Epcot Space Pavilion Concept from 1996: Part One

Epcot Space Pavilion Concept from 1996: Part One

Back in the mid-1990s, Disney was looking to redo the Horizons Pavilion. G.E. decided not to renew their corporate sponsorship back in 1993. This left the pavilion without the deep corporate pockets to spring for a refurbishment. The original EPCOT Center sponsorship contracts were for ten years and only Exxon signed up for affectional terms with the Universe of Energy. Horizons officially closed December of 1994, but was brought back online a year later since the World of Motion and the Universe of Energy both went down for refurbishment (and more, in the case of the World of Motion).

One idea kicked around since the beginning planning stages for EPCOT Center has been a Space Pavilion. The lack of a sponsor and an unattainable scale kept this pavilion firmly grounded. I ran across an amazing 26-page document from 1996 that offered a vision for a Space Pavilion that re-used most of the Horizons building and ride system. And offered a tantalizing new ride system called The Speculator. So why didn’t we see a Space Pavilion until 2003 with the opening of Mission: Space (still one of my least favorite attractions)?

Space Pavilion Concept Video Part One

Part two of the video will take us to the Digital Imaging Center of the Space Pavilion and we’ll take a ride on the attraction’s new experience: The Speculator.

What Do You Think About This Concept for the Space Pavilion at Epcot?

Looking for the ultimate EPCOT Center book?

First Community in Walt Disney World

First Community in Walt Disney World

The Dec. 1973, Jan., Feb. 1974 Disney News magazine offers an interesting piece on the new townhomes in the Lake Buena Vista Community at Walt Disney World. Milt Albright, Executive Director of the Magic Kingdom Club, spent time at the new townhouses and wrote an editorial piece. there were some pictures included, they just didn’t scan as well as could be, based on the source material.

At the time of publication (1973), Disney was working on a plan to create the EPCOT Center that Walt had envisioned.

Sort of?

Lake Buena Vista was the host community to Walt Disney World. What does this mean? Well, the cities of Bay lake and Lake Buena Vista are the incorporated cities at Walt Disney World.  The cities are the governance for the Florida property and offer insight into the direction that the company was taking.

It’s mid-October and I’ve just returned to California from Walt Disney World where I stayed in one of Lake Buena Vista’s luxurious new Village Townhouses. It was an unforgettable experience.

Lake Buena Vista is a totally new concept in “second home” living. Quietly nes- tled in a colorful Florida setting, this new Walt Disney World community is located on a lush, green 4,000 acre site, less than 10 minutes away from the Magic Kingdom theme park. The abundance of land is evident in a sense of spaciousness, large recreation areas, and a rich natural land- scape—virtually unmarred by roads and automobiles.

Automobile use will be sharply curtailed by keeping all through-traffic on the perimeter of the community. Inside the recreation and residential areas, all roads are private. It will be possible for residents to go to all the important places within Lake Buena Vista—clubhouse, shopping, recreation— without using an automobile, via a system of waterways, pathways, and trails. These pathways will be the “main street” of the community.

Most Townhouses have at least one side opening onto a major open space; a lake, a waterway, or the woods. These are not houses “along a street” with paths to the park; they are houses within and a part of the park. The idea is to try to make the house a part of the natural environment, with the possibility of seclusion, while it is part of an active, vital community—in other words, to offer a sense of community and a sense of privacy. Pervading theme is the dominance of the natural landscape and living with nature.

Inspired by the sunny and ever-bright Florida environment, Academy Award win- ning designer, Emile Kuri, has decorated the Townhouse interiors with a wave of contemporary colors . . . highlighted with elegant and artistic accessories. Perhaps best known for his work in motion pictures (he’s won two “Oscars”), my friend Emile has created many of the fantastic interior settings for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. To his design talents, Emile’s staff has added Disney know-how and flair. The result is a choice of exciting interiors . . perfectly suited for the Village Townhouses . . . and suited perfectly to your comfort and enjoyment.

Unique to business and family communities, Lake Buena Vista offers exclusive Residential Hostess Service to Townhouse residents and guests. Whether you are meeting with business associates or vacationing with the family, our hostess will assist you with any request; information on church services, shopping, travel, air departure times, scheduled sports and cultural events, registered nurses, road maps or stock brokerage houses.

Just say the word, and it will all be awaiting your arrival … a car for your personal use . . . Magic Kingdom theme park ticket books . . . guided tours through the Magic Kingdom . . . starting times on our Magnolia, Palm, or Buena Vista Club golf courses . . . even flowers or gifts personally delivered to your Townhouse with your suggested card or message. Dinner reservations are yours for the asking … at the Polynesian Village, the Contemporary Resort or the new Walt Disney World Golf Resort Hotel … or perhaps you prefer an evening meal or cocktail party specially catered in your Townhouse.

Our hostess will also set up your business meetings. She’ll even arrange for a conference room in one of Walt Disney World’s hotels, space permitting . . . she’ll assist in catering breakfast, mid-morning coffee, lunch, dinner or cocktails . . . make arrangements for chauffeured limousines or rental cars, audio-visual equipment, secretary for dictation, notary public or photographer! Hostess service is provided seven days a week. Costs incurred in the execution of a request can be billed to your Townhouse account.

For golfers, the private Buena Vista Club will embrace many of the social and recre- ational activities of the community. Already available for play is an outstanding 18- hole golf course. Coming is a multi-purpose clubhouse, clubhouse pool, and tennis courts. The club’s golf course was designed by Joe Lee, who has created some of Florida’s finest courses. . . including the spectacular Magnolia and Palm championship layouts in adjoining Walt Disney World. The Buena Vista Club offers social and golf memberships. Initiation fee and social membership are included in your Townhouse lease.

Maybe it’s the freeways, or the smog, or the mad pace “out west”. . . I’m not sure . . . but I was truly impressed with Lake Buena Vista. Good air, sunny skies, warm nights, and a leisurely life-style. Great place for a second home!

For additional information, write or phone, Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom Club, P.O. Box 40, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830, (305) 828-3333.

Did you ever get to stay in the Townhouses or the Villas?

Vintage Disney World Brochure

Vintage Disney World Brochure

A great way to check out the Walt Disney World of the past is through the ephemera (usually defined as brochures and pamphlets) that was produced and distributed. The items were not meant as keepsakes, hence their ephemeral nature, but as a means of advertising. For historians, ephemera is a great way to check prices and changes with the resort over the years.

In 1971, Disney released two brochures about the opening of Walt Disney World.One is considered the pre-opening version and is marked with Opens October 1971 on the cover. The one released after opening is missing the opening date text but includes information on packages and prices. But they both offer some incredible insight into the fledgling Vacation Kingdom of the World.

Vintage Disney World Opening Brochure

What Do You Think About This opening Disney Brochure?

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!

Senior Citizen Week at the Magic Kingdom?

Senior Citizen Week at the Magic Kingdom?

The May, 1973, Walt Disney World News shared information about events happening in the Magic Kingdom during the month of May.

Yes, from Monday, May 9, 1973 through Sunday, May 13, 1972, the Magic Kingdom featured Senior Citizens Week! (Also notice that the Magic Kingdom operating hours were 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Memorial Day weekend. Think about: no extra magic hours or VIP events!

What was Senior Citizens Week? Read on!

Special Events, New Attractions Await You In The Magic Kingdom

May days are special fun days at Walt Disney World, so you couldn’t have picked a better time to enjoy the Vacation Kingdom. There’s a new World of entertainment spectaculars for May, topped by the Grand Openings of two brand new Magic Kingdom attractions.

The Key to Youth is Imagination During Senior Citizens Week at Walt Disney World!

The excitement begins May 7-13, when the Magic Kingdom rolls out the red carpet to those guests 55 and over during Senior Citizens Week. Seniors …and everyone…will be sure to enjoy special daily band concerts, plus a great Salute From Youth, presented by the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, May 13 at 2 pm in the Forecourt of Cinderella Castle.

