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Tag Archives: 1950s

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).

February 15

February 15, 1956 – The People & Places Featurette Sardinia is Released to Theaters

On February 15, 1956, the fifth People & Places featurette Sardinia was released to theaters. Directed by Ben Sharpsteen, the featurette takes the audience on a train ride through the area of Sardinia, an area that is considered politically a region of Italy; the featurette focuses heavily on their independence and their autonomy. The audience is able to see traditional ceremonies of the Sardinian people, including a wedding and the Ardia festival.

February 4

February 4, 1958 – The Wall Street Journal Publishes Article “Disney’s Land: Dream, Diversify – and Never Miss an Angle”

“Integration is the key word around here: we don’t do anything in one line without giving a thought to its likely profitability in our other lines.”

On February 4, 1958, an article entitled “Disney’s Land: Dream, Diversify, and Never Miss an Angle” appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Written by Mitchell Gordon, the article looks at the integration of business lines within the Disney Company, using the recent release of Sleeping Beauty as an example; the film’s release also spawned success in book, tv, record, and park profits. The article also takes a look at the intricacies of the company’s employees as more than just “movie moguls,” but innovators of various fields. The article was also sent to the company’s shareholders, as it was seen as an accurate description of how the company worked across business lines.

December 26

December 26, 1957 – The Featurette Mars and Beyond is Released to Theaters

“In this exciting age when everyone seems to be talking about the future possibilities of space travel, there’s much speculation on what we will discover when we visit other worlds.”

On December 26, 1957, the featurette Mars and Beyond was released to theaters. Originally featured as an episode of the Disneyland anthology series Disneyland on December 4, 1957, it was directed by famed Nine Old Men animator Ward Kimball. The featurette was researched and written by Kimball, William Bosche, John Dunn, Charles Downs, and Con Pederson, and features technical advisors such as Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, Dr. E. C. Silpher, and Dr. Wernher von Braun. Although man had not landed on the moon by 1957, this featurette took that dream beyond by exploring what would happen should man land on Mars and explore the greater universe. It featured a mix of live-action and animated sequences, with the show’s tone ranging from humorous to more serious. This theater feature was the first non-television incarnation of the episode; parts of the short were taken to create a short film called Cosmic Capers that would be released in the United Kingdom in 1979.

December 21

December 21, 1955 – The People and Places Featurette Men Against the Arctic is Released to Theaters

On December 21, 1955, the fourth People and Places featurette, Men Against the Arctic, was released to theaters. Written and directed by Winston Hibler, this 30-minute documentary details how certain Coast Guard ships, known as “icebreakers,” are able to make their way through the substantial Arctic ice. It would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, and would also be entered into the 6th Berlin International Film Festival in 1956.

December 17

December 17, 1958 – The Featurette Grand Canyon Premieres in Theaters

On December 17, 1958, the CinemaScope featurette Grand Canyon premiered in theaters; it would later be released alongside Sleeping Beauty. Grand Canyon was similar in style to the True-Life Adventure documentaries but had a twist: the film had no narration, but was set against the “Grand Canyon Suite” by Ferde Grofé. The featurette would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Subject.

October 23

October 23, 1954 – Walt Disney Appears on the Cover of TV Guide

“Disney in TV Land: The old maestro is trying to top a fabulous career.”

On October 23, 1954, Walt Disney appeared on the front cover of TV Guide, alongside Goofy, Mickey, Pluto, Donald, and Dopey. The picture was meant to describe the featured article: “Why Disney Changed His Mind About TV,” which was all about Walt Disney’s newest show, Disneyland, which would be the first incarnation of the long-running anthology series. The article featured exclusive sketches of what would become Disneyland, and explained why Disney finally took the plunge and entered the realm of television.

September 13

September 13, 1959 – The Rainbow Mountain Stage Coaches Attraction Closes

On September 13, 1959, after only about four years of operation, the Rainbow Mountain Stage Coach attraction was officially closed. The attraction first opened in 1955 as the Stage Coaches, and was reopened as Rainbow Mountain Stage Coaches on June 26, 1956. Guests boarded a stagecoach and traveled around Frontierland, particularly through the Living Desert and other updates to the area. Unfortunately, the attraction was forced to close due to the horses continually getting spooked by the Disneyland Railroad rolling by.

August 27

August 27, 1955 – The Mickey Mouse Club Theater Opens in Disneyland

                     Image credit: D23

“Walt Disney’s Cartoon Carnival”

On August 27, 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club Theater opened in Disneyland’s Fantasyland. The air conditioned theater gave guests a chance to sit down and enjoy some of the classic Mickey Mouse and friends cartoon short films that had dominated the 1930s and 40s. The shorts available were on a rotating schedule, and the theater itself was only open to guests during peak periods at the park. At one point, the theater offered an event called the 3D Jamboree, where guests put on their 3-D glasses to enjoy the short films Melody and Working for Peanuts, which were introduced by the Mouseketeers. As the only theater in the park, until the Opera House opened in the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction, the theater was also used for special press conferences and cast member events. It was renamed the Fantasyland Theater in 1964, and was converted to a live performance venue. The theater closed on December 20, 1981, to make way for the new Pinocchio’s Daring Journey attraction, which would open in 1983.

August 16

August 16, 1958 – The Main Street Fire Truck Begins Operating in Disneyland

“Travel back in time during a breezy, one-way drive down Main Street, U.S.A. in a charming turn-of-the-century vehicle.”

On August 16, 1958, the Main Street Fire Truck began running in Disneyland. Based on the first fire engines that operated at the turn-of-the-century, guests are able to ride down Main Street and travel all the way to the front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Versions of the Fire Truck have also been added to Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World (added on October 1, 1971), World Bazaar in Tokyo Disneyland (added on April 15, 1983), and Main Street of Disneyland Paris (added April 12, 1992).