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Tag Archives: Walt Disney World

April 23

April 23, 1993 – Walker Ranch Officially Becomes Disney Wilderness Preserve

“Without [Carol Browner’s] vision, we would continue to have the kind of thoughtless development that has been consuming Florida.” – Dick Weinstein, The Nature Conservancy.

On April 23, 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a special ceremony as the famed Walker Ranch became the new Disney Wilderness Preserve. Spearheaded by Carol Browner, who was then the secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Disney bought the property to compensation for the 12 miles of wetlands the company is to tear down for the purposes of expanding Walt Disney World; the plan had Disney hand the reins of the former ranch to the Nature Conservancy to turn it into a preservation site, with Disney handling all costs associated. Though the ranch had several instances of foresting and dredging on the property, it was still considered a key piece of the 45,000 acres that make the headway of the Kissimmee River, and was also home to two endangered species: the bald eagle and the wood stork.

April 22

April 22, 1998 – The Merchandise Stop Ziwani Traders Opens in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“There’s no telling the treasures you might discover.”

On April 22, 1998, the shop Ziwani Traders opened in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This specialty merchandise store offers items off the beaten track than regular Disney merchandise stores, as it gives guests a chance to see and purchase authentic African imports, as well as animal toys and other interesting items. The shop shares its space with the Mombasa Marketplace, and are both located near the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

April 19

April 19, 2009 – Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain Attraction Closes for Refurbishment

“When renovation work finishes on the Space Mountain attraction at Walt Disney World Resort, it’ll be the same classic experience with a few new surprises.”

On April 19, 2009, the popular Walt Disney World attraction Space Mountain closed down for a much needed refurbishment. Although it was the first of all the Space Mountain attractions to be built, the Walt Disney World version’s rebuild was done after Disneyland Paris’ and Disneyland’s versions. Major changes to update the classic attraction included asteroid blasting games to play while in the queue, which extends the ride’s overall story to those waiting in line; the overall look of the attraction was updated to make it appear less dated and more 21st Century. The attraction was reopened to guests in November, 2009.

April 17

April 17, 2016 – The Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon is Held in Walt Disney World

“Follow Your Dark Side”

On April 17, 2016, the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon was held in Walt Disney World. The celebration weekend kicked off on April 14, with the half marathon taking place on the 17th. This event, themed after the classic Star Wars series of films, was designed to be half of a Star Wars challenge, with Disneyland hosting the “Light Side” while Walt Disney World would host the “Dark Side.”  Plenty of guests dressed up in Star Wars-themed outfits and met characters from the franchise, including Stormtroopers. Jason Ryf from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, won the race with a time of 1:13:39, while Katie McGrath from Oakdale, New York, was the female finisher with a time of 1:24:05.

April 13

April 13, 2015 – The Restaurant The Boathouse Opens in Disney Springs

“Set sail for upscale waterfront dining at Disney Springs – complete with retro dream boats, from vintage American Amphicars to romantic Italian Water Taxis

On April 13, 2015, the upscale restaurant The Boathouse opened in Disney Springs (previously Downtown Disney). The restaurant serves American style food, from steaks to seafood, including a raw bar; it is placed at The Landing, giving guests a good view of the water as they dine. The restaurant also offers champagne and wine-tasting cruises around the restaurant in an Italian water taxi.

April 8

April 8, 1974 – The Nature Preserve Treasure Island Opens in Walt Disney World

On April 8, 1974, the nature preserve Treasure Island opened in Walt Disney World. Renamed Discovery Island in 1977, it was an 11.5-acre wildlife sanctuary to several types of exotic and engendered animals and birds. It was originally planned to have a theme based on the live action film Treasure Island; although that idea was quickly scrapped, some remnants of the idea remained, including a wrecked ship on one of the area’s shores. The area was closed on April 8, 1999 and has been left abandoned. The area is not to be confused with the part of Animal Kingdom also known as Discovery Island, though Animal Kingdom has since taken over Disney’s animal conservation activities.

April 7

April 7, 2001 – The Interactive Attraction Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – Play It Opens in Disney-MGM Studios

“Where in the world can YOU get into the hot seat?”

On April 7, 2001, the interactive attraction Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – Play It opened in Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World. Based on the hit ABC game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, hosted by Disney Legend Regis Philbin, contestants could compete to win points that could be redeemed for special prizes, including the top prize of a Disney Cruise Line vacation. The attraction proved popular enough to be replicated in Disney’s California Adventure, opening on September 14, 2001. The original version of the attraction lasted longer than the DCA version, with the Disney-MGM attraction closing on August 19, 2006.