Walt Disney anthology television series
|Walt Disney anthology television series|
Opening title for The Wonderful World of Disney used since 2015.
|Also known as||
|Created by||Walt Disney|
|Presented by||Walt Disney (1954–1966)
Michael Eisner (1986–2002)
|Narrated by||Dick Wesson (1954–1979)
Mark Elliot (1979–1988)
Danny Dark (1988–1991)
|Opening theme||"When You Wish Upon a Star" (1954–1961 and 1968–2015; various instrumental adaptations)
"The Wonderful World of Color" (1961–1968)
"Heaven’s Triumph" (2015–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||53|
|No. of episodes||1,224 (list of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Multi-camera (hosted segments)|
|Running time||156–180 minutes|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Productions (1954–1983)
Walt Disney Domestic Television Distribution (1983–1985)
Buena Vista Television (1985–2007)
Disney–ABC Domestic Television (2007–present)
|Original network||ABC (1954–1961, 1986–1988 and 1997–present)
NBC (1961–1981 and 1988–1991)
CBS (1981–1986, 1991–1997)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV),
|Original release||October 27, 1954– present|
The original version of the series premiered on ABC on Wednesday, October 27, 1954. The show was broadcast weekly on one of the Big Three television networks until 1990, a 36-year span with only a two-year hiatus from 1984 until 1985. The series was broadcast on Sunday for 25 of those years. From 1991 until 1997, the series aired infrequently.
The program resumed a regular schedule in 1997 on the ABC fall schedule, coinciding with Disney's recent purchase of the network. From 1997 until 2008, the program aired regularly on ABC. Since then, ABC has continued the series as an occasional special presentation.
- 1 Titles
- 2 History
- 2.1 Walt Disney's Disneyland (1954–1958)
- 2.2 Walt Disney Presents (1958–1961)
- 2.3 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1961–1969)
- 2.4 The Wonderful World of Disney (1969–1979)
- 2.5 Disney's Wonderful World (1979–1981)
- 2.6 Walt Disney (1981–1983)
- 2.7 The Disney Sunday Movie (1986–1988)
- 2.8 The Magical World of Disney (1988–1990)
- 2.9 The Wonderful World of Disney (1991–present)
- 3 Reruns
- 4 Films not yet televised
- 5 Programming
- 6 Theme music
- 7 International broadcasts
- 8 Episodes
- 9 Ratings
- 10 Awards and nominations
- 11 Home video
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
- Walt Disney's Disneyland (1954–1958; ABC)
- Walt Disney Presents (1958–1961; ABC)
- Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1961–1969; NBC)
- The Wonderful World of Disney (first era; 1969–1979; NBC)
- Disney's Wonderful World (1979–1981; NBC)
- Walt Disney (1981–1983; CBS)
- The Disney Sunday Movie (1986–1988; ABC;
- The Magical World of Disney (1988–1990; NBC)
- The Wonderful World of Disney (third era; 1997–present; ABC)
The anthology series was an outgrowth of Walt Disney looking for funding for Disneyland with Roy Disney approaching all the big three networks with American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres taking the deal for programming for ABC.
Walt Disney's Disneyland (1954–1958)
Although Walt Disney was the first major film producer to venture into television, there were two established independent film producers that successfully ventured into television production before Disney, Hal Roach and Jerry Fairbanks. Disney wanted to produce a television program in order to finance the development of the Disneyland amusement park. After being turned down by both CBS and NBC, Disney eventually signed a deal with ABC (which had merged with United Paramount Theaters in 1953) on March 29, 1954. The show contained teasers for Walt's park, as well as episodes representing life in one of the park's main sections: Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Frontierland, with the opening titles used from its inception until the show's move to NBC in 1961, showing the entrance to Disneyland itself, as well as the four aforementioned lands, which were then identified as the main feature of that evening's program.
Consequently, "Davy Crockett" and other pioneers of the Old West, and American history in general appeared in "Frontier Land". Similarly, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea might be the focus of an evening spent in "Adventure Land", although a documentary on the film could also be possibly presented as a topic for such episodes, including clips from the actual film. Topics for "Fantasy Land" would include either actual cartoons, and animated films, as well as documentaries on "The Making of ..." (such as behind-the-scenes presentation of Peggy Lee singing the duet of the wicked Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp, or the barbershop quartet of lost dogs in the municipal Dog Pound); excerpts from a True-Life Adventure documentary may also be included (for example, one on the life and works of beavers and their dam-building) or those using stroboscopic stop-action photography (such as investigating what really happened when a rain-drop fell in a puddle, as part of a "Fantasy Land" episode), explaining the techniques of cartoon animation. The multi-plane camera used to create the three-dimensional effects of Bambi was also as a topic for a "Fantasy Land"-set telecast. In one episode, four different artists were given the task of drawing the same tree, with each artist using his own preferred ways of drawing and imagining a tree; this led to cartoon examples of differently animated trees, as in some of the early Silly Symphonies shorts, and later full-length animated films. "Tomorrow Land" was an opportunity for the Disney studio staff to present cutting-edge science and technology, and to predict possible futures, such as futuristic automobiles, and highways. This format remained basically unchanged through the 1980s, though new material was scarce in later years. Other episodes were segments from Disney films such as (Seal Island and Alice in Wonderland), or cartoons of Donald Duck and other Disney standbys.