All Senior Citizens are eligible to purchase special-value Senior Citizens tickets for only $4.95. These tickets are available by advance sale only, and enable Seniors to enjoy one full day’s unlimited use of all Magic Kingdom attractions. Remember, tickets are available by advance sale only, and may be purchased both at Walt Disney World and at area Maas Brothers, Sears and Greyhound offices.

In case you were wondering, the two brand new Magic Kingdom attractions were the Walt Disney Story and Tom Sawyer Island. Both were new for 1973.

Also, the fact that senior citizens were able to purchase a single admission that included unlimited use of the Magic Kingdom attractions was interesting. Even before Disneyland opened in 1955, the ticket books were the standard in most amusement parks for experiencing the rides and attractions. In 1961, Six Flags Over Texas offered one of the first Pay-One-Price models that is the standard for today.

The Winter 1972/1973 Disney News Magazine shares the following chart for ticket book prices:

The $4.95 senior ticket with unlimited use of all Magic Kingdom attractions was quite the bargain! Since there were no roller coasters (Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) and most attractions were family-friendly, there were very few restrictions for senior citizens (not many attractions that had health warnings).

Do You Know Anything More About Senior Citizens Week at Disney?

Looking for a great book on the first decade of Walt Disney World?

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!

Vintage Strollers at the Magic Kingdom!

Vintage Strollers at the Magic Kingdom!

Apparently, strollers have always been a need at the Magic Kingdom, even during the first few years. In the July 29, 1972 Eyes & Ears Cast Member Newsletter, we meet Mark Meyers of the Magic Kingdom stroller shop.

Backstage at our Magic Kingdom stroller shop Mark Meyers assembles one of 1,260 baby buggies available to daily guests. Over 50 wheel­chairs also make up the fleet that spends most of its time not in storage, but in the Magic Kingdom’s themed lands. Mark tells EYES & EARS that on a busy day well over 1,000 strollers are rented to our guests. Employees on pre­sentation ofan ID card can use them free!

Baby buggies? I haven’t heard that term in a long time.

The October/November 1973 Walt Disney World News shares information for the guests on renting wheel chairs and strollers:

Strollers and wheelchairs are available for your use within the Magic Kingdom. They may be rented at the Stroller Shop at the Magic Kingdom Main Entrance. Wheelchairs – $1 per day. Strollers – 75¢ per day.

75 cents in 1972 is equivalent to $4.68 today. Inflation has not kept up with the actual price of strollers!

In this image from 1985, you cal see that the strollers have not changes, except for the addition of the small canopy. Isn’t it neat to see the Universe of Energy sign and the mirrored tiles of the front of the building?

These don’t look very comfortable…

Magic Kingdom Stroller In Action!

The 1974 Disney Productions Annual Report has a photo of a stroller in action on the second-to-last-page of the report.

Where Was The Magic Kingdom Stroller Shop?

The same 1973 WDW News has a map of the Magic Kingdom which shows the location of the stroller shop. It was located just inside the turnstiles on the righthand side, just before heading into the park under the railroad.

Currently, you can rent strollers at the Magic Kingdom under the Walt Disney World Railroad Station.

Do You Remember these older strollers from the Magic Kingdom?

WDW Bits & Pieces is a series dedicated to sharing ephemera, bits, pieces, and other odd moments from Walt Disney World history.

Want a Fantastic Book About the First Few Years of Walt Disney World?

FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). 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!

Small Fashion-a-tions at the Contemporary Resort

Small Fashion-a-tions at the Contemporary Resort

The May 13, 1972, Eyes & Ears cast newsletter had a blurb about a fashion show for the employees and families, featuring employee’s children. This is another one of those odd moments from Walt Disney World history.

Read on!

The word “fashion-a-tions” hasn’t come from Mary Poppins, but just the same, the magic is still there.

Every Thursday evening through June, children of Vacation Kingdom employees are “on stage” starring in “Small Fashion-a-tions” at the Contemporary Resort.
Small Fashion-a-tions is a combination fashion show, magic show, and concert, compliments of the Pearly Band.

Employees and their families are invited to attend free of charge when the curtain rises at 7:30 pm on the concourse.

No reservations are necessary for almost an hour of pure Walt Disney World magic starring the next gener­ ation of Vacation Kingdom hosts and hostesses.

