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You Say It’s Your Birthday?

Thirty-eight years ago today, on 1st October 1971, Walt Disney World officially opened its gates in Orlando. This was how the new resort’s arrival was heralded to the public:

Ridiculous. Although many divisions of the company, especially WED, were still putting out good work at this time, the television specials of this era more than anything show how the company was really starting to miss Walt’s sense of taste and showmanship. Those 1970s specials are truly dire, which is unfortunate as it denied Walt Disney World the opportunity to leave as rich a television legacy as Disneyland’s.

It’s always good to see Julie Andrews, though! Did you know that today is her birthday, too? Oh, it’s true. Julie and the Magic Kingdom share a birthday. Hopefully she’s having a jolly holiday.

All that and a Mark IV monorail, too! And Buddy Hackett!

Happy Birthday, Disney World. Hopefully the upcoming years will be kinder.

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8 comments to You Say It’s Your Birthday?

  • Cousin Orville

    Happy birthday WDW and EPCOT! So you seriously don’t love that opening bit? Man, it’s one of my favorites! (No sarcasm, honestly.) I love how you’re watching Glen Campbell do his thing, singing his song while walking through the wilderness. You’re thinking, ok what the hell does this have to do with this thing called Disney World?? And then from out of nowhere, a a freakin’ MONORAIL comes zooming over his head!!! In that one shot it established how truly different this was going to be from Walt’s little theme park on the other coast. Gives me a little chill every time I see it!

  • Haha OK I’ll give you that – it does put a different spin on things. It’s just so *weird*… Glen Campbell wandering around, singing about death. But if they did intend it as a headfake, then well done! I always did like the fact that suddenly there’s a monorail swooping overhead as he emerges from the wilderness. I never gave them enough credit to think that there might be some amount of metaphor to it.

    While I still think the song is a little too random and a little too long (like so many things in the post-Walt era, it just goes on overlong enough to slightly irritate), you might be turning me around on this one. Slightly. A bit :)

    There is no hope, however, of anyone convincing me that “Christmas at Walt Disney World” or “The Mouseketeers Go to Walt Disney World” are anything more than completely absurd and occasionally quite stinky cheese!

  • Cousin Orville

    Haha, yeah — some of those lyrics are certainly a little questionable for an opening number! They probably could have just ditched the song completely. Still, I love what that opening accomplishes despite some of the weirdness of it all.

    On the subject of bizarre Disney specials, have you ever seen the WDW 10th Anniversary show?? I used to love it as a kid but haven’t seen it in years. Here’s the only clip I’ve been able to find online, but it’s absolutely incredible and bad at the same time!!!

  • philphoggs

    HAHA time changes everything! thanks cuz.

  • Foxxy

    You really can’t convince me that this opening isn’t brilliantly strange. To me Glen Campbell showing up is only the *first* surprise after such a long image of a sunset, with the second being the reveal of the monorail. I mean, isn’t that what Walt Disney world was in 1971 – a swamp with a monorail? With Julie Andrews? And polyester? You know it’s the poetic truth.

  • Another Voice

    The 1970’s were not a good time. Fashion, entertainment, politics – you name it, it was all pretty horrible. Actually, the opening special was pretty much standard television for Middle America at the time. This was the age of ‘Hee Haw’ after all.

    And compared to the mid-1980’s shows Eisner tried to put on, Glen Campell strumming in guiter in a swamp doesn’t seem so bad. Does anyone remember the “Magic” special at Disneyland?

  • This 10th anniversary video is horrifying. I don’t know when in the late 70s/early 80s getting throngs of children to sing out of tune became in vogue, but that was a staple for a while. It also looks like they kidnap a few times.

    At least the guy from Dukes of Hazzard is there… He was in another special and sang wonderfully.

  • philphoggs

    Kidnapped- I thought those kids were dubbed foreigners!
    Well said Foxxy, but this format was even more annoying when these truths were considered mainstream.
    Joking with AV, the pattern of TV specials seem like a journey coping of Lsd induced dreams® and successive Eisner delusions®. Aside, cast another vote for glassy Glen stumbling out of the wilderness onto the monorail.
    What is it today that makes these vids seem like a stroll down primrose lane? A weird retrospective control issue on my part? (haha) Still the beating of Eastern Airlines vintage ad continues on Youtube, all the while hits keep stacking up.

    Oh well, back to peanut brittle, and MKs new time lapse vid. By the way Foxxy, don’t forget to let Mike have it in defense of the Caribbean Plaza!

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