This Week in Disney History: Sept. 21-27


Sept. 24, 1961 -"Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" debuts on NBC
The original "Disneyland" television show in 1954 was one of the considerations given to ABC in exchange for helping finance the construction of Disneyland Park. By 1960, the park had turned enough of a profit for Walt Disney to buy out ABC's stake, leaving him free to take Disney programming elsewhere. Many episodes of "Walt Disney Presents" had been shot in color for ABC, which was still broadcasting in black and white, and Walt wanted to take full advantage of the latest technology for the medium. In 1961, Walt relaunched the show on General Electric's NBC network, which had the ability to broadcast in color. Each episode began with the classic kaleidoscopic title sequence, featuring theme music penned by Richard and Robert Sherman. Disney remained a Sunday night staple at NBC until 1981, and "World of Color" later became the namesake of the nighttime water spectacular at Disney California Adventure Park, which also uses the original Sherman Brothers theme. 

Sept. 23, 1980 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opens at Magic Kingdom Park
Take a close look at the trains that race, chug and roar through the tall buttes and gold mines of Tumbleweed. You'll notice there's not an engineer aboard any of those locomotives, right? So surely, the proper thing to do is jump aboard one to experience a three-minute whir of dizzying turns, narrow clearances, rumbling earthquakes, boulder avalanches, screeching bats and goats chomping on sticks of dynamite. The town of Tumbleweed's been flooded lately, so be sure to look for Cousin Ed, who took the bathtub out for a spin ? in his pajamas. Unlike the geology of Zion National Park, which influenced the Disneyland Park original, Imagineers modeled the look of this Frontierland classic, and the versions that followed in Tokyo and Paris, after the scenery of Monument Valley in Arizona. Each member of the six-strong locomotive fleet bears an appropriately "punny" name, including "U.B. Bold" and "I.M. Fearless."

Also this week in Disney history:

Sept. 21
1951 -The Pluto cartoon short "Cold Turkey" debuts
1987 -The animated series "Ducktales" debuts in syndication
2001 -The "Share a Dream Come True" parade debuts at Magic Kingdom Park
2010 -Tinker Bell receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, coinciding with the release of Disney's "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" Sept. 22
1965 -The animated short "Goofy's Freeway Trouble" debuts
1984 - The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors elects Michael Eisner chairman of the board and chief executive officer, and Frank Wells is elected president
1999 - "IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth" debuts at Epcot
2004 - The television series "Lost" debuts on ABC 

Sept. 23
1938 - The Mickey Mouse cartoon short "The Brave Little Tailor" debuts
1990 - "The Magical World of Disney" moves to the Disney Channel
2001 -"Tapestry of Dreams," "Disney Stars and Motor Cars" and "Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade" debut at Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom (respectively)
2004 - Castle-topping ceremony takes place at Hong Kong Disneyland 

Sept. 24
1984 - The Frontierland Shootin' Arcade opens at Magic Kingdom Park
1993 - "Boy Meets World" (television series) debuts on ABC
1995 - The Mark Twain Riverboat is the setting for the first wedding on a Disneyland Park attraction
2010 - The animated series "Fish Hooks" premieres on Disney Channel 

Sept. 25
1959 - "Mickey Mouse Club" concludes its regular run on ABC
1999 -"Tapestry of Nations" debuts at Epcot
2009 - The final performance at the Adventurers Club takes place during an event in Downtown Disney 

Sept. 26
1936 - The Silly Symphony short "Three Blind Mouseketeers" debuts
2001 - The television series "According to Jim" debuts on ABC

Sept. 27
1947 - Walt Disney Pictures releases "Fun and Fancy Free"
1998 - SuperStar Television closes at Disney's Hollywood Studios
2008 - The first Expedition Everest Challenge is held at Disney's Animal Kingdom
2008 - The six nightclubs of Pleasure Island close at Downtown Disney; private performances at The Adventurers Club continued into 2009