Sunday, July 1, 2012

119. O.T.D. - July 1st -The Peoplemover and Much More

July 1st is significant in Walt Disney World history as many "openings" took place on this day. This is the first time that I am highlighting more than one occasion in my "On This Date" series of articles. However, too much happened on July 1st over the past 40 years, and I didn't want to omit any of these events.

First and foremost, the WEDWay PeopleMover debuted in the Magic Kingdom on July 1st, 1975. This attraction is my dad's favorite so we rode it many times on each of our family trips when I was a kid. It has become one of my favorites in recent years, as it is a great ride to "relax" on for ten minutes while enjoying the sites of Tomorrowland. It was well ahead of its time in 1975 and is still considered high-tech even today. It was one of the first uses of linear induction technology in that it utilizes a series of electromagnets to propel the five-car trains along a mile long track. It is also environmentally friendly as it's both quiet and pollution free.

The name "WEDWay" came from WED Enterprises, which was the original name of Disney Imagineering. W.E.D. are famous initials as they belong to Walter Elias Disney. When Tomorrowland was overhauled in 1994, the WEDWay PeopleMover became the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. In 2010, Disney did something that pleased us nostalgics by once again renaming the attraction. It is now known as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. To most long- time fans, this fun and relaxing attraction will always be known as simply "The PeopleMover."

The next big event to take place on July 1st occurred in 1988 when the Norway pavilion officially opened in Epcot. Although it "soft opened" to the public in May, it was dedicated by Crown Prince Harald in a ceremony that was broadcast live to Norway on this date. Even though the event took place 24 years ago, this is still the most recent nation to open in Epcot's World Showcase. The 58,000 square foot pavilion is home to a fun boat ride, an excellent restaurant where you can dine with princesses, and a great little bakery that is home to one of my favorite Epcot snacks. The next time you are near the Kringla Bakeri I highly recommend trying the lefse, which is a delicious Norwegian flatbread rolled with butter, cinnamon and sugar.

July 1, 1994 marks a major change to an area of Epcot. Innoventions East and West opened, replacing the original CommuniCore pavilions. Although they used the same buildings, all of the exhibits were new. Innoventions primarily features walk-thru attractions that are focused on using technological advancements in our everyday lives. Although there were some interesting and fun aspects to the original CommuniCore, by 1994 these buildings were in need of serious updating. There are about six or seven exhibits in each pavilion and they are replaced with new ones every so often. Innoventions is a great place to spend time when you are looking to get out of the Florida heat or if it is a rainy day.

Last, but not least, July 1st marks the opening of three Disney World resort hotels. In 1996 Disney's Boardwalk Resort opened on the shore of Crescent Lake. In addition to the hotel, the resort's Atlantic Dance Nightclub, ESPN Club, Boardwalk Bakery and Spoodles Restaurant debuted as well. Exactly six years later, in 2002, the Beach Club Villas opened as the Disney Vacation Club addition to the Beach Club Resort. Finally, the last major event to take place on July 1st occurred in 2007. It was more of a transformation than an opening. The 5th and 6th floors of the Animal Kingdom Lodge became the Animal Kingdom Villas, which was the first phase of DVC to be added to this property.

Other than October 1st, which marked the openings of both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, July 1st has to be the second most significant date in the history of Walt Disney World. With the openings of the PeopleMover, the Norway Pavilion, Innoventions and three resort hotels, Disney made this a date to remember. It has to make you wonder if they have any other plans for July 1st in the future. Only time will tell.

Have a Disneyriffic day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

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