Monday, March 31, 2008

Mar 31: AKL

On this day in 2001, the not-yet-opened Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World held a 3-day open house for Annual Passholders.
The deluxe resort is African themed and located at 2901 Osceola Parkway (very close to Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park). This unique resort allows guests the opportunity to watch wildlife graze outside their rooms and public areas - thus creating the feel of an African savanna. Designed by architect Peter Dominick (known for his Wilderness Lodge creation) the Animal Kingdom Lodge is 6 stories tall.
The official opening of the resort took place on April 16, 2001.

Click HERE for more March 31 Disney history.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mar 29: Wholesome Determination

On this day in 2002, Disney's live-action The Rookie was released. Based on the true story of pitcher Jim Morris who had a brief but famous Major League career, the film starred Dennis Quaid as Morris.
Teacher & coach Morris had "blown his arm" out during his days in the Minor Leagues. Now a coach of a struggling school team, he bets his players that if they win the district champions ... he will tryout for the majors. His team does well and Morris (still able to throw a 98 mph fastball) keeps his end of the bargain. He eventually signs with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a relief pitcher and the leagues "oldest rookie." He goes on to have a short but memorable career pitching 15 innings in 21 games with an earned run average of 4.80!
The scene where Morris tests his fastball speed by throwing it past a speed limit road monitor ... actually never happened in real life.
Filmed entirely in North and Central Texas, The Rookie proves its never too late to believe in your dreams.

"I consider myself very lucky. God has a funny way of bringing some things around and knocking you in the head with the ultimate destination." -Jim Morris

Click HERE for more March 29 Disney history.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mar 28: Whose the Leader of the Band?

On this day in 1910, Ivan Wesley Dodd was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Disney fans know him better as Jimmie Dodd - the adult leader on the 1950s TV series The Mickey Mouse Club. It's been said that the club was Mickey's, the studio was Walt's ... but the show itself was Jimmie's.
An interest in music came early to young Dodd who began playing banjo and guitar as a small boy. Upon graduating from high school, he attended a few colleges such as the University of Cincinnati and then the Conservatory of Music (but unfortunately never graduated from either). At this time he also became interested in acting and dance.
In 1933 he got his first real job playing and singing on a local radio station. From that job came others and he soon found himself touring with the Louis Prima Orchestra. The tour brought Dodd to California where his next break was a part in Paramount's 1940 film Those Were the Days. That same year he married a dancer named Ruth and the two joined USO tours entertaining the troops in Africa and Asia during World War II. (A weak heart prohibited Dodd from joining the military.)
Contacts he made while overseas led him to more film work and even some appearances on a new medium called television. Dodd's friend Bill Justice (an animator at Disney) recommended him to Walt as a songwriter. He was assigned to write songs for cartoons and the Disneyland TV series. When The Mickey Mouse Club was being prepared, Dodd was again recommended to Walt as the show's host.
Dodd also wrote the Mickey Mouse Club March and such tunes as We Are the Merry Mouseketeers, Today is Tuesday, and Here Comes the Circus. He even helped develop storyboards for the show's segments and had a hand in casting the children. But ultimately it was his on-camera performances that ensured the show's success. Dodd's short sermons & advice on character-building, safety, and common-sense became an intricate part of The Mickey Mouse Club. He would usually end each program with the saying:
"Why? Because we like you."

Click HERE for more March 28 Disney history.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mar 27: Birth of The Duck Man

On this day in 1901, Carl Barks - a Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator best known for his 3 decades of Donald Duck work, was born in Merrill, Oregon. Creator of Duckberg (a city in the fictional U.S. state of Calisota and home of Donald Duck), Barks also created such characters as Scrooge McDuck and Gladstone Gander.
The Duck Man (as he would come to be known) grew up on a farm in a rural area of Oregon. In November 1935, Barks learned that Walt Disney was seeking artists for his studio. Barks applied ... and was approved for a try-out (which meant leaving Oregon and moving to Los Angeles, California). He was one of two in his class of trainees that were eventually hired (at $20 a week).
Like many rookies, Barks began an an "in-betweener" working with Disney's top animators. By 1936, he was moved to the story department. The following year, Donald Duck became the star of his own series and Barks contributed gag ideas to some of the early shorts.
Unhappy at the emerging wartime working conditions at Disney (plus bothered by an ongoing sinus problem made worse by the studio's air conditioning system) Barks actually quit in 1942. But just before leaving he moonlighted as a comic book artist, contributing to a one-shot comic book titled Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold.
Barks moved out of the Los Angeles area and began working for Western Publishing ... who had published Pirate Gold and was looking for a Donald Duck illustrator! The Victory Garden, a 10-page Donald Duck story first published in April 1943, turned out to be the first of some 500 Duck stories Barks would draw and script.
He "retired" in 1966 but was persuaded to continue to write for Western. At the urging of a fan, Barks requested and obtained permission from Disney to produce and sell oil paintings of scenes form his stories. To Bark's astonishment, his career went into high gear.
Barks began to attend comic book conventions and licensed a series of art prints of his Duck work. He toured Europe and attended Disneyana conventions. The Duck Man had become a worldwide sensation! He was even inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991.
Sadly, Barks died from leukemia at his home in Grant Pass, Oregon in 2000 ... just short of his 100th birthday.

