/ Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

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While the Disney parks bring many classic fairytales and stories to life, there are many films beyond the obvious that, once you see them, will make you recognize and appreciate many of the amazing details, tributes and hidden treasures scattered throughout the parks and resorts. So this week, we’re going to discuss some of the movies you need to watch before you visit Walt Disney World, including some that you have never seen or heard of, before.

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QUESTION for YOU from this week’s show: What movie do YOU think you need to watch before visiting Walt Disney World? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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19 thoughts on “WDW Radio Show #424 – Movies You Need to Watch Before Visiting Walt Disney World”

  1. Robert B says:

    Great question! Paul was absolutely right about “Walt: The Man Behind the Myth”. Not only should you watch the film, but if you can find a copy of the coffee table book that tied into it, buy it.

    When picking out films to watch as part of my WDW countdown, I pick ones with special significance for that trip. For example, my favorite Disney live action film is “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. I normally wouldn’t include it because the ride is no longer there. However I plan on having a Nautilus for my birthday at Trader Sam’s so it’s on the list. Sorry, Paul there IS a reason to include it.

    Also we are going to do the breakfast at Ohana’s for the first time, as well as ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for the first time. To get ready I’m going to watch “Lilo & Stitch” and “Snow White & the Dwarves”. On previous trips we would watch “Lady & the Tramp” to prepare for lunch at Tony’s Town Square, or “Winnie the Pooh” for breakfast at Crystal Palace.

    I would also recommend the featurettes on the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” Blu-ray which is a documentary about the ride and how it inspired the film.

    Finally for Paul’s planed trip to Disneyland, he should try to get a copy of “Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic” from the Walt Disney Treasures collection. The main feature is the documentary that has some archival footage and newer interviews with Imagineers like Rolly Crump. However it also has the 1956 film “People and Places: Disneyland USA”. There is a commentary by Leonard Maltin and Tony Baxter which is great.

  2. Chuck Zitta says:

    Thought I would approach this topic in a different manner than from a historical point of view. I know you dismissed the obvious from this show, such as the animated feature films, etc., but I enjoy looking closer (studying them) at these films and not just at the overall story lines. The fine details and references in these movies that can be found in the parks, such as the architecture, the ornate details found on/in the buildings, graphics on the signage, backdrops, environments, little treasures (such as the well form Snow White in the German pavilion, audio clips, etc. As we all know, WDW is replete with incredible stories and details, that can be matched by no other. So yes, I like to watch the ‘classics’ and see what hidden details I can find in them, then try to have a few aha moments when I come down to visit the parks. Of course, I do enjoy the historical documentaries as well, such as “Walt: The Man Behind the Myth”, Waking Sleeping Beauty and others. For live action movies, sometimes I’ll throw a little Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean (and now, Tomorrowland) in as well, or ANYTHING from the Walt Disney Treasures collection. If we’re coming down for Halloween it’s always fun to watch a little Haunted Mansion, Hocus Pocus, Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Nightmare Before Christmas! I really don’t think there’s an end to this list! But, if I had to pick one movie? Pinocchio. Love the detail in Geppetto’s work shop. Thanks again for another terrific show, Lou!!!

  3. Randy says:

    Perfect timing Lou! My wife and I just got back from a week in Disney. We took our 1 year old down for his first trip along with our parents and brothers. My favorite attraction growing up was Journey Into Imagination so we had to get my son started on Figment early as well. I noticed the sneakers and thought they were in an odd place. I then assumed it was a nod to Flubber or Absent Minded Professor. Thank you for the note on The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. We’ll add it to the list of movies to check out!

  4. chris g says:

    Well to answer before listening to the show…I would say for families visiting, I would check out the movies that are reflected in the attractions. For Magic Kingdom that would mean like Pirates of the Caribbean. Beauty and the Beast. Snow White. Little Mermaid. Peter Pan. Monsters Inc.
    (if at all possible a copy of Song of the South)
    For Animal Kingdon, A bugs Life.
    For EPCOT, Finding Nemo or Frozen.
    For Hollywood Studios Toy Story and Star Wars Saga.

