These Disneyland Movies Will Bring the Park Into Your Home.

One of the most pervasive thoughts I’ve had in the last four months is a few simple words: I miss Disneyland. Like many cultural institutions, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California has been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even though some parts of our popular culture are restarting, or are set to restart, Disneyland’s doors remain closed.

This time last month, though, that wasn’t the plan. On June 10, the Disney Parks Blog announced that Disneyland was reopening on July 17, a banner day in more ways than one. It wouldn’t just be a perceived return to normalcy for American culture; July 17 is the anniversary of Disneyland Park’s opening day. This year doesn’t just mark any old anniversary, but the park’s 65th. Yet due to the increase in coronavirus cases in California (and in plenty of other states around the nation), the fact that California Governor Gavin Newsom never approved the reopening plan, and the passionate outcry from thousands of Disneyland Cast Members that reopening was unsafe, Disney postponed the reopening.

So Disneyland isn’t just going through an extended closure – for the first time since its opening, the park is closed on its own anniversary. (Prior to the pandemic, Disneyland had only been closed on a literal handful of occasions, all grim parts of American history such as the day of JFK’s assassination and September 11, 2001.) For those of us who enjoy the Disney theme parks in all their imperfections, whether we visit every day, every year, or once every few years, the sight of an empty Disneyland is perverse and depressing.

So, again: I miss Disneyland. Maybe you do too. Since we can’t be at Disneyland today, the best we can do is replicate the experience. Now, you can go to YouTube and find ride videos for basically everything at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. But I want to do something slightly better and different. Here, I’m going to highlight one film or TV show, and one piece of theme-park music, per land at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure (which may not be celebrating an anniversary today, but why not?). I hope you’re a Disney+ subscriber, because you can find all the films below there. Let’s go.

One of the most pervasive thoughts I’ve had in the last four months is a few simple words: I miss Disneyland. Like many cultural institutions, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California has been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even though some parts of our popular culture are restarting, or are set to restart, Disneyland’s doors remain closed.

This time last month, though, that wasn’t the plan. On June 10, the Disney Parks Blog announced that Disneyland was reopening on July 17, a banner day in more ways than one. It wouldn’t just be a perceived return to normalcy for American culture; July 17 is the anniversary of Disneyland Park’s opening day. This year doesn’t just mark any old anniversary, but the park’s 65th. Yet due to the increase in coronavirus cases in California (and in plenty of other states around the nation), the fact that California Governor Gavin Newsom never approved the reopening plan, and the passionate outcry from thousands of Disneyland Cast Members that reopening was unsafe, Disney postponed the reopening.

So Disneyland isn’t just going through an extended closure – for the first time since its opening, the park is closed on its own anniversary. (Prior to the pandemic, Disneyland had only been closed on a literal handful of occasions, all grim parts of American history such as the day of JFK’s assassination and September 11, 2001.) For those of us who enjoy the Disney theme parks in all their imperfections, whether we visit every day, every year, or once every few years, the sight of an empty Disneyland is perverse and depressing.

So, again: I miss Disneyland. Maybe you do too. Since we can’t be at Disneyland today, the best we can do is replicate the experience. Now, you can go to YouTube and find ride videos for basically everything at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. But I want to do something slightly better and different. Here, I’m going to highlight one film or TV show, and one piece of theme-park music, per land at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure (which may not be celebrating an anniversary today, but why not?). I hope you’re a Disney+ subscriber, because you can find all the films below there. Let’s go.

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1. MAIN STREET, U.S.A.

Film: It’s a shame that The Music Man was released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the early 1960s – much of the film’s music can be heard playing throughout Main Street, U.S.A. And why wouldn’t it? The film’s old-fashioned, lily-white presentation of turn-of-the-century Midwest America is much in line with the visual atmosphere evoked by the opening section of Disneyland Park. But alas, it’s not a Disney film, so I’m not recommending it here. Instead, let’s go with Pollyanna, a 1960 family drama starring Hayley Mills and Karl Malden. Though this isn’t as upbeat a film as other 60s-era Disney live-action films meant to take place in the nostalgic past, Pollyanna is a sweet and baleful story anchored by the young and extremely talented Mills. It captures the image of a low-key lifestyle in a town where everyone knows each other and supports them in good or bad times. Bring the Kleenex for this one.

Music: Main Street, U.S.A. has lots of musical options, depending on what you prefer. Do you like the era in which Disneyland announcer Jack Wagner (if you remember the stentorian voice telling you to stay seated at the end of Matterhorn Bobsleds, that’s Wagner) was compiling thematic pieces into background loops? Or are you a fan of the more recent version of Main Street loops, in which film music from UpHello, Dolly!, and The Music Man butt up against each other? If you go to YouTube, you can find lots of different options. I’m sticking here with the most recent version of the background loop. It’s an hour long, it’s full of ragtime-era songs (or covers of songs, as mentioned above, that fit within that Joplinesque style), and sure to put a smile on your face.

 

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