The Pearly Band was a live entertainment group that spent most of their time in Fantasyland before the opening of EPCOT Center (a new group at Epcot would be called the Pearly Kings and Queens). During the mid-1970s, they could be found on Main Street, the Plaza Pavilion and Tomorrowland.

Grand Canyon Concourse

The piece also mentions that the show will take place at the concourse of the Contemporary Resort. This refers to the Grand Canyon Concourse, which s the large open floor area that currently houses Chef Mickey’s and the Fantasia Market. I found the following photos of the Concourse area on RetroWDW.

This image is courtesy of Bill Cotter of WorldsFairPhotos. Bill has an incredible trove of photos of Disney and the World’s Fairs.

I am assuming the fashion show took place in the area with the shops, since clearing out all of the tables and chairs during the busy dinner hour makes little sense.

But Why at the Contemporary?

During the 1970s, Disney was dealing with multiple issues, including promotion of the shops and restaurants at the resorts. They also had to deal with a disparate staff that was working in a whole new world, so to speak. Disney spent a lot of time and effort in the first decade finding ways of entertaining and bringing the the staff together. With the shops at the Contemporary Resort, this also afforded an opportunity to promote The Fantasias Shop, which featured clothes and toys for children.

Shops at the Contemporary Resort

Here is a list and description of the shops that were open during the first years of the Contemporary Resort.

  • The Contemporary Woman with a full range of women’s high style fashions, sportswear, and swimwear. Open 9 am to 10 pm.
  • The Contemporary Man with discriminating fashions, casual clothing and formal rentals. Open 9 am to 10 pm.
  • The Fantasia Shop has a full line of children’s toys, clothing and Walt Disney merchandise. Open 9 am to 10 pm.
  • Kingdom Jewels, LTD. with distinctive men’s and women’s jewelry from all over the world. Open 9 am to 10 pm.
  • The Spirit World with an unusual selection of gourmet food and liquor items. Open 8 am until mid- night.
  • Plaza Gifts AND Sundries with convenience items, souvenirs, newspapers, magazines, books, cut flowers and floral arrangements. Open 8 am to midnight.
  • Bay ‘N Beach at the Marina has sunbathing and photographic sup- plies. Open 9 am to 9 pm.

Do you know anything about the fashion show? Or where they might have held it?

Want to read more about the first years of the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World? Check out Walt Disney World: the First Decade.

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!

Five Millionth Disney World Guest and Pooh for President!

Five Millionth Disney World Guest and Pooh for President!

Five Millionth Walt Disney World Guest!

The May 13, 1972 Eyes & Ears cast member newsletter shared that the Magic Kingdom welcomed Lavonne Green as the five millionth person to visit. An article in the Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) was published on April 25, 1972. The paper noted that Mrs. Green was greeted Thursday morning by a Walt Disney World ambassador. April 25, 1972, was a Tuesday and the previous Thursday was April 20, 1972.

Walt Disney World’s five millionth guest, Mrs. Lavonne Green of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is given a grand tour by Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney World Ambassador Sherry Lynn Swets.

White House Communications Director Herb Klein pats noses with Winnie-the-Pooh, soon to toss his “hunny pot” into the 1972 Presidential race.

The Sheboygan Press article also shares Mrs. Green’s experience:

Mrs. Green was greeted Thursday morning by a Walt Disney ambassador, Miss Sherry Swets, and a fanfare of music when she walked through the turnstile of the vacation kingdom entrance. She received a lifetime silver pass to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Mr. and Mrs. Green and another Sheboygan couple , Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Dann, 812 Spring Ave., were serenaded during a steam launch cruise, saluted by the Walt Disney World Band, and greeted by a host of famous Disney characters when they disembarked.

The article continues:

A wrong turn, which took the couples into downtown Orlando resulted in their arriving an hour later than planned, put Mrs. Green in the right place at the right time.

Listening to a local radio station broadcast en route to Walt Disney World, which said the attraction would welcome its five-millionth guest that morning, Mr. Green remarked…”another wrong turn and we might have been the six-millionth.

