Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Magic Kingdom in Black and White, 1973

I recently acquired a group of a dozen black and white negatives featuring photos of Florida's Main Street U.S.A. At first I had no idea when they were taken, but one detail helped to place these in 1973.

First up is a really great picture looking down toward the grand train station; the Imagineers really pulled out all the stops for The Magic Kingdom's Main Street... it is rich with detail - and of course it is huge compared to Anaheim's version. Light crowds would have made this a great day to be there.

"Books • Records • Toys"? Those are three of my favorite things! If only we could go inside and buy stuff! The flags are whipping around, must have been a little breezy, but from what I've heard about Florida's humidity, a breeze sounds like a good thing.

Zooming in on the girl and the woman (look at the diameter of those bell-bottoms!) gazing at the window displays, we can juuuust read those little signs that say "Mary Poppins". Poppins was re-released in 1973, so that is a good clue to help date these pictures. By the way, the film grossed about $9 million, which translates to over $47 million dollars in 2013. Not bad! 

These black and white images almost give the impression of being from the 1950's or 1960's - which is impossible of course. But they bear a real resemblance to old Disneyland snapshots if you don't look too closely. Here's the train station as seen from Town Square. That thing is just huge. Is the upstairs area used as offices, or is it empty space (or used for storage)?

The set builder's art is in evidence here; probably a lot of what appears to be stone, brick, or even milled lumber is in fact fiberglass. I know that fiberglass and various plastics are being used more and more in contemporary construction for things like crown moldings or "gingerbread" details; the Imagineers did it first! Here is "The Cup and Saucer", which must have sold bicycles.

I'll have more black and white Main Street for you comin' up!


Nanook said...

"Light crowds". You don't know the half of it-! I can't imagine any day these times where one could experience anything remotely close to the lack of guests as pictured in these images. Those folks had no idea how great they had it.

And about those bell bottoms. Yeeesssh-!!

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks for the great pics, Major! Early WDW photographs are always welcome.

Chuck said...

Only time I've seen the MK this deserted was when I did the "Magic Behind Our Steam Trains" tour and was escorted into the Park an hour or more before the gates opened.

The upstairs area in the Main Street train station is the alert facility for the on-call anti-zombie quick-reaction force.

K. Martinez said...

In the open area below the Main Street Station there was a snack bar called the Station Break. I remember the ham and cheese sandwich I ate there was awful, but that was back in the 1970s. I have no idea what's there now.

This is great Major. I asbsolutely love these images and am looking forward to seeing the other 8 B&W photos you have of Magic Kingdom's Main Street. Thank you!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, these make me think of all of the early pictures of Disneyland, when the park was virtually empty. I wonder if, in the off-season, you can still luck out at the Magic Kingdom and find low crowds and short lines? Apparently if you play your cards right you can still find days like that at Disneyland.

Pegleg Pete, my collection of WDW images is a tiny fraction of what I have for Disneyland, but there are some really nice ones to come!

Chuck, it is good to know that the Disney company has taken a serious approach to the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

K. Martinez, how can a restaurant (or snack bar) mess up a ham and cheese sandwich? One of the easiest things to make. And yet I know it is possible. Glad you liked these!

Katella Gate said...

Beautiful images Major, thanks for the little lift on pre-tax Apocalypse day.

Melissa said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I remember a crowd that light in February of 1983, but I think those days are gone.

Major Pepperidge said...

Katella, stay tuned for more! (For once I did my taxes weeks ago, it was awesome).

Melissa, it bums me out to think that if I ever finally go to WDW, it will probably be nasty and crowded.