Saturday, May 13, 2017

A True "Disneyland Dream" (1956 Video)

By Keith Mahne

In July 1956, the five-member Barstow family of Wethersfield, Connecticut, won a free trip to the newly-opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in a nationwide contest. This 30-minute amateur documentary film tells the fabulous story of their fun-filled, dream-come-true vacation filmed on the scene at Walt Disney's brand new Disneyland. And, as if incredible early footage of Disneyland wasn't enough, this movie is also noteworthy as the uncredited first screen appearance of a young Disneyland employee named Steve Martin. Let's join the Barstow family back in 1956 for a truly magical family adventure to the "Happiest Place On Earth"...

The Barstow family visiting Disneyland in 1956

Robbins Barstow, a Connecticut man who documented every aspect of his family’s life for decades, created a vast body of work that paved the way for home-movie lovers and who has generated quite a following online prior to his passing in 2010 at the age of 91.

Robbins Barstow editing his home movies in 1997

Robbins Barstow made more than a hundred films in the course of eight decades. In 2008, his best-known, “Disneyland Dream” (1956), a 30-minute account of a family vacation, was named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Although the registry is full of Hollywood masterpieces, Robbins picture is one of the few amateur works on the list; the others include the Zapruder film of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In naming “Disneyland Dream” to the registry, the Library of Congress called it “a priceless and authentic record of time and place.” The movie is also noteworthy as the uncredited first screen appearance of a young Disneyland employee named Steve Martin, then 11, caught by Barstow’s camera as he hawked guidebooks...

Steve Martin caught on camera in Barstow's “Disneyland Dream” (1956) Source: Cartoon Brew

Mr. Barstow discovered Steve Martin was in his film rather recently, when Martin wrote to him after seeing the film...

Steve Martin handing out guidebooks at Disneyland, 1957

“At age eleven I worked at Disneyland. I sold guidebooks at the park from 1956 to about 1958. I am as positive as one can be that I appear about 20:20 into your film, low in the frame, dressed in a top hat, vest, and striped pink shirt, moving from left to right, holding a guidebook out for sale.”

- Steve Martin

“Disneyland Dream” was born from a nationwide contest. In 1956, the 3M Company offered free trips to Disneyland to the 25 families who best expressed why they loved its signature product, Scotch Tape.

All the Barstows — Mr. Barstow; his wife, Meg; and their three children, Mary, 11; David, 8; and Dan, 4 — entered. So confident were they of victory that Mr. Barstow filmed them composing their submissions around the dining-room table. Then he filmed the postman carrying them away.

Before long, a prize is awarded to little Dan. (His winning entry: “I like ‘Scotch’ brand cellophane tape because when some things tear then I can just use it.”) The film goes on to record the family’s departure amid confetti-throwing neighbors; Southern California attractions like Knott’s Berry Farm; and, finally, Disneyland, then just a year old.

Barstow, a huge advocate of people preserving their home movies as social documents for future generations, once emphasized: “Home movies provide insights into other people’s lives. Moving images go beyond still photographs. They provide active ‘slices of life,’ which bring back recollections for elders and revelations for youngsters.” And now friends, it's time to join up with the Barstow family to get a glimpse at what is was like back in the 50s for a family to embark on a magical, fun-filled adventure to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. Enjoy...

(For your viewing pleasure, be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player at the top, left-hand corner of the page prior to playing the video below if you are on a desktop computer.)


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

You can find all of Keith's articles here.

No comments:

Post a Comment