This Week in Disney History: Sept. 14-20

09/14/2012

Sept. 15, 1958 The Viewliner miniature train closes at Disneyland Park
Walt Disney had a lifelong love of locomotives, even saying that Disneyland Park should “look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.” The Viewliner, a miniature railroad that operated on a figure-eight-style track in parts of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, was touted as the fastest miniature train in the world. It was designed by Disney Legend Bob Gurr and powered by an Oldsmobile V-8 “rocket” engine. The attraction was even operated by Walt and Bob themselves during the opening-day festivities, as they hadn’t had time to train any ride operators. Two trains ran the circuit: a Tomorrowland train, featuring cars named after planets, and a Fantasyland train, with cars named for Disney characters. Operated for just over a year, the Viewliner would close for construction of the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage, plus the Disneyland Monorail, which took Tomorrowland transportation even further into the future.

Sept. 17, 1991 ‘Home Improvement’ debuts on ABC
Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor is a happily married father of three from Detroit. He’s a local celebrity who stars on “Tool Time,” alongside Al, his perennially flannel-clad best friend. In between plugging Binford power tools and working on his hot rod, Tim navigates the ups and downs of home and family life. But when the going gets tough, he can always peek over the backyard fence, where his generally unseen neighbor, Wilson, is waiting to talk. Running for eight seasons and 204 episodes, “Home Improvement” made a household name of comedian Tim Allen, who provided the voice of Buzz Lightyear in Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story” movies. But another member of the cast also voiced a popular Disney character: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who played the Taylors’ middle child, Randy, was the voice of young Simba in Disney’s “The Lion King.” Tim Allen is back on ABC as a video-blogging family man in “Last Man Standing,” entering its second season this fall.

Also this week in Disney history:

Sept. 14
1964 – President Lyndon Johnson presents Walt Disney with the Medal of Freedom at the White House
1980 – The Mickey Mouse Revue closes at Magic Kingdom Park
1985 – “The Golden Girls” debuts on NBC

Sept. 15
1944 – The Goofy cartoon short “How to Play Football” debuts
1996 – Ellen’s Energy Adventure officially opens at Epcot
2006 – The first annual Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend begins
2009 – The documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty” debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival

Sept. 16
1933 – The Silly Symphony short “Pied Piper” debuts
1984 – Restaurant el Marrakesh opens in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot
2008 – Disney announces Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Sept. 17
1932 – The Mickey Mouse cartoon short “The Whoopee Party” debuts
2006 – Former Cast Member Kevin Broady wins the first Disneyland Half Marathon

Sept. 18
1986 – “Captain EO” officially opens at Disneyland Park
1986 – “Siskel & Ebert at the Movies” (television series) debuts
1989 – “Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers” (television series) debuts

Sept. 19
1952 – The cartoon short “Pluto’s Party” debuts
1989 – “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”is selected for preservation by the National Film Registry
2001 – “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream” opens for Guest previews at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Sept. 20
1940 – The Donald Duck cartoon short “Window Cleaners” debuts
1999 – Mouse Gear, the largest in-park merchandise shop at the Walt Disney World Resort, opens at Epcot
2011 – Disney and James Cameron announce a long-term creative partnership to bring the world of “Avatar” to Disney Parks, beginning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park