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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Small World Days at the Magic Kingdom

Small World Days at the Magic Kingdom

Small World Days? What’s that?

Back in the first few years of Walt Disney World, also known as the Vacation Kingdom of the World, Disney offered some special parades throughout the year. Even though Disneyland was an unparalleled success, Disney executives were still trying to figure out what to do with the fledgling Walt Disney World property. When you peruse magazines, brochures and newsletters from the early 1970s, you get an idea that Disney was willing to try just about anything, including parades that would last a weekend.

What Were Small World Days?

From the January 13, 1973 Eyes & Ears:

MAGIC KINGDOM HOSTS “SMALL WORLD DAYS”

Two days of extra special events highlight “Small World Days” on January 20 and 21 when the Magic Kingdom welcomes children and grownups alike from all parts of the world.

Special parades are scheduled with guests of honor representing foreign exchange students, folk dance groups, the appearance of our Polynesian and Mariachi groups and even a genuine Gypsy group.

Guests attending the festivities will receive a complimentary admission to our popular attraction in Fantasyland, “It’s A Small World.” During the daily parade at 2:00pm, flags of different nations will be displayed amidst colorful decorations on Main Street themed to the special event.

In addition to the special parade, the Main Street Co.and daily character shows will also feature entertainment of an international flavor.

Don’t forget … “Small World Days,” Saturday and Sunday, January 20 and 21! 

This advertisement is from the January, 1973, Walt Disney World News. This publication was given to all resort guests (The Contemporary, The Polynesian and Fort Wilderness Campgrounds) during check-in. It was a multi-page newsletter that highlighted hours, entertainment, food offerings and recreation at the Vacation Kingdom of the World.

If you want to learn more abut the Sherman Brothers, check out this great book!

I ran across another blurb that mentioned the special parade. In 1977, Disney Productions published a sixteen page brochure on the Entertainment Division of Disney.

Bridging the gap between informal atmosphere entertain­ment and staged presentations are the many spectacular parades produced throughout the year. Such parades are ‘The Cavalcade of Characters;’ “Fantasy on Parade:’ “The Main Street Electrical Parade;’ “America on Parade” and parades for special occasions, such as Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Small World Days, “Saludos Amigos” and other special days.

Did You ever Get to See the Small World Parade? Or Any Other Special Parades?

Looking for a great book on the creation and construction of Walt Disney World? Check out The Story of Walt Disney World!

Leave Me a Comment and Let Me Know What You Think! I would Love to Hear From You.

The Strangest Boat to Ever Sail at Walt Disney World!

What Do You Think is the Strangest Boat to Ever Sail the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World?

In my latest video, I take a stroll deep into vintage Walt Disney World history to talk about one of the weirdest boats that you’ve ever seen.

Is this the strangest boat that you’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World?

Did you ever get to try out one of the Bob-A-Round Boats?

Leave me a comment and let me know!


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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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Building the Empress Lilly at Walt Disney World

Building the Empress Lilly at Walt Disney World

Do you remember the Empress Lilly? (It used to be where Paddlefish is at Disney Springs.)

In the mid-1970s, Walt Disney World was working to come out of the slumps that paralyzed the travel industry. Various Phase II hotels were scrapped and new ideas were brought to the table. In line with Walt’s vision for EPCOT Center, WDW management developed the Lake Buena Vista Resort Community that consisted of a large hotel/resort area, a shopping village and a business center. The Disney Village (now part of the Disney Springs complex) opened on March 22, 1975. It was an eclectic mix of shops and eateries that placidly raged against the trend of boxy and concrete shopping malls.

In November, 1975, one of the major Phase II developments of Lake Buena Vista was a yet unnamed riverboat-styled restaurant. Construction was to begin in April of 1976 and expected to take 18 months. The general description of the restaurant stayed fairly true to what was built. The following descriptions are from various Eyes & Ears cast publications in the 1970s.

The exterior will be heavily decorated in mahogany and brass. The stem paddle will turn as an additional show factor for guests strolling on the decks and dining in the restaurants.

