Best Disney World Book Ever?

What is the Best Disney World Book Ever Published?

This is sort of like asking who your favorite child is. Well, kinda.

I have over 1,400 Disney- and theme park-related books in my collection. A frequently asked question is which book is my favorite? Many of my favorite or recommended Disney titles offer something unique that you can’t find anywhere else. Does the book contain a unique history or photos? Does the Disney book have a unique perspective?

The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort: A photographic tour of the themed gardens of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and other resort areas is a book that takes us back in time to showcase full-color images of Disney World from the 1970s and 1980s. Often, these are photos that you can’t recreate in the parks or resorts any longer.

There are pictures in this book that you’ve never seen anywhere else!

Check Out My Video Review of The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort

What do you think about The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort?


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!

Tell Your Story The Walt Disney World Way

Tell Your Story The Walt Disney World Way: Using Disney Imagineering to Make Your Message Heard by Louis J. Prosperi

Did you ever want to tell your story the Walt Disney World way? Maybe you want to sprinkle a little imagineering magic into your writing, storytelling, or presentations? Does your corporate marketing need a boost?

Then look no further than Louis Prosperi’s latest foray into his Imagineering Toolbox Series.

Louis has spent years studying and writing about creativity and how to bring more creativity into your life and work. His three books on  Imagineering are a master class on the imagineering process.

Tell Your Story the Walt Disney World Way builds on the previous books, but you don’t have to read them to understand or enjoy this title. (But you should, because they are really great books!)

Imagine getting a personal tour of the Magic Kingdom from a former Disney Imagineer!

Louis introduces us to  group a high school friends that meet years later as adults. The group decides to reconnect and take a trip together.

One of the friends is a Disney travel agent and plans the trip to Walt Disney World, including getting a storytelling tour of the Magic Kingdom by a former imagineer.

Varying degrees of Disney fans, from hardcore to haven’t been before, make up the group. You’re sure to recognize yourself somewhere in the group. The families get together for dinner at the California Grill and Kim, the travel agent of the group, lays out the agenda for the week, including the surprise tour of the Magic Kingdom with an Imagineer.

Sounds like a fun trip, right?

The group meets Jay Lewis, a former imagineer that often gives tours of the Magic Kingdom to explain the Imagineering process and storytelling. (Jay is an amalgam of Disney Imagineers.) The tour begins at Main Street and we are led, chapter-by-chapter, through the lands of the Magic Kingdom.

This set’s Louis’ books apart from other titles that talk about imagineering; he weaves the process of creativity into a narrative that is engaging and enjoyable.

Louis breaks down the creative process into relatable chunks and ties them back into everyday situations based on the characters. During the tour of the Magic Kingdom, Jay explains and points out the magic behind how the theme park was designed and created. Jay leads the group sharing those nerdy details while prompting the group to think about how exacting the imagineers were with storytelling in a physical environment. Jay consistently refers to books that help lay the foundation of the tour (including Alex Wright’s fantastic Imagineering Field Guide books).

For most people, meeting an imagineer would be a highlight; imagine getting a personalized tour!

We come full circle at the end of Telling Your Story the Walt Disney World Way by experiencing lunch with an imagineer. Jay brings the friends back for one last discussion about creativity and the imagineering process. During the discussion at the Hollywood Brown Derby, Louis recounts the lessons, again allowing the characters to relate the process to their own lives, to fuse the lessons of this book with his earlier titles. It is a great way to wrap up the book and get you started thinking about the imagineering process in your own life.

It’s the little details

Throughout the tour of the Magic Kingdom, I was consistently surprised by the little details that Louis incorporated to help tell the story.

I’ve been collecting and devouring Disney- and theme park-related books for over 27 years. It’s rare that I run across a book that brings something new to the table in regards to the hidden details of the park. Through Jay, Louis recounts the storytelling aspects of the Magic Kingdom that often slip by us. I have to admit that Louis surprised me with a few of the details that I never noticed.

Who Should Buy Tell Your Story the Walt Disney World Way?

Fans of Disney parks and Imagineering will glean loads from this book. If you don’t know much about the design details of the parks, this book will open your eyes to a larger world. And you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with nerdy little details.

