The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way
bandleader Wayne King plays for dancing at Disneyland, 1965

Research Topics:
"BIG BANDS AT DISNEYLAND"
by Music Librarian Christopher Popa

    It may at first seem surprising, given Disney's tremendous appeal to children, that they would have presented big bands on a regular basis for many, many years.  But Walt Disney himself and the people who were hired as Disneyland's Entertainment Directors over the years, namely Tommy Walker and Sonny Anderson, were fans of live entertainment, including big band music.
    Walker spent $56,000 on talent for a "Big Band Week" held in June 1964.  On the 16th of the month, 50,505 people went through the amusement park's turnstiles, which was the second most successful day in Disneyland's history up to that time.
    For the summer of 1965, Disneyland allocated a record budget for bands and groups - $330,000!

    For years afterwards, the long and successful track record of the bands at Disneyland helped to show that, as Eliot Tiegel once reported, they were "still very much a part of Americana."

    Thus far, here is what information that I've been able to piece together:

1961
late May-06/14?, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

1962
06/02-06/03, Count Basie and His Orchestra
08/29-09/02, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

1963
06/01, "Cavalcade of Bands" with Les Brown and His Band of Renown, Lionel Hampton and
           His Orchestra, Gene Krupa and His Orchestra, Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra
06/28-07/04, Count Basie and His Orchestra
07/22-07/27, Tex Beneke and His Orchestra featuring Ray Eberle, Paula Kelly, and The
           Modernaires (in Tomorrowland)
08/27-09/01, Harry James and His Orchestra
09/27-09/28, [ Dixieland with ] Louis Armstrong, The Dukes of Dixieland, trumpeter Teddy
          Buckner

1964
06/12-06/17, "Big Band Week" with Wayne King and His Orchestra (at Plaza Gardens),
          Count Basie and His Orchestra (at Tomorrowland), Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
          (06/13-6/17?, at the 20,000 Leagues concert hall), Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
          (at Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon)

1965
02/13, "Valentine's Dance" with Les Brown and His Band of Renown
05/03, Count Basie and His Orchestra
05/26?-5/30?, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Sam Donahue featuring Frank
          Sinatra Jr., Charlie Shavers, Helen Forrest, and The Pied Pipers
06/19-06/26, Si Zentner and His Orchestra
06/29-07/04, Stan Kenton and His Orchestra
07/09-07/16, Wayne King and His Orchestra
07/23-07/31, Harry James and His Orchestra
08/06-08/14, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (at 20,000 Leagues Bandstand)
08/20-08/28, Woody Herman and His Orchestra
09/03-09/11, "Music Made Famous By Glenn MIller" with Tex Beneke and His Orchestra
          featuring Ray Eberle, Paula Kelly, and The Modernaires (at 20,000 Leagues
          Bandstand)

1966
05/09, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (at Melodyland Theatre)
summer dates, Woody Herman and His Orchestra
10/01, "Dixieland At Disneyland" featuring Louis Armstrong, Bob Crosby "and the Original
         Bobcats," others

1967
05/30?-06/01?, Les and Larry Elgart, Woody Herman, Art Mooney, and Buddy Rich

1968
05/29-06/01, "Big Band Festival" with Lionel Hampton (At Tomorrowland Terrace), Harry
         James (Tomorrowland stage), Stan Kenton (Golden Horseshoe stage), and
         Wayne King (Plaza Gardens)

1970
05/29-05/30, "Ninth Big Band Fest" with Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Vaughn
          Monroe, Buddy Rich
summer dates, Harry James, Sammy Kaye, Tex Beneke, Ray McKinley
09/07-09/12, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (at Fantasy Ballroom, Plaza Gardens)
12/16-12/30, Count Basie and His Orchestra

1971
05/29-05/30, "Big Band Festival" with Stan Kenton with guest vocalist June Christy, Xavier
          Cugat with guest singer Charo, Ray McKinley with guest vocalist Ella Mae Morse, and
          Benny Carter with guest vocalist Billy Eckstine and featuring Louie Bellson
08/09-08/11, Woody Herman (at Plaza Gardens)
08/12-08/25, Tex Beneke and The Modernaires

1972
03/26-04/01?, "Music Made Famous By Glenn Miller" with Tex Beneke and His Orchestra
          featuring Ray Eberle and The Modernaires with Paula Kelly (in Plaza Gardens)
05/27?-05/28?, "Big Band Festival" with Count Basie and His Orchestra, Lionel Hampton,
          Buddy Morrow, Charlie Barnet
summer dates?, Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra, Buddy Rich and His Big Band, Alvino
          Rey and His Orchestra, The King Sisters, Tex Beneke and The Modernaires with
          Paula Kelly, Harry James and His Big Band, Stan Kenton and His Orchestra