The Baton Rouge

At the bow of the main deck is a show bar. Decor will be turn-of-the-century, Bourbon Street- style with a mahogany bar, wood planked floors and stained glass.

This concept artwork was captioned as the Empress Room, but would appear to actually be the Baton Rouge Lounge.

At the stem of the main deck will be a steakhouse restaurant. It will carry the same turn-of-the-century decor with a dominance of mahogany, burgundy colors and leaded glass…and offer the guests a view of the paddlewheel and the lagoon.

Next up is a description of what is to become the Empress Room:

The second (or “promenade”) deck will feature a seafood restaurant at the bow and an elegant gourmet restaurant at the stern. Decorated in Louis XV motif, the gourmet restaurant will contain a raised dome ceiling with a large chandelier, etched glass panels between banquettes (booths), silk or damask wall coverings, sculpted wall moldings and details of off-white and gold. There will also be an exclusive entry to this dining room from the dock via a gangplank.

Although captioned as the Baton Rouge Lounge in the article, it must be the Empress Room based on the description.

On the third or “Texas” deck is a dining area suitable for banquets and private parties and a lounge.

Other elements of the boat include two waiting lounges and the ‘quiet lounge’…an intimate cocktail area.

As the year went on, Disney occasionally updated the cast members on the construction of the riverboat. By May, 1976 the riverboat was officially named the Empress Lilly as construction began. The Edward Nezelek Company of Fort Lauderdale was named General Contractor for construction and the opening date was set for April 1977.

Disney reminded cast members that although the Empress Lilly is a building on a concrete base made to look like a boat, down to every last detail, they should still be mindful not to ruin the illusion.

So, if someone asks you about sailing times or cruise destinations, please don’t ruin the illusion by stating that the boat is concrete and cannot move from her foundation. Tell the guest that the Empress Lilly is permanently moored at Lake Buena Vista and that the size and depth of the lagoon, waterways, etc., will not permit the boat to be sailed to the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness, Buena Vista Club, etc.

Disney also released a series of articles in Eyes and Ears that looked at the construction of the Empress Lilly. I am still a little surprised to run across these articles since Disney keeps everything so close to the vest these days.

One thing that I never thought about when I was enjoying the various watercraft while plying the waters of the Lake Buena Vista Lagoon was running into the paddle wheel of the Empress Lilly. Apparently, Disney thought this might be a problem, so they used a dolphin to address the issue of guests getting too close to the wheel while trying to take photos while boating.

I ran across a great image of the Empress Lily under construction at RetroDisneyWorld. Besides being able to see the construction wall with the yellow barrier/floats on top, there are two Bob-A-Round boats in the photo. Score!

The restaurant finally opened on May 1, 1977. Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney was on hand to christen the riverboat, which was, of course, named after her. But this is a story for another post.

Looking for a great resource on Disney history? Jeff Kurtti’s 1996 release Since the World Began is still the only official history of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Let’s hope they ask Jeff to write the second 25 years, as well.

Did you ever get the chance to dine on the Empress Lilly? Do you have any great memories of the riverboat?


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Walt Disney World Cruise Ships

Walt Disney World Cruise Ships

There were Walt Disney World Cruise Ships?

One thing that’s always set Walt Disney World apart from Disneyland and other theme parks (well, besides the sheer size, of course) is the use of water and water-based transportation. My obsession with Bob-A-Round (and Bob-A-Long) boats is well-documented but there are other Vacation Kingdom of the World-era watercraft that still need research and photographic evidence.

Walt Disney World Cruise Ships: the Southern Seas

The Southern Seas and Ports-O-Call were two Osceola-Class Sidewheelers (a term Disney created). The ships were a little over 100 feet long and had a steam boiler operating a genuine “Gallows A- Frame Walking Beam Engine”. Modeled after the type found on the steamer “Francis Skiddy” of the gold rush era, circa 1900′s (http://www.wcdept478.com/AboutPorts.htm). Both were built in 1969. The Ports-O-Call was in service until 1982 and scrapped in 1984. The Southern Seas was in service until 1975 (scrapped in 1977) and the Southern Seas II was built in 1977 (it used a steam engines, which was more reliable) and remained in some sort of service (mostly convention-based traffic) until it was dry-docked and scrapped in 1997.

