Florida Before Disney World: Paisley Florida

Florida Before Disney World: Paisley, Florida

About an hour north of the Magic Kingdom is a cemetery located between Altoona and Paisley in Lake County. The cemetery has an incredible connection to Walt and Roy Disney, and Walt Disney World.

The Ponceannah Cemetery is one of the oldest in Florid and the first burial was in 1860.

But what is the Disney connection to Paisley, Florida?

Disney and Lake County?

On January1, 1888, newly formed Lake County gave out its first official marriage license to Flora Call and Elias Disney. Yes, Walt’s parents met and married in Lake County, less than 70 miles from where their children would plan and build the Vacation Kingdom of the World almost 100 years later.

Flora’s parents (Charles and Henrietta Call) moved from Kansas to the Paisely area of Orange County around 1884. At the time, the future Lake County would be comprised of Orange and Sumter counties. They bought 80 acreas about a mile north of the current area of Paisley. The Calls had five children: Charles, Jr.; Flora; Jessie; Grace Lila; and Julia.

Do you know where this sign is at Walt Disney World?

Kepple Disney and his son Elias (Walt’s father) moved from Kansas and settled in the Paisley area around the same time. From what I’ve read, the Calls and Disneys were neighbors in Kansas and Elias and Flora first met there. Elias took a job as a postman and delivered mail by horseback to over 300 families in the area. One of those families being the Calls and Flora Call continued to catch Elias’ attention.

Flora and Elias were married on January 1, 1888, in a small church in Kismet, Florida. Sadly, Kismet is one of the more than 50 ghost towns of Lake County, and it’s exact location, and the location of the church, are unknown.

What Happened to Kismet?

Image courtesy of Lake County Government

It is not clear why the post offices were discontinued at Ponceannah (1887), Kismet (1890), and Acron (1890). These closings left Paisley with the only active post office in the area.

During these years “Crow’s Burial Grounds” had become ”Ponceannah Cemetery”. The residents of the area formed a Cemetery Association. On November 6, 1891 the Association’s Trustees J.C.Hethcox, G.H. Gardiner, J.J. McEwen, Joshua T. Crow, and R.W. Stokes signed Articles of Incorporation for the Cemetery Association, witnessed by Alfred D. Hancock and
L.J. Owens. At this time Secretary of State J. L. Crawford decided the address of the Cemetery Association should be Paisley.

These actions left Paisley the only settlement in the area with a church, a post office, and a cemetery. There were also a number of sawmills, a gristmill, a cotton gin, a general store and a schoolhouse, all of which contributed to the survival of Paisley, while most of the other small settlements disappeared. (History of Paisley and surrounding area : “The Paisley Precinct” by Paisley Extension Homemakers, 1990, pp. 16-17)

Aunt Jessie and Walt Disney

After Elias and Flora were married, they moved to Daytona Beach where their first son, Herbert, was born in 1888. They would move to Chicago in 1889, where Elias and Flora would build a home on Tripp Avenue. The remaining Disney children would be born in Chicago. Interesting tidbit: Elias Disney worked construction at the Columbian World’s Exposition.

(State Archives of Florida)

The photo of Walt with Aunt Jessie Perkins and cousin Irene Campbell sitting on a porch in Paisley has been passed around and is part of the Florida Memory Collection at the Florida State Archives. To me, based on the caption and the style of the type, it was from an internal Disney communication piece, but I haven’t identified the source. From articles in the Orlando Sentinel and the Daily Commercial, it is stated that Walt would have spent summers in Paisley with Aunt Jessie. There are ruminations that Walt eyed the Paisley area and Lake County as a potential site for the Florida Project, but the lack of major highways would have been a deal-breaker.

Let’s Visit the Ponceannah Cemetery

Visiting the Ponceannah Cemetery offers an interesting piece of Disney history that isn’t discussed often.

As you enter through the gates off of State Road 42, you travel down a dirt road towards a gazebo.