The program spawned the Davy Crockett craze of 1955 with the airing of a three-episode series (not shown over the course of consecutive weeks) about the historical American frontiersman, starring Fess Parker in the title role. Millions of dollars of merchandise relating to the title character were sold, and the theme song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", became a hit record that year. Three historically based hour-long programs aired during late 1954/early 1955, and were followed up by two dramatized installments the following year. The TV episodes were later edited into two theatrical films.
On July 17, 1955, the opening of Disneyland was covered on a live television special, Dateline: Disneyland, which is not technically considered to be part of the series. It was hosted by Art Linkletter, who Walt Disney had worked out a deal with prior to the opening to allow Linkletter to lease a shop on Main Street in return for the broadcast. Art Linkletter was assisted by Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan, and the program featured various other guests, including various appearances of Walt himself as he dedicated the various land of Disneyland.
Walt Disney Presents (1958–1961)
In 1959, the series was retitled Walt Disney Presents and moved to a Friday night timeslot; by 1960, ABC had switched it to Sunday nights, where it would remain for 21 years. During this iteration, The Peter Tchaikovsky Story, an episode made to promote Walt's latest animated feature, Sleeping Beauty, was one of the first stereo simulcasts on TV; FM radio stations across the country carried the audio at the same time as ABC broadcast the TV show in mono for those without FM radios. In addition to episodes devoted to the latest additions at Disneyland, many episodes during this period were westerns such as Texas John Slaughter and Elfego Baca, while others talked about the United States' burgeoning efforts to explore outer space and others, such as Moochie of the Little League, were set in the then-present day. Some episodes even mixed live-action and animation, showing Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Jiminy Cricket talking with Walt himself, while one 1959 episode turned the spotlight on Chip 'n' Dale, combining their theatrical cartoons with mixed media wrap-around footage.
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1961–1969)
Although the basic format remained the same, the series moved to NBC on September 24, 1961 to take advantage of that network's ability to broadcast programming in color. In addition, Walt Disney's relationship with ABC had soured as the network resisted selling its stake in the theme park before doing so in 1960. In a display of foresight, Disney had filmed many of the earlier shows in color, allowing them to easily be repeated on NBC; since all but three of Disney's feature-length films were also made in color (the three black-and-white exceptions were The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber, all family comedies starring Fred MacMurray), they could now also be telecast in that format.
To emphasize the new feature, the series was retitled Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color when NBC began airing it, retaining that moniker until 1969, by which point the Big three networks were all broadcasting in color. The first NBC episode even dealt with the principles of color, as explained by a new character named Ludwig Von Drake (voiced by Paul Frees), a bumbling professor with a thick German accent, who was the uncle of Donald Duck. Von Drake was the first Disney character created specifically for television.
Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, twelve years after the anthology series premiered. While the broadcast that aired three days after his death featured a memorial tribute from Huntley-Brinkley Report anchor Chet Huntley with film and television star Dick Van Dyke, the intros that Walt already filmed prior to his death continued to air for the remainder of the season. After that, the studio decided that Walt's persona as host was such a key part of the show's appeal to viewers that the host segment was dropped.
The Wonderful World of Disney (1969–1979)
The series was retitled The Wonderful World of Disney in September 1969, as the previous title was no longer needed due to the aforementioned developments in color broadcasting. It continued to gain solid ratings, often ranking in the Top 20, until the mid-1970s.
In 1976, Disney showed its hit 1961 film The Parent Trap on television for the first time, as a 2½-hour special. This marked a major step in broadcasting for the studio, which had never shown one of its more popular films on television in a time slot longer than an hour (although it had shown Now You See Him, Now You Don't and Napoleon and Samantha respectively in a two-hour format in 1975). Walt Disney Productions also began running some of its multi-episode television programs, such as 1962's Sammy The Way-Out Seal, as televised feature films on the anthology series. A slightly edited version of the 1954 Disney classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea made its television debut as a two-hour special on NBC in October 1976. Several other Disney films, some of them not especially successful (such as Superdad, which was an outright flop in its initial theatrical release) were also aired on the program in the form of two-hour broadcasts that year. However, the multi-episode format for feature films had not been discontinued; as late as 1981, films such as Pollyanna were still being shown on the Disney program in several installments running a week apart.
During the early 1970s, the show began to increasingly concentrate less on animated cartoons and dramatic or comedy films, and began to place an emphasis on nature-oriented programs (such as the True-Life Adventures).
The show's continued ratings success in the post-Walt era came to an end during the 1975–76 season. At this time, Walt Disney Productions was facing a decline in fortunes due to falling box-office revenues, while NBC as a whole was also slipping in the ratings. The anthology series became even more dependent on airings of live-action theatrical features, its True-Life Adventures, reruns of older episodes, and cartoon compilations. Nothing from the Disney animated features canon aired, with the exceptions of Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo. Additionally, in 1975, when CBS regained the broadcast rights to the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The Wizard of Oz, it was scheduled opposite Disney, as it had been between 1960 and 1968. At that time, telecasts of that film were highly rated annual events, which largely attracted the same family audience as the Disney series. From 1968 to 1975, when NBC held the television rights to Oz (which it had acquired from CBS in 1967), it usually pre-empted Disney to show it. However, the show's stiffest weekly competition came from CBS's newsmagazine 60 Minutes.
In 1975, an amendment to the Prime Time Access Rule gave the Sunday 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time slot back to the networks, allowing NBC to move Disney back by a half-hour. It also allowed CBS to schedule 60 Minutes at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time starting on December 7; prior to this, 60 Minutes had aired at 6:00 p.m. Eastern and did not begin its seasons until after the National Football League season ended. Disney fell out of the Top 30, while 60 Minutes saw its ratings rise significantly.
Disney's Wonderful World (1979–1981)
In September 1979, the studio agreed to the network's request for changes to the program. The show shortened its title to Disney's Wonderful World, and updated the opening sequence with a computer-generated logo and disco-flavored theme song, but largely kept the same format. The problems for the show continued. As a result of the ratings strength of 60 Minutes; compounded by low ratings, increasingly less original material, and frequent  pre-emptions (primarily due to sporting events such as NFL game telecasts), NBC cancelled Disney in 1981. One factor that was beyond the control of either Disney or NBC was a 94-day 1980 strike by the Screen Actors' Guild  that cut the number of shows for the 1980–1981 season, but the damage was done nonetheless.
Walt Disney (1981–1983)
Following NBC's announcement that it would drop the anthology series, CBS picked up the program and began airing it on Saturdays at 8:00pm Eastern Time, In September 1981. Despite a more elaborate credit sequence and another title change, to simply Walt Disney, the series' format remained unchanged. During the 1981–1982 season, the series had a full season's worth of material again, but little of it was new. Among the little that actually was new were a handful of pilots based on Pollyanna, Escape to Witch Mountain and The Apple Dumpling Gang, but only the latter sold and became the half-hour sitcom Gun Shy the following season, one of the studio's first entries in that genre.
The 1982–1983 season had enough material to fill the time slot, but almost all of it was pre-existing material, the lone exception being the celebrity-laden opening ceremony of EPCOT on October 23. It also did not help matters that NBC slotted the family-friendly sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons at 8:00 PM and 8:30 PM up against it in order to draw children away from CBS. After moving to Tuesday at the beginning of 1983, it went on hiatus on February 15 while the aforementioned Gun Shy took up the second half of its time slot. When it came back for summer reruns on May 3 it was still on Tuesday at 8:00 PM; its final network broadcast was on September 24, bringing an uninterrupted 29-year run on all three networks to a close.
The end of the show coincided with the launch of the studio's cable television network, The Disney Channel. While ratings were a factor, the final decision to end the show came from Walt Disney Productions' then-CEO E. Cardon Walker, who felt that having both the show and the new channel active would result in cannibalization of viewership. The new channel would provide a home for the show in reruns for the next two decades, but for the time being Disney's presence on U.S. network TV would be limited to the occasional holiday special, theme park anniversary, or cartoon compilation.
The Disney Sunday Movie (1986–1988)
After the studio – which was rechristened as The Walt Disney Company in late 1986 – underwent a change in management, Disney sought to bring back some sort of programming to broadcast television. Their efforts led to the premiere of The Disney Sunday Movie, which debuted on February 2, 1986 on ABC. Many names were considered to serve as presenter for the revived show, including Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Cary Grant, Tom Hanks, Walter Cronkite, Roy E. Disney (who closely resembled his uncle), and even Mickey Mouse. The studio finally decided to have Michael Eisner, the company's recently hired CEO, host the series. Although he was not a performer, after filming a test video with his wife Jane and a member of his executive team (which required multiple takes), studio management believed he could do the hosting job. Eisner hired Michael Kay, a director of political commercials for then-U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, to help him improve his on-camera performance.
The Disney Sunday Movie initially aired as ABC's lead-off program on Sundays, running from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. By this point, the format was similar to a movie-of-the-week. Gary Barton, a Disney senior vice president, was in charge of the program. "Help Wanted: Kids" was the first episode's film. Other first revival year films were, Young Again, The Richest Cat in the World and My Town. Some times the slot would feature special instead of dramatic material like "Disney Goes to the Oscars," featuring the studio's Academy Award winners, and "The Greatest Moments in Disney Animation".
A handful of Disney Channel original films made their network television debuts during these iteration as well, but no Touchstone films were part of the show as they were not considered appropriate for children. However, Splash, Too, a sequel to the 1984 film, aired on the series over two weeks in May 1988.
The program's ratings were never strong as the established 60 Minutes and scripted mystery series Murder, She Wrote on CBS, both of which Disney was competing with for viewers, remained the leading prime time programs on Sunday nights. In 1987, ABC reduced The Disney Sunday Movie from two hours to one. The move did not help drive ratings, and the network decided not to renew its contract with Disney, and pick up a fourth season of the second iteration of the anthology series.
The Magical World of Disney (1988–1990)
In the spring of 1988, NBC decided to renew its association with the company after it cut ties to the anthology series eight years earlier; the network brought the series, now named The Magical World of Disney, to serve as the lead-in of its Sunday lineup in September 1988. As the program had done during its last season as The Disney Sunday Movie, The Magical World of Disney ran for one hour, airing at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time; Michael Eisner also returned as its presenter.
During this period, the show attempted to reintroduce the rotating format the show started out with in 1954. It also introduced new versions of Walt-era movies and TV shows such as The Absent-Minded Professor, a reboot of Davy Crockett, and the musical Polly, which was based on the book Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter and the Walt Disney's 1960 film adaptation of it.
In the 1989–1990 season, during which the company was negotiating with Jim Henson to buy The Muppets, they aired two Muppet specials; one of them was The Muppets at Walt Disney World, which turned out to be Henson's last Muppet special. He died May 16, 1990, 10 days after the special aired, and it would be more than a decade before the company finally acquired The Muppets.