The Greens have a three year-old son, Ricky, who stayed home. The couple is already planning to return next Thanksgiving with him and put their silver pass to good use.

Walt Disney World is expecting 10-million visitors during its first year of operation.

I wonder if Lavonne Green is still using her silver pass. Does anyone know?

Check out this article about Millard C. Jones, who became an honorary citizen of Walt Disney World and received a lifetime pass!

Oh, and Winnie-the-Pooh met with the White House communications director to announce his candidacy in 1972.

WDW Bits & Pieces is a series dedicated to sharing ephemera, bits, pieces, and other odd moments from Walt Disney World history.

FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). 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!

The Country Bare Band

The Country Bare Band?

No, that’s not a misspelling. I ran across another tidbit from the November 4, 1972, Eyes & Ears cast member newsletter.

“Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust”

The Walt Disney World Theatre Workshop took to the stage with an original pro­duction, “Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust,” playing to a packed house for five straight nights at the Diamond Horseshoe. Depicting the brief history of Walt Disney World in script and song, EYES & EARS takes a brief look “backstage” at some of the highlights.

So, there was a group of cast members in the 1970s that got together to put on plays, including original shows. It makes sense, if you think about the amount talent that Disney attracts, that people would want creative outlet to hone their chops. But they also got to use the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland to put on the show. Disney World was a vastly different place than it is now.

The audience watched the staff of the University, (l-r) Bill Hoelscher (Scott King), Mickey Mouse and Professor Ludwig Von Break (HarryWinkler), hard at work during orientation.

Bill Hoelscher was portrayed by cast member Scott King. Who was Bill? Well, he worked at Disneyland on the Jungle Cruise, he helped recruit business to the 1964/1965 NY World’s Fair, managed the WDW Preview Center,  managed Walt Disney World Cast Activities and more.

Yeah…so…it’s definitely getting weird.


Charmin Prints (Steve Riddle, extreme left) paired up with the play’s heroine Snowella Beauty (Susan Marshall, extreme right). Tillie the Tour Guide (Susan Hatfield} ignores the mystical powers of “Un-Disney” (Mike Cowing).

Charmin Prints—janitorial crew? Snowella Beauty? Tillie the Tour Guide? And an un-Disney vampire?

Can It Get Any Weirder?

Oh, it did.

Hey! Hey, we’re the Monkees…er…The Country “Bare” Band?


Meet the Country “Bare” Band which included Dave Brewer, Ken Horn, Mike Macek, Tom McCormick and Tom Porter.

I mean…I don’t know what to say.

According the the article, the theatrical group presented an original play that told the history of (a very young) Walt Disney World. At that point in time, Disney World was barely a year old. What kind of history was there?

Do You Know Anything About the Country Bare Band or the Just a Little Pixie Dust play?

Just a Little Pixie Dust play UPDATE (4/17/2020)

I ran across a blurb in the October 21, 1972 Eyes & Ears:


The Walt Disney World Theatre Workshop will pre­sent a satirical anniversary fairy tale, “Just a little Bit of Pixie Dust,” at the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontier­land, October 27-29, at 8:30 pm.

The musical-comedy stars a host of employees and was written by Bob Wilson, Jim James, Harry Winkler, Ralph Petrillo, Sharon Skinner, Jeff Hicks, Bonnie Lipsey and Jim Lee.

“Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust” is a “must,” not to be missed!

Rumor has it that almost anyone can get roasted during the spoof which lasts almost two hours.

Tickets are now on sale at all hotel Cash Control offices and at Cash Control in the Fantasyland base­ment for $1.00 per person.

Employees and their families should use the North Service Lot Clock Station when attending the per­formances.

In rehearsal for almost three weeks, the comedy takes an insider’s look at Walt Disney World and the people who run it.

This offers more insight in that the play was a satirical look at the first year of Disney World’s opening and does poke fun at different personnel.

WDW Bits & Pieces is a series dedicated to sharing ephemera, bits, pieces, and other odd moments from Walt Disney World history.

FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). 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!

Fort Wilderness Camping in 1973!

