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Friday, December 4, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: More of Walt's Dreams Come True

The 1980's began as a turbulent time in the world of Disney. Cost overruns at EPCOT Center and its lackluster reception by guests, threatened the solvency of the company. Meanwhile, the good times chugged along at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. When DISNEYLAND first opened, Mr. Disney had to compromise on the look of Fantasyland. Sleeping Beauty Castle and the front part of Fantasyland were built exactly as envisioned by Walt. The rest of the land was given a medieval circus look to conserve cash.

Walt Disney always wanted to go back and redo this part of his Magic Kingdom. He never got the chance, and his brother merely replicated the cheaper look in Florida. It would be Walt Disney's son in law who would see this dream through.

Despite the growing problems in Florida, Walt Disney's dream back home was being fully realized. In 1983, it would open triumphantly- one of Walt's dreams come true.

The "new" Fantasyland would be just as Walt Disney originally intended- a charming European village, that looked like it was torn from a storybook.

The money problems caused by EPCOT Center led to new management at Walt Disney Productions. The new managers felt that due to the problems at EPCOT Center, the parks were a money drain. Plans were drawn up to sell the parks and license the characters to the new owners. As longtime employees pointed out, when the parks were run well, like at DISNEYLAND, they propped up the rest of the company. The sale plans were canceled and investment went into overdrive.

To get new excitement into the park quickly, DISNEYLAND began offering special events like Blast to the Past and State Fair.

DISNEYLAND also premiered Captain EO starring an at his peak Michael Jackson. The 17 minute film cost $17 million dollars to make.

Nearby, Disney partnered with George Lucas on another project- Star Tours, which would allow guests to experience the world of Star Wars for the first time.

To finish out the decade, DISNEYLAND finished off its amazing mountain range by building the biggest water adventure around- Splash Mountain. The mountain would rise on the western side of the park, creating the biggest mountain range of any Disney park.

As the 1980's ended and DISNEYLAND entered its fourth decade, even more amazing projects would come to life. As Walt Disney intended, the park would continue to grow and evolve.