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Monthly Archives: January 2019

January 21

January 21, 1988 – Disney Acquires The Wrather Corporation

“Disney has great capabilities and will take our properties onto greater heights.” – Bonita Granville Wrather

On January 21, 1988, Disney finished the $152.3 million dollar acquisition process of the Wrather Corporation, which included the acquisition of the Disneyland Hotel. The relationship between The Walt Disney Company and The Wrather Corporation began back in 1955; Walt had realized the need for a hotel near the new theme park, but did not have the funds to create it, and convinced his friend Jack Wrather to build a hotel across the street. The hotel continued to grow through the years, eventually having three towers (originally named the Bonita, Marina, and Sierra). Throughout the years, Disney attempted to purchase the hotel, as it was seen as awkward that Disney did not own something with its name attached. When the deal was finalized in 1988, Disney not only acquired the hotel, but acres of land for potential expansion, and the lease to operate the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

January 20

January 20, 1995 – Courtyard by Marriott Opens in Walt Disney World

On January 20, 1995, the hotel Courtyard by Marriott opened in the Lake Buena Vista area of Walt Disney World. This hotel occupied the spot that had been held by the Howard Johnson Resort Hotel, and had undergone extensive remodeling. It operated under the Marriott banner until 2003, when the resort was purchased by Holiday Inn.

January 19

January 19, 1991 – The Shop Legends of Hollywood Opens in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

On January 19, 1991, the merchandise shop Legends of Hollywood opened on Hollywood Boulevard of Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. This version of the shop was short-lived, as it closed on March 9, 1991, and became L.A. Cinema Storage. A new version of this shop opened on Sunset Boulevard on June 12, 1994, and sells merchandise related to recently released films.

January 18

January 18, 2016 – The Quick-Service Restaurant Pizza Planet Arcade Closes

“Today…serving your local Star Cluster…”

On January 18, 2016, the quick-service restaurant Pizza Planet Arcade closed. Located on the Streets of America in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park, the restaurant was themed after the restaurant of the same name from the Toy Story series of films, and served pizza and salads. The area was originally slated to be a Muppet-themed restaurant, but this changed after the original deal between Jim Henson Productions and the Walt Disney Company fell through; after Pizza Planet Arcade closed in 2016, the place then became the quick-service pizza restaurant PizzeRizzo, themed after the Muppet character Rizzo the Rat.

January 17

January 17, 2003 – The Stage Show Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular Officially Debuts in Disney California Adventure

“Must I yearn forever to be free?”

On January 17, 2003, the Broadway-style stage show Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular made its officially debut on January 17, 2003, at Disney California Adventure’s Hyperion Theater. Based on the hit 1992 animated feature film Aladdin, this stage show would become a precursor to the hit Broadway musical. The show generally follows the plot of the film; however, composer Alan Menken added one new song for the show: “To Be Free,” a song for Jasmine. “To Be Free” is a reworked song that was originally created as a ballad for Genie, but was inevitably cut from the film. The show ended its run on January 10, 2016, and was replaced by Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

January 16

January 16, 1994 – The First Walt Disney World Marathon Takes Place

On January 16, 1994, the inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon took place. Featuring 8,200 runners, the marathoners were taken through the (at the time) three theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney-MGM Studios, as well as several highways. Finishers were awarded a medal upon completion featuring Mickey Mouse as a runner. The design of the medal, as well as the course of the marathon, has changed in the over 25 years since its inception, and the number of runners has grown to over 55,000.

January 15

January 15, 1926 – The Alice Comedy Alice’s Balloon Race is Released

“Big Balloon Race – $10,000.00 Prize To The Winner”

On January 15, 1926, the Alice Comedy Alice’s Balloon Race was released to theaters. It was the 28th Alice Comedy to be produced, and the 12th to feature second Alice actress Margie Gay.

