Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World's 10th Anniversary
Today is Walt Disney World's 45th anniversary! To celebrate, we will be going back 35 years to when the Magic Kingdom was only 10 years old. Even though the park already had it's anniversary in October of 1981, CBS aired the television special, "Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World's 10th Anniversary" three months later, in January of 1982.
Let's take a look at the TV Guide listing for that anniversary special. Here's the cover of the January 16, 1982 issue of TV Guide.
Actually, before we look at that listing, here is what was playing that week on the Walt Disney television series (formerly Disneyland, Walt Disney Presents, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, The Wonderful World of Disney, and Disney's Wonderful World).
Tales of the Apple Dumpling Gang was a made for TV movie and a follow-up to the theatrical releases, The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).
The TV movie led to a TV series about a year later, starring Barry Van Dyke (Dick's son) in the title role of Russell Donovan (played in the original film by Bill Bixby and in this TV movie by John Bennett Perry). For some reason, the series was titled Gun Shy. It only lasted for six episodes before being canceled. I vaguely remember watching that series....or at least some of it.
Now let's look at that 10th anniversary special. Dean Jones and Michelle Lee (from Knots Landing) were reunited for this special. They had previously starred together in the 1968 Disney film, The Love Bug. Dana Plato (from Different Strokes) and Ricky Schroder (from Silver Spoons) play their children, while Eileen Brennan (from Private Benjamin) plays an aunt.
Michael Keaton plays a cast member with multiple jobs in this special, including a bellboy, a waiter, a valet, and a clerk in a souvenir shop at the Contemporary Hotel. He even sings (sort of) with Michelle Lee and Dana Plato.
At the very end of the special, the announcer reminds viewers that "All of tonight's recipes (which were shown during the commercials) can be found in tonight's listing section of TV Guide Magazine, and at many stores." Matterhorn Chicken? But Walt Disney World doesn't have a Matterhorn!
Also on TV that week: People of the Year: The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1981. That would be a hoot to watch today!
Bert Convy was back with an all new version of Tattletales. Incidentally, the original Tattletales from the 1970's currently plays on the "Buzzr" channel. I'm addicted to that channel and Match Game '78!
And Meryl Streep was appearing in a new musical special, Alice at the Palace.
If you want to watch the Walt Disney World special (minus the Kraft commercials), I've included a link to it below.
The show is just as corny as most of the Disney TV specials were back in the day. From the Tour Guides and Small World Hostesses drooling over John Schneider while he serenades them, to Dean Jones singing (sort of) to Ricky Schroeder about "Fathers and Sons", it's definitely a cheesefest....and even a bit uncomfortable at times. But if you're a fan of vintage Walt Disney World, or a fan of any of these celebrities, it's definitely worth watching.
Oh, and José the parrot, makes a cameo appearance in a souvenir shop at the Contemporary Hotel at the 24:00 minute mark. I wonder if that was a real souvenir that used to be sold, or if it was one of the actual animatronics from the Tropical Serenade/Tiki Room attraction?
A similar special sponsored by Kraft, had aired in 1980 for Disneyland's 25th anniversary. I have that TV Guide as well (with more themed recipes!), so I will try to get that one posted soon.
Happy 45th anniversary, to Walt Disney World!
**Post Update (10-12-16):
I'm adding these pages from the same issue of TV Guide, because of the Mr. Merlin comment (below) by Major Pepperidge. I'm sure it was a wonderful show! With Elaine Joyce in it, it couldn't have been all that bad, could it? Barnard Hughes was also starring in the original version of Disney's Tron, which had a theatrical release in July of that same year.
Also....after writing this post, I came across this promotional pic of Ricky Schroder in the 1981 Walt Disney Productions Annual Report: