Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25: Merry Christmas

December 25 is chock-filled with Disney history ... just click HERE!
Thanks for visiting all year long Disney fans ... Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23: A Film Of Many Firsts

On this day in 1954, Disney released the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The first science fiction film ever produced by Walt Disney Pictures and the first Disney film to be shot in CinemaScope, it was based on the classic novel (of the same name) by Jules Verne.
20,000 Leagues was also the first feature length Disney film to be distributed by Buena Vista Distribution (at the time a recent addition to Disney - as prior to 1953 Disney's productions had been distributed through Columbia Pictures, United Artists, and RKO Radio Pictures).
20,000 Leagues was also the first live-action Disney film not to have any animated sequences and the very first Disney film to feature multiple Hollywood stars.
Kirk Douglas (already a box office heavy-weight) played Ned Land a master harpooner. Captain Nemo was played by James Mason, a British actor who had first become immensely popular in the 1940s. The part of Professor Pierre Aronnax was played by Paul Lukas, a successful stage and film actor. Peter Lorre (best known for his roles in Arsenic and Old Lace and Casablanca) portrayed Conseil - the professor's assistant.
The film received positive reactions (becoming an instant Disney classic) and was highly praised for the performances of its leading actors. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea went on to win two Academy Awards - one for Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration and a second for Special Effects.

Dive on down to December 23 for more Disney history.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20: Tigger's Film Debut

On this day in 1968, Disney released Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day - the studio's second Pooh short. Blustery Day marked the film debut of a character named Tigger ... that's T-I-double-guh-err!
First introduced in Chapter II of A. A. Milne's book "The House at Pooh Corner," the bouncing tiger-like character was first voiced in the Disney film by Paul Winchell. Tigger's bouncy personality in the Disney cartoons is much like his personality in Milne's books - he is confident, has a high opinion of himself ... and most notably mispronounces words!
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day also debuted Tigger's favorite song "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers" (written by the Sherman Brothers).

Bounce on over to December 20 for more Disney history.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 05: The Ultimate Day in Disney History

On this day in 1901, Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois.
Click HERE for more birthday history.

Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30: Birth of a Literary Icon

On this day in 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens better known as author & humorist Mark Twain was born in Florida, Missouri (a village in Monroe County). Noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain was immensely popular in his lifetime and admired by many ... including Walt Disney. Learn more about Twain's role in Disney history .... HERE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25: Box Office Hits

On this day in 2008, Walt Disney Records released "Box Office Hits," a collection of the best songs from Disney's biggest movies.

Tracks include:
1. "Ever, Ever After" sung by Carrie Underwood and written by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken for
2. "Down to Earth" sung, written (along with Thomas Newman) & produced by Peter Gabriel from the soundtrack for WALL-E
3. "Real Gone" performed and written (along with John Shanks) by Sheryl Crow for the 2006
4. "Little Wonders" written & sung by Rob Thomas and produced by Danny Elfman for
Meet the Robinsons
5. "This Home" written & recorded by the band Switchfoot and originally featured on the soundtrack for the 2008
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
6. "Breakaway" sung by Kelly Clarkson and written by Avril Lavigne, Bridget Benenate & Matthew Gerard for
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
7. "Can't Take It In" sung by Imogen Heap and used during the closing credits of
The Chronicles of Narnia
8. "I Thought I lost You" performed by Miley Cyrus and John Travolta from the animated
9. "Our Town" performed by James Taylor and written by Randy Newman for
10. "All I Know" performed by Five For Fighting (the stage named of singer-songwriter John Ondrasik) from
Chicken Little
11. "The Call" by singer-songwriter & pianist Regina Spektor and written especially for
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
12. "Where Is Your Heart At?" sung by singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum - but composed by Rufus Wainwright - for
Meet the Robinsons
13. "Le Festin" performed by French singer Camille for
14. "Jack's Suite" by Hans Zimmer and Paul Oakenfold for
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
15. "UNKLE Reconstruction" by the British music outfit UNKLE for
The Incredibles

Give a click HERE for much more November 25 Disney history.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 19: Mister Ed's Buddy

On this day in 1919, character actor Alan Young was born in Northern England. Fans of the CBS 1960s sitcom Mister Ed would probably be surprised to know that Young's convincing "American accent" is not his own! (Young played the eccentric and clumsy Wilbur Post who owned a talking horse named Ed.) But "doing voices" is a natural for this Emmy Award-winning actor whose career first started in radio back in the early 1940s. What is Young's connection to Disney? You've heard his most popular Disney character dozens of times ... click HERE to reveal the answer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18: Mickey Turns 81

