Florida Before Disney World: Paisley Florida

Florida Before Disney World: Paisley, Florida

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

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

But what is the Disney connection to Paisley, Florida?

Disney and Lake County?

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

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

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

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

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

What Happened to Kismet?

Image courtesy of Lake County Government

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

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

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

Aunt Jessie and Walt Disney

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

(State Archives of Florida)

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

Let’s Visit the Ponceannah Cemetery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The top half has the Masonic Symbol carved on it.

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

Aunt Jessie and Walt Disney in Paisley

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Disney: The First 100 Years Book Review

Disney: The First 100 Years by Dave Smith

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

Disney: The First 100 Years Video Review

Looking for other books about Walt Disney?


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

Energy Efficient Fairway Villas!

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

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

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

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

Lake Buena Vista Introduces The Energy Savers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did You Ever Get to Stay in the Fairway Villas?


Lake Buena Vista Community, The Original EPCOT Center Video

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

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

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.

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?


Empress Lilly and the Disney Village from 1977

Empress Lilly and the Disney Village from 1977

The Fall 1977 Disney News offers one of the best covers of any Disney-related publication that I’ve run across. It’s a simple, but well-composed shot of the relatively new Empress Lilly riverboat.

COVER STORY: The “launching” of the new Empress Lilly riverboat restaurant reflects a new era in dining and entertainment at Florida’ s Walt Disney World Village in Lake Buena Vista. The story of her dining splendor plus other new additions to the Village begins on page 2.

The image of the Empress Lilly is framed by the blurred trees, the guests and the walkway. The brick planter and lampposts show off the (then) contemporary design of commercial naturalism, which means lots of muted browns and other natural colors, sharp and distinct brick walls that line meandering pathways, cedar shingles and woodwork on most buildings, and a separation of pedestrian and vehicles transportation to create a sense of charm.

Check out how they built the Empress Lilly Riverboat.

The Village: some things old, some things new

The article from Disney News (Fall, 1977):

Twinkling lights dancing on a placid nighttime waterfront are reflections of a new era in dining and entertainment at the Walt Disney World Village at Lake Buena Vista. The Empress Lilly has arrived!

Now permanently docked on the Buena Vista Lagoon, this elegant Mississippi-style riverboat is only one of several exciting additions to the cluster of shops and restaurants at the Village. The Village started taking onits new personality early this past spring when the Empress Lilly was receiving her final touches. An expanded Toys Fantastique shop in a new location was already delighting young and old with a wider selection of playthings from all over the world.

Sassy’s, a stylish boutique for young juniors, joined the popular Miss Merrily’s Madness, for the more sophisticated young lady, and Plus You, an accessory show- case. In step with the changes, Shoe Time opened its doors to a fashionable array of footwear. Across the walkway, the Village Spirits celebrated the addition of the Vintage Cellar where aged cheeses can be selected along with fine wines ranging from California Zinfadel to French Bordeaux to German Trockenbeerenauslese.

Then, as spring turned towards summer, the grand lady of the river let down her gangplanks and welcomed aboard all who had come to dine in the splendor of days past. The Empress Lilly (named after Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian) has since been serving guests daily in her three main dining rooms and four lounges, plus her Texas Deck banquet room and lounge.

An authentic reproduction of earlier stern-wheelers, the Empress Lilly is decorated in the grand style of those 19th-century steam crafts. Satins and velvets are lovely accents to the dark mahogany and bentwood furniture and beams, brass lamps, crystal chandeliers and silk damask wall covering.

The finest western beef and seaman’s ale tempt the palates of diners in the Steerman’s Quarters where, through large windows, they can gaze upon the constantly churning paddle wheel.

Up the Grand Staircase and to the bow of the boat is the Fisherman’s Deck, a restaurant that specializes in seafood delicacies, from fresh Main Lobster and red snapper to sandabs and filet of pompano. The evenings are unmatched in elegance as the Empress Room caters to her gourmet guests in a Louis XV setting. The menu includes such entrees as roast pheasant and sauteed abalone.

With summer came the opening of the new Village Pavilion Verandah Restaurant and Ice Cream Fountain and the Village Bakery Workshop, wharf­side neighbors of the Empress Lilly. Reminders of the old-fashioned bakery and ice cream parlor days, the shops within the Village Pavilion serve giant Borden ice cream creations, crepes, sand­ wiches, salads and freshly baked Sara Lee cakes and pastries.