Click HERE for more March 27 Disney history.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mar 26: Rockin Good Food

On this day in 1994, Food Rocks - a musical audio animatronics show, opened in Epcot. Replacing Kitchen Kabaret in The Land pavilion, Food Rocks was sponsored by Nestle.
The stage show was themed as a "benefit concert for good nutrition," and was hosted by Fud Wrapper. The characters were food items with human features and the music was based on popular songs with new lyrics about nutrition.
The show closed in January 2004 and Soarin' now occupies its space.

Click HERE for more March 26 Disney history.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mar 25: Those Wacky Midvale College Students

On this day in 1964, Disney's live-action comedy The Misadventures of Merlin Jones was released in theaters. Originally shot as a 2-part episode for Disney's television series, Walt liked it so much that he decided to release it theatrically.
The film follows the mishaps of Merlin Jones (played by Tommy Kirk), a precocious but gifted college student/inventor and his girlfriend Jennifer (played by Annette Funicello). Merlin's experiments with hypnosis, a chimpanzee, and a complicated mind-reading gadget lands him in trouble with the law.
The film's opening title song "Merlin Jones" (written by the Sherman Brothers) was performed by Funicello. With vocal contribution from the Wellingtons (who sang the Gilligan's Island theme song), the song was released as a single.
Less than two months later Gold Key published a comic book based on the film.
The following year Disney released a sequel The Monkey's Uncle, also starring Kirk & Funicello.

Click HERE for more March 25 Disney history.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mar 24: Astro Jets - Fly It Yourself!

On this day in 1956, Astro Jets, the first rocket-spinner Disneyland attraction, opened to guests in Tomorrowland.
Manufactured by Klaus Company Bavaria, the 12 jets traveled around a large red-checkered rocket and had the ability to rise 36 feet up in the air. Astro Jets stood between Flight to the Moon and Submarine Voyage. The jets were given futuristic names such as Canopus, Vega, Sirus, Castor, and Antares.
Astro Jets was renamed Tomorrowland Jets in 1964 when United Airlines became its sponsor. (United felt the name was free advertising for its competitor American Airlines whose coast-to-coast jet service was called ... "astro jet.")
Yet in 1967 the attraction was once again renamed, this time as the Rocket Jets. This version was located atop the PeopleMover platform.
In 1998, after Tommorrowland was refurbished, the attraction was once again renamed to Astro Orbitor (a replica of the Orbitron, Machine Volantes in Disneyland Paris).

Click HERE for more March 24 Disney history.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mar 23: W.I.T.C.H.

On this day in 2004, Disney Publishing Worldwide announced it was launching W.I.T.C.H. - a new book series about five teenage girls who each have the power to control a natural element.
A fantasy/superhero comic series first created in Italy by Elisabetta Gnone, the title W.I.T.C.H. is an abbreviation of the first letters of the five girls: Wilma, Irma Taranee, Cornelia, and Hay Lin.
The only American release prior to Disney's involvement were books adapted from the comics. In 2005 Disney began releasing graphic novels and chapter books through its Hyperion Books for Children division.
Disney's Buena Vista Games later released W.I.T.C.H. a video game for the Game Boy Advance.

