Welcome back to another installment of Disney Parks History! Have you all recovered from your Saint Patrick’s Day weekend festivities? I hope so because we’ve got a longer one for you this month. So read on to check out all of the fun happenings over the years from the month of March.
1967: Can you believe Pirates of the Caribbean debuted at Disneyland Park over fifty years ago? It’s a fan favorite, and in speaking of the classic attraction, the legendary Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar said, “From a story standpoint, from a design standpoint, everything we do is kind of measured against Pirates of the Caribbean.” The attraction even went on to inspire four more Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disney Parks around the globe.
1969: To celebrate the release of The Love Bug, Disneyland welcomed 101 Volkswagen Beetle cars inside the park. Owners decorated their cars and competed for prizes. The grand prize winner won a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle!
1975: Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened, and if you’re wondering what that is, you’re not alone. Turns out, Disney Springs has had quite a few names over the years. Most people know it as Downtown Disney and maybe even Walt Disney World Village or Disney Village Marketplace. But when the area first opened, it was known as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. Early shops included Toys Fantastique and Pottery Chalet.
1983: The original Journey into Imagination debuted at Walt Disney World. As someone with fond childhood memories of the original, I know I’m not alone in wishing we could have this version back! Do you think it would live up to the hype if it was recreated?
1986: Alice’s Tea Party, the third version of the popular spinning teacups attraction, opened at Tokyo Disneyland.
1986: Walt Disney World welcomed the 500,000,000th guest to a Disney park. Less than a decade later they would welcome the 1 billionth!
1995: Indiana Jones Adventure debuted in Disneyland, and like Pirates of the Caribbean decades before, it quickly became a classic for the other parks to copy. Dinosaur, which would open years later in Animal Kingdom, used the ride system and track layout from Indiana Jones Adventure.
1996: Disney opened a Vacation Club Resort at the popular beach destination, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
1999: Test Track finally officially opened after almost two years of delays. It replaced World of Motion and believe it or not, the 65 mph speed test makes it the fastest ride in Walt Disney World.
1999: The Asia section, home to the Maharajah Jungle Trek, opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom almost a full year after the official opening of the park.
2002: Walt Disney Studios Paris opened adjacent to Disneyland Paris. Similar to Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure, it was designed to give you a behind the scenes glimpse into production of TV and movies, though it never had a functioning studio. Some of the higher rated attractions at this park include Cinemagique (which might sound somewhat familiar to those following the rumors of a Hollywood Studios name change), Ratatouille: The Adventure, and Crush’s Coaster, an indoor spinning roller coaster.
2005: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters opened at Disneyland. If you, like me, have never been to Disneyland, you might have thought this attraction would be similar to the bumper-car-style attraction at the former DisneyQuest. Nope. This is actually Disneyland’s version of Disney World’s Space Ranger Spin. Actor Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz, even made an appearance for the opening ceremony.
2007: Ever wish you could catch IllumiNations twice in one night? Or maybe watch a nighttime show in a different park and then follow it up with a late version of IllumiNations? Back in 2007, you could! During extra magic hours in April, they increased the showings to twice in one night at 9 pm and again at 11:30 pm. I can’t wrap my head around how many fireworks that must have required and how quickly they had to work to get it all reset for another showing.
2008: How many of you have seen the glass blowing segment on the Magical Express video? Glass blowing demonstrations premiered in Magic Kingdom in 2008 with the expansion of the Crystal Arts store on Main Street, U.S.A.
2012: Disney celebrated the christening and maiden voyage of the Disney Fantasy. Celebrities on hand for the christening in New York City included Mariah Carey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Neil Patrick Harris. Here’s a cool look back at the construction from the Disney Parks Blog.
2013: New Fantasyland opened in stages, and March 2013 brought the opening of the first area, Storybook Circus.
2013: Everyone’s favorite bathrooms in Walt Disney World, the Tangled themed bathrooms, opened in Fantasyland.
2013: Storytelling at Royal Theatre and The Royal Hall opened at Disneyland Park.
2014: Disney Festival of Fantasy parade replaced the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade as Magic Kingdom’s daytime parade.
2016: Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters opened in the Cars Land of California Adventure. Using trackless GPS technology, the cars spin and dance around each other to different songs, making each ride a slightly different experience.
Well that’s it for this month. See you in April!