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?

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Muppetvison Posters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Muppetvison Posters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Now that I’m a Florida resident, my time spent in the parks is more relaxed. Instead of rushing from attraction-to-attraction, I spend time milling around and being a general nuisance. No, strike that…I spend time checking out all of the details. I used to pay attention, but now there is more time to linger and soak things in. I’ve always been enchanted with the Muppets and MuppetVision is  tour-de-force when it comes to properly presenting a franchise. As you exit the theater, there are several posters that always caught my attention, but I never had the time to stop and check them out.

The Muppet Posters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Ricky Rat Show – wonderful Muppet gags featuring wordplay lampooning popular songs and plays. Who doesn’t love Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem? Frankie’s Formal Wear is a nod to the penguin orchestra. Make sure to check out their guarantee! Rowlf the Dog is a fan-favorite and has been since 1962. Rowlf is available exclusively on Dog-Eared Records. Fozzie Bear has always been my favorite Muppet. He was dad jokes long before dad jokes became a thing.

Who is your favorite Muppet and why? What do you think about MuppetVision?

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Bob-A-Long Boats and Bob Gurr

Bob-A-Long Boats and Bob Gurr

Bob-A-Long Boats? Don’t you mean Bob-A-Round?

I thought the Bob-A-Round boats were the most unique watercraft built for Walt Disney World. Shortly after posting an article about the Bob-A-Rounds, I received an email from Imagineer and Disney Legend, Bob Gurr about another ill-fated watercraft.

After picking myself up off of the floor (I mean, how often does a Disney Legend email you), I asked Bob a few more questions about the Bob-A-Long boats and he agreed to write a bit about them for me. Bob also sent along two photos of the Bob-a-Long boat which have never been published before!

The Bob-A-Long by Bob Gurr

Soon after WDW opened in 1971, various small watercraft were introduced to the waterways for guest rental operations. One of these watercraft was a small round tub-like electric powered boat, known as the Bob-a-Round. Within a fairly short period of use, the Bob-a-Rounds were deemed deficient in operations and withdrawn from service.

In 1973, WDW watercraft operations requested that a new improved, small watercraft be developed to replace the former Bob-a-Round. A specification of what the new watercraft was to consist of was generated by both WDW and Disneyland operations. A small amount of temporary testing was done at Disneyland using some similar small boats.

The specifications were then sent to WED Enterprises (later WDI) in Glendale, California for design development. The designer assigned was George McGinnis, a lead attraction and ride vehicle designer. George made several renderings of various themed watercraft for operations to consider. The project was referred to as the Bob-a-Long. Several types of themes were illustrated and circulated thru operations over a fairly long period of time, since the project was not on high priority.

Much of the themed design was rejected in favor of something to remain as a small tub-like boat a bit larger than the original Bob-a-Round. In 1974, I was given the task of designing and engineering the new Bob-a-Long, along with the 9 other projects to which I was also assigned from 1973 to 1976. Thus the Bob-a-Long was a sort of routine non-rush project developed during those years by WED and MAPO, Disney’s fabrication shops adjacent to WED in Glendale.

I designed and made all the production drawings for the shops to build tooling and fabricate one production-ready Bob-a-Long for testing. The new boat turned out real nice looking and beautifully built by the shop guys. We took it out to Disney’s Golden Oak Movie Ranch in Saugus for testing in their water pond. We refined a few items, finalized the propeller size and pitch, then sent the boat to WDW for guest operational testing.

It really was a pretty thing in the water; white fiberglass hull, stainless steel fittings, and comfortable blue seat cushions. It had a built in bin for ice and picnic supplies, and overhead storage for life vests. But, unfortunately it functioned no better than the previous Bob-a-Round boat. The boat was just as slow, which meant that guests would return later than planned to the service dock, and sometimes with low batteries, which had to be charged or changed out. The killer shortcoming was that when a sudden Florida rainstorm wind came up, the poor thing just disappeared downwind. Thus requiring a time-consuming rescue operation, leaving both guests and WDW staff in an unpleasant mood.

The moral of the story had several lessons; never let a simple project drag out over years between several organizations. Never do a project unless it has a leader who champions the whole story. Never fully tool up for series production unless you have already proved out the operational concept by prototype testing. And certainly make sure before you start that your whole plan makes complete sense, both operational, and financial. If the designers get a hold of it too soon, they’ll run with it before it can be stopped.

What happened to the Bob-A-Long Boats?

I reached out to Jeff Lange of JeffLangeDVDs and MouseSteps to see if he had any information on the Bob-A-Long boats. He sent me the following photo:

I reached out to Bob Gurr and he responded:

Nope…that’s the one and only test boat we built in Glendale, shipped for test to WDW as a rental boat which turned out to be operationally unsuccessful. Since it was test only, there was no publicity materials. I never learned whatever happened to it. I only remember that shortly after the one test period, the project was cancelled.

There you go: photographic proof of the one-and-only Bob-A-Long boat at Walt Disney World!

Did you ever get to experience the Bob-A-Long Boats?

Want to learn more about Bob Gurr and his work?

Check out his book: Design: Just for Fun. It is out-of-print, but well worth it, if you can find a copy.

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Vintage Walt Disney World Map!

Vintage Walt Disney World Map!

You’ve probably seen this Vintage Want Disney World map countless times, but have you ever explored it? It was created before the 1971 opening and offers details that never saw the light of day, including the three unbuilt hotels: the Asian Resort; the Venetian Resort and the Persian Resort. This map was featured in every guest room of the Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village Resort. It’s often referred to as the Vacation Kingdom of the World map.

Check out My Video Featuring This Amazing Vintage Walt Disney World Map!


Do you have one of these vintage Walt Disney World maps?

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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. There are some amazing vintage Magic Kingdom photos in the book!

Disney Springs Details – Apartments

Disney Springs Details: Apartments

Disney has always been in the details and the Disney Springs details are worth the time and effort to find them. I visted Disney Springs for a few hours during my trip to Central Florida for the Coaster Crusade by Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld. It was my first visit to Disney Springs since last November (2015) and the changes were amazing. I ran across so many great little details—kudos to the Imagineering team for pulling this off so well.

As you walk thought the Town Center area of Disney Springs, you’ll notice so many extra details that simply have no need to be there. These are details that add so much to the overall charm of the shopping and dining complex. The Disney Springs details seemed to be everywhere. Let’s focus on a hidden detail located between the Zara entrance and the arcade that leads to the (under construction) Planet Hollywood Observatory.

Disney Springs Details: A Five Legged Goat

You’ll notice this nice little scene of a stairway with a wrought-iron handrail and tiled steps. It’s obviously a castmember area and leads to offices on the second floor. But the Imagineers and artists of Disney took it a step further and added a few details, or Five Legged Goats. Check out the little mailboxes on the righthand side of the image above.

Although there aren’t any tributes to anyone on the mailboxes for the two apartments, they are numbered: Apt. 1A and Apt. 2A. The detail wasn’t needed but adds a lot to the area.

There really is some gorgeous tile work on those stairs. There’s also a nice little tableaux on the second floor landing for the upstairs apartment.

Numbered 1A is the downstairs apartment, with a very ornate knocker and tile address plate.

It’s really a great way to dress up something that would otherwise be completely utilitarian. There was no need to add the theming, but the details really make the area stand out wonderfully.

Disney Springs Details: A Few Thoughts

I’ve heard  criticism of the Disney Springs area that it’s simply an upscale outlet mall. In one sense it is, but I happily wandered around the area for several hours; I was completely blown away by the beauty and the attention to detail. It’s a wonderful change and the redesign makes a lot of sense. Disney Springs is a step above anything that had been done with the previous iterations of the Disney Village/Marketplace. To me, it was much nicer than the Downtown Disney area at Disneyland Resort. Honestly, Disney Springs is an area that I would love to see as a gateway between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

I got lost, just like I do at New Orleans Square at Disneyland. Granted, it doesn’t have the same sense of history as New Orleans Square, but it represents what a themed environment should be.


Have you had the chance to check out some of the Disney Springs details?

More Vintage Magic Kingdom Photos from 1973!

More Vintage Magic Kingdom Photos from January 1973!

We’ve got more vintage Magic Kingdom photos from Trevor’s grandparents! They took another trip a year later and we have a few more photos to share from that trip. Check out the photos from 1972, here!

Waiting in the queue for the Skyway to Tomorrowland is Robert Marowske. I wonder if that’s one of the GAF Walt Disney World Information Guides he’s got folded in his hand? I do love the shot of the lamppost and the facade of the it’s a small world building in the background. Also, you might need to shield your eyes from the pants of the gentleman to the left.

Here’s Corliss Marowske and I’m pretty sure she’s standing in the queue for the Swiss Family Treehouse. I love the bag she’s got. Any ideas on the background buildings? I think the buildings are to the left of the Frontierland Breezeway. (The shops in 1973 for Adventureland: Adventureland Bazaar, Tiki Tropic Shop, The Magic Carpet, Oriental Imports, Ltd., Tropic Toppers and Traders of Timbuktu—but the Traders of Timbuktu had a different facade.)

Even blurry images of Walt Disney World from the 1970s are fantastic. We’re near the Liberty Tree with the Liberty Tree Inn standing proudly in the background.

Our last shot is from the Contemporary Resort! It’s one of the sleek and futuristic Mark IV Monorails. She’s a real beauty.

Again, a special thanks to Trevor Clor for submitting these fantastic vintage Magic Kingdom photos from his grandparents, Robert and Corliss Marowske.

Do you have more vintage Magic Kingdom photos that you could share?

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. There are some amazing vintage Magic Kingdom photos in the book!

Vintage Magic Kingdom Photos from 1972

Vintage Magic Kingdom photos from 1972

If you’ve looked online for vintage Magic Kingdom photos (who can define vintage anyway), you’ll find the interwebs sorely lacking. There are numerous sites dedicated to Disneyland photos and, frankly, there isn’t much about Disneyland that isn’t documented with photographs. I’ve talked about this with other Disney historians and the best theories we can bring forward deal with generational differences and camera equipment.

In the 1950s, the growth of the Federal Highway system made inter-state travel much easier and desirable. Home movies and photographs were a way of displaying your conspicuous consumption to your friends and neighbors. Unintentionally, guests photographed every square inch of Disneyland while recording their own family vacations. So, what is different about Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom? Obviously, the country suffered an energy crisis in the 1970s that stunted both the travel to Walt Disney World and the planned growth of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. But the more intriguing theories surround the less than high quality camera equipment (like Polaroid-style cameras and cheaper film stock) and photographs that are still stored in basements, attics and closets waiting to be discovered and shared.

A while ago, Instagram user DRASABREED (Trevor) tagged me in a vintage Walt Disney World photo. I contacted him and asked if he had more and if I could use them. He quickly responded with 30 vintage Magic Kingdom photos from several trips that his grandparents took in 1972 and 1973. Thanks to Trevor Clor for sharing these photos taken by Robert and Corliss Marowske. Here are the 1972 photos!

Vintage Magic Kingdom photos from 1972

Walt Disney World Band on Main Street, USA!

What a great shot to start our photographic tour! The Walt Disney World band decked out in red catches our eye first. There’s also a security officer on the left with some sort of patriotic bunting near the train station stairs. Was this taken during the Flag Retreat? You can also see someone selling balloons and a great garbage can. The guests also seem to be pretty well-dressed!

Cinderellas Castle from 1972

This is a great vantage point of Cinderellas Castle.

A shot of the Contemporary Resort from the Walt Disney World Railroad.

We’re on the Grand Circle Tour! No Space Mountain but a great view of a retention pond, the Contemporary Resort and the monorail beam. It looks like there is a parking lot tram above the person’s shoulder. This is a pretty great example of one of the vintage Magic Kingdom photos.

A shot of the entrance to Tomorrowland with the Sea Serpent topiary.

A shot of Tomorrowland from the Hub. On the left is the outdoor seating for the Tomorrowland Terrace. You can see the tracks for the Peoplemover (which wouldn’t open until 1975) and the amazing color scheme of the future with yellows and oranges (like the 1970s Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary). Is that a dragon?

