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Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 31

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May 31, 2008 – WALL-E Greets Visitors at the Newseum

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“Obviously you’re making the news: look at all the people who came out to see you!”

On May 31, 2008, the title character from Pixar’s animated feature WALL-E was on hand to greet families at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The life-size robot was there on Family Day as a promotional tool for the upcoming film. The character was featured in the New York Times – Ochs-Sulzberger Family Great Hall of News for a few hours.

May 30

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May 30, 1932 – Former Chairman of Walt Disney Attractions and Disney Legend Dick Nunis is Born

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“Disney is successful because we are dealing with people. And the words quality and pride, that is really what it is all about.”

On May 30, 1932, Dick Nunis was born in Cedartown, Georgia. He attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship, where he met Ron Miller, Walt Disney’s eventual son-in-law. After graduating from USC with a degree in education, he applied for a summer job at the new Disneyland Park, and ended up working with Van France in developing a training program for Disneyland employees. Nunis used his education degree to his advantage, moving up the ladder to become the attractions supervisor and develop standard operating procedures for all of the attractions. In 1961, he became the director of park operations and was given larger task: helping to develop the new Walt Disney World Park. Nunis continued to move upwards, eventually becoming the executive vice president of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He continued to work in a large capacity in the development of the parks, including Epcot, Disney-MGM, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland. Nunis retired in 1999, serving with the Walt Disney Company for 44 years. He was awarded as a Disney Legend the same year.

May 29

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May 29, 1959 – The Disneyland Anthology Episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” Airs

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“And so, believing Pat O’Brien to be an honorable man, I went Irish, Irish all the way. I even crossed the ocean in an Irish Air Lines plane.”

On May 29, 1959, the Disneyland anthology episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” aired. It was a promotional episode for the upcoming live-action film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, but takes guests on a fantastical journey with Walt to Ireland, who has come to learn about the myths of Ireland, as well as asking Darby O’Gill and King Brian of the Leprechauns to join his film. It is notable as the only episode of the series where Walt is in the entire episode in a starring role, rather than just as a narrator.

The episode begins with Walt in his office, explaining that he wanted to make an Irish picture, as he’s always been fascinated by tales of leprechauns. After running into some problems with production, Walt turns to his good friend, actor Pat O’Brien, who claims that Ireland’s main export is good men and women. O’Brien warns Walt about messing with the little people, and sings him a little song about them. He then advises Walt on other Irish legends, including the Banshee, and tells Walt that only a real leprechaun can play a leprechaun in Walt’s film. Walt thinks O’Brien is kidding, but O’Brien is firm that Walt must capture a leprechaun. Upon arriving in Dublin, Walt heads to a folklore library to talk to a scholar. The scholar explains more about leprechauns, including their size based on an outfit in the collection. He then tells the story about how leprechauns came to be, as they were originally angels that hid from the battle between the white and the black angels, as they were too small to do battle. After the battle ended, Gabriel banished the leprechauns from Heaven, sending them to Ireland to live. The scholar sends Walt to find a storyteller named Darby O’Gill, who will give Walt all the information he needs about King Brian, whom Walt wants for his film.

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Walt listens intently as Darby O’Gill tells his stories about his interactions with the leprechauns

Walt sets off to Rathcullen, and finds O’Gill in his home that evening, telling stories about the little people. O’Gill talks about the time he met with and was tricked by King Brian, and much to the interest of Walt. Walt questions him about King Brian, and asks if O’Gill can take Walt up the fairy mountain Knocknasheega. O’Gill agrees, and that night they set out to meet the king of the leprechauns. At the top of the mountain, in the ruins, the pair wait for King Brian to appear. They are finally able to spy King Brian’s lieutenant Phadrig Oge and trap him. Phadrig Oge offers Walt a pot of gold rather than to betray his king, but Walt refuses, wanting to talk to King Brian. King Brian arrives soon after, as he is confused as to why Walt would refuse the gold. Walt asks questions to get information, which amuses King Brian and O’Gill. O’Gill then tells the story of when he was brought to King Brian’s throne room. The two bicker during the storytelling, amusing Walt, and reminisce about other times tricking each other. King Brian and O’Gill laugh at Walt’s offer to have them star in his movie, which leads into another argument. When Walt returns to America, he goes to find his friend O’Brien and tells him of his travels, including his decision to make the movie about Darby O’Gill and King Brian, including O’Gill’s close call with the banshee. O’Brien, however, doesn’t believe that Walt actually found King Brian, until Walt offers a gift from King Brian himself.

May 28

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May 28, 1994 – The Wilderness Lodge Resort Opens

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“Soak in the splendor of the great outdoors, from nature trails through pine forests to rocking chairs that overlook a murmuring creek.”

On May 28, 1994, the Wilderness Lodge Resort opened in Walt Disney World near the Magic Kingdom Park. The resort was designed with the National Park hotels in mind, inspired by such buildings as the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The resort itself has many amenities, including a campfire with activities, jogging trails, and a guided fishing excursion. The resort also features the Firerock Geyser, which erupts near the pool area on a regular schedule.

May 27

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May 27, 1997 – The Soundtrack to Hercules is Released Through Walt Disney Records

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“I will find my way, I can go the distance, I’ll be there someday, if I can be strong.”

On May 27, 1997, the album Hercules: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack was released. The album features music from the animated feature film, written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist David Zippel. Performers on the album include Lillas White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Roger Bart, Danny DeVito, Susan Egan, and Michael Bolton singing the pop version of “Go the Distance.” The music for the movie is heavily inspired by gospel and R&B, which fit in well with the idea of the muses telling the story of the hero Hercules. The Michael Bolton version of “Go the Distance” was released as a promotional single for the album. The song would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost to “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic.

May 26

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May 26, 1990 – Mickey’s Starland Area Opens in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park

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“I brought you friends from near and far, you’ll meet them now, each one’s a star.”

On May 26, 1990, the Mickey’s Starland area opened in the Magic Kingdom Park of Walt Disney World. The area replaced the Mickey’s Birthdayland area, which closed on April 22, 1990, at the conclusion of Mickey’s 60th birthday. Many special features from Mickey’s Birthdayland remained, and the new area included a live show called Mickey’s Magical TV World show, with several of the Disney Afternoon characters, including Darkwing Duck and Baloo from TaleSpin. In 1996, the area was revamped and turned into Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

May 25

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May 25, 1990 – The Stage Show Here Come the Muppets Premieres

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“The Muppets have arrived at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park!”

On May 25, 1990, the stage show Here Come the Muppets premiered in Disney-MGM Studios. This was the first show to feature the Muppets at the Disney Park, after purchasing negotiations had started between Disney and Jim Henson Associates (these negotiations would stall after Henson’s death, though Muppet*Vision 3D continued in the park). The show was performed until September 2, 1991, and was replaced by Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

The show begins with Kermit panicking when he can’t find anyone and the show is about to start. Mickey calls to find how well the show is going, but while Kermit manages to stall, he decides to call his friends to find out where they are. Kermit reaches Miss Piggy on the video phone, and she is alarmed when everyone can see her at home. Kermit then calls Fozzie, who is very lost. However, Kermit manages to guide Fozzie onto the stage, and Fozzie tells Kermit that the others are coming on the monorail. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem crash into the building before Gonzo and Buster Bunny arrive to help Fozzie and Kermit sing a rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh.” Miss Piggy performs next a rousing rendition of Lloyd Price’s “Personality.” To kill time between sets (and covering for Animal eating one of the amplifiers), Kermit sings  “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green.” Finally, Electric Mayhem performs Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” followed by the finale number “Shout!”