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MousePlanet Mailbag for September 22, 2005

Compiled by Stephanie Wien, Mailbag editor

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.

Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

MousePlanet Staff Writer Shoshana Lewin received a lot of feedback on her recent article (link) about the absence of a Disneyland 50th Anniversary television special. Dave Braunecker writes:

Shoshana Lewin's column for August 2, “Disneyland on TV,” was great. She put into words exactly what I have been thinking.

I always assumed there would be TV coverage of the 50th anniversary, to recreate the feeling of the opening day telecast in 1955. I even expected an historical program, showing the development and changes since then. It was disappointing when this didn't happen. I think ABC missed an excellent opportunity.

I also think the Disney company is missing the boat when it comes to marketing their archives. As Shoshana notes in her column, there have been several entertaining TV specials over the years that could be put on DVD, and perhaps should have already been included with the Disneyland, USA release.

I'm also disappointed in the varying quality of the recent Disney DVD releases. Some DVDs are excellent, such as the remastered, widescreen edition of The Absent-Minded Professor or the nice video transfer of The Ugly Dachshund. Yet others are terrible. Son of Flubber and Blackbeard's Ghost are so bad, I don't think I can watch them a second time.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think there is a market for remastered, widescreen editions of almost all Disney movies, not just the A-list classics, but even the B-list, family-oriented movies, such as Boatniks, Moon Pilot or The Strongest Man in the World.

Shoshana, thank you again for the excellent column.

Jennifer Yiu writes:

I totally agree! I miss checking the TV Guide and getting excited about what was going to be on Wonderful World of Disney Sunday nights. You are absolutely right about a 50th anniversary special. I was at the grand re-opening on May 5 and the actually anniversary on July 17th, and while both were exciting… there was something missing. What was missing was a TV special! Why didn't they show the crowds of people?

There was hardly any mention on the news. Here they had a wonderful PR opportunity to showcase the new things and they blew it. If there is somewhere I can write, please let me know.

Darla Redifer writes:

I enjoyed your article. One thing I've been rather appalled at is on the Disney Channel when they show a Disney 411 on the 50th anniversary. Where are they? Disneyland? No. They're at WDW and not once have I seen them show Disneyland. Seems odd.

Hi Darla – The Disney 411 segments have made their way to Disneyland, but you'd never know it as they seem to be geared toward highlighting the Disney Channel stars (i.e. Raven on Buzz Lightyear, Ali and AJ singing “Do You Believe in Magic” in front of the castle).

Jim Korkis writes:

Yes, Disneyland '59 would be a great show if a copy still existed. The Disney Company does not have a copy nor does the archives of Kodak. I have personally checked. Kodak was the sponsor and there was a big banner across Main Street proclaiming “Kodak Presents Disneyland '59.” Disneyland '59 was a 90-minute special hosted by Art Linkletter with dozens of celebrities, from the Ozzie Nelson Family to Lassie to Fred MacMurray. Clips from it exist in Gala Day at Disneyland but Disneyland '59 does not exist. Nor does Herbie Day at Disneyland exist hosted by Bob Crane, back in the day before a darker lifestyle clouded his public image. It was a promotion for Herbie Rides Again and was an hour long. Helen Hayes, Burl Ives (with Mickey Mouse opening America Sings), Keenan Wynn and others were there for the second “Herbie Day” of decorated Volkswagens.

If you or anyone else has the footage of these two specials, many folks would be interested.

How could you forget the theatrical feature Disneyland U.S.A. from 1956 that featured color footage of the early Disneyland?

But, yes, why didn't the Disney Channel or ABC have a special on Disneyland's 50th? Certainly a missed opportunity. They could even have rerun some of these earlier specials.

Foxx Nolte writes:

Nice list of notable Disneyland specials, although for the life of me I wouldn't trade anything for Captain EO—that show was terrifyingly awful.

You excluded People and Places – Disneyland USA, which although it wasn't a Disneyland TV show was as good or better than most of them. It was a 1956 documentary on the park shot in a full 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is the only known existing footage of the Canal Boats of the World, as well as excellent color footage of the Jungle Cruise.