Click HERE for more March 23 Disney history.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mar 22: Birth of an "Old Man"

On this day in 1909, Milton Erwin Kahl - known better to Disney fans as Milt Kahl was born in San Francisco, California. Often considered the finest draftsman of the Disney animators, Kahl became on of Walt's "Nine Old Men."
It all started in June 1934 when Kahl applied to The Walt Disney Studios. He was hired to work as an assistant animator on such shorts as Mickey's Circus, Lonesome Ghosts, and The Ugly Duckling (which won an Academy Award). He went on to contribute to all the early classic features, in fact for many years the final look for the characters in Disney films were designed by Kahl. Because of his talent, he was often given the toughest of tasks at the studio (such as animating human characters).
In Snow White for example, he was responsible for the forest animals, the Prince, and the dwarfs dancing with Snow White. Kahl also contributed greatly to Pinocchio, Saludos Amigos, Melody Time, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty.
His final contribution (as a directing animator) was the 1977 release The Rescuers ... the same year he was given the Winsor McCay Award. After 40 years with the company, Milt Kahl retired. His departure ushered in a new era when Disney artists would no longer control animation film making. Kahl passed away in 1987, two years before he was inducted as a Disney Legend.

Clickl HERE for more March 22 Disney history.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mar 21: Mission to Mars

On this day in 1975, the Disneyland attraction Mission to Mars opened in Tomorrowland. (A similar attraction would open at Disney World in June 1975.) First called Flight to the Moon (an original opening day Disneyland attraction) it was updated once man had actually traveled to the moon.
Mission to Mars (designed with NASA) launched guests to the red planet. But prior to blastoff, guests entered a viewing area (or Mission Control) where they were greeted by an Audio-Animatronic named Mr Johnson. With the use of film clips, Johnson explained space travel and the effects of a microgravity environment.
After the pre-show, guests boarded their spacecraft - a circular theater with stadium-like seating and circular flat screens on the ceiling and floor. To add to the realism, the seats simulated the vibrations and G-forces from "Hyper-space."
Mission to Mars closed on November 2, 1992 and the building remained unused until May 1998 when it was turned into ... Redd Rockett's Pizza Port.

Click HERE for more March 21 Disney history.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mar 20: Oscar Night

On this evening in 1948, the 20th Academy Awards were held at the Shrine Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.
Songwriters Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert took home the Best Music, Original Song Oscar for "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" from Disney's Song of the South. Other song nominees in that category included "Pass that Peace Pipe" (from Good News), "You Do" (from Mother Wore Tights), "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" (from The Perils of Pauline), and "A Gal in Calico" (from The Time, the Place, and the Girl).
The team of Daniele Amfitheatrof, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Wolcott were nominated for Best Music, Scoring of A Musical Picture for their contribution to Song of the South. But Alfred Newman took home the Oscar for his work on Mother Wore Tights.
Both Disney's Pluto's Blue Note and Chip an' Dale lost to Edward Seltzer's Tweetie Pie for Best Short Subject, Cartoon.
Among the Honorary Oscars presented was one to actor James Baskett "for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and storyteller to the children of the world, in Walt Disney's Song of the South."

Click HERE for more March 20 Disney history.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mar 19: Happy Birthday Danger Man!

On this day in 1928, Emmy Award-winning actor Patrick McGoohan was born in Astoria, Queens, New York. Best known from the television series Danger Man (also known as Secret Agent) and the cult classic The Prisoner, McGoohan was raised in the UK (hence his British fame but neutral accent).
Disney fans know his voice as Billy Bones from the 2002 Treasure Planet. But he also appeared in Disney's 1964 live-action The Three Lives of Thomasina and the 3-part TV serial The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.
(McGoohan directed, wrote and appeared in a handful of "Columbo" TV episodes!)

Click HERE for more March 19 Disney history.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mar 18: A Window For Orlando

On this day in 2003, Imagineer & Disney Legend Orlando Ferrante received a Window on Disneyland's Main Street, USA. During his 40 years at WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering) Ferrante helped create magical lands in parks all around the world.
A small ceremony was held on this day (during park hours) to dedicate his Window - located on Center Street near the lockers. The Dapper Dans kicked off the ceremony with their rendition of "Walking Right Down the Middle of Main Street, USA." Also taking part was Disneyland Resort Ambassador Daina Baker, Marty Sklar (Vice Chairman and Principle Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering), Jim Thomas (Vice President of Project Management of WDI), and Don Goodman (President of WDI).
Ferrante's Window reads:
The Pico Organization
Installation and Coordination
World Class Projects
"We Never Sleep in Any Time Zone"
Orlando Ferrante

