The Magical Music of Walt Disney Box Set

The Walt Disney Studio is best known for its achievements in both Shorts and feature-length animations. Live-action movies aren’t far behind. But after those must come music! Because for almost every Disney movie you know, you can probably hum a tune that you identify with that movie. Yes?

Hence, we have The Magical Music of Walt Disney box set, brought to you with glorious 8-Track tape quality:

Music 8 Track Box Set

Ahhh… 1978 lives!

I found this set at a charity shop for just $5.99 CAN and just had to have it, even though I don’t have an 8-track player. Who does?

Music 8 Track FrontMusic 8 Track Back

Front and Back of the Box Set

This commemorative box set was released to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the creation of Mickey Mouse, who you might remember, first appeared on-screen in the 1928 Short entitled Steamboat Willie.

So it all started with a mouse and ended, in 1978, with this glorious tribute.

Music 8 Track Tape FrontMusic 8 Track Tape Back

Who remembers these?

My father bought an old Fargo van when I was still a teenager and it actually had an 8-track player in it (along with a 3-on-the-tree shifter) and I would borrow it to ‘cruise.’ I cranked the two tapes I found on the floor of the van. One was Burton Cummings, I think. Good times in rural Ontario!

Music 8 Track Tape Label

Big. Bulky. And beautiful!

Apart from just wanting an unusual piece for my disneyana collection, I also bought this set because it has a 52-page full-color book included. It starts with an introduction to both Dick Schory, the producer of this set, and the book itself. Next, there is a two-page spread about Walt Disney. Let’s have a look at one page from that spread:

Music 8 Track Book 1

This montage shows Walt from his beginnings up to just months before his death (center picture, on the set of The Happiest Millionaire).

Next is a two-page spread featuring the art of Disney animation. Below is one page from that spread:

Music 8 Track Book 2

The next several pages cover Mickey’s early years in Shorts as well as the Silly Symphonies, and Mickey’s later years.

The book moves into the feature-length feature films starting with Snow White and including Pinocchio, Dumbo (below), and Bambi.

Next we are treated to some of the great animated classics of the Forties:

Music 8 Track Book 3Music 8 Track Book 4

Following is Song of the South, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Fantasia, Lady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty. Then the True-Life Adventures series is covered as are the later animated years with 101 Dalmatians and The Rescuers, among others.

The live-action movies are covered next with Mary Poppins and Pete’s Dragon, both known for their excellent use of music.

Below are pages showing the music and sound effects departments:

Music 8 Track Book 5Music 8 Track Book 6

The book concludes with a look at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks. Both have a long history of musical storytelling!

Music 8 Track Book 8

Music 8 Track Book 7Music 8 Track Book 9

Sweet Nostalgia!

So maybe some day in the distant future, 8-track tapes will make the same comeback journey that vinyl has today… but I doubt it! Oh well. This set makes a great keepsake, a conversation piece, and definitely provides a cool slice of Disney history.

The African Queen/Jungle Cruise Comparison

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The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel. The screenplay was adapted primarily by James Agee. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar) and Katherine Hepburn.

5     Set below includes 8 Still Cards like this one

I just picked up an amazing Commemorative DVD Box Set about the movie:

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Senitype representing The African Queen (boat) as filmed in the Technicolor Process

You may recognize the style of boat from the above picture? It should remind you of a famous Disney attraction vehicle!

For Disney fans, the most interesting fact about The African Queen film is that it’s reported to have inspired The Jungle Cruise! Actually, there are said to be two sources of inspiration for the attraction, one being the 1955 True-Life Adventure film entitled “The African Lion,” about a pride of lions, and the film The African Queen. Imagineer Harper Goff referenced the African Queen frequently in his ideas; indeed, it appears his designs of the ride vehicles were inspired by the steamer used in the film.

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The small steam-boat used in the film to depict the African Queen was built in 1912, in England, for service in Africa. Let’s compare it to its Theme Park counterpart. First, let’s look at the steering:

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In the movie, Ms. Hepburn steers the boat from the rear using a tiller, but in the attraction, the Skipper uses a wheel in the front of the boat:

11     Uniform color seems the same though

At one time the original boat used as The African Queen in the movie was owned by actor Fess Parker, giving us another Disney tie to the movie. In December 2011, plans were announced to restore the boat. Restoration was completed by the following April and the African Queen is apparently now on display as a tourist attraction at Key Largo, Florida. So if true, this would make an awesome side trip for any Disney fan!

One more cool comparison is found in the 5′ long model used for filming in the movie:

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Any scene in the movie where the boat is filmed in a long shot, and in danger, it is actually this 5′ model. And if you like to play with toy boats, you can get your fix just outside The Jungle Cruise in Walt Disney World:

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So both The African Queen and The Jungle Cruise have little models of the boats made, but admittedly, WDW’s versions are smaller!

The boat in the movie is called ‘African Queen’, but the boats in the Jungle Cruise attractions have a variety of names. In Disneyland, the queue and station are themed as the headquarters and boathouse of a River Expedition Company, located in a (presumably British) colony of the 1930s. And I believe the names presently in use are:

  • Amazon Belle
  • Congo Queen (nudge, nudge)
  • Ganges Gal
  • Hondo Hattie
  • Irrawaddy Woman
  • Kissimmee Kate (nudge, nudge a.k.a. Katherine Hepburn?)
  • Nile Princess
  • Orinoco Adventuress
  • Suwannee Lady
  • Ucayali Una (Wheelchair equipped)
  • Yangtze Lotus
  • Zambezi Miss

Names decommissioned in 1997:

  • Magdalena Maiden
  • Mekong Maiden

At Walt Disney World, the Jungle Cruise is set up as a depression-era British outpost on the Amazon river, operated by the fictional company, The Jungle Navigation Co., and their boats are named as follows:

  • Amazon Annie
  • Bomokandi Bertha (Wheelchair lift equipped)
  • Congo Connie
  • Ganges Gertie
  • Irrawaddy Irma
  • Mongala Millie
  • Nile Nellie
  • Orinoco Ida
  • Rutshuru Ruby
  • Sankuru Sadie
  • Senegal Sal
  • Ucyali Lolly
  • Volta Val
  • Wamba Wanda (Wheelchair lift equipped)
  • Zambesi Zelda

Retired boat

  • Kwango Kate (nudge, nudge a.k.a. Katherine Hepburn again?)

Keep in mind these lists are as accurate as I could make them. But now, onto the last bit of Jungle Cruise lore: Is there going to be a live-action movie of the attraction? Let’s read a Disney Press Release:

The Walt Disney Studios is excited to be in development with Mandeville Films and writer Roger S.H. Schulman on a feature film based on the Jungle Cruise, one of the most iconic attractions in Disney theme park history. The film will pair up Tim Allen and Tom Hanks in their first live-action project, after their previous collaborations in the Toy Story trilogy.‬ (Original announcement in 2012, source updated in 2014)

Since this original announcement, talk has died down with no new, er… news. If it does go ahead, it likely will take on a much lighter tone than The African Queen film (set in the first World War) opting instead for comedy, more in line with the Jungle Cruise attraction speils and jokes. And with Tim Allen and Tom Hanks on board (pun intended) that seems logical.

6     Reproduction of book by Hepburn

This great little reproduction (the size of the DVD box) was included in The African Queen Commemorative Box Set and chronicles Ms. Hepburn’s adventures while filming the movie. In a nutshell: It… was… Hell. Actually filmed in Africa, the cast and crew had to deal with disease, injury, and a total lack of comforts and amenities. Let’s hope that if Disney does go ahead with a Jungle Cruise film, it will go better for all involved!

So what do you think: Are there enough similarities to justify a connection between The African Queen and The Jungle Cruise?