Disney Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun
Disney // 1990 // 29 Minutes // Not Rated
Disney Sing Along Songs: Beach Party At Walt Disney World
Disney // 1995 // 30 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // February 16th, 2006
It could only happen at the happiest place on earth.
Ah, the enigmatic allure of Disney's Sing Along Songs series. To the untrained eye of your average 20-something DVD consumer, they appear to be little more than another cheap marketing ploy by the House of Mouse -- repurposing content to rake in a quick buck. While there is ample case evidence to support this conclusion, I hereby rule it irrelevant and inadmissible; for the two titles in question are a different beast altogether.
The Sing Along Songs series is legalized heroin for children ages 1-8. Once they've tasted it, there's no going back. They crave the fix, savor the buzz, and mourn the withdrawal. I've seen it happen firsthand. It's truly frightening to behold. At the time of their first release, I don't think Disney creative execs knew the power they were unleashing upon an unsuspecting world. It was merely a way to repackage musical numbers from their animated features. Yet all it takes is one viewing and a child becomes an addict. Like any successful dealer, Disney has mass-produced large quantities of these titles in a variety of flavors.
First, we examine the evidence presented against Disneyland Fun, a 29-minute musical romp through Walt's original Magic Kingdom. Whereas the first two VHS releases -- Bare Necessities (1988) and You Can Fly! (1988) -- utilized film clips to drive the action, this 1990 release showcases a series of live action, well-choreographed dance routines, featuring brightly clad cherubs and a host of costumed Disney characters. Each of the 12 numbers highlights a different area of park and its surrounding attractions, from opening to close.
* "Whistle While You Work"
Mickey and friends prepare for yet another day of fun, making sure everything is spotless before their guests arrive. Meanwhile, anticipation builds as the early arriving crowds gather along Main Street, awaiting the official park opening.
* "Step in Time"
The mad rush is on as the park opens and the hordes race to be first in line at their favorite attractions.
* "I'm Walking Right Down the Middle of Main Street USA"
Those wanting to avoid the early morning madness pace themselves by exploring the magic of Main Street and a character parade.
* "Follow the Leader"
Donald leads the kids on an expedition of Adventureland; from the Jungle Cruise, to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, ending up at the dock of Tom Sawyer Island.
Given that Disneyland Fun was filmed more than 15 years ago, it ends up being something of a time capsule. For instance, our pint-sized adventurers arrive five years prior the excavation of The Temple of the Forbidden Eye, and visit the Treehouse nine years before Tarzan moves in and renovates the place. But I digress...
* "The Great Outdoors"
Meanwhile, back on Tom Sawyer Island, our friends the Country Bears take over as tour guides. Zeb, Liver Lips, and Wendell chase the kids all across the island, while singing the title tune from their Vacation Hoedown show. Little did they realize that 11 years later Disney Imagineers would evict their family from the park, gut the Playhouse, and rename Bear Country to Critter Country, all to create a new home for Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Not to worry though, the Bears migrated east to Central Florida and moved in with their country cousins.
Escaping from the island with all their limbs attached, the kids meet up with Roger Rabbit, Chip, and Dale, for a whirlwind tour of the park; from Critter Country's Splash Mountain, to Frontierland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; from Star Tours and the Rocket Jets in Tomorrowland, to the Matterhorn and Autopia in Fantasyland. Suffice to say they needed the Skyway and the Monorail to cover all this territory in such a short amount of time. Nine years later, the Skyway would be permanently grounded (due to its physical age and expensive upkeep), forcing guests to burn off a few more calories by hoofing it across the park on foot.
* "Rumbly in My Tumbly"
Here, a dark truth is revealed. Prior to moving into their own Critter Country digs, Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang earned minimum wage working food service in various park venues; and they weren't very good at it.
* "It's a Small World"
With full bellies, the kids waddle back to Fantasyland to enjoy many of Disneyland's slower paced attractions, along with Peter Pan, Alice, Snow White, and The Mad Hatter. In fact, a smattering of children joins the White Rabbit for a trip down the rabbit hole of saccharin despair known as "Small World." That's one place you don't want to be when technology breaks down. You'll be in therapy for years. How do you think the Hatter went mad?
* "Making Memories"
A song created for DL's east coast cousin EPCOT (as pre-show music for the original Journey into Imagination attraction) underscores Minnie and Mickey's daily photo safari, capturing the enjoyment of the park's many guests.
* "Grim Grinning Ghosts"
As the sun sets on the Magic Kingdom, the darker side of Disneyland emerges. Evil Trees frame a variety of Disney's most nefarious villains, as they celebrate the witching hour on the front lawn of the Haunted Mansion. While we only get to see a brief glimpse of what goes on inside the house, we are treated to a new recording of the attraction's main theme, courtesy of the legendary Thurl Ravenscroft (known to many as the voice of Tony the Tiger). Thurl passed away in 2005 at the age of 91.
* "The Character Parade"
Everyone loves a parade, or so it seems. The kids join hundreds of park guests camping out well ahead of time to secure the perfect viewing point for the procession of Disney favorites. Not me. With all these folks otherwise occupied, my family preferred to use this time to visit as many E-Ticket attractions as possible; many of which had no lines at all.
