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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

June 7, 1990

It's that time of the week where we take a flip through the history pages of pop culture past and talk about a significant event that took place.

This is the Tuesday Timeline edition for June 7.  And, I'll be the first to admit that choosing a topic was initially hard.  Mainly because I've already written pieces on the most obvious choices.

But I think I've picked a topic that is fun.  At least many people have had fun here.  That's your only hint though.  For now, let's look at the other things that happened on June 7.

1654 - Louis XIV is crowned King of France

1692 - A devastating earthquake levels Port Royal, Jamaica, killing 1,600

1832 - 6,000 people in Lower Canada succumb to Asian cholera after the disease reaches Quebec

1892 - Homer Piessy is arrested for refusing to leave his seat in the "whites-only" car of the train

1893 - Mohandas Gandhi commits his first act of civil disobedience

1899 - Carrie Nation destroys the inventory of a Kansas saloon, kicking off a lengthy campaign of destroying taverns and pubs in an effort to ban the sale of alcohol

1909 - At age 16, Canadian actress/singer Mary Pickford makes her debut; that same day actress Jessica Tandy (d. 1994) is born

1917 - Singer Dean Martin (d. 1995) is born in Steubenville, Ohio

1937 - Actress Jean Harlow passes away at just 26 years of age

1942 - American troops claim victory in The Battle of Midway

1944 - Twenty-three Canadian Prisoners of War are executed by members of the SS Division Hitlerjugend during the Battle of Normandy

1958 - American singer/composer Prince Rogers Nelson (d. 2016) is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota

1965 - Actress/singer Judy Holliday dies at the age of 43

1977 - Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee takes place; over five hundred million people all over the world watch the celebrations on television

1982 - Priscilla Presley opens up Graceland to the public - five years after Elvis Presley's death

1991 - Mount Pinatubo erupts

1995 - United Airlines begin using Boeing 777's for flights

1996 - The president of Max Factor cosmetics, Max Factor Jr., dies at the age of 91

2003 - Australian born actor Trevor Goddard dies at the age of 40

2012 - American rapper Melvin "Lil Phat" Vernell III is shot and killed outside of a hospital at the age of 19

2013 - An armed gunman kills five people before being taken down by police after storming the campus of Santa Monica College

And happy birthday to the following famous faces of the past and present; Virginia McKenna, Tom Jones, Jenny Jones, Howard Finkel, Royce Campbell, Liam Neeson, Colleen Camp, Louise Erdrich, William Forsythe, L.A. Reid, Chris Marcantel, Kym Whitley, Michael Cartellone, Simon Day, Gia Carides, Mick Foley, Dave Navarro, Helen Baxendale, Mike Modano, Karl Urban, Bear Grylls, Allen Iverson, Erik Weiner, Adrienne Frantz, Bill Hader, Anna Torv, Anna Kournikova, Larisa Oleynik, Michael Cera, Iggy Azalea, Fetty Wap, Emily Ratajkowski, Sara Niemitz, George Ezra, and Graham Newberry.

So, I promised that this edition of the Tuesday Timeline would be fun!  But in order for the fun to start, we have to take a trip back in time to the early 1990s.

Like, maybe...June 7, 1990.

So, what was happening in the world on June 7, 1990?  Well, the top movie at the box office was "Total Recall".  The number #1 song was "Vogue" by Madonna.  And, I was anxiously waiting for the end of the school year.

At that time, I was just days away from leaving third grade and the downstairs of my elementary school forever.  The top floor of my school were for grades 4-8, and when you started having classes up there, you knew you were getting closer to being an adult!  Well, at least from a nine-year-old perspective anyway.

Now, because this date was so close to summer vacation, it was only natural to start thinking about what we were going to do for summer vacation.  In the case of myself, money was quite tight, so I couldn't afford to go anywhere elaborate on vacation.  I spent my summer at one of those affordable summer long playground programs.  In retrospect, it was all good though.  I had a blast, and it was nice to socialize with kids who didn't go to my school. 

Of course, other kids went away for the summer holidays, which was also just as cool.  Obviously places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World were known kid pleasers.  Canada's Wonderland was also quite fun in the early 1990s.  And I remember seeing commercials for Boblo Island Amusement Park and remember wanting to go even though it was a seven hour car ride away.  Sadly, Boblo Island closed to the public in 1993, and I never did get to go there.

Back in 1990, the choices for where to go on summer vacation seemed endless.  And on June 7, 1990, two more places were added.

That was the day in which Nickelodeon Studios and Universal Studios FLORIDA first opened their doors to the public. 

