ABC's Disney merger -- The two companies' melding has led to many sitcom trip to Walt Disney World

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated March 08, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

It really is a small world after all. Ever since the mega-merger between ABC and the Walt Disney Co., the network appears to be morphing into the Disney Channel.

The first head scratcher popped up Valentine’s Day week, when Live With Regis & Kathie Lee, a show produced by Disney’s Buena Vista, aired a barrage of syrupy-sweet fairy-tale weddings from Disney World while the hosts oohed and aahed. Then on Feb. 20, ABC’s resident Queen of Mean, Roseanne, began a two-part episode by taking her white-trash TV clan to the Magic Kingdom for a little fun in the sun Conner-style. Hmmmm.

”There’s nothing to it,” says a spokesman from the hit sitcom. ”It was Roseanne’s idea…. She didn’t get a call from someone at Disney saying ‘Why don’t you do a show at Disney World?”’

But Roseanne isn’t the only one booking flights to Orlando. Much of the network’s Friday-night lineup has made the pilgrimage. Last month, the cast of Family Matters (including Ubergeek Urkel) went for a promotional visit, while Suzanne Somers, Patrick Duffy, and the Step by Step posse spent the last two weeks of February in the Magic Kingdom shooting two shows that will most likely air in May. On their way out of the souvenir shop they may have bumped into the crew of Boy Meets World, which is preparing to film a Disney World episode the first week of March.

The network brass doesn’t seem too worried about becoming Mouseketeers. ”The individual shows decide these things,” says an ABC spokesman. ”It’s not dictated by the network and has nothing to do with the merger.”