FYI, the Adventureland show and the special showing the opening of New Orleans Square and Small World are available through the Extinct Attractions Club on DVD for a very reasonable $15 a pop.

Hi Jim and Foxx – It is a shame these specials have been lost somewhere in someone's archives. The list I gave was just a sampling of what was out there. Since Disneyland USA was a film and not a TV special, I didn't include it, although I think they should find a way to release it on DVD.

Sabra Schlepphorst writes:

I just read your article on “Disneyland on T.V.” I used to watch One Saturday Morning with my children and loved it. You are so right, that unless something bad has happened in the park, Disneyland and all it's magic is now only on DVD. My question is, are any of the specials you listed available on DVD (or heaven forbid, on VHS) I would love for my children to be able to see some of the history of Disneyland and as a former Cast Member my kids have seen a lot of backstage magic also. Keep on writing those articles, we all enjoy them very much.

Sadly, Sabra, the shows I listed are not available on DVD or VHS—unless someone was fortunate to tape them when they were on. If it was up to me, they'd all be out on DVD.

Jay Welton writes:

I also, was disappointed that the Vault Disney programming on the Disney Channel disappeared. I really enjoyed all the episodes of Walt Disney Presents that showed the progress of Disneyland in the late '50s and the new attractions that opened in the '60s. I regretted that I did not tape those episodes until I discovered the Disneyland USA DVD set. Alas, I was only partial satisfied when I realized that many of the great episodes of Walt Disney Presents/Wonderful World of Disney showing Disneyland were missing such as the one from 1970 with the Osmond Brothers visiting the newly opened Haunted Mansion. Do you know to whom I would write within the Disney company to suggest that they perhaps make a Disneyland USA Part II with those missing episodes?

Megan writes:

Thanks so much for your views on the Disney Channel and other special Vault Disney programming. I, too, miss the Disney Channel of the past when I could come home from school in the afternoon to an hour of classic Mickey and Donald cartoons, followed by the hip New Mickey Mouse Club. On Sundays, my family (yes, all five of us) would sit down together to watch the fantastic show Avonlea, or other programs that appealed to parents and children. I think Disney has really made a mistake with the new Disney Channel programming. While there are a few shows I enjoy (Even Stevens) and will catch a good (old) movie every once in a while, it's nothing like the Disney Channel of my childhood.

Matt writes:

I couldn't agree with you more. Why is it that at a time when Disney owns more TV networks (including ABC, one of the Big Three) that we have the least amount of classic Disney programming available to us? Sometimes it seems like the big wigs making the decisions are ashamed of anything produced before the year 2000. Thanks for your article and bringing back a few memories of a Disney Channel long gone.

Michael Clemens writes:

Thank you! All those outlets to media and we got nothing but Arnold and Eisner. Lame! And my family and I were there. We do miss the opportunity to share things with our children. Walt's idea of a place were children and adults should be involved in every project. As adults, we take our children to all the movies and share the Disney Channel shows. Most are exercises in balancing boredom watching our children's enjoyment. Only the Pixar movies provided some entertainment for the whole family. Also, Kim Possible provides my wife and myself with laughs that the kids don't understand. Please try to get the ear of those who can leave behind the formula and build quality family entertainment for everyone in the family. Thank you again for the wonderful article.

Michelle Griffin writes:

Thank you for writing this article. As a family, we were saddened when they stopped airing Vault Disney.

My kids were 5, 7 and 10 at the time, and believe me… they still ask about the old showings of Zorro and The Mickey Mouse Club. They loved and looked forward to those old shows of Spin & Marty and the old cartoons on The Ink & Paint Club.

We all loved them and wish they were back. Some of the cartoons they have on now are horrendous and I actually will not let them watch them! A Disney cartoon that cannot be watched in the house… who would ever have thought the day would come? I cannot stand Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. I think Phil of the Future needs to find the past and I agree… Power Rangers my boy loves… but enough is enough. We are losing sight of what made Disney, Disney and selling out to be too much (as you said) another Nickelodeon. It's so pathetic. I enjoy watching Lizzie and Raven with the kids. Even Sister, Sister—I admit we watched Smart Guy. Some of these shows are OK, but they are getting worse with no imagination & treat the kids as if they are robots with no intelligence whatsoever.

