Plot: What’s it about?
I was very much looking forward to this release, as I am fascinated by the history of Disneyland and that’s what this set focuses on. But in truth, I was a little let down with the end result, as it was more promotional in nature than informative. I mean, two of these episodes were seen in laserdisc releases and while the other two are welcome, I think the amount of content simply doesn’t justify the asking price. The pieces are fun to watch and do contain some tidbits of information, as well as some memorable moments, but there’s just not much here. Across the two discs you’ll find under four hours of total material and for a suggested ticket of over thirty bucks, that isn’t enough to cut the mustard, if you ask me. I would have liked additional featurettes or programs, even if brief, very specific ones. The set is put together just like the other Walt Disney Treasures editions, with a two disc set placed inside a nice metal tin, with the whole shebang limited to a total of 150,000 copies. I find it hard to recommend this to those outside the hardcore fanbase, but if you’re a rabid fan, then by all means, pick up this set. Below is a brief synopsis of the episodes and what each one contains.
1. The Disneyland Story- This is a nice piece and we watch as Walt unfurls the basics behind Disneyland, including brisk overviews of some of the areas. You’ll hear from some of the workers as they discuss the various worlds within the park, such as Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and even some of the smaller attractions. Some animated shorts round out the show, including some Mickey Mouse antics. I found this to be a great program and while I already owned it on laserdisc, I was pleased to have it on DVD.
2. Dateline Disneyland- At the time, this was a risky proposition and it paid off, with a nationwide live presentation of Disneyland’s opening ceremonies. The hosts include Ronald Reagan and Art Linklater, while a host of celebrities cruise past the lens at times, including some humorous moments with members of The Rat Pack. I wasn’t too taken with this program, as it has some decent stretches, but fails to be consistent and enjoyable. I don’t regret viewing it a couple times to soak it in, but I doubt this will be one I revisit too often.
3. Disneyland After Dark- Now this is a cool, entertaining episode, as Walt takes us on a personal tour of the park, or at least he tries to do so. He is approached often by passersby for photo & autograph requests, though he manages to squeeze a decent tour, considering the situation & conditions involved. In addition to Walt’s turn as guide, we’re treated to some terrific musical performances, from such artists as The Osmond Brothers, Louis Armstrong, Annette Funicello, and others. I really had a good time with this episode and if you’re at all interested in the Disneyland history, you’ll also have fun here.
4. Disneyland 10th Anniversary Show- A great way to close out this release, this episode takes a look at how the park changed in the first decade, through the eyes of Walt himself and his Imagineers staff. A quick peek at the newest additions like The Pirates of the Caribbean, New Orleans Square, and others, but also a look at the other new attractions since the park opened its gates back in 1954. I simply love this episode, as it takes us on a nostalgic tour of how Disneyland has evolved, at least in the first ten years of existence.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame presentations, as intended. These episodes have some years on them and are a mixed bag in terms of visuals, as some segments look solid and others haven’t held up as well. The black & white episodes seem to have suffered more wear, but the color programs aren’t much better, though somewhat of an improvement. The prints all show a lot of nicks and blemishes, but are more than watchable, of course. I’d love to have these cleaned up, but with shows like these, I doubt we’ll see that happen.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t too thrilled with the audio here, but I suppose with this kind of material, we should be glad they sound this good. I’d rank this as a step below my expectations, as the materials haven’t aged well and lots of wear is evident on all the episodes. So there is some dullness, scratchy sounds, and overall thin presence, which was a let down. But given the nature of the programs, you can watch them and not have it lessen the experience much, since the audio is not the prime focus on these shows. So not a miserable audio presentation on these episodes, but not too impressive either. You can also enable English subtitles, if you’re so inclined.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This set also includes some promotional artwork, as well as a brief featurette with some additional park information.