“Cinderella” debuts and is well accepted, the first hit for Disney Studios since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
By November of 1950, Disney Studios debt is reduced to $1.7 million.
Walt schedules “Alice In Wonderland” to follow “Cinderella.” “Alice In Wonderland” had been an idea since 1933, as Walt contemplated both a live-action film and putting Ginger Rogers in a cartoon Wonderland. Once the film was completed, Walt and crew were relieved. The film was a disappointment in both London and America, while losing $1 million.
“Peter Pan” was the next cartoon in production. Walt bought the rights to the play in 1939 and spent years trying to convert it into a cartoon.
Walt agrees to produce a Christmas show for NBC. It attracts a huge audience and TV’s value impresses Walt. “One hour in Wonderland” debuts on Christmas of 1951.
Script production begins on “Lady and the Tramp,” a script started in 1943 but dropped for almost a decade.
“The Sword and the Rose” and “Rob Roy” are produced, Walt contemplates “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” a Jules Verne classic adventure. The film ultimately costs $ 4.2 million to make. Walt works for a year to develop the script. The giant squid scene requires 8 days to film and added $250,000 to the film budget. It is worth it as this scene is the highlight of the film.
Due to the success of the True-Life Adventure films, Walt receives many film propositions from naturalists. “The Living Desert” was developed but the Disneys run into a problem with RKO, as it has incurred heavy liabilities and starts to decline. Roy is confident that RKO wouldn’t have the energy or the know-how to sell the film. He establishes a small sales organization called Buena Vista, named after the street where the studio was located. The film is a huge success, earning $4.0 million. It becomes the Disney’s biggest profit-maker, profiting $3.7 million.
Roy Disney states to Buena Vista’s key salesmen that the Disney Company has 2 attractions with great promise (“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” & “Lady and the Tramp”) and wants to know if the salesmen would be able to go forward with Disney’s own distribution company. The answer is yes and all Disney films thereafter are distributed by Buena Vista.
Walt’s vision of an amusement park begins. He visits fairs, carnivals, circuses and parks to study the attractions and the people. He borrows on his life insurance and starts to assemble a staff to help plan the park. He decides that the name of the park would be called Disneyland.
Walt creates WED Enterprises to organize the project. Walt and Herb Ryman draws out the plans for the park in one weekend.
Roy visits New York to seek a contract with a television network. Roy & Leonard Goldman come to an agreement where ABC would give Disney a $500,000 investment in Disneyland in exchange for Disney’s supplying a one-hour Television series. ABC would become a 35% owner of Disneyland and would guarantee loans up to $4.5 million. It is a great fit as Disney receives much needed cash and ABC is able to compete in the ratings with NBC & CBS.
May 28, 1953
Disney’s first “Adventures in Music” animated film, “Melody” is released. The film was made in 3-D, the first such film to be released in the US.
Walt commisions the Stanford Research Institute to find the ideal location for Disneyland. Anaheim, California is selected as the place. Other amusement park owners don’t believe that Walt should spend the money on the park and that too much of the park would not produce revenue. They felt that the park would not work.
Walt designed the park with one entrance gate, reasoning that people, when entering by different gates, become disoriented. Walt also designs the park to have “Main Street” with the idea of it being the hub, stating that it would lead to different areas of interest and not cause people to become tired from “museum feet.”
Walt designs the park with “wienies”, which are lures that draw people into different parts of the park. The lure of Main Street would be a castle.
“Davy Crockett” is the hit of the inaugural Disneyland season and “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” is #1 for 13 weeks, selling over 10 million records. More than 10 million Davy Crockett racoon skin hats are sold.
“Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” profits almost $2.5 million.
Ronald Miller works for Disney as a liason between WED and Disneyland before he is inducted for the draft.
Previous movie profits were not enough to cover the cost of building Disneyland. Roy Disney makes numerous visits to the Bank of America’s headquarters to get more funding. The bank enlists the help of another bank in Bankers Trust Company of New York.
Walt is concerned about meeting the deadline he set for the opening of Disneyland. Walt buys 244 acres of land near Anaheim, California, as the site for his theme park.
April 2, 1954
Plans for Disneyland park and tv show are announced. Walt states that the tv series would begin in October, 1954 and the park would open in July, 1955. The tv show would be paterned after the different “lands” of Disneyland.
May 9, 1954
Diane Disney marries Ronald Miller.
October 27, 1954
The television series opens with “The Disneyland Story” describing coming attractions of the park and tv show. The Television shows are introduced by Walt himself.
