What Do You Think is the Biggest Thing That Happened in 1976 – 1980?

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What Do You Think is the Biggest Thing That Happened in 1976 – 1980?

This weekly series comes to us from the Disney Parks Blog:

Talk about time flying! We are just flying through these half decades. In this week’s countdown to the 55th anniversary, we’re looking at 1976 to 1980.

By just glancing at the title of this post, you can tell it was another busy five years.

While it can be hard to pick just one favorite attraction or event in a half decade, there is one project that is very dear to Tony Baxter, Senior Vice President, Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering. It’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We asked Tony if we would share his thoughts in this five-year period, and he gave us some insight into the thought that went into creating this attraction.

“When planning the design for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad,” Tony recalls, “we turned to National Geographic Magazine for research. There in the opening paragraph in an article on Utah’s Bryce Canyon was the statement, “When you first glimpse the canyon you will feel that it was the creation of Walt Disney…” That settled it — Bryce Canyon would be the theme for the Disneyland attraction.

The charm of the attraction is the rockwork. If you look at rockwork in other parks you get the feeling that the train was there first, and the rocks “grew” around the train. Big Thunder Mountain is absolutely convincing because it appears that the track was laid out to fit an existing landscape.”

Before you decide what you think is the biggest addition to Disneyland park in 1976 to 1980, take a look back:

1980 – Disneyland park kicked off a year-long Silver Anniversary celebration with a pre-parade show at the Tournament of Roses on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. Several special parades and shows followed for the rest of the year, but it was a special event in March, featuring Michael Jackson and Danny Kaye, that brought national attention to the celebration. On July 17, the 25th anniversary of the park’s opening, doors were open for 25 straight hours. In April, Family Reunion Night Celebration brought out several famous Disney faces, including Jackson, Fred MacMurray, Ernest Borgnine as well as the Carpenters, Ray Bradbury and even…Elliot Gould.

1979 – Disneyland park welcomed its first birth: Teresa Salcedo was born on a busy July 4th near Main Street, U.S.A., and she was later presented with the official “Disneyland Birth Certificate No. 1.” Teresa wasn’t the only new addition, as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad took its maiden trip in September. Celebrating his 75th birthday in grand style, Count Basie welcomed several of his closest celebrity pals to a summer party, including Sammy Davis Jr. and Ed McMahon Other hot names (for the time) who showed up throughout the year included Peaches and Herb, Evelyn “Champagne” King and Buddy Rich.

1978 – Mickey Mouse’s 50th birthday was all the rage, as special shows and parades were peppered throughout the year. The official celebration took place on Nov. 18 and 19, with Annette Funicello and other fave Mouseketeers on hand to celebrate. New elements were added to the popular Matterhorn Bobsleds, while the Disneyland Hotel opened the 13-story Bonita Tower, the first hotel in the U.S. with a solar heating system. Grad Nite continued its popular run, growing to eight parties for 821 high school graduating classes.

1977 – Openings and closings highlighted the year, as famed astronauts, including Alan Shepard, gathered for the opening of Space Mountain…and Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland closed after 21 years to make way for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. In addition to Space Mountain, Tomorrowland also debuted the PeopleMover SuperSpeed Tunnel, Starcade, and the Space Place restaurant. Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade returned for the summer after a two-year break, while an all-new Very Merry Christmas Parade bowed for the Christmas seasons.

Click here to keep reading this article from the Disney Parks Blog.


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Chip is the owner, editor, and writer of Chip and Company. When he is not writing about Disney News or Planning Tips, you will find him counting down the days to his next Disney Vacation.
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