This one’s a little longer at an hour and thirteen minutes, but well worth the watch for any Disney parks enthusiast. Presided over by Uncle Walt alongside a smattering of reporters and celebrities, you could tell it was live because of all the times things didn’t go quite Disney perfect. My favorite example is probably when the guy can’t find – actually, you know what? Click play and follow along!
And now – 55 Thoughts Jenn Had While Watching The 1955 Disneyland Opening Day Broadcast:
The Disneyland press room doesn’t look too magical.
I don’t care for Art Linkletter standing ON the railroad tracks like that, and neither would OSHA, I think.
I am loving this early television “We’re totally going to mess this up, guys” disclaimer. Pardon me while I adjust my bustle.
In a different universe Art crossed the railroad tracks and was immediately taken out by the train.
Oh, right, I forgot that Ronald Reagan was a movie star first. BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA, BE GREAT!
I knew opening day was dire, but did the heliport and parking lot count as attractions?
Wait, was the fire station actually a fire station?
Next time I’m in the Emporium I’m definitely getting myself some nylons and a buttonhook.
Way to spoil the forced perspective illusion, guys.
Who brings a mandolin to a canoe ride?
Getting serious “how do you do, fellow kids” vibes from this announcer. Twenty-three skidoo!
Awww, look at Walt in his little conductor’s cap and bandana.
Stand up, straight, Mr. President; have some RESPECT.
It is time for THE SPEECH.
That was Gettysburg-esque in its succinctness. Walt did love Lincoln.
I did not expect this religious angle. They let a reverend AND a priest talk, but why didn’t they let the rabbi say anything? Corollary thought: is there a joke in there?
If this were happening today some big shot pop star would definitely sing the anthem.
Oh, hey, Fess Parker is back.
Did he just say Buddy Ebsen is there? Was Buddy Ebsen in Davey Crockett? [Looked it up later and evidently he was! I’m glad he finally got the nickel out of his lungs]
Awww, all the parade sections splitting off to their respective lands is pretty cute.
“This is one of the greatest parades – man-made parades – I’ve ever seen.” As opposed to the alien-made ones? What do you know that we don’t, Bob Cummings?
Ah, shoot, have all the individual lands had dedication plaques of their own this whole time and I’ve just never noticed? Or is that just at Disneyland?
I’ve read that Disneyland didn’t have background music loops the first couple years, but based on the soundtrack for this special I think that the subsequent music loops have done a great job preserving the spirit of what Walt had in mind.
Fifties youth say: “Screw Disneyland – WHERE IS FESS PARKER????”
Oh. Oh dear. I see we’ve reached the “well, it was a different time” portion of the program.
Are all the lands going to get their own musical numbers or is this special for Davy?
I’m not saying Big Thunder Mountain isn’t awesome, but… I wanna ride a mule around Frontierland!
Pecos Bill is here! I wish the Diamond Horseshoe was still a year-round attraction.
And the Mark Twain riverboat was never that full again.
I was told Ms. Dunn would be adjusting her bustle.
“The Rivers of the World! America, that is!” You’re just ahead of your time, Art.
Ronnie Reagan has sure made himself at home.
I kind of wish WDW had a New Orleans Square.
Was Aunt Jemima a walk-around face character? Hmmm.
Implied kissing? Scandalous!
Can you imagine, guys? Tomorrowland! The future! 1986!!!!
Awww, Walt’s face. “I thought I got a signal.” That was ADORABLE.
“1986! That’s WAY ahead!” That’s what I said.
“… predictions of things to come.” [Camera cuts to Autopia] “Well… uh…”
Oh, hey, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.! Finally some celebrities I’m familiar with. 😜
“The women drivers are given special space, just as they are on the highways.” … What?
I half expected to cut to Ronald Reagan with his coat off and his shirt unbuttoned.
We get to virtually ride Rocket to the Moon?!
Don’t get to comfy, Capcom – Gina Torres could replace you at any moment.
Hey, that knight kinda sounded like Thurl Ravenscroft…
Is that Cinderella? Is that Sleeping Beauty? Is that the Blue Fairy? WHO IS IT?
That Dumbo costume is AMAZING. They should really bring it back.
I bet that fade transition from live camera to cartoon and back was cutting edge for the time.
Did I miss a sequel where Snow White and Prince Charming have a kid?
MARJORIE MAIN!!! Now that’s a celebrity worth highlighting!
“And I think if he ever gets a microphone we’ll be able to talk to him – ” Gotta love a live show.
Just add my voice to the cacophony lamenting the loss of Mr. Toad in WDW.
“I can’t tell you the ending because it would violate the Hays Code.”
Thank GOD Mickey and Minnie experienced a glow up.
Maybe if you hadn’t let Fess Parker stage an entire musical number you would’ve had more time to explore Adventureland instead of just saying “Uh, sorry!” and rushing off in a tangle, guys.
Fifty-five thoughts for the 1955 opening! That one got me right in the feels. I’ve read the stories – Day One was a minor disaster – but dang it if it wasn’t the start of something beautiful. We’ll take a look at that blessed progression in the next one. See ya real soon!
Today I am excited to continue my Thoughts While Watching series, where I document my thoughts while watching old school Disney parks media. I thought it might be good to tackle the next batch in chronological order, so today we’re going to start with The Pre-Opening Report from Disneyland. We’ll follow it up with the opening day broadcast and ten year anniversary special, but for now, cast your mind back to when Disneyland had yet to open its gates….
It’s more fun when you watch along! The Pre-Opening Report from Disneylandcan be viewed on Disney+ here if you have a subscription, or watch it on YouTube below:
And now, 35 Thoughts Jenn Had While Watching The Pre-Opening Report from Disneyland:
They sure were big on the sponsors back in the day. Cars and milk – so American!
I like how Tink got more airtime than Mickey at one point.
Wait, there was another TV special about Disneyland before this one? Shoot, now I may have to go backwards…
Ha, I never realized how many rides are kinda technically monorails.
I had no idea they made the riverboat completely from scratch. That looks intense.
Um… is anyone getting weird colonial vibes from getting the plaster mold on this guy?
But harnesses still exist – why would harness making be a forgotten art? Saddleries are a thing.
I’m bummed I never got to try Rocket to the Moon. Those models look sweet.
I’m beginning to see why Disneyland’s construction ran over budget.
From now on I will be describing myself exclusively as an “older-type youngster.”
Mr. Toad! Awww, I miss Mr. Toad.
No, wait; from now on I will be describing myself exclusively as a “feminine craftsman.”
Hmmm. Yes, I can see why the Jungle Cruise is being redone.
… There’s a beaver in Lady & The Tramp…?
All roads DO lead to Disneyland. All roads STILL lead to Disneyland.
They sure are dedicating a lot of time to L.A. highways.
Is that Fess Parker? I’m assuming that’s Fess Parker. My dad always gets excited when his wine shows up on restaurant menus.
Awww, Disneyland has Baltimore lampposts? Good ol’ Baltimore.
Ah, yes, the fabled real working drawbridge.
I want Disney to write me special versions of their more industrious songs for when I go to work.
I don’t see any of these high-speed construction workers wearing safety harnesses. Maybe that’s the lost art they were talking about earlier.
I had a ton of fun doing my last Thoughts While Watching about the EPCOT film, so I decided to do another one! And just as I threatened in that last post, I tracked down the Kurt Russell episode of The Wonderful World of Disney, which is called “Disneyland Showtime.” Sadly, Kurt does not wear that suit the whole time, but it was interesting nonetheless.
Watch along here:
And now, 47 Thoughts Jenn Had While Watching “Disneyland Showtime:”
I’m getting a strong “A Salute to All Nations But Mostly America” vibe from this opening.
Did the old monorail have a… foghorn?
I wish more costume characters did the Charleston these days.
That tour guide cape is sweet, but she seems to lose everybody almost immediately.
All I think of when I see Donny Osmond is LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS! TO DEFEAT! THE HUNS!!!!
Also, all these Osmonds seem to be cosplaying as Romulans.
I’m going to have to look up this… E.J…. Peaker…? person later because I am blanking.
I’m 90% sure I walk faster than any of the Main Street Vehicles.
This human clock makes it sound like “fun rides” are only fun because you can quantify them.
Hey, I know this song! Was “Down on the Corner” an Osmond Brothers song or is this a cover? (Somewhere a boomer is weeping. Who knows; maybe it’s my mom. Although I think she was more into the Monkees.)
I see you there in the background, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.
Not that I’m not happy to see him but I’m actually not sure why Kurt Russell is even here. He seems to be sort of in charge; did Kurt Russell run Disneyland in the ’70s?
Remember when you had to bring a whole separate camera with you if you wanted pictures?
This “people in the crowd who are not Donny Osmond” montage sure is long.
Split up and go in different directions, Kurt? Really? Have you never seen Scooby Doo?
Wait, what’s going on with this Native American dance circle? Did Kurt Russell really just throw off their schedule like that? And then Mr. Human Clock made them redo everything? Rude.
“If they needed us, they’d come find us here, in this readily accessible Nautilus submarine.”
Counterpoint: “Gee, maybe we can find Donny here, on the riverboat, a 40-minute self-contained ride.”
Nope, never heard this song about walking before. The Romulans seem to like it.
Hey, who let this E.J. character in the captain’s area?
Boy, these Dapper Dans are dressed for a sepia-tone Kansas.
See, that’s why you don’t look for people on rides, dummies.
The ’70s sure were the ’70s, weren’t they.
Conversely, the Kids of the Kingdom (which, who?) dress like Wesley Crusher before there was a Wesley Crusher.
Do yodelers still rappel down the Matterhorn?
Did the Romulan Brothers just abandon Kurt? Jerks.
Ah, there’s Kurt’s magnificent gangster suit.
Okay, I’m familiar with this sugar, sugar song, but I don’t know who this mustached individual is, nor did I know Kurt Russell sang. This has been very educational for me.
WHY THE HELL ARE DONNY AND OTHER RANDOM OSMOND ON THE SKYRIDE. They’re literally pointing at the stage and saying “Oh, gee, we’re next.”
Oh, the flare indicates an emergency AND signals the start of the fireworks, does it? Seems like a sound idea.
I don’t know this song either. I also still have no idea who E.J. Peaker is.
Judy Garland already did this in “The Man Who Got Away” and she did it like 85,000 times better.
“Put on your suit so you look less like Romulans for the show.”
Never heard this rainbow song in my life. I’m really more of a ’40s/’50s girl, I’m afraid.
Wait, wait. Is this “Age of Aquarius” part of the same song? Because if so, then I have heard this song. But also, didn’t, like, a Motown group or something do that first? Were the Osmond Brothers a cover band?
I will not miss Mr. Human Clock.
Everyone DOES want to go see The Haunted Mansion, Kurt.
I desperately want to play in a Disney land/attraction model.
Oh, that half-translucent animatronic is interesting. Explains how they get the fadeout on the Pepper’s Ghost illusion.
I love the moving bust illusion – even when you know how it works you have to really concentrate to see it.
It’s okay, Thurl, I’ll sing the response lines.
Ooh, do we get a full ride-through?!
Oh, Human Clock, you’re still here. Great.
Let the record show that Kurt Russell is attracted to Medusa.
The Haunted Mansion really hasn’t changed much over the years. But then why mess with perfection?
For a second I thought they were trying to imply that Donny turned into a ghost.
I don’t know about you, but my primary takeaway from this activity was that I am not particularly well-versed in the ’70s outside of the fact that Kurt Russell was clearly there.
I’m still enjoying this little mini-series of mine! I think I might do the original Disneyland opening broadcast next, or maybe the Disneyland 10th Anniversary special. Hit me up if you have an opinion.
So you’ve seen those “XX Thoughts I Had While Watching Y” posts, right? Where various and sundry authors jot down their thoughts while viewing something relevant to pop culture? I see a lot of ’90s nostalgia re-watches and new movie trailers circulating, plus Disney movies, of course. Buzzfeed does it. Vogue does it. High/low culture at its finest, really.
Stick with me; I promise I have a point.
My point is, Pat and I were rewatching The Imagineering Story the other night, and during the episode about the origins of Epcot he lamented that Walt never got to build his real Utopian city center. “It could’ve changed the way humans live,” he said.
Alas, he’s right. Once again, we’re stuck in the wrong corner of the multiverse. Still, it got me thinking about that time I was writing a paper about Epcot and cultural policy (here, you can read it), during the research stages for which I watched the original EPCOT introductory film. It’s the one where Uncle Walt himself gives an overview of everything he has planned for us in Progress City.
Aha, now you see where I’m going with this! Queue up the video to watch along if you like, as I grace you with 29 Thoughts I Had While Watching Walt’s Epcot/Florida Film:
This conductor isn’t conducting in time to the soundtrack…?
The opening “To all who come to this happy place” speech always chokes me up a little.
That cart horse is wearing a jaunty hat and I love him!!
Wait… is this Disneyland footage just looping…?
Oh, no, the Astro Orbiter is new.
Old school bubble monorails!
Good old WED Enterprises. I’d give the limb of Walt’s choice to go back and time and become an ink and paint girl.
Wait, did the Carousel of Progress originally have a different dog?
If you watch the Disneyland teacups from above for long enough, Disney hypnotizes you into a yearly tithe.
A whole new Disney WOOOOOOOOORLD! A dazzling place I never knew!
Oh, hey Uncle Walt. Yes, you’re my favorite relative too.
Oh, interesting – there’s a Bay Lake on the map, but I don’t see a Seven Seas Lagoon.
Fun fact: Uncle Walt is six miles tall.
Wait, isn’t WDW 47 square miles? Walt said 43.
An airport of the future in WDW? IF ONLY.
Walt says “Experimental CITY of Tomorrow” the first time before switching to the official “Community” and for some reason this drives me slightly bonkers.
It is taking all my energy not to make a joke about communism OR socialism right now.
Oh, hey, I recognize this place from the TTA Peoplemover!
Yes, thank you, I’d settle for living inside this matte painting.
I totally forgot Walt wanted to build the biodome…
Oh, the hotel must be the inspiration for the Contemporary! Albeit in a VERY roundabout way.
The Peoplemover! I was just talking about you, old friend.
What, you think you can bury “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” in the orchestral score and expect me NOT to sing along?
I look forward to the DVC tower of the high-density EPCOT apartments. I will give them all the money I have to join.
Did they say more cities could be built within monorail striking distance of each other? Sounds like somebody was playing the long game of Risk: Corporate America Edition.
“The six million people who visit Disney World each year” – uh.
Wasn’t World Showcase originally a small part of the EPCOT plan? I don’t think they mentioned it.
I too am ready to go right now.
Bye, Uncle Walt! Miss you already.
That was fun! I think I might dig up s’more old Disney parks specials to Thoughts-ify if there are no objections. Does anyone know which one has a young Kurt Russell in the dashing one-two sartorial punch of a turtleneck and gangster suit?