June 16, 1955
The Walt Disney Production animated feature film, “Lady and the Tramp” is released in the US by Buena Vista. It is the first cartoon feature filmed in CinemaScope and processed in Technicolor.
Walt agrees to staff’s suggestion to board up Tomorrowland, then opposes the idea, asking the staff to do the best they can and if necessary, to fix it up after the opening.
Problems occur with the Orange County building inspectors as they have no experience with theme park structures. The inspectors’ doubts are eased through Walt’s concern for safety. Water is piped in to supply pressure for sprinklers and hydrants.
Walt always wanted trees to be big and to fit the “land.” Many tours were done to find trees for the park.
The Santa Fe and Disneyland Railway makes it’s first trip around the park as a boy, stricken with leukemia, has a wish – to ride on Walt Disney’s train. Walt invites the boy and his family during the final days of construction, then takes the boy to the cab for a trip around Disneyland.
July 13, 1955
The Disney’s, celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, send out invitations to 300 people, friends & co-workers for the opening of Disneyland.
July 17, 1955
Disneyland opens as invitation only, given to studio workers, construction workers, the press and officials of company sponsors. Tickets to the grand opening are counterfeited and 30,000 people enter the park. Rides break down and park stands run out of food & drink.
Walt reads about all the problems the next day and refers to it as “Black Sunday.”
September 8, 1955
Disneyland welcomes its one millionth visitor.
September 14, 1955
Disneyland television series opens its second season on ABC with “Dumbo.”
October 3, 1955
Walt introduces “The Mickey Mouse Club” program, the first he ever designs strictly for children.
“Sleeping Beauty” is put into production but without Walt’s full attention due to his engrossment with Disneyland, live-action films and television. It continues in production for three years, costing $6 million.
October 5, 1956
The Disneyland Hotel opens, on a 60-acre site next to Disneyland.
Disney introduces a third television series named “Zorro”, a half-hour adventure on ABC network. It lasts for two seasons before ABC declines renewal.
“Bambi” is re-released in theaters and earns $2 million. Walt feels gratified that the film finally made it after the movie’s 1942 release was a disappointment.
December 25, 1957
The live-action film, “Old Yeller” is released.
“The Shaggy Dog” is released and is a surprising success, earning over $9.5 million in North America.
June 14, 1958
Disneyland’s Columbia ship is christened. It is a full-scale replica of the first ship to carry the American flag around the world. It cost $300,000 to build.
May 10, 1959
Sharon Disney marries Bob Brown, a designer with an architectural firm.
The Matterhorn, a bobsled racing ride, is opened, as well as the Submarine Voyage and the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System. A Motor Boat cruise and a revamp of the Autopia is also opened.
The E-Ticket is introduced.
“Pollyana” is released but is a disappointment at the box office, earning less than $1 million. Walt feels that he should have named the film differently because the male part of the audience apparently balked at seeing a movie with such a title.
April 25, 1961
The loan from the Bank of America is finally paid off. Revenue from movies now goes directly to Walt Disney Productions.
September 24, 1961
“Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” makes its debut on NBC with a new character, Ludwig Von Drake.
November 14, 1961
Diane & Ron Miller’s 5th child is born and is named Walter Elias Disney Miller. Walt had complained to Diane that she had not named any of her four children after her father or mother. Walt’s wish comes true.
December 5, 1961
Walt celebrates his 60th birthday.
Enchanted Tiki Room opens at Disneyland. It is originally planned as a restaurant but Walt feels that there wouldn’t be enough time to serve meals and perform a show.
Audio-Animatronics is developed by WED.
August 27, 1964
“Mary Poppins” premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and gavets rave reviews.
“Mary Poppins” is nominated for 13 Academy Awards.
September 14, 1964
President Johnson presents Walt with the Medal of Freedom at the White House, thet nation’s highest civil honor.
Walt Disney sends his brother, Roy, and afew other Disney executives to Florida, to purchase land for a Community of Tomorrow.
January 1, 1966
Walt Disney served as the Grand Marshall for the Tournament of Roses Parade, in Pasedina California.
July 24, 1966
The “New Orleans Square” area opens at Disneyland. It cost US$18 million, and occupies 3 acres
Walt gives a press conference, and describes his plans for building an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, EPCOT.
November 30, 1966
Walt starts feeling weak, and returns to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
December 5, 1966
Walt turns 65, although there isn’t really a celebration, Walt was to ill for any observations
December 15, 1966
Walt Disney dies at 9:35 a.m. from an Acute Circulatory Collapse.
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|Some information on this Timeline provided by Ken Polsson. Also, from Joe|