Yes, it's really been 60 years since Mickey Mouse Club premiered on ABC.
To cap off the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, a few original Mouseketeers—including Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O'Brien and Doreen Tracey—reunited on stage to reminisce with Lorraine Santoli, author of The Official Mickey Mouse Club Book.
"The Mickey Mouse Club was a television phenomenon," Santoli said of the beloved and family friendly variety series, which aired intermittently on ABC and Disney Chanel from 1955 to 1996, "and it's something that fans still love 60 years later."
(It's no coincidence that Disneyland is in the midst of its Diamond Celebration.)
"We were kept busy," Burgess, 74, said of his time as a Mouseketeer. "One team was going to school, while one team was filming, and another one was rehearsing. We had to keep it rotating. One time, I had to learn to ride a unicycle in my driveway. Then I showed up and they said, 'You're gonna have to juggle as well."
Later, the original Mouseketeers sang and danced as old clips from the show played onscreen. They also performed a tribute to co-star Annette Funicello, who died at age 70 in 2013. "We love ya, Annette," Cole said. In a tribute to presenter Jimmie Dodd, who died at age 54 in 1964, the Walt Disney Archives had his original Mousegetar restrung for the first time in 50 years. The cast joined together in song.
The biggest surprise came when Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives, called up film historian and critic Leonard Maltin. Each Mousketeer was given a "Mousecar," Walt Disney's own version of "an Oscar," which he had commissioned but was unable to present before he died. The archives staff recovered them, and Maltin presented one to each of the cast members. They surprised Maltin in turn by giving him his own mouse ears, thereby making him an official Mouseketeer.
Younger generations may not recognize the veteran Mouseketeers, but they'll surely know the latter ones. In 1989, Disney Channel revived the series with a different format, similar to Saturday Night Live and You Can't Do That on Television. Called The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, it starred Christina Aguilera (1993-1996); JC Chasez (1991-1996); Ryan Gosling (1993-1996); Keri Russell (1991-1994); Britney Spears (1993-1996); and Justin Timberlake (1993-1996), among many others.
In more Disney reunion news, watch the cast of That's So Raven get back together: