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Monthly Archives: July 2014

July 21

July 21, 1950 – The Pluto Short Film Pests of the West is Released to Theaters

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On July 21, 1950, the Pluto short film Pests of the West was released to theaters. It is considered a sequel to the 1949 short Sheep Dog, featuring the duo of Bent-Tail the coyote and his son. It was directed by Charles Nichols, with story by Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer.

Bent-Tail is seen howling on top of some rocks, when he spies a nearby farm. He and his son quickly race to the farm, and imagine the chickens they’re going to steal. As they sneak onto the farm, they pass by Pluto’s doghouse, where he is dozing peacefully. His dozing is disturbed slightly, however, when his nose catches the scent of the coyotes. Meanwhile, Bent-Tail and his son reach the hen house, and quickly make a plan for the son to go in and steal a hen. He attempts to steal the largest hen inside when he gets sleepy, and decides to nap in an empty nest. Bent-Tail looks inside to see what’s keeping his son, and is angered to see his son sleeping on the job. He rushes inside and throws his son out so he can do the job himself. The squawking of the hens wakes Pluto, and he son chases the wily coyotes across the farm. They end up hiding in Pluto’s doghouse, and when Pluto goes back to his nap, he is unaware that the coyotes are in hiding. Unfortunately, Pluto does find them, and chases Bent-Tail across the farm once again. Bent-Tail uses plenty of tricks to sneak away, but Pluto manages to catch him in the end. Bent-Tail’s son manages to sneak away with a hen in its nest, and it becomes a strange game between the coyotes and Pluto to “get the hen.” Pluto manages a sneaky trade of the hen for the son, and Bent-Tail runs off with the nest, thinking that he got the best of Pluto. The little coyote, however, holds up an egg, which Bent-Tail smashes over his son’s head, although his son can’t understand why his father is so upset.

July 20

July 20, 1923 – Publicist and Disney Legend Charlie Ridgway is Born

Charlie Ridgway

“Disneyland was one public relations job I thought I would enjoy, and I was right.”

On July 20, 1923, Charlie Ridgway was born in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a journalist after receiving his degree from the University of Missouri, and joined the staff of the Los Angeles Mirror-News in 1952. While there, he wrote articles about the construction of Disneyland, and covered the opening day of Disneyland on July 17, 1955. Eight years after he covered the opening, he was hired as part of the park’s publicity staff. His background as a newsman gave him the skills needed to relate to other reporters, and the knowledge to know what they would need to represent the park appropriately. Ridgway quickly moved up the ranks, and soon was asked to help the publicity department for the Florida Project, which was to become Walt Disney World. He moved to Orlando, and soon became the Walt Disney World director of press and publicity. Over his 30 year career with the company, he worked on over 150 special projects, including one for Donald Duck’s 50th birthday, and the launches of Epcot and Disneyland Paris. He retired from Disney in 1994, but would continue to consult with the company on other projects. He was named a Disney Legend in 1999, and published his memoir Spinning Disney’s World in 2007.

July 19

July 19, 1940 – The Donald Duck Short Film Put-Put Troubles is Released to Theaters

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“Am I a surprised duck!”

On July 19, 1940, the Donald Duck short film Put-Put Troubles was released to theaters. It was directed by Riley Thomson.

Donald is sitting in his boat, singing a merry tune while Pluto pulls him along the side of the lake. Pluto gets distracted when a frog jumps in his path, however, and the boat crashes into him, knocking him headfirst into the sand. When he continues to chase the frog down a hill, the boat slides over him and down the hill, dropping Donald into the water with a laugh. As Pluto resumes his chase, he gets his nose caught in a spring of a broken mattress. While he struggles to break free, the spring is pulled from the mattress and wraps itself around his neck. Meanwhile, Donald is struggling with his motorboat, which doesn’t seem to want to go. He fills it with oil, but it just shoot out a lot of black smoke, which covers Donald. Donald retaliates, but the motor goes completely nuts, flying off into the air and landing in the ocean. When Donald pulls it out, it seems to pass out, and can only he revive it with smelling salts. The motor makes a whinnying sound, then wraps around the boat, taking the sides of the boat with it.

Poor Pluto is haunted by the menace that is the spring

Poor Pluto is haunted by the menace that is the spring

Pluto manages to free himself from the spring, but is now haunted by its presence. He barks at it and lands on it, trapping his front legs in it once again. As he bounces free, the spring attaches itself to his back, capturing his back legs. Donald continues his fight with the motor, and falls into the lake. He calls out to Pluto for help, and Pluto, finally free from the spring rushes off the dock, landing into the errant boat. The motor flies up in the air and lands on Donald, taking the duck all the way to the bottom of the lake. Donald is them thrown up and into the rope that was tied to the boat, taking Pluto with him on a water-skiing adventure. The poor pair end up tied around a post after they crash.

 

July 18

July 18, 1965 – The Audio-Animatronic Attraction Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln Opens in Disneyland

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“Revel in the recitations of President Abraham Lincoln that changed history and helped shape a nation.”

On July 18, 1965, the Audio-Animatronic attraction Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln opened in Disneyland’s Main Street area. The attraction was created for the New York World’s Fair, presented at the State of Illinois pavilion. Lincoln was a hero of Walt Disney’s when he was a boy, and was the perfect pick for a presidential tribute at the time. After the World’s Fair, the popularity of this and the other Disney-created attractions made way for these attractions to be placed within Disneyland. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was closed in 1973 to be replaced with The Walt Disney Story, but the popularity of the attraction demanded its return; it was brought back as The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in 1975. The original voice of the attraction was actor Royal Dano, who had performed as Lincoln in several films due to his uncanny resemblance. In 2001, the attraction underwent a major restoration effort, with the voice actor changing to Warren Burton, and a few changes made to the story.

 

July 17

July 17, 1955 – The Carnation Ice Cream Parlor Opens on Disneyland’s Main Street

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“Greetings from Carnation in Disneyland!”

On July 17, 1955, the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor opened on Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. It is one of the only restaurants remaining from Disneyland’s opening day. In 1977, an outdoor dining area was added to the restaurant, and in 1997, the restaurant was expanded and turned into the Carnation Café, serving American-style cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

July 16

July 16, 1997 – The Live-Action Feature Film George of the Jungle is Released to Theaters

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“He is swift, he is strong, he is sure, he is smart, he is unconscious.”

On July 16, 1997, the live-action feature film George of the Jungle was released to theaters. It was based on the animated series of the same name, produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott back in the late 1960s. The film makes great use of the radio telemetry system designed by the Jim Henson Creature Shop for the movements of the animals in the film. The film, although receiving mixed reviews, went on to be a box office success, earning more than $174 million. It was written by Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells, and directed by Sam Weisman. The film stars Brendan Fraser as George, Leslie Mann as Ursula, Thomas Haden Church as Lyle, Greg Cruttwell as Max, Abraham Benrubi as Thor, Holland Taylor as Ursula’s mother, and John Cleese as the voice of Ape.

The film begins with an animated sequence about a plane crash in the Bukuvu, located in the heart of Africa, where a baby named George was separated from his family and raised in the jungle. Twenty-five years later, George is the somewhat klutzy King of the Jungle. A ways away, an heiress named Ursula is exploring Africa with a group of explorers, when her fiancée Lyle shows up to surprise her. Lyle manages to annoy Ursula’s tour guides, although his thugs Max and Thor bring up the legend of the “White Ape,” which intrigues the thugs (for financial reasons), and Ursula (for curiosity’s sake). The apes warn George about the intruders as they approach Ape Mountain. Lyle insults the guides more and more, and after the guides embarrass him in retaliation, he grabs Ursula and takes her into the jungle to find the White Ape. Unfortunately, they are met with a lion. Lyle tries to run away and knocks himself unconscious, but George steps in and saves Ursula, sweeping her away on a vine; he accidentally knocks her out, however, when he hits a tree. Lyle wakes up to see George carrying her away, and thinks the White Ape has kidnapped Ursula. He then pretends that he’s been viciously attacked to get the sympathy of the tour group.

After she passes out, George takes Ursula back to his treehouse to recover

After she passes out, George takes Ursula back to his treehouse to recover

George takes Ursula back to his treehouse, and she wakes up the next morning to find her savior. She comes across an ape named Ape bringing her breakfast, and is frightened beyond belief. She passes out again after she hears Ape talk, and when George tries to help her, he discovers that she’s the female of his species, which he finds strange as he’s never met a girl before. After she wakes up again, she thanks George for saving her life, and asks him for help in finding her group. He calls for his “dog,” an elephant named Shep, and they head off to find Lyle and her group. After a while, however, she forgets all about Lyle and decides to just enjoy her adventure with George. George gets the news from the Tooky Tooky bird that a small monkey needs George’s help, and they rush to the rescue. Ursula is touched by how George helps the little monkey. She is less than enthusiastic about trying vine swinging again, even more so when George crashes into a tree.

