July 24 1966: New Orleans Square opens at Disneyland
Disneyland, California, premiered their new area; New Orleans Square. This land is based on 19th Century New Orleans, Louisiana. The debut featured a ceremony presided over by Walt Disney and the real mayor of New Orleans, Victor Schiro. “I had the honor of standing next to Walt for the opening of New Orleans Square. His eyes missed no detail and he spoke of how he would improve on the concept. Accompanying us was the mayor of New Orleans” (Disneyland Ambassador Connie Swanson.) This was the first new “land” to be opened since Disneyland’s opening in 1955. This expansion cost $18 million and encompassed 3-acres. This land debuted without a single ride, though it housed many shops and restaurants, for example, the One of a Kind shop and Mademoiselle Antoinette’s Parfumerie. Due to his failing health, this turned out to be Walt’s last major public appearance in the park.
July 23 1956: Junior Autopia debuts
Due to the popularity of the Tomorrowland Autopia, Walt Disney and his Imagineers quickly created Junior Autopia on an unused piece of land across from Storybook Land. These cars were more kid-friendly, as they had booster blocks on the gas pedals. But, other than that, the cars and tracks were identical. In 1958 Junior Autopia closed, as Disneyland needed more space for the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Monorail.
July 22 1994: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opens in Walt Disney World
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction opens on Sunset Boulevard at Disney World’s Disney-MGM Studios. This attraction is a freefall thrill ride and is themed after the television series The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling. This attraction is supposedly taking place in the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel (based off the Hollywood Tower, a real structure built in 1929 and named a historic landmark). The ride is struck by lightning, as it does in the show, and transporting an elevator to the Twilight Zone.
Watch the full attraction HERE
July 22 1955: New Attractions at Disneyland
At Disneyland, the Candy Palace opens on Main Street. Rocket to the Moon—presented by TWA—opens in Tomorrowland. This attraction simulated a ride to the moon. Guests sat in a theater, viewing their journey on screens. The iconic rocket—the Moonliner—stood outside the attraction building. Also, future teen idol, Bobby Sherman and his family, were vising the park for his birthday.
July 22 1949: Alan Menken is born
Alan Menken was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1949. Menken is an Academy Award-winning songwriter. He is known best for his Disney classics. His songs are featured in The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Hercules and Pocahontas. Menken’s classics include “Under the Sea”, “Kiss the Girl”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Be Our Guest”, “A Whole New World” and “Colors of the Wind”. In 2001 he was named a Disney Legend.
July 21 1952: Robin Williams is born
Comedian-actor Robin Williams is born in Chicago, Illinois. He is the voice of the Blue Genie of the Lamp in Disney’s 1992 Aladdin. He is also the voice of Timekeeper in the 1992 From Time to Time. His powerful vocal performance established the importance in voice actor casting. He also starred in Disney’s 1997 Flubber and the 2009 comedy Old Dogs. That same year he was inducted as a Disney Legend.
July 20 1955: Tomorrowland Boats
The Tomorrowland Boats debuted in the Tomorrowland Lagoon, which is approximately where the Submarine Voyage Lagoon is now located. The Tomorrowland Boats were the equivalent of an aquatic Autopia, and were a B ticket. This ride featured 14 brightly painted, gas-powered fiberglass boats! There were many mechanical problems that caused this attraction to be the shortest lived Disneyland ride, and the very first to close. Before the closing, though, Disneyland came up with a couple of solutions to the problems. Along with redesigning the boats, this attraction was given a new name; Phantom Boats. The attraction became a money-loser, as each boat only fit 2-3 people, and there were only 14 boats. The Phantom Boats took their final lap in August of 1956.
July 20 1951: 101st Donald Duck Cartoon
Lucky Number, the 101st Donald Duck cartoon, is released. The cartoon features Huey, Dewey and Louie, as they pick up a car Donald had won from a sweepstakes. Trouble ensues.
July 19 1955: The Disneyland News
A 12-year-old Californian, Tom Nabbe, began working at Disneyland as a “newsie”. The Disneyland News was published monthly, covering new events happening at Disneyland. The paper cost a dime, and Nabbe earns 3 cents per copy. Nabbe went on to become Disneyland’s first Tom Sawyer, a monorail manager, manager of distribution services at Disney World. In 2005, he became a Disney Legend.