The Wonderful World of Disney was a 60 minute family series that aired on all three broadcast networks and on the Disney Channel during its multi-decade run. It had several different formats over the years including the airing of Disney theatrical movies, Disney cartoons, wildlife stories, and original programming.
Wonderful World of Disney Cast
Walt Disney .... Host (1954-1966)
Michael Eisner .... Host (1986-2005)
The Wonderful World of Disney is this series' most common name but it has been broadcast in the same basic format under several different names and on several networks over the years. We've indicated those different titles in the following broadcast history.
"Disneyland" on ABC:
October 27, 1954 - September 3, 1958; Wednesday, 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
"Walt Disney Presents" on ABC:
September 12, 1958 - September 25, 1959; Friday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
October 2, 1959 - September 23, 1960; Friday, 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
September 25, 1960 - September 17, 1961; Sunday, 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
"Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" on NBC:
September 24, 1961 - September 7, 1969; Sunday, 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
"The Wonderful World of Disney" on NBC:
September 14, 1969 - August 31, 1975; Sunday, 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
September 7, 1975 - September 11, 1977; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
September 18, 1977 - October 23, 1977; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
October 30, 1977 - September 2, 1979; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
"Disney's Wonderful World" on NBC:
September 9, 1979 - September 13, 1981; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
"Walt Disney" on CBS:
September 26, 1981 - January 1, 1983; Saturday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
January 4, 1983 - February 15, 1983; Tuesday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
July 9, 1983 - September 24, 1983; Saturday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
"The Disney Sunday Movie" on ABC:
February 2, 1986 - September 6, 1987; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
September 13, 1987 - September 11, 1988; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
"The Magical World of Disney" on NBC:
October 9, 1988 - July 2, 1989; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
July 9, 1989 - July 23, 1989; Sunday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
August 6, 1989 - February 25, 1990; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
March 4, 1990 - April 15, 1990; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
April 22, 1990 - May 6, 1990; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
May 27, 1990 - July 22, 1990; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
August 5, 1990 - September 9, 1990; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
"The Magical World of Disney" on The Disney Channel:
September 23, 1990 - December 1, 1996; Sunday, 7:00 PM
"The Wonderful World of Disney" on ABC:
September 28, 1997 - September 2003; Sunday, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
September 2003 - September 2004; Saturday, 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
September 2004 - September 2005; Saturday, 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM
June 2007 - August 2007; Saturday, 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
June 2008 - July 2008; Saturday, 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM
Title: "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color"
By: "Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman"
The world is a carousel of color
Wonderful, wonderful color
The world is a carousel of color
History, comedy, fantasy
There's drama and mirth
There's old Mother Earth
With all of her secrets to see
The world is a treasure-trove of faces
Fabulous, faraway places
The hopes and the fears
The joys and the tears
Of people like you and like me
The kingdoms of magic science
The glorious story of art
The world of romance
Of music and dance
This world where we each play a part
The miracle of imagination
The marvels of earth, sea and sky
These wonders untold
Are ours to behold
In the funny world
The sunny world
The wonderful world of color
The Wonderful World of Disney Trivia
Walt Disney often had ideas that were way ahead of their time. The Wonderful World of Disney was the first television series from a major movie studio. While the other studios were gripped with terror over the possibility that television might kill the movie industry, Walt decided to engage the new TV technology. At first, most of the series' offerings were existing Disney properties like cartoons and movies that had already aired in theaters. The movies were often split up into two one-hour shows. Eventually, more and more material was created specifically for television.
In the mid 1950s, The Wonderful World of Disney aired the classic Davy Crockett miniseries. It became a huge television hit resulting in multi-million dollars worth of merchandise being sold. Every boy wanted a Davy Crockett lunch box! The Davy Crockett theme song titled, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" also became a hit. The TV episodes were so popular that they were edited into two movies that had great success in theaters!
Even though it was not a part of The Wonderful World of Disney, it's important to note that the opening of Disneyland in California on July 17, 1955 was a huge television event! It was hosted, of course, by Walt Disney with a number of stars of the day as guests including Bob Cummings ("Love That Bob"), Art Linkletter ("Hollywood Talent Scouts"), and future Governor and President Ronald Reagan!
In 1961, The Wonderful World of Disney moved from ABC to NBC because Walt Disney wanted to broadcast his show in color. At that time, NBC had that capability and ABC did not. The name of the series also changed to "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color". The first episode was an original production starring a new Disney character called "Professor Ludwig Von Drake" who just happened to be Donald Duck's Uncle. The show was all about color! Yes ... color TV was a big deal at the time! In another example of Walt Disney being ahead of his time, several shows had been previously filmed in color but only broadcast in black & white so those shows were rebroadcast on NBC in their full glory!
Walt Disney died in 1966 and The Wonderful World of Disney went without a host until 1986 when Disney CEO Michael Eisner filled the job. During those years, Disney just didn't have the quality of leadership that had been provided by Walt Disney. By the mid to late 1970s, earnings from Disney movies were way down. The TV show was facing stiff competition from CBS's hit series, "60 Minutes" and their annual broadcast of "The Wizard of Oz" during the important holiday season. There was little production of new offerings for the series. The series mostly showed Disney cartoons and repeats of previously aired episodes. In 1981, NBC finally canceled the series.
CBS aired the show from 1981-1983 with the title, "Walt Disney". The new "Disney Channel" opened its doors and Disney CEO, E. Cardon Walker decided to end the TV series because he felt that both a major network TV series and an entire Disney cable channel was just too much "Disney" on the air. In his opinion, they would have been competing with each other for viewers so he canceled the TV series and it was off the air for 4 years. In 1987, ABC brought the series back as "The Disney Sunday Movie" and it's been shown at times since then but it never regained the popularity that it enjoyed in the 50s and 60s.
As of January of 2009, The Wonderful World of Disney has aired 770 episodes of which 588 were in color and 182 were filmed in black & white.
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