The Walt Disney Company have always been in the forefront of family entertainment with box office successes such as SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO, THE JUNGLE BOOK and MARY POPPINS. Yet the studio has also built a worldwide reputation on its ability to use communicative skills for educational purposes. The Walt Disney Educational Media Company licences 16mm films and videotapes to schools and colleges for student use. In fact 16mm film hire goes back over twenty five years to when The Disney Company branched into educational shorts for the very first time. In the book THE ART OF ANIMATION, published in 1958, Walt Disney was quoted as saying, “I think the future of animation lies not only in the realm of fantasy, we can also make a real contribution in the field of science and education.” Some of these educational films were released theatrically, others appeared on the Disney television show. But now, with the company’s expansion into other areas of educational technology, a small selection has been made available on videotape under the auspices of Vice President of the Consumer Products and Marketing Division, Keith Bales.
In America the Educational division catalogue exceeds over 450 film titles. Some of them old favourites, others completely new. With the huge popularity of EPCOT Centre at Walt Disney World in Florida, a number of programmes have been released for schools, exploring the themes on display at Communicore in FUTUREWORLD and on the various EPCOT rides.
Of the videotapes added to Disney's extensive catalogue, three come under the general heading of Science and Mathematics and are excellent examples of The Walt Disney Company's educational expertise. They also enable the student and animation buff a rare opportunity to view Disney archive footage. DONALD IN MATHMAGICLAND, for example, is a 26 minute featurette, originally made in 1959. It stars that irascible Duck who journey’s through the history of geometry and mathematics like some modern day ‘Alice. Wonderful fifties artwork (an era sadly neglected by animation historians) combined with a fascinating narration makes this an excellent example of early Disney. (Fortunately this is also available on the Disney Channel Video Number 3.)