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Walt Disney was a visionary. You need only look at his legacy in so many different fields to see that. This collection is a smaller example of that.
When it came time to fill the Tomorrowland episodes of his Disneyland TV show, Walt decided to use it to get the country excited about exploring space. Using scientists and some imagination, he did just that.
And those episodes make up the first disc of this two-disc set. Preserved here, we get three episodes of the show from 1955 slowly working our way outward from earth. "Man in Space" presents the basics of space travel. "Man and the Moon" presents some new equipment like space suits and a space station, as well as an idea of what our first trip around the moon might be like. Finally, "Mars and Beyond" talks about what it would take to visit our nearest neighbor.
The second disc continues the science theme, but stays a little closer to home. "Eyes in Outer Space" does talk about satellites and their future ability to predict and possibly even control the weather. "Our Friend the Atom" goes into great detail on the history of atomic science, how we get atomic power, and what we can gain from it. Finally, "EPCOT," filmed just two months before Disney's death, presents his initial concept for the city of EPCOT. If they ever do truly create this city, I want to live there!
With all the advancement we've had in science in the last 50 years, it's amazing how well some of this stuff holds up. Obviously, there were things Disney got wrong since we were still 14 years from Neil Armstrong and didn't yet know the horrid downside of atomic energy. Still, they manage to educate with some entertainment. There were times they felt a little dry and I found myself looking at the clock, but they are definitely better then a text book.
These DVD's are just as great as other Treasures sets have been. The picture and sound are fine. Nothing spectacular, but considering they're 50 years old, they hold up impressively well. The second disc bonus materials include an interview with Disney friend Ray Bradbury about Disney the "Optimistic Futurist." Next is an interview with Marty Sklar, an Imagineer who started his career in 1954. Finally, we get the usual galleries with come comments from Leonard Maltin. And look for the Easter egg. It's a fun find!
Like several of the other Disney Treasures sets, Disney fanatics or those with an interest in the subject will best appreciate it. Still, for those groups, this set is a gold mine.
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on 8 October 2009
I can't say much more than the other reviews about the content as they've hit nails squarely on heads: 50's views of a tomorrow that never happened.

But what I would say is that I expected to like the space stuff (and did) although the background cartoons displaying how primitive man evolved science got repetitive by the third one. But what was at least as interesting was the personality of Walt himself (and Werner "I aim for the stars but sometimes I hit London" Von Braun) that came across in the stuff they did to camera, juxtaposed with what I've read elsewhere about Mr Von Braun and indeed Mr Disney. On camera they seemed so nice...

And then - to cap it off - the interview with acclaimed author Ray Bradbury (a man whose work I have enormous respect for) saying what a fantastic chap the union bashing, "you'll never work in Hollywood again" chap Walt Disney was.

It may sound naive but the reminding me that any and everyone has many different sides to their character was one of the things I enjoyed the most about this DVD. That and the Epcot city outlined by Walter that never came to be.

Well - that's not really true: I enjoyed all of the spaceship stuff the very most, obviously!!

As an additional point, the degree of American 'ownership' of anything good as an idea is quite rampant in Disney's productions. Most scientists have their nationalities largely ignored if they are not American but promoted if they are. So one description talks about the "... astronomer Copernicus... and Herschel... but the AMERICAN astronomer Lowell..." my emphasis. A classic example of 'bigging up' the home team.

But - all in all - a nice two disk product in a handsome metal tin with a nice little card inside. Go any buy it and see what we all missed!
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on 23 June 2009
Disneys vision of the future (put together by animator Ward Kimball) - this DVD is indeed a treasure. Enormously interesting and entertaining, and from a world so different from today it could almost be an alien planet. The enthusiasm and optimism of those taking part is wonderful, I'm sure, given the finance, their positive outlook and ingenuity would have made even a successful trip to Mars possible. It's a great mix of humorous cartoons, documentary footage and interviews with the key players in the space race (even Werner Von Braun). Plus there's Walt telling us his plans for Disney World and EPCOT. Highly recommended.
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