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Disney and Oz: History, Stories, Walt Disney, The Great Movie Ride and more! – Mar. 10, 2013


Hello and welcome to The WDW Radio Show – Your Walt Disney World Information Station. I am your host, Lou Mongello, and this is show #315 for the week of March 10, 2013.

With the opening of Disney’s newsiest film release, Oz The Great and powerful, this week we’re going to look at the long, and lost, history of Disney and Oz. Going back to the 1930’s, we’ll look at Walt Disney’s quest to tell the tales of the land of Oz, what almost was, and what never came to be. You’ll hear untold stories from Jim Korkis, including the plot of the movie that was never made. We’ll also discuss Disney’s previous Oz offerings, it’s presence in the Walt Disney World theme parks including the Great Movie Ride. There, we’ll look at how The Wizard of Oz was supposed to be seen in that attraction, and why it never came to be. We’ll finish off with a discussion of the new film, and what the future may hold.
I’ll have the answer to our last Walt Disney World Trivia Question of the Week, and pose a new challenge for your chance to win a Disney prize package.

Stay tuned for more WDW Radio event and meet information before playing some of your voicemails at the end of the show. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio Show.

Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!

– Lou Mongello

Information and Links from This Week’s Show

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Have you seen Oz The Great and Powerful? What did you think? Leave your answer in the comments section below!

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Listen to the full, UNTOLD story and synopsis of the unmade Disney film, The Rainbow Road to Oz

Purchase your copy of Jim Korkis’ new books in print or on Kindle from (affiliate links):

Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories

The Revised Vault of Walt: Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told

Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories by Jim Korkis  xxx Book Cover
Paperback or Kindle Paperback or Kindle

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24 thoughts on “WDW Radio # 315 – Disney and Oz: History, Stories, Walt, The Great Movie Ride & more!”

  1. Brian Becker says:

    Hi Lou,

    I LOVED this week’s podcast! I have seen “Return to Oz”, The Disney Channel used to play that in heavy rotation in the mid 80’s. I remember seeing it for the first time when I was about 10 years old and … holy moly! lol Very dark and disturbing. The scene that will stick with me forever is the headless witch and she had all these different heads she kept in glass jars. Get the shivers everytime I think about it! lol Anyway, GREAT podcast with Jim (as always) and can’t wait to see the new Oz film!!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Lou and Jim, you guys ask how many people have seen Return to Oz – I saw it in the theatre! I was about 7, my sister was about 4 or so. I loved it and she was terrified. I still love it and she’s still weirded out by it. And I have to admit, I always wonder what they were thinking with the whole “electroshock therapy” idea. Because NO. That’s just not family friendly. I love the way they brought the books to life though! Tiktok is amazing! I wish it was easier to find, I really love that movie.

  3. Norman Cavey says:


  4. Mike Poteet says:

    Great conversation! As a long-time Ozophile, I really enjoyed learning all of this history Disney has with the material. Fascinating stuff.

    As a kid (this was about 1980 or so, when I was eight years old), I owned a 33 rpm vinyl Oz record from Disney that had the 1939 MGM songs on one side and songs from “The Scarecrow of Oz” and some others on the flip side. I always wondered where those songs came from, because I knew I’d never seen any such productions. I remember the Ozphabet, the Puppet Polka, “Just Call Smarmy” — ! I used to write my own dramatized versions of “The Wizard of Oz” that shoehorned the Disney songs into the MGM numbers. Nice to finally know the whole story.

    I have been a big fan of “Return to Oz” for the longest time – I think it’s just a beautiful movie, and (sad to say) far more meatier, ambitious and rewarding than Disney’s current Oz offering. I did not know about “Return”‘s troubled production history – you’d never know it from the finished product. It’s one of the finest fantasy movies ever made (far more than a “problem” to be explained away – Disney should really be embracing that film, all these years later).

    (I also love the Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. I guess I’m just destined to be the minority opinion where Disney’s Oz ventures are concerned!)

    Thanks again for a fascinating episode!

  5. Anne says:

    Since you’re asking…I’m another who saw it in its Disney Channel days, and I loved it. The fact that the iconic characters from The Wizard of Oz were missing was half of my emotional buy in as a kid; I wanted to see Dorothy rescue them. I also loved, and still love, the twisted form of nostalgia where you return to something from (earlier in) your childhood, only to find that it’s different: stranger and darker than you remembered, and yet somehow even more wondrous.

  6. Mike Poteet says:

    Anne, I love that insight into why RTO works – wish I’d thought of it!

    I recently wrote a big appreciation of/lament for RTO on a blog I contribute to, if any other Return to Oz fans are interested –

  7. Chris says:

    I have seen Return to Oz and I really like it. I was born before it came out, but was too young to see it in theatres. I think I saw it for the first time in the late eighties? I’ve probably watched the movie about 10 times.

  8. Alex says:

    I have also seen Return to Oz. In fact I have a dvd copy of the movie. It was something that I remember watching with the family at home and I happen to see a copy of it on Dvd while at a walmart and picked it up. The most memorable memory is being scared of the wheelers as a kid as they were so creepy

  9. Damon says:

    I saw Return to Oz when I was younger about 25 years ago didn’t remember much about it. Just a few months ago it was on one of the movie channels. It’s an interesting film visually but ultimately the story didn’t work.

    Now the fact the story was darker than Wizard of Oz didn’t bother me because I don’t hold the Wizard of Oz as this sacred treasure of cinema. I like it but I won’t go out of my way to watch it.