There’s a plaque on the gazebo that discusses Aunt Jessie and her contribution to the cemetery.

In 1923 member Jessie Perkins, Secretary/Treasurer of the Ponceannah Cemetery Association 1927-1946, raised money to have this gazebo built. The present day six-sided structure has served well through the years, as a chapel, meeting place, and a shaded rest area for members on work days.

As you approach the gazebo, which is centrally located in the cemetery, you might spy a familiar color scheme through the distance. As you head deeper into the cemetery, be on the lookout for a very unique grave marker with a red and black structure nearby.

The grave marker looks like a tree stump and there is a red and black bench  for visitors to sit and reflect.

The small stone at the foot of the grave site says FATHER & MOTHER.

The monument is a headstone provided courtesy of the Woodmen of the World Life Assurance Society. The organization was a fraternal order that guaranteed the right of a dignified and marked grave. The Woodmen of the World created a unique marker for every member when they passed. Due to the costs associated, the order stopped providing the free monuments in the 1920s.

The top half has the Masonic Symbol carved on it.

  • Charles Call Born Mar. 22, 1823 Died Jan. 6 1890
  • Henrietta Call Born July, 23, 1837 Died Feb 21, 1910

Aunt Jessie and Walt Disney in Paisley

At the bottom of the monument is a plaque, with the following inscription:

Charles and Henrietta Call were the grandparents of Walt Disney. The Call and Disney family [sic] moved to Florida in 1884 from Kansas. The families settled on land about a mile north of Paisley. Charles and Henrietta’s daughter, Flora married Elias Disney in 1888 and later moved to Chicago where Walt was born in 1900. As a child and adult, Walt was a frequent visitor in Paisley with his Aunt Jesse Call Perkins.

The grave for Aunt Jessie and her husband, Albert Perkins, is in the same plot as Charles and Henrietta. Albert was the postmaster in Paisley until his death, when Jessie took over. Aunt Jessie worked in several schools in Lake County, eventually serving as principal of East High School. Aunt Jessie passed away on March 6, 1956.

Have You Visited The Call Family Gravesite in Paisley, Florida?


For more more fantastic stories about the early days of Walt Disney World, heck out Aaron Goldberg’s AMAZING new book: Buying Disney’s World: The Story of How Florida Swampland Became Walt Disney World

FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Designing Disney’s Theme Parks Book Review

Designing Disney’s Theme Parks Book Review

Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance was first published in 1997 and was edited by Karal Ann Marling. The book is a collection of essays, including a longer one by Ms. Marling, that takes us in-depth with the processes, thoughts, and philosophies of designing Disney themed spaces. There are 224 pages and the book weighs in at almost 3.5 pounds. It’s a large-format book, which means the concept art and photos are reproduced in a fairly large size.

Disney Disney’s Theme Parks Video Review

Do you own a copy of the book? Did you ever get to the the art exhibit?

The exhibit that spawned the book is one that I wish I’d bee able to visit, especially in the late 1990s. As I mentioned in the video, this book was published near the end of the Disney Decade, when Michael Eisner was touting the modern architecture that the Disney Company was proliferating. Eisner was working with the biggest and most acclaimed architects of the day, whenever it was for resorts, corporate buildings, or planned communities. This was all oa time before the advent of blogging and vloggers, so there were very few places to get information about Disney theme parks. (Seriously, how did you ever find out bout the latest cupcake without vlogging?!?!?!) Designing Disney’s Theme Park was also one of the first forays into the scholarship of Disney. Another great title to check out is Stephen Fjellman’s Vinyl Leaves, one of the very best sociological treatises on Disney World and a walk-through of every queued attraction at WDW around 1990. Trust me, you want both of these books!

Additional authors: Neil Harris; Erika Doss; Yi-Fu Tuan; and Greil Marcus.

Looking for other books about Walt Disney World? Check out my list of WDW books!


