I stumbled across this short film when I was reading Steve Martin’s Wikipedia page “for research”. (Further research of one’s obsession still counts as legitimate research.) Here’s the description:
In July 1956, the five-member Barstow family of Wethersfield, Connecticut, won a free trip to 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, family travel adventure, filmed on the scene at Walt Disney’s “Magic Kingdom” by Robbins Barstow.
(If you look really hard, you can see a very young Steve Martin outside the park entrance. Or just cheat and click this screenshot.)
Perhaps this reaction was due to having just read the grisly Wikipedia entry for “Incidents at Disneyland Parks” (at my friend Willo’s behest), but Disneyland Dream is one of the most endearing, charming home movies I’ve ever seen. The footage from within the park is real, but the shots of the family entering the competition and then finding out they’ve won have clearly been recreated, and so, so brilliantly. The rudimentary special effects are wonderful - diving in and out of the pool, and the trick with the lunchbag.
The dad’s narration is just beautiful too. It’s exactly the kind of thing my Grandpa would do, making up little rhymes - I loved, “Childrens faces looking up, Holding wonder like a cup” when his children enter the park - and getting the family to make a real effort with outfits and such to honour the prize they’ve just won. It’s fascinating to see Disneyland at a stage where they don’t have that many pictures to promote, when most of the park isn’t too themed. I’d love to meet and interview the children (now grandparents themselves, you’d imagine) to ask them about the experience.