  10. Sheryl Miller says:

    Hi Lou!!
    I saw Return to Oz at Radio City Music Hall in NYC when I was 9! It scared the beejeebus out of me at the time, but it was also an interesting movie. I was actually thinking about this movie recently and hoping I could rent it on iTunes or even RedBox, but alas I (so far) cannot.
    Great podcast as usual!! 🙂

  11. nicole says:

    I’ve seen Return to Oz and found it kind of terrifying. I was in middle school when I saw it (late 90’s) and it was cool to see scary movies but this was not the right kind of scary, haha.

    There is a song by the band Scissors Sister called ‘Return to Oz’ that talks about the movie as well, good song by a good band!

  12. Mike Poteet says:

    Sheryl – It’s available to rent or buy or purchase as a DVD on Amazon!

  13. Kendall Foreman says:

    I saw Return to Oz in the 90s when it aired on the Disney Channel. I remember being fascinated by Jack Pumpkinhead, but I agree with Brian that scenes with the headless witch are forever engraved on my memory. I can honestly say that I did not remember the electroshock therapy, so either I was too young to understand or did not find it as terrifying as the witch. I found this movie to be strange yet interesting, then and now. I feel the same way about Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland as I do about Return to Oz…odd but I like it.

  14. I absolutely LOVED this weeks episode over Disney and OZ! As a child (even though I am still only 16!) I was obsessed with anything OZ!

    I read many of the books. Watched the 1939 musical, watched the little OZ cartoons, and yes…even the crazy 90’s “Return to OZ” I found it at the library one day, and I was not prepared for what was in store. I was an odd child. I utterly adored “twisted stories” and “remakes” so when I saw this film, I instantly fell in love. Even though Mombbi scared the bejuzzus out of me, I couldn’t get enough of this movie! I remember my favorite being Tik Tok! I always rooted for him!

    I never knew about the “Rainbow Road to Oz’ so I really enjoyed getting the “insider scoop’ and getting to hear the plot to the scrapped project!

    Thank you so much Lou for all you bring your listeners! I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s episode!

  15. Lori says:

    I love “Return To Oz.” We would watch it all the time when we were kids in the 80’s. I even remember playing with a key and an old bottle of powder pretending we were stealing the powder of life. Still love the movie now and even searched online to find a DVD of it so I can watch it whenever I want! Love the show!

  16. Christopher Connor says:

    Hi Lou,

    I have seen “Return to Oz” and “Muppets Wizard of Oz” and enjoyed them both. I have both on DVD as well. There was also an animated “Journey Back to Oz” on the SFM Holiday Network that I remeber as a kid. I need to get my hands on that DVD. I’m looking forward to the new OZ movie as well.

    Thanks for this and every weeks podcast. You help me get through the long work day.

  17. Arthur Allen says:

    Never saw Return to Oz, but I remember hearing about it, on the same weekend I went to Disneyland for the first time. I flew down from Seattle to see my dad on the same weekend there was a science fiction convention across the street at the Anaheim Convention Center. I spent a couple of hours at the convention, and they had a display for Return to Oz. They showed some of the artwork from the movie and explained how Walt Disney bought the rights to the remaining books after the success of the 1939 movie.

    Also at the convention was a booth for a sequel of another beloved MGM movie: 2010, the sequel for 2001: A Space Odyssey. I also got to see the original cover art to The Jackson’s album Victory, and gaze at the original brush strokes of a familiar, reproduced image. And those are the only things I remember from the convention, lost in a haze of my first trip to Disneyland.

  18. Jaleen C says:

    I saw Oz the Great and Powerful last Friday and it was great! A bit scary for the younger audience with the witches. ( Jumped myself a few times)! It was well done but quite different then the 30’s Wizard of Oz. I would give it 3 and a half stars.

  19. Michelle P says:

    I’ve seen Return to Oz on the Disney Channel when a kid. Although I never read the books, I enjoyed the movie and took it for what is was, a different film. I understood there were new characters and that Oz looked different because it was a different time in Oz. I haven’t seen it since I was younger, but still enjoyed it.

  20. Robert says:

    Loved this episode Lou. You two really knocked this one out of the park. Jim hit all of the details . . . so many historical notes that I had to take a break midway.
    Wow! Great Job.

  21. Oz The Great & Powerful was wicked. Seeing it in 3D was Ozsome, poor Mila Munis had to be the wicked witch of the west. I didn’t realize there was no wicked witch of the east. The screen became short then when Oz went over the rainbow the screen was wide I have never seen it like that before. Great Movie.

  22. Cathy says:

    Return to Oz is one of my favorite movies from childhood! I actually really don’t like the original Wizard of Oz and find Return to Oz far more interesting. I saw it at Radio City Music Hall in the 80’s and my sister and I would constantly watch it on video and later DVD.

  23. Arthur Allen says:

    I just thought of another connection between The Wizard of Oz and Disney. There is some debate about when A Christmas Story (1983) actually takes place. I think it’s 1939, the year The Wizard of Oz came out. In the parade in A Christmas Story, costumed characters from Wizard of Oz push around costumed Disney characters. One Oz character pushes Mickey Mouse to the ground, who stands back up and gives an “aw, shucks” gesture before continuing on. A Christmas Story was released by MGM, and I wonder if the producers of that movie knew about the impending Disney Oz movie, and if this scene was a subtle jab at Disney.

  24. Chuck Zitta says:

    Yes, I’ve seen and own OZ The Great and Powerful. Like you and Jim, I enjoyed the movie. Found it fascinating to hear about the history of OZ and how it relates to Walt and the parks. Always look forward to seeing OZ on the Great Movie Ride and really like the factoid about the tornado and how it relates to the Fantasia segment of the attraction. Explained the history to my wife as we passed by Sorcerer Mickey and into OZ on our last trip down. And of course I had to tell her where I learned it from ;0)

    Thanks again for another spectacular show, Lou and Jim!!!