My advice? Get a copy of this book before your next trip to the Magic Kingdom. Louis spins a narrative that pushes you to a greater understanding of design. He also helps to percolate your own creative juices. You will walk away looking at your own creativity in anew light.

Grab your copy today!


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!

Boundless Realm Haunted Mansion Book Review

Boundless Realm: Deep Explorations Inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion by Foxx Nolte

Are you a Haunted Mansion fan?

Then simply visit your favorite retailer and purchase Boundless Realm, Foxx’s deep dive into the history, culture, myths, and designs of everyone’s favorite spooky house.

You will love it and you will glean so much from her nuanced analysis of the vaunted theme park attraction.

I would end the review here, but you might want to read more about it before you take your own deep dive.

Here’s the point to Foxx’s book:

In truth, however, the haunted mansion does not offer us many hints. The great power of the ride is that it suggests leagues more than it shows. Practically every scene offers visual input of imagistic power and internal logic but which has no larger context outside itself. Our brains labor overtime to trace links where they may not truthfully exist. It’s the theme park equivalent of a Rorschach test. —p. 52

Foxx has been pontificating on the Mansion and Disney/themed design for more than fourteen years at Passport 2 Dreams. And I’m not shy to say that she is one of the reasons that I started ImagiNERDing in 2007. Foxx’s words inspired me to look at Disney from a different viewpoint and allowed me to take a discerning look at design choices that I always took for granted. Seriously, the post on fake skylights changed my life.

Why Should You Read This Haunted Mansion Book?

Anyone who has experienced either of the continental Disney Mansions understands that there isn’t much of a narrative. Well, there is, and not the fan-based stories or the retcon that Imagineers have imposed over the ensuing years. But there is a rooted story that is based on the culture and history of the Imagineers that worked on Walt’s haunted house in the 1950s and 1960s. Foxx takes us on the dark and shadowy path that created the 1969 and 1971 Mansions (yes, I know they’re very similar, but there were/are differences).

Foxx did a majority of the 30 illustrations throughout the book!

That’s why this book is spectacular. Foxx takes us by the hand and acts as guide to all that made the Haunted Mansion the Haunted Mansion. She delves into the pop culture of the past few centuries, with a long side track into spiritualism, and brings us into the history of dark rides that led to this one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Anyone familiar with Laff in the Dark and fun house walk-throughs will enjoy these dynamic connections.

Foxx takes these conjunctions, so to speak, and shares how the Imagineers (Davis, Coats, Crump, Gracey, and others) used these influences to design the enigmatic attraction. I searched Google and YouTube for books, songs, and movies mentioned by Foxx that are antecedents to the spooky house.

Boundless Realm and Disney Fans

In Boundless Realm, Foxx’s positions might not sit well with the average theme park visitor or Disney fan (someone who never vacations outside of Walt Disney World). She disregards and destroys fan-based theories (like Constance’s wedding ring), which is a wonderful thing. Some might call Foxx elitist, but there is a reason she is one of the most respected authorities on the Haunted Mansion. Her arguments and theories posit that the Haunted Mansion is a ride that must be experienced firsthand and can only be understood by regular visits.

The book really is for Mansionites that want to experience the attraction from a design perspective in relation to the history and culture of the Imagineers. Casual fans that follow popular vloggers might find consternation in Boundless Realm, but that’s a good thing. I’ve been reading and conversing with Foxx about the Haunted Mansion and themed design for nigh on ten years, and I still felt like I learned some new nugget on each and every page.

Boundless Realm shines when Foxx brings together all of the parts that made the spooky house what it is. We start the journey by discussing how themed entertainment (amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, etc.) and horror films of the early 20th century helped lay the foundation for the iconic attraction. But there are so many more layers to the attraction that Foxx uncovers.

Foxx spends time (and words) imploring readers to discover the world outside of the Disney berms. She discusses the importance of the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels and the Whacky Shack rides, and how their influence is felt in the Mansion.

Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World (And Tokyo, Paris, and Shanghai)

Foxx focuses most of her attention on the Florida mansion. She doesn’t disregard the California attraction; she discusses both attractions when they diverge and offer similar experiences. Her favorite is the Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion, wherein lies her obsession. And her obsession pays off in spades for us.

In thinking about the book, there were so many parts that stood out in relation to the Magic Kingdom version. Foxx tours us around Liberty Square, and she helps us to understand why the spooky house is situated on a hill and its relation to the rest of the land. (Did you know that you’re not supposed to see the riverboat from the entrance to Liberty Square? It’s the sole reason they built the dock the way it is.) I also loved anytime Foxx stepped out of her role as tour guide and shared anecdotes about time spent working at the Haunted Mansion. There are some fantastic cast member tales in this book. Tales that could not take place today!

We do get sidelines related to the Tokyo Mansion, Phantom Manor, and Mystery Mansion. Foxx doesn’t burrow far into them, but offers cursory glances as to their roles in the evolving art form that is the dark ride. She also tackles a few of the other more prominent haunted houses at Alton Towers, Europa Park, and others.

A Ghost Will Follow You Home

This is only the third title written about the Haunted Mansion. For her, it was a journey that took most of her life to make. It is a work of love, but it’s also a look—no, a gaze into the Mansion and everything that makes the Mansion tick. And why we respond to the Mansion as we do. In one part of the book, Foxx mentions watching people exit the ride, and there is palpable exhilaration on their faces and in their mannerisms. As if they’ve ridden a roller coaster. There is something deeply relatable within the Haunted Mansion that touches so many of us. And many times we simply don’t have the wherewithal to understand why.

That’s what makes Boundless Realm so important.

Are You Going to Pick Up Boundless Realm?


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!

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Missing the holidays at the Disney Parks this year? Check out George’s review of Holiday Magic at Disney Parks, the new book by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline, and Charlie Price. The new Disney book celebrating Christmas and Halloween at the Disney Parks features over 1,900 photos!

Disney Publishing sent a review copy and I couldn’t wait to make a preview video for you.

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Video Review

If you won’t be able to visit this parks this year, is this book a good substitute?

This large-format coffee table-sized book will enchant you with photos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and more. It’s hard to imagine that Disney could capture all of the magical details of their celebrations worldwide. They cover the twelve parks, cruise ships, resorts, and shopping districts. There is something for every fan of the parks, including a rich look at the history of the holidays starting at Disneyland.

The price tag seems hefty at first, until you crack it open and leaf through the pages. You’ll notice that there are four to five pictures per page. And at 384 pages, that’s almost as many photos as I take each visit!

 

Along with the Disney Monorail book, you have two fantastic reads for this holiday season. Are you going to get both? As a general rule, Disney books have small print runs and go out-of-print fairly quickly. If you wait too long, the price will skyrocket.

Are you going to order the holiday book for yourself or as a gift?


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!

Brer Bear and Brer Fox Are Waiting to Meet You!

Brer Bear and Brer Fox Are Waiting to Meet You!

This fantastic cover from the Fall 1976 Disney News shows Brer Bear and Brer Fox waiting for us on dock at the Magic Kingdom.

You get a glimpse of Cinderella Castle and The Hall of Presidents to the left go the characters.

Check out Jason Surrell’s Disney Mountains to read more about Splash Mountain and the other Disney mountains.

Splash Mountain is also home to the rarest Disney book of all time!


Locomotives of Walt Disney World

All Aboard The Fire-Breathing Locomotives of Walt Disney World!

The Winter 1975 Disney News offers an article about the Walt Disney World Railroad and how the engines were acquired and brought to Central Florida. I ran across an interesting tidbit concerning the name that the Maya Indians called early locomotives. Read on to to learn about the Walt Disney World Railroad.

ALL a-b-o-a-a-r-d!

Nowadays, that familiar conductor’s cry, announcing that a train is ready to depart the station, is rarely heard in America. Faster modes of transportation have left most passenger railroads by the wayside and many children are unaware of the charm of riding across the country in a coach or Pullman car.

But reviving the days when clouds of billowing steam, the shriek of a whistle and the distant clickity-clack, clickity-clack meant “Old No. 1″ would soon be rounding the bend are four steam engine relics, chugging down the railroad tracks of Walt Disney World in Florida.

Disney railroad scouts acquired them in Mexico before the Florida theme park opened. Each narrow-gauge locomotive and its five passenger cars takes guests on a grand circle tour of the fabulous Magic Kingdom.

Originally built in the United States, the engines had hauled freight and passengers through the rugged countryside and jungles of southern Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula since the early 1900s. The trains were smoke- blackened and shabby when they were purchased by Walt Disney World from the United Railways ofYucatan in late 1969.

Frightened Maya Indians nicknamed the first wood-burning, fire-breathing locomotives to appear on the Peninsula “Huakax-Kaak,” or “fiery bull.” Today, Mexico’s remaining steam- powered locomotives are still called “Toros de Fuego” by the Spanish-speaking people.

Before the steam engines could be put into service at Walt Disney World they had to be completely overhauled and renovated. They were loaded onto railroad flatbeds at the Mexican yard and transported to a ship repair dock in Tampa, Florida.

“Every nut, bolt, screw and part was removed, inspected and reworked or replaced,” remembered Bob Harpur who was the Disney assistant project engineer during the reconstruction.

“New boilers and fiberglass cabs were built, and new tenders and tanks were added, using the original tender trucks (bottom portion, including wheels). The cast-iron wheels, side rods, frames and some of the hardware are all original parts,” he said.

When first constructed, the engines ran on coal or wood, but were eventually converted by the Mexican company to burn oil. Now, the boilers are heated by diesel fuel, which does not emit the sooty smoke that blackened the trains and, sometimes, the passengers.

Walt Disney World Railroad passengers ride aboard open-sided cars lined with benches for comfortable scenic touring. The shiny cars were completely fabricated in the same warehouse where the locomotives were rebuilt.

“Years ago,” said Bob, “the railroads had beautiful colors and polished brass, but the public began to think that they had to pay for all this. So, a big railroad owner had all his trains painted black to make the public stop complaining about the money they thought was going into maintenance.”

Disney’s trains are brightly painted, like those of earlier years. To help celebrate the nation’s bicentennial, they have been festooned with red, white and blue bunting and flags. Every day, the brasswork is polished, and the engines are completely steam cleaned once a week.

One of the alterations made on the vintage engines was to replace the headlights with a type more common in the heyday of the railroad. Real oil paintings of nature scenes decorate the box-shaped lamps which were installed.

Behind the lamp on each engine sits the smoke stack, a bell, a sand dome and a steam collecting dome. The sand dome releases sand on the track when the brakes are applied or during rain to help prevent slippage on the slick steel.

“There is a certain romance and a lot of nostalgia associated with the steam trains,” said Bob. “At one time, every small boy in America wanted to be a steam locomotive engineer.”

Railroadiana, a craze which befalls many rail fans, prompting them to collect and study anything to do with railroading, must have struck Walt Disney. Some readers may remember television films of Walt riding on the tender box of his 1 1/2-inch-scale train, which ran along a track in his backyard. It was named after his wife, Lilly Belle. Now, a larger namesake chugs along the tracks of the Walt Disney World Railroad. The Magic Kingdom’s “Lilly Belle” is a Mogul engine, meaning it has two small front wheels and six drive wheels.

The “Walter E. Disney” and the “Roger E. Broggie” (named for the man who worked with Disney on the engines and railroad systems of both Parks) are 10-wheelers, having four small forward wheels and six drive wheels.

The “Roy O. Disney” was named for Walt’s brother, who was a lifelong partner in Walt Disney Productions. Before his death, Roy served as President, and later Chairman of the Board of the company. The engine is an American Standard eight-wheeler, with four small wheels in front and four drive wheels.

A blast on the whistle signals that one of the trains is leaving the Main Street Railroad Station bound for Frontierland Station and points beyond.

Building up 150 pounds of steam pressure on its 1 1/2-mile journey, the locomotive operates at speeds of 10-12 miles per hour. The train must stop at the Frontierland water tank as many as five times a day to fill up the tender to its 1,500-gallon capacity.

Thanks to RetroWDW for the photo of the Frontierland Railroad Station.

Clanging the same bells that for half a century an- nounced their arrival at the Mexican stations, the Walt Disney World Railroad steam locomotives continually roll into the Main Street depot. For them, time has brought the glory of a returned youthfulness.

Check out my history of the Walt Disney World Railroad.

Check out my review of Walt Disney’s Railroad Story by Michael Broggie.


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!

Fife and Drum Corps of Liberty Square

The Ancients of Liberty Square

The Summer 1972 Disney News presented an article on the Fife and Drum Corps, an idea that was borrowed from Colonial Williamsburg and played heavily of the Bicentennial fever that was sweeping the nation. Let’s check out how they presented the Fife and Drum Corps in Liberty Square.

“And the fifes they made a fearsome sound, and the long roll of the drum did strike terror unto the enemy.” Anonymous…1779.

Special thanks to RetroWDW for use of the photos of the Fife and Drum Corps from Liberty Square.

Brandywine, Bunker Hill, Yorktown, and Valley Forge are familiar names that ring clearly across the long reaches of history. Almost every American schoolchild has read of the battles waged there by the Continental Army of General Washington. But the pages of history can only summon up silent images, they cannot conjure up the fierce sounds of the piercing fifes and booming drums that routed the Redcoats during the Revolution.

Today, in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park, the same sounds of those distant drummers fill the air of Liberty Square.

The Liberty Square Fife and Drum Corps is composed of eleven musicians—five fifers, four drummers, one color bearer, and one drum major—dedicated to preserving the ancient style of fifing and drumming. Known as “Ancients” among devotees of fife and drum music, the corps was organized and trained by George P. Carroll, formerly Director of the Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia) Fife and Drum Corps and one of the foremost drum authorities in the world.

“The art of fifing and drumming is very old,” George explained. “It is martial music, actually, and was used to issue commands on the field during battle.The drum, principally, beat the different commands, and the fife was used as accompaniment.

“Ancient fife and drum music arrived in this country via Europe prior to the American Revolution and is quite unlike contemporary military music. Today’s instruments are different in size and composition and the cadence or marching beat is much quicker. Even though tunes dating back to the Revolution are still played—like “Yankee Doodle”—the versions are generally modernized and not authentic.

“To qualify as an Ancient Corps, a group must fulfill certain requirements. Uniforms, instruments, tempo, and tunes must be as authentic as possible.”

The “Ancients” of Liberty Square wear uniforms that closely resemble those worn during the Revolution. Dark-gold knee breeches and waistcoats are worn under long-tailed jackets of bright blue with royal red cuffs and lapels. A black tricornered hat with a white cockade is precisely centered on each man’s head.

The instruments of the corps are exact replicas of those used during the Revolution. The six-holed fifes are 17 inches long and handmade from boxwood, a wood that is increasingly hard to find. The three snare drums and the one bass drum are also handmade with an American eagle emblem painstakingly painted by hand on their Birch plywood shells.

“Our drums are very special for several reasons,” George pointed out. “First, of course, because they exactly reproduce the drumming of 200 years ago—and until you’ve heard that sound you haven’t heard anything! And, second, because they were the last drums made by the famous drum maker Charles Soistman before his death last year.

“Mr. Soistman was acknowledged to be the greatest maker of antique drums during his lifetime. He came from a long line of drum makers that began with his great-grandfather who made drums for the Union Army during the Civil War. A drummer can recognize the timbre of a Soistman drum immediately.”

The rope-tension snare drums created by Charles Soistman for the Liberty Square drummers are much larger than modern drums with wooden shells and leather heads. On a clear day, the sounds of the drummers can be heard for several miles.

Charles Soistman courtesy of Drummers Service

“You have to remember,” said George, “that these drums had to be heard over the sounds of neighing horses, cannon fire, and rifle shots. “To give you an idea of just how loud and effective they were,” he continued, “two sisters in Massachusetts, Abigail and Rebecca Bates, were able to scare off a British warship by playing one fife and one drum while hidden behind a sand dune. The British decided against landing troops because they thought a regiment of militia were preparing to fight. And that,” he laughed, “is not a drummed-up story.”

When the men of the Liberty Square Fife and Drum Corps came together one year ago, several of them had never held a fife or heard a Revolutionary drum. Hard work, extensive research, and great pride have earned them the right to be called a truly AncientCorps.

And when the visitor to Liberty Square hears the fifes and drums render the ancient tune of “Yankee Doodle,” he will hear the same sounds heard by General Cornwallis when he surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

Do you remember the Fife and Drum Corps from the early years of Liberty Square?