Here's to looking to the future, in the past.

Yazmin Ruiz writes:

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for writing “The Great Mystery of The Missing Theme Park.” I truly agree with your opinion on The Disney Channel. I was expecting to see a lot on TV about the 50th anniversary, but I didn't see much. Very disappointing. Who knows why Disney Channel is called “Disney” Channel? I liked the old Disney Channel. Anyways, I thank you because what you wrote helped me find a lot of what I wanted to say and express about my opinion on Disney Channel. I couldn't find a way to do that; usually I would just say “Disney Channel is just not the same, it was actually Disney before” but now I have found a way to express my opinions with examples, thanks to you.

Now I just have to tell people to come to this Web site and read what you wrote!

Linda Baker writes:

You must have missed the little breaks during The Princess Diaries on Saturday, July 16. John Stamos did some little tributes to the park. Lame? Yes. Did the park deserve more? Yes! I too, thought they would do much more.

Craig writes:

Great article! I used to watch all the specials on The Disney Channel before The Disney Channel became the “Tween Channel.” I wish they would bring the specials back!

Don Bitz writes:

Thank you for your article. Like you, I'm wistful for the good old days when we could enjoy Disneyland specials old and new on the Disney Channel and other TV outlets. The Company has been so shortsighted these past years by not utilizing TV specials to promote Disneyland. You really had a good point that the public mainly hears about Disneyland on TV these days when it's an accident being reported. Maybe somebody from Disney will read that and have an epiphany that they need to offset the negative with some positive!

A few years back I wrote an article for the L.A. Chapter NFFC newsletter listing and synopsizing all the Disneyland specials. There's a few you didn't list, but I'm sure that's due to space limitations. May the day soon come that we will all once again be able to enjoy the Disneyland (and WDW for that matter) specials either via television, on-demand, or DVD (I have a great many of them on tape, but there are a few I don't that I would love to see, like Herbie Day).

Carla Swainston writes:

I just read your article on old (and sorely missed) Disney programming. I totally agree with you. I grew up in Anaheim and went often. One time we were there and Michael Jackson and John Schneider (original Dukes of Hazzard) were both there filming a special. I seem to remember watching it on TV shortly after that. Do you have any info on this… or did I imagine it all?

Nope Carla, you didn't imagine it. Jackson and Schneider both shot segments for Disneyland's 25th birthday. The “Family Reunion” themed show, sponsored by Kraft, had Jackson singing “When You Wish Upon a Star”/”Follow the Yellow Brick Road” with the Disney characters while Schneider was part of a montage of Disney songs (I believe he sang “Chim Chim Cheree”).

David Alonzo writes:

This was a fabulous piece and I especially loved your comments and views on the Disney Channel.

My family became an instant subscriber to the station in 1983 when it premiered. It was almost the only channel we watched. I was 12 in 1983 and because of those early days, The Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson and other Disney movies staples are absolute favorites in my movie collection.

Why, just recently we had a friend who found a mountain lion in his garage in his house in Corona… and the first thing out of our mouths was “Take two sticks and hit them together”—like Susan and Sharon told Vicky in The Parent Trap. Our friend knew exactly what we were talking about. We all laughed. However, if Disney had not premiered Parent Trap on Disney Channel in May 1984, then I wouldn't know what they were talking about. The “Swisskapolka” from Swiss Family Robinson… a great piece and something fun to listen to… thanks to its premiere on Disney Channel in June 1984.

I recall all of those old programs as you do. My brother Mikey and Cousin Shawna loved The Edison Twins and we loved to watch a short-lived show called Bud's Garage. He made this tennis ball roller coaster out of a garden hose… and do you know that we made one and it worked! We were so excited about that.

If Good Morning Mickey and Donald Duck Presents were on today, I'd watch them, and I'm pushing 34.