November 18 is considered Mickey Mouse's birthday. Why November 18? Why 81 years of age? By now you know to ... click HERE!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17: Nixon at the Contemporary

President Richard Nixon during his early years as a politician had been a big fan of Disneyland. He and his family first visited the Anaheim park back in August 1955. As vice president, he was on hand in June 1959 for the festivities surrounding the debut of Disneyland's monorail. In 1968, he and his family once again returned for a happy visit.
As president, he presented Lilian Disney (Walt's wife) with a commemorative medal for her husband back in 1969.
But on this day in 1973, President Nixon's reason for visiting Walt Disney World was strictly business. His presence at the Contemporary Resort on November 17 can even be thought of as historical.
Click HERE to learn more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16: Mary On Broadway

On this day in 2006 Mary Poppins, a Disney Theatrical/Cameron Mackintosh musical production of the classic film, had its official opening night at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Already a hit in London, the Broadway version had been in previews since October 14.
Click HERE for more November 16 Disney history.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14: Animated Shorts

Click HERE for
November 14
Disney History!

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13: Premiere Day

On this day in 1940, Disney's animated feature Fantasia premiered in New York City. But November 13 is also noted for a handful of other famous Disney debuts:
In 1991 Beauty and the Beast premiered in U.S. theaters.
Disney's musical stage version of The Lion King officially debuted on Broadway in 1997.
In 1999 Disney-Pixar's Toy Story 2 had a grand premiere in Hollywood.
The following year in 2000 the live-action 102 Dalmatians debuted at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Click HERE for more November 13 Disney history.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12: Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah!

On this day in 1946, Disney's Song of the South was first released. Based on the Uncle Remus stories by author Joel Chandler Harris, the mostly live-action film also features 25 minutes of animation. Set in the Deep South shortly after the American Civil War, the live actors provide a frame story in which Uncle Remus relates the folk tales of the animated Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and their animal friends.
Never released in its entirety on home video in the U.S., some believe its content could be interpreted as racially insensitive. (For that matter - maybe Hollywood should re-think the Godfather and hundreds of other films that unfairly portray Italians and Italian-Americans as nothing more than gangsters.)
Stay positive Disney fans ... maybe Song of the South will see the light of a DVD day, until then have a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah day (and click HERE for more November 12 Disney history).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11: An Enchanted Yuletide

On this day in 1997, Beauty and The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was released direct-to-video (which meant VHS tape back in the pre-DVD days). Sometimes referred to as a midquel (a sequel which can take place during a chronology gap within a single previously completed work) this video takes place within the time line of the original Beauty and the Beast, but it centers around the previous Christmas festivities!
Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara) prepares the castle for Christmas against Beast's (Robby Benson) wishes, trying to bring him happiness for the season. Many of the original voice cast returned for The Enchanted Christmas, including Jerry Orbach (as Lumiere), Angela Lansbury (as Mrs. Potts), and Paul Reubens (as Fife).
Directed by Andy Knight, Beauty and The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas won two WAC Awards (given by World Animation Celebration) and was nominated for a Saturn Award and multiple Annie Awards.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10: A "Looney" Composer

On this day in 1891, "the most famous unknown composer of the 20th century" was born in Lexington, Missouri. If you are a fan of Disney's early shorts or Warner Brothers' Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies ... you have certainly heard his musical magic. An innovator, he was the first music director to extensively use the metronome to time film scores (a common practice today).
Although he only worked for Disney for 2 years (1928-1930), his contributions - especially to Disney's Silly Symphonies - are an important chapter in the history of the House of Mouse.
Click HERE to discover more about "the most famous unknown composer of the 20th century."

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 09: What A Character!

On this day in 1886, character actor Ed Wynn was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With his tousled hair, rubbery face, giggly voice, and kind demeanor, he was more a clown than a traditional comedian. A star first in vaudeville, he eventually became known for his film and television appearances (including his own TV series "The Ed Wynn Show"). Although known for his humorous role of the "Perfect Fool," Wynn actually had a career as a dramatic actor as well. He appeared in the classic broadcast of Rod Serling's play Playhouse 90: Requiem for a Heavyweight in 1956 (along with his son Keenan) and a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone.
Most Disney fans are well aware of his contributions to Disney films ... but if you aren't quite sure - CLICK HERE.
"I'll be back in a flash with more trash." -Wynn's famous exit line

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 08: Who Was She?

