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Monthly Archives: December 2013

December 24

December 24, 1971 – The Flight to the Moon Attraction Opens in Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland

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“Our Flight to the Moon takes place sometime in the future, when travel to outer space will be an everyday adventure.”

On December 24, 1971, the Tomorrowland attraction Flight to the Moon opened in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park. The attraction was based on the original Disneyland attraction, which opened in 1967. After men had already been to the moon, the attraction lost popularity due to it being dated, and was closed on April 15, 1975. The attraction was then replaced with Mission to Mars, which opened on June 7, 1975.

 

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December 23

December 23, 1998 – La Théâtre for Cirque du Soleil Opens in Downtown Disney

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“Be mesmerized by this extraordinary avant-garde spectacle as it makes the impossible, possible!”

On December 23, 1998, La Théâtre, the custom-built theater for Cirque du Soleil opened in west side of Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney area. This theater was built to showcase the La Nouba show, which is still being performed to this day. The outside of the theater was built to resemble a white circus tent; the inside of the theater has a mechanical stage with several movable parts, including platforms and movable glass cages. The show La Nouba (translated means “the party”) has more than 65 performers from 15 countries creating a dreamlike atmosphere for the audience.

 

December 22

December 22, 1995 – The Contemporary Resort Restaurant Chef Mickey’s Opens

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“Join some favorite Disney Friends for a fun-filled feast at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.”

On December 22, 1995, the restaurant Chef Mickey’s opened in Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort, replacing the Contemporary Café. The restaurant contains American cuisine at an indoor buffet, which features the famous Mickey waffles for breakfast, and a sundae bar at dinner where guests can customize their own ice cream sundae. Chef Mickey’s is also known for character dining, where guests can interact with the original Disney characters: Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy. Guests are also treated to a view of the monorail as travels to and from the Magic Kingdom. This restaurant is not to be confused with the restaurant of the same name that existed in Downtown Disney from July, 1990 to September, 1995.

 

December 21

December 21, 1992 – The Aladdin’s Royal Caravan Parade Begins at Walt Disney World’s Disney-MGM Studios

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“Prince Ali, fabulous he, Ali Ababwa, genuflect, show some respect, down on one knee!”

On December 21, 1992, the Aladdin’s Royal Caravan parade began its run at the Disney-MGM Studios park in Walt Disney World. Based on the hit Disney animated feature Aladdin, released November 25, 1992, the parade featured the song “Prince Ali,” sung by actor Robin Williams. One feature of the parade were the spitting camel floats, which had their heads turning side to side and shooting water at the crowds. These camels would eventually be a part of the Magic Carpets of Aladdin attraction in Adventureland of the Magic Kingdom. The parade lasted until August 27, 1995, and was replaced by Toy Story – The Parade.

December 20

December 20, 1924 – Imagineer, Artist, Actor, and Disney Legend Sam McKim is Born

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“Sam’s creations at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and other parks are many. Frontierland comes to mind as one of his major contributions. It was an honor to know Sam McKim, a man of very high character.” – Former Imagineer George McGinnis

On December 20, 1924, John Samuel McKim was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. While still young, his family moved from Canada to Seattle, Washington; they would eventually move to Los Angeles due to his father’s health issues. He and his four siblings were child actors in Hollywood, with Sam, at age 10, being the first to enter the entertainment business. He got a contract with Republic Picutres, working mostly in B-films and Westerns, appearing with such stars as Spencer Tracy and Gene Autry. McKim always had a talent for art, and in high school, he sent his drawings to the Walt Disney Studios. He was then offered a job in the traffic department as a foot in the door; instead of taking the job, he decided to apply for the United States Army with his brother David. Although the two were turned down due to the fact that they were not U.S. citizens, the two applied for citizenship the next year and successfully applied for the Army after that, effectively leaving acting behind. McKim served in the American Infantry Division in WWII, and attended the Art Center College of Design after the war was over. Directly after graduation, he was drafted into the Korean War, and attended the Chouinard Art Institute after returning from Korea.

In 1953, McKim took a job at 20th Century Fox creating story sketches for films. After a series of layoffs at Fox in 1954, McKim took a job at the Walt Disney Studios, using his art skills to create inspirational sketches for Walt Disney’s pet project, Disneyland. McKim worked on sketches for almost every aspect of the park, including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. McKim was also asked to contribute to storyboarding of several Disney films and shows, including The Gnome Mobile, Big Red, and Zorro. During the development of Walt Disney World, McKim continued his contribution to the look of the park, developing sketches for Disney-MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) and several Epcot attractions. What McKim is most known for, however, is being the creator of the Disneyland souvenir maps from 1958 to 1964, which has become a highly sought collector’s item. In 1992, McKim was also asked to create the map for Disneyland Paris, in commemoration of its opening. In 1996, McKim was honored as a Disney Legend for his work as an Imagineer. He passed away on July 9, 2004, at the age of 79.