I never watch Disney Channel today. There's nothing “Disney” about it as far as I am concerned. I mean, it's probably “OK” stuff, but it's not Disney. It is indeed another Nickelodeon.

I recall the 25th and definitely the 30th—and the televised events of the 30th, too. I seem to remember Annette Funicello on TV in January 1985 to “announce the 30th party” and it was something: giving away cars, and everyone got pins as they entered the park… very fun. But it seems to me, as the years passed after that, there was less and less Disneyland on TV. Thank you, thank you for reminding me of some great stuff!

Heather writes:

I loved your article and couldn't agree more. As an adult I would occasionally watch the Disney Channel to see certain shows but especially Vault Disney. I loved watching the old movies like The Ugly Dachshund and Blackbeard's Ghost, even if they did show them at 2 a.m.

There are so many Disney Classic movies that have gone into the netherworlds, I wish they would bring them back. I'm having my first child and would love them to see the movies I enjoyed as a child. It just seems like the programming now is so commercial and they are only catering to the kids. Bring back some of the oldies but goodies!

David Williams writes:

I can only say, “amen.” I used to watch Lizzie McGuire with my 7-year-old daughter, which was a very clever program. All of their offerings now are terrible. And I would love to Tivo some Vault Disney—why should they just let all that gold rot in the can? I'm assuming it's a business decision, but it's too bad.

And you certainly are right about The Wonderful World of Disney—when it's not the Wonderful World of Pixar it something that needed to recoup some of its production budget. Thank you for your article.

Matt Shannon writes:

Your article about classic Disneyland shows was great, my sentiments exactly! I've only seen about one-fifth of the ones you mention… wish I could see em! And it's too bad they didn't issue a DVD to celebrate the 50th… geez.

Did you ever see The Disney Family Album series on the old Disney Channel? Buddy Ebsen was the narrator, and they did in-depth shows on The Golden Horseshoe (with Wally Boag, Fulton Burley, etc) and so much more…I wish I could get a clean copy of some of those! My old beta tapes are disintegrating!

James C. Marlow writes:

I was reading your answers to the TV specials that might be on DVD next year. You forgot to mention Disneyland's Summer Vacation Party, which aired in 1986. I was a teenager back then, and I only have parts of it on tape. I would love to see the whole show. I would love to see that go on DVD also.

Susan Edgington writes:

Ah, yes, I loved Vault Disney precisely because they aired the same programs that used to be on all the time when I was growing up in the 1980s.

The Disney Channel was the only premium channel we had, and I faithfully watched my many favorite shows there, such as You and Me Kid, Welcome to Pooh Corner, Dumbo's Circus, Mouseterpiece Theater, KIDS Incorporated, Mousercise and the old and new Mickey Mouse Clubs. Plus I loved the movies, my favorite being The Parent Trap II. I have often wished for all those shows again. If they won't bring back Vault Disney, I hope that all these wonderful shows will eventually be released on DVD. They are the kind of decent programming that I would like for my children someday. And while I have not seen most of the specials you mentioned, I certainly would like to see them now! I'll be sure to write to the address you provided, in hopes that Disney sees what we really want! Thanks for your article.

Elio Gonzalez writes:

It's very funny that I would run into your comments about Vault Disney. You see, my wife and I were talking about that same subject a few days ago and were wondering what ever happened to Vault Disney. We loved that show because it gave us the chance to watch the time when Disney was actually Disney. I remember all the shows that you mentioned, like Welcome to Pooh Corner, Dumbo's Circus, and my favorite, Walt Disney Presents. They would even have The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. What happened? Where did it go?

My wife and I were even sad to see that the Disney Magazine is no more. I would love to see all those shows and specials again, and to be able to share them with my kids.

Do you know where I would be able to find some of those specials. I have a few on tape, but there are some that I never recorded. My favorite was the Disneyland's 25th Anniversary Special and Disneyland Showtime. If you know of where I could get a hold of them, please let me know.

Hi Elio! Disneyland Showtime is one of my favorites, too. But unless they bring back Vault Disney, it is possible we might never see those shows again.

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