Later, Ape realizes that George has fallen in love with Ursula, and tries to teach George how to make Ursula his mate, which does not go well when put into practice. George tries again later with more human methods, and the two dance together. Lyle’s group continues to search for Ursula, with the hopes in capturing the White Ape. Max and Thor are disappointed in finding that George is the White Ape, and Lyle decides to go in and take Ursula back while threatening George with his lighter, which looks convincingly like a gun. Thor gets ready to shoot Shep for his ivory, but Ape jumps in the way and tells Shep to run for his life. Upon hearing Ape talk, Max decides that they’ll get their fortune by kidnapping Ape and making him perform. George tries to save Ape, but Lyle shoots George with his lighter, which turns out to be a real gun after all. Ursula takes George back to the San Francisco, Max and Thor are going to be deported, and Lyle is arrested for shooting George. Ursula takes George back to her apartment, where he is overwhelmed by her concrete jungle.

Ursula takes George into the city to get some clothes and adjust to the new jungle

Ursula takes George into the city to get some clothes and adjust to the new jungle

The next morning, her best friend Betsy arrives, and is immediately attracted to George, although she realizes that Ursula is stuck on George. As Ursula helps George get acclimated to the human world, the animals are going crazy while missing George. Later Ursula heads to work, warning George to stay in the apartment. However, George decides to venture outside, exploring San Francisco, and deciding to climb the Bay Bridge. He spies a parasailer stuck in the cables of the bridge, and decides to swing in on a cord and save the man. Ursula is watching the action unfold on television at her job and rushes to the Bay Bridge. George saves the man, but is whisked away by the parasail. He ends up flying into the boat nearby where Ursula is, and she is happy to see him, giving him a great big hug. Unfortunately, Ursula’s meddling mother sees the action unfolding as well. Meanwhile, in the jungle, Max and Thor finally kidnap Ape, although Ape is sure to send Tooky Tooky to find George.

Ursula finally tells her parents the truth: she doesn’t want to marry Lyle. Her mother is furious, but her father is more understanding. George, however, doesn’t make the best first impression, as he crashes into the cake. Ursula’s mother decides to take matters into her own hands, and threatens George to stay away from her daughter. Later that night, Tooky Tooky finds George and gives him the bad news about Ape. Although reluctant to leave Ursula, he does, but leaves her his good luck charm. The next morning, Ursula goes to her parents, wondering why George left. She finds that her mother had something to do with George’s leaving, and finally realizes that she is indeed in love with George. Understanding this, she decides to go after George. George finally makes it back to Africa, after shipping himself there by UPS, and rushes off to save Ape. He arrives at the mangled treehouse, just in time to find Max and Thor, along with Ape, and decides to attack. Shep arrives with Tooky Tooky to help George, as does Ursula. With their help, George defeats the thugs and saves Ape. Unfortunately, before Ursula can tell George that she loves him, Lyle appears, having broken out of jail to join a small cult. The members of the cult capture George, allowing Lyle to take Ursula away to marry her, as the cult has made him an ordained minister.

George is able to break free and save Ursula from Lyle

George is able to break free and save Ursula from Lyle, and she finally tells him that she loves him

George gets help from his brother apes and Shep, and runs after Ursula. Lyle drags Ursula through the jungle, and they end up careening down Ape River. George finally catches up with them, and manages to save Ursula after crashing into a tree. Lyle meets an unfortunate end, accidentally marrying a female ape. Soon after, Ursula and George get married in the jungle, and everyone celebrates. They are later seen living in the jungle with their young son, with George remarking that “he’s just lucky.” Meanwhile, Ape heads off to be a headliner in Las Vegas.

July 15

July 15, 2011 – The Animated Short Film The Ballad of Nessie Premieres in Theaters

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“In the bonny blue highlands where the bagpipes play lives a creature called Nessie, but it wasn’t always this way.”

