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Monthly Archives: March 2019

March 31

March 31, 1999 – Disney Completes Purchase of the California Angels

On March 31, 1999, the Walt Disney Company completed its purchase of the California Angels baseball team, following the death of actor Gene Autry. Disney first announced its intentions in buying a stake in the baseball team on May 18, 1995, purchasing about 25% from Autry, who was the owner of the team. Disney finished their acquisition of this stake almost a year later in 1996, and Disney Sports Enterprises became the team’s Managing General Partner. Disney also invested about $100 million in renovating the Anaheim Stadium, which was completed in 1998. Although Disney bought the entire team in 1999, they would eventually sell the team on May 22, 2003.

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March 30

March 30, 1996 – The Mike Fink Keel Boats Attraction Reopens in Disneyland

On March 30, 1996, the Mike Fink Keel Boats attraction reopened in Disneyland after being closed for two years. The attraction, named after the boats from the Davy Crockett television serial (specifically the episode “Davy Crockett’s Keel Boat Race”), had originally been open since December 25, 1955, before it closed in 1994. This reopening was short-lived, however, as the attraction was closed permanently on May 17, 1997. Versions of the attraction were available in Walt Disney World (opening on October 1, 1971), and Disneyland Paris (also known as River Rogue Keelboats, and opening April 12, 1992).

March 29

March 29, 1955 – Disney Brokers Deal with Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway Company

On March 29, 1955, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company became an official sponsor for the new Disneyland park, particularly lending the Santa Fe name to the proposed railroad attraction. This sponsorship, which cost $50,000 a year for five years (almost $474,000 in 2019 dollars), allowed the railway attraction to be known as the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad; this name would be changed to simply the Disneyland Railroad when sponsorship ended on September 30, 1974. The money from this sponsorship allowed the attraction to be ready on opening day of the park, July 17, 1955, and featured two steam locomotives: the C.K. Holliday (named for the founder of Atchison and Topeka Railway, Cyrus Kurtz Holliday), and the E.P. Ripley (named for Edward Payson Ripley, the first president of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway).

March 28

March 28, 2002 – The Video Game Kingdom Hearts is Released in Japan

君という光が私を見つける 真夜中に”

On March 28, 2002, the video game Kingdom Hearts was released in Japan. Created through a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios, the game features the characters from the famous Final Fantasy series of games and The World Ends with You Square Enix game in an elaborate crossover. The game is set in a special Disney universe, where main character Sora must travel to different character worlds, accompanied by magician Donald and knight Goofy, to fight against Ansem and his army of evil beings known as the Heartless. The game was eventually released in North America on September 17, 2002. Its theme song was “Hikari” by J-Pop artist Hikaru Utada; she would also sing the English version known as “Simple and Clean.” The game was critically successful upon its release, and spawned a franchise that, as of 2019, features 14 games on a variety of platforms.

March 27

March 27, 1961 – The Snow White Grotto Opens in Disneyland

“Nestled amid the greenery near Sleeping Beauty Castle, the lovely little water wonderland adorned with handcrafted figures of Snow White, Doc, Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy and Dopey…”

On March 27, 1961, the Snow White Grotto area opened in Disneyland, just outside of Sleeping Beauty Castle. The grotto came about due to a collection of marble sculptures that Walt had ordered from Italy, and Imagineer John Hench was asked to create an area to display them. Hench was dismayed, however, to find that Snow White and the dwarfs were the same size (this sizing issue apparently was traced back to a package of Snow White gift soaps, from which the models were based, which featured the characters all the same size), and used “forced perspective” to make it appear that Snow White was larger than the dwarfs. The marble statues have since been replaced by fiberglass statues after the marble became discolored through the years. The area also features a wishing well, where guests can throw coins and make their wish, with the proceeds donated to charity. In 1983, the original voice of Snow White, Adriana Castelotti, was asked to come in and rerecord “I’m Wishing” for the New Fantasyland opening. The song is heard over the waterfall and echoing back from the well.

March 26

March 26, 2003 – The Circle-Vision 360° Film Wonders of China Ends its Run

“I’ve come to show you modern China.”

On March 26, 2003, the Circle-Vision 360° film Wonders of China officially ended its run in Epcot’s China Pavilion. Having run since October 1, 1982, the film gave guests panoramic views of China, ranging from its landmarks to its culture. The film would also be used in alternation with the film American Journeys in the Circle-Vision Theater in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland from 1984 to 1996. In Epcot, the film was replaced with Reflections of China, which was an updated version of the original film with additions of new areas Hong Kong and Macau, as well as updated looks at several popular cities.

March 25

March 25, 1991 – Dick Tracy Wins Three Academy Awards

“Baby, you’re mine on a platter, I always get my man.”

On March 25, 1991, the 63rd Academy Awards were held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. At this ceremony, the Touchstone Pictures film Dick Tracey, nominated for seven awards, walked away with three: Best Original Song for ”Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man),” awarded to Stephen Sondheim; Best Art Direction, awarded to Richard Sylbert for Art Direction and Rick Simpson for Set Direction; and Best Makeup for John Caglione Jr. and Doug Drexler.