All together, old and new, the Walt Disney World Village is a unique place to visit. There are over 30 different shops to explore, seven restaurants, a lounge with top-name jazz musicians, and numerous craftsmen demon­ strating their special skills.

Of course, there is also an endless calendar of special events at the Village. This fall the Boat Show returns October 14, 15 and 16. On November 11, 12 and 13, the annual Art Festival in the Village will attract master artists and craftsmen from all over the United States.

No matter how many times you visit the Walt Disney World Village, like the rest of the Vaca­tion Kingdom, you will always find find something fun, new and exciting there.

Do you remember visiting the Walt Disney World Village in the 1970s?


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Polynesian Paradise at Walt Disney World

Polynesian Paradise at Walt Disney World

It’s hard to imagine a time when you couldn’t find any information about any aspect of Walt Disney World from your phone. In pre-internet days, you used a guidebook or found information from a travel agent or magazine. So, the information that you found was very limited and purpose-driven.

The Spring 1980 issue of Disney News: Official Magazine for Magic Kingdom Club Families featured a two-page article on the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World. Specifically on the atrium of the resort. Why would they publish an article just on the lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort?

In this case, the article was promoting one of the unique and well-loved features of the Polynesian. At the time, it was also the largest collection of tropic plants in Florida. The article was also a way to entice people to stay at the Polynesian and to promote how unique Walt Disney World was.

Special thanks to RetroWDW for providing the photos of the lobby of the Polynesian.

Polynesian Paradise

Welcome to an island paradise. Listen. You’ll hear the soothing sound of a cascading shower of cool spar­ kling water splashing down over steps of feather rock lava, settling into a crystal clear pool below. Breathe in. Smell the fresh, sweet fragrance of a brilliantly-hued orchid nestled beneath the towering Coconut Palm stretching upward to the warm after­ noon sun.

Ahhhh-paradise!

Though this kind of paradise was once exclusively for Robinson Crusoe­ like beachcombers now it’s even closer than the South Seas. At the Walt Disney World Vacation Kingdom, landscape artists have re-created a tropical jungle paradise in the atrium of the Great Ceremonial House in the center of the Polynesian Village Resort Hotel.

Bidding all guests a friendly “aloha;’ this extensive collection of lush foliage carries you off to a South Seas island with your first step into the building. The focal point of the Polynesian Village, this miniature rain forest is one of the largest indoor collections of tropic and sub-tropic plant life in Florida.

More than seventy-five different species of plants thrive in this two hundred fifty-square-foot jungle. The largest of these are the five species of palm which reach to just inches away from the glass-domed ceiling. Tower­ing nearly forty feet from the floor is the large Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) called the “Tree of Heaven” by islanders since its fruit provides-a source of food, juice, butters and oils. The Coconut Palm can be found in virtually all the tropic and sub-tropic regions of the world, while the Areca Palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens) and the Travelers Palm (Ravenala mada­gascariensis) are native only to Madagascar and the Kentia Palm (Howea forsterana) and the Queen Alexander Palm (Ptychospermom elegans) are found in Australia.

In the shade of the palms’ graceful crowns of feathery leaves grow several species of smaller ground cover plants. Forming a carpet of lush greenery are a number of Prayer Plants (Maranta leuconeura), Creeping Philodendrons (Pathos aurea) and Spider Plants (Chlorophytum cosmosum).

Painting the atrium with vivid colors are the blossoms of several flowering species such as the Flower­ing Banana (Musa coccinea), the Gardenia (Gardenia grandiffora) and members of the anthurium family. Several species of the Bromeliad including Ornamental Pineapple (Ananas striatus, M.B. Foster) are planted in this garden, dabbing more color throughout the greenery. And scattered in planned casualness are species of Ginger (Hedychium), White Flag (Spathyphyllum) and species in the orchid family.

The large rocks which form the cascading waterfall in the center of the atrium are authentic hardened lava identical to that found on vol­canic Polynesian islands like Hawaii.

Some twelve to fifteen hundred plants thrive in their nearly·perfect climate of a constant 70°-78° F. An underground irrigation system sup­plies the plants with an ideal amount of water and the continually flowing waterfall provides just the right level of humidity. The large glass-enclosed roof allows all the foliage ample opportunity to bask in the Florida sunshine.

Planned as a warm island wel­come for visitors to the Polynesian Village, this landscaped splendor offers a taste of paradise, seldom so easily accessible.

Do You Have Any Memories of the Lobby of the Polynesian?


Check out this video on the construction of the Polynesian Village Resort!


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