December 19

December 19, 1962 – The Special Short Film A Symposium on Popular Songs is Released to Theaters

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“Come in and sit down and I’m going to play for you several hundred of the latest hit songs of the past 60 years, which, naturally, I wrote myself.”

On December 19, 1962, the special short film A Symposium on Popular Songs was released to theaters. The short is a mix of traditional animation and stop motion animation, relaying the history of popular music within the 20th century. The short was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but lost to The Hole by Storyboard Inc. and Brandon Films. The short was directed by Bill Justice, with story by Xavier Atencio. It stars the vocal talents of Paul Frees, Gloria Wood, Billy Storm, and Skip Farrell. The songs within the short were written by the Sherman Brothers, with musical arraignment by Camarata.

The short takes place inside Ludwig von Drake’s stately mansion, where he greets the audience at the door and brings them inside to talk about popular music. He begins with his life story at the beginning of the turn of the century where, inspired by his poverty and his ragged clothing, he created ragtime music. He then plays his hit song, “The Rutabaga Rag,” with some accompanying stop-motion animation of vegetables dancing. After this, he moves to the Roaring Twenties, where he was asked to come up with a new style of popular music to put Dixie on the map. He does so with the song “Charleston Charlie,” an allusion to popular ’20s singer Helen Kane.

Ludwig moves to the Great Depression era of songs, and turns to a picture of a signer with a backing band

Ludwig moves to the Great Depression era of songs, and turns to a picture of a signer with a backing band

Moving to the Great Depression era, Ludwig has a bit of a panic when he talks about how he lost his money in the stock market. He bought a piano with his last nickel, and wrote the song “Although I Dropped $100,000.” The song parodies the popular songs of the time period, including “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella” and “Stormy Weather.” Ludwig explains after this that he invented the microphone, and by doing so, invented the idea of a crooner. He wrote the love ballad “I’m Blue for You, Boo-Boo-Boo-Boo-Boo,” which has the singer imitating the crooning style of Bing Crosby. After this, Ludwig moved on to the style of Boogie Woogie, with three singers singing “The Boogie Woogie Bakery Man” which is allusion to the swing style, particularly the songs of the Andrews Sisters.

Ludwig then turns on the television to his favorite music show, The Von Drake Hour, which plays many of his hit songs. The song that starts to play is “Puppy Love is Here to Stay,” which is the beginning of the “modern era” of music (modern for the time the short was released). Soon, Ludwig turns off thetelevision and takes the audience into his hi-fi studio to play his final song, “Rock, Rumble, and Roar” which pays homage to the early rock and roll era in popular music. He forgot the record, and decides to play the song himself, which is segmented with snippets of all the earlier songs. The short ends with the house shaking and rocking along with the raucous music Ludwig is playing.

December 18

December 18, 1933 – Diane Disney Miller, Daughter of Walt Disney, is Born

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“[Diane Disney Miller] is remembered by Disney fans around the world as the beloved daughter of Walt Disney, and one who graciously shared her family history and personal memories of her father.”

On December 18, 1933, Diane Marie Disney Miller was born in Los Angeles, California. Walt Disney was accepting an award from The Parents Magazine for “distinguished service to children,” when he was given the news that his wife Lillian was in labor; he murmured his thanks to the guests assembled and ran out the door to join his wife and welcome his daughter. Diane was the first daughter of the Disney family; sister Sharon was adopted by the family in 1936. At age 20, Diane met Ron Miller on a blind date in San Francisco; the two married on May 9, 1954. After serving in the Army and playing professional football, Miller would work at the Walt Disney Company, eventually serving as CEO. In 1984, Miller left the entertainment industry, and he and Diane opened the Silverado Vineyards Winery in Napa, California.

After dedicating her life to raising her family, Diane became a fierce advocate of her father and his legacy. She helped document the history of Walt and the company, especially with the creation of the Walt Disney Family Museum, which opened in 2009. Diane was also instrumental in the development and opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2004. Known for her fierce protection of her father’s legacy, she was honored for her efforts to preserve the history of Walt Disney and the company for nearly two decades. She continued to fight against inaccurate biographies and rumors circulating her father, and in 2001, she assisted the Walt Disney Family Foundation in creating a documentary film entitled The Man Behind the Myth.

On November 19, 2013, Diane passed away after sustaining injuries in a fall. She is survived by her husband, seven children, 13 grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.