This Week in Disney History: Oct. 12-18



Oct. 14, 1971 - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opens at Magic Kingdom Park
Walt Disney's 1954 adaptation of the Jules Verne undersea adventure was a box office blockbuster, and the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland Park was a hit upon its 1959 opening. For Magic Kingdom Park's debut in 1971, both classics were blended together to create an all-new voyage through liquid space in Fantasyland. The fleet of 12 Nautilus submarines is among the most iconic ride vehicles ever created for Disney parks, designed by Imagineer George McGinniss, who modeled his work after Harper Goff's Victorian-themed production designs from the film. The subs took divers on a perilous journey through an 11.5 million gallon lagoon, surviving run-ins with mermaids, sea monsters and a giant squid. Closed in 1994, the attraction site is now part of the Enchanted Forest in the expanded New Fantasyland, opening this December. Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea is heavily influenced by Jules Verne's storytelling, and features its own 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea dark ride.


Oct. 15, 1932 - "Touchdown Mickey" debuts
With bowl season and the playoff picture taking shape, Mickey Mouse must feel nostalgic this time of year, remembering the game where he established himself as one of the finest running backs in animated history. Squaring off against Pete and his bruising Alley Cats, Mickey leads his Manglers to an astonishing come-from-behind victory, scoring three touchdowns in the final four minutes. Though Mickey defies the laws of physics, gravity, and many basic rules of the game to do it, there was clearly offensive holding and unnecessary roughness by the Alley Cats, so the refs probably decided those were offsetting penalties. "Touchdown Mickey" was directed by Wilfred Jackson, the prolific "Nine Old Men" animator credited on 35 Disney shorts, and co-director of multiple features including "Cinderella" (1950) and "Peter Pan" (1953). Goofy, who called the contest on the radio, later starred in a silly yet informative look at the game in the short "How to Play Football" (1944).

Also this week in Disney history:

Oct. 12
1986 - The Golden Horseshoe Revue (show) closes at Disneyland Park after 47,250 performances
1995 - The 500,000,000th Guest visits the Walt Disney World Resort
2008 - Sun Wheel closes at Disney California Adventure Park (reopened in 2009 as Mickey's Fun Wheel)
2009 - George A. Kalogridis officially becomes president of the Disneyland Resort

Oct. 13
1950 - "Bee at the Beach" (Donald Duck cartoon short) debuts
1987 - Actor Fred MacMurray ("The Absent-Minded Professor") becomes the first Disney Legend
1997 - The LEGO Imagination Center opens at the Downtown Disney Marketplace (Walt Disney World)

Oct. 14
1938 - "Farmyard Symphony" (Silly Symphony) debuts
2009 - Sum of All Thrills opens in Innoventions at Epcot

Oct. 15
1923 - Walt Disney receives a telegram from film distributor Margaret Winkler, offering to pay $1,500 each for the first six of Disney's "Alice" films
1984 - American Journeys opens at Magic Kingdom Park
1998 - "Fantasmic!" debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Oct. 16
1923 - Walt Disney signs contract to produce a series of short "Alice Comedies," marking the founding of the Disney Brothers Studio (and The Walt Disney Company)
1989 - Epcot hosts Cast previews of the Wonders of Life pavilion

Oct. 17
1937 - Huey, Dewey and Louie (Donald Duck's nephews) debut in the Walt Disney comic strip
2007 - Disney officially announces plans for a major renovation of Disney California Adventure Park, including a new area called Cars Land

Oct. 18
1926 - "Alice the Fire Fighter" (Alice cartoon short) debuts
1967 - Walt Disney Pictures releases "The Jungle Book," the last animated feature Walt supervised
1979 - A stage version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" premieres at Radio City Music Hall