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Tag Archives: 1970s

June 20

June 20, 1976 – River Country Water Park Opens in Walt Disney World

“The fun loving, carefree spirit of Huck Finn is alive in River Country.”

On June 20, 1976, the water park River Country opened in Walt Disney World, right next to Fort Wilderness. Designed to resemble an old-fashioned swimming hole the likes of Huckleberry Finn, Imagineers created a miniature mountain range for the five waterslides. Part of the nearby Bay Lake, the Bay Cove area was a half-acre lake with a sand-bottom, and held almost 330,000 gallons of water. The popularity of River Country led to Disney opening two more water parks: Typhoon Lagoon in 1989, and Blizzard Beach in 1995. River Country was permanently closed on September 1, 2001, and was left as an “abandoned” park within Walt Disney World’s property.

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June 12

June 12, 1975 – America on Parade Begins in Disneyland

“Floats throughout America on Parade represented historical, cultural and scientific achievements throughout the first 200 years of our nation.”

On June 12, 1975, the daytime parade America on Parade began its run in Disneyland. Celebrating the bicentennial of the United States of America, the parade featured special floats and character costumes that celebrated the history, culture, and heroes of the country, accompanied by a medley of popular songs. The parade was also led by Mickey, Goofy, and Donald, dressed in the “Spirit of ‘76” costumes. This parade was the first time that the parks on both coasts jointly worked on a production, which was viewed by over 25 million guests. The Disneyland version of the parade ran for 678 productions, ending on September 12, 1976.

June 7

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June 7, 1975 – The Mission to Mars Attraction Opens in Walt Disney World

“Our Mission to Mars takes place sometime in the future, when a sightseeing trip to the red planet is an everyday adventure.”

On June 7, 1975, the Mission to Mars attraction opened in Walt Disney World. Similar to the original attraction that opened in Disneyland on March 21, 1975, the Walt Disney World attraction gave guests an idea of how it would be if humans could travel to Mars. Both park versions were updated from the original Flight to the Moon attraction, which had become outdated after man had made it to the moon in 1969. The Walt Disney World attraction closed on October 4, 1993.

May 20

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May 20, 1973 – The Plaza Swan Boats Attraction Opens

“Enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Magic Kingdom’s inland waterways.”

On May 20, 1973, the Plaza Swan Boats attraction opened in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park. The attraction, a free-floating swan boat, sailed around Cinderella Castle in a specially built moat, and provided guests an opportunity to leisurely view the Magic Kingdom. The attraction was used during peak periods of attendance until August 1983, when they were shut down permanently. The boats have since been auctioned off to collectors.

April 9

April 9, 1978 – Ten Disney Animators are Honored by Delta Kappa Alpha

“This evening, we pay tribute to the achievements of Walt Disney Productions and the men who worked there. Delta Kappa Alpha is proud to present its Pioneer in Film Award to both the Disney Studio and the ten veteran animators who helped create many classics.”

On April 9, 1978, the 39th annual awards banquet for the Delta Kappa Alpha fraternity was held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. The fraternity was founded in 1937 and was dedicated “to the furthering of the film arts and to the promotion of better relations between the academic and practicing members of the industry, both theatrical and non-theatrical.” This banquet honored ten animators from Walt Disney Productions: members of the Nine Old Men (Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Marc Davis, Ward Kimball, Woolie Reitherman, Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Milt Kahl), and Ken Anderson.

March 29

March 29, 1979 – Disney Sells the Celebrity Sports Center to Griffin, Leavitt, and the Writer Brothers

“…although Celebrity Center is a small part of the Disney enterprises it received a large share of [Disney’s] attention.” – Rocky Mountain News

On March 29, 1979, the Walt Disney Company sold the Celebrity Sports Center to the group of Griffin, Leavitt, and the Writer Brothers for an undisclosed sum. Located in Denver, Colorado, the center was opened in 1960, funded by several celebrity investors, including Walt Disney. The area was built to be a “huge play center,” featuring entertainments including bowling and swimming. After Disney’s death in 1966, the purpose of the center changed to that of a training ground for Walt Disney World employees. When it was sold, it was well known that Disney wasn’t sure what to do with the property, though it had been financially successful for the company. The area was closed entirely on June 15, 1994.

December 28

December 28, 1972 – Walt Disney World’s Airport Closes

“Shawnee Airlines now serving Sarasota, Miami, Tampa and Walt Disney World”

On December 28, 1972, Walt Disney World’s personal STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing) airport, also known as Lake Buena Vista Airport, closed permanently. The airport had opened in 1971 to be a private airfield for the park, shuttling guests and cast members between the park and the two nearby airports: Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport. When the airport closed, it was considered a failed experiment by Disney; it was closed thanks to low customer participation and rising debt.