Fort Wilderness Camping in 1973!

Fort Wilderness camping? Let’s take a look at what a week-long stay at Fort Wilderness was like in 1973.

Walt Disney World Vacationland was a magazine published three times a year and distributed throughout hotels, motels and restaurants in Georgia, Alabama. Louisiana and Florida. Although it was a Disney publication, they presented articles and advertisements from other Central Florida attractions like GatorWorld and the Kennedy Space Center. Vacationland is an amazing resource for researching the Vacation Kingdom of the World.

When I was leafing through the Spring 1973 edition of Vacationland, I ran across a fantastic article about Fort Wilderness camping. The purpose of the Vacationland titles was to promote everything you could do during a week-long vacation at Walt Disney World. At the time, this was a completely different type of vacation and Disney had an interesting time promoting it. I’ve presented the entire article and added my own comments to talk about the changes and differences over the years. The article, although presented as a diary, is simply a way of showing potential visitors the plethora of activities available during Fort Wilderness camping.

It’s a diary of a week-long visit, from Sunday to Sunday. I know that most modern vacationers to Walt Disney World will make a beeline to the Magic Kingdom or their favorite theme park on their first day. Not this trip. Not when you’re at Fort Wilderness camping!

Fort Wilderness Camping: Seven Leaves from a Wilderness Diary


Arrived early this morning for seven days of camping at Fort Wilderness-Walt Disney World’s 600-acre campground. After checking in at the Reception Outpost, a Disney hostess guided us to our campsite. Hard to believe that there are more than 700 campsites, as each site is hidden among stands of cypress, bay, and pine. Our “home” for the next week is complete with a barbecue pit, picnic table, electrical outlet, water system, sanitary disposal unit, and an audacious squirrel who looked us over and seemed to approve, as he chattered continuously as we unloaded our camper.

Decided to stretch our legs after setting up camp. Walked to the beach and watched the boats bobbing about on Bay Lake. Although private boats aren’t allowed at Fort Wilderness, sailors shouldn’t mind as every conceivable type of boat can be rented at the campground dock.

I love the subtle mention of the Bob-A-Round boats. It’s interesting that Disney would feel the need to mention specifically that private boats aren’t allowed. I’m assuming that people assumed they could bring their own boat to a campground.

Stopped for a delicatessen sandwich at the Trading Post- an old-fashioned country store near the beach which stocks almost everything. Bought Mickey Mouse sweatshirts to get into the “spirit” of things.

Learned that there are comfort stations located at strategic places throughout the campground. All are air-conditioned with showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities.

This must be the only campground in the world with a genuine, old-fashioned, narrow-gauge steam-powered train! Took a free trip for several miles around the perimeter of the campground. The engineer told us that eventually it will carry guests to a western town complete with “themed” dining, shopping, and entertainment facilities.

There’s not a lot of research about the “western town” that would have bordered Fort Wilderness. In the mid-1970s, we would see concept artwork for Cypress Point, which would be between Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary Resort (sort of where the Wilderness Lodge is located). You can even find mentions of Buffalo Junction project of the early 1990s but very little about the “western town.”


Up early to watch the sun rise over the lake. Walked quite a distance down the deserted beach to where stands of shaggy cypress marked the path leading to the Fishin’ Hole. Caught several good-sized fingerling bass for breakfast. Noticed a sign marking a nature trail will investigate that later.

There are so many ways to get around at the campground other than shank’s mare. Canoes, bicycles, electric boats, horses- and seldom is a car ever seen, which is pleasant indeed.

Catching your own breakfast? I definitely don’t see that as an option on My Disney Experience.

We rented a tandem bicycle at the Bicycle Barn and spent the afternoon exploring the wilderness on special trails Also pedaled to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, adjacent to the campground, to look at the western saddlehorses. A Disney “cowboy” told us that there are more than 60 horses available for guided trail rides. Got a kick watching some tiny riders on the Shetland Pony Ride. Fed a persistent African pygmy goat at the Petting Farm and then headed back to return the bikes.

Tandem bicycles could be rented for $2.00 an hour or $6.00 for the entire day.

