A Day at the Happiest Place on Earth is a very special item for me. This video was released in 1993, when I was 7 years old. Our family visited Disneyland that year, and I was just old enough to ride everything and have the absolute time of my life. On the way out, of course, we bought this video tape, which acted as a “This year at Disneyland” type of video souvenir. Of course, back in the day, Disney would make different videos with original content, whereas now they practically either copy what they did last year or simply leave the same version on the shelf for five years. But make no mistake, these videos were heaven on earth before the YouTube generation. This was LITERALLY the only place to get ride-through coverage of attractions in video form, save your own personal home movies. So every time we see a ride-through of Pirates or even Snow White, we giddied with excitement! This video particularly stood out because Fantasmic! was not yet a year old, and it was mind-blowing to everyone in all the right ways. Getting home to watch the video, we were astonished and delighted to see the extended video coverage of Fantasmic! at the end of the presentation, which helped us relive our joy and wonder from our trip. I adored this video and practically wore it out. I was surprised to find it in such good condition when I finally digitized it a few weeks ago.
Rather than write several paragraphs on each of these vacation planning early-1990s videos (I practically said most of what I had to say in our last installment), I’ll go over the highlights of the video:
· It always makes me smile when Mickey knows everyone’s name, including Cast Members. As a symbolic entity he always shared certain similarities with Santa Clause, and in this case I always felt him as the omni-benevolent overseer of Walt’s theme parks. He can walk the park and know everything that’s going on and he knows everyone’s name instinctively. And he’s not above self-deprecation! Notice how he laughs at himself when he tells the CMs there’s five minutes until park open but realizes he only has four digits on his hand!
· Quite a bit of this video is a nostalgia romp (check out the original DL parking marquee), but an underrated aspect of this is the fact that we get to see all the old Costumes! I think the old parking costumes are my favorite. Would you like fries with that?
· It makes me smile whenever we hear Jack Wagner’s soothing tones. He makes all the park announcements throughout this video, including park close. Most unexpected: he makes the opening safety announcement for Fantasmic!
· For whatever reason, the voiceovers for the attraction characters in the video are just horrific. The replacement voices for Disney direct-to-video sequels are better. That sounds NOTHING like Jose! Paging Dan Castellaneta!
· TAHITIAN TERRACE COVERAGE! TAHITIAN TERRACE COVERAGE! NERD ALERT LEVEL 10!
· Is Goofy guilty of copyright infringement for literally stealing all the skipper’s jokes on his ride through the jungle? I’d get sued for that. But his mosquito veil is hilarious and causes him to hit the little kid in front of him with his binoculars multiple times.
· This video has a lot of strange examples of characters riding certain attractions that don’t really make sense thematically. Roger Rabbit on Big Thunder Mountain? I guess? Pluto on Space Mountain? Maybe? Chip and Dale on Mansion? Did they get lost coming from Toontown? At least Smee and Hook on Pirates of the Caribbean makes sense. Hook even complements them on such a “splendid job of pillage and plunder.”
· The Splash Mountain segment has the most hilarious example of anti-continuity in the whole show. First Brer Bear is the only character in the log, with 4 Guests sitting in front of him. Then Brer Fox suddenly pops in when they go into the main show building. Then they both disappear. Then they come back seated in different positions. Then Brer Rabbit appears in the boat going down Chick-A-Pin, and the Guests have all vanished! Then Brer Bear and Brer Fox get off the ride and curse that “next time we’ll get that Brer Rabbit.” He was sitting in your log! How incompetent of a cartoon villain do you have to be?! And then for some reason Mickey’s standing at the exit and forces them into the Country Bear Playhouse! What is going on?
· Yes, the SKYWAY’s here too and gets some great photo coverage from many parts of its ride path! And it’s the old super-technicolor Small World!
· A good tour of the Fantasyland Classics (sans Toad, how dare they), but what the hell background music is being played through the Pinocchio and Snow White segments? That music has absolutely nothing to do with the source material? Why aren’t they just playing the original music content? IT’S DISNEY’S MUSIC! Am I missing something?
· We get a very cool tour of the new Toontown and a peak into every attraction (except for Roger Rabbit, which possibly hadn’t opened yet), including the fully-working Jolly Trolley!
· That Matterhorn ride is good but has some hilarious fake screams. Like Rollercoaster Tycoon-level bad. But seriously, that ghostly fingerprint of Harold as we ride past is LEGIT.
· The old Tomorrowland tour is great, but like the last video I wish it was longer in hindsight. We do get to see the old Autopia, the old Subs, PeopleMover, Star Jets, the old Space Mountain Speedramp entrance, and the old TLT, complete with character dancing! And Launchpad McQuack!
· In the Space Mountain footage, WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT LIFT HILL? It’s 100 times better than the pre-1998 lift hill we had. Why didn’t they just do THAT?!
· Remember those “Mickey in the weeds” t-shirts from the 90s that were as ubiquitous as the “thinking Mickey” cups? Me too.
· MSEP gets some good footage here, but again, WHAT IS THIS MYSTERY MUSIC? This is not the music of the parade! And furthermore, what the h is Prince John dancing to? That’s not Disney appropriate!
· The extended Fantasmic! coverage is the E-Ticket of this video. They practically go through the entire show, albeit in a cliff-notes version. But seriously, in the days before YouTube, this was absolute heaven. You could WATCH FANTASMIC! IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME. WHENEVER YOU WANTED! WOW!
· Remember to order your Day at Disneyland by calling this now-long-out-of-service number! Operators were standing by but they’ve been abducted by Doc Ock and the Sinister Syndicate. Due to the recent unpleasantness caused by Doc Ock and his gang of villains, we will be closed until further notice, or at least until Spider-Man can make our city safe again.
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