After two seasons experiencing the same lackluster ratings as it had accrued during the tail end of its initial NBC run and its subsequent runs on CBS and ABC, Disney elected to move The Magical World of Disney off of broadcast television and began airing the anthology on The Disney Channel – in the same time slot it had been airing for the past decade – starting in September 1990, expanding back to a two-hour format. Since The Disney Channel operated as a premium channel at the time, films presented on the series were presented without commercial interruption. The Magical World of Disney originally aired on the cable channel as a weekly Sunday-only program for its first 5½ years; however in September 1996, as part of the first phase of a programming revamp that culminated in its formal conversion into a commercial-free basic cable channel in April 1997, The Disney Channel expanded the Magical World brand to encompass its Monday through Saturday prime-time film block, maintaining its 7:00 p.m. Eastern time slot.
The Wonderful World of Disney (1991–present)
The Wonderful World of Disney returned in 1991 as an umbrella title for Disney specials airing on major networks (CBS airings used the historical title The Wonderful World of Disney, while other networks broadcast the show with another title, A Disney Special).
In 1997, with Disney acquiring ABC the previous year, ABC gave the series a regular slot in the schedule. Disney CEO Eisner formed Disney Telefilms by 1995 to supply original films to the series and program together with ABC. It led the network's Sunday night lineup at the 7:00 p.m. Eastern time slot, resulting in the displacement of Sunday mainstay America's Funniest Home Videos, which had occupied the slot since 1992. On September 28, 1997, the revived The Wonderful World of Disney premiered with television premiere of "Toy Story". On October 5, 1997, Disney Telefilms' first production, Toothless, debuted on the series. In addition to the planned 16 original Disney tele-movies, ABC and Disney add a couple direct to video movies and films from other sources.
A cartoon equivalent, "The Magical World of Toons" was the daily prime time programming block coinciding with the launch of its channel, Toon Disney, on April 18, 1998. "Magical World" continued at least until 2002.
In 2002, a Spanish language version of the program premiered on Telemundo (which, incidentally, was acquired by the English version's former home, NBC, that same year) as El Maravilloso el Mundo de Disney, with more of a focus on Disney theatrical films than the English broadcasts at the time.
In September 2003, The Wonderful World of Disney moved to Saturdays at 8:00pm Eastern time, with the previous Sunday time slot being ceded to AFV (which moved back to Sundays that season) and drama series in the 8:00 p.m. hour. There were rare exceptions to the program's format during this time; for example, a Little House on the Prairie miniseries ran for several weeks in 2004 under the Wonderful World of Disney banner. For most of its second run on ABC, the program aired throughout the television season, with the exception of the 2005–06 season (when it aired during the midseason only), and in 2007 and 2008 (when it was relegated to the summer months), with a broader array of films occupying the network's Saturday prime time slot at other times, when sports programming did not air.
At this point, the series began to shift focus toward Disney theatrical films, relying less on original television films; however, the series aired two Disney Channel Original Movies (2003's Cadet Kelly and 2008's Camp Rock, currently the only Disney Channel television films to have aired on non-Disney Channel-branded network domestically) during its ABC run. The second ABC revival also included some family-oriented films produced by studios other than Disney under the Wonderful World banner, such as 20th Century Fox's The Sound of Music and Warner Bros.' Harry Potter film series, as well as television films such as Princess of Thieves (from Granada Productions) and the 2001 remake of Brian's Song (from Columbia TriStar Television, now Sony Pictures Television).
On December 12, 2015, ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney officially returned to its anthology format with a showing of Mary Poppins, hosted by Dick Van Dyke. Van Dyke took viewers on a tour through the Disney Archives, as they explore props and costumes from the production of Mary Poppins and discuss the film’s history and context within the Disney legacy. It was then shown on February 21, 2016, with the special Disneyland 60, which honored Disneyland's 60th anniversary; on November 24, 2016, for their Magical Holiday Celebration, filmed at Walt Disney World; and on December 11, 2016, for the network television premiere of Frozen.
Around the same time that the 1980s incarnations aired on ABC and NBC, reruns of older episodes of the Disney anthology series, airing under the Wonderful World of Disney banner, were syndicated to broadcast television stations throughout the United States as well as in various international markets. In Australia, the program aired on Network Seven on Saturdays at 6:30pm, before it was dropped in 1994 due to Optus Vision (later Foxtel)'s launch of a domestic version of The Disney Channel, with Saturday Disney replacing it as the channel's main block of Disney films.
Reruns of the shows were a staple of The Disney Channel for several years under the title Walt Disney Presents (which used the same title sequence as the 1980s CBS incarnation), when it was an outlet for vintage Disney cartoons, television series and films, basically serving the same function that the anthology series served in the days before cable. The original opening titles were restored to the episodes in 1997. Reruns of the anthology series were discontinued when the channel purged all vintage material with the removal of its Vault Disney late-night block on September 16, 2002. However, a few select episodes are available on VHS or DVD (some of which are exclusive to the Disney Movie Club), with the possibility of additional future releases.
All of the episodes and existing material used on the series up to 1996 are listed in the Bill Cotter book The Wonderful World of Disney Television, which was released in 1997 by Hyperion Books (which was owned by The Walt Disney Company at the book's publication).
Films not yet televised
As of 2010, there are still two classic Disney films that have never been shown on television in the U.S. at all in their entirety. They are Fantasia and Song of the South. Though it has been re-released to U.S. theatres several times, and the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and Tar Baby segments have been shown on television, along with an episode about Joel Chandler Harris that mixed historical re-enactments with scenes from the film, Song of the South has never been released on VHS or an authorized DVD in the U.S., due to the company's unease over the portrayal of Uncle Remus, a key black character in the film. However, it was released to videotape and/or laserdisc in the UK, Europe and Asia. No reason has been given for the withholding of Fantasia for telecast. Nearly all of the segments of Fantasia have been shown on television separately on the Disney TV program, notably The Sorcerer's Apprentice, as well as the uncensored Pastoral Symphony, but never the entire film with all its animated segments from start to finish.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs never aired in its entirety until it was telecast on February 14, 2010 on ABC Family, nearly 56 years after the beginning of the first Disney anthology show. From 1983 to 2002, the film was only shown in the form of various clips on the Disney Channel.
Originally hosted by Walt Disney himself, the original format of the Disney anthology series consisted of a balance of theatrical animated cartoons, live-action features, and other informational material (some original, some pre-existing) from the studio's library. For many years, the show also featured edited one-hour versions of such then-recent Disney films as Alice in Wonderland, and in other cases, telecasts of complete Disney films that were split into two or more one-hour episodes. Later original programs consisted of dramatizations of other historical figures and legends along the lines of the Davy Crockett mini-series. These included a miniseries based on Daniel Boone (not the Fess Parker characterization), Texas John Slaughter, Elfego Baca, Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox", and 1977's Kit Carson and the Mountain Man (with Christopher Connelly as Kit Carson, Robert Reed as John C. Fremont, and Gregg Palmer as mountain man Jim Bridger).
Occasionally, a more educational-based segment would be featured (such as The Story of the Animated Drawing), including nature and animal programs similar to the True-Life Adventures that were released in theaters, as well as various dramatic installments which were either structured as single-part, two-part, and sometimes, multi-part editions. Much of the original informational excerpts were to create awareness for Disneyland. In spite of essentially serving as advertisements for the park, entertainment value was emphasized as well to make the shows palatable. Some of the program's informational content was formatted to promote upcoming feature film releases by the studio (such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Darby O'Gill and the Little People), with some programs focusing on the art and technology of animation itself.
- From 1954 to 1961, the series used the song "When You Wish Upon a Star" as its theme. The recording was taken directly from the soundtrack of the movie Pinocchio.
- From 1961 to 1969, an original song was used, "The Wonderful World of Color" written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. This song helped to emphasize the use of color with its lyrics.
- From 1969 to 1979, "The Wonderful World of Disney", orchestral medleys of various Disney songs from movies and theme parks as theme songs.
- From 1979 to 1980, "Disney's Wonderful World", a disco-styled theme was written to emphasize the new visual changes, even though the format remained the same. John Debney composed the melody and John Klawitter wrote the words.
- From 1980 to 1981, the series discarded the Debney/Klawitter theme and went back to an earlier orchestral medley theme while keeping the 1979 credits motif and title.
- From 1981 to 1983, "Walt Disney", a short disco arrangement of "When You Wish Upon a Star", arranged by Frank Gari, served as theme against some elaborate, then-state-of-the-art computer graphics. CBC Television in Canada also used this title sequence and theme music for their own versions of the show. The sequence was also used as the opening sequence on international Walt Disney Home Video releases until 1987.
- From 1986 to 1988, a synthesized, pop-rock arrangement of "When You Wish Upon a Star" with some clapping was the theme. This was used again for the 1989–90 season of The Magical World of Disney and the 1991–96 run on The Disney Channel.
- In 1988, an orchestral medley of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and "When You Wish Upon a Star" was used. This was switched back to the 1986 theme in 1989.
- From 1991 to 1997, an orchestral medley of "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Part of Your World" (the latter from Disney's at the time recent hit The Little Mermaid) was used for network airings of the show (known as The Wonderful World of Disney on CBS and A Disney Special on other networks) as well as The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage, a collaboration with Stephen J. Cannell Productions. This theme was also used internationally.
- From 1997 to 2002, an orchestral medley of "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "A Whole New World" (the latter was used in the movie Aladdin) were used; also used occasionally was the Louis Armstrong hit "What a Wonderful World". This theme is still used internationally beyond 2002.
- From 2002 to 2007, a newer orchestral arrangement of "When You Wish Upon a Star" with a wordless choir was used for ABC airings in the United States.
- From 2007 to 2008, another orchestral arrangement of "When You Wish Upon a Star" (in actuality, the theme from the current Walt Disney Pictures logo, composed by Mark Mancina) and a brand-new opening title sequence (depicting a montage of the company's work) are used for ABC airings in the United States.
- From 2015 on, “Heaven’s Triumph", composed by Robert Etoll via Q-Factory, was used along with a brand-new opening title sequence (updated to include Star Wars and Marvel properties).
