Case Number 19207: Small Claims Court

DISNEY PARKS: THE SECRETS, STORIES AND MAGIC BEHIND THE SCENES (BLU-RAY)

Questar // 2010 // 167 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // July 3rd, 2010

The Charge

Experience the magic in stunning Blu-ray high-definition!

The Case

I need to start by revealing a bias towards this release: I love pretty much all things Disney. While I haven't been to Walt Disney World yet, I've visited Disneyland as an 8-year-old, again on my honeymoon, and twice since with my wife and children. From my experience, Disney can be a bit like bagpipe music -- leaving people loving it with childlike abandon, or hating it with the near-religious fervor of Ebenezer Scrooge! Fortunately, many of my closest friends share my addiction, so I am in good company.

Rather than spend time talking about Walt Disney and his creative genius or rehashing the history of his company, I'll dive right into the content on Disney Parks: The Secrets, Stories and Magic Behind the Scenes. The title may seem familiar to Disney fans, as the studio released a title of their own called Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic. While both deal with the Disney empire, its history and the parks, the "Treasures" title is significantly more comprehensive; digging deeper to reveal some truly remarkable footage, while capturing living Disney legends on film.

Disney Parks is divided into three sections: "Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes," "Undiscovered Disney Parks," and "Ultimate Walt Disney World." As their names imply, each deal with a specific park or grouping within the overall Disney umbrella.

* "Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes"
It's fitting to begin an exploration of the Disney attractions and theme parks with the Anaheim flagship. Opening with just 20 attractions on July 18, 1955, Disneyland has grown and evolved over the years; expanding, modifying, and adding new attractions to keep pace, not only with the changing amusement park industry, but also with the demands of its guests. More than 50 years later, Disneyland includes some of the world's most famous attractions, from Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and The Haunted Mansion, to more recent icons like Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

Halfway through this section, the focus switches to Disney's California Adventure (DCA), a more contemporary park that opened in February 2001. Despite a somewhat rocky start, DCA has undergone some recent changes and planned additions covered in this release; intended to improve the park's appeal, while increasing its "Disneyness." Even with a slight identity complex, DCA features unique and thrilling attractions like Grizzly River Run, California Screamin', and Soarin' Over California -- all covered in detail here.

* "Undiscovered Disney Parks"
The name may be a bit misleading, as this section deals not so much with undiscovered parks per se, but more with attractions many guests who have only visited the main gates may have missed. There is actually more than a small amount of overlap and redundancy between this section and the others, as it too covers notable attractions in both Anaheim and Orlando. New content is addressed through non-traditional attractions like the Richard Petty Driving Experience, water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, VIP tours, the DisneyQuest interactive game center, and more. The segment also takes a look at the parks' holiday-themed decorations that Disney does like no one else.

* "Ultimate Walt Disney World"
Realizing that only 2% of his Disneyland guests came from east of the Mississippi River, where 75% of the U.S. population lived, Walt Disney began looking for land to open a second park to meet the needs of that significant potential audience. Sadly, Walt died in December 1966, before his dream of a new park could be realized. Fortunately, Walt's older brother Roy delayed his retirement to oversee construction of the first phase of the new project. At 25,000 acres, Walt Disney World is the world's largest and most visited recreational resort.

While Disneyland offers two complete theme parks and an array of unique retail experiences and accommodations, the Disney World offers four unique theme parks, two water parks, 24 themed hotels, and a wide array of other entertainment options. As one can imagine, there's far too little time allocated to this section of Disney Parks to offer more than a superficial look at the nearly incomprehensible volume of things there are to see and do at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Some of the highlights visitors will find covered in the previous "Disneyland" segment are duplicated here, since both parks share some of the same attractions -- Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and more. Despite that fact, there is a wealth of unique content in this section that will entice Dis-no-philes (like me!) to make the Florida pilgrimage.

Granted, when it comes to Disney, I'm relatively easy to please, but I'm delighted to say that Disney Parks looks glorious on Blu-ray. The magic of Disney is perfectly matched with the 1080p clarity, color, and contrast of this release, making much of the magic all but jump off the screen. Aside from overtly perky narration, the Dolby 2.0 stereo mix complements the video presentation, offering excellent balance, especially for a production of this kind.

The bonus features are quite impressive, delivering no less than nine short featurettes that take a closer look at specific features or attractions: "King Arthur Carousel," "Disney's Resort Hotel," "Tips for Travelers," "The Disney Dream," "Disney Dream AquaDuck," and "The Haunted Mansion." The one conspicuous member of this list is definitely "Tips for Travelers"; if you were under the impression this release isn't intended to whet new travelers' appetites or entice returning guests back to the turnstiles, you'd be wrong. This release also includes both DVD and digital copies.

Despite my reservations that Disney Parks would be little more than a glitzy marketing tool, Questar has delivered an attractive package that belongs in the libraries of longtime fans, and alongside the travel guides of anyone planning to visit a Disney resort. Sure, there's a relatively shameless plug for travel bookings at the end of each segment, but ultimately, that's what most of us want to do, isn't it?

The Verdict

Not guilty. Relive the magic, or experience it for the very first time.

Review content copyright © 2010 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile
Studio: Questar
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 167 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Featurettes

Accomplices
* Official Disney Parks Blog
http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/

* Disneyland Resort
http://disneyland.disney.go.com/

* Walt Disney World Resort
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/