On this day back in 1872, the actress who supplies the voice for the Wicked Queen in Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (and the Queen's alter ego who gave Snow White the poisoned apple) was born Tennessee. An accomplished stage and screen actress, she is best known for her performances in the feature films A Tale of Two Cities and Little Caesar. Among her hits on Broadway - Uncle Tom's Cabin, Seven Days, and Way Down East.
Who was this leading lady? Click HERE to find out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 06: "Never Fear, Smith Is Here"

On this day in 1914, stage & character actor Jonathan Harris was born in New York City. Among his best known roles ... the comic villain Doctor Zachary Smith on the 1960s sci-fi TV series Lost in Space.
A popular character actor for over 30 years, Harris made appearances on such shows as The Twilight Zone, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett, Get Smart, and Fantasy Island. But it was his role as the cowardly Dr. Smith on Lost in Space that most will remember him for. Often providing comic relief, his banter with the Robot resulted in such quips as "Farewell my platinum-plated-pal. Give my regards to oblivion!" and "Unhand me, you mechanical moron!"
(The cast of Lost in Space included actor Guy Williams - Disney's Zorro - as Doctor John Robinson and Billy Mumy - star of Disney's 1969 movie Rascal - as 9-year-old Will Robinson.)
What is Disney's link to Jonathan Harris? Click THIS LINK to read more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 05: A Bit Of Martha's Vineyard In Florida

On this day in 1990, Disney's Yacht Club Resort opened at Walt Disney World. A New England nautical-themed resort, it is located next to its sister resort, Disney's Beach Club Resort, and across Crescent Lake from Disney's BoardWalk Resort.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 04: This Time The Sky Really Is Falling!

On this day in 2005, Disney's animated Chicken Little opened in theaters. Disney's first fully computer animated film (as Pixar's films at that time were distributed but not produced by Disney, and the 2000 Dinosaur was a combination of live-action & computer animation) Chicken Little was written by Mark Dindal (who also directed) and Mark Kennedy with the screenplay by Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman, and Ron Anderson. In its opening weekend, Chicken Little debuted at number one, the first Disney animated film to do so since Tarzan in 1999.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31: Birth of an "Old Man"

On this day in 1912, one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" (a group of influential animators who were responsible for the studio's most famous works) was born in California. Later named a Disney Legend, this gentleman's work ranged from the 1937 Snow White to the 1977 The Rescuers. An author and train enthusiast, he was also the last of the nine to pass away (in 2008).
Follow this LINK to discover the name of this National Medal of Arts winner.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30: Disney's Halloween Fright Night

On this day in 1977, comedy great Jonathan Winters (the madcap master of make believe) turned into a pumpkin!
Follow this LINK to learn more!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29: Makeover in Anaheim

On this day in 1998, Disney and a certain energy company announced a partnership to makeover one of Disneyland's beloved original attractions.
Click HERE to find out more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oct 28: Haunted Mansion's Newest Resident?

On this day in 2004, a new tombstone was added to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion "cemetery."
Who was it for? An Imagineer ... or a Cast Member ... or a grim grinning ghost?
Neither ... click HERE to find out!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 17: The End Of The Innocence

On this day in 1965, the 1964-65 New York World's Fair came to an end. Running for two seasons (starting in April 1964), the fair included 4 attractions created by Disney: Progressland, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, It's A Small World, and the Magic Skyway.
Learn all about Disney's contributions HERE and then head over to discover more October 17 Disney history.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16: D23 Day

On this day in 1923, the Disney Brothers Studio was founded by Walt and Roy Disney in California. Why this date? They signed a contract on October 16 with a cartoon distributor for a new series of animated/live-action shorts called Alice Comedies.
Prior to this Walt had tinkered with animation but lack of any steady work in Hollywood had prevented him from starting his own studio. But now that a New York cartoon distributor named M. J. Winkler was interested in their idea of mixing a live-action girl in a cartoon world - the time was right to begin what today is called The Walt Disney Studios.
The Disney Brothers Studio was located in the rear of a small store at 4651 Kingswell Avenue (a few blocks from their Uncle Robert's home - where Walt had first lived upon arriving in California.)
Rent for the office space was ten dollars a month.

Click HERE for more October 16 Disney History.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15: LIFE Looks At Disney World

On this day in 1971, LIFE magazine told readers:
"The new site is Florida, but the air is pure old Disney."

Click HERE for more October 15 Disney History.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 09: We Choose To Go!

On this day in 2003, Epcot's Mission: SPACE attraction had an official grand opening.

