The last two times that I talked about a Disney special I ended up saying that I was disapointed with the specials. So today I wanted to talk about a Disney special that I just love. It came on in 1991 as Disney World was getting ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The theme of the special was The Dream is Alive!

 

But while it’s one of my favorite specials, does that mean it’s perfect? Let’s take a look at :
Plot:Actually pretty simple. As the occasion of Walt Disney World’s 20th Anniversary approaches then Disney Ceo Michael Eisner tries to find a big named celebrity to host the event. Despite asking several major celebrities he comes up empty, and ends up hosting the special himself.
Yeah, that’s about it. So let’s take a look at what I liked and what I hated.

 

What I Liked:
The Celebrity Cameos-They worked because they were just that, cameos. They appeared, got a laugh, and were gone without taking over the entire special. Here is the list of celebrities who appeared because they were at the time contracted with Disney:
Carol Burnett
Eddie Murphy (at the time he wasking of the world and the special treats him as such showing his entourage and everything)
Whoopi Goldberg (in Sister Act garb)
Steve Martin (the best gag in the special when Steve Martin sees Michael Eisner coming and runs the other way!)
Tim Allen (in a blatant plug for the then new Home Improvement, but I’ll forgive it)
Bette Midler via the phone
Dolly Parton in a cute bit where we see her getting her hair done
Goldie Hawn
Finally, the last scene of the special is Robin Williams approaching Eisner wondering why he wasn’t asked to host considering his long history with Disney. When Eisner asks if Williams would have accepted, he simply says no. He just wanted the pleasure of turning Eisner down. Williams asks who ended up hosting, and when Eisner says he did Williams busts out laughing. I love that.
Angela Lansbury-In one segment we get Angela Lansbury singing the song from Beauty and the Beast which was nice and since the movie had just come out I can overlook the shameless plug (as Baby Sinclair called it).
The Real Anniversary Celebration-We are treated to some clips from the actual ceremonies dedicating the 20th anniversary, featuring speeches by then President Bush and Roy Disney who reads from the same dedication plaque Walt had read the first day Disney World opened,
The Dream is Alive-I usually have problems with the music numbers these specials toss in, and this show is no exception as we will discuss, but this one is different. THIS IS AWESOME! It’s bascially the song “The Dream is Alive” which details how Disney World started as a dream and grew into what it was, then three major parks, and how the dream is alive and will keep growing! As the song is sung different clips of Disney scenes and characters fly by including cameos from PattI Labelle, Sandi Patti, Robert Guillaume, and Regis & Kathie Lee singing parts of the song. This was just done perfectly!I LOVE IT!
What I Hated:
Baby Sinclair-I know that this was when Dinosaues had just come out and was a runaway hit, especially Baby Sinclair, but his presence seriously dates this special. It also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I don’t know, as cute as the cameo is it just fails for me. Why not have Mickey Mouse or, heck, even Roger Rabbit!
The Pointless Music Numbers-I complained about this last time and just like that special we are treated to more pointless musical padding. Garth Brooks appears. Yay. Maybe I just don’t like Garth  Brooks but man is that song boring. We also get Amy Grant and while I love her and the song she sings I still have to ask-why is it here? My problem with these songs is that they are so random and pointless. As if someone realized they had time to kill so tried to find some music clips to jam in. We also get a video of Billy Joel doing his cover of When You Wish Upon a Star–and it’s boring!  I like Billy Joel but this song drags the whole show down not to mention being very obvious that the video was not made for the special. Not bad as much as out of place.
Pointless casting. Why was Park Overall cast as Michael Eisner’s secretary?
Where Mickey?-Some more of the characters would have been nice. I get it’s the park’s anniversary but still…..Baby Sinclair is all we get? Mickey doesn’t even get a line?????  Just wrong!!!!
And…that’s about it. And to be fair that was nitpicking. This is one time Disney did it well, even with the music numbers this is very much a DISNEY special, with just enough celebrities. And it’s only an hour so it doesn’t feel like an overblown spectatcle like the MGM Grand Opening did. I love this special, and have watched it many times. I have it on tape but I did find it on YouTube so if you come across it than it is absolutely worth a watch.

 

Final Thoughts-It’a a lot more fun tearing into a terrible special but you gotta do the good stuff once in awhile. This was  a Disney spcial done right, and I am just glad that I have recorded it. This special was just great,..especially when you consider the train wreck we got for the 25th anniversart in 1996. Maybe someday I will discuss that one.

By richb

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