To read part one of this grand adventure, which included a look a Boy Meets World, Step by Step, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, CLICK HERE.
Without further ado…
# 3 – Family Matters “We’re Going to Disney World”
Season 6, episodes 22 and 23
“Carl, I never told you this, but when your father was on his death bed he said to me, ‘I have only one regret. I never got to take little Carl to Disney World.’ Then he died”
“Wait a minute, Carl’s father’s died before that place was ever built.”
“Quiet, you want to go there, don’t you?” – Estelle and Harriet Winslow trying to convince Carl to go to WDW
Now this is one for the books.
By season six of Family Matters the show had completely transformed from a “working man’s version of the Cosby Show” into The Steve Urkel Show, for good or for bad. This episode started off with Steve Urkel coming into the Winslow household proclaiming that he was a finalist for the “national inventor’s contest” sponsored by “Amateur Innovation Weekly.” Watching these older shows make will make you appreciate how much better the reboots like Girls Meets World and Fuller House really are. Anyway, because Urkel was a finalist he was able to take as many people as he wanted with him to Florida. You just got to go with these things.
Our first stop was Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Again, the resort was never mentioned by name but we did get to see several exterior shots and the gorgeous lobby. Then we were off to Innoventions in EPCOT, where Urkel’s “transformation” machine turned him from geeky Urkel to “cool” Stephan. Urkel’s assistant liked him better as Stephan, so she sabotaged the machine, keeping him stuck as Stephan until a replacement part could be flown in. The judges said they would reconvene in three days to decide a winner to the contest.
One subplot of the show revolved around Carl Winslow. He had no interest in going to Disney World at first (until the incredible line from his grandmother that is quoted at the top), and even once he arrived still had very little “pixie dust.” However all that changed as soon as he walked through the turnstiles of the Magic Kingdom. Soon Carl was in love with Disney so much that he was ready to quit his job in Chicago and move the entire family to Florida.
Several of the shows took a ride on the Tower of Terror, and in each instance the characters had an interaction with a bellhop, got loaded into the elevator and got to see the look out at DHS, then they show the WDW-made video of the elevator dropping (which is part of the MyMagic+ PhotoPass deal.) This is a little strange because it looks completely different – in terms of production values – from the rest of the show. Carl’s wife ended up talking him out of leaving his job, and Stephan ended up going back as Urkel to end the show. Because Urkel saw what the machine could do to the emotions of people he cared about, he withdrew from the competition.
The ending of each show was wonderful as Harriet read the following “Production services for Family Matters provided by Disney MGM Studios in Florida” as the camera showed the Disney MGM park and closed on the old Disney MGM logo. Absolutely loved that.
Be sure to check out Family Matters: Season 6 on DVD.
# 2 – Roseanne “We’re Going to Disney World”
Season 8, episodes 17 and 18
“This better be good because they are showing that Full House where they think one of them twins is dying.” – Roseanne referencing one of the TGIF shows
While Roseanne was technically a two parter about going to Disney World, the first episode only dealt with the logistics leading up to getting to Florida. In an unbelievable meta-moment, the show acknowledged in voice over – during the show – that the actress Sarah Chalke was back to play the character of Becky instead of the series regular Lecy Goranson. Many of you know Sarah Chalke as her character Dr. Elliot Reed on the show Scrubs. To put this change into a theme park perspective, this was like riding Gran Fiesta Tour and discovering they put in new animatronics out of nowhere.
In the second episode, when they finally get to Orlando, comes some of the funniest stuff in any of the shows who went to Disney. On their day at the parks, viewers get to see what an old school “rope drop” looked like. This was before Frozen came to the Magic Kingdom and we were all walked hand-in-hand to New Fantasyland. Roseanne and Dan talked about everyone pacing themselves and “taking it easy,” but once the rope dropped everyone ran like hell. This was HILARIOUS as the show also played the finale of Tchaikovskey’s 1812 Overture as the music in the background.
However, the show took the humor all the way up to 11 as once they reached the end of Main Street USA, Dan found out that the Magic Kingdom didn’t sell beer. He then ran back down Main Street on his way to EPCOT and they once again played the 1812 Overture. This wasn’t just five star humor, this was 10 million stars and hits both casual fans and die hard Disney fans right in the funny bone.
There are some Disney fans who are not going to like Roseanne because the type of humor is completely different than any other show on our countdown. Sarcasm is off the charts. There’s a great sequence where Roseanne is eating a box of popcorn and just starts throwing it on the ground to see how fast the Magic Kingdom janitors will clean it up. “It’s not littering, it’s friendly competition!”
One of the subplots of the show was that Roseanne’s daughter Darlene was determined to not have any fun and making sure her boyfriend David didn’t either. Later though, she met Winnie the Pooh and was reminded that Pooh was the first book she ever read. She loved the character and in a swell of emotions hugged Winnie the Pooh and finally started to enjoy herself in the park.