  5. chris g says:

    No after listening I have to say many of the same as I said before listen.
    Simply because of the question asked.
    “Movies You Need to Watch Before Visiting Walt Disney World”
    To me the question implies it’s for people who are new to Disney
    or new to the parks.
    So to me the answer would be films that you would see in the parks
    giving the things reference to what your seeing.
    Swiss Family Robinson is a perfect example.
    Without seeing the film first, a guest would ask..I don’t get it. Why is this here.
    Pirates, Avatar, Davy Crockett are also great examples of ones to watch.
    As first or even second time visitors are so overwhelmed with everything they are seeing, they will miss all the references in Lous movies as they walk right past them in the park.
    Many of the examples Lou gave were great for those who really know the parks and have been
    there before…but those examples are better if asking “Movies You Need to Watch Before going back Walt Disney World”.

  6. Kristin Conzet says:

    Here is the entire list of movies mentioned?

  7. Martin Blanco says:

    Thanks again for another engaging show. I was very happy to learn of SUMMER MAGIC. I will be watching it with the family very soon. The show was full of excellent recommendations and it reminded me of when the children were younger and how we would prepare for our Disney trips. You hit the nail on the head with THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. The tree house is interesting on its own, but when you have a context for it, the Disney Magic is more potent. The key to getting today’s generation to watch it, is to take the time when the children are young to expose them to films, books, music, art that have culture significance and their own distinctive beauty. If you can indoctrinate your children to a such a world when their young, it will stay with them for the entirety of their lives. . .including the teen years. Not only did we watch the Disney SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON film, but we listened to the companion Disney record album and read the book. To visit the Tree House afterwards was a marvelous extension of our adventures at home. To your larger point: Disney World is an outstanding place, but if you take the time to know about the attractions and design, it the experience is even richer.

    Before going to Disney World, we will typically watch some of the classic animated and live action features. We also watch a great number of the Mickey Mouse cartoons and the Silly Symphonies. I can’t spend too much time right now, but I will reference a number of these cartoons on a later post so anyone interested can enjoy them. In brief, when you look at the Silly Symphonies and the Mickey, Donald, Goofy et. al. cartoons, you have a strong foreshadowing of the parks. The aesthetic blue prints are in these films. I’m not saying that Walt took these shorts and placed them directly in the parks, but the spirit of these cartoons informs the parks in a profound way. After watching an hour or two of Silly Symphonies or Mickey Mouse, I almost feel as if I am in the parks. More later. . . Thanks again.

  8. Dee Dee S. says:

    I read somewhere that the water mill on Tom Sawyer Island is in part inspired by the animated 1930’s Silly Symphonies short “The Old Mill.” I have never seen it but would like to. Loved the show! We are taking a group of Girl Scouts to WDW in Feb. 2016 and I will include your list of movies in the pre-trip preparation packet. Many thanks.

  9. Bridgette Gallagher says:

    I’m going to add Meet the Robinsons to the list for two reasons.

    1- I think it’s the most underrated animated film to ever be released from Disney animation. If you’ve only ever seen it once give it another chance. It has a really delightfully quirky sense of humor that you really can’t appreciate unless you’ve seen it two or more times.

    2- it’s got a totally Walt vibe. It’s all about hope for the future, making progress, not giving up on your dreams and for crying out loud the main character’s motto is “Keep Moving Forward”. I don’t think you can get much more Walt than that!

  10. Martin Blanco says:

    This is just a quick follow-up to my previous remarks. A great cinematic appetizer to any Walt Disney World vacation would comprise a healthy dose of the classic animated shorts from the Mickey Mouse camp and the Silly Symphony series. I particularly recommend the COOKIE CARNIVAL and MUSIC LAND from the Silly Symphony series. While these 1935 offerings are not literally represented in the the theme parks, they demonstrate a longing in Walt Disney to create places of whimsy and beauty long before he ever considered building Disneyland. THE COOKIE CARNIVAL is set in a world of living, sentient baked goods and candy. It is time to select a queen, and the fairest offerings of the land are on parade. One impoverished and lonely gingerbread girl has not the means to compete, but a gingerbread boy who loves her, comes to her rescue and finds a way to adorn her with sugary goodness, thereby transforming her into a 5 star dessert. When our heroine is proclaimed Queen of the realm, many Johnny-Come-Lately desserts attempt to woo her. She remembers the gingerbread boy who loved her before her fame, and the land rejoices as she chooses him to be her King. It’s a story so simple, but it evokes profound feelings and creates a strong desire to want to visit, if not live in their world. In MUSIC LAND, Walt Disney transforms the feuding Capulets and Montagues of Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET into the feuding Land of Symphony and Isle of Jazz –separated by the Sea of Discord. Musical metaphors, both literal and aural, abound as a saxophone from Jazz and violin from Symphony fall in love. Their forbidden love sparks a war that puts them in peril. Unlike their tragic counterparts from Verona, our young lovers survive and their true love builds a Bridge of Harmony over the Sea of Discord. In these gems, Walt Disney combines storytelling with great artistry to create worlds that beckon to us. All the ingredients of the theme parks are abundant in these offerings and with a little bit of imagination on our part, we can see the genesis of Disneyland.

