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A Krafty Birthday

It’s October, which means that it’s Walt Disney World’s birthday month. This year, of course, the resort turned thirty-nine, an anniversary mostly overlooked as Disney musters its resources to prepare to overlook the fortieth anniversary next year (“I gave her Indiana Jones Adventure, she gave me a pen.”) But maybe we can fit in a little celebration before the month is over, eh?

Usually when I post old video I try to come up with some wacky introduction, or try to convey my bewilderment at whatever horrors it contains – be it Clinkers, giant babies, or whatever. But this one has me beaten. I just don’t know what to say. Is it as spectacularly horrible as the Clinkers? Well, no… And yet… It’s very… of an era. Let’s just watch, won’t we? Meet up after the break for discussion.

See what I mean? It’s no Clinkers – at least all the awesome footage of the resort offsets the sheer confusion resulting from the musical number. But the main question has to be… why? Why the musical number? Why the creepy broad stereotypes of the terrifyingly randy mom, detached nerdlinger son, and, of course, teenage daughter out for romance? At Walt Disney World? Why would Walt Disney World want to do this to itself? Why are they meeting cowboy Eileen Brennan, and why has she apparently kidnapped a mute Asian child? And why are the Gatlin Brothers there?

Also: Michael Keaton.

Yes, it’s Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World’s 10th Anniversary, starring Dean Jones! Michele Lee! Ricky Schroder! And Dana Plato! Originally aired on January 21st, 1982, this all-singing all-awkward musical special celebrated Walt Disney World’s “Tencennial”, which ran from October 1981-82.

But as unbelievably dorky as it is, at least it’s mostly about Walt Disney World, and there’s some great footage in there of the resort. And we see the Contemporary at the peak of its power, and Fort Wilderness when it was still a distant outpost. And Pioneer Hall!

So not unbearable, right? But wait. The crazy is about to go up a notch.

Yeah, that happened. Do we think someone was having some daddy issues when they were working on this special? What was that all about? Was it really necessary to make things quite that contentious and unpleasant? That one scene where Ricky is screaming his angst in Dad’s face while Dad blissfully sings back has to be in the moment of Zen hall of fame.

So we see some uncomfortable bonding between Dean and Ricky, and a madcap musical number about shopping at Walt Disney World. Because, you know, ladies. If nothing else, it’s a fascinating look at what was being sold in Walt Disney World shops at the time and how unbelievably different it was from their offerings today. And remember – this is how Disney wanted to present themselves to the world. This is how they wanted all people to think of Walt Disney World. How different it is from the modern day campaigns centering on “dreams,” “magic,” and “memories.”

What.

Just… draw your own conclusions.

Nice rare footage of Top of the World, though. And the proper Top of the World, too – all you Walt Disney World newbies with your DVC fetishes take note! There can be only one!

Now, part four. Featuring what has to be, without a doubt, the single strangest medley ever perpetrated on the medium of television. Try to imagine what it was like in the editing booth when they were watching this unspool before them. Or when they were out filming on location? What were they thinking? Steel yourselves.

The Dean Jones goat serenade: a classic moment in Fort Wilderness history.

And so ends our family’s trip to Walt Disney World. Young Dana found… romance? … with Michael Keaton. To this point I will only inform you that at the time of this filming she was seventeen and he was thirty. So the creeping skeeziness you felt whilst watching was not unfounded. Also, Walt Disney World was so magical that it made Ricky Schroder give up his calculator. So that’s nice. Some grad student somewhere needs to write a paper about these number-crunching OCD nebbishes that populated families in films from this era. But I digress. I just hope the Chinese kid managed to escape from Eileen Brennan and get back to his family.

Happy birthday, Walt Disney World!

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18 comments to A Krafty Birthday

  • I just want to say that despite all this Dean Jones is still my hero. But it was rough.

    Also, I hope Eileen Brennan had shark’s fin soup at Top of the World. Although I’ll bet her little friend didn’t think Communism was just a red herring…

  • Rob

    At least back then they used stock footage of the right park albeit a few years old…(big grassy knoll where Big Thunder would be.) When and on what channel did it air?

  • Adam S

    not to be too nit-picky….but it was Monkey Brains. Not often found in Washington, D.C….

    Other then that, Dean Jones is still the man. Who knew a Love Bug reunion happened. Where was Buddy Hackett?

  • fyi, the fourth vid is set to “private” and i can’t watch it. i’m all steeled, ready to see a weird medley, but no dice.

    frankly though, i doubt it will top the most random one ever- the one from the Michael Landon “One Man’s Dream” special where Landon, another version of himself, and Dick Van Dyke sang and danced with construction workers that were building EPCOT, occasionally interrupted by an angry Carl Reiner.

    as to ricky schroeder, if your parents sang at you like that at every opportunity, and your sister was knocking over blockbuster videos, and your aunt was an alcoholic, and your cousin (?) didn’t speak your language or smile at bad jokes delivered by country singers, wouldn’t you take refuge in something, ANYTHING that made sense? 2+2=4. that calculator is the only thing keeping him sane.

