Saying Goodbye to The Disney Afternoon Live! – Thirty Years Ago at Disneyland

Nine months into 1991, Disneyland (the Original) was starting to look ahead to the holidays, as well as at the now seven month old Disney Afternoon Live! promotion that still occupied Afternoon Avenue in front of it’s a small world. On September 8 Baloo’s Dressing Room closed, and on November 10 everything else followed, with the exception of some of the attraction overlays. There was also one last burst of promotion with that KCAL 9 TV special promoting their own promotion on September 14. Kids were, after all, headed back to school anyway. But they could still visit their Disney Afternoon friends every day when they got home. On TV.

The lucky ones who had gotten to Afternoon Avenue that summer also had their souvenirs to keep the magic alive. This month’s blog will look at some of the paper ephemera generated by The Disney Afternoon Live! At Disneyland.

Although Disneyland was still being promoted as The Original at the start of the year, the Souvenir Guide and schedule were rather sober affairs. Each featured a  different illustration of Sleeping Beauty Castle (along with promotional logos for corporate sponsors Kodak and American Express).

In March this all changed, as the colorful logo and characters for the Disney Afternoon were added. (Although the schedule’s black and white cover was only as colorful as the printer’s grayscale would allow.)

By now, it would be assumed, the free mini-poster that had been handed out on the Avenue must have adorned many a bedroom wall in Southern California, as well as across the country. “Don’t miss the fun!”

The other side of that poster, you may recall, was a colorful map surrounded by alluring illustrations of all the stars of the Disney Afternoon. Well, half of the stars, anyway. The rest of the illustrations could be filled in only by visiting twelve locations on Afternoon Avenue and getting the appropriate stamp.

And here it is! The holy grail that rewarded the pilgrim who made an afternoon of it on Afternoon Avenue: All twelve stamps, making a complete constellation of Disney characters. It seems odd that such major “stars” as Baloo, Uncle Scrooge, and Chip ’n Dale were relegated to stamps, while minor characters like Mepps, Ogre and Doofus were presented in full glorious color.

A fun item that was available near the beginning of the year was a hanger for your bedroom doorknob. Who wouldn’t want to announce to the world, “I’m Going to Disneyland!” every time they shut their bedroom door?

A special brochure could also be found in racks in area hotels, at major airports and in travel agencies. The cover was all about the Disney Afternoon Live! Inside there were pages devoted to new attractions like Splash Mountain (opened a year earlier) as well as the Queen Mary, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disneyland’s Pigskin Classic II.

The center spread was reserved, of course, for the year’s biggest event at the Happiest Place on Earth. The rather frenetic illustration (apparently too large to fit on both pages) was filled with bursts admonishing visitors to: “Come out and play!” “Meet you favorite heroes!” And, of course, “Bring your camera!” (Because in 1991 you had to remember to bring your camera.)

I couldn’t resist including the back cover, and the price list for Disneyland’s Magic Days. $27.50 bought you a full day at the park, but the three day pass at $72.50 worked out to $24.17 a day. Seniors could enjoy any day at the park (except Saturdays) for $22.00.

There was a final piece of collateral that would appear four years later, for Disneyland’s 40th anniversary. Every day, for forty days, the park issued a collector’s card for each year, commencing with 1955. The card for 1991 commemorated Afternoon Avenue. It was nestled between Splash Mountain (1990) and Fantasmic! (1992). What started out as a promotion for a block of syndicated children’s TV shows ended up, quite simply, the biggest event of Disneyland in 1991.