January 3, 1965 – Disneyland 10th Anniversary Episode Premieres on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.
“Ten years of happiness for fifty million friends.”
In 1965, six months shy of Disneyland’s actual 10th anniversary, Disney released this special, which gave viewers not only a look at new attractions coming to the park – including what had been submitted to the World’s Fair – but also a brief history of the park and a tour of some of the current attractions. The episode was directed by Hamilton S. Luske, with Special Material provided by Bill Berg. The Anniversary Song featured in the show was written by Richard and Robert Sherman. It has been released on DVD twice, first on the Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland, USA and later on Walt Disney Treasures: Your Host, Walt Disney.
The episode opens with Walt and Julie Reihm, who had been named Miss Disneyland Tencennial, in the Imagineering Department. As the two go around the room, they meet Disney Legends Mary Blair, John Hench, Marc Davis, Rolly Crump, Blaine Gibson, and Claude Coats, and learn about the upcoming attractions It’s A Small World, Plaza Inn, The Haunted Mansion and The Museum of the Weird, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The audience gets a glimpse into the processes that go into creating an attraction, beginning with preliminary sketches and moving on to scale models, with special variations for each attraction. For instance, for The Haunted Mansion, Walt explains to Julie, the Imagineers are collecting ghosts from all over the world, adding that “[they’re] making it very attractive to them, hoping they’ll want to come and stay at Disneyland, so [they’re] putting in wall-to-wall cobwebs, and we guarantee them creaky doors and creaky floors.” Suddenly Walt realizes that they have only ten seconds to get to Disneyland, and with the help of Tinkerbell, they arrive just in time for the parade in the Magic Kingdom.
“All the characters of the Magic Kingdom are gathering for the tenth anniversary celebration,” Walt narrates, as toy soldiers begin marching down the castle walkway, followed by a host of Disney characters. Mary Poppins, the newest member of the Disney family, makes a surprise visit, and after a quick dance number, she flies away again. “From now on,” Walt declares, “no Disneyland celebration is going to be complete without Mary Poppins.” Singing a song celebrating the Tencennial, a magic dancing cake and candles open the parade down Main Street, which leads off with children from Anaheim schools in their marching bands and dance troupes.
The second half of the program is an overview of the previous ten years of the park. “It seems like only yesterday that Disneyland was just an idea and some plans on paper,” Walt reminisces, as he shows the audience an aerial photograph of Disneyland, comparing it with the area when it was just an orange grove and some farm houses. The audience is then taken around Disneyland to the popular attractions that opened between 1955 and 1965, with some little-known facts thrown in to the commentary. Dignitaries and celebrities are seen enjoying attractions at the park, from Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands as a passenger on the Submarine Voyage, to Mary, John, and Hayley Mills exploring the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.
The last two segments offer an in-depth look at the Enchanted Tiki Room, and the traditional Dixieland and Disneyland Celebration on the Big River. The Enchanted Tiki Room segment begins with an explanation of audio-animatronics by the parrot Jose, who narrates as the audience is taken backstage to see all the complicated equipment that powers the entire show, from the electric engineer (or, as Jose puts it, the veterinarian for all the Tiki Room actors) to the relay panel. The audience is then treated to a performance of the birds in the Tiki Room. As we move to the Dixieland and Disneyland Celebration, we see great Dixieland musicians from all over the country perform on boats down the river, including a great performance by the legendary Firehouse Five Plus Two, and ending with a spectacular show on the Mark Twain Riverboat, with cast members and musicians holding sparklers, illuminating the night.
This is a fantastic celebratory episode of the show. For those who did not live close to the park, it was a wonderful way to see the popular attractions, and learn secrets of how they were designed. The documentary also does a wonderful job of advertising the park for its 10th Anniversary. The show is, of course, a giant advertisement for the Disney projects, but it is done in a charming way that entices, entertains, and provides some insight into different aspects of the Walt Disney Company. The episode is well worth seeing.