Doing a television special from a Disney park isn’t a new concept. It actually all started before Disneyland opened. Walt signed a deal with ABC to air “Walt Disney’s Disneyland” from 1954-1959 to help him to finance the construction of the park. And on July 17, 1955, “Dateline: Disneyland” introduced TV viewers around the world to the world’s first theme park, hosted by Art Linkletter, Ronald Regan and Bob Cummings. The live telecast required over 20 cameras, making it the largest, most complicated show attempted for live TV at that time.
When I first discovered the holiday specials, you could find me every Christmas waiting in front of our TV for the show to start. After all, if I couldn’t go to Disney for the holiday, it was the next best thing to being there. I’ve really come to love the older shows that aren’t just a hot, new band performing their current hit in front of a Disney castle or attraction. Of course, I might just be a little biased since I worked on the shows in Florida in the late 1990s. I’ve searched the internet for some of my favorite episodes so this holiday season you can enjoy some classic Disney Christmas magic.
In 1976, “Christmas In Disneyland” starred Art Carney, Sandy Duncan and Glen Campbell, each playing a duel role. Don’t miss Mickey and Minnie ice skating on Main Street, USA and highlights from the Candlelight Processional.
Growing up in Southern California, I was no stranger to Disneyland. The holiday TV specials were always exciting to watch on Christmas Day–especially the ones from Walt Disney World since I didn’t get to go to Florida too often.
In 1983, Walt Disney World’s Very Merry Christmas Parade made its debut hosted by Joan Lunden and Mike Douglas.
The only clip I was able to find from 1984 features Figment and Dreamfinder at Epcot.
The 1985 parade was hosted by Joan Lunden and Ben Vereen and featured Regis Philbin on the parade route. Don’t miss Regis previewing The Living Seas and Ben Vereen as he gives the world the first look at Captain EO.
The 1998 parade was hosted by Joan Lunden and Alan Thicke, while Regis Philbin again on the street at Walt Disney World while Sarah Purcell and Scott Valentine hosted the portion of the show from Disneyland. Don’t miss previews of Mickey’s Birthdayland and the brand-new Caribbean Beach Resort, along with a behind-the-scenes look at Oliver & Co. and an unforgettable musical number in front of the about-to-open Splash Mountain at Disneyland.
The 1990 parade was again hosted by Joan Lunden and Alan Thicke and featured Amy Grant singing The Christmas Song with all The Disney Afternoon characters at Disneyland.
The 1991 parade was hosted by Joan Lunden and Regis Philbin and featured a look at the all-new Beaty and the Beast–Live on Stage show at the Disney-MGM Studios.
The 1996 show was hosted by Suzanne Somers and Jerry Van Dyke. Don’t miss Brianne Leary’s backstage look at the live-action film 101 Dalmatians and a sneak peek at the all-new Disney Institute and the opening of Celebration, Florida.
Whether you are glued in front of the TV this Christmas Day for “The Disney Parks’ Magical Christmas Celebration” or not, the entire staff of Main Street Art Corner wishes a Happy Holiday to you and yours.