Over the course of the past twenty-six years Universal Studios Florida remains a very popular tourist destination - it's currently the eighth most visited theme park in the United States and the sixteenth most visited theme park in the whole world!

It's also a place that I have never been, but want to go to.  But then I've never visited any Disney park either.  I need to either get out more or win the lottery.  Or both.

Sadly, I cannot visit Nickelodeon Studios.  That park closed in 2005.  We'll talk more about that a little later on.

For now though, let's talk about Universal Studios Florida.

Anyway, the story behind the creation of Universal Studios Florida begins in 1986 - four years before the park was even opened.  And initially it didn't even start out to be the massive theme park that eventually came to be.  In a meeting between Peter N. Alexander and Steven Spielberg (who is listed as a co-founder of the park), they discussed plans to open up a "Back to the Future" simulation ride which would make riders feel as though they were traveling through time in the DeLorean time machine.  A similar ride was also being developed based on the movie "King Kong".

But as the plans for both rides came to fruition, Spielberg seemed to think that they were on the verge of something big.  Given that the park was located in Orlando, Florida - the same city that housed both SeaWorld and Walt Disney World - Spielberg thought that they could design a theme park that could legitimately compete with both theme parks and hold its own.

Between 1986 and 1990, the area where Universal Studios Florida was completely redesigned to house several of the attractions - including the two that were discussed by Spielberg and Alexander.  And initially the park was supposed to open earlier than expected.  The original launch date for the park was December 1989 - just in time for the holiday season.  It was pushed back to May 1990 before settling on its June 7 opening.

What made Universal Studios Florida unique was the fact that it also housed several working soundstages where television shows and movies were being filmed.  In fact, the Powerball lottery draws are filmed on location at Universal Studios Florida!  No kidding!

And, as far as some of the attractions go, some of them have been around a while, while others have been retired to make way for the new.  The original "Back to the Future" ride was changed into a ride celebrating "The Simpsons Movie".  But here's a list of some of the exciting attractions you can visit if you go to Universal Studios Florida.

Animal Actors on Location (1990)
Universal's Horror Make-up-Show (1990)
The Blues Brothers Show (1991)
A Day In The Park With Barney (1995)
Men in Black: Alien Attack (2000)
Shrek 4-D (2003)
Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride (2004)
Fear Factor Live (2005)
The Simpsons Ride (2008)
Despicable Me:  Minion Mayhem (2012)
Transformers: The Ride (2013)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (2014)

I so hope that if I get the chance to go to Universal Studios Florida that the Harry Potter exhibit is still up.  I so want to go just for that.

On the same day that Universal Studios Florida became ready for the public, Nickelodeon Studios had their grand opening as well with Mr. Double Dare himself Marc Summers as the master of ceremonies.  Practically located in the backyard of Universal Studios Florida, Nickelodeon Studios was a hop skip and jump away from many of Universal's attractions. 

Now, unlike Universal, Nickelodeon mostly stuck to productions within their studios.  During the entire decade known as the 1990s, almost all television series with the Nickelodeon logo were produced here including;

Double Dare/Super Double Dare
Legends of The Hidden Temple
Nick Arcade
Nickelodeon Splat!
Eureeka's Castle
Wild & Crazy Kids
Clarissa Explains It All
All That
The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

And many more!

In fact, there was talk of bringing the television show "You Can't Do That On Television" to Orlando from Ottawa in 1990.  But the series was cancelled that same year, so nothing ever came out of it.

There was even a time capsule buried by Nickelodeon staff at the Studios in 1992, which had children of that time period (which would have included me) had voted on.  Such items included the Nintendo Game Boy, Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" album, A VHS tape of "Home Alone", and of course, the slimy gooey stuff known as Nickelodeon GAK!

But by 2001, the studio was beginning to fall on hard times.  Staffing was cut, and the production of game shows made way for sitcoms.  This in turn caused tourism to plummet, as game shows that encouraged audience participation were cancelled for closed-set sitcoms.  Unable to keep the studios going, the decision was made to shut it down in 2005.

Mostly everything from the Nickelodeon Studios was removed, and the space is now currently used as a concert hall for the Blue Man Group.  But the time capsule that was buried in 1992 remains intact.  It was just relocated to a different area.  It will continue to remain sealed until 2042!  By then, the Game Boy might go back in style!

So, there you have it.  Two attractions opened up on June 7, 1990.  One remains standing.  But I'm sure many have had lots of fun at both!

So, do any of you have any memories to share of either place?

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