Check out my book review of Disney’s America on Parade.

Disney’s America On Parade Celebration

Disney’s America On Parade Celebration

America on Parade was one of Disney’s first “Just-Over-a-Year” celebrations. America was in a frenzy over the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 and there was no end to the parades and events over the summer of 1976. You could even attribute Liberty Square and the Hall of Presidents to the fervor over the Bicentennial. The Fall 1975 Disney News offered a preview of the parade that was over two years in the making!

COVER STORY: “America On Parade,” Disney’s colossal tribute to America’s Bicentennial celebration, continues to enthrall guests at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. See page 2 for story and pictures.

Every day becomes a Fourth of July celebration as Disneyland and Walt Disney World present “America on Parade,” a spectacular salute to America’s 200th birthday. “America on Parade” premiered last June as a joyful, colorful, wonderful patriotic pageant of the music, people and heritage of America- both past and present.

Thousands of Disney guests have already watched and cheered as Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck proudly lead the three-quarter-mile-long procession through the center of each theme park.

 

The 50 giant-size parade units in the fun-filled musical extravaganza depict a variety of historical and memorable moments in the nation’s 200-year past and highlight the contributions and achievements of the country’s people. They present a stylized, whimsical and never-to-be-forgotten festival of America as only Disney can present it.

Towering above the throngs of young and old who gaze with delight and amusement are Disney’s newest creations, the eight-foot-high, doll-like “People of America’-from Indians to auto drivers, Can-Can dancers to Ben Franklin, a Keystone cop to Uncle Sam—they dance their way through America’s history and into the hearts and memories of those who watch one of Disney’s most unique and delightful creations. The parade, which features more than 150 people, is performed at both Disney theme parks daily at 3:00 p.m. During the summer months and some holidays there will be special evening performances of the parade followed by a red, white and blue fireworks display. As an extra attraction, each week the parade will salute one of the 50 states.

The parade’s grand finale features high school and college marching bands especially invited to take part in this bicentennial salute. From the first strains of “Yankee Doodle” to the closing bars of “God Bless America,” Disney’s “America on Parade” is itself destined to become a part of the Americana it celebrates:
something to be seen, remembered and treasured for years to come.

Did You Ever Get to Experience Disney’s America On Parade?


Check out my book review of Disney’s America on Parade.

Vacation Kingdom of the World Takes Shape in Florida

Vacation Kingdom of the World Takes Shape in Florida

The Disney News from the Spring of 1971 offers an interesting article on the construction and development of Walt Disney World. Remember, this is still about six to eight months before the opening of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Let’s check out how Disney updated Magic Kingdom Club Families, who would be some of the most ardent Disney fans of the time.

It won’t be long now. With approximately 4,000 construction workers on the job, all aspects of Walt Disney World’s 2,500-acre Phase I project are moving steadily toward scheduled completion next October.

The “Voyager” Six these steam-powered launches will be used to transport guests around the lagoon area.

Currently the nation’s largest non-governmental construction project, the new destination vacation resort, located 15 miles southwest of Orlando, is being built at the northern extreme of the 27,400-acre Disney property. It will include a theme park similar to Disneyland, a 650-acre lake and lagoon area, resort hotels, camping facilities, and an almost limitless variety of land and water-oriented recreation facilities.

Construction continues on the beamway that will play an important role in the Walt Disney World transportation network.

First among the new “Magic Kingdom’s” six lands to show signs of its finished shape is romantic Main Street, U.S.A. The architectural overcoat of a bygone era is now being applied to cover the structural skeletons of modern buildings. Ornate cupolas are being framed, gracefully curved windows are being set into place, and the look of the past is coming to life again. The Main Street train station is farthest along, with City Hall, Bank, and Fire Station not far behind. The intriguing facades of the Main Street Cinema, Emporium, Penny Arcade, old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, and other landmarks are also beginning to take shape.

At the entrance to Fantasyland, construction on the curving battlements of Cinderella’s Castle has passed the 125-foot mark. (The magnificent spires of the castle will soar to an ultimate height of 180 feet.) And thousands of steel beams are in place — no two pieces alike — supporting reinforced concrete floors and walls. (Movie set-builders have covered the walls with a “makeup” so real that they will look exactly like granite.)

