Many of the sets from this movie - including Mary's garden and fountain, the shoe house, the pumpkin house and the trees from the forest - were on display at Disneyland in Anaheim from November of 1961 through 1962 as a walk-through attraction.
The toy soldiers also made an appearance in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins (1964) in the nursery sequence and are favorite features of holiday parades in Disney Parks to this day. Disney animator Bill Justice made sure the Park soldiers were identical to the movie counterparts.
This was the first live-action musical that Disney Studios produced. It was as heavily promoted as the studio's other big films, but was a failure at the box office. It was one of the few Disney films never given a second run in the neighborhood theaters, or even re-released, as so many other Disney films were (it first appeared on television - in two one-hour segments telecast a week apart - only eight years after its original release. Eight years was usually the amount of time the Disney studios used to wait to re-release their films theatrically). Disney did not make another musical on this elaborate a scale until Mary Poppins (1964), which became its most successful film during Walt Disney's lifetime.
Ward Kimball was to direct the film originally but left after a falling out with Walt Disney. While Disney was away, Kimball arranged for Ray Bolger to audition and approved set designs, which were considered 'Walt's domain,' and, along with a studio publicist taking out a trade advert that Kimball was unaware of announcing him as the film's director, led to Disney deciding Kimball had got above himself and firing him.
To promote the movie, the wrap party was scripted and aired on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954), which had recently been revamped and renamed "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" on a new network, NBC, and filmed in color instead of black-and-white like the old series. The wrap-party episode was hosted by Annette Funicello and Walt Disney himself, who explained clips from the movie while introducing the cast. Also featured was a soft shoe dance by Ray Bolger and a bongo drums solo by Tommy Sands. Ann Jillian performed the song "A Flock of Sheep Named Henry" with Henry Calvin, and Ed Wynn was presented with his Mouscar statuette for 60 years in show business by Tommy Kirk.
This was the only Disney-produced film based on a hit Broadway stage musical, and the first Disney musical using mostly songs which had not been specifically written for the film. However, it is not very faithful to the original 1903 stage version.
This version takes liberties with the original 1903 operetta, but so does the 1934 film with Laurel & Hardy. For example, the characters of Grumio, Rodrigo and Gonzorgo were in this film but not in the L&H one. A side-by-side comparison would likely reveal that the two films are about even in their changes to the stage version.
Ray Bolger's second family-oriented musical film. His first major appearance in a family-oriented musical film was The Wizard of Oz (1939) where he performed as The Scarecrow. The Scarecrow was a benevolent character in that film, but Barnaby in this film is a villain.