The exterior of the Haunted Mansion.

Welcome, foolish mortals! A close-up view of the Spooky House before the covered queue. It’s the way the Mansion was meant to be viewed.

The Admiral Joe Fowler overlooks the queue for the Haunted Mansion.

The Admiral Joe Fowler is packed! I’m not sure if the line is for the Mansion or the riverboat, but I assume it’s for the Mansion. The Admiral Joe Fowler continued service until 1980, when it was damaged in a dry dock accident. Apparently, the hull was damaged.

The Skyway to Tomorrowland Station in Fantasyland.

Here’s the queue for the Skyway to Tomorrowland. The Skyway closed in 1999 and the Fantasyland Station is now where the Tangled restrooms are in Fantasyland. Look at that crowd! This is one of my favorite of the vintage Magic Kingdom photos. Does anyone remember how the queue worked?

I’m assuming that you went up a ramp once you passed under the arch.

Skyway over Fantasyland. Look at how crowded it was!

This is an amazing shot of Fantasyland. Looking at the top of the photo, you can see the Haunted Mansion by itself with no buildout of Tom Sawyer’s Island (TSI didn’t open until 1973) or the space for Big Thunder Mountain. It was just a large field-like area. There’s the Fantasyland Ticket Booth near the left tower of Peter Pan. Also, can you see the wall around the outdoor dining area of Pinocchio’s Village Haus where the red umbrellas are.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage from the Skyway

A great shot of the 20,000 Leagues lagoon. Notice the railroad tracks in the background.

The Walt Disney World Railroad from the Skyway.

Who doesn’t love the Walt Disney World Railroad? The engine pictured is the Walter E. Disney, which did begin service on October 1, 1971 (check out my article on the Walt Disney World Railroad for more information).

The Grand Prix Raceway from the Skyway.

I’m not sure what the building in the upper-left corner is. It’s not the Grand Prix Raceway building. Any thoughts on the road in the back? Is it World Dr. or Center Dr?

You can also see the construction and storage area that is now Pluto Park Ln. The paint jobs on the cars are fantastic!

Which one of the vintage Magic Kingdom photos is your favorite? Do you have any photos of the 1970s that you want to share?

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. There are some amazing vintage Magic Kingdom photos in the book!

Treehouse Villas Photos at Walt Disney World

Vintage Treehouse Villas Photos at Walt Disney World

Finding Treehouse Villas photos, along with images of most 1970s Walt Disney World, can be pretty difficult. Long-time listener of Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show), Cadet Chad, sent me the following amazing images of his family’s (circa) 1983 visit to Walt Disney World. Chad’s father was prescient enough to take some very interesting photographs of the interior of the Treehouse Villas. I do hope these Treehouse Villas photos bring back some great memories of vacations past.

Treehouse Villas Photos: fishing and the canals

Chad told me that he’s the one crouching in the blue shirt. The other people were just random guests.

It’s hard to imagine a Walt Disney World vacation in which you just hung around by the canals.

It’s hard to find vistas like this at Walt Disney World any longer.

I’m assuming this is a dock of some sort. It does have a light, but there aren’t any cleats visible. Maybe it was just for fishing?

Talk about an almost postcard-perfect shot! This is the same Treehouse Villa thats in the first image.

Treehouse Villas Photos: exterior images

Here’s a photo of the stairwell leading to the deck of the Treehouse Villa. Chad told me that they didn’t rent one of the golf carts, so they had to walk to the bus stop. He does remember a van picking them up occasionally, but he’s not 100% sure.

Wildlife was pretty abundant back in the day. This peacock was hanging outside and let the photographer get fairly close.

What a brazen peacock! Apparently, he wanted to come into the Treehouse Villa. Maybe they were used to being fed by guests.

Here’s Cadet Chad sitting on the deck of the Treehouse Villa.

Treehouse Villas Photos: living room

Again, Chad’s father took some amazing Treehouse Villas photos, especially of the interiors.