  • Yikes! Sorry – I didn’t realize the fourth video was locked. It should be viewable now.

    Good call on the Michael Landon special. That does probably hold the title for sheer randomness. Especially janitor Dick Van Dyke, and angry Carl Reiner trying to crush Walt’s dreams over the years.

    I love the bizarre fake statistical nonsense they came up with for Ricky to calculate. The coefficient of efficiency! That’s a thing! Because, you know, nerds. Poor dad, he fought in the war and had to come back to a son he didn’t understand, who doesn’t enjoy any of the manly pleasures of life like … sport!

    And I totally should have gone with Monkey Brains, quite common in Cantonese cuisine. Although they *did* eat shark’s fin soup as well…

    To answer Rob’s question, this aired in primetime on CBS on January 21st, 1982. And this was before cable, when people had nowhere else to turn!

  • not a moment too soon! thanks!

    this really is a wonderful, typically schizophrenic piece of Card Walker era Disneyganda. i’m still not sure what a Duke Of Hazzard seducing cast members has to do with 10 years of WDW, but c’est la 1980′s.

    the montage of stock park footage around the 2:46 point of park 1 is full of choice shots- especially that one of the village/empress lilly/hotel block. pretty rare seeing the non-Disney hotels in a Disney produced piece. loved the shots of the tomorrowland entry spires/waterfalls, too. sigh.

    “i have a credibility factor that borders on the incredible” As you so eloquently put, Michael, you know, nerds.

    Thanks for digging this up.

  • While it was weird, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this oddity of 10 years at WDW. The locations that were used (especially Fort Wilderness) you would never see promoted today. I think I spotted a couple cool trash cans as well!

    I know this was edited to remove the commercials, but sometimes the context of having those as part of the program helps put a better time/date stamp on the culture at the time. Plus, I really wanted those Kraft recipes!

    Also, I’m pretty sure that Mrs Peacock won’t find a little girls room to powder her nose while staying in that tent. Then again, why are you even needing a tent? You are two people and you have a Winnebago!

  • Anton

    Seems like Keaton’s hair doesn’t meet the SOP manual. Gosh, I remember when I started at the Disney Store (would have been 1992)–I had just come from the barber and they told me my hair was too long.

  • Truecoat

    Jeez, I’m halfway through part two and they haven’t gone to the park yet. No one seems to care either.

  • [...] is because if you look at the third video, around 6 minutes and 2 seconds in, you’ll see some great footage of the old Top of the World Restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (the ORIGINAL one). But, all in all, you should watch all the videos. And read the commentary. [...]

  • Truecoat

    Okay, in the 4th part they finally make it to a park bench. And the old hag says, “It’s our last day we don’t want to waste it.”

    You can’t make this stuff up…..

    Kraft’s Salutes….wait what are we saluting?

  • philphoggs

    For those about to food rock we salute, who else? ;)
    Woaaaa where to begin! Arrive in a brand new familytruckster and who needs character dinning? I mise well admit right now that for some reason I like this video, thanks for sharing. A sign of old age I guess. Still, by the end even a die hard has had enough. No crap on the SOP hair, who in tarnation let that comment go about Keaton being one of the 7 dwarfs? Still, from the giant belt buckle of John S, to the forgotten uniforms of the serenaded dammed, it’s just tortured bliss. And who knew center street and the flower shop would become the first victim of an innocent gift? Curse you Schroder!

  • Another Voice

    I would gladly watch nothing but this video for the rest of my life if someone could burn the images of the current “Disney Dance Crew” from my mind.

    Seriously, someone should Disney BLAM! this video.

  • I half expect this whole post to cut to Bob Newhart in bed waking up, turning to Duffy and saying “I just had the strangest dream.” And then Duffy turning to the camera and his eyes glowing like MJ at the end of Thriller.

  • “Kraft’s Salutes… wait what are we saluting?”

    Hahaha, nailed it!

    And Michael, et al, thank you so much for uncovering the “Star Wars Holiday Special” of Disney.

    (I really did start comparing the two once we got to the endless endless dance flashback.)

  • […] to Michael Crawford at Progress City, USA for providing these video clips. […]

  • […] we looked at the first segment of a whimsical four-part video posted by Michael Crawford at Progress City, USA. The video was a celebration of Walt Disney World’s Tencennial and offered several B-, C- and […]

  • […] Michael Crawford alerted the world to a video on the Progress City Public TV Youtube channel. Much to his chagrin, the world did not stop turning… […]

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