The show closed with everyone enjoying IllumiNations.
Be sure to check out Roseanne: Season 8 on DVD.
# 1 – Full House “The House Meets the Mouse”
Season 6, episodes 23 and 24
“I wish that we can go on any ride and not wait in line.” – Michelle Tanner, who surely now would wish for “faster FP+ lines” today…
You have to save the best for last, and who doesn’t remember the gang from Full House making their trip to Walt Disney World? What may be the most amazing detail is that these episodes were filmed years before anything else on this list but only Roseanne comes close to touching it in terms of production quality. How did everyone find a reason to get down to Florida? Well, Uncle Jessie and his band The Rippers were invited to play at Disney World. Joey, who had a radio show with Jessie, came down to record the show together, and since it was a “school vacation week,” Danny took the rest of the family down for a vacation.
The family stayed at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (once again, never mentioned by name at any point on the show despite having many scenes filmed there.)
As many of you reading this already know, once inside the Magic Kingdom the girls are drawn to several characters from Aladdin standing in front of a large lamp. The lamp seller asked for kids to come up and try their chance at rubbing the lamp. “Today only, whoever rubs the lamp and makes the Genie appear will become Prince or Princess for the day.” In the time honored tradition of theme parks, Michelle cuts her sister Stephanie in line and ends up becoming princess for the day.
Joey traveled over to Disney MGM Studios and into the Magic of Disney Animation to meet his friend Mark Henn. It takes a large team to create the Disney animated movies and most of them are unsung heroes who never get the proper credit for what they have done. Mark was the animator for Mickey Mouse in Mickey’s Christmas Carol along with being the supervisor animator for Jasmine in Aladdin and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. That’s just the tip of his amazing career. First ballot Disney Animation hall of famer in my book.
As Mark went to get coffee, Joey sat down at an art table and drew a caricature of himself. The character soon sprung to life and interacted with Joey for a bit.
One of the subplots of the show was Danny mustering up the courage to ask his girlfriend Vicky to marry him. On his first attempt in the Germany Pavilion at EPCOT, he was interrupted by group of musicians wearing lederhosen and ending up asking Vicky, “Would you…like a bratwurst?” In terms of fake proposals, this was nowhere near the league of Jim and Pam in The Office.
We’re back in Mickey’s Starland as another subplot unfolds. This one centered around Uncle Jessie and his wife Rebecca not getting to spend time together for their anniversary. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Step by Step later used the exact same subplot for Frank and Carol. Comparing the comedies of yesteryear to stuff we have today like Silicon Valley, Modern Family, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is like when Dorothy landed on Oz and her world went from black and white to color.
By this point the girls were getting sick of Michelle’s bossy attitude. In fact she made them ride the Carrousel ten times in a row. While the three older girls debated how much power was going to Michelle’s head, Michelle herself bailed. The show closed with the three older girls realizing Michelle was gone and all of sudden they were swarmed by crowds. This of course was the only time in ANY of the shows where it seemed like there was any large crowd at the parks.
We mentioned earlier that Joey and Jessie were going to perform their radio show from WDW. Well, they did so from inside a tank at The Living Seas.
After Michelle danced with a band in Adventureland, she was approached by Snow White. This was bonkers as Snow White knew Michelle had been separated from her family, but instead of immediately bringing her to them she allowed Michelle to make a second wish. The wish was to have a tea party with “Mickey and Minnie and all their friends.”
Michelle gets to her tea party, but realizes she would have a better time with her family. Mickey Mouse then arrives with her family. In the first moral lesson of the show, Danny teaches Michelle that she needed to learn humility once wearing the princess crown.
Meanwhile Uncle Jessie, who had once again stood up his wife Rebecca, sings her a song in the Grand Floridian lobby to get back in her good graces.
Every single show that went to WDW had a montage of characters going on rides and Full House was no exception. Here we got to see Dumbo, the Speedway, and Splash Mountain.
In our second moral lesson of the day, Joey had a heart to heart with Stephanie and explained she screwed herself out of a fun time by being so upset at her sister. Meanwhile Michelle used her last wish to make Stephanie a princess and join her in the parade. Because she was so nice, Snow White said the entire family could be in the parade and wow did we get to see some great floats!
Time for the finale of the show and we got to see Jessie and The Rippers playing live in front Cinderella Castle. The Rippers are always presented as some cool rock band on the show and yet all they ever play are songs 50 years old. In this case they played Hippie Hippie Shake. Jessie then got on the piano to play a solo song for Rebecca, “A dream is a wish the heart makes.” It was during this when Danny finally popped the question to Vicky. Danny did so in a very dramatic fashion by having a message appear in the sky during the fireworks. To be fair this was a much better idea then getting those crazy pilots who skywrite over Walt Disney World.
So there you have it: Six Of Our Favorite Shows That Went To Disney World. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:
Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, master photo manipulator Matt Cleary, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey and Meg’s Yeti To Be Named Disney Podcast.