The Telefe era
El mundo de Disney (The World of Disney) aired for the first time on the OTA network Telefe in 1990, hosted by Leonardo Greco. He remained as the sole presenter of the show, lasting until 1995, when the series concluded. The programme started airing at 8:00pm nightly from the second half of 1990 until December 1992. By 1993, it was moved to weekday afternoons at 5:00pm. When it was coming to an end, around 1994, shifted to Sunday afternoons, and aired a long marathon of movies and cartoons. According to Greco, this programme was possible because of a distributor who acquired the material, and was allowed to be shown without following a strict format, because the company wanted to do so. Telefe wanted a comeback, and appointed chef and host Maru Botana (then network talent) to present Planeta Disney (Disney Planet) on Sunday evenings, at 8:00pm, beginning November 21, 2004. Starting on July 9, 2005, Botana was replaced with two personalities employed by Disney, Carolina Ibarra and Dani Martins. They both shared the duties of hosting this show and the South American edition of Zapping Zone, on Disney Channel. This lasted for one year and a half, with a relative success.
The Canal 13 era
While Telefe had a major success carrying the animated movies and some TV series like Blossom or Dinosaurs (distributed by Buena Vista Television), Canal 13 saw the possibility of buying material from the company and airing it (sometimes competing against the Telefe's programme) on Sunday afternoons, beginning in 1994, which at that time was filled with telecasts of ancient Argentinian films from the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, and by reruns of Tarzan and The Three Stooges. The only clear difference was that only movies starring human actors, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Island at the Top of the World, could be broadcast, and not the cartoons. This experiment lasted until early 1996. By 2007, the network took off from Telefe the exclusive rights to show all the Disney franchise movies and programs, and began to air its movies on Sunday evenings at 7:00pm, without a host. This also allowed Canal 13 to detain rights for other shows not related with Disney, but with the ABC network, like Lost or Grey's Anatomy, and to produce a localised version of the high-grossed film High School Musical.
The ABC run of the program under The Magical World of Disney title originally aired in that country under the title Cine Disney on the Brazilian version of Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão (SBT). The ABC run of the program under The Wonderful World of Disney title originally aired in that country under the title O Maravilhoso Mundo de Disney on the Brazilian version of Disney Channel; the program moved to SBT as Mundo Disney in 2015.
Nielsen seasonal ratings
|Network||Season||Timeslot||TV Season||Season Premiere||Season Finale||Season
|ABC||1||Wednesday 7:00 p.m. ET||1954–1955||October 27, 1954||July 13, 1955||#6||12.00|
|2||1955–1956||September 14, 1955||May 30, 1956||#4||13.05|
|3||1956–1957||September 12, 1956||June 5, 1957||#14||12.37|
|4||1957–1958||September 11, 1957||May 14, 1958|
|5||Friday 7:00 p.m. ET||1958–1959||October 3, 1958||May 29, 1959|
|6||1959–1960||October 2, 1959||April 1, 1960|
|7||Sunday 7:00 p.m. ET||1960–1961||October 16, 1960||June 11, 1961|
|NBC||8||1961–1962||September 24, 1961||April 15, 1962||#23||11.02|
|9||1962–1963||September 23, 1962||March 24, 1963||#24||11.22|
|10||1963–1964||September 29, 1963||May 17, 1964||#21||11.87|
|11||1964–1965||September 20, 1964||April 4, 1965||#11||13.54|
|12||1965–1966||September 19, 1965||April 10, 1966||#17||12.49|
|13||1966–1967||September 11, 1966||April 2, 1967||#19||11.85|
|14||1967–1968||September 10, 1967||April 28, 1968||#25||11.73|
|15||1968–1969||September 15, 1968||March 23, 1969||#22||12.41|
|16||1969–1970||September 14, 1969||March 29, 1970||#9||13.81|
|17||1970–1971||September 13, 1970||March 14, 1971||#14||13.46|
|18||1971–1972||September 19, 1971||April 9, 1972||#19||13.66|
|19||1972–1973||September 17, 1972||April 1, 1973||#9||15.23|
|20||1973–1974||September 16, 1973||March 13, 1974||#13||14.76|
|21||1974–1975||September 15, 1974||March 23, 1975||#18||15.07|
|22||1975–1976||September 14, 1975||July 25, 1976|
|23||1976–1977||September 26, 1976||May 22, 1977|
|24||1977–1978||September 18, 1977||June 4, 1978|
|25||1978–1979||September 17, 1978||May 13, 1979|
|26||1979–1980||September 16, 1979||July 27, 1980|
|27||1980–1981||September 14, 1980||August 16, 1981|
|CBS||28||Saturday 7:00 p.m. ET||1981–1982||September 26, 1981||July 31, 1982|
|29||1982–1983||September 25, 1982||September 24, 1983|
|ABC||30||1985–1986||February 2, 1986||June 22, 1986|
|31||1986–1987||September 21, 1986||August 30, 1987|
|32||1987–1988||October 4, 1987||May 22, 1988|
|NBC||33||1988–1989||October 9, 1988||July 23, 1989|
|34||1989–1990||October 1, 1989||August 26, 1990|
|CBS||35||Sunday 7:00 p.m. ET||1990–1991||September 23, 1990||September 15, 1991|
|36||1991–1992||September 22, 1991||September 13, 1992|
|37||1992–1993||September 20, 1992||September 12, 1993|
|38||1993–1994||September 19, 1993||September 11, 1994|
|39||1994–1995||September 18, 1994||September 10, 1995|
|40||1995–1996||September 17, 1995||August 25, 1996|
|41||1996–1997||September 2, 1996||December 1, 1996|
|ABC||42||1997–1998||September 28, 1997||May 18, 1998||#30||13.50|
|43||1998–1999||September 27, 1998||May 30, 1999||#45||11.90|
|44||1999–2000||September 26, 1999||May 14, 2000||#29||12.82|
|45||2000–2001||October 8, 2000||May 31, 2001||#39||12.10|
|46||2001–2002||September 16, 2001||May 19, 2002||#38||11.20|
