Monday, October 22, 2012

Reconstructing Disneyland

What's considered to be the longest running show in television history, The Wonderful World of Disney (and all it's various incarnations) has never received a proper DVD season by season release. A majority of the episodes are made up of preexisting material, be it animated shorts or feature films, so it's likely the anthology series will never see an official digital release. Single episodes have seen releases over the years and many segments of the show have popped up as DVD extras in recent years. Often times the show was divided into two segments, and it's not uncommon to find half an episode as a bonus feature on one disc, and the second half on another title.

I've always thought it would be fun to see if I could recreate the series, researching the contents of episodes and digging into my extensive collection of Disney product on both DVD and VHS...not to mention Laserdisc. Since I just got back from a week at Walt Disney World, and I'm looking to keep that Disney Magic going in the real world, I thought now would be as good a time as any to start my little Reconstructing Disneyland project.

Episodes lists for the series can easily be found online at various sources. I've found the one at to be fairly thorough. I also stick by a list published in The Disney Films by Leonard Maltin. The book The Wonderful World of Disney Television by Bill Cotter offers more insight into the contents of each episode although the book does not offer an episode by episode airdate guide.

Here's the first three episodes I watched over the weekend:

Episode 1.1 10/27/54 The Disneyland Story
Your host Walt Disney offers a preview of Disneyland the park and Disneyland the series. The hour is rounded out by a selection of Mickey Mouse cartoons. This episode appears in its entirety on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland U.S.A.

Episode 1.2 11/3/54 Alice in Wonderland
The 1951 feature film was presented, edited to fit the hour time slot. The film has had numerous releases on both video and DVD. I have the fantastic 2004 Masterpiece Edition DVD which not only includes the whole movie but also Walt Disney's introductions from the first broadcast and a later 1960's repeat airing. A staple of each episode was a lengthy preview of the next week's instalment. The preview portion of episode two can actually be found in the Trailers & Promos section on disc 2 of True-Life Adventures Volume 2: Lands of Exploration. The menu listing incorrectly states The Vanishing Prairie/Seal Island (TV Promo) where the episode is actually just Prairie/Seal Island.

Episode 1.3 11/10/54 Prairie - Seal Island
The first half shows how photographers get the up close and personal shots that make up the True-Life Adventure films. The second half is the Academy Award winning short Seal Island. Prairie is presented as a bonus feature on True-Life Adventures Volume 2: Lands of Exploration. The disc features the color version with the opening titles from a later Wonderful World of Color rebroadcast and closing credits. There is no preview segment for the next episode.  The short subject Seal Island is presented as a whole on Disc one of the same True-Life Adventures set.

Some of these will be easy to find or put together, others will be more of a challenge.
See ya real soon!

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