* "When You Wish Upon a Time"
As the day draws to a close, our weary band of musical midgets say their final goodbyes to Mickey and the gang, before heading into the gift shops. With a farewell fireworks display, Disneyland goes to sleep, in anticipation of another exciting day.
Many consider Disneyland Fun to be the best of the Sing Along Songs series. Given its nostalgic appeal, and the fact that it's been almost five years since my last visit to a Disney theme park, I would have to agree. From a technical perspective, while Disney does provide a Dolby 5.1 audio track, it amounts to little more than glorified two-channel stereo. The picture and coloring are, for the most part, clear and vibrant, but remember this is a remastered analog source video. Don't expect miracles; and don't expect bonus features. There are none. Then again, the target audience for this release is a less discerning demographic of viewers under the age of 8. As long as they can replay the disc five or six times a day, they're happy campers.
>From the sublime to the ridiculous, we travel to Central Florida for Case #2: The People vs. Beach Party at Walt Disney World. The year is 1995. WDW now has three water parks screaming out for guest attendance. How do they draw attention away from the parks and entice Mom and Dad to relax by the pool while the kids play in the water? Why through a video of course! This direct to VHS adventure follows the same format as Disneyland Fun -- dress up a handful of kids in obnoxious neon colored outfits, teach them to lip synch, grill them on some basic choreography, and off we go!
If you've ever watched the Disney Christmas or Easter parades on ABC, you'll know exactly what to expect from Beach Party. A dozen different locations, from the back lot at what was then the Disney/MGM Studios, to the beachfront of the Grand Floridian Hotel, and everywhere in between, this is an episode of Cop Rock without the plot. Funny thing is they never make it over to River Country, WDW's original water park. Sadly, River Country permanently closed its water hole in January 2005.
While the adult audience for Disneyland Fun is distracted by fond memories of past Disney vacations, they'll be bailing on Beach Party after the opening number. Aside from the bad covers of Beach Boys, Chubby Checker, and Don Ho hits, the focus here is solely on the kids, and your munchkins will be enthralled. Secure your living room's more fragile knick-knacks, because they're going to be dancing non-stop for the next 30 minutes.
Kids and adults alike partake in this pre-beachwear dance party at the Disney/MGM Studios. It's funny how the adults seem to disappear after this first number.
* "Set Your Name Free"
Mickey transports the kids to the Seven Seas Lagoon for a midday beach excursion, in which they get to know each other on a first name basis.
* "Surfin' Safari"
Welcome to wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon, were the midgets get to try their hand at longboarding.
* "Three Little Fishies"
Mickey takes the kids snorkeling at Shark Reef. Oooh...
"A Pirates Life" -- Captain Hook and his motley crew attempt to gain control of these dancing fools, from aboard his ship in EPCOT's World Showcase Lagoon.
* "Part of Your World"
The kids escape from Hook and come across Ariel sunning herself on the shore outside the Grand Floridian Hotel. Of course, it's only the girls who hang out with her. In another five or six years, the boys will regret passing up this opportunity.
* "Hot, Hot, Hot"
Where better to beat the heat than at the brand spanking new Blizzard Beach? From tubing moguls to alpine ski jumps, winter finds a permanent home at WDW.
* "The Hukilau Song"
The kids become crank up the annoyance factor, on this boat ride to the Polynesian Resort for an evening luau.
* "Pearly Shells"
Get out your grass skirt, because it's time for hula lessons!
* "Limbo Rock" / "Slicin' Sand"
As the sun sets on Disney World, Aladdin and Jasmine rock the crowd with a classic beach bonfire party on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon. And here we thought Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby had the patent on nighttime beach fun.
If you've made it this far, you're one brave soul. If you can go that extra mile and watch Beach Party multiple times with your kids, you deserve a special commendation...or a long rest in a nice quiet sanitarium. Either way, this release is probably the bottom of the Sing Along Songs barrel. On the technical side, you can expect about the same level of presentation -- remastered full frame video, slightly enhanced 5.1 audio, and nothing in the way of bonus features (unless you count the end credits).
If you have and enjoy either VHS release, I would recommend upgrading. These DVDs list at $14.99 and history has proven the kids and grandkids will love them. Just make sure you're out of earshot when they're watching Beach Party.
Review content copyright © 2006 Michael Stailey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice, Disney Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun
Perp Profile, Disney Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 29 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distinguishing Marks, Disney Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun
Scales of Justice, Disney Sing Along Songs: Beach Party At Walt Disney World
Perp Profile, Disney Sing Along Songs: Beach Party At Walt Disney World
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 30 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distinguishing Marks, Disney Sing Along Songs: Beach Party At Walt Disney World
* IMDb: Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun
* IMDb: Sing Along Songs: Beach Party at Walt Disney World
* Official Sing Along Songs Site
* Yesterland: The Discontinued Disneyland
* Wikipedia: Disneyland
* Wikipedia: River Country