    My family and I can watch Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto cartoons all day, but to prepare for a visit to the parks I especially like MICKEY’S FIRE BRIGADE, LONESOME GHOSTS, THE BAND CONCERT, THE WHOOPIE PARTY, and of course STEAMBOAT WILLIE. I could write for quite some time about these choices so let it suffice to say, they each in their own way speak to an aspect of the Magic Kingdom.

    Also worth mentioning are the films HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS and THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE. It should be obvious how HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS whets one’s appetite for the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. As for THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE, well Walt Disney is all about the trains in one way or the other. This is a terrific film about an actual event from the American Civil War where a team of Union spies steals and sets out to destroy a Confederate train and miles of Confederate railroads. It stars Fess Parker and Jeffrey Hunter and will leave you anxious to ride The Walt Disney Railroad. By the way, an adventurous family can also watch Buster Keaton’s silent film classic THE GENERAL which also depicts this same historical event.

    Thanks for another outstanding show and a good post show discussion.

  11. Nicole says:

    Disney’s awesome and I’ve seen all Disney videos

  12. William Bragg says:

    Summer Magic is a family summer tradition for us!!!

  13. Mike says:

    I am amazed by the number of Disney podcasters and fans have overall negative opinions of Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion movie. Even Lou, who can always be counted upon to find the sun and the rainbow and nary a cloud in anything related to Disney, expressed feelings of less-than-total-admiration for this film. Gasp!

    I BEG TO DIFFER. OK, I get that many things could have been done differently in this movie to more faithfully portray the Haunted Mansion attractions and back stories. But be that as it may, the point of a movie is to provide entertainment – and Eddie Murphy and the rest of the cast certainly succeed in entertaining as far as I am concerned. So much so that I am an owner of the DVD and have made it a tradition over the last several years to watch this movie every year during the Halloween season, right along such revered traditional favorites as Its The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Monster House, and Nightmare Before Christmas.

    As far as I am concerned, the lighter elements that Eddie Murphy brings to the movie are of no less artistic value than those which Tony Baxter brought to the Haunted Mansion itself, or even – dare I say it – that Johnny Depp brought to Pirates of the Caribbean.

  14. Nick says:

    Can you guys publish the list of movies? Going on my honey moon in February and I want to get these in before we go. Thanks!

  15. Fred says:

    These are all great points. For me Tron and Tron Legacy, although not directly represented in the park, have a tie to EPCOT in my mind. Once again, not so much that you have an attraction but more so the futuristic theme. The easy one is also Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl which represents the ride so well. My kids and wife would put at the top of their list, Finding Nemo.

    As a side note….we also spend a lot of time watching our own home movies from prior Disney trips. As we gear up for a spring trip, I am editing one now with my kids from our last trip. Gotta love it.

  16. Michael says:

    Just started a Disney Club at the high school I teach at and plan on watching movies and practicing how to draw characters. I told the students we would start with Snow White because it was the first Disney movie and then wanted to show Swiss Family Robinson. I think both are a good starting point. The podcast was awesome and gave me some more ideas. I think some of the original Disney Shorts would be good to understand the origins of Mickey.

  17. SoarinSteven says:

    Haters are gonna hate, hate, hate, but I love the Star Wars prequels, and Avatar.

  18. Colleen says:

    Hey, could you guys add the list of movies to the show notes please? Thanks!

  19. MartynEm says:

    Walt, The Man Behind the Myth
    Johnny Tremaine
    Summer Magic
    So Dear to My Heart
    The Absent Minded Professor
    The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
    Sword in the Stone
    Davy Crockett
    Waking Sleeping Beauty
    The Boys
    Melody Time
    Fun and Fancy Free
    Reluctant Dragon
    Swiss Family Robinson