It looks like Cadet Chad is hanging out on the couch of the living room of the Treehouse Villas. And he’s watching something on television. 1983 was still way too early for Stacey! I found  list of available channels from a travel guide from the early 1980s.

Television Channels from 1982 (or so)

Turn to Channel 5 in your room for continuous information on all of the things to see and do at Walt Disney World . For today’s events and special happenings, tune to channel 10 for “Around the World Today.” Channel 1 – Recorded music; Channel 2 – WESH, Orlando (NBC); Channel 3- WMFE, Orlando (Educational); Channel 4 – WTOG, St. Petersburg (Independent); Channel 5 – Walt Disney World Information; Channel 6 – WDBO, Orlando (CBS); Channel 7 – Lake Buena Vista Hotel Plaza Information; Channel 8 – WFLA, Tampa (NBC); Channel 9 – WFTV, Orlando (ABC); Channel 10 – Walt Disney World Information “Around the World Today”.

The walls look like they’re covered in a wallpaper that extends onto the door.  Based on the following image from an earlier post, the Treehouse Villas did go through a re-decoration at some point before 1983. You can see that the walls had wood paneling and there was shag carpeting. Also, the ceiling beams would be painted a darker color.

From a 1975 (or so) brochure:

A view of the Treehouse Villas family room, sans Chad. The Treehouse Villas had two bedrooms upstairs, along with a family room and kitchen/dining area. The downstairs had an additional bed, bathroom and washer/dryer. But more on that later.

Treehouse Villas Photos: kitchen

You can see another one of the family room chairs and the spiral stairway that led to the lower level. In this image, you can also see the tile floor of the kitchen and a the dining table.

The following image shows the Treehouse Villas kitchen from (circa) 1973. I can’t tell if that’s a continuation of the carpeting or a vinyl that looks like the carpeting.

This is an incredible image. The cabinets have been resurfaced and the island is gone. It’s been replaced with a large, round table and five chairs (probably too large for the kitchen). I’m assuming that the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher are the same. The countertops and backsplash were also changed from a wooden laminate to a white countertop and backsplash.

Based on this photo and the one with Cadet Chad sitting on the couch above, I assume there were fluorescent lights along the ceiling. Granted, it could be an extension of the windows.

Treehouse Villas Photos: the bedroom

The upstairs also had two bedrooms. The Birnbaum Guides state that one bedroom had a king-sized bed and the other had a queen-sized bed. The early descriptions state the the lower level contained a den instead of a bedroom. To sleep more guests, they originally had a sleeper sofa upstairs. Sometime around 1983, they must have changed it from a den to a third bedroom.

Now, what everyone always asks about…

Treehouse Villas Photos: the downstairs bedroom

Another amazing photo for the time! I can’t say how thankful I am that Cadet Chad’s dad snapped these photos. In this photo, you can see down the spiral staircase into the lower area.

A shot of the bottom of the spiral staircase and part of the bed. There’s also a nightstand with a lamp. Again, I’m assuming that the “brass” bar above the bed is a light and the switch controls the light or the ceiling fan.

And more great carpeting on the stairs!

So, there was tile at the staircase landing and carpet where the bed was. Based on discussions with Cadet Chad, the door in the photo above was probably to the small bathroom that had a walk-in bathtub. Apparently, it was a bathtub in which part of the side wall moved for easier access (like a wheelchair). There was also a utility room, which is pictured below.

A simple washer and dryer. The lower floor also had a door which led outside.

Did you ever get to stay in the Treehouse Villas in the 1970s or 1980s? I’d love to hear about it or share photos!

Check out these great resources about Walt Disney World history and help support ImagiNERDing:

Lake Buena Vista Community

Lake Buena Vista Community

The Lake Buena Vista community is more than just the host community for Walt Disney World; it was also going to be central to the ultimate vision that Walt Disney had for the planned community of EPCOT. Well, not really Walt’s vision, but easiest way the company leaders could figure it out, post-Walt. As we jump back in time, imagine the entire area we’re looking at is the area consumed by Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, today.