Upon arriving at Disney, his first job involved installing the Enchanted Tiki Room. This was followed by relocating and installing the attractions developed by Disney for the 1964-65 World's Fair. In 1966, Ferrante established a new department called Project Installation Coordinating Office ... or PICO for short. From Walt Disney World to Disneyland Paris, his keen skills proved to be invaluable. Retired since 2002, Ferrante's last assignment was helping in the launch of the second Disney Cruise Line ship in Venice, Italy.
"My main love has been the production and installation of the shows and rides. I love seeing the ideas and being able to help make them a reality." - Orlando Ferrante

Click HERE for more March 18 Disney history.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mar 17: 5,246 feet of Test Track!

On this day in 1999, the Epcot attraction Test Track officially debuted. Sponsored by General Motors, Test Track had first opened to the public in December 1998.
A popular Disney World ride (Fastpass typically runs out by mid-afternoon), guests ride in futuristic test cars through a GM "testing facility." They experience 5 minutes of tests to illustrate how automobile prototype evaluations are conducted. The vehicles are powered by 3 onboard computers - which believe it or not has more processing power than the Space Shuttle! Test Track snakes through the 150,000-square-foot pavilion and even at times outside of Epcot's public areas.
One unfortunate aspect of Test Track is that it often breaks down ... which can take up to an hour to get restarted.

Click HERE for more March 17 Disney history.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mar 16: Released Today

On this day in 1999, Walt Disney Records and American Gramaphone (a Nebraska-based record company) released the CD Manheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse: Unique Musical Creations Based on Disney Songs.
Manheim Steamroller, considered a "new age" group and founded by Chip Davis & Jackson Berkey in the mid-1970s, are best known for their modern renditions of Christmas songs. (The group has sold 27 million albums in the U.S. alone.)
Started as an alias for Davis (a record producer/composer), the name "Manheim Steamroller" comes from an 18th-century German musical technique - an ascending arpeggio popularized by the Manheim style of composition.
Manheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse features 12 tracks of Disney favorites:
"Chim Chim Cher-ee"
"Under the Sea"
"Hakuna Matada"
"Go the Distance"
"The Ballad of Davy Crockett"
"You've Got a Friend in Me"
"When You Wish Upon a Star"
"Mickey Mouse March"

Manheim Steamroller would later perform at Epcot in May 2002 as part of the Flower Power Concert Series.
"To be associated with a company like Disney, whose catalog of music is so rich and spans so many generations, is an arranger's dream." - Grammy Award-winning Chip Davis

Click HERE for more March 16 Disney history.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mar 15: Born Today

On this day in 1904, James Patrick O'Malley (also known as J. Pat O'Malley) was born in Burnley, England. A singer-turned-actor, O'Malley had a long career on radio, Broadway, film, and television as a character actor.
A move from England to the United States in 1935 eventually brought him to the attention of Walt Disney. His first voicing of an animated character was Cyril Proudbottom in Disney's 1949 The Wind in the Willows. His voice can also be heard in the 1951 Alice in Wonderland - in which he performed all the voices in the "Walrus and Carpenter" segment.
Already known to the studio casting directors for his voice work, O'Malley was chosen to play the television role of the English servant Perkins assigned to watch over Monty Markham in The Adventures of Spin and Marty. He appeared on all 3 Spin and Marty serials.
O'Malley continued to work for Disney throughout the 1960s doing voice work for One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, and Mary Poppins (the Cockney coster in the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" segment).
O'Malley later contributed his voice talents to the Disneyland attraction Pirates of the Caribbean. Among the characters he voiced ... the Pirate Captain dunking the magistrate into the well!
O'Malley's non-Disney TV credits is staggering, as he appeared in episodes of Lassie, Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, F Troop, Bewitched, Batman, Hogan's Heroes, The Mod Squad, I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza, Adam-12, Emergency, Maude, Three's Company, Barney Miller, Fantasy Island, and Taxi.
It's been often stated that J. Pat was a kind and gentle man, who made this world a better place for having been here, and he left his legacy on film.

Click HERE for more March 15 Disney history.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mar 14: Pre-Aladdin Magic Carpet

On this day in 1975, Magic Carpet 'Round the World, a Circle Vision 360° film shown at Disney World, ended its run.
Shown in the same Tomorrowland theater that had originally featured America the Beautiful, Magic Carpet had first debuted back in March 1974. The film took guests on a tour of landmarks across the four corners of the globe. Sponsored by Monsanto, Magic Carpet would later return for an encore in 1979 (and run until 1984).
A revised version of America the Beautiful replaced Magic Carpet the following day, March 15. American Journeys took over the theater in 1984 only to be ultimately replaced by The Timekeeper in 1994.

Click HERE for more March 14 Disney history.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mar 13: The Incredible Little Car Who Shifts For Himself!

On this day in 1969, Disney's live-action comedy The Love Bug was generally released. Starring a white Volkswagen named Herbie, the film had already premiered in December 1968.
The first and most successful of the Love Bug films, the movie follows the adventures of Herbie, his driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), Jim's love interest Carole (Michele Lee), and Jim's pal Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett).
The Love Bug was based on the 1961 story Car, Boy, Girl by Gordon Buford. Herbie is a L87 pearl white 1963 Model 117 Volkswagen Type 1 Deluxe Sunroof ... and for those keeping score, his California license plate is OFP 857.
Some believe the "53" logo on Herbie was chosen because it was Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Don Drysdale's uniform number!
Herbie has been immortalized at Disney World's All-Star Movies Resort with his very own "Love Bug" hotel complex.
There is even a Herbie The Love Bug Fan Club!

Click HERE for more March 13 Disney History.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mar 12: Disney's Daniel Boone

On this day in 1961, the television show Walt Disney Presents aired the episode "Daniel Boone: The Wilderness Road." Already in its 7th year, this was episode number 17 of the 1960-1961 season.
While TV fans may remember Fess Parker in the role of Daniel Boone from a long-running 1960s series (years after playing Disney's Davy Crockett) there was an earlier mini-series on Disney's weekly show that featured Dewey Martin as Daniel Boone.
"Daniel Boone: The Wilderness Road" was the 3rd episode of a 4-part mini-series based on the true-life frontiersman. In this segment, Boone, his family, and a group of settlers are on their way to Kentucky when they are attacked by Indian Chief Crowfeather - an old enemy.

Click HERE for more March 12 Disney history.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mar 11: Mulan's Last March

On this day in 2001, the Mulan Parade made its final trip down Hollywood Boulevard at the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida. Based on Disney's 36th animated feature Mulan, it first debuted in 1998 on the same day the film opened in theaters.
The Mulan Parade, which featured over 50 performers and a 150-foot-long Great Stone Dragon, originally replaced the Hercules - Zero to Hero Parade. (A similar Mulan parade first began running at Disneyland in 1999.)

Click HERE for more March 11 Disney history.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mar 10: GE Pulls The Plug

On this day in 1985, General Electric's contract for sponsorship of Disney World's Carousel of Progress attraction (located in Tomorrowland) expired. GE chose not to renew. (The attraction closed for a short time so that all General Electric references could be excluded.)
GE's association with the attraction goes all the way back to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair where it was known as Progressland. Steeped in nostalgia and futurism, the attraction explored the joys of living through the advent of electricity and other technological advances. Guests remained seated as an outer ring of six theaters moved around a fixed, circular section. As many as 4,500 people per day experienced Progressland making it one of the most popular attractions at the fair.
When the fair closed, it was moved to Disneyland and named Carousel of Progress. The GE Carousel of Progress (which opened in 1967) was housed in a two-level pavilion enabling some 3,600 guests per hour to view it.
In 1973, the Carousel of Progress was moved to a new theater in Disney World, Florida - where it opened in 1975 and still remains today.

Click HERE for more March 10 Disney history.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mar 09: Belle on Broadway

On this day in 1994, previews began for Disney's newest Broadway stage show Beauty and the Beast at the Palace Theatre. A musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton, it was based on the 1991 animated feature.
The idea for this live musical came from a popular 25-minute Broadway-style show that ran in Disneyland (starting in 1992) and a similar show at the Disney-MGM Studios (which first ran in 1991).
The show later officially opened on Broadway on April 18, 1994 with Susan Egan as Belle and Terrance Mann as the Beast. It ran at the Palace until September 5, 1999 when it was moved to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 11, 1999. By the time Beauty and the Beast played its final performance in July 2007 - it had run 5,510 times!

