world-class cuisine and unique shopping opportunities in more than two dozen clubs, restaurants and boutiques that make up the new addition to The Disneyland Resort. (The Downtown area will officially open to the public the very next day.)

Variety reports that Disney will develop a script inspired by its Haunted Mansion attraction. In "Haunted House," a father who has neglected his family encounters a ghost while on a job interview. The vision spooks him into a profound awareness of the importance of his family.

Superstar Limo, a dark ride attraction running since the debut of Disney's California Adventure, closes.

Situated in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of the Anaheim park, it was one of the original attractions (and the only dark ride) featured on opening day in February 2001.

Superstar Limo took guests on a ride through a cartoon version of Hollywood and featured Audio Animatronics models of celebrities like Tim Allen, Drew Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Regis Philbin.

The attraction closed due to an overwhelmingly negative response from guests and was eventually replaced in 2006 with Monsters, Inc.: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue. (In fact, Superstar's purple limos were repainted as Monstropolis taxi cabs.)

he 11th annual Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon both take place with a record-setting 24,000 participants (15,500 in the full marathon and 8,500 in the half marathon). Floridians Matthew Dobson of Jay and Kim Donaldson of St. Petersburg finish in first and second place (it is the first all-
American championship finish in the 11-year history of the race). Clinton Verran, Nicholas Cordes and Brian Sell (a trio of Michigan runners tuning up for the Olympic Trials) cross the half marathon finish line together in a record-shattering time of 1:05:43.

Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean wins a People's Choice Award for favorite motion picture at the 30th annual event.

According to Box Office Mojo, Disney's Finding Nemo is #9 in Word Wide All-Time Box Office Grosses (as of this day) at $821.3 million. Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean comes in at #18 with $653.4 million.

Disney announces in a letter from CEO Bob Iger to shareholders that the 2008 annual meeting of shareholders will be held March 6, 2008 at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The 16th Annual Walt Disney World Marathon takes place with Brazilian Adriano Bastos winning for the fifth consecutive year (and sixth time overall). He finishes the 26.2-mile jaunt through all four of Disney's theme parks in 2:20:38. Lisa Mizutani, a 23-year-old medical student from Japan, wins the women's title in 2:46:27.

Other 2009 winners (over the last two days) include:
Men’s Masters: Stuart McLay, San Salvador, El Salvador, 2:35:20
Women’s Masters: Terri Rejimbal, Tampa, Fla., 3:04:57
Men’s Chair: Krige Schabort, Cedartown, Ga., 1:37:19
Women’s Chair: Shirley Reilly, Tucson, Ariz., 2:09:51
Men’s Half: David Jankowski, Rochester Hills, Mich., 1:07:36
Women’s Half: Elizabeth Chelagat, Las Cruces, N.M., 1:17:32
Men’s Half Chair: John Payne, Germantown, Tenn., 1:24:18
Women’s Half Chair: Jacqui Kapinowski, Point Pleasant, N.J., 1:24:51

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mickey Mouse Club Circus Closes at Disneyland


Jan 08, 1956
Mickey Mouse Club Circus Closes at Disneyland

Shortly after the opening of Disneyland, the Mickey Mouse Club Circus debuted in Fantasyland featuring acts from the Ted DeWayne Circus along with the Mouseketeers from TV’s Mickey Mouse Club. One of those Mouseketeers was Bobby Burgess, who recently told us, “It was a red-and-white, huge tent, and it was hot and sweaty in there but we were having a blast. They dressed us as Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and we did the trapeze act. There was a girl in the center who was a pro who would go over and over and over. Tommy [Cole] and I were the web setters, and two of the girls, one was Sharon [Baird] and one was Bonnie [Lynn Fields] from the first year. The rest of them were on swinging ladders and the boys were Peter Pan and the girls were Tinker Bell and then we turned out the lights and we glowed in the dark. We also rode elephants and horses everyday, and we were trained by professional circus people. That was really fun!” Despite the fun the kids were having, park guests didn’t want to spend their time watching a circus when they had all of Disneyland to explore, and the Circus gave its final performance on this day in 1956.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

“Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary” Show on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color


Jan 03, 1965
“Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary” Show on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color

1965 marked the 10th anniversary of Disneyland, and to celebrate the occasion, Walt gave TV viewers a sneak peek into the upcoming Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions and other upcoming plans for his park on the “Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary” show on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. For the tour, he brought along the very first Disneyland Ambassador, Julie Reihm, introducing her to his team of creators. The show also brought viewers to Disneyland to see the newest attractions along with some special performances. Tom Mahoney, who started with Disney on Mickey Mouse Club, choreographed the dance numbers featuring Disney’s newest star, Mary Poppins, as well as a dancing cake and candles. Rikki Lugo, who began her Disney career doing the can can in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue, assisted Tom with the choreography, and ended becoming part of the show when one candle went out. “They were wearing character heels in those ‘candles’ and doing turns without being able to use their arms. In the very first shot, one dancer, Emmy Lou, got her heel caught in the cobblestone and broke her ankle, and Tom said, ‘Okay, Rikki, there you go!’” and thus, Rikki lit up the screen as one of the dancing candles, dancing to a new Sherman brothers tune with lyrics proclaiming, “Ten years of fantasy, ten years of fun, ten years of growing and you’ve only just begun…”

The Film Daily announces that Mickey Mouse cartoons will be distributed internationally:

"Mickey Mouse" Goes Abroad Contracts were closed this week between International Photo Play Distributors and Charles J. Giegerich, eastern representative for Walt Disney, whereby International secures foreign rights to the Disney "Mickey Mouse" animated sound cartoons.

Roy Disney signs a deal with M. George Borgfeldt Co. of New York to sell figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. (Many consider this the beginning of Disney merchandising.)

Disney's Silly Symphony Birds of a Feather, directed by Burt Gillett, is released. When a flock of birds are attacked by a hawk - who steals one of the baby birds - the birds join ranks to rescue him back!

Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoon Society Dog Show, directed by Bill Roberts, is released. Mickey enters Pluto in a fancy dog show where they are hopelessly outclassed and have little chance of winning ... until the building catches on fire and Pluto saves the day!

Disney's animated feature Pinocchio is released in Sweden.

Disney's 7th (animated and live-action) feature film The Three Caballeros is released in the U.S. Produced as part of the studio's good will message for South America, the film stars Donald Duck, who in the course of the film is joined by old friend José Carioca, the cigar-smoking parrot from Saludos Amigos (1943) representing Brazil, and later pistol-packing rooster Panchito Pistoles, representing Mexico. It will earn 2 Academy Award nominations. (Though after a brief initial run, Walt will pull the film from general release, due to bad press reviews.)

The article "Disneyworld Amusement Center with Domed City Set for Florida" appears in the New York Times the day after Walt Disney Productions announces plans to build the world's first glass-domed city

Cartoonist Al Taliaferro - known as the first artist of Donald Duck newspaper comics - passes away in Glendale, California, at age 63. Initially hired by Disney in 1931 as an animator, he was transferred to the comic strip department where he first lettered the Mickey Mouse strips (March 1931 - July 1932). He later drew the Bucky Bug comics as well as Silly Symphonies pages from 1932 to 1939. While working on the Donald Duck strips, he also created Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie! Taliaferro was posthumously honored a Disney Legend in 2003.

Donald Duck by Al Taliaferro [1934] - The Wise Little Hen

Pixar ceases being part of the Lucasfilm empire and becomes an independent company. At this time, the new enterprise, owned mostly by Steve Jobs (along with Ed Catmull & Alvy Ray Smith) is in the advanced computer hardware business. Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm that was launched in 1979 with the hiring of Catmull. (It will be nearly a decade until Pixar Inc. becomes Pixar Animation Studios, known for producing some of the greatest animated films ever.)

Disney issues new $1 and $5 Disney Dollars at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The $1 bill depicts Mickey Mouse on one side, and Sleeping Beauty Castle on the other. The $5 bill features Goofy on one side, and EPCOT Center's Spaceship Earth and the Empress Lilly Riverboat on the other.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his entourage visit Walt Disney World.

The Walt Disney Company announces a $50,000 donation to the American Red Cross to aide in relief efforts following the severe storms and tornados that struck Central Florida the night before.

Pixar Animation Studios celebrates its 25-year anniversary.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel Opens at Disneyland Resort


Jan 02, 2001
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel Opens at Disneyland Resort

The first hotel to ever be located inside a Disney theme park is no ordinary hotel… it’s grand! On this day in 2001, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel opened its golden gates for the first time, allowing guests to stay within Disney’s California Adventure park. Although guests could enjoy the adventure of Disneyland park, California Adventure was not yet open, nor was Downtown Disney District for another ten days. On February 8th, Disney’s California Adventure held its grand opening, along with the official grand opening of the Grand Californian Hotel, allowing Guests to have a grand experience at the newly expanded Disneyland Resort.

Disney's Mickey Mouse film The Worm Turns - featuring the voices of Walt Disney as Mickey and Billy Bletcher as the dog catcher - is released.

Conductor Leopold Stokowski arrives in Los Angeles for a session for Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

At Disneyland's Frontierland, the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland attraction closes. (It will later be replaced by Big Thunder Mountain.)

Disney World's Dumbo's Circus Parade kicks off down Main Street, USA. (January 2, 1979 - December 21, 1979). he parade featured "colorful costumes, comical ballerinas, a circus train, floats, ringmaster Mickey Mouse and Dumbo himself." 

The Astuter Computer Revue, a show in EPCOT Center's CommuniCore East, closes. The attraction took place on a second-floor terraced theater that overlooked a large room housing some of the computers used to operate the park. It was hosted by a projected host who sang and danced his way across computer banks in the foreground of the room in an attempt to explain the role of computers at Walt Disney World. The Astuter Computer Revue will be the first attraction ever to be removed from EPCOT. It will be replaced in February 1984 by Backstage Magic.

CLICK HERE to download the Computer Revue Song

CLICK HERE to hear the whole Astuter Computer Revue "live"

Today is World of Motion's final day of operation at Epcot. An opening day attraction, visitors traveled on Omniover vehicles through humorous technology-themed scenes. (Test Track will eventually take its place.)

Disney unveils its Grand Californian Hotel, offering a few hundred guests a preview of the high-end rooms and service the company hopes will transform the updated Anaheim vacation spot. The hotel is the first in the U.S. to be located inside a Disney theme park. The Grand Californian Hotel features 2 full-service restaurants (Storytellers Cafe and Napa Rose) and a snack bar (Whitewater Snacks). Although its grand opening will be in February, the first paying guests are welcomed on this day.

Effective this day, all current Walt Disney World admission media will now require ticket tag finger scans.

In observance with the Tournament of Roses “Never on Sunday” tradition, the 117th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California takes place on a Monday. Disney takes part in the event with a float featuring recreations of all 5 castles from each of its theme parks.

Opening night of "Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic" begins at 7 p.m. at the First Arena in Elmira, New York.

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs a concert of symphonic arrangements from the Walt Disney Studio archives at Powell Symphony Hall in Grand Center. The concert is synchronized with images from such Disney classics as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and Tarzan.

It is reported that The United Way of Palm Beach County, Florida is offering a program in which volunteers can earn a day at a Disney park.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Walt Disney is Grand Marshal of Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena


Jan 01, 1966
Walt Disney is Grand Marshal of Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena

On this day in 1966, everything was coming up roses for Walt Disney, when he served as the Grand Marshal of the 77th Tournament of Roses Parade, in Pasadena, California.  Over the years, the parade has had some of the world’s most distinguished individuals serving in that honored position; including luminaries such as Mary Pickford, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gregory Peck, Bob Hope, Henry “Hank” Aaron, the Apollo 12 astronauts, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, and Shirley Temple. In 1966, with “It’s a Small World” as the parade’s theme, who could be a better choice as Grand Marshal than Walt (after all, later that year the it’s a small world attraction, which had been a big hit at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, made its debut at Disneyland)?