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Retro : Early Days of Wonderment : DISNEY CHANNEL CELEBRATES 40TH YEAR OF MAGIC KINGDOM

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Walt Disney was in the middle of constructing Disneyland, the amusement park, when “Disneyland,” the TV series, opened.

The premiere of Disney’s first series, which aired Oct. 27, 1954, on ABC, was largely a variety show, but it also offered viewers a glimpse ahead to the Anaheim amusement park’s wonders.

To mark the Magic Kingdom’s 40th anniversary this month, the Disney Channel is repeating that first episode of “Disneyland,” as well as several other vintage episodes from the anthology series.

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Kicking off the festivities this week is 1986’s Backstage Disney: The Mainstreet Electrical Parade (Wednesday at 7 p.m.; July 14 at 4 p.m. and July 15 at 5 a.m.). Michael Young offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the park’s popular processions. Included are interviews with the creative people behind the parade of lights.

Set your VCRs Thursday at 1:30 a.m. for the premiere episode of Disneyland. It also repeats July 17 at 2 p.m.

A Further Report on Disneyland (Saturday at 3:30 p.m.; July 13 at 2:30 a.m.; July 17 at 1 p.m.) is another 1954 entry from the “Disneyland” series. This time around, Walt Disney tours his nearly completed park.

Next up on July 12 at 7 p.m. (repeats July 17 at 6 p.m. and July 21 at 4 p.m.) is the 1990 documentary The Disneyland Story. Harry Anderson hosts the special celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Magic Kingdom. Featured is historical footage, interviews, a behind-the-scenes tour of Disneyland and a look at the park’s past, present and future.

Disneyland officially opened July 17, 1955, and the grand inauguration included a 75-minute live TV spectacular Dateline Disneyland (July 15 at 3:30 p.m.; July 17 at 1:30 a.m. and July 20 at 1:30 a.m.). The Disney Channel has dusted off the historic kinescope of the special, which was hosted by Disney himself and featured guests Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan.

In advance of the Pirates of the Caribbean tour ride in 1968, the series aired From the Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow (July 17 at 3:15 p.m.; July 29 at 3:30 p.m.; July 30 at 5 a.m.) examining the planning, design, manufacture and installation of the attraction.

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Rounding out the birthday programming is The Golden Horseshoe Revue (July 22 at 3:30 p.m.; July 23 at 3:20 a.m. and July 27 at 1:30 a.m.). Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, Gene Sheldon (“Zorro”), Betty Taylor and Wally Boag star in this rollicking celebration from 1962 in honor of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue’s 10,000th performance.

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