Saturday, September 1, 2012

History of WDW: Back to Neverland

In looking back on videos from my childhood, I came across a video from the Magic of Disney Animation at the previously titled Disney MGM Studios. This video, reminded me alot of my childhood, which outlined the way Disney makes their animated films. It starred Walter Cronkite and Robing Williams, and was titled Back to Neverland. Many times this video was played, and it was one that all of the guests felt drawn to. Maybe it was the way Walter Cronkite in some way reminded us of Walt Disney (considering their friendship and Cronkite's status as the other "Uncle Walt") Maybe it was the goofiness of Robin Williams.

As we have seen the degeneration of the Magic of Disney Animation, this was the first in a line of changes that caused it to become a shell of its former self. This film was viewed while the animators were still working on the studio, and when the studio was still producing television shows and effects. It introduced us to the real magic of animating a Disney film, long before the entrance of Pixar and the CGI animation.

The show featured Walter Cronkite choosing a random member of the crowd (conveniently Robin Williams) and gave him the opportunity to become an animated character. Through his trip there were goofs and gags, notably an animated Robing mimicking Walter's mannerisms. It also featured Robin as a lost boy in Neverland, fighting Captain Hook. As the show went on, Robing was drawn, inked and set. the process was comedically placed and was factual and accurate. The beauty was the on air camaraderie and respect both Williams and Cronkite had for one another. The show became a must see which caused the attraction repeatability.

The attraction has since been redesigned with a Mulan inspired film, and the loss of the animators has made this attraction less popular and less traveled. The "Back to Neverland" film added to the Robin Williams Disney Legend status, as his performance was one of the factors that led to him being cast in Aladdin. (note the similarities of his attire and that of Genie at the end of the film) This film had a large impact on the early Disney/MGM Studios, and the future of Disney animation.

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