Tonight we are going to the nightly campfire program to get acquainted with our fellow campers and to enjoy some “live” entertainment.

I’m not sure why there are quotation marks on the word live. I’m assuming they’re talking about the fact that you could have a sing-a-long and a movie. Maybe?


A perfect day for swimming, sunning, and sailing! Spent most of the morning stretched out on the beach and then rented a speedy, little Aqua Lark and cruised around Walt Disney World on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. A splendid way to see the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Village, and the Magic Kingdom for the first time.

The Aqua Lark was $6.00 per half hour in 1973 which is about $32.00 in 2014 dollars. When’s the last time that you rented a water craft at Walt Disney World?

Tonight we cruise the same waters but on the deck of an authentic, paddlewheel steamboat which stops twice nightly at the campground dock. Dixieland music onboard and beverages! Tomorrow we visit the Magic Kingdom for a full day of exciting adventures.

Wait. They waited four full days before visiting the Magic Kingdom?!?!


Pleasantly exhausted after a day visiting shops, attractions, and enchanting restaurants in the six “themed” lands of the Magic Kingdom. Certainly intend to return again and again before we leave- there’s just too much to see and to do in one visit. Campers are provided with free transportation to the Magic Kingdom, as well as to the two resort hotels. As this includes monorails, steam launches, trams, and minibusses, “getting there” is half the fun.

Within Disney’s literature, the minibuses were touted as having air-condition. How novel, eh?

Tonight we go on a wildlife excursion in a swamp buggy of all things!

From the January, 1973 WDW News:

Wilderness Night Wildlife Excursions in four-wheel drive vehicles leave the campground each evening at 8:30 to explore the surrounding woodland. The trip lasts two hours and affords guests an opportunity to see a variety of wild creatures in their natural state. The cost is $3.00 per person.

So the wildlife excursion was completely new to me. When I looked at WDW News from months before and after the January edition, I found no mention of it. Do you have any details of the Wilderness Night Wildlife Excursion?


The wildlife excursion last night was quite incredible. We all wore a sort of miner’s hat with an attached light, and as we went deep into unexplored areas, we saw several deer, heard a strange cry that our guide said was a bobcat, and caught a glimpse of two, bright-red eyes belonging to an alligator. An exciting voyage into a wildlife habitat.

Horseback riding today and, perhaps later, an archery lesson. Also intend to cross the water to the hotels and browse in the shops. Tonight, if the weather is good, we are going to our first South Seas luau on the beach of the Polynesian Village.

Horseback riding cost $5.00 per person and it looks like they had rides in the morning and afternoon. The luau was $10.00 for adults, $7.50 for juniors (12-17) and $5.00 for children (3-11).


One lesson a camper learns at Fort Wilderness- it just isn’t possible to do everything in seven days. Volleyball, tetherball, horseshoes, croquet, swimming, fishing, hiking, bicycling, canoeing, horseback riding, archery-there’s something for everyone to do every second of the day. Also, campers are welcome to use all the recreational facilities at the resort hotels.

Today we pay our final visit to the Magic Kingdom and tonight we dress up for dinner and dancing at The Top of the World at the Contemporary Resort.

Check out my article on the Top of the World at the Contemporary Resort.

It’s so hard to believe that they only spent two days at the Magic Kingdom. Although, the Magic Kingdom was open from 9-8 most Fridays and Saturdays in the late spring of 1973. Also, there was no Pirates or Space Mountain at the time. With the paper ticketing system regulating queues, it might have been easier to spend a whole day and actually see everything.


Hard to believe that our week is almost over- tomorrow we return to civilization and leave our wilderness home behind. Today will be spent visiting special spots we’ve made our own, perhaps drifting on the lake or wandering on the Nature Trail, making certain that our memories are stored with impressions to share with each other in the future.

And tonight? Tonight we will gather with friends on the beach to watch the Electrical Water Pageant for the last time and to say, with sadness, “Good-bye’ til the next time.”

It’s hard to imagine a Walt Disney World vacation that’s not full of fast passes, ADRs and shopping. What part of this vacation would you like to experience today?

