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November 22

November 22, 1991 – The Beauty and the Beast Live Show Opens in Disney-MGM Studios

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“Relive the romance and magic of the ‘tale as old as time’ in this lush stage performance.”

On November 22, 1991, the Beauty and the Beast live stage show opened in Disney-MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios). Based on, and used to promote, the animated feature film that would go on to critical acclaim, the 25 minute show features actors in elaborate costumes with intricate sets. The show was popular enough to have a version open in Disneyland’s Videopolis on April 11, 1992, and at Disneyland Paris on December 31, 1992; the show was also popular enough to warrant the creation of a Broadway musical. While the Disneyland and Disneyland Paris productions would eventually close, the Walt Disney World version is still running as of 2016.

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May 9

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May 9, 2008 – The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Hosts The Magical Music of Disney

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“‘Be Our Guest’ as you ‘Step in Time’ to the Magical Music of Disney.”

On May 9, 2008, a special performance by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra entitled The Magical Music of Disney was presented. The special orchestration, held from May 9 through May 11, featured pieces from Disney classics both new and old, ranging from Mary Poppins to Beauty and the Beast. The orchestra was joined by singers and dancers to accompany the popular pieces. Similar performances have been held at other concert halls, adding more popular pieces through the years, including instrumentals from Pirates of the Caribbean to the hit songs from Frozen.

August 14

August 14, 1939 – Donald Duck Day is Celebrated at the 1939 World’s Fair

Image courtesy of the New York Public Library

Image courtesy of the New York Public Library

“Donald Duck arrives at National Biscuit Company Exhibit: presents gifts to first 500 juvenile guests and meets Judy Canova.”

On August 14, 1939, it was declared Donald Duck Day at the 1939 World’s Fair, held in New York’s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. A three foot model of the famous duck was flown in from the Disney Studios to make an appearance beginning at noon. Donald was on hand to show his latest short film, Donald’s Penguin. Donald was also, in tribute to his popularity, awarded an honorary doctorate as the Doctor of International Friendship (D.I.F) from the Professor of American History at Yale University.

April 9

April 9, 1938 – Snow White and Dopey Appear on the Cover of Liberty Magazine

“Walt isn’t a bit surprised. He’s known all along bow marvelously he could, in his own way, make that story.”

On April 9, 1938, Liberty Magazine published an issue with a cover story about the success of the animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, four months after the film’s release. The cover featured an illustration of Snow White kissing Dopey on the head as he heads off to work, mimicking one of the iconic scenes of the film. The article itself, titled “The Story Behind Snow White’s $10,000,000 Surprise Party,” touches on the modesty of Walt Disney, as well as his unwavering belief in the film’s success. There are also some interesting facts about the challenges bringing the film to the silver screen, as the British Board of Film Censors “declared the film was harmful for children,” and speculation on how Dopey was the driving force for the success of the film, as Dopey “proceeded to steal the show and come to life.”

February 14

February 14, 2011 – The Disney Junior Show Jake and the Never Land Pirates Premieres

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“It’s truly a pleasure to make off with your treasure!”

On February 14, 2011, the Disney Junior show Jake and the Never Land Pirates premiered. Based on the story Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, as well as the Disney film version of the story, the series involves three children who form the Never Land Pirates, tasked by Peter Pan to protect Never Land in his absence from Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. The series has received many positive reviews from critics, and the character of Jake has become the breakout character, leading to appearances in the Disney parks among other aspects. The series was created by Bobs Gannaway and is directed by Howy Parkins. It stars Colin Ford, Cameron Boyce, and Sean Ryan Fox as Jake, Madison Pettis and Megan Richie as Izzy, Jonathan Morgan Heit and Jadon Sand as Cubby, David Arquette as Skully, Corey Burton as Hook, and Jeff Bennett as Mr. Smee.

The first segment, “Hide the Hideout,” begins with Jake, Izzy, and Cubby building a sandcastle on the beach, but before long Skully the parrot warns the group that Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger, is on its way to their shores. Hook has a plan to find where Jake’s hideout is, and will travel the entire island to claim Jake’s hideout for himself. Cubby wants to hide, and Jake declares they need to hide the hideout from Hook. The group readies themselves with their tools: Jake with his sword, Cubby with his map, and Izzy with her pixie dust. The group then runs to a special tiki statue that contains a lever to open the door to the hideout. Inside, the three work hard to seal their hideout away from Captain Hook. Jake is certain that their hideout is sufficiently hidden.

Hook searches everywhere for Jake's hideout, but doesn't realize the door's secret lever is right behind him

Hook searches everywhere for Jake’s hideout, but doesn’t realize the door’s secret lever is right behind him

Hook arrives at the island and searches for the hideout, but is unable to find anything, although he accidentally keeps opening the door to the hideout without noticing. Unfortunately, one of the hatch doors is still open, which could reveal the hideout. Jake decides that they need to distract Hook and close the hatch. Izzy comes up with an idea to distract hook with monkey noises while Cubby crawls up to the hatch. At the top of the hill, Cubby uses a water cannon to push Hook and Smee from the hill and into the ocean. As they try again, Hook falls down a hollow tree and goes through a slide through the hideout, though his hat obstructs his view. Eventually, Hook is able to find a door in the side of a hill, and Cubby decides to stop Hook by pretending to be a fly with the use of Izzy’s pixie dust. Hook is once again sent through the inner workings of the hideout and out into the ocean. In the end, Hook catches a cold from falling in the water, and Smee takes him back to the ship to recover. The group celebrates with a song.

