Thursday, April 30, 2009

Apr 30: First WDW Press Event

On this day in 1969 the first Walt Disney World press conference, held at the Ramada Inn on Highway 50 in Ocoee, Florida (a little suburb on the outskirts of Orlando), took place.
Donn B. Tatum (president of Walt Disney World Co.) detailed the more than 3 years of planning for a "Destination Vacation". It had been two years since special legislation had been passed allowing Disney to build its Florida project, and so the Disney Company had decided to rent out the entire Ramada Inn for Walt Disney World's official first press event.
A large circus tent outside the hotel was filled with models and artist renderings of Walt Disney World for this three-day gala. Among the Disney officials in attendance were Walt's brother Roy O. Disney and Disney publicist Charlie Ridgway. Newsmen from all over the world, as well as local Florida officials (including Florida Governor Claude Kirk), top executives (from U.S. Steel, Monsanto & RCA), and even a small group of Disneyland Cast Members attended the event.
A 16-mm 17-minute film titled Walt Disney World - Phase 1 was screened at the Parkwood Cinema Theater. Buses took the nearly 400 guests from the Ramada to the theater! The film showed the master plan and artists' depictions for a theme park (which would open in 1971).

Click HERE for more April 30 Disney History.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We Interrupt Today ...

Today in Disney History would like to stray from our regular format to present a guest blog from Brad at the new Disney-fan site DisMarks. I feel it's worth posting - as DisMarks is a bit different from other Disney fan sites.

DisMarks is a social media service, like Digg, created exclusively for Disney fans. There is an amazing amount of original and insightful content generated daily about Disney as well as a tremendous amount of news. For those interested in keeping up with the latest great blogs and information, DisMarks can be a very useful tool.
You can join DisMarks and submit stories, vote for your favorite stories and sites, and even vote on other users' comments. Of course you can also just use DisMarks passively to read the most popular stories in the Dis-o-sphere.
Make sure to submit your favorite "days" from Today In Disney History--voting for these will bring them to the attention of even more Disney fans! And with this blog's daily format, there are tons of opportunities to promote it.
We hope you'll enjoy DisMarks and consider sharing some of your favorite Disney sites with the community there.

Thanks Brad and best of luck with DisMarks. I'll be visiting often.

Click HERE for April 28 Disney history.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23: Disney Wilderness Preserve

On this day in 1993, Walker Ranch (8,500 acres of wetlands in Central Florida) officially became Disney Wilderness Preserve. Located about 15 miles south of Disney World, it is today owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy. (Disney provided the property as a trade-off that allowed it to expand on wetlands near its theme parks ... the result being the town of Celebration.)
The Nature Conservancy - a leading conservation organization first founded in 1951 - works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters, and the Disney Wilderness Preserve is just one example of their dedication. The preserve (now consisting of 12,000 acres) is bounded by Reedy Creek to the east, Lake Hatchineha to the south, and the community of Poinciana to the north and west.
Among the protected species living on property are scrub jays, wood storks and one of the largest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the Southeast. But this vast preserve also offers pristine plant communities, waterways, and hiking trails. It's a little piece of what Florida once was.
The Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee, Florida is opened to visitors.

Click HERE for more April 23 Disney history.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 22: Nahtazu!

After a multi-million dollar advertising campaign (including a 16-page full color spread in Time magazine) Disney's Animal Kingdom opened on this Earth Day in 1998.
With a packed house (its 6,000 car parking lot closed an hour after the park's 6 a.m. opening), perfect weather and very few glitches (the park's sole thrill ride Countdown to Extinction experienced a few technical problems), Animal Kingdom's debut was near-perfect.
The park wasn't the only newest creation in Disney World, a system of advanced roads had been designed to ease traffic. A new interchange connecting I-4 with the southern end of World Drive (the main road leading into Animal Kingdom) allowed guests easy access.

Click HERE for more April 22 Disney history.
Happy Earth Day

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 18: The Last Mickey Cartoon?!

On this day in 1953, the Mickey Mouse short The Simple Things was released. Directed by Charles Nichols and written by Bill Berg, it would be the final Mickey cartoon for theatrical release (until the 1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol). Disney would instead devote his time (and Mickey's too) to television and theme park work.
The Simple Things finds Mickey and Pluto on a pleasant fishing trip ... until Pluto has a run-in with a pesky clam and a hungry seagull!
Charles Nichols, already a veteran director of countless Disney shorts (starting back in 1944 with Springtime for Pluto) would work on a few more of Walt's projects before lending his expertise to such classic TV cartoons as The Jetsons, Hong Kong Phooey, The Great Grape Ape Show, and Scooby-Doo.
Bill Berg (whose Disney work started in the early 1940s) would stay with Disney and continue to write for the Disneyland television series. He would also work as an animator and character supervisor on Mulan, Pocahontas, and The Little Mermaid.
James MacDonald - who supplied the voice for Mickey Mouse (since 1947, only the 2nd to ever voice the character) - would continue to voice the mouse, and lend his musical & sound effects talents to countless Disney projects.
At a running time of just about 7 minutes, this final Mickey short features the animated work of Marvin Woodward, Fred Moore, and Norman Ferguson.

Click HERE for more April 18 Disney history.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 7: Disney's 18th Mountain-themed Attraction

On this day in 2006, Animal Kingdom's newest attraction Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain had its grand opening. The runaway-train coaster is located in the Asia section of DAK.
Although moderate in height and length when compared to other roller coasters, Expedition Everest is unique in that its trains travel forward ... and backward (due to the Yeti's interference).
The tallest of all Disney World "mountains," it is not based on the real Mount Everest - but a fictional mountain guarded by the "abominable snowman"!
Imagineers spent 6 years researching, designing, and building the attraction - which included trips to the Himalayas (Asia's famous mountain range) to collect reference material.

Click HERE for more April 7 Disney history.