A boy leans on a lopsided tree trunk

Huck Finn and a Cake Castle in Paris: April 1993 in Disney History

Twenty-five years ago this month, the Disney company released three films into theatres, celebrated Euro Disneyland’s first anniversary, rocked out for charity, and considered purchasing Miramax Films. Let’s take a look at what happened in Disney history, April 1993:

Headlines

Euro Disneyland, now known as Disneyland Paris, celebrated its first anniversary on April 12, 1993. The park attracted 60,000 guests that day, and according to a Reuters report turned “its magic castle into a huge strawberry cake,” foreshadowing of what would happen at Florida’s Magic Kingdom a few years later. The park received 11 million visitors in its first year, only four million of whom were French.

Mid-month, Newsweek revealed that Miramax Films was up for sale. The magazine suggested that unnamed “Hollywood sources” were attributing an $80-million price tag to the distributor. Along with Disney, potential suitors included Paramount Communications.

The Orange County Register profiled Disney’s “burgeoning uniform business”, dubbed ImageMaker, which had recently designed the new uniforms for Northwest Airlines’ 45,000 employees. Industry experts cautioned that there were possibly 500 other uniform manufacturers and 5000 uniform retail firms already in business.

The Washington Post profiled Disney’s Director of Corporate Synergy, Jodie Carbiener, as she prepared all of their divisions for their new National Hockey League team, The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Indian River County, Florida residents discuss their opposition of a plan by Disney to build a 440-unit Disney Vacation Development resort on 15 beachfront acres, Florida Today reported. It would have featured vacation villas, a 120-room hotel, restaurants, shops, and extensive swimming areas. The project would have had a summer 1995 completion date.

In theatres

The Adventures of Huck Finn hit theatres on April 2, 1993. Elijah Wood and Courtney B. Vance took on the classic roles, created by humorist writer Mark Twain. Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail wasn’t thrilled. “Like most folks who’ve taken a crack at the novel, the descendants of Walt have simplified the tale and prettified the tone—once more turning a story about a child into a childish story,” said critic Rick Groen.

For ten summers as a child, writer-director Mike Binder stayed at Ontario, Canada’s Camp Tamakwa. A retiring camp director invites eight former campers back, to announce his retirement, in Indian Summer (April 23, 1993, Touchstone Pictures). Alan Arkin starred with Diane Lane, Elizabeth Perkins, Bill Paxton, Kimberly Williams, Sam Raimi, and others.

Three childhood friends grow up to become an artist, a police officer, and a Latino prison gang leader. Starring three unknowns, including a young Benjamin Bratt, Bound by Honor (April 30, 1993, Hollywood Pictures) received a limited release in 30 major US cities. The film was held back from screening in Los Angeles, though. Two police officers were being tried at the time on civil rights violations, after the beating of Rodney King, which lead Los Angeles Daily News to report that Disney was “in a holding pattern” with the film, set in East Los Angeles. The film was shot and screened for test audiences as Blood In, Blood Out.

New on VHS

Cover of a VHS tape, showing a concertIn the wake of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s death, London’s Wembley Stadium hosted a massive concert, featuring 98 performers over 4 hours. Broadcast in 70 countries, it’s suggested that 500 million people saw the program, held in benefit of a new AIDS non-profit, the Mercury Phoenix Trust. Despite half a billion people watching the program on television, Buena Vista Home Video released The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on VHS, this week in 1993.

Cut down to 175 minutes, the acts that made the cut included Elton John, George Michael, Metallica, Def Leppard, Roger Daltrey, David Bowie, and Annie Lennox. (Earlier in the year, Disney had released For the Children, a concert in benefit of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. That title included Paula Abdul, Paul McCartney, Ziggy Marley, Sting, and others.)

Also new on VHS was The Mighty Ducks (April 14, 1993) and Disney Sing-Along Songs: Friend Like Me (April 30, 1993).

On TV

Imagine Freaky Friday with a tree and a dinosaur as the leads. This sort of soul swapping happens in the only new Dinosaurs episode to air this month, “If I Were a Tree” (April 18, 1993).

Disney Adventures

Cartoon characters surround a stately old man

Birthdays

Actress and singer Sofia Carson was born April 10, 1993. While she’s best known as Evie in Disney Channel’s Descendants franchise, Carson has also had a starring role in the Adventures in Babysitting remake for the channel, and is the voice of Sandgirl in the Spider-Man animated series. April 15 is Madeleine Martin‘s 25th birthday. An American-Canadian actress, she was the lead voice for Treehouse Disney series JoJo’s Circus (2003-2007).

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Nick Moreau works at an archives, delving into his community’s past. On DisKingdom, he focuses on vintage Disney content.

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