What do you think about this Fort Wilderness camping “diary” from 1973?

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.

Main Street Market House

Main Street Market House

The Main Street Market House was an opening-day shop for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. It was sponsored by Smucker’s until 1993, according to the incomparable Widen Your World. In 1997, the shop was re-designed completely. In 2007, the space was taken over by the Arribas Brothers for the Crystal Arts store. Originally, the Crystal Arts store was in the seating area of the Main Street Bakery.

This 1973 Magic Kingdom Park map image provided courtesy of http://disneyparksearchive.com/

As far as I can tell, based on the descriptions in the various Birnbaum travel guides, Smucker’s took over sponsorship of the Yankee Trader in Liberty Square by 1990. The 1986 Birnbaum’s guide has the last mention of the Main Street Market House selling Smucker’s jellies and jams. If anyone has more exact dates for the sponsorships of the stores, please let me know.

The Main Street Market House: Sugar & Spice & Everything

Let’s take a step back in time with the help of a 1976 WDW Vacationland Magazine. There’s a two-page article on the Main Street Market House that shares some images and discusses what you can expect to find in the shop. Honestly, though, can you imagine buying jelly to take home from your Walt Disney World vacation?

“Put them cucumber slices on your face to bloom up your complexion, and rub a little kerosene on your hair to make it shine” This and other sage advice, such as using a fried onion poultice to quell a chest cold, awaits visitors who “eavesdrop” on the party line of the crank-style telephones in the Market House, the turn-of-the century general store on Main Street.

Modeled after the country emporiums of the 1890′s, the Market House offers Magic Kingdom guests a pleasantly nostalgic taste of authentic Americana, on the sweet side.

Clustered around a pot-bellied stove like the ones grand-dad might have stoked during boyhood, endless wooden casks of goodies await Market House visitors. There are overflowing barrels of freshly packed cookies, red-and-white striped peppermint sticks, sassafras and spearmint drops, chewy black licorice strings, cheese flavored crackers, and crunchy salted pretzels, as well as bulging boxes of salt water taffy and bags of sugar-sweet rock candy.

If all this is not enough to put a smile on the face of any guest with even a tiny empty spot inside.

Dixie Crystal Sugar, a subsidiary of the Savannah Sugar Refinery, maintains a “by the piece” candy case-a display sure to have the youngsters pressing their noses against the glass as they select a favorite from more than 30 varieties of delicious hard candies, candy bars, and caramels.

On exhibit as well is a tasty scale-model of Cinderella’s Castle, built completely from cubes of Dixie Crystal Sugar, and a collection of rare antique sugar servers dating into the Colonial Period.

The crank telephones which offer the above-mentioned “beauty tips” are an interesting Market House sidelight, too. Guests picking up on the line can overhear a humorous turn-of-the-century conversation between a mother and daughter discussing the evils of inflation, at a time when ham was going for nine cents a pound, and steak at the ” scandalous” price of 11 cents a pound.

Another part of the Market House display of good things to eat is made up of delicious jams, jellies, and preserves from the J. M. Smucker Company.

Smucker’s stocks every kind of spread imaginable, from cool green, mint-flavored apple jelly to tangy apricot-pineapple preserves. There are even low-calorie Slenderella jellies for weight watchers. Spread on a steaming biscuit or buttered thickly on hot, golden toast, these confections are a great way to start or finish the day.

Smucker’s rounds out its stock with jars of ready-mixed peanut butter and “Goober Grape” jelly for “P & J” lovers; rich, thick fruit syrups for ice-cream fans; and six kinds of lip-smackin’ pickles, ranging from honey sweets to eye squinting dills.

All in all, the Market House is a good place to be when that sweet tooth starts to ache. How sweet it is-even if the price of steak today has gone a bit above 11 cents a pound.

The party line telephone still exists today, but in a different location. It’s currently in The Chapeau as you enter the shop on the right.

Did you ever get the opportunity to visit the Main Street Market House before it was re-designed in 1997? Do you have any great memories of the shop?

Check out Walt Disney world: The First Decade! It’s a great book about the first ten years at Walt Disney World.