Click HERE for more Mission: SPACE and October 09 Disney History.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 05: Vacancy Available

On this day in 1955, the Disneyland Hotel first opened in Anaheim, California.
When Disneyland debuted in July 1955, the park was in a remote area not near any motels or hotels. Walt Disney wanted to build an inn for Disneyland visitors, but his finances had been depleted by the construction of the theme park. So he negotiated a deal with Jack Wrather (a Texas oil millionaire) and his business partner Maria Helen Alvarez to own and operate a hotel across from Disneyland.
For the next 3 years, Wrather-Alvarez Productions ran the Disneyland Hotel. (In 1958 Wrather bought Alvarez out ... making him the sole owner until his death in 1984.) The original hotel consisted of just over 100 rooms in 5 two-story complexes, but over the years the hotel was expanded to include 3 guest room towers, restaurants, and other modern conveniences.
Today Disney owns the Disneyland Hotel, but none of the original 1955 portions of the building remain.

Click HERE for more October 05 Disney History.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 04: Walt Disney World Winners

On this day in 2006, the Spangler family from Randolph, Ohio became the first big winners of Disney's "Year of a Million Dreams" celebration.
One of 50,000 online entrants, Tammy and Raymond Spangler along with their children Derrick and Ashley, were rewarded with a morning at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World ... all to themselves. On this Wednesday morning, the family walked hand-in-hand on a red carpet down a very quiet Main Street. Halfway to the Cinderella Castle they were suddenly surrounded by some 1500 Disney characters (including mice, maids, baseball players and princesses)!
For the next few hours the Spanglers rode Space Mountain, Dumbo, Jungle Cruise, and other attractions with no wait time. (The Magic Kingdom opened on this day at 10 a.m. to the general public.)

Click HERE for more October 4 Disney History.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 03: Off To Never Land

On this day in 1971, the Walt Disney World attraction Peter Pan's Flight opened in Fantasyland. Only the third day of business for the young Magic Kingdom, Peter Pan's Flight is based on the animated 1953 feature and the original Disneyland version.
Guests "fly" over London seated in pirate galleons while experiencing the sights and sounds of Peter Pan.
One of the major differences with the Florida version is the load/unload area which features moving ramps (like the Haunted Mansion) to allow for a smooth flow of guests. Although the Disneyland version was updated in the early 1980s, the WDW version was the first to have Audio-Animatronic characters.
Today the attraction is considered low-tech, but it is still one of the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions ... which is amazing considering it hasn't changed since opening!

Click HERE for more October 03 Disney History.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Holiday

Today in Disney History will be on a short break.
Be back the first week of October.
Meanwhile get your daily dose of Disney history at This Day in Disney History.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23: A Tailor Named Mickey

On this day in 1938, The Brave Little Tailor (a Mickey Mouse short produced in Technicolor) was released. Based upon the Grimm fairytale "The Valiant Little Tailor," it featured the work of animators Fred Moore, Bill Tytla, Les Clark, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston.
When a giant threatens a medieval European kingdom, its king mistakes tailor Mickey's (voiced by Walt Disney) boasting of killing seven flies with one blow ... to be giants! An embarrassed Mickey must fight the giant for real.
The Brave Little Tailor was the second to last Mickey Mouse cartoon to feature his original design. For his future appearances, Fred Moore would draw Mickey with smaller eyes that had pupils.
The short was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject Cartoon ... but ironically lost to Disney's own Ferdinand the Bull.

Click HERE for more September 23 Disney history.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18: Mary's Official Debut

On this day in 2004, Cameron Mackintosh's stage production of Mary Poppins officially opened for a limited run at the Bristol Hippodrome in Bristol, England. Already in previews since September 15, the musical continued until November 6 when it moved to the Prince Edward Theatre in London the following December.
The show's origin can be traced back to 1993 when Cameron Mackintosh (a theatrical producer known for Cats and Phantom of the Opera) acquired the rights to develop a stage play adaptation of Pamela Travers' book Mary Poppins. It actually took a year for the ninety-plus-year-old Travers to give Mackintosh the green light. It would take another 8 years before Disney opened talks with Mackintosh on a possible collaboration. In this way, the stage production could use the familiar music (written by the Sherman Brothers) from the Disney film version. By 2003, a workshop of the show was already in the works with new music written by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe, as well as the Sherman Brothers' old favorites.
When Mary Poppins had its world premiere on this day in 2004, the cast included Laura Michelle Kelly as Mary and Gavin Lee as Bert. Following the success of the West End production (at the Prince Edward Theatre), a Broadway production debuted on November 26, 2006 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Broadway favorite Ashley Brown (known to Disney fans for her performance in On the Record and Beauty and the Beast) was brought in to play Mary and Gavin Lee revived his role as Bert.
Although the London production closed two years later in 2008, Broadway's Mary Poppins continues its run in New York City.

