This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Disney Sing Along Series: Disneyland Fun! Regular readers of this fine blog series know how much we love watching movies and television shows that were filmed at our beloved film parks. Full House, Roseanne, and Boy Meets World goes to Disney? Loved them all. In fact, I watched every single episode of Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise – which was filmed entirely at Walt Disney World – so you didn’t have to. Several years ago, I had heard about the Disney Sing Along Series and that it had several editions which were filmed at the parks. So I collected them all.
But I never watched them.
The DVDs sat on my shelves collecting dust while I spent my time watching episodes of The Simpsons which referenced theme parks. Then? MORE episodes of The Simpsons. I did pretty much everything I could to avoid watching the Sing Along series. It was like that time in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when Pee Wee rescued animals from a burning pet store, but kept avoiding saving the snakes. Heck, I even watched Ace Ventura: Pet Detective JR. because it filmed scenes at the Universal Orlando Resort. Meanwhile the Sing Along series sat sealed in their DVD cases.
More time passed, and earlier this past week I found myself reading the TouringPlans blog – as one does – and saw that Guy Selga did a post on vintage Disney ads from the 1990s. These ads included the Disney Sing Along Songs series. Well, that was the tipping point. It was time to save the snakes…
My intention was to just cover the whole Sing Along series in one SATURDAY SIX, but after watching several of the DVDs that idea quickly went out the window. I realized that I would be doing a great disservice to the entire theme park community if I didn’t shine a spotlight and pay the proper respects to this cinematic masterpiece–a collection of films that just may put the Marvel Cinematic Universe to shame–and we’re going to start by coming in hot with what might be the best one of them all: DISNEYLAND FUN.
A quick backstory. In the mid 1980s, when VHS tapes finally became affordable and people started building their own collections, Disney started the Disney Sing Along Series. These were videotapes, approximately 30 minutes long, each featuring a collection of popular music from the Disney catalog. The Sing Along tapes featured segments from Professor Owl and Ludwig Von Drake that introduced each song. The segments featuring Owl and Von Drake were just recycled footage from earlier Disney shorts with newly added voice overs. You have to think for the Disney company this was like found money. A product that costs almost nothing to make which you can make a ton of profit from.
In 1990, for Disneyland’s 35th Anniversary, the Sing Along Songs series took it up a notch. Instead of only using songs that were clipped from older Disney animated films, the entire feature – named Disneyland Fun – was filmed at Disneyland.
In 2005, for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary, they released Disneyland Fun on DVD. This will be the version we will be watching. I picked up my copy via Amazon.
The sub-title for Disneyland Fun is “It’s A Small World.” This is featured on the DVD cover and is also on the the main introduction graphic. However, other than “It’s A Small World” being one of thirteen songs included on the playlist, I have no idea why it is so prominently mentioned in the actual title.
After a quick introduction to the Professor Owl character, he lets us know that we’ll be going to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland.
Tinker Bell makes a quick appearance.
And we are on our way into the great Disney songbook…
# 6 – Whistle While You Work
With Disneyland Fun containing a total of 13 songs over the course of 30 minutes, for the most part we are going straight from one song to the next with very little transition time in between. Disneyland Fun starts off with “Whistle While You Work” from the Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but instead of just showing a scene from Snow White like other Sing Along Songs would have, instead we have live action Disney characters singing the song while the prepare Disneyland for opening!
This includes Goofy sweeping Main Street USA, but we would also see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Chip & Dale doing park opening related tasks as well.
To establish the time period when Disneyland Fun was originally released, Roger Rabbit plays an important role in this segment along with the other well known Disney characters. The film Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out in 1988. With the movie being such a huge phenomenon and Roger himself being such a great character, I think most expected he was going to become a huge influence at the Disney theme parks. Flash forward to 2020, and he is almost non-existent, especially at Walt Disney World. That’s a shame. For those of you unaware, you can watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Disney+, and if you look in the “Extras” section you can find the three Roger Rabbit animated shorts that were made to support the film. These shorts (Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-Up) were produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando.
As a theme park merchandise fan, I loved the moment of Minnie Mouse neatly arranging plush in the Emporium.
As a “Sing Along” program, the lyrics for each song would appear on screen while the characters were singing.
In one of the best moments in any Disney DVD, Donald Duck is shown at the Emporium knocking all the Mickey Mouse plush away so that he can display Donald plush.
The song ends with a Disneyland “rope drop” as the main characters welcome the crowd to a day at Disneyland.
# 5 – Adventureland
After a couple songs focusing on Main Street USA, “Follow the Leader” from Peter Pan has us following Donald Duck as he leads a group of children through several attractions in Adventureland.
One nice feature about the Sing Along Songs is that – graphic wise – it changed depending on what was happening on screen. For instance, for “Follow the Leader” we had duck feet “walk” us through the song.
Donald walked the gang straight onto the world famous Jungle Cruise.
As the song plays on screen we are treated to a glimpse of some of the things you see on Jungle Cruise, including elephants playing in the water.
We got to see a Disneyland Jungle Cruise skipper shoot their gun at a hippo. In today’s version of the attraction the skippers aim above the animals.
After getting off the Jungle Cruise, the gang passes by the Swiss Family Treehouse as the song comes to an end.
Once we approach Tom Sawyer island, we leave Donald Behind and join The Country Bears for a new song, “The Great Outdoors.”
While the song is playing, we get a fascinating look at the Tom Sawyer Island area and all the water transportation around it.
As the kids join The Country Bears on Tom Sawyer Island, we get a glimpse of the sailing ship Columbia in the background.
I’m not a stickler for safety, but one of the kids almost had an accident falling off the rocks just on this program. How many kids got hurt in real life in this area?!
# 4 – ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DAH
We now enter Frontierland, and the running theme over this next segment is Roger Rabbit being afraid of all the attractions.
This includes Big Thunder Mountain.
I loved that when the trains returned to the station, Roger Rabbit was PRAYING that the kids made it back safe. A wonderful character touch.
Splash Mountain had just opened in Disneyland in 1989, a year before Disneyland Fun was released.
There was some old school “ZIP, ZIP, ZIP” on-screen graphics during parts of the song.
After Splash Mountain, we head directly to Tomorrowland, all while Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah is playing.
The “greatest hits” montage during this segment was unbelievably cool.
You have to think it brings tears to the eyes of Disneyland fans like Guy Selga when the Peoplemover is seen.
The segment ends with Roger Rabbit on Autopia, saying “Now here’s a ride that’s just my speed!” I would say that the entire DVD is a great advertisement to get people to want to go to Disneyland, but this song especially made the park look exciting to kids.
# 3 – It’s A Small World
For “It’s A Small World,” we spend our time in Fantasyland, starting with Sleeping Beauty castle.
Pinocchio and a young guest enjoy a ride on King Arthur’s Carrousel.
While the Evil Queen watches from above.
We get a quick glimpse at the facade for the it’s a small world attraction.
The Mad Hatter and Alice join riders on the tea cups.
Then we go back into it’s a small world.
Snow White riding Dumbo with a guest.
We even get a taste of the Storybook Land Canal Boats.
It’s a fast trip through Fanastyland, but we do hit on all the high points.
At the main screen of the DVD you can also just quickly jump to whatever song you want. While watching, “It’s A Small World” transitioned straight into “Making Memories.” This song was about taking pictures while at Disneyland and stayed mostly in the Fantasyland area.
Here’s Mickey, the original theme park photographer.
This song did give us a look at some now departed – but still beloved – attractions, such as Tom Bricker’s revered goats at Big Thunder Ranch.
And the Mike Fink Keel Boats.
I personally loved Pluto dressed up as an artist doing caricactures.
# 2 – Grim Grinning Ghosts
Grim Grinning Ghost is the only song in the entire DVD with its own self contained “story.”
We begin with two kids approaching the Haunted Mansion. They are both apprehensive about going inside.
We then got to hear the inner monologue of one of the kids as she thought, “I wonder what weird things happen here at night?”
We then go straight to nighttime at the Haunted Mansion.
These dancing trees were especially creepy. I’m guessing more than one child had nightmares about them after watching Sing Along Songs.
Some classic Disney villains joined in, including the Evil Queen in her old witch persona from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Big Bad Wolf.
But best of all is Donald Duck dressed as a ghost! Keep in mind all of this is going on as Thurl Ravenscroft himself is singing “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” This is AMAZING.
We then cut to some very brief moments in the Haunted Mansion attraction itself, including seeing Madame Leota.
However it is not long before we are back outside, and this time we are joined by Malificent!
After the song is over, we go back to the kids standing outside the Haunted Mansion as they decide to enjoy the attraction.
As a theme park fan, Grim Grinning Ghosts was a show stopper for Disneyland Fun. However we do have two more songs following it with “The Character Parade,” and “When You Wish Upon A Star.” All in all it is a tremendous advertisement for the theme parks as you can’t help but want to go after watching.
