On April 1, Kevin Rafferty – one of the most prolific members of Walt Disney Imagineering – pumped the brakes on his daily trek, as well as his heralded Disney career, leaving behind a legacy that few, if any, will ever match.
April 21, 1998, dawned warm and sunny in central Florida … perfect weather for the dedication of a new park on Walt Disney World property. I was fortunate to be in attendance as Disney's Animal Kingdom – proudly dubbed “a new species of theme park” – swung open its gates for thousands of invited members of the press [the park officially opened to the general public on April 22, which is Earth Day].
Underwhelming. That's what I thought after our first visit to the Disney/MGM Studios in August of 1989. Where it took several days to see and do most of the attractions at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, it took just a few hours to take in the limited number of adventures in the park, which was based on Hollywood, and specifically, movie and television production.
We visited Walt Disney World – which, at the time, consisted of just the Magic Kingdom, two resorts and a campground – for the first time in November of 1972, about 14 months after the Vacation Kingdom of the World opened. The park was shell of what it would become ... yet we had the time of our lives!
For many Mickey Mouse Club fans, it was a misconception that what we saw on our TV sets in the 1950s was the original Mickey Mouse Club, particularly when several “new” MMC revivals popped up on The Disney Channel decades later. It turns out that there were scores of Mickey Mouse Clubs located throughout the United States during the 1930s.
Disney's trackless vehicles are guided by computers, which allow these next-gen attractions to be kept very much under control even as they often appear to riders to be something akin to berserk billiard balls.
Epcot was in the midst of a massive and long-overdue overhaul earlier this year when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. If nothing else, the delay in the opening of attractions such as Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy and the overall upgrade of the park has afforded us the opportunity to pause and take a look back … to some of the attractions that were on the drawing board, but never made it to the park.