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Monthly Archives: December 2015

December 24

December 24, 2006 – Donny Osmond and Sarah Uriarte Berry Depart from Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast

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“Now almost 25 years later I have the chance – I couldn’t do it any more right than joining such an iconic show as Beauty.” – Donny Osmond.

On December 24, 2006, cast members Donny Osmond and Sarah Uriarte Berry took their final bows for the Disney Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. Osmond, known for being a pop star, left after extending his original nine-week run as the character Gaston; Berry, known for her role of Franca in The Light in the Piazza, had performed as Belle in 1995, and was back for a limited time engagement. Stephen R. Buntrock and Deborah Lew were cast to play Gaston and Belle starting the 26th.

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December 23

December 23, 1982 – The Electronic Forum Attraction Opens in Epcot

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” There’s really nothing in the world comparable to the numbers we could reach.” – WED Enterprises Communications Manager Paul Goldman

On December 23, 1982, the Electronic Forum attraction opened in Epcot’s Communicore East area. The unique polling attraction had guests enter a theater and watch films on current events; they were then asked their opinions on what they had seen and provided their answers via a small set of buttons on their arm rests. The answers were compiled and submitted instantly. This technology had its uses outside Epcot, as the results were sent to newspapers across the country. The attraction was closed on March 16, 1991.

December 22

December 22, 2007 – The Attraction Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension Opens in Disneyland Paris

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“Face your fears and plunge 13 unlucky floors into the Twilight Zone amid the faded glamour of this haunted hotel.”

On December 22, 2007, the fourth version of the popular Walt Disney World attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened in Disneyland Paris. The attraction, given the subtitle Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension, keeps the same backstory of the five unlucky souls lost to another dimension while traveling in the elevator of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Guests board the elevator and ascend 13 floors as the story of the doomed passengers is revealed, and the guests are then taken to another dimension. The elevator then freefalls, with a random assortment of additional freefalls added to each ride experience.

December 21

December 21, 1945 – The Donald Duck Short Film Old Sequoia is Released to Theaters

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“If Old Sequoia goes, you go!”

On December 21, 1945, the Donald Duck short film Old Sequoia was released to theaters. It was directed by Jack King, with story by Homer Brightman.

The short begins at a national park, where the tree Old Sequoia proudly stands. Two beavers are chopping down trees close to Old Sequoia at a rapid pace, unbeknownst to Donald, who is snoozing away in the ranger station. He nearly falls from the post when he receives a call, and is lectured about the trees in his park. The lead ranger threatens him, and Donald rushes to his task. He spies the beavers near Old Sequoia and chases after them as fast as he can. The beavers manage to trip him up, then set their sights on Old Sequoia. Donald manages to trap them with his shotgun, just as the phone rings. He is lectured again by his boss, and he sprints back to guard Old Sequoia. He realizes that the beavers have gotten into the tree to chop it down, and poor Donald can only watch as sawdust comes out of the tree. He attempts to put the sawdust back in the tree, and only ends up making the tree implode. The tree, left standing by a tiny stand, threatens to fall, with Donald just barely able to keep it propped up. Unfortunately, the tree falls, taking the ranger station with it. Donald receives one final call from his boss, informing him he is fired.

December 20

December 20, 2002 – The Restaurant Ariel’s Grotto Opens in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier

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“Delight in a daytime banquet alongside some of your favorite Disney Princesses or enjoy the Grotto as part of a special dining package.”

On December 20, 2002, the restaurant Ariel’s Grotto opened in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier area of California Adventure. The restaurant is a buffet style dining experience, where guests can meet the Disney Princesses during the lunch dining period. It is one of the few restaurants that offers a World of Color dining package during dinner, where guests that participate are given priority seating to the World of Color nighttime show.

December 19

December 19, 1914 – Animator, Story Man, and Disney Legend Mel Shaw is Born

Mel Shaw

“Mel was on a short list of vanguard artists who would jump into a new film when it was still a blank piece of paper and with his stunning work he’d show us all the visual possibilities.” – Don Hahn

On December 19, 1914, Melvin Schwartzman (who would change his last name to Shaw) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an opera singer mother and a lawyer father. He displayed great artistic talent at an early age, being selected for the Student Art League Society and winning a Procter & Gamble soap carving contest. In 1928, his family moved to Los Angeles, though he left at one point to try his hand at being a cowboy, despite winning a scholarship to an art institute. He soon returned to California, where he found a job at Pacific Titles creating title cards for silent films. Shaw’s first animation job came with the newly formed Harman-Ising Studios, where he took on several roles including animator, character designer, story man, and director. Shaw played polo in his spare time, where he met Walt Disney, who would invite him to join his studio. Shaw left Harman-Ising and joined Disney in 1937, where his first main project was the 1942 film Bambi. He left Disney during World War II, choosing to serve in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, working as a filmmaker and cartoonist. After the war, while not going back to Disney, he did work with the company through his new company, Allen-Shaw Productions (a partnership with former MGM Studios animator Bob Allen). He was asked back to Disney in 1974 to help transition animation from the old guard to the new, bringing his expertise to such films as The Great Mouse Detective and The Lion King. For his multitude of work for Disney, Shaw was honored as a Disney Legend in 2004. In 2012, at the age of 97, Shaw passed away.

December 18

December 18, 1991 – Jim Henson Productions Signs Distribution Deal with Buena Vista Home Video

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“This is our most significant distribution agreement to date and we are pleased to be able to present this entire gold mine of product to consumers worldwide.” – President of International Theatrical Distribution for Disney Bill Mechanic

On December 18, 1991, one year after merger negotiations broke down between The Walt Disney Company and Jim Henson Productions, a distribution deal was reached with Disney’s Buena Vista Home Video. Buena Vista was given 30 years’ worth of the Henson library for the following five to six years, excluding Sesame Street. This stand-alone agreement worked as it was based on Disney’s track record of marketing and distributing tapes to consumers; this track record was also seen as the main reason merger talks began.