Disneyland – The Original TV Special

One of Walt Disney’s greatest accomplishments is in the creation of Disneyland. The park, once considered “Disney’s Folly” and expected to fail, has now reached its 60th anniversary. Over the past year, there have been a variety of celebrations inside the park and out. Just this past weekend, a much anticipated commemorative special aired on ABC under the banner of The Wonderful World of Disney. Appropriate, since The Wonderful World of Disney series once had a different name: Walt Disney’s Disneyland.

Of course, over the last six decades more than just the name of Disney’s flagship show has changed. The celebration of Disneyland’s anniversary ended up having more in common with a modern Radio Disney special than the show that first introduced us to the park. So, today, we’re going to go back in time and look at the very first Disneyland special, airing nearly 9 months before the park gates opened. Courtesy of the limited edition Walt Disney Treasures set.

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Madame Mim – Dragons of Disney

Madame Mim

Walt Disney built a pop culture cornerstone using the timeless fantasy classics. However, the great dragon featured very little during Walt’s lifetime. The first two dragons featured for only a handful of minutes in their features and not until the very end. The last dragon to appear during Walt’s lifetime not only continued this trend but took it to extremes. Madame Mim may now be Disney’s forgotten dragon.

Madame Mim – Magnificent, Marvelous, Mad

Our third dragon appears in the 1963 film, The Sword and the Stone. The storyline was a bit of a departure as it did not feature a progressing plot line so much as unique characters and cute songs to drive the story. One of those unique characters ended up being the Magnificent, Marvelous, Mad Madame Mim.

madame mim

Madame Mim, like Maleficent before her, is a woman that uses magic to transform herself. As she begins a wizarding duel with Merlin, she sets out the rule that neither could become a dragon. But Madame Mim is all about the bad and once she’s in trouble the rules go out the door. And that’s when we’re graced with our third Dragon of Disney. For eighty seconds.

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Dragons of Disney – Maleficent

Dragons of Disney

Today, Disney’s feature film library offers a wide variety of worlds, characters, and stories. When the first of Disney’s Dragons made his “reluctant” appearance, that library consisted of only four films, with two being made up of short vignettes. Before reaching their second iteration of the majestic beasts, the studios added quite a bit more to that library. The twentieth animated feature, and fortieth overall Disney feature, brought us to meet the second of the great Disney Dragons. And she’s even still hanging about.

Maleficent, Mistress of All Evil and Second of Disney’s Dragons

The second Dragon of Disney is quite a departure from her predecessor. For one, she’s not purely a dragon. By now there are a few different stories about what or who Maleficent is but for the sake of this series we’re sticking to the animated features (with just one little exception). So today we’ll just focus on her role in the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.

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Dragons of Disney: The Reluctant Dragon


A wide variety of wondrous stories fill the Disney library. The one type of story that fills more of those catalogs than any other is by far that of magical fantasy. Filled with powerful and courageous beings and hallmarked with majestic castles, these types of stories have enthralled the minds of so many well before Walt drew his first cartoon or built his first theme park. Today, we begin taking a look at Disney’s take on one of those most fascinating aspects of the fantasy stories: the Dragon.

The Reluctant Dragon

In true Disney fashion, Walt’s studio decided to take the most recognizable fantastic beast and show it in a way few had ever seen it, including me. Though I have watched many Disney cartoons, movies and television shows in my lifetime, this was my first time viewing The Reluctant Dragon. I have seen many of the Disney films in my lifetime, but preparing for this series brought me somewhere new. And as someone who is fascinated by the history of Walt and his team, it was not a disappointment.

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