Remembering a Sunday night tradition: “The Wonderful World of Disney”

The Wonderful World of Disney

Disney is one of the biggest names in entertainment on the planet. And in addition to its many movies, cartoons, and theme parks, the company also released a television program in 1969 that aired on ABC for 25 years.

The Wonderful World of Disney

But Wonderful World of Disney was one of many versions of the show to be released. In fact, it initially premiered in 1954 on ABC after being turned down by NBC and CBS.

The idea was to use the profits from the television show as financing for the parks, as a black and white cartoon variety show with segments of their latest films, projects, and as advertising for their new theme parks.

The show wasn’t wildly successful, but Disney and ABC tried to stay up with audience preference and demand by changing the name and keeping the cartoons up to date.

In 1961, the show moved from ABC to NBC as they were able to release the program in technicolor. At the time, Disney hoped that color programming would boost the ratings, and it worked! Ratings slowly started to rise throughout the 60s.

The Wonderful World of Disney

The next phase of the program began in 1969, and for the first time, it was called Wonderful World of Disney.

Although all the major networks were broadcasting in technicolor, Disney stuck with NBC but started showing some of their more popular movies instead of only cartoons and theme park tours.

In fact, the show premiered Disney’s beloved movie The Parent Trap from 1961 in 1976, and while it was the first time that they had filled the time slot with a feature-length film, their audiences loved it!

Over the next few years, the program focused on live-action theatrical features instead of cartoons, which seemed to work for them.

And finally, Disney’s television show was getting recognized by the American public and was considered relatively successful. In fact, during the 1970s, the show ranked within the top 20 on television.

However, NBC’s president at the time, Fred Silverman, decided to make a change in 1979. Therefore, Wonderful World of Disney aired for the last time (in the 20th century), and Disney’s Wonderful World was created.

From 1980, the show was reworked with a disco-themed intro but essentially the same format in order to attempt to increase the drop in ratings and change in tastes of the viewers.

And while technically, Wonderful World of Disney stopped running on December 30, 1980, the company continued to air various programs over the next 20 years with multiple names and themes.

Today, you can enjoy a variation of the original show, once again called The Wonderful World of Disney, on Disney’s own streaming channel, Disney+.

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