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Polishing the Dragons Making EPCOT’s Wonders of China

Polishing the Dragons: Making EPCOT’s Wonders of China by Jeff Blyth, a book review

Polishing the Dragons is an interesting title for a Disney history book, right?

The subtitle, Making EPCOT’s “Wonders of China,” relates to the Circle-Vision 360 film that played for more than 20 years in the China Pavilion at Epcot. But maybe you’re only familiar with the current film Reflections of China?

Still, I know what you’re thinking…

A whole book about the making of a Circle-Vision 360 film?

Leonard Kinsey reached out to me about reviewing the latest release from Bamboo Forest Publishing; pretty much every Bamboo Forest Publishing book has risen to the top of my favorites list. Leonard and his crew pay incredible attention to detail and have some of the most evocative layouts of any Disney-related book (plus a special shoutout to the mad genius Hugh for his impeccable editing).

What is Polishing the Dragons?

As inferred, the book is about the making of the Wonders of China film that played in EPCOT from the grand opening in 1982 until March 23, 2003 (it also played at Disneyland). The title refers to the extreme steps that the author and film crew took to make Wonders of China. And not just polishing dragons.

As a Disney book nerd, it shocked me that someone could write a book about this. But the book equally shocked me in that Jeff could remember enough about the experience to pen a 248 page work. Polishing the Dragons will surprise you! (And maybe shock you—in a great way!)

Polishing the Dragons starts before the advent of the filming process and offers background on Jeff and his early career. We accompany Jeff as he follows his passion of filmmaking and storytelling. And that’s important to know: Jeff is a storyteller, as it comes through in this book and the projects he has worked on. After completing an IMAX project, the company Jeff worked for came to the attention of Disney. Imagine needing to coordinate the opening of the world’s largest theme park (at the time); you would need to get the best people you can. In this case, Jeff became the best person to coordinate the hauling of a massive Circle-Vision camera around China.

What Is Circle-Vision?

If you’re not familiar with Circle-Vision, it’s a massive camera set-up with nine cameras that offers a 360 degree view. The nine cameras have to be focused and synced (along with other camera and filmmaking techniques). You also have to ensure that you don’t have anything extra that you don’t want in any of the nine images is in the frame. Other Circle-Vision films include the current Oh Canada, Reflections of China, and the former Time Keeper.

The book spends a majority of the time in China as Jeff negotiates (on a daily basis) getting the shots needed. In some cases, the nine camera set-up would be hauled all day for just a few seconds of film. Imagine spending 7-8 hours of physcal labor and hiking to get a few moments captured. This book almost acts as a guide for making a film in a foreign country.

Most modern readers will probably be unfamiliar with the post-Mao China. It’s quite eye-opening to read about how closed off the country was and how difficult it was to complete the project. There were many times it seemed as if the project were going to be stopped.

From what I understand, Jeff kept an incredibly detailed journal, which explains the crazy amount of detail presented to us almost 40 years later. Jeff goes surprisingly in-depth in an almost day-to-day basis. It might seem like overkill, but it’s fascinating to relate his experiences to the finished film.

Why Should You Read This Disney History Book?

Bamboo Forest Publishing has a strong record of publishing engaging, creative, and authoritative books. The Charlie Walker books by Nick Pobursky are some of the best fiction titles related to Disney and the  Drinking at Disney title was my favorite book from 2016. And with Polishing the Dragons, they’ve knocked it way out of the park. Who could imagine a 248 page book dedicated solely to one singular attraction (well, besides the Haunted Mansion).

Jeff has a fantastic writing style and I felt like I was on the trip with him (minus the cold, heat, rain, and unfamiliar food). The book never bogged you down with useless information about the process; he actually keeps you fairly entertained during the multiple visits to China to scout and film. A circle-vision film takes so much work and time! You will never take another Circle-Vision film for granted.

Again, a single book dedicated a theme park attraction seems like overkill, but Jeff makes voyage very entertaining. You will never take the Circle-Vision film for granted. You will also walk away with a deeper knowledge of how a large project comes together and the multitude of people that partook in it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and reading about all of the details that went into the film. If you’re a fan of EPCOT Center or a filmmaker, then you will devour Jeff’s book.