|47||2002–2003||November 3, 2002||July 27, 2003||#53||10.10|
|48||Saturday 8:00 p.m. ET||2003–2004||September 27, 2003||May 10, 2004||#99||7.39|
|49||2004–2005||October 16, 2004||June 17, 2005||#96||6.93|
|50||2005–2006||November 3, 2005||July 8, 2006||#137||5.30|
|51||2006–2007||December 16, 2006||August 4, 2007||#208||4.28|
|52||2007–2008||December 23, 2007||December 24, 2008||#172||4.01|
Awards and nominations
- Best Individual Program of the Year (Operation Undersea, 1955)
- Best Television Film Editing (Lynn Harrison, Grant K. Smith, Operation Undersea, 1955)
- Best Action or Adventure Series (1956)
- Best Producer – Film Series (Walt Disney, 1956)
- Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming (1963)
- Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment (Walt Disney, 1965)
- Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement – Programs (Ron Miller, executive producer, 1971)
- Outstanding Main Title Design (1998)
- Best Television Film Editing (Chester W. Schaeffer, "Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter", 1955)
- Best Single Program of the Year ("Davy Crockett and River Pirates", 1956)
- Best Musical Contribution for Television (Oliver Wallace, 1957)
- Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming (1962)
- Outstanding Program Achievements in the Fields of Variety and Music – Variety (1962)
- Outstanding Children's Program (Walt Disney, Ron Miller (Further Adventures of Gallagher, 1966)
- Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming – Programs (Ron Miller, executive producer, 1969)
- Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming – Programs (Ron Miller, executive producer, 1970)
- Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement – General Programming (Ron Miller, producer, 1972)
- Special Classification of Outstanding Program Achievement (Ron Miller, executive producer, 1977)
- Outstanding Children's Program (The Art of Disney Animation, 1981) 
Several home video releases have included episodes of the anthology series.
- On Vacation with Mickey Mouse and Friends
- Kids Is Kids
- The Adventures of Chip 'N' Dale
- Disney's Halloween Treat
- A Disney Christmas Gift
- Winnie the Pooh and Friends
- Bambi Platinum Edition
- Tricks of Our Trade (excerpt)
- Alice in Wonderland Masterpiece Edition
- Alice in Wonderland Special Un-Anniversary Edition
- One Hour in Wonderland (complete episode)
- Operation Wonderland Featurette
- The Fred Waring Show (first half)
- 1954 Introduction
- 1964 Introduction
- Alice in Wonderland 60th Anniversary Edition
- One Hour in Wonderland (complete episode)
- Operation Wonderland Featurette
- The Fred Waring Show (first half)
- 1954 Introduction
- 1959 Introduction
- 1964 Introduction
- Peter Pan Special Edition
- The Peter Pan Story Featurette
- Peter Pan Platinum Edition
- The Peter Pan Story Featurette
- Dumbo 60th Anniversary Edition
- Walt Disney Introduction
- Dumbo Big Top Edition
- Walt Disney Introduction
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition
- Tricks of Our Trade (two excerpts)
- The Silly Symphony Story (excerpt)
- Pete's Dragon Gold Collection/High Flying Edition
- The Plausible Impossible (excerpt)
- The Aristocats Special Edition
- The Great Cat Family
- Disneyland, USA
- The Disneyland Story
- Disneyland After Dark
- Disneyland 10th Anniversary
- Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studios
- Tomorrow Land
- The Complete Pluto, Volume 1
- A Story of Dogs (featuring excerpt from "Pluto's Picture Book")
- The Chronological Donald, Volume Two
- Your Host, Walt Disney
- I Captured the King of the Leprechauns
- Backstage Party
- Where Do the Stories Come From
- The Fourth Anniversary Show
- Disneyland 10th Anniversary
- True Life Adventures (4 volumes)
- Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic
- The Golden Horseshoe Revue
- Disneyland Goes To the World's Fair
- Disneyland Around the Seasons
- So Dear to My Heart
- So Dear to My Heart (introduction)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Monsters of the Deep (excerpt)
- Lady and the Tramp Platinum Edition
- A Story of Dogs ("making-of" segment and excerpt)
- A Cavalcade of Songs (3-minute-long excerpt)
- Old Yeller
- Best Doggone Dog in the West
- Darby O'Gill and the Little People
- I Captured The King of the Leprechauns
- Johnny Tremain
- * The Liberty Story (first half)
- * Johnny Tremain, Part One (excerpt)
- * Johnny Tremain, Part Two (excerpt)
- Sleeping Beauty Special Edition
- An Adventure in Art (segment: "Four Artists Paint One Tree")
- The Peter Tchaikovsky Story (Life of Tchaikovsky segment only)
- Sleeping Beauty Platinum Edition
- An Adventure in Art (segment: "Four Artists Paint One Tree")
- The Peter Tchaikovsky Story (complete episode – two versions)
- Pollyanna, Part One (introduction)
- Pollyanna, Part Two (introduction)
- Pollyanna, Part Three (introduction)
- Swiss Family Robinson
- Escape to Paradise/Water Birds (first half)
- The Parent Trap
- The Title Makers (first half)
- The Sword in the Stone Gold Collection
- All About Magic (complete episode)
- The Sword in the Stone 45th Anniversary Edition
- All About Magic (excerpt)
- A Goofy Movie Gold Collection
- Goof Troop: Calling All Goofs (complete episode)
- The Goofy Success Story (complete episode)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- From the Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow (first half)
In the 1980s, Walt Disney Home Video released 15 volumes of the anthology series on VHS, while many episodes have been released on DVD from either the Disney Movie Club or the Disney Generations movies-on-demand (MOD) program on Amazon.com.
