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!

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?

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?

FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Camping at Fort Wilderness in 1973!

Camping at Fort Wilderness in 1973!

A lot of people have experienced camping at Fort wilderness at Walt Disney World. But how many got to experience a Fort Wilderness trip in which you caught your own breakfast?

Our make-believe family looks like they are about to have the best Fort Wilderness vacation ever!

I read an article in a 1973 Walt Disney World Vacationland magazine about a seven-day camping trip at Fort Wilderness. What surprised me was what the family did! (Or didn’t do.)

There was no rushing to the Magic Kingdom every morning. There were no extended shopping visits. And there were no Fastpasses! Imagine spending days exploring Fort Wilderness as opposed to visiting the Magic Kingdom.

In their defense, this was a Magic Kingdom bereft of any E-Ticket attractions (although, the Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion were there). It would be months before Pirates of the Caribbean opened and years before Space mountain and Big Thunder Mountain would debut.

Check out My 1973 Fort Wilderness Video

Camping at Fort Wilderness was a completely different experience than you can even find today. There was a little something for everyone, even if it was just lounging around in a hammock. After reading the article, it was obviously a PR piece, but the writer did a great job of conveying the multitude of activities surrounding horses, outdoor sports, canoeing, fishing, and hiking.

Speaking of Fort Wilderness, did you ever get to stay there in the 1970s and experience the Peddlar’s Truck?

Do you miss the Tri-Circle D Ranch at Fort Wilderness?

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

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

Vintage Strollers at the Magic Kingdom!

Vintage Strollers at the Magic Kingdom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These don’t look very comfortable…

Magic Kingdom Stroller In Action!

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

Where Was The Magic Kingdom Stroller Shop?

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

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

Do You Remember these older strollers from the Magic Kingdom?

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

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

FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Vintage Disney World Photos!

Vintage Disney World Photos!

Florida Memory is a program of the State Library and Archives of Florida. They have some amazing photographs from throughout Florida history, including images of Florida amusement and theme parks. I stumbled across a large collection of photos of 1970s Walt Disney World, featuring the Magic Kingdom.

The details in this photo are a little difficult to piece together because of the small size. I am assuming that it’s from inside the TTC. Any thoughts?

Here’s a shot of the ramp leading to the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. I love the angle.

Vintage Main Street, U.S.A.

There’s so much greenery in this early photo of the Emporium and Town Square. I wonder what souvenirs were being sold during those first years.

We’re inside the Magic Kingdom! This photo is taken from the Town Square Plaza. You can see the trees lining Main Street and there’s a glimpse of Cinderella Castle.

It’s hard to imagine Main street at the Magic Kingdom so desolate. You can see the entrance to the long-gone West Center Street.

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle surrounded by trees looks a little bit different almost 50 years later.


Let’s head through the Castle and check out Fantasyland.

Who remembers the Skyway?

Flying over Fantasyland in the Skyway offers a great perspective of Fantasyland and Cinderella Castle.

This shot feels like the land is still under construction. Can you imagine a Fantasyland without strollers and hundreds of people waiting for Peter Pan’s Flight?


Looks like we made it over to Adventureland by the Country Bear Jamboree.

Do you remember the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes? I never hd the chance to do them at Magic Kingdom, but I did experience them at Disneyland. My arm still hurts…

Liberty Square

This is a great shot of the Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square.

Guests on their way to experience the Haunted Mansion. I wonder what year they removed the planter.

Up close, the Mansion looks less foreboding. Or does it?

What do you think about these vintage photos of the Magic Kingdom?

Whatever Happened to the Golf Resort?

Do You Remember Disney’s Golf Resort?

The Golf Resort at Walt Disney World was one of the first three resorts in the Vacation Kingdom of the World. But you won’t find it on any map or on the Disney website.

So, what happened to the golf-themed resort that was the darling of the Disney World executives in the 1970s?

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Did You Ever Get to Experience the Golf Resort at Walt Disney World?

Leave me a comment below or on the video if you have photos of the rooms or the resort!

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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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Rare Walt Disney World Construction Photos!

Rare Walt Disney World Construction Photos!

I ran across almost one hundred rare Walt Disney World Construction photos in my files. I’d forgotten that I even had them. Most of these images are from 1967 to 1971 and I’ve rarely seen them used anywhere else. I knew what some of the Walt Disney World Construction photos were, but most of them, I couldn’t identify. Can you help?

Check out the video and let me know!

Rare Walt Disney World Construction Photos Video

There are photos of Bay Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon, the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and so much more. You can get glimpses of the Contemporary Resort, the parking lot, Discovery Island (Raz Island), the US Steel Fabrication Center and a lot of backstage areas. There are even a few early shots of Interstate 4 as it makes its way around the boundaries of the property. The end of the video features photos of either the Southern Seas or the Ports-O-Call. These were two early Walt Disney World cruise ships that were used for ferrying guests to Discovery Island and for the World cruises.

Are you able to identify any of the images? Leave a comment and let me know!

Don’t forget to head over and subscribe to my Youtube channel for more videos about Walt Disney World, roller coasters, Dollywood, Carowinds and so much more! I’ll be uploading videos on the construction of the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Village Resort and the Magic Kingdom!

Which one of the Walt Disney World Construction photos is your favorite?

More Vintage Magic Kingdom Photos from 1973!

More Vintage Magic Kingdom Photos from January 1973!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for a great book on the first few years of the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World? Check out the Story of Walt Disney World: Commemorative Edition. There are some amazing vintage Magic Kingdom photos in the book!