The short begins with the announcement of a Big Balloon Race, with a $10,000 prize for the winner. A band performs near the sign, drumming up excitement for the race. Alice and Julius are competing in the race against their nemesis Pete, who tells the crowd that Julius is nothing to be concerned with. The balloons set off, although Alice and Julius’ balloon doesn’t immediately take off. Pete tries to cheat and throws Alice and Julius’ balloon to the ground. Julius then has a difficult time getting it to fly, causing a fight between the duo. The pair then spot a hippo with a pipe and a spittoon, and Julius comes up with the idea to use the hippo to get then moving, thanks to the hippo’s sneeze by the use of red hot pepper. The balloon takes off, without Julius, and Alice sends down a ladder to pull him up, but forgets to hold the other end of the ladder, sending Julius tumbling to the ground. He continues to chase after the balloon and uses a rope to get up, but then the pair find themselves caught in a storm. The balloon is destroyed, and the pair fall to the ground, but Julius uses a dachshund and two balloons to send him skyward again, but this also fails. He then tries to use an elephant filled with air, pulled along by a passing bird. Julius then spends his time dodging lightning strikes, but then uses the lightning to deflate Pete’s balloon, which lands on Alice. Pete, angered by both, chases after them.

January 14

January 14, 1938 – The New York Daily News Publishes Review of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

“The entire audience seemed to fall under the magic spell which Walt Disney and his staff of clever magicians wove with great artistry on the screen.”

On January 14, 1938, the day after the animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had its East Coast premiere at Radio City Music Hall, Kate Cameron of the New York Daily News published a glittering review alongside an image of Snow White and her bird friends chasing the hag out of the Dwarfs’ cottage. The review was simply glowing, calling the audience “spellbound,” while noting that mostly adults attended the screening and were enraptured with the animated performances. The review also notes the music as “excellent,” the adaptation as “delightful,” and the voices having been selected “judiciously.” The film was awarded four stars for children, and four stars for adults.

January 13

January 13, 1927 – President of Walt Disney Creations S.p.A and Disney Legend Antonio Bertini is Born

“There is always a market. There is never a problem when you give a good product at the right price. And Disney is a very good product.”

On January 13, 1927, Antonio Bertini was born in Milan, Italy. He attended the University of Pavia, and while there he explored market research, a concept that was unfamiliar in Italy at the time, and eventually graduated with a Ph.D. in political science in 1955. Soon after, he joined the Lever Brothers company in Milan as a planning officer, putting his skills to use as he coordinated the operating, marketing, and publicity of the company’s four Italian factories. He joined Walt Disney Productions in 1960, after answering an anonymous ad in a newspaper, as the assistance to Major John William Holmes, the Italian sales representative. Bertini had almost immediate success; he was able to negotiate several new contracts with Italian licensees to create Disney-themed projects, ranging from toys to housewares, and was subsequently promoted to sales manager a year later. At the same time, Bertini was also asked to join the Board of Directors, and after another stellar year, Roy O. Disney personally named Bertini the president of Walt Disney Creations S.p.A. Bertini continued to expand Disney influence in Italy through the 1960s and 1970s, creating educational films for the country and creating over a $1 million in revenue; this success helped lead the way for Disney’s eventual success in the home video market through the 1980s. Bertini was also instrumental in creating a booming publishing division in Italy for the Disney books, comics, and magazines, rather than licensing out the characters to other publishers. After 30 years with the company, Bertini retired from Disney in 1990; he was honored as a Disney Legend in the category of Disney Consumer Products in 1997.

January 12

January 12, 1999 – The GO Network is Launched

On January 12, 1999, the internet portal site GO Network was launched in a joint production between Disney and Infoseek. The GO Network offered a variety of services, including chat rooms, search engines, email, and a news service. In November of that year, Disney presented a deal to, and was approved by, stakeholders to spinoff the Go Network with GO.com, and purchased Infoseek (which would merge with the Buena Vista Internet Group. On November 18, the first shares of GO.com began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2001, Disney announced that GO.com would be closing, including all the offshoot directories and the stock tracker.