Goodbye Disney Wave

by Wade Sampson, staff writer
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Leonard Maltin has been informed that Walt Disney Home Video presently has no further plans for further Walt Disney Treasures waves. Wave Six that was released December 2006 will be the last of the series.

For some of us, this came as no surprise since this latest edition is limited to roughly 65,000 copies while previous sets were produced in quantities of approximately 125,000. Also, the lack of publicity was odd especially with the outstanding Your Host, Walt Disney title that featured a special look at Walt Disney by Diane Disney Miller. [For a detailed look, read staff writer Kevin Krock's review of this DVD release in his Home Theater article published yesterday.]

Apparently the decision was made not because of poor sales or lack of public interest—because neither of those factors existed—but to allow Walt Disney Home Video to concentrate on other products that the company wants to launch. They feel they may have crowded the market with DVD releases and this is an area where they could cut back.

The surprise launch of the Disney Legacy collection with greater publicity the week before the release of the Disney Treasures was also a little suspicious.

I'm certainly disappointed because last year on another Web site, I offered my suggestions for future Disney Treasures sets and two of them popped up this year: Your Host, Walt Disney and The Hardy Boys. Actually, three of my suggestions appeared if you also count that I suggested the True-Life Adventures be released as a Disney Treasures set. In fact, I was in the middle of writing a column of my suggestions for future Disney Treasures sets when I got the information that the wave has crashed.

Just in terms of Disney animated cartoons, those of us who were looking for a complete collection of Donald Duck cartoons will be missing the Duck shorts from 1947 onward, which would include some of the important appearances of Huey, Louie and Dewey (it might take another two Disney Treasures tins to include all of this material.)

Also, in addition to the Chip'n'Dale series, we will miss many of the one-shot "specials" like "Casey Bats Again" or "Suzie the Little Blue Coupe." Not to mention missing some of the more memorable animated educational shorts like "Donald in Mathmagicland" or "Goofy's Freewayphobia."

While the decision has been made, it is possible that it could be reversed. In this day of the Internet, this information always seems to leak out in time for action to be taken. The addresses to write to are:

Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Attn. Consumer Relations
PO Box 3100
Neenah, WI 54957-3100
(800) 723-4763

Or:

The Walt Disney Company
Attn: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Or it has been suggested to write to Dick Cook, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios and a longtime supporter of the Treasures series:

Dick Cook
Chairman, Walt Disney Studios
The Walt Disney Company
500 S. Buena Vista St. Burbank, CA 91521-9722

E-mail: dick.cook@disney.com

It is important to remember the successes of other write-in campaigns like the famous one to save the Star Trek television series. It is important to be polite in your letters but still let them know how much you enjoy and support the Treasures line and are disappointed that they may be ending soon.

Don't get into personal attacks or get off the topic and start complaining about other things like why Song of the South isn't being released or whether you don't want Tom Sawyer's Island changed. Stay on topic that you love the Disney Treasures and want to see the series continue.

Remember that each letter they receive is counted as if a hundred or more people would have written the same if they hadn't forgotten or if they had been aware of where to write. That is why petitions are never successful because they are still considered one letter whereas if each person who signed their name to a petition wrote an individual letter, it would have a greater impact.

A lot of the current uproar on the Internet surround the animated cartoons but let's remember some of the other items from the Disney Vault that would fit into the Disney Treasures brand. I made some of these suggestions last year as well but some of them still seem good to me:

Song Of The South

I think this is the disc set that most Disney fans would like to see released (despite Bob Iger's concerns) and by making it a "Disney Treasure" certainly positions it as an "adult" rather than "general audience" title. Think of the possible extras: a featurette on the technical aspect of combining live action and animation, an interview with Tony Baxter on the how Song inspired "Splash Mountain," a reprint of the original pressbook, maybe excerpts from the 1970s training tape on the personalities of the Song costume characters that features possible movements for the characters, Song merchandising, reprints of the classic Disney "Uncle Remus" comic strip, and maybe a roundtable discussion with African-American authorities and historians about the controversy surrounding Song or helping place it in a historical context. (Gone With the Wind seems more racist to me than Song of the South) Also, let's not forget including the Disneyland TV show, "A Tribute to Joel Chandler Harris."

