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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A 1971 Walt Disney World brochure was in a recent trove of ephemeral treasures I was bequeathed. If you’ve kept up with my overtly fanatical efforts here, then you know I’m slightly obsessed with documenting the first decade of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. I always look at the ways that Disney promoted the new endeavor in Florida. This brochure should be considered an opening brochure and not the pre-opening one, which lists the preview center instead of the vacation packages and the text “Opens October 1971″ on the cover. (Check out the pre-opening brochure, here.)
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Front Cover
The use of the Florida flag is pretty spectacular. It warms my heart when I see it in use. The first panel of the tri-fold brochure shows a few of the vacation options you can experience. In the first image, we see the icons that would be in use for many years: Cinderella Castle, the ferry boat and a small sailboat. Obviously, water is important!
The three images at the bottom of the front panel reinforce the vacation kingdom with water skiing, golf and meeting the famous Disney characters. Stylistically, the characters are the ones that would be used in the parks for the first years.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Inside Centerfold
The top half of the brochure features a painting of the proposed first phases of the Vacation Kingdom. We’ve seen similar views of this but I wanted to highlight all of the different resorts and developments.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Polynesian Village
The large tower and (at least eight) outbuildings provide a much more sprawling and modern take on the south seas-inspired resort. Notice those smaller buildings along Seven Seas Lagoon? Those look remarkably similar to the Disney Vacation Club units that were built. Hmmm…
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Asian Resort
This is still an incredible design. I’ve seen concept artwork for the inside of the main building of the Asian Resort and it looks spacious and very 1970s. The road that is currently known as Floridian Way was originally called Asian Way.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Magic Kingdom
The most noticeable parts are the many spires of a Space Mountain-type attraction and the monorail skirting the hub around Tomorrowland. It looks like a spur runs to the Persian Hotel and then to the Contemporary resort.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Persian Resort
The Persian Resort has always seemed oddly placed to me. Backing up to Tomorrowland and the Magic Kingdom maintenance facilities, it seems like it would be a more remote resort. Not sure how the monorail would have played out, since most overviews of this depiction show the monorail traveling through Tomorrowland before going to the Persian and then to the Contemporary. In the Magic Kingdom image, it looks like you would leave the Asian Resort, go through the Magic Kingdom and then stop at the Persian Hotel.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Contemporary Resort
Not much to say, really, about this iconic resort. It looks like it was built pretty much to plan.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure The Venetian Resort
This hotel would see a rebirth of sorts after the success of the Grand Floridian. Eisner wanted to build a Mediterranean Resort on the same spot. Sadly, the sinkhole that was discovered during construction would have required a massive foundation. The addition of this many hotels would have made the resort monorail loop a bit longer.
Recreation, Entertainment and Relaxation
The inside panel entices guests with an idea of activities and amenities. No mention of My Magic +?
Welcome to a whole new vacation way of life! Here are a few of the adventures in store for you and your family at Walt Disney World:
The Magic Kingdom Theme Park — Visit Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland — as exciting as California’s Disneyland.
Resort-Hotels —”live” in the world of tomorrow at the Contemporary Hotel; relax in the South Seas at the Polynesian Village. 1500 luxurious family-sized rooms.
Golf — play 18-hole championship courses designed by one of the world’s foremost golf architects.
Camping—stay outdoors (with unexcelled facilities) in Walt Disney World’s “Fort Wilderness.”
Water sports — swim, sail, and water-ski over miles of lake and lagoon.
Nature Trails — ride horseback, pedal a bicycle, or hike along scenic wooded trails.
Transportation — forget your car when you get to Walt Disney World — travel by 19th century steamboat, 20th century monorail, and other unique land and water craft.
Activities planned for young & old alike. Play “spectator” or join in — there are fishing trips, nature walks, canoeing picnics, hayrides and much more.
Relax — bask in the Florida sun along four miles of sandy beaches — or grab a deck chair at Olympic-size hotel swimming pools.
Special Shows — watch the fireworks (every night), take a moonlight cruise, see parades of famous Disney characters, enjoy top-name stars.
There’s always something special happening at Walt Disney World.
For reservations or information about resort-hotels, camper-trailer facilities, motor-inns and conventions, please write Walt Disney World Hotels.
I just love this line art. With boats above and below, it almost looks like the teacups are floating (Bob-A-Round Teacups?)!
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Back Panels
Again, it’s interesting to study the copy and see how Disney promoted the Vacation Kingdom of the World.
STAY and PLAY in the “Vacation Kingdom”
Walt Disney World is a completely new kind of vacation experience. Here you’ll find all the fun of California’s Disneyland—and many new attractions created especially for Walt Disney World. And that’s just the start . . . here you can dine in the banquet hall of a medieval castle . . . sail for miles, or sun on the beach of a Polynesian Village . . . watch the sunset from the deck of a 19th century steamboat…ride a swift monorail train right through the “lobby” of a resort-hotel as contemporary as tomorrow.
These adventures, and many more, await you and your family at Walt Disney World. Come for the day . . . or better yet plan to stay for your entire vacation. Walt Disney World offers recreation, family entertainment and relaxation all together for the first time . . . a whole new vacation way of life.
Plan now to leave the world of today behind . . . make your destination Walt Disney World . . . the Vacation Kingdom of the world.
I do love maps. This one gives us a good physical representation of the space taken up by the hotels and the route of the monorail.
1971 Walt Disney World Brochure Vacation Package Plans
Another section of the back panel shares the vacation packages that you could choose. Remember, that Disney was still using coupon tickets for all of their attractions.
I’ve always wondered if the drivers of the various forms of transportation actually asked for the resort ID card or the transportation ticket. Anyone know?
I just love running across older material like this. Especially anything that lists prices! I’d also love to see Walt Disney World release some simpler marketing material like this.
What does this1971 Walt Disney World Brochure make you think of? What do you think the Vacation Kingdom of the World experience would be like today if the other resorts had been built?