Click HERE for more September 18 Disney history.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17: Constitution Day

On this day in 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia for the last time to sign a document - known as the Constitution - they had created earlier.
The first constitution of the 13 United States was called the Articles of Confederation, which was ratified in 1781. In September 1786, representatives from five states met to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation. It was later realized that rather than amend the existing articles, a new document called the Constitution should be written.
The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. It provides the framework for the organization of the U.S. Government and for the relationship of the Federal government to the States, to citizens, and to all people within the USA.
On September 17, 1787 the Constitution was completed. Among the 39 delegates who signed the document ... George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.
The next time you find yourself in Walt Disney World's Liberty Square looking at The Hall of Presidents building ... you'll know why the number 1787 appears over the entrance.

Click HERE for more September 17 Disney history.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16: An End & A New Beginning

On this day in 1963, one musical career ended while another just began. Composer/conductor Oliver Wallace passed away at the age of 76 in Los Angeles, the same day singer-songwriter Richard Marx was born outside of Chicago.
Oliver George Wallace was a British born musician best known for his film music
compositions - which included features by Walt Disney. First joining the Disney Studio in 1936, Wallace quickly became an important part of the animated shorts. Out of the 100 Disney shorts he wrote music for, his most memorable was the song "Der Fuehrer's Face" for the 1943 Donald Duck cartoon Der Fuehrer's Face (originally titled Donald Duck in Nutzi Land). An anti-Nazi propaganda film for the American War effort, it later won an Academy Award. But before the film's release, Spike Jones and His City Slickers (famously known for their parodies of popular songs) released a version of Wallace's tune. It was such a big hit, that Disney changed the short's title from Donald Duck in Nutzi Land to match the song!
Other shorts that Wallace scored included Ben and Me, Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, and The Autograph Hound. In 1949, he composed the music for The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Wallace even voiced the character of the evil Mr Winkie in "The Wind in the Willows" segment of the feature.
Wallace also scored full-length animted features such as Dumbo, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. He and fellow-composer Frank Churchill both won Oscars in 1942 for their work on Dumbo.
Wallace's credits weren't limited to just animated films as he also scored many of Disney's live-action features. His credits included Darby O'Gill and the Little People, Seal Island, Old Yeller, Tonka, and Big Red.
Overall Wallace contributed to about 150 Disney productions!
Richard Marx was born on this day in 1963 in Illinois to Ruth (a singer) & Dick Marx (a jazz musician and successful jingle writer). At the age of 5 Marx was already
singing on some of his dad's commercial spots!
Most music fans know Marx as an adult contemporary and pop/rock singer songwriter and record producer. He first came to be known through a string of hit singles during the 1980s and 1990s. His self-titled debut album in 1987, yielded 4 hit singles alone and sold nearly 4 million copies in the U.S.
What's his Disney connection? He wrote and produced "Remember When?" - the song used to celebrate Disneyland's 50th anniversary. Recorded by LeAnn Rimes, the song was also part of "Remember ... Dreams Come True" fireworks spectacular (held throughout the 18-month anniversary at Disneyland). The song was also included on "The Official Album of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary" and was used within a number of marketing vehicles (such as TV ads).
In 2006, another of his tunes "Through Your Eyes" appeared on the soundtrack release for Disney's Bambi II (a direct-to-video release). Martina McBride supplied the vocals.
Marx's connection with Disney doesn't stop there ... in 2009 he will perform at Epcot as part of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Click HERE for more September 16 Disney history.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15: Hey Floyd!

In the early hours of this day in 1999, the parks at Walt Disney World still remained closed (from the prior afternoon) due to the threat of Hurricane Floyd.
Floyd had clobbered the Bahamas - including Disney's Castaway Cay - the day before (September 14). So powerful was the storm, that Disney sent its cruise ships to Cozumel instead of its private island. Meanwhile in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, residents braced for the worst and on the afternoon of the 14th WDW closed its doors at 2:00 PM. (The first time WDW ever closed its theme parks due to a storm.)
On the 15th of September, only essential Disney employees were asked to report and guests who were staying at Disney's campgrounds were moved to the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center.
Floyd was the sixth named storm, fourth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 1999 Atlantic season. It hit the Bahamas at peak strength and then headed to the East Coast of the United States. The storm weakened significantly for Central Florida residents, allowing WDW to open just Animal Kingdom at noon (for resort guests only) later on this day in 1999.
For the next 3 days though other U.S. states were not so lucky ... as Floyd caused great damage from the eastern Carolinas all the way up north to New Jersey.