We covered the cruise ships and the World Cruise on Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show).

Foxxfur from (the amazing) Passport 2 Dreams has written the most-definitive history of the World Cruise.

Walt Disney World Cruise Ships: Ports-O-Call



A good friend of mine was able to provide these scans of photos he took in the late 1970s of the cruise ships in action. He provided some commentary, as well!

Loved them, the side wheels were unique, you could walk to either side and behind them, much closer than the River Boats. I think it was the two originals that would shudder a bit to get started. I heard they had to stop the wheels at the half way point in the piston travel to avoid locking up the wheels would then have to be manually rotated so the piston could push/pull. The Boiler Rooms were glassed in so you could see the boiler and the mighty piston that made the wheels turn and talk to the engineer who operated it.

I took many trips to Discovery Island, it was like going to a faraway special place.

The Southern Seas II was my favorite, loaded with beautiful wood decks, railings, bright brass fixtures, bigger and better, a dance floor, bar and bathrooms.

One special trip, I was as a guest for a evening corporate party on the Southern Seas, with live music and drinks. Totally magic with all the lights to see and the Water Pageant. I remember thinking the Pageant was so much louder up close. I was surprised by the water reflections from the surrounding sights and the moon, just beautiful.

It was heart breaking they let the Southern Seas II go. I think today besides convention rentals, a reservation moonlight cruise a few times a week it could’ve been successful today. Even as a cocktail party transportation for a new Pirate dinner show on Discovery Island would be unique.

Walt Disney World Cruise Ships: The boiler room seen from the upper deck!

 

Walt Disney World Cruise Ships: A closeup shot of the engine room

Do you have any memories, anecdotes or photos of the Walt Disney World Cruise Ships: Ports-O-Call, Southern Seas (I and II) or the World Cruise? Did you ever get to experience these cruise ships?


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!

Fort Wilderness Camping in 1973!

Fort Wilderness Camping in 1973!

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

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

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

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

Fort Wilderness Camping: Seven Leaves from a Wilderness Diary

Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday

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

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

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

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

Thursday

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

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

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

From the January, 1973 WDW News:

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

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

Friday

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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


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

Check out the Story of Walt Disney World: Commemorative Edition.

Crystal Palace Vintage Walt Disney World Images

Crystal Palace Vintage Walt Disney World Images

The Crystal Palace restaurant at the Magic Kingdom has gone through a few changes over the years. I looked at some vintage Walt Disney World images (from the fantastic 1979 book, the Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World) earlier, for this post, I want to do a little theme parkeology on the Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace

I had to do a little photo editing on this full-spread image of the Crystal Palace restaurant at the Magic Kingdom. Notice anything in particular? It does seem like the clientele is a wee bit older than we’d see today (a lot less strollers, anyway). When Disney World was being designed, it was always felt that the majority of guests would be from the state’s large retirement population. Also, these are regular park guests and not cast members chosen and posed. And you can see actual food!

The first thing that I noticed, though, was the carpet!

OK, so the chairs are pretty cool, too. It’s so rare to see any photographic documentation of flooring inside of shops and restaurants. This looks like a great Victorian print, no? I was surprised at how institutional the tables actually were.

Notice anything else?

Food!

It was so difficult to get a good scan of the food.  It looks like peas and sweet potatoes. There’s also a small salad, a dessert of some sort and a great cup!

And trays!

I’m surprised to see a rather plain tray, but I wonder when Disney started designing custom trays.

There’s another close-up of food. A larger salad and another cup! There’s a dark blue cup behind it. I wonder if that’s the one for sweet tea.

Next up: lights!

You can see the decorations on the lamps, which look like a flower design. Also, notice the brass-like decorations on the poles.

For this last detail of the Crystal Palace, check out the wall decoration.

I’m wondering if that was fuzzy wallpaper or just paint. Anyone remember?

