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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland — Secrets, Stories & Magic (2007)

"There's a unique charm to Disneyland that is wholly unique, and it is and has become an American treasure."
- Tim O'Day (author and former Disney public relations executive)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: January 08, 2008

Stars: Walt Disney, Leonard Maltin, Geoge Lucas, Roy E. Disney, Tony Baxter, Herb Ryman, Jack Lindquist, Richard Sherman
Other Stars: Diane Disney Miller, Kurt Murdoch, Dick Nunis, Marty Sklar, Charlie Ridgway, Julie Andrews, Marc Davis, Bob Iger, Jay Rasulo, Michael Eisner, John Lasseter, John Hench
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 05h:32m:00s
Release Date: December 11, 2007
UPC: 786936702057
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B+B+ B-

DVD Review

"To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world." - Walt Disney’s original dedication of Disneyland

Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955 to great fanfare but also an equal amount of skepticism from journalists and other experts. Prior to Disneyland's opening, typical amusement parks consisted largely of carnival attractions. In hindsight, Walt Disney’s success in this highly expensive venture makes complete sense, but it was considered a major risk at the time. If Disneyland had failed, it has been said the entire company probably would have gone under. After a rough start, the original park drew huge crowds and spawned a completely different type of entertainment destination. Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic presents a detailed history and the promotions involved with selling the expanding group of attractions. The following sections describe the individual segments offered in the latest two-disc Walt Disney Treasures release. Film critic Leonard Maltin introduces each disc and gives some minor background into the included features.

Disc One

Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic of the Happiest Place on Earth (1:21:15)
This new, feature-length documentary covers the entire history of Disneyland and includes a laundry list of key figures involved with its development. Amusement park junkies and Disney fanatics should love this detailed look at the difficulties and successes of the ambitious park. Julie Andrews opens and closes the feature with glowing comments that are a bit much. The first half is especially strong while focusing on the construction and early years. Pivotal figures like Herb Ryman—who created the original artist’s rendering—Imagineer Rolly Crump, Composer Richard Sherman and numerous others provide intriguing stories on specific attractions and updates. A highlight is the discussion of rides that disappeared, including goofy flying saucers, the Home of the Future, and Holidayland, which had a potato derby and other lame carnival attractions.

A downside of this documentary is the promotional push of the later segments, which involve today's Chairman Jay Rasulo and President/CEO Bob Iger, who come off like standard corporate honchos. Even the unfortunate former chief Michael Eisner is less grating during his brief segments. Thankfully, Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter understands the proper tone for the piece when reminiscing about his days as a sweeper and Jungle Cruise skipper. "The Disneyland That Never Was" conversation is also a plus and could have been much longer. Even considering the slight downturn near the end, this film gives plenty of great information and should please Disneyland’s many fans.

Wonderful World of Disney Trivia Game
This enjoyable trivia game is divided into Beginner and Advanced questions, split into the lands of the Magic Kingdom. Disney fans should have little problem with the easier section, but might struggle with the surprisingly difficult round. Wrong answers send you to Main Street for general park questions. Finishing all tasks brings you the chance to view one of many short featurettes about a specific attraction like the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean. The downside is that you must complete the entire game again to watch another video.

People and Places: Disneyland (41:49)
This compelling 1956 film is nearly worth the DVDs entire price tag. Featuring considerable overhead footage of the park, which looked much different in the early years, this picture provides a detailed look at its origins. There's also a great option of listening to audio commentary from Maltin and Tony Baxter, senior vice president of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering. Some intriguing elements include the lack of characters roaming the park like Mickey Mouse and some long-extinct attractions. There's also a music-only option if you’re just interested in the visuals.

Disc Two

Operation Disneyland (14:01)
This brief movie was only used as a closed-circuit presentation for ABC affiliates to prepare them for Disneyland's 1955 opening. If you’re not fascinated by live set-ups and wiring, this will probably seem boring. It does effectively show the difficulties in preparing the park for the ambitious live broadcast.

The Golden Horseshoe Revue (49:20)
I generally have a good tolerance for cheesy fare, but this 1962 episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color crosses into cringe-inducing territory. This special show of Disneyland’s long-running Golden Horseshoe Revue is extremely corny and stupid, with fairly lifeless performances. Particularly flat is Annette Funicello, who performs a song about Native Americans that is definitely not politically correct. This show is filled with Western clichés, and even incorporates a lengthy bar fight. This is a waste of space on a generally fine DVD release.

Disneyland Goes to the World's Fair (50:00)
This 1964 episode is a refreshing improvement over the previous installment and contains plenty of backstage footage. Spotlighting Disney’s four exhibits created specifically for the New York World’s Fair, this entry supplies an array of interesting details. These creations would eventually become the famous attractions It's a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Carousel of Progress.

Disneyland Around the Seasons (50:05)
The final section repeats some footage from the last entry, but it does offer some new material. The notable additions in this 1966 episode are the Christmas parade (Walt’s last) and candlelight processional. I don’t find those items super-exciting, but they should be worthwhile for parade fans.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This release has some variations in quality, but the images basically remain strong throughout the features. The new documentary obviously delivers the clearest picture, but all of the entries have received at least a minor remastering. The full-frame episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color are also sharp and only have minute defects that reveal the '60s time period.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: I was pleasantly surprised to discover that several segments were offered with 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio. A striking example is the People and Places: Disneyland picture, which gives you several options with complex sound. Other pieces are less impressive and use 2.0-channel tracks, but none drift into untoward territory.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1
Packaging: unknown keepcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. Building Walt's Dream: Disneyland Under Construction Image Gallery
Extras Review: Most of the offerings in this two-disc set are presented as main features, even the trivia game. The second disc does include several notable extras that are definitely not throwaways. Building Walt's Dream: Disneyland Under Construction supplies more than 37 minutes of time-lapse footage documenting the building of each land. Tony Baxter and several others provide audio commentary that nicely complements the intriguing videos. The other supplement is a diverse photo gallery of 60 pictures showing all types of areas and attractions. The lack of organization is frustrating, but the images are very impressive.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

As an amusement-park fan who admires the Disney parks, I enjoyed Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic's extensive details on the origins of the California landmark. This Disney Treasures release is designed for devoted fans and is not going to change the minds of skeptics. With a few exceptions, this two-disc collection showcases the best aspects of Disneyland's unique charms.


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