On July 15, the animated short film The Ballad of Nessie was released to theaters alongside the animated feature film Winnie the Pooh. The short features a tribute to famed animator Glen Keane, which is the name of the glen where Nessie once lived. It was written by Regina Conroy, Stevie Wermers-Skelton, and Kevin Deters, and directed by Wermers-Skelton and Deters. The short was narrated by Billy Connolly. It was nominated for an Annie Award for Best Short Subject, but lost to Minkyu Lee’s Adam and Dog.

The narrator introduces the audience to Nessie, a shy creature who used to live on the moors of Glen Keane. Although considered a monster, she had “no bark and no bite,” and lived with her best friend, a rubber duck named McQuack. One day, a developer named Tycoon MacFroogle arrives. He wishes to turn the moor into a mini golf course, which he quickly does, driving Nessie out of her home. A nearby seagull tells her to keep a stiff upper lip, and she decides to pack her things and find a new pond to live. She searches high and low, but can’t find anything suitable, and is always told not to cry. Finally, tired of fining nothing, she lets all her tears out, crying a literal flood of tears for weeks. After she finished crying, she noticed that she cried a great lake, and leaps out for joy, having found her new home. The narrator points out the important lesson: don’t be afraid to cry, as “sometimes it’s through our tears we find a better way.” Nessie is still in Loch Ness, and still playing hide and seek with McQuack. Meanwhile, MacFroogle is seen weeping in despair, as Nessie’s tears have completely destroyed his mini-golf park.

July 14

July 14, 1981 – Disney’s First Ice Show, World on Ice, Premieres

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On July 14, 1981, Disney’s first edition of the ice show, World on Ice premiered in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was and continues to be produced by Feld Entertainment, and toured 20 major cities within the United States. The show was popular enough to continue with a new theme each year, including Great Ice Odyssey in 1982, Magic Kingdom on Ice in 1983, and Happy Birthday! Donald in 1984. The themes would continue, but run for several years at a time, usually promoting a Disney film (as in the cases of Aladdin and Toy Story). In 1986, the show became international with a tour in Japan, and by 1994, the show had grown to seven productions on six continents. In 1996, the show overall show was renamed to its current moniker, Disney on Ice. The show in a part of the Disney Theatrical Group.

July 13

July 13, 1935 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Mickey’s Garden Premieres in Theaters

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“Hey, Pluto! Cut it out! Hey, it tickles!”

On July 13, 1935, the Mickey Mouse short film Mickey’s Garden was released to theaters. It was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

Pluto and Mickey are stalking through Mickey’s garden, and Mickey quickly uses insecticide on the multitude of bugs that have been eating his crops. He quickly runs out and rushes to get some more; once he does, the bugs run back to his crops and resume eating. Mickey quickly runs back to his task of killing the pests; while he tries to fix his sprayer, Pluto hunts after another bug, and lands head first into a pumpkin while doing so. Pluto runs about blindly, unable to shake the pumpkin off, and lands on the end of the sprayer, spraying Mickey with the insecticide. Mickey falls down is in a daze from the poison. When he comes to, he discovers that his house has been overtaken by the garden, which has grown to an enormous size. The bugs, also enormous, have been drinking the bug poison, which makes them drunk. The bugs discover Mickey and Pluto, and hunt after them, ready to spray them with insecticide. Mickey and Pluto scramble up a lily for safety, only to find an angry bee there to fight them. Pluto is attacked by a caterpillar, who throws him into the mouth of a drunk firefly. Mickey lands in a tomato and has to battle with a worm that lived there. As Mickey strangles to worm, he comes out of his daze to find that this has all been a nightmare caused by the poison. Pluto manages to finally free himself from the pumpkin, which crashes into Mickey. The short ends with Pluto licking Mickey while Mickey is trapped in the pumpkin.

July 12

July 12, 1998 – The First ESPN Zone Restaurant Opens in Baltimore, Maryland

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“Offering non-stop action, high-energy fun, unbelievable food, and much more.”

On July 12, 1998, the first ESPN Zone restaurant opened in Baltimore, Maryland, followed by openings in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Washington DC, Anaheim, Las Vegas, and Denver. This was Disney’s first major commercial venture outside the theme parks, and was a sports restaurant complex based on the channel ESPN. The restaurant became well-known for its “Ultimate Couch Potato” contest, where customers competed to see who could out-sit each other while watching non-stop sports programming. The Atlanta and Denver restaurants closed in 2009, while the others, save for the one in Anaheim, closed in June, 2010.