1973
04/16-04/21, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
05/26-05/27, "Big Band Festival" including Cab Calloway

1974
06/21-06/29, Count Basie and His Orchestra

1975
07/20-07/26, Harry James and His Orchestra
07/27-08/02, Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd
08/03-08/09, Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra
08/24-08/30, Count Basie and His Orchestra
08/31-09/06, Stan Kenton and His Orchestra
11/28-11/29, The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Jimmy Henderson

1976
02/13-02/15, Freddy Martin and His Orchestra (at The Golden Horseshoe)
07/11-07/17, Harry James and His Orchestra
07/18-07/24, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Murray McEachern
08/15-08/21, Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd
09/05-09/11, Count Basie and His Orchestra

1977
04/02-04/09, Ray McKinley and His Orchestra with Paula Kelly and The Modernaires
07/10-07/16, Louie Bellson & The Big Band Explosion
07/31-08/06, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring The Bobcats
08/07-08/13, The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Jimmy Henderson
08/21-08/27, Count Basie and His Orchestra

1978
03/19-03/25, Stan Kenton and His Orchestra
06/25-07/01, Les Elgart and His Orchestra
07/02-07/08, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
07/09-07/15, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring The Bobcats
07/17?-07/24?, Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd
07/23-07/29, Freddy Martin and His Orchestra
09/01-09/09, Count Basie and His Orchestra

1979
06/16-06/23?, Count Basie and His Orchestra
06/22-06/23?, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Lee Castle
06/24-06/30, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow
06/31-07/7?, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
07/18-07/14, Freddy Martin and His Orchestra
07/15-07/21, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring the Bob Cats
07/22-07/28, Louis Bellson and His Big Band Explosion
07/29-08/04, Les Elgart and His Orchestra with vocalist Carolyn Cline
08/05-08/18, The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Jimmy Henderson
08/19-08/25, Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra
08/26-09/01, Woody Herman and His Young Thundering Herd
09/02-09/08, Buddy Rich and His Band

1980
08/24-08/29, Count Basie and His Orchestra
08/30-09/06, Buddy Rich and His Big Band

1981
06/22-06/30, Count Basie and His Orchestra
07/13-07/17, Ray Anthony and His Orchestra

1982
06/19-06/26, Ray McKinley and His Orchestra
06/27-07/03, The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien
07/04-07/10, Woody Herman and His Young Thundering Herd
07/09?-07/14?, Count Basie and His Orchestra
07/11-07/17, Harry James and His Orchestra
07/18-07/24, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring the Bob Cats
07/25-07/31, Freddy Martin and His Orchestra
08/15-08/21, Lionel Hampton and His Big Band
08/22-08/28, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
08/29-09/04, Tex Beneke and His Orchestra
09/05-09/11, Buddy Rich and His Band

1983
06/20-06/25, Count Basie and His Orchestra
12/13, Count Basie and His Orchestra

    The popularity of the bands at Disneyland inspired a cable television series on the Disney Channel, "Big Bands At Disneyland," hosted by Peter Marshall, in the summer of 1984.  (Three of the programs were also released to the public on VHS tapes and laserdiscs.)
    But, unfortunately, the series ran just one season on TV.

1984
Jun, The Count Basie Orchestra with special guest Joe Williams
Jun, The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Dick Gerhart
Jul, Woody Herman and the Young Thundering Herd
Jul, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra with special guest Chris Calloway
Jul, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring the Bob Cats with special guest Kay Starr
Jul, Ray McKinley and His Orchestra with special guest Ella Mae Morse
Jul, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Lee Castle with special guest Helen Forrest
Aug, The Artie Shaw Orchestra directed by Dick Johnson with special guest Artie Shaw
Aug, Lionel Hampton and His Big Band
Aug, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
Aug, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow with special guest
  Connie Haines
Sep, Buddy Rich and His Band

1985
06/22, The Harry James Orchestra directed by Joe Graves
06/23-06/29, Ray McKinley and His Orchestra featuring Peanuts Hucko and Connie Haines
06/30-07/06, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring the Bobcats with special guest
  Kay Starr
07/07-07/14, Myron Floren and His Orchestra
07/15-07/20, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
07/21-07/27, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra featuring Chris Calloway
07/28-08/04, The Artie Shaw Orchestra directed by Dick Johnson
08/06-08/10, The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Thad Jones
08/11-08/17, Lionel Hampton and His Big Band
08/18-08/24, Tex Beneke and His Orchestra
08/25-08/31, Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd
09/01-09/07, Buddy Rich and His Big Band

