The Wonderful World of Disney Comes to TCM


As a kid growing up in 1970s my Sunday nights revolved around The Wonderful World of Disney. It was my cherished respite before the much dreaded school week began and I savored every last minute spent in front of the family television set. At the time, residents in the San Francisco Bay Area where I was born and mostly raised, only had access to 10 or 12 available channels to choose from and many of those were locally run and operated. There were no video stores renting movies in those days and the idea of streaming films directly into your own home was merely a faraway fantasy. In these limited environs, The Wonderful World of Disney offered kids and adults of all ages a surprisingly diverse and family friendly smorgasbord of programming that included animated and live action films, nature documentaries, educational shorts and special broadcasts made especially for television. Much to my delight, Turner Classic Movies has recently teamed-up with The Walt Disney Studios for a new on-going program called Treasures from the Disney Vault hosted by Ben Mankiewicz and film critic Leonard Maltin that’s making its debut this coming Sunday night on December 21st. TCM’s impressive 8-hour block of television is a throwback to The Wonderful World of Disney of my childhood and I hope it will introduce a new generation to the wonderful treasures hidden deep within the vaults of the Disney Studios.




The first film to kick off TCM’s Treasures from the Disney Vault is the animated holiday short SANTA’S WORKSHOP (1932) followed by the classic ON ICE (1935) featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse along with Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck. Donald Duck later makes an appearance in CHIP AN’ DALE (1947), where he wrestles with the two chipmunks after mistaking their home for firewood. These winter-themed animated shorts are followed by the pilot episode of the original Disney television series, which first began airing on ABC in 1954 titled WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR: THE DISNEYLAND STORY. The hour-long program introduces viewers to the upcoming series as well as the Disneyland theme park that was still in the planning and building stages. Classic film fans should be on the lookout for appearances by Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre and James Mason who were busy making 20 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954) for Disney at the time. Afterward you can look forward to four feature-length films beginning with THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941) that provides a tour of the Disney Studios and includes various animated shorts. This is followed by the hugely successful DAVY CROCKETT, KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER (1955), which starred Fess Parker and combined episodes of the popular television series into one 90 minute movie. Next up is the Oscar-winning nature documentary, THE VANISHING PRAIRIE (1954) and last but not least, if you stay up late enough you can catch THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN aka BANNER IN THE SKY (1959). This mountain climbing adventure was shot in Switzerland and stars a young James MacArthur who is probably best known to audiences as “Danno” from the original HAWAII FIVE-O (1968-1979). THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN was only a minor success but it inspired the popular Matterhorn ‘Mountain’ Bobsleds ride at Disneyland that has become one of the theme park’s most recognizable and beloved attractions.




This exciting Sunday line-up is just a small taste of the Disney classics you can expect to see on TCM in 2015. There have been no firm dates set for the next installment of Treasures from the Disney Vault but upcoming screenings reportedly include the popular live-action Disney films TREASURE ISLAND (1950), DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1959) and POLLYANNA (1960). You can also look forward to a number of animated films and shorts including a couple of my personal favorites, THE THREE CABALLEROS (1944) and THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949). In addition they will screen many animated shorts such as the Oscar-winning FLOWER AND THE TREES (1932) and acclaimed nature documentaries THE LIVING DESERT (1953) and THE AFRICAN LION (1953). A recent news release explained that the TCM and Disney team-up is part of a joint effort by both company brands to broaden their reach in family entertainment and includes a TCM-style makeover of the Disney World Resort’s Great Movie Ride Attraction, which is styled after the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The makeover will incorporate a new introduction message from TCM host Robert Osborne who will provide insights into the movies spotlighted during the ride. According to TCM general manager Jennifer Doran, “At TCM it’s our mission to share and celebrate the greatest films of all time. Disney provides the perfect relationship through which we can share the magic of the movies with every generation, not only through an amazing new showcase on TCM, but also through newly refreshed components of The Great Movie Ride Attraction.”

For further information about TCM’s team-up with Walt Disney Studios please visit the link below and remember to tune in this coming Sunday to see the first installment of Treasures from the Disney Vault!

Further reading:
- Treasures of the Disney Vault at

5 Responses The Wonderful World of Disney Comes to TCM
Posted By Ben Martin : December 18, 2014 5:24 pm

Wholly WOW – this is great news in so many ways. I hope this line-up will some day include those magical mini movies that appeared that would just make my Sunday. Films such as Gallegher (and the Further Adventures of Gallegher) Roger Mobley anyone?? Or Emil and the Detectives, The Magnificent Rebel, Toby Tyler, Johnny Shiloh? OOooooh – how about Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow?? I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities. (I always felt guilty that i was always so disappointed if a nature segment came on instead of a movie or a cartoon. ) Congrats TCM and thanks for the great news Kimberly.

Posted By AL : December 18, 2014 9:48 pm

This is exciting.

Posted By Doug : December 18, 2014 11:26 pm

I’m with Ben-”Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow” made quite an impression on me back then. Congrats to TCM for making this happen.
“The Reluctant Dragon” surprised me-I have most of Benchley’s writings, and a few of his short films, but hadn’t heard of his
working with Disney. Never too old to learn more good stuff!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 19, 2014 6:38 am

So glad to see that some readers are as excited about the possibilities as I am! I love Disney animation but I also really enjoyed their made-for-TV films such as Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow that has been mentioned by others. Many of these TV films are not available on DVD and I’m sure they’d find a welcoming audience at TCM. Hopefully we’ll get access to a lot more treasures from the Disney vaults next year.

Posted By DBenson : December 19, 2014 7:00 am

Another note from my boomer past (early 60s) is that Disney cartoons and features simply weren’t seen anywhere else on television, except for Mousekartoons on the syndicated Mickey Mouse Club. Disney never sold its film library, re-releasing even “Misadventures of Merlin Jones” to theaters.

All the other studios were well represented on network movie nights, late shows and local afternoon slots. Not Disney. And Mickey never joined Bugs, Popeye, Droopy and the others on local kiddie shows, or even network Saturday mornings.

This was when Disney was still a precisely defined brand, like Universal’s monsters and MGM’s musicals. They were usually poison to teens (aside from the holiday biggies), but a big deal to kids and parents. Today, what we called Disney films are just part of Disney’s massive output. And most of the Walt-period features and shorts are (or have been) available on home video. I’ve got too many of them.

But even when popping in a DVD, I remember sticking with the World of Color through the closing credits for the movie ad they usually tacked on. That was often the first tantalizing glimpse of the newest film (unless the show itself was a making-of documentary) or the re-release of an animated feature I’d never seen but knew from the books, the comics, the records, the ride at Disneyland, etc.

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