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August 31

August 31, 1964 – The Dapper Dans Sing at Anaheim Stadium Groundbreaking

“Let me root, root, root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame.”

On August 31, 1964, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Anaheim Stadium was held, with the Disneyland Dapper Dans singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in front of 4,000 guests and visiting dignitaries in an event known as the “Biggest Moment in Orange County Sports History.” The $24 million stadium is located just a few miles from Disneyland, and would be home for the eventually Disney-owned team the Anaheim Angels. The stadium was completed in 1966.

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.

December 10

December 10, 1992 – The NHL Awards a Franchise to the Walt Disney Company

“The Walt Disney Co. is betting that the NHL has recovered from a period of spotty popularity to emerge as the professional sport with the best investment potential, especially in regards to international expansion.”

On December 10, 1992, the NHL officially awarded a new franchise to the Walt Disney Company, which was part of a larger expansion detail that also gave a team to South Florida (which would become the Florida Panthers). The team awarded to Disney became the Mighty Ducks, named after the surprise hit film The Mighty Ducks. The team began to play during the 1993-1994 season. The team played their first game on September 18, 1993. Disney would end up selling the Mighty Ducks in 2005, with the sale final on June 20, 2005.

October 29

October 29, 2002 – Disneyland Celebrates the Angels Winning the World Series

“The event was a home run for Angels fans of all ages.”

On October 29, 2002, Disneyland celebrated the Anaheim Angels’ first World Series championship win with a special parade running through the park. The parade featured the team; Jackie Autry, the widow of the team’s founder Gene Autry; Angels manager Mike Scioscia; and, of course, the World Series trophy. The parade traveled between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and was accompanied by a special dance party and a fireworks show.

May 18

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May 18, 1995 – Disney Announces Purchase of California Angels

“Baseball is already very family oriented, but I’m sure what we would do is build on what Gene Autry has already achieved in the last three decades.” – John Dreyer, Disney Spokesman

On May 18, 1995, The Walt Disney Company announced that it had agreed to purchase a 25% interest in the California Angels baseball team from owners Gene and Jackie Autry, with the option to buy the other 75% at a later date. The team had been up for sale for over a year at this point, and although Disney declined to give details on the purchase, industry experts estimated that the cost of the purchase was about $30 million. This was Disney’s second franchise purchase, with the first being the Mighty Ducks in 1992. Disney would eventually purchase the rest of the team on May 15, 1996, after Autry’s passing.

October 8

October 8, 1993 – The Mighty Ducks Play First NHL Game

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“The Ducks lost the game, 7-2, but more important than the result that night was the birth of a franchise that would go on to reach great heights.”

On October 8, 1993, the Disney-owned NHL hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks, played their first game as an official NHL team. The team had been founded by Disney in 1992 as a way to promote the hockey film The Mighty Ducks, and was originally an expansion team. At this game the Ducks played against the Detroit Red Wings at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. The Ducks lost this game to the Red Wings 7 to 2, but would go on to have a successful career in the NHL with nine playoff appearances.

February 25

February 25, 2005 – Disney Sells the Mighty Ducks Hockey Team

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“We are confident that Henry and Susan Samueli will bring continued success to the Ducks and we will remain among the biggest fans of the team going forward.” – Michael Eisner

On February 25, 2005, Disney sold the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team to Broadcom Corporation co-founder Henry Samueli and his wife Susan. The team was originally founded by Disney in 1993, named after the hit 1992 film The Mighty Ducks, and Disney had tried to sell the team since 2002. In 2004, when the NHL’s labor dispute led to a lockout of the 2004-2005 season, Disney tried to sell again at well below the franchise’s original price. Samueli bought the team for $75 million, and promised to keep the Ducks in Orange County, California. The team would late be renamed the Anaheim Ducks.