Lake Buena Vista scan provided by the unparalleled Foxxfur from Passport 2 Dreams

Known by many names over the ensuing years, the Lake Buena Vista Resort started out with an entirely different focus–even after construction began.

Originally, the 1973 plans called for a residential development with four different community themes based on golf, tennis, boating and western. A lot of construction took place in 1974: 133 townhomes and 4 model homes. The following year, Disney announced a retirement community, additional townhomes and residential apartments for Lake Buena Vista. The 60 Treehouse homes were finished by 1975.

Then Disney changed plans.

See, if they allowed people to take up residence in Lake Buena Vista, they would become citizens. Citizens with voting rights. Voting rights that could block possible expansion of the Magic Kingdom and the Walt Disney World property. So, Disney changed the focus of the community to vacation villas, treehouse villas, club lake villas and fairway villas—basically, an alternative to the typical resort hotels. It wasn’t until later that the decision would have been forced to rotate the people living in the community every three months or so. This would have stopped anyone outside of the company leaders living on property from becoming voting citizens.

Let’s take a look at the accommodations that were available until the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many of the villas were slowly taken over by the Disney Institute before Saratoga Springs redeveloped the area for Disney Vacation Club.

(The following descriptions are from a 1978 Walt Disney World publication.)

Lake Buena Vista Community: Treehouse Villas and Vacation Villas

Winding pathways connect the Village and Club to the Treehouse Villas and Vacation Villas. Both types of accommodations are available for overnight rentals, complete vacation packages, and corporate incentive vacation and leasing plans.

Hidden in the woods bordering the Lake Buena Vista golf course, the two-bedroom Treehouses are unusual treetop retreats. Each comes with modern appliances, peaceful solitude, and a spectacular view. In fact, a few regal peacocks are likely to be your only close neighbors.

For larger families and groups. the spacious one- and two-bedroom Vacation Villas provide plenty of room.

Elegantly furnished, both types of Villas have kitchenware, a color television, linens and daily housekeeping service. Plus, guests receive complimentary motor coach transportation to the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World resorts.

It was obvious that Disney was pretty serious about selling and promoting these accommodations to businesses that might be interested in a Walt Disney World retreat. In the following clipping from the August, 1972 Eyes and Ears, we see a smiling Emile Kuri inside one of the villas. As you will note, he designed the interiors.

Right at home in one of our City of Lake Buena Vista Townhouse is Emile Kuri, who designed the interiors of the executive retreats. Emile designed movie sets for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Mary Poppins” and others. New Townhouses are being built and are available on a lease basis to major U.S. corporations who use the facilities for entertainment of clients and employees. August, 1972 Eyes and Ears

Lake Buena Vista Community: Vacation Villas Interiors

A friend of mine stayed in one of the vacation villas in 1986 and shared his photos with me. Obviously, they were celebrating a birthday! These photos are great since they show a lot of the interiors.

Yep, that’s my friend driving the boat with his sister and dad looking on. Great views of the exterior of the Villas in the background.

A shot of my friend’s sister standing in the middle of the resort. Can you say Cabbage Patch Doll?

The little guy was a sleep, but you can see the staircase and the artwork. Check out the photo of Emile to see him standing on the stairwell. There were some cosmetic changes that had been made since the Villas opened.

A shot of the family room and a shelf! Check out the mirrored wall. Groovy.

Dig that wallpaper…and furnishings.

So many great details: the furniture, kitchen cabinets, high chair, table and artwork.

Lake Buena Vista Community: Fairway Villas

Energy-saving Fairway Villas, under construction along the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, will be the newest addition to the resort community when they begin welcoming guests this summer.

The Villas, expected to yield energy savings of 50 percent with their unique design, Each have a 720-square-fool living, dining and kitchen area and two bedrooms, one of which can be combined with the adjoining Villa. Designed for family vacations. meetings, seminars and executive conferences, the Villa units will be arranged so that as many as four bedrooms can be rented by one tenant.

There were also four Grand Vista Suites and Club Suites, but there isn’t a lot of published information about them.

Saratoga Springs basically sits on the Vacation Villas, Club Suites and Fairway Villas areas outlined on the map.

In this great postcard from BigBrianNC’s Walt Disney World a History in Postcards, you  can see the two-story Vacation Villas and their relation to the Empress Lilly (now Fulton’s Crab House) and the Disney Village Marketplace. It’s difficult to make out, but the building jetting out over the water is the former Captain Jack’s Oyster Bar. Chef Mickey’s (now the Rainforest Cafe) is near that location.

Did you ever stay at any of the villas at the Lake Buena Vista Community?

Check out these great resources about Walt Disney World history:

Eastern Winds at Walt Disney World

Eastern Winds at Walt Disney World

The Eastern Winds is one of those great Walt Disney World historical details that people run into eventually. It’s the perfect representation of what the Vacation Kingdom of the World was like in the 1970s.

I’m obsessed with 1970s Walt Disney World. I think a lot of it boils down to the simple fact that people didn’t document their vacations the same way they did at Disneyland in the 1950s (due to the bad economy of the 1970s and the poor cameras) or how they do today.

The Eastern Winds, a Walt Disney World boat

I got this set of three amazing photos from a secret source. The Eastern Winds was at Walt Disney World from 1971-1978.

These photos were taken in January 1977 from one of the Water Sprites/Aqua Cats. The Eastern Winds, a former 65′ party boat which suffered various problems and was retired from service, was moored off the Polynesian for atmosphere purposes before being sold. The painted eyes are part of the design of Chinese junks so that the boat can see where it’s navigating.

[The] Eastern Winds, the Polynesian’s very own floating cocktail lounge that came in the form of a 65-foot long Chinese junk. While it was normally tethered dockside at the hotel’s marina, it was a real boat. It included deck and cabin lounge areas, staterooms and “lovely serving hostesses.” If Jack Lord and Nancy Kwan had ever conceived a love child, it would have been on this boat. Sadly, the Eastern Winds didn’t manage to float its way into the 1980s. Widen Your World.

I ran across this great postcard at Big Brian’s Walt Disney World, a History Through Postcards site. He’s got some fantastic images and one of the most complete collections of Walt Disney World postcards.

“East Wind” Chinese Junk
Peter Pan and crew prepare to cast off aboard the East Wind, an authentic Chinese junk moored at the Polynesian Village marina. (
Enjoy cocktails in authentic Oriental atmosphere — aboard Walt Disney World’s Eastern Winds junk.

When you’re doing original research with primary sources, you never know what you’re going to find. I’ve scanned over a decade of Eyes & Ears and Walt Disney World News to find very little information about this Walt Disney World ephemera. So, when I ran across the following ad in a WDW News, I knew I had struck gold!

Relax on your own “Oriental Adventure” aboard the Eastern Winds, an authentic 65-foot Chinese junk (imported from Hong Kong) departing the Polynesian Village marina three times every evening.

Each cruise, approximately an hour and a half, is a separate adventure in itself, with complimentary cocktails and exciting entertainment.

Glimpse our Water Ski Show at 6:00, slide by serpents of the deep in our Electrical Water Pageant at 8:30, or thrill to the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks at 10:00, all from the deck of our most unique floating lounge. It’s a front row seat to adventure.

Chart your Oriental odyssey tonight. Couples, $8 (singles, $4). Or the entire family, $10.

I can only imagine what the exciting entertainment was!

From a 1972 Eyes & Ears is an article on the Walt Disney World Sign Shop. I’m assuming this poster was displayed in the lobby of the Polynesian Village!

3 – “A steady hand is something I’ve got to keep,” says John Barnett who must carefully paint English letters — with a Chinese flair no less! John’s sign is a gold leaf display whose center portion is 23 Kt. gold. Lettering takes nearly four hours and if a mistake is made, this is one sign that can’t be thrown out! (1972 Eyes & Ears)

As a postscript, the Eastern Winds was sold by Disney after being moored in the middle of Seven Seas Lagoon for several years. It was relocated to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands where it was used for recreational cruises.

Did you ever get to experience the Eastern Winds?

Check out this great book about the first decade at Walt Disney World.