Are You Going to Pick Up Polishing the Dragons?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the author for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney Who’s Who: An A to Z of Animated Films

Disney Who’s Who: An A to Z of Animated Films Book Preview

Disney sent a review copy of the revised and updated Disney Who’s Who: An A to Z of Animated Films. This 432-page book is a glossary of characters broken down by animated film. It looked like a perfect Disney book to do a preview and share with everyone.

Is this a book for kids or will all Disney fans want it on their shelves?

From 101 Dalmatians to Zootopia! Disney Who’s Who Video:

What do you think about this latest book featuring the characters from Disney’s classic and modern animated films?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney Monorail Book Preview!

The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky Video Book Preview!

¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Love Disney monorails? Then you need to check out this book preview of The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky by Jeff Kurtti, Vanessa Hunt, and Paul Wolski. The review copy just showed up and I set up the video camera to give my fellow ImagiNERDs a first look at this highly-anticipated new Disney book.

Is this going to be the ImagiNERDing Book of the Year?

Check Out My Video Preview of the New Book About Disney Monorails

Make sure to check out these other books by Disney historian, scholar, and all-around great guy: Jeff Kurtti.

Vanessa Hunt has contributed to the Disney Parks literature, as well!

Are you going to pick up the new Disney Monorail book?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Walt Disney and Trains

Walt Disney and Trains

Do you love Disney trains? Want to learn everything there is to know about Walt Disney and his fascination with railroads? How did Walt’s love of railroads influence Disneyland?

Check out Walt Disney’s Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom by Michael Broggie to get a fascinating look into Walt’s life and his love of trains.

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story by Michael Broggie Book Review

It’s still hard to imagine Walt’s first trip around Disneyland on his Disneyland Railroad. It must have been an amazing event to be part of. And Michael Broggie was there to tell the story.

Have you ever had the chance to visit Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park?

Check out these posts on the Walt Disney World Railroad.

What’s your favorite Disney train?


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney: The First 100 Years Book Review

Disney: The First 100 Years by Dave Smith

Interested in learning about the life of Walt Disney and the history of The Disney Company? Dave Smith’s book is a great introduction to the first 100 years (starting in 1901) of Walt and the Disney Company. The book covers his life, animation, live-action films, theme parks and o many other projects.

Disney: The First 100 Years Video Review

Looking for other books about Walt Disney?


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Energy Efficient Fairway Villas!

Introduction of the energy efficient Fairway Villas of Lake Buena Vista!

Disney News for Spring 1978 shares an article about new energy efficient town home villas in Lake Buena Vista. With the energy crisis of the 1970s, companies were turning towards energy efficient buildings and other means of conserving electricity.

As part of the mission of Walt Disney World and EPCOT Center, Disney was looking at ways of bringing new technologies to the forefront of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. It also gave executives an easier time when being hounded by the press, the public and the cast  members on the future of Walt’s vision for EPCOT Center.

Let’s take a look at how Disney promoted the new Fairway Villas!

Lake Buena Vista Introduces The Energy Savers

Walt Disney World is saving energy while they create a unique, new type of accommodation for vacationers in Florida.

Sixty four Fairway Villas are being built along the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course in Walt Disney World’s Resort Community, each with a predicted energy savings of up to 50 per cent compared to similar structures without the power-saving features.

Several of the power-pinching design features depend not on expensive machines, but on well- studied positioning of buildings and energy-conscious application of construction methods and materials. And, say the designers from WED Enterprises (the Disney architectural, master planning and “imagineering” firm), all of these energy saving features—ranging from site selection to the unconventional heating and cooling system—can be incorporated into the construction of new single family homes.