- Zorro (1957 TV series)
- Disneyland Park (Anaheim)
- The Mickey Mouse Club
- Disney Channel
- List of Disney television films
- Hallmark Hall of Fame
- World Masterpiece Theater
- Pierce, Scott (September 28, 1997). "ABC revives weekly Disney series". Deseret News. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- Griffin, Sean. "Walt Disney Programs". Encyclopedia of Television. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
- Walt Disney – Pop Culture Legends, by Jim Fanning, 1994. Page 100. Retrieved from Polsson, Ken. "Chronology of Disneyland Theme Park". Chronology of the Walt Disney Company. Ken Polsson. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- "Walt Disney Presents (a Titles & Air Dates Guide)". Epguides.com. August 5, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- Bill Cotter (1997). The Wonderful World of Disney Television. New York: Hyperion Books. p. 17. ISBN 0-7868-6359-5.
- "The Peter Tchaikovsky Story (Television)". d23.com. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- "Chronology of Disneyland Theme Park (1960–1965)". Islandnet.com. February 1, 1956. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "The Story of Color Television". 188.8.131.52. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- Tim Brooks; Earle Marsh (1985). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–present (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. p. 1092. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.
- "Appendix B – The Anthology Series". BillCotter.com. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- Cotter, Bill. "Appendix B: The Anthology Series Schedules" (PDF). billcotter.com. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- Scott, Vernon (8 May 1981). "Scott's World: Networks Load Guns". upi.com. UPI Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- Townsend, Ed (24 July 1980). "Actors strike could delay fall TV season". csmonitor.com. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- James B. Stewart (2005). "1". Disneywar (1st ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 76–78. ISBN 0-684-80993-1.
- Gendel, Morgan (January 9, 1986). "Disney Betting On New Series". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
- Kim Masters (2000). "13". The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else (2nd ed.). New York: HarperCollins. pp. 189–190. ISBN 0-06-662109-7.
- Miller, Ron (22 March 1988). "Nbc Moves Ahead With `Back To Basics` Lineup". articles.chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- Romano, Allison (March 14, 2004). "Game Boy". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- Littleton, Cynthia (March 9, 1998). "Disney Telefilms ups exex". Variety. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- "Disney Sets ABC Pix". Variety. May 1, 1997. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
- "Toon Disney Launch.". Animation World Magazine. May 1998. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- ABC Cable Network Group (July 10, 2001). "Disney's Pepper Ann Takes Her Quest for Coolness to Toon Disney Beginning September 2001; All-Toon Channel Debuts New Schedule Sept. 3.". Business Wire. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- Dick Van Dyke to host “Mary Poppins” on “The Wonderful World of Disney” Inside the Magic, Retrieved December 12, 2015
- ABC special celebrates Disneyland turning 60 WBAY, Retrieved January 28, 2016
- "The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration | ABC Press". www.disneyabcpress.com. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
- "Disney’s Frozen Film Makes Network Premiere December 11 | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
- Al Delugach (October 28, 1985). "Disney to Put 20 Films Into TV Syndication". The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
- Diane Haithman (July 1, 1987). "KTTV Offers A Daily Dose Of Disney". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company.
- Jim Hill (September 6, 2002). "Vhat Vood Vault Do?". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "Song of the South" – via IMDb.
- "Leonardo Greco: "Amo este país, aunque hay que arreglarle algunas cosas"".
- Noventosos (October 9, 2009). "Entrevista con Leonardo Greco, la cara de Disney en la Argentina de los 90".
- ""Planeta Disney" en la órbita de Telefé".
- "Vuelven Pluto y compañía".
- "Una órbita siempre ampliada – Espectáculos".
- "1995 – Programación de TV – domingo 3 de diciembre de 1995".
- "Página/12 :: espectaculos".
- "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. May 29, 1998. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "Final ratings for the 1998–1999 TV season". The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2013 – via The Internet Archive.
- Justin Oppelaar (October 9, 2002). "Charts all shook up". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "The Bitter End". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. June 1, 2001. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "How did your favorite show rate?". USA Today. Gannett Company. May 28, 2002. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "Rank And File". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. June 6, 2003. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2013 – via The Internet Archive.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2013 – via The Internet Archive.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. May 23, 2006. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. June 5, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. August 21, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. May 28, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "ABC Medianet". ABC Medianet. The Walt Disney Company. August 5, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "Awards for Disneyland (1956)". IMDb.com. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- Official website
- Disneyland on Internet Movie Database
- Disneyland at TV.com
- The Wonderful World of Disney (1997) at TV.com
- Disney interview in TV Guide (1961) (regarding the move from ABC to NBC)
- Information about the book The Wonderful World of Disney Television by Bill Cotter
- Episode list (1954–1996)
- The Wonderful World of Disney-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television