Disney in 1966 | Everything that Happened

Last Updated on: February 18th, 2024

Disney 1966 Movies ShowsThe Walt Disney Company has a rich and lengthy history with decades of amazing movies, shows and park experiences. To commemorate Disney’s 100th birthday this year, I am spotlighting the company’s history year by year in this new ‘Disney by the Years’ series.

Here is a quick rundown of everything that happened in the world of Disney in the year 1966. I hope you find this lookback in time helpful and entertaining.

Disney 1966 Company Headlines:

1966 was a somber, yet pivotal year in Disney history. In December, Walt Disney passed away after a brief battle with lung cancer. While the reigns of the company were picked up by its longtime co-pilot, Walt’s brother Roy, the company was suddenly without its creative and spiritual leader for the first time and many were left wondering if it could survive without him. The coming years would see a significant shift as the next generation of executives, animators and imagineers were propelled into leadership roles and we’d start to see creative decisions made by someone other than a Disney family member.

In the wake of Walt’s death, Roy was named Chairman of the company, Donn Tatum was named President (succeeding Roy) and Card Walker is named Executive Vice President for Operations.

Disney 1966 Movies Headlines:

1966 was a VERY quiet year in the theaters for Disney. The company was enduring a multi-year box office slump and only produced 4 live action mediocre movies for the year:

A couple of shorts were released in 1966 including:

  • February 4 – Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
  • May 5 – Donald’s Fire Survival Plan

Disney also re-released a couple films to theaters in 1966 including:

Notable Disney characters introduced in 1966 included:

Disney 1966 Parks Headlines:

Disneyland Headlines:

Notable new attractions in Disneyland in 1966 include:

  • Its a Small World (May 28)
  • The Topiary Gardens (May 28)
  • Primeval World (July 1)
  • New Orleans Square (July 24)
  • Cristal d’Orleans shop (July 24)
  • Mint Julep Bar (July 24)
  • Creole Café restaurant (July 24)
  • One-of-a-Kind antique shop (July 24)
  • French Market restaurant (July 24)

Notable Disneyland closures in 1966 include:

In 1966, Disney filmed what is now known as the “EPCOT film,” which launched the Walt Disney World project into the public conscience. While Disney’s Florida project was already made public at this point and the concepts in the film weren’t exactly representative of the final product, this was Walt’s successful attempt at hyping up the project and lobbying for legislative support in Florida. It also marked Walt’s last appearance on television as it was filmed less than 2 months before his death in December 1966. The film would make its debut in 1967 in various stakeholder screenings.

Also in 1966, Walt announced details for the ill-fated Mineral King ski resort in a press conference in September and the company was issued a planning permit for the project in October. Mineral King was to be located in Southern California and actually progressed pretty far down the planning process before the company decided to move on from it.

Disney 1966 Television Headlines:

Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color continued to air weekly shows throughout 1966. The most notable episode of the year is the December airing of Disneyland Around the Seasons, which has become a very popular episode in the series and can be found on Disney+ today.

That’s all for 1966. Stay tuned for in-depth looks at additional years in the very near future!

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About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of DisneyNews.us. My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and VideoGamesStats.com.