Click HERE for more September 15 Disney history.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14: Mickey's Revue

On this day in 1980, the Mickey Mouse Revue closed at the Fantasyland Theater in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
An indoor audio-animatronic show, it had first opened with the park back in October 1971. The attraction featured a concert orchestra led by conductor Mickey Mouse. He was surrounded by over 70 characters on stage including Minnie Mouse (playing violin), Goofy (on bass viola), Pluto (striking a cymbal) , Winnie the Pooh (on a kazoo), and Baloo (playing a flute). Songs included "When You Wish Upon A Star, " "So This Is Love," and "Whistle While You Work."
One of the initial attractions conceived by WED Enterprises (today known as Disney Imagineering), the Mickey Mouse Revue was also the first major attraction to leave WDW. The idea for the show actually started with Walt Disney himself years before construction on WDW even started.
The Mickey Mouse Revue was dismantled and shipped to Tokyo Disneyland, where it began running in 1983.

Click HERE for more September 14 Disney history.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 06: Creator of Bambi

On this day in 1869, Austrian writer Felix Salten was born Siegmund Salzmann in Budapest, Hungary. Disney fans may not recognize his name, but they surely know some of his most famous characters and stories.
Salten's career as a writer actually started when he wrote poems and short stories to relieve the boredom of his job as an insurance agent. His stories began to appear in newspapers and he soon found himself working full-time as a journalist. In 1900 he published his first collection of short stories - which later led to novels, essays, and travel books.
Salten's most famous work Bambi was published in 1926. The idea for the story came to him while vacationing in the Alps. He was charmed by the wildlife and based the name Bambi on the Italian word "bambino" - meaning baby. First published by the Zsolnay publishing company in Vienna, the original title was Bambi, ein Leben im Walde or Bambi, a Life in the Woods. In 1933, Salten sold the film rights to director Sidney Franklin who later transferred the rights to the Walt Disney Studios. Bambi, Disney's 5th animated feature, was released in August 1942. Salten saw the film himself for the first time at the European premiere in Zurich's Rex Movie Theater.
Among Salten's many stories were also Perri and The Hound of Florence. Disney released Perri as a True Life Fantasy in 1957. The film follows the life of a female squirrel named Perri who lives in a forest filled with danger. When she isn't fleeing her natural enemies, she finds time to fall in love. Directed by Paul Kenworhty and Ralph Wright (later the voice of Eeyore), it was nominated for an Oscar.
First published in 1930, Salten's The Hound of Florence became the inspiration for Disney's 1959 live-action comedy The Shaggy Dog. One of the top movies of that year, it told the story of a teenage boy who is transformed into a a sheep dog. The success of the film led to a sequel in 1976 called The Shaggy D.A. (The Shaggy Dog was also remade in 2006.)
Salten passed away at the age of 76 in 1945.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 01: The Burroughs-Disney Connection

On this day in 1875, writer Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for the 24 novels he wrote about his fictional character Tarzan - who was raised in the African jungle by apes.
Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes in 1914. Four years later Tarzan was made into a live-action film (the first of over 80 through the year 2008). Burroughs wrote another 23 sequels making Tarzan one of the best-known literary characters in the world. But he always wanted his jungle creation to star in an animated feature. Burroughs went as far as writing Walt Disney about it after the success of Snow White.
Forty-nine years after the death of Burroughs, Walt Disney Feature Animation released Tarzan, the only animated version of the character ever made. Featuring music from Phil Collins, the film was such a huge hit that it was made into a live stage musical. Although a Broadway production of Tarzan of the Apes had been staged back in 1921, Disney's musical version opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2006. In attendance at the grand debut on May 10, 2006 was Danton Burroughs - grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs!
Tarzan also appeared in the Tarzan Rocks! show which played at the Theatre in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom during the popularity of the animated film.
Tarzan of the Apes was also originally adapted into a newspaper strip in early 1929. His popularity led to appearances in many comic books over the years. In June 1977 Marvel Comics even published the first of what would be 28 issues about Tarzan.
But Tarzan isn't the only connection that Edgar Rice Burroughs has to Disney. Burroughs was also a pioneer of modern science fiction. He wrote about the world of Barsoom - a fictional representation of the planet Mars. Burroughs penned over 95 swashbuckling action adventures in various genres. The first novel A Princess of Mars in 1917 led to countless sequels over the next 3 decades. Burroughs frequently made up words for the language spoken by the characters in these science fiction stories. (The word "Barsoom" is the native Martian word for Mars.) He even compiled a glossary of these terms ... which leads us to Walt Disney. In 1957, Disney created an animated version of Burroughs' Martian Dictionary for the "Mars and Beyond" television episode!

