Way back when, I wrote a post announcing a new DVD set that takes you on a behind the scenes journey through Disney Parks. I was bound and determined to write a review of that set, but we all know that I’ve been – well, less than regular with the blog lately. Like I said this week, though, I’m back to normal writing now. This review is one of the first things I want to get out to you guys. This DVD set is worth a peek, and I’m really excited to finally get my thoughts down on "paper."
If you’re ready to find out more about Disney Parks, click below to jump to the review!
The DVD set I’m talking about is Disney Parks from Lightship Entertainment, distributed by Questar Entertainment. Questar is a leading marketer and distributor of non-fiction programming for home entertainment, television, web, and digital. If you haven’t heard of Questar Entertainment, you may still be familiar with their work. You can find their products at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Netflix, iTunes, Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Columbia House, and Reader’s Digest. They have also produced more than 100 original programs for PBS, The Discovery Channel, TLC, The Travel Channel, The History Channel (A&E Networks), and PAX-TV Network. They have created numerous family friendly programs, including theatrical releases, travel, popular culture, U.S. and world history, wildlife, Americana, children’s programming, British, and inspirational programming. Now, they’ve created Disney Parks. You can check out the trailer below.
Disney Parks has five hours of content on 6 discs. Each disc explores a different aspect of Disney’s American theme parks. Here is a list of the discs and their titles:
- Disc one – Walt Disney World Resort: Behind the Scenes
- Disc two – Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes
- Disc three – Ultimate Walt Disney World
- Disc four – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Disc five – Disney Cruise Line
- Disc six – Undiscovered Disney Parks
For this review, I want to give you a quick look at each disc (including special features, where applicable). Basically, I’ll let you know what to expect from each disc. I’m also going to give you some general thoughts about the set as a whole. FYI – I"m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I don’t want to give away everything on these DVDs. No Cliff’s Notes version here! Also, in the name of full disclosure, I want to make it known I was sent a review copy of Disney Parks.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s get on with the review. Let’s start with the first disc.
Disc One – Walt Disney World Resort: Behind the Scenes
The first disc takes you on a tour through time of the Walt Disney World Resort. You’ll start by taking a look at Disneyland and why Walt started looking at Florida for expansion. Then, you’ll stop at all four of Walt Disney World’s theme parks in the order in which they were built. Along the way, you’ll see footage from all of the major attractions, and you’ll even hear some history as you go. Disc one includes two special features as well. Special features on these discs are basically video clips that are a couple minutes long. In this case, you can watch "What’s New in the Haunted Mansion" and "Stitch’s Great Escape." The first shows you a few of the updates the Haunted Mansion received after the 2007 refurb, and the second shows you Stitch’s Great Escape, since that attraction isn’t featured in the main program.
Disc Two – Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes
Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes is much the same idea as the first disc. You’ll see some history of the resort, then take a look at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, respectively. I was particularly interested in this DVD, because I’ve yet to make it out to Disneyland. I was able to critique the content of the first disc because I’ve experienced that multiple times, but this disc would be new to me. I was impressed. The footage in these DVDs are great: they don’t just give you some outside shots of the rides. You get to see inside the rides, and (in certain parts) you actually do go behind the scenes. There are two special features on this disc. "Walt Disney’s Apartment on Main Street" shows you Walt’s living quarters above the fire station in Disneyland Park. "King Arthur’s Carousel" is a vignette about the classic carousel and the refurb it underwent.
Disc Three – Ultimate Walt Disney World
While disc one gave you a general look at the Walt Disney World Resort, Ultimate Walt Disney World gives you a closer look at the bigger thrills and attractions in the parks. If E Ticket rides are your thing, this disc might interest you. You’ll see attractions like Mission Space and the Tower of Terror, as well as Summit Plummet and Kali River Rapids. The attractions on this disc are some of my favorites, and I now have a thirst to try things I haven’t done before (like Summit Plummet). "Goofy’s Barnstormer" is a special feature on this disc, and it takes you on an ultimate ride for kids. Also making the special features is "Catastrophe Canyon," a look at the penultimate moments on the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disc Four – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom is a monster of a park, so its mere size alone merits it a disc of its own. From the largest attraction Disney has yet created in Kilimanjaro Safaris to the 3D gags at It’s Tough to Be A Bug, this disc takes you deeper into Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Even though this park gets somewhat of a bad rap from some park goers, this disc may give you a new appreciation for the park. Of course, no trip to the Animal Kingdom is complete without journeying through Everest, so you’ll get to see that on this disc as well.
