On this day in 1994, Disney announced plans to lease and restore the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Located at 214 West 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square, the New Amsterdam is right next door to the Disney Store.
The New Amsterdam was originally built in 1903. At that time, it was the largest theater in New York and could seat 1800. Over the years it housed a variety of plays and musicals (such as the Ziegfeld Follies and Othello). During the late 1930s it was turned into a movie theater and remained that way through the 1980s.
By the 1990s the Broadway venue was sadly in shambles but owned by the State and City of New York - who wished to return it to its original usage and grandeur. In 1993, Disney Theatrical Productions (the stage play and musical arm of the Walt Disney Company) signed a 99-year lease for the property.
After 6 years of restoration (and some $34 million dollars), the New Amsterdam reopened with a formal dedication on April 2, 1997. That same month, a staging of Alan Menken and Time Rice's King David christened the theater. Later that year, the beautifully restored venue became the first home for Disney's live musical hit The Lion King.
Since 2006, the New Amsterdam Theatre (one of the two oldest surviving Broadway venues) has been the home for Disney's Mary Poppins.
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