Click HERE for more September 01 Disney History.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30: Birth of Disney Legend #1

On this day in 1908, actor Fred MacMurray was born Frederick Martin MacMurray in Kankakee, Illinois (although he was raised in Wisconsin).
Widely known for his television role of Steve Douglas on the long-running sitcom My Three Sons, Disney fans know MacMurray for the 7 feature films he starred in between 1959 and 1973. Although he began appearing on Broadway and in films back in the 1930s, his career received a boost when he was cast as the father in the 1959 Disney comedy The Shaggy Dog.
MacMurray was honored for his Disney work on October 13, 1987 when he was inducted as the very first Disney Legend.
Learn more about MacMurray and his Disney contributions HERE.

For more August 30 Disney History, please click HERE.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August 28: Introducing Lucky

On this day in 2003 - Lucky the Dinosaur, the first Audio-Animatronic figure to walk freely and interact with park guests, debuted as a test in Disney's California Adventure.
Approximately 8 feet tall, Lucky was a green biped dinosaur who pulled a flower-covered cart and was led by Chandler the Dinosaur Handler (a fellow dressed as a wizard). The dinosaur was the very first free-roving creation dreamed up by Disney's Imagineers. The flower cart Lucky pulled actually concealed a computer and power source. Lucky was capable of moving, vocalizing (in Dinosaur language), and responding to guests! Imagineers went as far as adding thumping sounds that were in sync with Lucky's feet to simulate what a heavy dinosaur may have sounded like when moving.
In Summer 2005, Lucky made appearances at Disney's Animal Kingdom (in DinoLand USA of course). He was then moved to Hong Kong Disneyland for the park's grand opening.
Lucky wouldn't be spotted again until the D23 Expo in 2009 - but his technology enabled another free-roving attraction - Muppet Mobile Lab to wow park guests at various Disney theme parks around the world.
Advances in computers, software, miniaturization, and electronics have enabled Disney Imagineers to create some amazing things. What will the future hold?

Click HERE for more August 28 Disney history.

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 24: I Wanna Be Like You

Entertainer, singer, actor, songwriter, and trumpeter Louis Prima passed away on this day in 1978.
Disney fans will recognize his distinctive voice as the raucous orangutan King Louie in the 1967 animated classic The Jungle Book. In the film Prima's character sang the memorable "I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" written by Robert and Richard Sherman. It was actually Disney record producer Tutti Camarata who convinced Prima to take part in the animated film. ("I Wanna Be Like You" has been re-recorded countless times by such artists as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Smash Mouth, and the Jonas Brothers.)
Born into a musical family in New Orleans, Prima started playing professionally in his late teens. His trumpet and singing style was directly influenced by growing up in New Orleans - a city oozing with musical diversity. Like jazz great Louis Armstrong (also a New Orleans singing trumpet player) Prima developed a distinct scat singing style.
Throughout his professional life, he rode the musical trends of his time. Prima started out with a New Orleans jazz band in the 1920s, then led a swing combo in the 1930s, a big band in the 1940s, a hip Vegas act in the 1950s, and a pop rock band in the 1960s. As a songwriter, Prima's 1936 composition "Sing, Sing, Sing" became one of the biggest hits of the swing era (first made famous by Benny Goodman).
Prima is probably best remembered for his 1950s Vegas act with singer Keely Smith (his fourth wife), saxophonist Sam Butera and his band The Witnesses. A mix of humor and swing/blues/boogie-woogie music, Smith and Prima were the model for Sonny & Cher - a wise-cracking Italian musician and an exotic serious singer. Throughout the 1950s they tirelessly performed to sold-out audiences at The Sahara in Las Vegas and released a string of record albums. Prima and Smith even won a Grammy in 1959 for their single "That Old Black Magic."
Prima's legacy continues today as his influence can be heard in recordings by Brian Setzer (who recorded a version of Prima's "Jump Jive and Wail") and David Lee Roth (who had a huge hit with a version of "Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody"). Many of his old recordings have been used on television (The Sopranos and Gilmore Girls) and in feature films (Mission Impossible III and Elf).
Sadly in 1973, Louis Prima suffered a mild heart attack. Two years later he complained of headaches and had bouts of memory loss. Unfortunately it was discovered that he had a stem brain tumor. Following surgery (to remove the tumor) he went into a coma and never recovered. He spent the last few years of his life in a New Orleans nursing home until his death at the age of 67 on this day in 1978.
He is buried in Metaire Cemetery in his hometown. Prima's gray marble crypt features a figure of the angel Gabriel playing a trumpet. The inscription on the crypt's door quotes the lyrics from one of his biggest hit songs:
"When the end comes I know, they'll say just a gigolo, and life goes on without me."

