July 26, 1986 – The Disney Channel Premiere Film The Parent Trap II Airs
“No! Absolutely not! I don’t care whose father he is – I’m not about to be fixed up by my eleven-year-old daughter!”
On July 26, 1986, the Disney Channel premiered The Parent Trap II, the sequel to the 1961 hit film starring Hayley Mills. Mills reprised her roles of the twins Sharon and Susan; the film also starred Carrie Kei Heim as Nikki, Bridgette Andersen as Mary, and Tom Skerritt as Bill, and was directed by Ronald F. Maxwell. There’s a piece of Disney trivia hidden in the film: the name of Sharon’s boss is Mr. Walter Elias, which is Walt Disney’s first and middle name; Mr. Elias’ wife is named Lillian, which was the name of Disney’s wife.
Sharon Ferris has been offered a job in New York City, only her daughter Nikki doesn’t want to go. Sharon tells her daughter that the move will be fine, and sends her off to summer school. At school, Nikki meets a girl named Mary Grand, and the two become fast friends. The two find that they have one thing in common: they’re the children of single parents. Mary’s mother died when she was a young girl, and Nikki’s parents have gone through a divorce. As the two become best friends, they try to come up with a plan to get Nikki to stay. Mary gets the bright idea that the two should set their parents up, and Nikki readily agrees.
Nikki hits a snag when she first tells her mother about Mary’s father, Bill; Sharon is not ready to try dating since her divorce two years before. The girls then set up a plan, telling the other’s parent that their child is stuck in a tree, hoping that their parents will meet. The plan is a disaster, to say the least, but the girls are determined to try again, this time sending a bouquet to Sharon’s mother, pretending they’re from Bill with a card inviting her to dinner. They hit another snag, when Bill is heading out to a date, but the two share a friendly, if awkward, moment.
The two girls are ready to throw in the towel, when Nikki wonders aloud how her mother and aunt were able to get their parents back together when they were young. Nikki then gets the bright idea to bring her Aunt Susan to Tampa to help the two with their plan. Susan agrees to help, and the three set their plan in motion for Susan to pretend to be Sharon. Susan shows up at Bill’s regular haunt, and the two hit it off. The plan seems to work, until Sharon gets suspicious, and Susan gets second thoughts. Finally, Susan gives in for one more date, and Sharon figures out that Susan is in town.
The following night at the dinner the kids and Susan plan, Sharon intends to play a little prank on the scheming trio, calling up Susan’s husband and pretending he’s on a date with another woman, which is just Sharon dressed up in a disguise. The ruse being up, Susan, Sharon, and the two men go out to another restaurant and explain the entire thing. Sharon and Bill are left alone, and Sharon tries to let Bill down easy. He insists that they start fresh, but she is firm that they just stay friends.
The girls have one last idea that takes place at the farewell party for Sharon and Nikki on Sharon’s boss’s yacht. After changing the invitations to read an hour earlier than the party’s actual start time, Nikki and Mary trick their parents into being alone on the yacht before letting it loose and sending it out to sea. When Sharon steps out for air and the two realize what has happened, they finally succumb to the feelings they have and kiss. Soon after, the two are married, and Nikki and Mary rejoice in the fact that their plan worked, and Nikki won’t be going to New York after all.