Instead of dungeons beneath the castle, workmen have completed service tunnels and storage facilities providing underground connections to many parts of the “Magic Kingdom.”

In Fantasyland itself, the building to house “It’s A Small World” is near completion, and in Liberty Square, the exterior of the Haunted Mansion is complete.

At Walt Disney World, the Haunted Mansion takes on an entirely Eastern look. Instead of a “Gone-With-The- Wind” flavor, complete with stately white columns, magnolias, and iron- laced balconies, the Florida mansion features architecture of the “early-Edgar Allan Poe” variety — a building made of granite, a dagger-shaped belfry, and a gargoyled doorway that looks like the entrance to a massive tomb.

Adventureland’s Jungle Cruise river channels have been excavated, and many tropical trees and shrubs (among 55,000 that will eventually be transplanted from the Horticultural Center throughout Walt Disney World) are now in place.

In Frontierland, work continues on the setting for the “Country Bear Band,” a foot-stompin’, country and western hoedown featuring the zaniest group of bears ever assembled.

The male members of the cast include: the master of ceremonies, a seven-foot tall bear that wears a beaver hat and talks with a drawl; a five-bear string band; Comer and his rinky-tink piano; Big Al and his un-strung guitar; and the grizzly singing voices of Wendell, Ernest, Terrence, and old Liverlips McCraw.

Among feminine performers, the cast includes: the original swinger, Teddi Bara; the lonesome loser, Trixie; and three little golden-haired bears in blue.

And, for a change of pace, the program features a trio of horn-tooting fugitives from a taxidermist: an elk, a buck, and a moose.

As far as the Walt Disney World Navy is concerned, more than 200 ships and other watercraft are beginning to move down the shipyard ways in Florida.

Ranging from paddlewheel steam-boats to replicas of Captain Nemo’s submarines, the vessels will play important roles, both in the theme park and in the transportation network linking Walt Disney World’s five major resort hotels with the Park.

Work continues on 12 adventure-seeking submarines patterned after assembled at the Martin Marietta Captain Nemo’s vessel in Walt plant in Orlando, are 171-feet long, Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.” Carrying 36 passengers each, they will tour a vast underwater world to view lost continents and ocean marvels.

In addition to water craft, a new monorail system is being built for the Walt Disney World transportation network. Carrying up to 7,700 passengers an hour, the system enables guests to travel from the parking area and transportation center to the theme park or to the major theme resort hotels nearby.

The new Walt Disney World Mark IV monorail trains, which are being assembled at the Martin Marietta plant in Orlando are 171-feet long, wider than their Disneyland counterparts, and incorporate a new air-suspension system for the smoothest ride possible. They are designed to attain speeds up to 45 miles an hour.

The silent, all-electric trains, which travel atop concrete beamways soaring up to 60 feet above ground level, are fully air-conditioned, operational in either direction, and boardable from either side.

In the area of food, a whole new world of dining experiences is being prepared for Walt Disney World guests.

Each of the six major lands in the theme park — Adventureland, Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, Fantasy- land, Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland — will have refreshment and themed eating facilities. At the resort hotels, foods from many lands and cultures around the world will be featured in dining rooms, nightclubs, and lounges. And, on romantic steamboats, in picnic areas, on golf courses, and at other recreation sites, unusual eating services will become part of the fun.

According to Food Service Division Director Jim Armstrong, Walt Disney World will be prepared to serve up to 175,000 meals a day. According to John Cardone, Manager of Food Production at the “Magic Kingdom” theme park, “Walt Disney World will serve the largest variety of foods anywhere in the world, everything from French pancakes to Polynesian ‘carry- away’ lunches.”

Variety is the key word in the entertainment area, too. By opening day, the “Vacation Kingdom” will need at least 350 entertainers, including singers, actors, pageant helpers, and production personnel. Bob Jani, Entertainment Director for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, is already beginning to recruit production crews and initiate training programs.