Disc Five – Disney Cruise Line
This disc is going to cost me a lot of money. It’s not expensive, but now I want to take a Disney Cruise every chance I get! I’ve never been on a Disney Cruise (yet), so seeing some of the amazing parts of cruising has sealed the deal: I’m going. You’ll see everything from Castaway Cay to the dry dock process. Also, keep your eyes peeled for footage from the building phases of the original ships. There is some amazing stuff here. The special features both focus on the newest ship in the fleet, the Disney Dream (setting sail in 2011). "Sneak Peek at the Disney Dream" shows you some of the new features of the ship, and "Virtual Ride on the Disney Dream AquaDuck" lets you ride the new water coaster that will be on board the ship.
Disc Six – Undiscovered Disney Parks
This disc may also cost me a few dollars. Undiscovered Disney Parks shows you some of the unique experiences you’ll have at a Disney Park. You’ll see two of the tours you can go on: Walk in Walt’s Footsteps at Disneyland and Keys to the Kingdom at Walt Disney World. It also covers the exclusive Club 33 at Disneyland, featuring some footage from inside the club. This may be the only time I’ll get to see the inside of Club 33! You’ll also see Illuminations, including some background of the show. There’s more on this disc as well, including two special features: "What’s New at Walt Disney World’s Resort Hotels" and "Tips for Walt Disney World Travelers."
What I Thought About Disney Parks
One thing I noticed right off the bat is just how professionally produced these DVDs are. If you’ve ever seen the Travel Channel’s Disney specials, these are definitely at least as good as those (they may have aired on the Travel Channel – I’m honestly not all that familiar with what’s been on that channel as I don’t get it at home). All of the title scenes and name titles during interviews use the "Castle and cloud" theme that you see with official Disney Parks commercials and publicity material (shown above). It gives it a very professional touch.
The music in the shows is catchy, but you won’t be hearing any official Disney music. I’m not complaining or taking points off for that, it’s just the way it is. I’m sure this has something to do with copyright issues, so it’s not like you can fault them for not having the Illuminations soundtrack. That said, though, the music sounds very similar to the real thing. That’s one of the main reasons I’m not bothered by not having official Disney music; everything just seems to fit so well with the music that it’s not an issue.
I also noticed some big-name interviews with Disney Imagineers and other well-known individuals in the Disney company. Marty Sklar, for example, makes a few appearances throughout the series. Also, be on the lookout for Joe Rhode, Tony Baxter, an awesome interview involving Richard Sherman and a piano, and more. If you’re a big Disney fan, you know these names – and they’re all here. It’s really fun to watch.
The menus are very regular, and pretty easy to navigate. Each disc only has three options from the menu: Play, Scenes, and Extras (for the discs with special features). They look good, though. Each menu has an overlay of Cinderella Castle in the lower right, and the options are lined up across the bottom. The top of the screen is dedicated to clips from the program, and the title music plays in the background.
The packaging for the DVDs is nice, too, but the DVD cases themselves are a little plain. The whole set comes in a box that has an embossed foil slip cover. I think that adds a nice, shiny display for your DVD set. The DVD cases themselves, though, are just clear slim DVD cases with cover art on the outside. There are no inserts with chapter listings or anything like that. It’s not really a problem, I just think it would have been nice to at least have the chapters available.
How can you get your hands on Disney Parks? First of all, you have a few choices. The set I reviewed was the six DVD set. It runs $49.99, less than $10 per disc (which I happen to think is a bargain). If you want a crystal-clear experience, you can opt for the Blu-Ray combo pack: a set that runs $34.99 for Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital copies of Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes, Ultimate Walt Disney World, and Undiscovered Disney Parks. Finally, you can go with a DVD combo pack for $19.99 that includes Walt Disney World Resort: Behind the Scenes and Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes. To see all of these options and find out more, head over to Questar Entertainment’s site. You can also find them at Amazon.com.
Do I think you should buy Disney Parks? I think it’s worth it. If you want to see for yourself, however, head over to YouTube. Questar Entertainment has made three of these DVDs available for rental on their channel. You can watch Disneyland Resort: Behind the Scenes, Ultimate Walt Disney World, and Undiscovered Disney Parks for $1.99. That’s a great way to get a taste of what Disney Parks is all about, and what you’ll get on the other DVDs. Here’s a list of links to each video:
So, you can’t go wrong here. You have what I think is a really entertaining DVD set for a reasonable price, and a way to preview three of the discs for $1.99 each. I’d say that’s more than reasonable.
Overall, Disney Parks is a great set. I enjoyed reliving some of my favorite parts of Disney them parks, so it’s not a "been there, done that" experience. I also enjoyed seeing things like the Disneyland Resort and the Disney Cruise line, things I haven’t done in person yet. There were things I already knew, but I also learned things about Disney Parks that I hadn’t known before. I really have no big complaints about Disney Parks, so I would encourage you to at least give it a try!