Another concept incorporated in the Fairways Villas is unique room flexibility. Each tri-level living unit has a living room and kitchen area which may be connected to one, two or three bedrooms just by opening or closing certain sections. With these modifications, a single building can accommodate a large or small family or even a business meeting.

Building sites for the clusters of homes were selected to take maximum advantage of existing shade trees. The Villas are also oriented to give less window exposure toward the south and west, providing shade for the larger glass areas during the hottest part of the day.

Exaggerated roof overhangs will reduce the amount of heat absorbed through the walls by shading large exterior wall areas. Clerestory areas with five-foot-long overhangs will provide natural light to the living, kitchen and mezzanine areas without increasing the interior temperature.

The heating and cooling system for the Villas is a highly efficient air-to-air heat pump. In addition, hot water is provided by heat recovered from the condenser when the air conditioning is in operation—about eight months of the year.

Provisions have also been made in both the heating/cooling system and the building orientation for the future addition of a solar energy system which would employ liquid- type, roof-mounted solar collectors.

High efficiency lighting fixtures in the Villas give adequate lighting at minimum energy cost and heat gain. All interior lighting will be done with fluorescent fixtures employing an electrically efficient frequency converter. Fixtures designed for domestic use, indirect lighting methods, and reflectors will be used to accent and develop relaxing living areas.

The Fairway Villas have also been designed to take advantage of the forces of nature for cooling at certain times. When air conditioner use is marginal, a chimney draft, which augments the ventilation effect of open windows, will create a constant cross-circulation of cool air.

In planning all of these energy-saving features, the WED designers didn’t forget about the good looks of the buildings. The exteriors are finished in attractive, natural cedar siding that will blend into the wooded surroundings. The roofs are covered with cedar shingles.

Inside, heavy beams across the ceilings again show off the beauty and texture of natural wood, while an open mezzanine gives a spacious but cozy feeling to the living area.
All of the Villas will be fully furnished in a luxurious, comfortable style practical for families or business groups.

The new resort lodgings are being built in accordance with the goals of the Disney EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) plan to demonstrate practical ideas and systems for better living.

In all, there will be 24 two- story buildings with 64 Villas and 128 bedrooms. The first six buildings are nearly finished, with the entire project scheduled for completion
in late summer.

Vacationing in one of Walt Disney World’s new Fairway Villas will be like experiencing a preview of the future, when saving energy will become a way of life.

Special thanks to RetroWDW for use of the vintage photos of the Lake Buena Vista Fairway Villas.

Did You Ever Get to Stay in the Fairway Villas?


Lake Buena Vista Community, The Original EPCOT Center Video

Looking for a great book on the first few years of the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World? Check out the Story of Walt Disney World: Commemorative Edition.

FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Video Book Review

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Cartoons by David Bossert Book Review

Are you a fan of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?

If so, then check out my review of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Cartoons by David Bossert. This book follows David Bossert’s search for the 13 lost Oswald cartoons. Did he find them all?

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Video

Do You Have a Lost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Cartoon?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Epcot Space Pavilion Part Two: The Speculator

Epcot Space Pavilion Part Two: The Speculator

In a previous video, I looked at a proposed concept for a redo of the Horizons pavilion. This 1996 concept would have kept the original Horizons building intact and kept most of the interior attraction layout…and added a second attraction with it’s own pre-show: The Speculator.

The Speculator?

Exactly.

This concept for a Space Pavilion would have straddled pre- and post-millennium Epcot with an attraction that, well, had the best of both worlds. The first segment, which would have retained a major portion of the original attraction layout showed us how we saw space throughout our history. It would have been a bit slower, like World of Motion and Spaceship Earth, as it explained how we came to understand outer space. The second half of the attraction took us into another pre-show and debuted a fairly new style of vehicle that would have been a cross between Soarin’ and Flight of Passage. Sort of…

Catch up with Part One of the video here.

Epcot Space Pavilion Concept Video Part Two

So, what do you think about The Speculator and the message provided by the second half of the attraction?


Looking for the ultimate EPCOT Center book?