Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 - Celebrating 45 Years of Laughter and Hope at Disneyland Park


May 28, 1966
it’s a small world Opens at Disneyland

On this day in 1966, people from all over the world joined together under the golden sun at Disneyland for the opening of it’s a small world. The group included young performing groups from America and abroad, and more than 50 consul generals, consuls and vice consuls representing nations worldwide. Amongst the opening day festivities was a phone call between Walt, who was at Disneyland for the dedication, and Disneyland Ambassador Connie Swanson, who, in keeping with the international theme, was in Sweden, to be heard on the loud speakers via an international phone call. Connie recently told D23′s Scott Wolf, “I opened [the event] from Sweden. I was over in Skansen, which is a cultural amusement park in Stockholm, and I was with the Minister of Communication, Olaf Palma, and when I said the dedication words in that office in Sweden it went on the loud speaker. I could hear Walt saying, ‘There’s some difficulty, we can’t get it through,’ and I thought, ‘Oh dear, here I am in Stockholm with the press and this Minister of Communications and the line is going down, so I just read my script as I was asked to do.’” Another aspect of the festivities was the brainchild of Jack Lindquist who recently said, “We needed something to open the attraction. Walt was going to be there and Louis Lundborg, the chairman of Bank of America, and I came up with the idea of going to Disney reps all over the world and saying, ‘Send me a bottle of water,’ and they did a great job. Pretty soon my office had about 15 different bottles. Water came from Thames, Seine, Amazon, Danube, Nile, Volga, Rhine, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Atlantic, Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, among others. To me, it was just a symbolic way to open the ride. Here was water from all over the world, and we got kids representing those countries to pour some water into the moat. It was symbolic and it worked fine… and it was cheap. It also gave me an opportunity to get to know the Disney reps around the world.” In his dedication speech, Walt said, “I’d like to welcome all of you to the dedication of it’s a small world, and I’d like to thank all of these wonderful children who have performed here to make these dedication such a success. Thank you, children! Beautiful children! When we completed it’s a small world for presentation at the New York World’s Fair, we felt that we had accomplished what we’d set out to do. We wanted to foster a better understanding among nations of the world by showing the dress, the customs, the language, the music and a little of the culture of our neighbors around the world, and we wanted to show it to be a very happy one. I think it’s safe to say that having fun has universal appeal.”

posted at the Disney Parks blog on May 27th, 2011 by Jim Ames, Manager, Food and Wine Events, Disneyland Resort

Saturday, May 28, marks the anniversary of one of the most endearing attractions to ever open at a Disney park when “it’s a small world” celebrates 45 happy years at Disneyland park.

Celebrating 45 Years of Laughter and Hope at Disneyland Park

When he originally imagined this attraction for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Walt Disney tasked a talented team of Imagineers, including artist and Disney Legend Mary Blair, to bring his vision of brotherhood and friendship to life. Mary’s concept was that of a “pop-up book” that looked like the children within the story had designed their worlds themselves.

Celebrating 45 Years of Laughter and Hope at Disneyland Park

Mary Blair also designed the iconic facade when the attraction was moved to its new home at Disneyland park. With whimsical representations of the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben and the Taj Mahal, the exterior is no less impressive than the ride itself.

Of course it is the playful music, by legendary songwriting team Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman that keeps us humming long after we have exited the attraction. Walt asked the duo to write a simple piece that could be repeated and sung in different languages. The Sherman Brothers succeeded creating quite possibly the catchiest Disney attraction theme song of all time.

In 1966, Walt Disney presided over the opening ceremonies of the attraction in its new home at Disneyland park. Children representing countries from around the world came together to pour water from all seven continents into the “Rivers of the World.”

Since that moment, more than 233 million Disneyland park guests have joined “the happiest cruise that ever sailed” – enough to circumnavigate the Earth more than 190 times. “it’s a small world” has opened in the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disneyland park, Disneyland Resort Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, proving that “though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all.”

Celebrating 45 Years of Laughter and Hope at Disneyland Park

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

May 22, 1987
“Disney’s Golden Anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Airs

On this day in 1987, with a smile and a song “Disney’s Golden Anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was celebrated in an episode of The Magical World of Disney. Using Disneyland as a backdrop, host Dick van Dyke is joined by the Seven Dwarfs and Jane Curtin, who portrays the wicked Queen, while Sherman Hemsley (TV’s George Jefferson) appears in the Magic Mirror. Highlights include very rarely seen scenes that were deleted from the movie, done in pencil animation. Although now available as bonus features on DVD, this was the first time the public was given the chance to view those scenes. In a dance number with the Dwarfs, Dick van Dyke sings “You’re Never Too Old To Be Young.” With all that was packed into this hour special, the “happy” program didn’t have a single “sleepy” moment.


From the late 1950s to 1968 Los Angeles Airways provided regularly scheduled helicopter passenger service between Disneyland and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and other cities in the area. The helicopters first operated from Anaheim/Disneyland Heliport, located behind Tomorrowland. Service later moved, in 1960, to a new heliport north of the Disneyland Hotel. Arriving guests were then transported to the Disneyland Hotel via tram.

English: Los Angeles Airways Sikorsky S-61L helicopter,
lifting off from the Disneyland Heliport, 1963.
This is the same aircraft that crashed—killing all on board
in August, 1968. Note the Matterhorn Mountain in the background.

The service ended after two fatal crashes in 1968: The crash in Paramount, California, TODAY killed 23 (the worst helicopter accident in aviation history at that time). The second crash in Compton, California on August 14, 1968, killed 21

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 04: Space Mountain Opens at Disneyland


May 04, 1977
Space Mountain Opens at Disneyland

Attention space travelers: It was on this day in 1977 that Space Mountain first blasted off guests at Disneyland, rocketing them into a simulation of outer space, aboard a roller coaster dark ride. But this attraction, which still remains popular today in the year 2011, actually has a history that goes back to the 1960s. Disney Legend John Hench designed this attraction, years before the technology was readily available. The first Space Mountain opened in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1975, and after it proved its success, it landed at Disneyland two years later, with the first American men in space, consisting of the U.S. Mercury Astronauts Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Donald “Deke” Slayton and Betty Grissom (widow of Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom) on hand for the opening ceremonies. Over the years, the attraction has seen improvements with all new visual effects and a fully synchronized onboard audio soundtrack. The next time you walk thru the queue for the attraction, take a look around at the symbol for “Space Station 77,” paying homage to the year Space Mountain first took flight.