Just to get it out of the way, this is a bit different than the previously released Disneyland, U.S.A, that was part of the first wave of Disney Treasures releases. Many of the overly retold stories about Walt, most of which appear on the first DVD, are skipped over during this series. Some prior knowledge is assumed on some of the smaller things, which makes this a great companion DVD to the first. Still, if you weren't able to get your hands on it, it is still informative enough that you won't feel lost.
At the heart of the two-disc set is the documentary "Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic". Introduced by Julie Andrews, the documentary takes a chronological look at the park that many in the company considered "Walt's Folly." Most of the focus is spent on the park's early construction and the years the park spent under his watchful eye, as well as some information on what has transpired at the park in the years following (including the addition of Johnny Depp to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride, just to give you an idea as to how current it is).
Though you'll sit through a number of "talking head" interviews, much of the documentary is stocked with amazing visuals and music from around the park, including scenes from the park's opening (which you can watch on the previous DVD) as well as from Walt's various television shows. Some of the more entertaining interviews are with Pixar head John Lasseter, who was a skipper on the "Jungle Cruise" in his earlier years, and former Imagineers (park engineers who plan and develop attractions) like Rolly Crump, Marc Davis and X Atencio. Even George Lucas makes an appearance which, as anyone who knows me could tell you, was a pretty big deal for me.
The stories told by many of the people who knew Walt best are the more entertaining of the documentary's interviews. My particular favorite involved Walt having to decide between building restrooms or water fountains because of an impending plumbers' strike. Other stories include rides that practically no one remembers existing, or the live mermaid auditions and some amorous young men who, "heard the siren's call" and tried to scale the rocks into the Disneyland lagoon.
If there are any problems with the DVD, it is that it feels rushed. This is understandable since it is trying to capture nearly 50 years of storied history into an hour and a half. After all, you can fill a couple of DVDs with just stories about Walt, so doing Walt AND the park is a daunting task. Still, despite rushing through a few things, there's a lot here to enjoy.
The documentary is accompanied by a series of time-lapse photos of the park's construction. The commentary that comes with the photos is neat for anyone interested in what it took to build the park.
Another addition is "People and Places: Disneyland U.S.A.," a 1956 short film that is a basically a tour of the park after it first opened. Though it doesn't quite stand up to more modern productions, the film is interesting if just for the history behind it.
Both features are joined by a Disneyland Trivia game, which is a fun distraction. The game takes you through the park's seven themed lands and challenges you with basic and advanced trivia. As a game it isn't that entertaining, but you can unlock a few new clips which are nice to see.
The second disc features 3 Disneyland-themed episodes of the 1960's weekly television program, "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color." "Disneyland Goes to the World's Fair" details Walt's involvement in the 1964 World's Fair. The program covers a lot of the audioanimatronics Walt and the Imagineers came up with for the show, like life-size dinosaurs. The "Carousel of Progress" is also prominently featured.
"Disneyland Around the Seasons" focuses on how the park changes to fit different seasons. In addition to covering events like the Christmas Fantasy Parade, the episode spends a lot of time with "It's a Small World" (insert "Small World" joke of your choice here). This episode is particularly notable since it aired three days after Walt's death.
The third episode is a star-packed (well, for the time) tribute to the long-running "Golden Horseshoe Revue," a live performance that was a staple at the park for years. The entire show is covered and includes a few guests, most recognizably, former Mouseketeer turned surfer girl, Annette Funicello.
The entire set capped with "Operation Disneyland," a short program that details what was involved with the live broadcast of the Disneyland opening ceremony. The short may not be of much interest unless you've seen the original broadcast.
As much as the world needs another Walt Disney, there will probably never be one. Of everything said about Walt, the best is probably "Walt didn't invent 'fun', but he sure did perfect it." That's probably the best way to sum up Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic.