Good morning! This day in Disney history, June 23rd, 1956: The Skyway to Fantasyland & Skyway to Tomorrowland begins transporting guests across the park.
Walt heard of a system being tested in Switzerland in 1955 & of course HAD to have one! After figuring out where the attraction would be placed in the park, he purchased a used 1947 Type 101 Sidechair #5, which was one of the Von Roll prototypes who was based in Bern, Switzerland. When Walt & the imagineers bought the ride, it became the 1st Von Roll aerial ropeway in the USA.
Walt, & Dr Walter Smidt, the Swiss Consul General of Los Angeles presided over the opening ceremonies. 42 gondolas carried 2 guests @ a time over the park. They were dispatched at about every 9 seconds & moved @ 4 mph. The Skyway gave guests an overview of the park between two stations: one in Fantasyland (where the drive system was located) & the other in Tomorrowland (where 35,000 pounds of ballast kept the 2400' long cables taut). In between was the peak, a support tower located on Holiday Hill (basically a mound of dirt, which later became the Matterhorn). In 1959 after the Matterhorn was added, guests rode through it!
Did YOU ever ride the Skyway? What did you think of it?
Also on this day in 1963:The Enchanted Tiki Room(a favorite for my minis) opened to the public in Adventureland! It was the 1st attraction to cost $1million+, first fully air-conditioned building & 1st to feature Audio-Animatronics developed by WED Enterprises. United Airlines was the 1st official sponsor, but later changed to Dole. Originally owned by Walt Disney (through WED Enterprises) it was to be a restaurant featuring AA birds serenading guests as they dined. The “magic fountain” was to be a coffee station (a storage compartment remains in the base) and the restaurant would have shared its kitchen with the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace (for more info about the terrace: http://tinyurl.com/mts76t7 & Plaza Pavilion Restaurant. Since ownership was separate from the rest of the park, a small admission of 75¢ was charged.
José is red, white, & green & speaks w/a Mexican accent (Wally Boag) Michael is white & green w/ an Irish brogue (Fulton Burley) Pierre is red, white, & blue & has a French accent (Ernie Newton) Fritz red, black, & white has a German accent (Thurl Ravenscroft, voice of Hawaiian God Tangaroa-Ru near the entrance)
The birds all have real feathers w/ the exception of the chest area which is covered in custom-woven cashmere, allowing the figures to “breathe” in a lifelike manner (inspired by an employee at a planning meeting who wore a cashmere sweater which moved at the elbows exactly the way the engineers envisioned). To watch a few clips of historical footage from the Tiki Room: http://tinyurl.com/mkt2bcx
225+ talking, singing, & dancing birds, flowers, the magic fountain, tiki drummers & tiki totem poles make this attraction a MUST SEE in my opinion. Hopefully all you lucky people in the park will stop by for a dole whip and birthday performance today!
Have you been in the Tiki Room? Do have a favorite song or part of the show?
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Mr. Disney was one of five children, four boys and a girl. He was the fourth born Disney son. He was named after his parents pastor and friend Walter Parr, a preacher at St. Paul Congregational Church. The pastor, in turn, will later name his son Elias, after Walt's father.
Most of Walt's childhood was spent on a farm in Marceline, Missouri, where he began drawing, painting and selling pictures to neighbors and family friends. In 1911, the family moved to Kansas City, where his love for trains really developed. His Uncle, Mike Martin, was a train Engineer who worked on the route between Fort Madison, Iowa, and Marceline. Walt would later work a summer job with the railroad, selling newspapers and snacks to the travelers. To read more about Walts love for trains
Video: Walt riding the Lilly Belle at the Studio. Video courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum.
To watch a short biography of Walts life:
Walt and Lillian Disney with unnamed friend, London, 1935.
Walt Disney in my opinion, is a wonderful example of the American dream! He represents: imagination, optimism, creation, and self-made success in the American tradition. He brought us closer to the future, while telling us of the past, it is certain, Walt Disney was a great man! He and his brother Roy co-founded Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the best-known motion-picture production companies in the world! Disney was an innovative animator and created the cartoon characters we all love to watch today. :) He won 22 Academy Awards during his lifetime, and was the founder of the magical playgrounds that ties us all together, Disneyland and Disney World. Had he been alive today he would be 112 years old! Happy birthday Walt! Thank you so much for believing in your dreams! You are a true inspiration.
In honor of today, it would be fun if we all mentioned our favorite quote from Mr. Disney. I'll go first, I have many, but this one always sticks out:
"I've always been interested in the past and history and I think it's vital."
Thanks for reading and watching! Hope you all have a terrific Thursday!