Disney Parks fans recently got even more reason to love Disney+ with the addition of the Disney Parks Collection. This collection includes classic Disney titles like “The Pre-Opening Report from Disneyland” and “Disneyland Around the Seasons,” plus more recent titles like “The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World.” But there seems to be a huge gap between Walt’s days and current Disney Parks content. I would love to see this Disney Parks Collection feature a lot more of the Disney Parks celebratory specials from throughout the years.
Before I share some titles that I would love to see included in this collection, I’d like to take a moment just to recognize how cool it is that this collection exists at all. I think it’s great that they’ve decided to make a library collection featuring the Disney Parks. For a lot of people, this journey through Disney+ might be the only way they’ll ever get to experience the parks the way that Disney wants it presented.
If you’re an adult, you probably have memories of a particular television special from one of the parks. It’s a tradition that really started with Walt Disney himself with the opening of Disneyland and the company has been smart enough to continue this form of advertising throughout the years. As entertaining as they are, I don’t think there’s a single person who watches these specials and doesn’t at least want to immediately book their next Disney vacation.
One of my absolute favorites that I wish was included on Disney+ is “The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening.” This is admittedly the first Disney theme park that I remember opening in my lifetime, so I have a very soft spot in my heart for it. That aside, this was an extremely entertaining special that was hosted by John Ritter. I especially think it would be interesting for anyone who hasn’t visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios since before the year 2000. The park has gone through a lot of changes, much more so than simply a name change. This special in particular is a time capsule featuring the original intention of the park. You get to see segments from the original studio tour as they highlight areas all over the original park. It’s crazy to look back and see how much of it no longer exists.
Another interesting opening special is “Epcot Center: The Opening Celebration.” This is another park whose original intention has changed through the years, particularly notable today with the ongoing updates. If you’ve never experienced Epcot of the 1980s, you might be surprised at how many educational attractions were featured with very little Disney character representation. Equally as interesting is how little has changed within some areas of the park as far as the design and architecture.
If you’ve never seen those specials, my guess is that you’ve probably seen at least one of the Disney Parks holiday specials, whether it’s the “Walt Disney World Happy Easter Parade” through the ‘80s and ‘90s, the Fourth of July specials sprinkled throughout the years, or the ongoing Christmas Day specials. These have become holiday traditions for so many and Disney certainly has a large collection to pull from and make available.
As I previously mentioned, the recent 50th anniversary special has become available on the streaming service, but I would love to go back and rewatch “Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary Party” (who can forget the cake castle?), or “Walt Disney World’s 15th Anniversary Celebration.” As much as I enjoy the celebratory performances, these specials for me are really about going back and seeing how much has changed in the parks through the years.
The fact is, Disney has access to all of this content. There may need to be some investment in “cleaning up” the picture quality and converting the format, but that has to be cheaper than producing new content from scratch. I believe that if they strategically released these archial specials, there would be an audience as interested in this content as there would be anything new. Until that happens, at least there are some wonderful folks out there uploading a lot of this content to YouTube.
For now, we’ll need to simply enjoy what is available like “The Imagineering Story,” “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” and the “Shanghai Disney Resort Grand Opening Gala.” But if you’re not satisfied with the large gap in Disney Parks archival content, there is something you can do about it: Log into your Disney+ account, select “Help,” then select “Give Feedback,” and then select “Request a film or show.” If enough people request a title, I’m sure that it’ll be seriously considered. And while you’re at it, let me know what you’d like to see added to Disney+ in the comments.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.