Click HERE for more March 09 Disney history.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mar 08: Creator of Mr. Toad

On this day in 1859, British writer Kenneth Grahame was born at 30 Castle Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. Most famous for his 1908 children's literature The Wind in the Willows (featuring the character Mr. Toad), he also wrote the short story The Reluctant Dragon.
The Wind in the Willows was popular when first released and was even praised by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The book established Grahame's international reputation as a writer of children's books and influenced fantasy literature. In 1930 Grahame's novel saw its first successful stage adaptation as Toad of Toad Hall - written by A. A. Milne (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame)! That same year it was re-published with beautiful illustrations by E.H. Shepherd (who had also worked with Milne).
The Wind in the Willows is one-half of Disney's 1949 animated The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and Grahame's Mr. Toad character was the inspiration for Disneyland's Mr Toad's Wild Ride attraction.
Grahame's 1898 The Reluctant Dragon (originally published as a chapter in his book Dream Days) served as the key element for Disney's 1941 feature The Reluctant Dragon.

Click HERE for more March 08 Disney history.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mar 07: TV's Best

On this day in 1955, the Emmy Awards for television excellence in 1954 were handed out at the Moulin Rouge Nightclub in Hollywood (hosted by Steve Allen) and Nino's LaRue Restaurant in New York City (hosted by Dave Garroway).
Best Variety Series went to ABC-TV's Disneyland - beating out The George Gobel Show, The Jack Benny Program, The Jackie Gleason Show, Toast of the Town, and Your Hit Parade.
The Disneyland episode "Operation Undersea" was awarded Best Individual Program of the Year - edging out episodes of Medic, Shower of Stars, Studio One, and Light's Diamond Jubilee.
Although Walt Disney himself was nominated for Most Outstanding Personality, that Emmy went to George Gobel.
Best Television Film Editing was awarded to Lynn Harrison and Grant K. Smith for their work on the Disneyland episode "Operation Undersea," - ironically beating out Chester W. Schaeffer for his contribution to the Disneyland episode "Davy Crockett - Indian Fighter."

Click HERE for more March 07 Disney history.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mar 06: Birth Of Main Street, USA

On this day in 1888, the city of Marceline, Missouri was incorporated. Famously known as the boyhood home of Walt Disney, the town was his inspiration for Main Street, USA.
Located in north central Missouri, Marceline is located 6 miles south of US Highway 36 on Missouri Highway 5. The rural town came to exist because in 1887 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built a line from Chicago and Kansas City. Marceline was built along the route as a stop for refueling, water, and crew changes.
Elias Disney and his family arrived in Marceline in 1906 by train from Chicago (Walt's birthplace). Walt's older brother Robert already owned a 500-acre farm in Marceline and Elias believed it to be a great place to settle. Young Walt was barely 5 years-old. The Disney family lived on a farm until 1910 when they moved 120 miles away to Kansas City.
In 1938 Walt wrote a letter to Marceline in which he stated: "Everything connected with Marceline was a thrill to us ... to tell the truth more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have ever happened since - or are likely to in the future."
In 1956 the town named its new swimming pool and recreation center after him and four years later an elementary school.

Click HERE for more March 06 Disney history.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mar 05: In Memory Of

On this day in 2005, veteran Disney artist Vance Gerry passed away in Pasadena, California. A storyman, layout artist, character designer, and visual development artist, Gerry was regarded as one of the most talented and creative artists in the animation business.
Up until his death on March 5, he continued to work closely with such old-time veterans as Joe Grant and Burny Mattinson ... the three often being lovingly referred to as the "Geriatricals."
Gerry started with Disney in 1955 and went on to contribute to such classics as The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, Oliver & Company, and Hercules.
Besides his Disney work, he also operated his own letterpress publishing label - The Weatherbird Press.
A memorial was held for Vance Gerry 6 days later at Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena.

Click HERE for more March 05 Disney history.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mar 04: Born Today

On this day in 1743, Swiss author Johann David Wyss was born. Best known for his 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, Wyss was also a pastor.
Inspired by Daniel Defoe's story Robinson Crusoe (about a man who is shipwrecked and marooned on a small tropical island), Wyss (a father of 4) always wanted to write a story from which his own children would learn. He wanted to teach them about family values, good husbandry, and the importance of the world's natural resources.
Wyss often read Robinson Crusoe to his children - but unlike Crusoe, his novel involved an entire family who is shipwrecked in the East Indies. In fact as an adult, one of his sons Johann Rudolf Wyss (also an author and a professor) edited & published his father's classic tale!
Disney's 1960 adaptation of the Wyss novel was not the first film produced about the shipwrecked family. RKO released a Swiss Family Robinson in 1940.
Interesting to note that these adaptations give the family the surname "Robinson," - when in actuality the "Robinson" of Wyss's title refers to his inspiration ... Robinson Crusoe!

