1986: The World’s Longest Show Closes
On July 13, 1955, The Golden Horseshoe Saloon located in Frontierland in Disneyland was opened three days early to host Walt and Lillian Disney’s 30th wedding anniversary. Then, on the 16th, the premiere of the original Golden Horseshoe Revue began its legendary run of 39,000 performances. It has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-running stage musical of all time. The original show starred Wally Boag (as Pecos Bill), Betty Taylor (as Slue Foot Sue) and Donald Novis. In 1962, Walt Disney’s The Wonderful World of Color celebrated the show’s 10,000th performance at the park with a special that included the original cast as guest stars, Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, Gene Sheldon and Walt Disney himself. Hence the name1986, the saloon has never offered alchol to the general public as it was sponsored by Pepsi until 1982 when Coca-Cola took over as sponsor. While the saloon is still standing and shows are still regularly presented there, the original revue closed down for good on this day in 1986.
1997: John Denver Dies in an Aircraft Accident
Known for such hits as “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” country singer John Denver was no longer recording new material by the 1990’s, at least not with any large popularity. However, by this time he had become a movie star, political activist and an accomplished private pilot. On this day in 1997, Denver flew an aircraft that he wasn’t familiar with and apparently lost control of the aircraft leading to his fatal crash over Monterey Bay.
2003: The Scariest Place on Earth?
The Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida became known by some as the scariest place on earth thanks to its new attraction, ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. The new attraction was originally titled, Nostromo, and was supposed to be based on the very un-Disney movie, Alien. That version was scrapped (but the Alien did appear in The Great Movie Ride at Disney/MGM Studios).
Along with a new alien, George Lucas was brought in on the project. The new storyline featured the mythical company, X-S Tech which had captured an alien. Afraid of being caught, the X-S scientist would attempt to destroy the test area along with the theme park guests. The attraction opened on December 16, 1994 only to close on January 12, 1995 by then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner who thought it wasn’t scary enough. After being retooled, it was reopened on June 20, 1995 as part of the park’s “new Tomorrowland.”
In the new version, guests were welcomed by a video presentation that featured Tyra Banks as an alien and voiced by another actress. The next room featured the Audio-Animatronic robot S.I.R. (Simulated Intelligence Robotics) voiced by Tim Curry, X-S Tech Chairman (Jeffrey Jones), Dr. Femus (Kathy Najimy) and Spinlock (Kevin Pollak) showing a demonstration where a cute alien creature evaporates in one tube and re emerges in another one a little worse for wear. Then in the final room, guests were seated in a round room with safety harnesses in place to watch the same demonstration with supposed improvements. Instead, the alien was transformed into a horrible monster who broke free. Then the lights went out and sounds of the monster running around and eating guests in the dark was just too much for some to take. On this day in 2003, the alien scared guests for the last time. The attraction reopened as Stitch’s Great Escape using basically the same set up, but this time is was cute Stitch causing mayhem.
- 1947: Chris Wallace (jounlist)
- 1950: Susan Anton (model)
- 1968: Hugh Jackman (actor)
- 1970: Kirk Cameron (actor)
- 1977: Bode Miller (Olympic skier)
- 1992: Josh Hutcherson (actor)
- 2004: Darci Lynne (ventriloquist)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.