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Friday, November 27, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Mountains of Fun

The 1970's weren't always kindest to DISNEYLAND. It had become the stepchild in its own theme park kingdom. Roy Disney's penny pinching had left Florida's Magic Kingdom theme park without enough attractions after it finally caught on with guests. With numerous Disney owned hotels to fill, the company found the resort became a money sink, desperately needing further development to become more viable. Luckily, the company had a rich catalog of projects to pull possible ideas from and a stable, established money maker in DISNEYLAND. One of the first projects it chose from its back catalog was one Walt Disney had shelved in 1964- Tomorrowland's Spaceport and Rocket Flight.

The elaborate space ride was sadly not possible with mid-1960's technology. Park management suggested to Walt that he compromise and merely build a copy of the Matterhorn indoors. That wasn't the way Walt Disney did things, however, so he put his idea on the shelf. It would be a dream that would come true another day. Florida's park managers were more 'practical' however. They needed a 'mountain' and feeling that an outdoor attraction like the Matterhorn was not practical in Central Florida, the indoor Matterhorn concept was put into place. By the end of the project, however, the technology required to make Walt Disney's original dream a reality was now in reach. DISNEYLAND put Walt's dream Space Mountain under construction.

Since Mr. Disney had left room for a future Space Mountain in his Tomorrowland remodel of 1967, construction could begin quickly. The Space Mountain that would rise in DISNEYLAND would be a huge technological advancement from the one that found its way to the Central Florida swamps. In this instance, Walt Disney's dream would be fully realized in his Magic Kingdom.

The next major project that found its way to DISNEYLAND began life as a Florida project. Disney had planned a runaway train ride in the Florida Frontierland when it became clear that the park desperately needed more attractions. The Florida park's shoehorned Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, however, went over budget. This caused Florida's bean counters to cancel the more ambitious Big Thunder Mountain and instead build the cut down Space Mountain. The huge success of the two Space Mountains encouraged the company to put the Big Thunders into production. The one at DISNEYLAND was optimally situated for construction and thus opened first.

The wildest ride in the wilderness was opened in 1979 in DISNEYLAND. The attraction cemented the park's reputation as the company's flagship theme park.

As the 1970's ended, Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom prevailed over what many had felt was neglect compared to its younger sibling in Florida. It ended the decade with a super-powered mountain range, an audio-animatronic spectacular and a magical 25th Anniversary party. As the 1980's began, new challenges would arise, but an even bigger dream of Walt Disney's would come true. The magic would seemingly never end.