Best Disney World Book Ever?

What is the Best Disney World Book Ever Published?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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!

A Magical Half-Century: Disney World’s First 50 Years

A Magical Half-Century: Stories Celebrating Walt Disney World’s First 50 Years by Christopher E. Smith, a book review

Isn’t it hard to believe that Walt Disney World will be celebrating a magical half-century this year?

It seems as if we were just celebrating the 40th anniversary and the 50th anniversary was an impossible date. I was hoping that we’d be celebrating the 50th anniversary while wearing jetpacks.

Regardless, we’re here. Despite the shut-downs, the virus, and the social distancing, Disney has been slowly prepping the Florida property for a celebration of sorts. I assume there will be a 50th anniversary celebration at the Magic Kingdom, but no plans have been formally announced (as of this writing). That being said, I imagine that the celebration on Friday, October 1, 2021, will be somber.

Where Are the Books Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World?

I expected many more books published celebrating the 50th anniversary.  That being said, not many are showing up.

Author Christopher E. Smith reached out to me to review his latest book celebrating Walt Disney World’s first 50 years.

The only history book published that documents most of WDW is Jeff Kurtti’s Since the World Began. Jeff’s well done but surprisingly thin history of Walt Disney World set the standard for how to approach a subject as varied and dramatic as Walt Disney World. Hopes abounded for Jeff to re-visit the work and add the second half-century, but plans never came to fruition. I imagine a thorough history of the Vacation Kingdom of the World would be comparable to one of the later Harry Potter novels.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how Christopher put his own spin on Walt Disney World’s history by sharing 16 well-crafted and well-researched stories focusing on Disney World.

A Magical Half-Century

Christopher shares a unique approach to chronicling the first fifty years of Walt Disney World. Don’t expect a run through of the resort or a year-by-year chronology. Christopher weaves a tapestry that tells a larger story. Throughout the 16 chapters, Christopher regales us with historical tales covering different facets of the resort, while focusing on some pretty big milestones and attractions. And some details that you might take for granted.

I’m not a fan of spoilers of any kind, so I will caution you to skip the chapter on Rise of the Resistance until you’ve ridden it (Chapter 4). Rise of the Resistance is stellar (besides being based on the awful sequels) and any little detail gleaned will spoil some of the surprises. But you still need to read the rest of the book! Christopher offers readers some in-depth insight, including a chapter on the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.) that takes around the actual globeto visit some of the other Disney theme parks. Fans of the Adventurer’s Club will love this chapter.

What’s Inside the Walt Disney World History Book?

In the 16 chapters, Christopher visits Sleepy Hollow, the Great Movie Ride, Pirates of the Caribbean and the famed Western River Expedition, the EPCOT film, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, DinoLand, The American Adventure, and some of the littlest details: weather vanes. A Magical Half-Century is more than Christopher reciting a litany of facts; he ties multiple storylines together to present a larger history.  The section on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is really a history of the area and a look at the attraction queue, the ride experience, and the tributes. Christopher travels back in time to share early concepts for attractions that didn’t make the cut, including concepts with Roger Rabbit, Mel Brooks, and Dick Tracy. It’s a very satisfying and engaging read (like the other chapters) that offers much more than you think you’re going to get.

This is the kind of mash-up that is ImagiNERDing approved!

A Magical Half-Century recounts the history through images, as well. Christopher has provided crisp black-and-white photos to accompany the text. He’s also managed to wrangle Rob Yeo to provide the wonderfully retro cover art and line illustrations throughout the book. Rob’s design sensibility and charm help elucidate Christopher’s work.

Christopher includes a lot of details that future researchers and fans will enjoy. In many cases, he includes complete ride scripts and minor walk-throughs of the attractions. Sure, you can find these on the web, but it’s great to have them in a handy reference work.

Disney World and Intellectual Properties

In his regular job, Christopher is a lawyer that works with IP, or intellectual property. One of the chapters looks at IP and the Disney Parks, specifically to counter the argument that Disney is populating attractions solely based on IPs, like Frozen and the Pixar films. Christopher offers unique insight and provides a section at the end of the book replete with tables broken down by era (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom). The author goes a long (and entertaining) way to show how IPs were present well before it was a conflagration.

All-in-all, Christopher’s dive into the first 50 years of Walt Disney World is an engaging and satisfying read. The chapters go deeper than you expect and incorporate more history than you would think. He also provides a select bibliography, which is a must for any good historical work on any theme park.

Christopher used some top-notch titles for his research.

With the obvious dearth of titles related to Walt Disney World history, Christopher fills the void. He shares fascinating reads that will reach out to all Disney World fans, regardless of your experiences and interests. Grab a copy of the book, sit back, and enjoy A Magical Half-Century!

What’s Your Favorite Memory from the First 50 Years of Walt Disney World?


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

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

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

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

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Video Review

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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.

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!

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?


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!