1988
05/28-05/29, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring the Bobcats
06/04-06/05, Horace Heidt Jr. and His Orchestra
06/11-06/12, Art Mooney and His Orchestra
06/25-07/02, "Disneyland Salutes Benny Goodman" with guest soloists Peanuts Hucko
   and Louise Tobin featuring alumni of the Benny Goodman orchestras
07/03-07/09, Myron Floren and His Orchestra
07/10-07/16, Ray McKinley and His Orchestra with special guest Kay Starr
07/17-07/23, The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Frank Foster
07/24-07/30, Ray Anthony and His Orchestra
07/31-08/06, Tex Beneke and His Orchestra
08/07-08/13, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow
08/14-08/20, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
08/21-08/27, Lionel Hampton and His Big Band
08/28-09/04, Louie Bellson and The Big Band Explosion featuring Dee Dee Bellson

1989
07/15?-07/22, Ray McKinley and His Orchestra
07/23-07/29, Ray Anthony and His Orchestra
07/30-08/05, The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Frank Foster
08/06-08/12, Myron Floren and His Orchestra
08/13-08/19, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
08/20-08/26, Lionel Hampton and His Big Band
08/27-09/02, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Directed By Buddy Morrow
09/03-09/10, Louie Bellson and The Big Band Explosion featuring Dee Dee Bellson

1990
07/25-07/29, The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Frank Foster

sources:
"Band Leaders, Vocalists at Disney Festival," Los Angeles Times, 19 May 1971, pH13.
"Big Band Festival Set By Disneyland," Billboard, 25 May 1968, p22.
D. Russell Connor.  Benny Goodman: Listen to His Legacy (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow
    Press, 1988).
Dave Dexter Jr..  "Big Bands By The Dozen At Disneyland," Billboard, 30 Jun 1979, p42.
---.  "10 Big Bands Are Booked For Disneyland Summer," Billboard, 22 May 1982, p38.
"Disneyland Goes Boom with Summer Music," Down Beat, 3 Jun 1965.
"Disneyland Lineup for Summer Season," Los Angeles Times, 18 Jun 1970, pG22.
"Disneyland to Have Ellington, Basie, Goodman Same Week," Down Beat, 4 Jun 1964.
Leonard Feather.  "Music Review: Big Bands at Disneyland," Los Angeles Times, 1 Jun
    1971, pF14.
Nat Freedland.  "From the Music Capitals of the World: Los Angeles," Billboard, 10
    Jun 1972, p14.
"Glenn Miller Band [ sic ] Due Today at Disneyland," Los Angeles Times, 3 Sep 1965, pD8.
"Jazz Beat," Billboard, 3 Jun 1967, p14.
"Jazz Beat," Billboard, 27 Sep 1980, p53.
Randy Lewis.  "Pop Beat: Big Band Series Ready to Roll," Los Angeles Times,
    21 Jun 1985, pOC E1.
"Magical Melodies: Big Band Greats! [advertisement], 1989.
"Much Summer Music At Disneyland," Down Beat, 20 Jun 1963, p14.
"Night Life: Disneyland Bills Tex Beneke," Los Angeles Times, 21 Jul 1963, pD11.
Bob Scott.  "Night Life: Big Bands Set at Disneyland," Los Angeles Times, 7 Jun 1964,
    pV13.
John L. Scott, "Big Bands Play at Disneyland," Los Angeles Times, 31 May 1968, pE7.
Chris Sheridan.  Count Basie: A Bio-Discography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Inc.,
    1986).
Dr. Klaus Stratemann.  Duke Ellington: Day By Day and Film By Film (Copenhagen,
    Denmark: JazzMedia, 1992).
"Summer at Disneyland means fireworks, twinkling lights, top entertainment," Los Angeles
    Times, 11 Jun 1982, pK12.
"Talent: Dorsey Band, Sinatra Jr. Headline Disneyland Bill," Billboard, 12 Jun 1965, p12.
"Tex Beneke Show to Play Disneyland," Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar 1972, pA7.
Eliot Tiegel.  "The Jazz Beat," Billboard, 23 Apr 1966, p8.
---.  "Talent: Disneyland's Big Band Festival a Huge Success," Billboard, 27 Jun 1964, p12.
John Tynan.  "Big Bands Bloom At Disneyland," Down Beat, 30 Jul 1964, p10.
Bruce Weber.  "From the Music Capitals of the World: Hollywood," Billboard, 1 Oct 1966,
    p30.
Paul Weeks.  "Ghost of Big Bands Lurk in Bowling Alleys: But Big Names of the '40s
    Swing Era Are Still Around, Play Clubs, Disneyland," Los Angeles Times, 26 May 1963,
    pM4.


send additions, corrections, or feedback about "Big Bands At Disneyland" via e-mail
return to Big Band Library "Research Topics" directory
go to Big Band Library homepage