Disney On Sundays


For many Americans who grew up in decades past, Sunday night provided a wonderful family tradition, where the whole clan would gather around to be entertained by the imagination of Walt Disney. Perhaps you knew it as Disneyland in the 50s, or Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in the 60s, or maybe The Wonderful World of Disney in the 70s and 80s, but the fact remains – there are a whole bunch of folks out there who spent Sunday nights watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Davy Crockett, True-Life Adventures, Donald in Mathmagic Land, or perhaps just a kindly old gentleman enthusiastically telling us about his new theme park. We thought we would take a look back at these iconic shows that brought Walt Disney and his various creations into our living rooms each week.

When Walt first decided to get his feet wet in the medium of television in 1954, it was to promote his newest idea, a theme park in Anaheim, California, appropriately called Disneyland. Let’s take a look:

Disneyland actually aired on Wednesdays, but in 1958, the show was re-titled Walt Disney Presents and went from being shown of Friday nights to Sunday in 1961. Always the innovator, Walt wanted to show off the new color technology of the day, however, so he moved to NBC that year, and introduced Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. For the next 8 years, the show would enthrall viewers of all ages with its airing of classic Disney movies, cartoons, and documentaries:

The show’s name changed again in 1969, to The Wonderful World of Disney, which ran for another 10 years on Sundays:

In the years that followed, various updated incarnations of the show would bounce from network to network, under a variety of titles. But the 60s and 70s were the true glory years for those that remember spending Sunday nights with Walt and his friends. Were you one of the families that tuned in each week? What animated and live-action features do you remember most fondly? Did you have your coonskin cap on while watching Davy Crockett each week, or did you prefer seeing the Disney-fied nature films? Perhaps it was all about the Goofy cartoons? Share your memories of Sunday nights with Walt Disney as we fondly look back on this television tradition at Retroland.

15 Responses to “Disney On Sundays”

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  1. Easyreader says:

    I loved those Sunday night Disney specials…. the nature ones were the best. The movie Charley the Cougar was my favorite. When they showed cartoon movies, though it was like winning the jackpot!! I also watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom back then too…. though not Disney, it was part of my Sunday evening viewing pleasure.


    • Becky A says:

      I had the book from Charley the Lonesome Cougar. I must have read it a hundred times. The movie I only got to see a couple times. I felt sorry for Chainsaw! Disney, Wild Kingdom, and Lawrence Welk – wonderful programs in a gentler time. I miss it!

  2. metalbarbie says:

    Oh how I wish they would still do this!! Why did they stop? It was always a delight to see what movie they would be showing. I remember really liking one circa late 80′s called Parent Trap 3, Hawaiian Honeymoon. It had triplettes in it, on of which went on to be Tori in Saved by the Bell. The Wonderful World of Disney was wholesome, fun family entertainment, something we could definitely still use nowadays!

  3. NostalgiaTV says:

    Dear Eric,

    I remember watching”The Wonderful World Of Color”,”The Wonderful World Of Disney”and “Disney’s Wonderful World”on NBC TV and later”The ABC Disney Sunday Movie”.

    The best shows are the one’s that feature stories about families and their struggles,adventures of people..who took on certain challenges and succeeded.

    And stories about animals that lived unique lives.

    During the 1960′s..Mr.Walt Disney hosted the shows from 1961..up to his death in 1966.

    When he died..the shows aired without a host..the show opened with pre recored narrations by Mr.Weston(Who was also the show’s announcer).

    Later Mr.Winston Hibler took over as the show’s narrator,following the death of Mr.Weston.

    The Disney anthology series would not have another on camera host..until the 1990′s with Mr.Mike Eisner..who was the second and last on camera..mc.

    Despite all of this efforts..Mr.Eisner..could not recapture the charm and personality of Mr.Disney.

    The last Disney show a certain ammount of good original shows like “Perfect Harmony”..other times..the show aired stories..which were inferior remakes of films like”Escape To Witch Mountain”.

    And TV Movie remakes of classic movie musicals..”South Paficic” and “The Music Man”failed to recapture the original..but?

    There was one tv movie remake that improved upon the original.

    The ABC TV”Disney Sunday Movie”did their own version of”Annie” and it’s the best version of the show.

    Eventually,The Disney people dropped “The ABC Disney Sunday Movie” and they stopped doing tv movie remakes of musicals and they stopped doing movie bios..like that piece of crap about”The Three Stooges”.

    I doubt that the old Disney regeme will ever come back..and with

    Mr. Eisner gone..it’s glory days are behind them.

  4. princessdiana says:

    I watched The Disney Sunday Movie and the Magical World of Disney.

  5. bouzoukiman says:

    Hey Easyreader,

    We used to watch Wild Kingdom before Disney came on too! I had forgotten it was the same night until seeing your post. Oh for the day. I’m still disappointed I didn’t get to see Disneyland or Disney World as a kid (*sniff*), but hopefully my wife and I can make our daughter’s face light up by taking her there sometime soon. I can’t wait to see that! All these retro sites that mention how Walt Disney wanted to make them the most magical places on earth for kids makes me want to take her there even more than I already did.

  6. Eric says:

    If I recall correctly, along with Wild Kingdom and Wonderful World of Disney, they would also show The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau – at least on the East Coast. My whole family would sit glued to the television through all of these shows and I have very fond memories of those days.

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

  7. Tim Schrader says:

    Old Yeller made me understand the harsh truths of life sometimes when I was a boy. I loved watching Walt Disney growing up:)

  8. Peace says:

    I really miss Disney sundays of the 70′s. Those sunday nights were so exciting for all of us. They were a real family event. I grew up with 8 siblings, and sunday was our bath night. While we bathed, our mom would pop a clean garbage bag full of popcorn. We all gathered around our t.v. and enjoyed bowls of freshly popped popcorn and the featured Disney movie together, before crawling into bed with our heads full of fantasy and adventure.
    I’m 45 now, and it pains me a little when I think back to those simpler times. So eager to grow up then, and so burdened with adult resposibilities now.

  9. Ruth says:

    I have only one son but I made sure he got to see Sunday night with Walt Disney what ever it was called at the time. I loved watching with him and my husband all the good shows about Animals such as Charlie the lonesome Couger and all the others like that. I would love to see them again and wonder if I can buy them on DVD or tape. I once taped them all and made copies and sent to all my nieces and nephews so they would be sure and see them but didn’t think of keeping a copy for my grand children. Can you believe that?? It it possible to buy them today? Missing the best shows possible. Todays shows can not be compared to any of the Disney shows or movies. Thanks. Ruth

  10. Belinda says:

    I loved the Sunday night Disney programs. There was one show in particular, I think the name was “The Hound That Thought He Was a Raccoon.” Does anyone remember it? I’d like to have a copy of it.

  11. Donna Ward says:

    I miss these shows on Sunday nights too. Too bad we didn’t have VCRs back then. Would be great to be able to buy a set of DVDs of them all! I’d love to watch them all again. The one I remember the most I’m pretty sure was called “The Boy Who Could Fly.” It was about a Indian boy who became an eagle.

  12. denise says:

    whatever happpened to the excitement, the footed pajamas and that warm feeling iI got every sunday when The Wonderful World of Disney came on? The world was a much better place after a Disney movie, then being tucked in bed!

  13. my family always watched the disney sunday movie.

  14. Cindy hodges says:

    Does anybody remember Thomasina. I think that is how it is spelled. It was a story about a cat left for dead , but is taken care of by a supposed witch. I loved this Disney movie and had several Thomasina’s in my cat collection.

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