The second segment, “The Old Shell Game,” starts with the group playing a game on the beach, when Izzy finds a beautiful sea shell. Hook, however, also spies the shell and decides to take it for his own collection. Hook manages to steal it from Izzy using a plunger, but Jake vows to steal it back from Hook. The group boards their ship and heads off after Hook, and works on a plan to get it back. They decide to first ask nicely, but Hook tells them that he will never give it back. Smee then notices that the shell is missing, and both groups find that it’s floating on a log in the ocean. As it travels through a group of rocks, both ships have to avoid the rock formations, but Jake’s ship Bucky sets up the raft for the group. Between Hook’s rowboat and Jake’s raft, it’s a race for the shell. Jake and the group manage to beat Hook to the shell, just barely, only to find the seashell has moved to a high cliff. Skully manages to claim the seashell from Hook, but Hook is able to nab it in the end, only to have it pinch him. Izzy finally manages to get her shell from Hook after using some pixie dust to fly, and although she’s happy to have her shell back, she finds that there’s a hermit crab living in the shell. They take the crab back to Pirate Island, and Izzy allows the crab to keep his shell. The episode ends with a musical performance by the Never Land Pirate Band.

February 7

February 7, 1938 – The Daily Donald Duck Comic Strip Begins

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“Come back and fight like a man!”

On February 7, 1938, the daily newspaper comic strip for Donald Duck began publishing. Four years after his premiere in the Silly Symphony The Little Wise Hen, the series was first written by artist Al Taliaferro, who had worked on the Silly Symphony comics in the newspapers. Taliaferro lobbied hard for Donald to get his own strip, and after a lot of hesitation from Roy Disney and the comic department, Taliaferro was allowed to make Donald a solo star in the Silly Symphony comics. These strips were popular enough to be collected in a 64-page comic book from Western Publishing; the book itself surprised everyone with the high number of sales. This first strip in the Silly Symphony comic to feature Donald, and begin the comic career of the duck, has a plot similar to the Mickey Mouse short film Mickey’s Circus, where Donald is trying, and failing, to command the trained seals.

January 23

January 23, 1942 – The Donald Duck Wartime Propaganda Short Film The New Spirit is Delivered

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“Oh boy! Taxes to beat the Axis!”

On January 23, 1942, the Donald Duck wartime propaganda film The New Spirit was delivered to the Treasury Department under the support of the War Activities Committee. It was directed by Wilfred Jackson and Ben Sharpsteen. This was the first propaganda film for the US Government by the studio since the country’s entry into World War II, and the Treasury Department hoped that Disney could provide a start of the new Revenue Act of 1942 and apply the funds directly to the war effort. The Department paid $40000 for the film, asking for a very short time frame to have the film ready no later than February 15. Although there was concern about using Donald Duck for the short film, Walt had argued that using Donald was similar to MGM using Clark Gable, and Department Secretary Morgenthau agreed. Donald was seen as a cathartic character for most Americans, and his anger and patriotism resonated with a public still reeling from Pearl Harbor.

While Morgenthau was excited about the film, Congress voted to eliminate the $80,000 appropriation the Treasury had submitted to pay for the film and its marketing, as many anti-Roosevelt members thought it was a waste of money and nearly marked Walt as a war profiteer. Fortunately for the studio, The New Spirit resonated with audiences, and was hailed by the media as “an excellent bit of persuasion,” as written by the Chicago Herald-American. A survey was conducted, and 37% of those that had seen the short said it had an effect on how willing they were to pay their taxes, with further members of the audience praising the film and criticizing Congress for its failure to pay the Studio. The New Spirit was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary at the 15th Academy Awards.

Donald is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to win the war

Donald is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to win the war

The song “Yankee Doodle Spirit” is playing on the radio, with Donald dancing to its patriotic rhythm. As he listens to the radio program, Donald quickly readies himself for the threat of war. The radio announcer declares that there is something Donald can do for the war effort, and Donald states he will do anything. When Donald hears that the best thing he can do is pay his income tax, at first he is dismayed. The announcer goes on to say that his income tax is vital to the war effort, as the taxes pay for supplies for the troops to beat the Axis Powers. A new simplified form is presented, which is really all that Donald will need, along with a pen, ink, and a blotter. Donald fills out the form, and finds that he owes $13 for his taxes. He is so excited to pay his taxes that he races across the country to Washington DC to pay them in person. The announcer continues with what the taxes will be used for: factories that will make the ammunition and weapons for the soldiers, planes, and battleships.