Click HERE for more March 04 Disney history.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mar 03: In Search Of A Lost Temple

On this day in 1995, the dark ride attraction Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye opened in Disneyland. Based on the George Lucas films, park guests are taken in military vehicles through a lost temple with Indiana Jones. Among the celebrity guests attending this day's debut were George Lucas, CEO Michael Eisner, and actors Dan Akroyd & Carrie Fisher. The attraction was sponsored by AT&T (until 2002).
Already successful in Disney World with Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (since 1989) Lucas teamed up with Disney again in the early 1990s to create a new "Indiana" attraction for the Anaheim resort. Groundbreaking for the new ride began in August 1993 with more than 400 Imagineers working on its design and construction. With Imagineer Tony Baxter in the lead, the project entailed rerouting the Jungle Cruise attraction, creating a 1/2-mile long queue area, and demolishing an area of the former "Eeyore" parking lot to build a 50,000 square foot structure to house Forbidden Eye.
The Forbidden Eye story (set in 1936) is told through 12 letters & telegrams scattered throughout the queue as well as newsreels shown to guests before boarding the attraction. Guests take their adventure aboard vehicles that resemble World War II transports (with 3 rows of seats) which run on a single track. The ride system was invented especially for Forbidden Eye. In addition to sound effects and dialogue, an orchestral soundtrack plays through speakers built in to the vehicles (containing a medley of John Williams' "Indiana" scores).

Click HERE for more March 03 Disney history.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mar 02: Florida Sun Meets Alpine Snow

On this day in 2003, Disney's Blizzard Beach opened for the season. A 66-acre water park located in Disney World, Blizzard Beach originally debuted April 1 , 1995.
The "melted ski" resort features an artificial hill called Mount Gushmore where most of the attractions are located. All water areas are heated to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (with the exception of the melting snow in the ice cave of Cross Country Creek).
The park's attractions are located in areas called Green Slope, Purple Slope, Red Slope, and the ground level area.
The Green Slope attractions (all single track water slides and located at the uppermost point of Mount Gushmore) include Summit Plummet, Teamboat Springs, and Slush Gusher.
The Purple Slope attractions (all of which have at least two nearly identical tracks) features Downhill Double Dipper, Snow Stormers, and Toboggan Racers.
The Red Slope (located at the very rear of the park) features a 600-foot inner tube run called Runoff Rapids.
The ground level area hosts Meltaway Bay, the Cross Country Creek, Ski Patrol, Tike's Peak, The Chairlift, and food/beverage & merchandise.
Blizzard Beach's park hours and schedule varies depending on the time of the year (and closes for maintenance during the winter).

Click HERE for more March 02 Disney history.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mar 01: Grammy Night For Aladdin

On this day in 1994, the song "A Whole New World" (from Disney's animated Aladdin) was awarded three times at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards. Held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the evening was hosted by Gary Shandling.
Song of the Year went to songwriters Alan Menken and Tim Rice. "A Whole New World" went up against Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," Jim Steinman's "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," Sting's "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You," and Billy Joel's "The River Of Dreams."
"A Whole New World" sung by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle won for Best Pop Performance By A Duo or Group with Vocal. Their competition included Celine Dion & Clive Griffin ("When I Fall in Love"), R.E.M. ("Man On The Moon"), Barbara Streisand & Michael Crawford ("The Music Of The Night"), and Vanessa Williams & Brian McKnight ("Love Is").
Menken and Rice's tune was also awarded for Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media. Also nominated in this category was "Friend Like Me" (by Menken & Howard Ashman), "I Don't Wanna Fight" (by Steve DuBerry, Lulu Lawrie & Bill Lawrie), "I Have Nothing" (by David Foster & Linda Thompson), and "Run To You" (by Allan Rich & Jud Friedman).
"A Whole New World" is a ballad between the characters Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. The single Grammy-winning version as performed by Bryson and Belle can be heard over Aladdin's ending credits. The version heard during the film is performed by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga (the singing voices of Aladdin and Jasmine).
Prior to the Grammy Awards, "A Whole New World" had already won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award each for Best Original Song.

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