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"Happiest Homecoming" DVD offers disappointing coverage of once-in-a-lifetime event

"Happiest Homecoming" DVD offers disappointing coverage of once-in-a-lifetime event

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Looking for an extra-special souvenir to commemorate your visit to Disneyland during that theme park's 50th anniversary celebration? Well, if you're looking for something that really captures what it felt like to be in Anaheim this summer, then I suggest you take a pass on the "Happiest Homecoming on Earth Commemorative DVD."

Oh, sure. The packaging looks promising.

Until you read the fine print on the back of the DVD box:

"DISNEYLAND RESORT is a living experience and as such, specific events, attractions and rides, programs and other materials portrayed in this video are subject to change without notice and may not be available during your visit. Please accept this program as a snapshot in time."

Uh oh...

To quote that ghostly voice that you hear inside the caverns on Disneyland's "Pirates of Caribbean" ride: "Properly warned, ye be, sez I..."

Look, I don't mean to sound like a party pooper. But the Walt Disney Company is charging $29.99 (plus the standard 7.75 % California sales tax) for the "Happiest Homecoming on Earth Commemorative DVD." And -- for that amount of money -- I expect something more than recycled Disneyland infommercial footage.

Don't get me wrong. The two hosts of this DVD (garbed as Disneyland Tour Guides) are likeable enough as they show us Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, the Resort Hotels and Downtown Disney. Yet they never really delve into the subject deep enough. It is the equivalent of taking you to the dessert buffet at the Disney Gallery for a viewing of "Fantasmic!" and only letting you sample a few cookies while letting you know that there is the whole pastry tray waiting to be enjoyed as well as the show. Oh, and we have to going now, too!

It is understood that we can't have the whole cake to enjoy here. There is only so much time in which we can show guests the Resort. And I wouldn't want a step by step examination of it either, just a happy median with the look, feel and sound of a visit. Out of those three, it was more like one and a half, with down only to the look at times. I can only guess that Disney continues to struggle with music rights for home videos as there were only a few instances of recognizable music from the theme parks.

As for the look, I spotted several instances where the location shown was actually the Magic Kingdom in Orlando - not Disneyland in Anaheim. It is this kind of error that leads me to wonder if this was the efforts of a production company hired from the outside to put this all together.

For example, we had the Press Preview and 50th Kick Off Events back in early May. Yet little or none of the big festivities are actually shown. The "Parade of Dreams" appears with only the lead float and plenty of shots from the "Parade of The Stars" and "The Lion King Parade." The "Remember - Dreams Come True" fireworks are covered by stock footage from the "Believe" program. I guess I just expected them to be better represented in this souvenir edition.

Likewise, "Space Mountain" is shown in vague promotional footage using one of the older ride vehicles camoflagued by lighting and camera effects. "Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters" is covered by footage from its Florida predecessor, the "Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin". While the latter is very close to the Anaheim attraction.,"Space Mountain could have benefited from something more of an original representation.

And the nighttime fireworks reference? How about "Imagine." That was last year's go-between program that filled the gap between "Believe" and "Remember - Dreams Come True." Whoever was doing continuity for this production boo-booed there.

There is a series of DVD extras, but they are more like travel agency promotional videos than souvenir mementos. Call it fluff, and you have it in a nutshell.

After viewing the DVD, I felt as if I had missed more than I saw. Perhaps that came from just having been at Disneyland for the 50th anniversary weekend. And if the goal was to produce a product using as much previously shot file footage as possible, I would give this disc high marks.

But, frankly, I think that there will be a large number of Disneyland guests who will be sorely disappointed once they take this disc out at home and watch it. Inpsite of what the outside of this DVD box promises, the disc on the inside just doesn't deliver.

So now ... I guess that all we can hope for is that -- sometime further on down the line -- the Disneyland Resort does actually produce a DVD that covers this theme park's 50th anniversary the way a once-in-a-lifetime event like this deserves to be covered.

So I suggest that you save your $29.99 until then, folks. If Disney can offer vacation planning videos for the Florida parks for free, it is just too bad they cannot do the same for Disneyland. Because in the end, that is exactly what this disc turns out to be...


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