Learning from Mickey, Donald and Walt:
Essays on Disney Edutainment Films

Winner of the 2011 Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Edited Collection,
presented by the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations

Throughout its long and colorful history, Walt Disney Studios has produced scores of films designed to educate moviegoers as well as entertain them. These productions range from the True-Life Adventures nature documentaries and such depictions of cutting-edge technology as Man in Space and Our Friend the Atom, to wartime propaganda shorts (Education for Death), public-health films (VD Attack Plan) and coverage of exotic cultures (The Ama Girls, Blue Men of Morocco). Even Disney's dramatic recreations of historical events (Ten Who Dared, Invincible) have had their share of educational value. The essays in this volume cover the full spectrum of Disney "edutainment" films, from the propaganda and training films of the World War II era through the classic documentaries of the 1950s to the based-on-a-true-story sports films from the turn of the millennium. Together they provide the first comprehensive look at Walt Disney's ongoing mission to inform and enlighten his worldwide audience.


A. Bowdoin Van Riper

Section I: War and Propaganda

The Canadian Shorts: Establishing the Wartime Style
Bella Honess Roe

“Desiring the Disney Technique”: Chronicle of a Contracted Military Training Film
Douglas A. Cunningham

Cartoons Will Win the War: World War II Propaganda Shorts
Richard J. Leskosky

Cartoon Combat: World War II, Alexander de Seversky, and Victory Through Air Power
J. D. Thomas

Section II: Science, Technology, Mathematics and Medicine

The Promise of Things to Come: Disneyland and the Wonders of Technology, 1954-58
A. Bowdoin Van Riper

A Nation on Wheels: Films About Cars and Driving, 1948-1970
A. Bowdoin Van Riper

“A Journey Through the Wonderland of Mathematics:”: Donald in Mathmagic Land
Martin F. Norden

Paging Doctor Disney: Health Education Films, 1922-1973
Bob Cruz, Jr.

Section III: Nature

“Nature is the Dramatist”: Documentary, Entertainment, and the World According to The True-Life Adventures
Eddy von Mueller

Sex, Love, and Death: True-Life Fantasies
Ronald Tobias

It Is a Small World After All: Earth and the Disneyfication of Planet Earth
Eddy von Mueller

Section IV: Times, Places, and People

A Past to Make Us Proud: U. S. History According to Disney
Marianne Holdzkom

Reviving the American Dream: The World of Sports
Katharina Bonzel

Beyond the Ratoncito: Disney’s Idea of Latin America
Bernice Nuhfer-Halten

Locating the Magic Kingdom: Spectacle and Similarity in People and Places
Cynthia J. Miller

America’s Salesman: USA in Circarama
Sarah Nilsen


I talk to Didier Ghez about the book on his Disney History blog.