This Week in Disney History: April 26-May 2, 2020

There’s always a great, big, beautiful tomorrow at The Walt Disney Company, because every day is tied to a milestone in the heritage and rich history of a company that has been entertaining millions of people every year. Published every week, this interesting series features highlights from all the divisions of The Walt Disney Company. Let's see what happened this week:


April 29, 1994 - Astro Orbiter opens at Magic Kingdom Park
Ride the elevator up to the launch platform and get ready to blast off into the solar system. For an out-of-this-world view, pilot one of twelve spaceships that can climb up to 60 feet into the skies above Tomorrowland, establishing an orbit of 11 revolutions per minute around the central tower. Use the control lever to set a lower cruising altitude at any time during your 90-second flight.

Astro Orbiter originally opened Nov. 28, 1974 as the Star Jets, which replicated the awe-inspiring Apollo-Saturn rockets launched from nearby Cape Canaveral. The 1994 refurbishment gave the Astro Orbiter a classic science fiction look, with redesigned rockets featuring glowing nose cones, plus a solar system of planets to whiz past during each flight. This Jules Verne-influenced design first appeared in the Orbitron at Disneyland Resort Paris in 1992, and Disneyland Park opened its Astro Orbitor (spelled with an “o,” do you copy?) as part of New Tomorrowland in 1998.

Also this week in Disney history:

April 26
1940 - The animated short “Tugboat Mickey” debuts
1991 - “Dinosaurs,” a television series from Disney and Jim Henson, debuts on ABC
2008 — “Walt & El Grupo ” premieres at the San Francisco Film Festival, chronicling Walt Disney's 1941 trip to South America

April 27
1951 - The Goofy cartoon short “Cold War” debuts
2001 - Rocket Rods permanently closes at Disneyland Park

April 28
1997 - King Stefan’s Banquet Hall at Magic Kingdom Park becomes Cinderella’s Royal Table
2006 - The very first Food & Wine Weekends are held at Disney California Adventure Park (later became Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival)
2009 - “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story” debuts at the Newport Beach Film Festival

April 29
1994 - Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort opens at the Walt Disney World Resort
1994 - Astro Orbiter opens at Magic Kingdom Park
2009 - Imagineers Rolly Crump and Don Edgren honored with windows on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park

April 30
1969 - Walt Disney World hosts its first official press event, showcasing plans for a theme park and resort hotel

May 1
1940 - Walt Disney receives a United States patent on his multi-plane animation camera
1977 - The Empress Lily Riverboat (later Fulton’s Crab House, now Paddlefish) opens at Downtown Disney Marketplace
1989 - Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) opens
1989 - Pleasure Island officially opens in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World
2009 - Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club wing of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, opens

May 2
1964 - “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” debuts at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York
2006 - Disneyland Park welcomes the two billionth Guest to a Disney Park worldwide
2012 - Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour, Candy Palace and Penny Arcade reopen at Disneyland Park after an extensive refurbishment
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