Disney Family Album

These excellent half-hour documentaries brightened the Disney Channel for many years and I am thankful I think I have all of them on videotape. I would also include on this set those "Disney Legends" minutes that ran on "Vault Disney" as well as those special Disney Channel interviews (remember the one done with Herb Ryman in the Disney Gallery at Disneyland?) and maybe sprinkle in some new interviews (Art Linkletter would be fascinating and they could actually use the speech Linkletter gave at the Disneyland Alumni Club and was recorded on a limited edition DVD) or dig through the Disney Archives for some of their audio interviews that Disney Archivist Dave Smith used to do when he first opened the Disney Archives. In fact, let's include an interview with Dave Smith himself! The primary writer on the Disney Family Album series, the much underappreciated Jim Fanning who currently edits Sketches magazine for Disney collectors, could offer some wonderful insights. By the way, John Lasseter animated the opening titles of the series.

Disney's Wonderful World of 3-D

Wouldn't it be nice to have the color 3-D footage of the original Mouseketeers from "3-D Jamboree" that used to run at Disneyland when it opened? The entire restored segment was recently located and shown at the second 3-D Film Expo at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles last September. (Annette swinging out over the audience!) Besides the usual suspects like "Working for Peanuts" with Donald Duck and Chip'n'Dale, let's also include the 3-D films from the parks like "Magic Journeys," "Captain EO," "Muppet 3-D" and more. Of course, include a featurette on the 3-D fad in the 1950s and the differences between the red/blue glasses and the system used today, reprints of the Disney 3-D comics giveaways from the 1950s, and how modern films like Nightmare Before Christmas are made 3-D after the fact. And pack four 3-D glasses in the set.

The Best Of The Disney Parades

Some of the old Disneyland TV shows showcased early Disney parades and I'd also include excerpts from the Walt Disney World Christmas and Easter parades from years past, a featurette on how parades are made and maybe even include those out-of-print Disneyland videos on "Lion King Celebration" and "Main Street Electrical Parade." And I know there is film footage of Disney parades like "Blast from the Past" and "Aladdin" that were run on KCAL specials in the Los Angeles area. Maybe even an extra of putting a camera on a float so that viewers could experience what it what like riding in a parade.

Disneyland USA Part Two

A disc set that would actually feature the documentary "Disneyland USA" that was oddly absent from the first set and also include excerpts from some of those early Disneyland TV shows that showed the park like "A Trip Through Adventureland." I'd also include that Harry Anderson special about Disneyland. Did you know that Dick Brown who was responsible for Clutch Cargo and Space Angel and who was the husband of Margaret Kerry (the original live action reference model for Tinker Bell) filmed a behind-the-scenes documentary of the opening day of Disneyland? Margaret's husband is the one who came up with the idea of having those cameras on forklifts. For many years, that documentary was lost. But Dave Smith recently located a copy with all the credits removed. So Dick Brown's director credit is missing as well as Hal Smith's narration credit and Margaret's writing credit. Don't get me started on how Walt Disney World needs a DVD devoted to the opening of Magic Kingdom that celebrated its 35th anniversary last year and one on the 25th anniversary of Epcot that is being celebrated this year.

Coming Attractions

I would love a disc with all the original trailers of the animated features in chronological order. And how about another disc with the trailers of all the live action films released while Walt was alive? For extras, I would include some of the Disney commercials (like Tinker Bell promoting peanut butter), a poster gallery, a featurette on how trailers are made at the Disney Studio, maybe even a featurette on how a trailer changed for a particular film over the years of re-releases.

I know the Disney Movie Club has released colorized episodes of the Zorro series but that series is deserving of a tin of black-and-white episodes. I can think of at least three books concentrating on the Zorro series so there is plenty of material for a "making of" history. A personal favorite would be to release "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" on DVD or episodes of the The Mouse Factory.

Of course, I would want a second volume of Your Host, Walt Disney. Think of all the material about Walt that was on laserdiscs that never made it to DVD like the Argentine newsreel on the Saludos Amigos laserdisc that showed Walt smoking while he drew a full-body picture of Mickey Mouse or the complete version of Walt doing Mickey's voice for "Mr. Mouse Takes A Trip" that was on the Fun and Fancy Free laserdisc. Wouldn't you like to see the public service spot Walt did for conservation or Walt playing baseball with his animators on a sandlot near the Hyperion Studio and Roy constantly stepping out of the camera frame whenever the camera is pointed at him? All of this material exists and is easily obtainable.

I am sure that many of you can think of even better suggestions but none of them will become a reality unless you take a moment to write and let the Disney Company understand that there are eager consumers ready to give them money for more Disney Treasures.