Celebrate Walt Disney and his magical vision with this look back at several of the most memorable hours from his groundbreaking television shows. As its friendly, approachable host, Disney endeared himself to millions and became much more than an icon for family entertainment. He became Uncle Walt. Join Walt as he celebrates the rededication of Disneyland with a parade of celebrities and guest stars, the fourth anniversary of his weekly show featuring a surprise party arranged by the Mouseketeers, and a tenth anniversary program showcasing some of his talented Imagineers at work. And in a rare interview, Diane Disney Miller shares warm and personal memories of growing up with the man we all admired from afar.
More than a time-capsule treasure for Disney buffs, this two-disc set will warm the nostalgic hearts of baby boomers who eagerly looked forward to their weekly visits with "Uncle Walt" Disney. As the host of his anthology series, Disneyland
(later Walt Disney Presents
, then The Wonderful World of Color
), Disney presented classic cartoons and original programs, but he also gave starry-eyed viewers a privileged, behind-the-scenes look inside his magic kingdom, from the construction of his magnificent theme park to animators at work. Disneyland
transformed Disney into the face of Disney Studios, a pied piper, according to film historian Leonard Maltin, who introduces the features on each disc. This collection of episodes features Disney at his most avuncular. "Where Do the Stories Come From" (1956) is a fun exploration of where Disney artists find their inspiration. "Fourth Anniversary Show" (1951) charts the development of the Disney featurette, Peter and the Wolf
, but then becomes a surprise-party musical extravaganza for Disney hosted by his Mouseketeers, and featuring appearances by Guy "Zorro" Williams and Fess "Davy Crockett" Parker. Long-thought lost, "Kodak Presents Disneyland '59," is a black and white kinescope recording of a live, 90-min. television special (compete with entertaining Kodak commercials featuring Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and sons) that serves to introduce three new attractions to Disneyland: the Nautilus submarine ride, the Monorail and the Matterhorn. Look for rising stars Clint Eastwood and Dennis Hopper among parade participants.
"Backstage Party" (1961) is a visit to the set of Disney's production of Babes in Toyland, with appearances by the film's stars, including Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, and Ray Bolger. "Disneyland 10th Anniversary" (1965), previously released on the now-out-of-print Disneyland U.S.A. set, introduces the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and It's a Small World rides, and shows how "space-age" technology was used to create the Enchanted Tiki Room. Disc 2's extras include a true rarity, a 1962 Cinemascope film presentation created to accompany a Disney Radio City Music Hall stage show. Another delight is "I Captured the King of the Leprechauns," a 1959 Disneyland episode tied to the release of the feature Darby O'Gill and the Little People (and included as a bonus feature on that DVD). This whimsical bit of blarney follows Disney to Ireland in search of "the little people." Movie tough guy Pat O'Brien sends him off with a charming song about leprechauns, just a small sample of these episodes' endearing and enduring hokey charms. --Donald Liebenson