Click HERE for more August 24 Disney history.

Friday, August 21, 2009

August 21: "Silly Old Bear"

On this day in 1920, Christopher Robin Milne was born to Dorothy and Alan Alexander Milne at 11 Mallord Street in Chelsea, London, England.
Just a year later Christopher was given a teddy bear (which he called Edward) for his first birthday. The stuffed animal, along with a real bear named "Winnie" from the London Zoo, became the inspiration for the character of Winnie-the-Pooh. Christopher's father Alan, was a noted writer and playwright long before he dreamed up Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

Click HERE for more August 21 Disney History.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20: Annual Tribute To Winnie

On this day in 2004, Winnie's Hometown Festival kicked off for 3 days in White River, Ontario, Canada. An annual event (held every third week in August) since 1988, the festival celebrates the real bear who was the inspiration for A. A. Milne's lovable character Winnie the Pooh.
On August 24, 1914 (during World War I) troops from Winnipeg were being transported to eastern Canada when the train made a stop in White River. Aboard the train was a lieutenant named Harry Colebourn who, during the stop in White River, purchased a small female black bear cub for $20. It wasn't uncommon for soldiers to purchase mascots and Colebourn (also a veterinarian) felt sorry for the little bear as its mother had been killed by a hunter. Colebourn named the bear Winnie - after his hometown of Winnipeg.
Winnie became the mascot of the 34th Fort Gary Horse of Winnipeg, Canadian Infantry Brigade and traveled to Britain with the soldiers. When Colebourn was ordered to go to the battlefields of France, he took Winnie to live at the London Zoo. While living at the zoo, Winnie became very popular .... especially with a young boy named Christopher Robin - the son of A. A. Milne. Milne went on to write a series of stories about Winnie the Pooh, Chrisopher Robin, and all their friiends in the 100-Acre-Wood. (Winnie passed away at the zoo at the ripe old age of 20 in 1934.)
Winnie's Hometown Festival (organized by the White River Historical Society and the community of White River) features a different theme every year. Themes have included "Winnie Looks to the Future," "Winnie Goes to Vegas," and "Winnie's Four Seasons."
The theme for 2004 - which kicked off on this day - was "Winnie Goes Hawaiian."

Click HERE for more August 20 Disney history.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19: Walt's Passport

On this day in 1965, Walt Disney was issued a U.S. passport (for an upcoming trip to London, England).

At one time up for sale on ebay, the passport was eventually sold in April 2007 for $28,680.

Click HERE for more August 19 Disney History.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17: The Voice of Stromboli

On this day in 1882 stage & screen actor Charles Judels was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. A film actor who appeared in over 130 films, Judels is best known to Disney fans as the voice of Stromboli and the Coachman in the 1940 animated feature Pinocchio. His expertise with dialects served him well during his 50-plus year career and certainly gave the character of Stromboli the puppeteer a villainous quality. Despite his limited screen time, Stromboli is often cited as one of Disney's greatest villains!

Click HERE for more August 17 Disney History.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August 15: Influencing Walt

On this day in 1843, Tivoli Gardens one of the world's oldest and Europe's most famous amusement park and garden first opened in Copenhagen, Denmark.
From the very beginning, Tivoli included buildings in the exotic style of an imaginary Orient, a theater, band stands, restaurants, shops, flower gardens, mechanical amusement rides, fireworks, and a primitive scenic railway. Sound familiar?
Walt Disney visited Tivoli at least two times (first in 1951 and then in 1964) and was obviously greatly influenced and inspired by what it had to offer guests. Although Tivoli is much smaller than Disneyland (it's more of an urban park as it sits in the middle of Copenhagen) it has all the elements that later made Walt's parks successful.
Tivoli's popular rides range from the historic - a traditional wooden roller coaster that requires an operator to sit in the last car to break when the ride goes too fast, to modern extreme thrills - The Star Flyer, the world's tallest carousel.
Tivoli really shines at night when the park's 100,000 custom-made soft glow light bulbs and a million standard ones get turned on. (No neon lights at this old-world icon.)
Rumor has it that Michale Jackson loved the park so much that he once offered to buy it!
Charming, cozy, and thrilling at the same time, Tivoli is a unique and historical amusement park whose legacy inspired a Disney empire.