Donald and the Wheel

Donald and the Wheel is a Disney animated short, directed by Hamilton Luske, produced by Walt Disney and released in 1961. It is an educational-based film, and features a considerable amount of musical vocals.

The film was most-recently re-released on DVD in the boxed set The Chronological Donald, Volume Four.


Two "spirits of progress" are observing the potential inventor of the wheel. These spirits are never seen aside from their auras. One of these spirits is an adult (voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft) and is accompanied by his beatnik-talking son (voiced by Max Smith). The elder is trying to explain the importance of the wheel to his son. They observe a caveman (portrayed by Donald Duck) trying to haul his supply sled up a hill and into a cave. Donald is then chased out of the cave by a tiger. He gets away, but the tiger tumbles down a hill wrapped around a rock. The spirits tell Donald that this should be the inspiration for his invention of the wheel.

The film then goes into the evolution and widespread uses for the wheel, including those used by the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, and Ancient Romans. It introduces the horse-drawn vehicles of the Middle Ages as well as buggies and carriages of the 19th century, culminating with the invention of the steam locomotive and the Industrial Revolution.

The narrators also take time to explain various devices that use wheel-based parts, including gears like a music box, a gramophone and a jukebox. Inside the jukebox, a tiny lady dances on the records contemporary jazz, hoedown and classic ballet with Donald joining in with her. The last few segments enter the 20th century and the rise of factories and the automobile. They finally reach the present day, wrapping up with satellites. They also explain that the world itself is a wheel, and that the sun, Moon, and planetary orbits act as wheels.

After seeing into the future, Donald appears overwhelmed and bewildered, and decides against inventing the wheel. He claims it is "too much trouble" and does not want to bear the enormous responsibility. The Spirits of Progress accept that Donald may not be the true inventor of the wheel, but that "somebody did".


The music was composed by Buddy Baker, who also composed Donald in Mathmagic Land and sung by The Mellomen.

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