In the “Magic Kingdom” theme park, both “atmospheric” entertainment and special shows will fill each of the six major lands. For example, on Main Street, U.S.A., a barber-shop quartet and the 20-piece “Magic Kingdom” Marching Band will be featured; in Fantasyland, a Black Forest Tuba Band, an English Pearly Band, court jesters, and the famous Disney characters; in Tomorrowland, rock music; in Liberty Square, fife and drum parades; in Frontierland, entertainment with a western flavor; and in Adventureland, steel drum bands.

In addition, famous entertainers will appear regularly in such locations as the Celebrity Lounge atop the 14- story Contemporary Resort Hotel, and other entertainment locations in the hotels will feature top musical groups and personalities, as well as talent developed by the Disney organization.

Beyond the perimeter of the theme park, construction work is underway for the Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village hotels, two of five major theme resort hotels to be located in Walt Disney World.

Located on the south shore of the “Vacation Kingdom’s” 200-acre lagoon, the Polynesian Village will offer an informal, leisure way of vacation living in keeping with the romantic South Seas mood it creates.

At night, it will take on a special magic with dining, dancing, and entertainment, all keyed to the South Pacific theme. Luaus under the stars or moonlight excursions on the lagoon will be a part of the total experience for each guest.

The main dining, shopping, and lobby areas will be in the Great House, resembling a royal Tahitian assembly lodge, with “open” peaked roof and brown-skinned rafters reaching through the swaying palms of a central atrium.

Glass walls will give an open feeling to the main dining room, as guests look out over cascading waterfalls and garden lagoons shaped like huge pearl shells.

The contemporary-styled hotel, unlike any building in the world, resembles a long, hollow pyramid. Its sloping walls rise like the lower half of a giant “A” toward a 1 4th floor penthouse restaurant and lounge.

Within its pyramidic hollow, the huge central concourse — nine stories high and one-third longer than a football field — will become a park-like landscape of the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.

Colors will range from the cool blues and greens of the canyon floor, rising through sandy reds and oranges, to the heights in lighter yellows and golds.

Sunlight will stream through bronzed-glass end walls and skylights, pass by a magnificent tile mural 90 feet high, and reflect off the pools, fountains, sculptured shapes and walkways that wind past simulated open-air shops and restaurants.

Restaurants, shopping areas, and lounges within the concourse mall will be defined, not by walls and partitions, but by light, shadow, color, raised and lowered floor levels, and suspended space forms.

Two of Walt Disney World’s proposed three golf courses have been planted and will be ready for challengers on opening day. Fairway, tee, and green sites have been cleared, and thousands of large palm trees and magnolia trees have been planted on the two courses, in keeping with their names — the Palm and the Magnolia golf courses.

Sparkling white sand traps, jewel-like lakes, winding creek-like canals, and lush, wooded groves have been used in many different ways to challenge golfers.
According to Joseph L. Lee, one of the nation’s foremost golf course architects, “Each golfer will find varying degrees of skill required, de- pending on how he chooses to play.

But each hole is designed to provide a mental challenge for everyone from beginners to professionals.” The Palm Course will be a 6,410-yard par 72 layout; the Magnolia Course will be a 6,550-yard par 72 layout; and the third course will be a 6,500-yard par 72 layout. (Unusually large tees will allow greenskeepers to extend each of the courses to more than 7,000 yards for tournament play.)

Conservation is also playing a major role at the “Vacation Kingdom”. More than 7,000 acres of Walt Disney World have been set aside by the Disney organization for permanent protection as a Conservation Area.

One of the major objectives of the Disney organization in establishing the Area is to demonstrate that with imaginative planning and use of available technology, urbanized development can be achieved without causing deterioration of the environment or disturbing the ecological balance of adjacent areas.

To these ends, extensive water level control facilities have been constructed so that environmental factors can be maintained for optimum benefit to the flora and fauna of the area.

The most advanced methods of water and air pollution controls have been initiated, including the use of natural gas in virtually all vehicles and in the project’s central energy plant, automated trash disposal, and three-stage sewage treatment system to obtain a virtually pure effluent. This effluent, in turn, will be used for irrigation of the golf courses.

Hundreds of thousands of new plants, trees, and shrubs have been imported to help in beautifying the developed areas, while leaving untouched those natural primitive areas which will be protected from human encroachment. Truly, there is no destination-resort today quite like Walt Disney World will be tomorrow. And tomorrow is less than a year away.


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

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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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