1- The French Language Version is a Shot-For-Shot Remake Using DISNEYLAND PARIS
After my first time watching Disneyland Fun on my DVD player, I realized that I needed to get a whole bunch of screenshots for this article. So I put the DVD into my computer to start that process. I had the volume off because I was going to be listening to a podcast when taking the screenshots, but right away something seemed off.
I didn’t notice that Professor Owl was now in front of the Disneyland Paris castle. I did see that the “Disney Songbook” graphic was now in French, but I figured that was no big deal since I wasn’t going to be listening to the songs anyway.
So the “Whistle While You Work” segment begins, and now everything is the same, but different. At this point, I still had no idea what was going on and thought I was losing my mind.
Goofy is still sweeping, but in a different spot.
Mickey is cleaning windows, but a different window.
Minnie stocking plush.
Then we get Chip & Dale in front of Casey’s Corner. Now I knew something was totally different. I was watching a shot-for-shot remake of Disneyland Fun, but instead of being filmed in our Disneyland in Anaheim, it was at Disneyland Paris! It turns out that a sequel to Disneyland Fun came out in 1993 called Let’s Go to Disneyland Paris. This is what is played if you choose the French Language option on the DVD. This is not mentioned on the DVD package or on the DVD menu screens. UNBELIEVABLE! OUTRAGEOUS! INCONCEIVABLE! Actually, I probably should be using; Sacré bleu! Zut alors! Mon Dieu!
So anyway, back to the Whistle While You Work segment, we once again have Goofy on a steam engine, but it is a “Euro Disneyland” train. Everything is just a little different than it was in Disneyland Fun. This was INSANE. Great, but insane.
After the “rope drop” moment and the crowds are let into the park, we get moments and characters who aren’t in the original Disneyland Fun, such as Belle and Beast.
And whatever this person is.
For the song “Following the Leader,” it’s Peter Pan who leads the kids through Disneyland Paris’ Adventureland. However we still have the “duck feet” leading us through the on-screen graphics. How bonkers is that. Imagine the time and cost it took planning and executing a shot-for-shot remake and then they won’t spend the time or money to replace the duck foot graphic with a feather or something.
Oh, it gets CRAZIER. On the UK edition of the Let’s Go to Disneyland Paris DVD, the Following the Leader song DOES replace the duck feet with a more appropriate Peter Pan boot graphic. This is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by question marks.
Okay, back to the American version, where we get an appearance by Genie.
Disneyland Fun didn’t spend any time at Pirates of the Caribbean, but in the French version it is included during the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah segment.
We got the weird “Zip, Zip, Zip,” but the French got the whole song written out.
It was so cool seeing stuff from “Euro Disneyland” that we don’t have hear in the states, such as the dragon underneath their castle.
For Star Tours, the “Euro Disneyland” version had the Disney and LucasFilm copyright marks on screen.
Chip and Dale visit what I have to imagine is a themed pool at a hotel.
When the kids rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, they were all sitting three across compared to the standard two across in the Disneyland Fun edition.
For both Disneyland Fun and this version, Winnie the Pooh sings the song, “Rumbly in My Tumbly.” During the song, we get to see kids eating food at the parks. Look at this picture below. Is that a Premium Mickey Bar with no chocolate on the outside? What is going on here?!!!!
Mickey shaped nightmare pizza?!!!!
DisTwitter artist @SonderQuest felt compelled to draw this gastronomical monstrosity in his cute, quirky style.
There were several songs that did not exist in the English language version, including one based around Pecos Bill.
Okay, so the Grim Grinning Ghosts segment is here, but it takes place at Phantom Manor.
Again, everything is the same, but different. We get the kid with the inner monologue, and then a transition to Phantom Manor at night.
This version has a character we don’t have in Disneyland Fun. One who would fit right in with Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. This character brings the dancing trees to life and somehow makes that even MORE CREEPIER.
This version had shots of the attraction which Disneyland Fun did not, including the singing busts.
Like Disneyland Fun, the French language version also finishes with a look at a parade before finishing up with “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
If you have the Disneyland Fun DVD, here’s how you see the Euro Disneyland version. On the main menu, click on “Set Up.” Then choose “Audio Options.”
Honorable Mention – Mickey Shaped Tortilla Chips
In the Disneyland Fun DVD, during Pooh’s “Rumbly In My Tumbly” song, one of the foods featured is Mickey shaped tortilla chips!
What happened to these?! Why don’t they still exist?! WE WANT THEM BACK!!!!!
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Watches Disney Sing Along Songs – DISNEYLAND FUN! 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 covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.