When Disney CEO Bob Iger approached NBC Universal about making a deal to trade Oswald for a sports commentator, NBC figured it was a no-brainer. They’d never even heard about Oswald’s theft from Walt Disney back in 1927. Unfortunately for them, they never consulted Universal Studios Japan before deciding to make a deal. Oswald was a huge draw for them, selling millions of dollars of merchandise and entertaining thousands of guests every day. Oswald’s loss was huge. Tokyo DISNEYLAND was thrilled to get back such a huge character.
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DISNEYLAND guests fondly remember the Country Bear Playhouse, home of the Country Bear Jamboree and the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. Both shows were “hosted” by Henry, who also sang a few songs with the other bears and kept everyone (mostly) in line.
Who provided the voice for Henry? Peter Renaday, who might not have a familiar name but might have a familiar face. He played John Jacks on General Hospital.
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Guests entering Fantasyland until the 1980’s would see an exciting ship in the distance- the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship.
The amazing ship was permanently docked in place, offering a fun play area to explore on top and offering tuna fish sandwiches from a restaurant located below decks.
The ship had a sad end as part of the Fantasyland renovation of the early 1980’s. The park decided to remodel Fantasyland so that it reflected Walt’s original vision for the area and had less traffic congestion. The original plan was to move the ship to a lagoon that would be built near it’s a small world and move Dumbo in its place.
Unfortunately, project managers made a bad assumption- that the structure was a ship that had been permanently moored to the dock. Instead, it was a building with a foundation that had been built to resemble a ship. When an attempt was made to lift the boat with a crane, it became damaged and was unusable. The decision was made to open Fantasyland on time and build a new pirate ship in the future. As anyone who has visited DISNEYLAND in the last thirty years knows, however, those plans never came to fruition.
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When Walt Disney remodeled Tomorrowland in the late 1960’s, he wanted it to have more attractions than it had up to this time. For the first 10 years, Tomorrowland was mostly filled with exhibits, a few sponsored by Monsanto. In 1965, Mr. Disney convinced the company to put up more money to sponsor a major ride. Thus Adventure Thru Inner Space was born.
The story behind the attraction was that DISNEYLAND and Monsanto were running experiments and today, you can participate! (It was a simpler time when people actually trusted Monsanto to perform experiments on them.) Guests boarded omnimovers (the first use of such technology in the world) and would get shrunk down to a microscopic size so that they could view the world as a tiny microscopic cell.
An elaborate shrinking device greeted guests, making it look like they were going inside it. Tiny animatronic figures completed the effect. Inside the ride, guests viewed a single snowflake and other microscopic objects. There’s even a view of a giant eye that apparently is looking at you through a microscope. Eventually guests would be returned to their normal size and disembark, hopefully having learned something about science.
Eventually, the ride would fall out of favor with both Monsanto and guests. Monsanto realized that they didn’t really sell anything to the general public at the time and thus might not need to sponsor an attraction in DISNEYLAND. Monsanto’s reluctance to renew its sponsorship agreement meant that the attraction didn’t get the upgrades it needed to stay up to date, which soon affected ridership. The attraction eventually closed to make way for Star Tours.
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Holidayland is one of the rare cases of an entire land disappearing. Opened in the late 1950’s, Holidayland was meant to be a place that corporations and groups could rent out as a private place for their guests to enjoy while enjoying a day in the park.
A precursor to the picnic groves that regional theme parks would later setup for groups, the land was meant to be a private respite for guests to escape the crowds in the park.
Holidayland, however, proved to be short lived. Groups who rented Holidayland found that their members didn’t really make much use of the facilities. After all, why would anyone with a ticket to DISNEYLAND want to spend time in what was just a nice park? Holidayland would eventually make way for New Orleans Square and Critter Country.
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When DISNEYLAND first opened, the wild frontier of Frontierland was truly wild. The park featured a pack mule ride and real horse drawn stage coaches. Finicky mules and overturned stagecoaches filled with tourists soon made Walt Disney rethink that entire side of the park. How could he make a safer, more reliable Adventure through the Wild West? With a train, of course!
Guests piled into train cars and explored the wild frontier over bridges and through tunnels. Animatronic bears and other animals entertained guests alongside the tracks.
The slow moving train soon fell out of favor with park management. After the wild successes of both the Matterhorn and Space Mountain, another mountain-based roller coaster was seen as a no-brainer. Out went the tranquil railroad ride and in came the wildest ride in the wilderness- Big Thunder Mountain.
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On this special day, we are excited to announce that this is our 1500th post! Thank you for being our guest each day as we share our love of Disney with you. So what does the future hold for this site? As Mr. Disney himself said-
“I just want to leave you with this thought, that it’s just been sort of a dress rehearsal and we’re just getting started. So if any of you start resting on your laurels, I mean just forget it, because…we are just getting started.”
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On July 17, 1955, the world was finally introduced to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Nearly every television in existence at the time was tuned to DISNEYLAND’s opening celebration. Tens of thousands of people got to experience it in person.
The park was expecting much smaller crowds, but the tickets had been counterfeited, plus others who were given passes that allowed them to bring as many guests as they wanted brought much more guests along than expected. The park was overwhelmed with guests, running out of food and drink.
Even more interesting- since nothing like DISNEYLAND had ever existed, the crowds were a bit confused. How does one act inside this place? Do you have to ride everything from the map in order?
While the day was later viewed negatively by some, the majority of the people in attendance loved what they saw. They came back and brought friends and family, making new memories that would last a lifetime.
“Yesterday, a man walked up to me and said, ‘Isn’t it a shame that Walt Disney couldn’t be here to see this?’ and I said, ‘He did see this, that’s why it’s here.'”
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