Back when film was expensive and a low percentage of the population actually had a movie camera, Walt Disney World sold souvenir films for you to purchase, take home and watch at your leisure. If your friends happened to be visiting while you enjoyed these films, Disney considered it a win. They were betting that you would take the time to set up the projector, pull down the screen, make popcorn, dim the lights and show off your trip to WDW with a grainy poor quality film. Sure they were “souvenir” films, but lets look at reality here, Disney wanted your friends and family to see it, have an eureka moment, pack up the kids in the metallic pea Family Truckster and make a pilgrimage to WDW. Souvenir Film? No..future money grab film? Why yes…
If you saw our first souvenir restoration (“The Magic of WDW” from 1974″) you’ll remember that it was an overview of all of WDW from 1974. Today’s film is titled Attraction Highlights #2 and is quite the departure from the other. Instead of seeing a little bit of everything, we are treated to ten minutes of footage from only five attractions: Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain. That alone sounds very interesting, but then you realize that the film is silent, despite the wonderful visuals, some parts just don’t work with out sound – Big Al for instance, what is enjoyable about a bear with a guitar when you can’t hear him? I digress.
The most interesting part of this film is that other than the exterior shots, the Pirates of the Caribbean footage is from Disneyland – despite this film coming out in 1979 the riders are clearly dressed in 1960s fashion, not to mention the obvious age of the film, the scenes from Disneyland’s version and the different style boats. PoC opened at WDW in late 1973, why they couldn’t film the correct attraction in the 6 years prior to this film being released is beyond us…possibly just to save a few dollars and figured the average person would never be the wiser. Disney used the Disneyland footage years prior to the attraction opening at WDW in other promotional films and continued to use it into the early 1980s. The Space Mountain footage is notable as it seems to be actually taken while on the ride – a refreshing departure from the footage that came a few years later that was obviously created on a sound stage.
Technical Notes: This is another of Disney’s mass produced souvenir films so its not surprise that the prints were done poorly and haven’t aged well over time. The film has been copied and copied again, loosing detail and fidelity with each successive pass. Regardless, we were able to take each attraction and restore those parts individually – doing the best we could to match the color.
I love the Disneyland footage for Pirates. And I miss the original Space Mountain rockets with the two-person seating. 😉