Do you remember eating at the Crystal Palace before it became a spot for Winnie the Pooh and Friends?


Vintage Walt Disney World Images, part 1

Vintage Walt Disney World Images, part 1

When I want some vintage Walt Disney World images, I often grab a book from my collection. I pulled a copy of The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World by Valerie Childs to review for my Book of the Week segment on Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show). With over 200 episodes, it means I’ve reviewed more Disney books than most people own (my personal Disney library sits at over 1000 titles). So, occasionally, I have to do a deep scan of my bookshelves to find a title that will interest the listeners.

The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World is beloved because of the amount of vintage Walt Disney World images presented. It’s a look at both properties from the mid-to late-1970s with some stunning shots that you can’t always see today. The text supports the photos but is nowhere near as compelling as the massive amount of photos in the book. I’d like to share some of my favorite vintage Walt Disney World images from the book and delve a bit into their history and unique nature.

The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World is a large-format book that measures 9.5″ x 11″ with many full-fold images like the one above of the Admiral Joe Fowler and the dock for the steamboats. It was also the queue for the Mike Fink Keelboats. The Fowler was damaged during repairs and was scrapped in 1980. The keelboats operated from 1971 to 2001.

Just a fantastic shot of Main Street, USA with the afternoon parade. Notice the cameraman on the roof of the GAF Camera Center? I wonder why they were recording this parade. Can you imagine a Main Street with all of those trees, today?

This is a full-fold image of the Empress Lilly at the Village Marketplace. I used my minimal Photoshop skills to repair the center fold, but the real beauty is the sunset captured and the long-lost feel of a Walt Disney World vacation from the first decade.

A beautiful shot of The Tropical Serenade in the dusk of early evening. You can see how the Imagineers really thought about lighting the structure to pull your attention and draw you in from the entrance to Adventureland.

A gorgeous shot of the golf course near the Golf Resort showing the waterways and winding paths. In the distance, you can see the buildings of the Polynesian Village Resort and the Contemporary Resort. The spires of Cinderella Castle beckon us to enjoy the Magic Kingdom. I’m assuming this is the Palm Golf Course.

An extremely rare shot of the interior of a shop at the Magic Kingdom. Olde World Antiques existed from opening until 1996 when it was taken over by the Liberty Square Christmas Shop. Many items in Olde World Antiques were one-of-a-kind and somewhat expensive, helping to doom this unique and unprofitable shop. Still, what an amazing space. I often bemoan that photography in the 1970s wasn’t the same as for Disneyland’s first decade. Finding  vintage Walt Disney World images that are high quality is very rare, especially in private collections.

This was part of the Polynesian Village pool space. You can see the top of the main building in the background above the trees.

There are some great details in this photo from Liberty Square. Notice the boy in the light green shirt and the tri-cornered hat? He’s part of the daily “Sons and Daughters of Liberty” ceremony. Usually, a young boy and girl would be chosen before the ceremony and instructed on what was going to happen. They would march with the Liberty Square fife-and-drum corps to the Liberty Belle and a proclamation would be read stating the children were Sons and Daughters of Liberty. Make sure to notice the ground, as well. There are three different types of tile and cement in this one shot.

The Admiral Joe Fowler glides around Tom Sawyer Island with the cars from the Walt Disney World Railroad in the foreground. This photograph was probably taken from the area that is now where Splash Mountain is. I love running across vintage Walt Disney World images that I can’t immediately identify.

I’m not a golf fan, but who doesn’t love this photo of Mickey holding the flag at the pin?

Just a great shot of the Richard F. Irvine traversing the Rivers of America

Check out the lack of tree and foliage canopy on the Jungle Cruise! We should be okay, since the hippos are only dangerous when they’re wiggling their ears.

Another shot of the Jungle Cruise without the massive jungle canopy we see today. The boat traveling by the African Veldt is the Mongala Millie. I can only imagine how different the experience of the Jungle Cruise would have been back in the 1970s.

What are your favorite vintage Walt Disney World images from the book? What part of the Magic Kingdom would you like to visit from the 1970s?