You live far enough away from the park where regular visits are difficult and you need something to hold you over until the next excursion. There has never been, or possibly ever will be again, a better souvenir than the “A Day at Disneyland” VHS. It is said that there were three versions of this production feat, one released in 1982-1983, another in the early 1990’s, and the third installment to feature the newly added Fantasmic and Mickey’s Toontown.
There were other videos like “Relive the Memories” released in 1991, featuring mainly stills with audio commentary and background music. Very little video footage was involved, but it did include the Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasy in the Sky.
The audio (voice over) was laid over a series of video shoots taken at Disneyland Park throughout the year. This project may have actually been a larger undertaking that many people think. I say this because although to our modern eyes it appears to be the camera work of a child, that was pretty good for those days, and it is clear that temperatures vary as much as seasons in the course of the video. Kids go from wearing Gecko (remember these?) t-shirts and neon hammer pants, to stone washed denim and magenta and turquoise sweaters, fully-equipped with turtle necks underneath.
The opening scene begins as the sun comes up, bringing the screen to life with a perfectly sunny day at the Magic Kingdom. Mickey and Minnie are cruising around Main Street making sure everything looks neat and pretty as they only have five minutes ‘till the park opens. The MS big band fires up their brass and ushers in another days worth of guests as we watch them scatter to their favorite attractions. One part that does confuse me a little here, and probably just because it isn’t my standard plan, is that it shows people rush to the food vendors when they should be jumping in line for Space Mountain. There is even an older gentleman, distinguished, strolling down the sidewalk near the magic shop with his hands behind his back, tied at the index finger, head high and to the sky, probably whistling “right down the middle of main street USA…”
One of the best sequences would probably be the interactions with Mr. Smee and Captain James Hook (voiced by Corey Burton, uncredited). “Another time Smee, another time.” A great part about this video is how it shows both guests and characters enjoying the park in the same manner. However, to the characters, everything is very real, it’s the world they live in, which makes watching this video so BELIEVABLE! I remember sitting in my living room many years ago, inches from the screen, thinking “I feel like I am actually on Star Tours!” It was fantastic. No plush Mickey Mouse, Squeeze Breeze water bottle/fan, Splash Mountain glass, or Monorail board game ever matched the ability this video had to take us back to the park between visits.
We were so lucky to have been lads in a time when Disney was letting their Imagineers roam free without the mega-marketing whiz’s jumping in to secure a movie tie-in prior to green lighting projects. Not that I am rejecting great new ideas like Cars Land, and putting Jack in POTC. I am just saying things are different, that’s all.
I have added an image of the cover from the VHS if you ever happen to find yourself on Amazon or perusing through a garage sale bin. Pick this VHS up. The attractions may not be up to date, but the feel of the production will bring you right where you want to be