April 15, 1962 – The Disneyland Anthology Episode “Disneyland After Dark” Premieres on Television
“You are all cordially invited to stay and join the fun in Disneyland, after dark.”
On April 15, 1962, the episode of Disneyland anthology series entitled “Disneyland After Dark” premiered on NBC. The show hadn’t been set in Disneyland for a few years at this point, and to generate interest, Walt and his creative team tried to show viewers what the park was like at nighttime, bringing a few special guests along the way. The episode was popular enough that it was shown as a short subject in theaters overseas. Guest stars include the Osmond Brothers (in their first television appearance), teen idol Bobby Rydell, Mouseketeers Bobby Burgess and Annette Funicello, and jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, and Johnny St. Cyr. The episode was written by Larry Clemmons, and was directed by Hamilton S. Luske and William Beaudine.
It’s the end of the day at Disneyland, and the monorail heads back to the Disneyland Hotel, where guests are invited to experience Disneyland, after dark. The guests step out at Tomorrowland station, where Walt is waiting at the Magic Kingdom. He explains how sundown is his favorite time of day at the park, as a new type of magic takes over once it gets dark. He explains a few of the events that will be shown that night, when a girl comes by and asks him for an autograph. He obliges, and a few other people come by for his autograph, until he’s bombarded. He tells the audience to head off without him, and he’ll catch up later. The sky darkens, and the park comes alive with lights and excitement. The Dapper Dans sing on Main Street, surrounded by guests. After the Dapper Dans, the audience meets with Walt again, who introduces Annette, Bobby Burgess, and Bobby Rydell, who are in Tomorrowland, dancing, with Annette and Rydell announced to sing for the audience.
Everyone is asked to turn towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, where a fireworks show is being performed with several characters showing up, including the Three Little Pigs, Alice and the Mad Hatter, and of course, Mickey and Minnie. Tinkerbell starts flying over the park from the Matterhorn, and sets off the celebration. Walt is then seen again, still surrounded by autograph seekers, and he points out a Tahitian floor show being performed with several energetic Tahitian dancers, including a fire knife dancer. They then have a performer do the Tahitian Fire Walk, an important ritual that surprises many an audience member. Afterwards, Walt is seen again, surrounded by autograph hounds, and he introduces the jazz performers on the Mark Twain. The original girl that started off the chain of autograph seekers (and who stole Walt’s popcorn) returns, bringing him back his popcorn. He promises to catch up with the audience later, as two children stop to ask him to sign their maps.
The Mark Twain Riverboat stops by, with jazz music playing merrily from inside. She sails down the river, with guests and enjoying the entertainment, while the waiters dance. Louis Armstrong then sings a song for the crowd, before being given his horn to play. Armstrong reminisces with Kid Ory and Johnny St. Cyr before launching into another tune, much to the audience’s delight. Meanwhile, Walt is still signing, this time at the Plaza Gardens, where the place is “jumping” as he puts it. The main girl comes back with several hats for him to sign, but brings him a hat just for him to wear as thanks. At the Plaza Gardens, the Osmond Brothers are brought to the stage to sing for the audience. After their performance, the audience gets up to dance once again. After dancing, they bring out vocalist Tony Perez and they have the audience sing along with him. Walt greets the audience one last time, wishing them goodnight before leaving to get ready for the morning – his other favorite time of day at Disneyland.