Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Walt Disney World, November 1974

I have a small group of Walt Disney World slides from November, 1974; that's pretty early in the life of The Magic Kingdom! 

This first one is a mystery to me; where are we? You can see the spires of Cinderella Castle in the distance. To our right is, perhaps, a Monorail station? Or the Transportation and Ticket Center? You sure see lots of topiaries in older photos of WDW, are they still as prevalent? That's four questions in one paragraph, which feels so wrong. I should just make up "facts" - if I sound like I know what I'm talking about, nobody will question me.

I almost used Photoshop to correct the wonkiness in this photo, but ultimately decided to leave it alone. It's not even nine o'clock yet, we're going to have the whole day ahead of us! The Florida Mickey portrait uses a more modern iteration of the mouse - I kind of like that it is different from the Disneyland version. The population sign says 25,000,000.

The flags show that it was a windy day, in this photo from the platform of Main Street Station. 

Did they do a "rope drop" back in those days? I don't know how else anybody would get a picture of a completely deserted Main Street. It will be 9 o'clock in just six minutes, and I'm sure that's when folks were allowed to start exploring, riding, eating, and spending.

There are only 10 more in this batch!


Nanook said...


For someone who 'claims' to have limited knowledge, that first image is indeed shot at the TTC. I don't believe the topiary plants are still present, but I know one of your sharpshooter followers will be able to confirm/deny with absolute certainty.

I find it very amusing that even in late 1974 the floral Mickey would be illuminated with two, very common Fiberglass-enclosed PAR bulbs. That seems more worthy of a mid-1950's gag at Disneyland.

And, yes, the Magic Kingdom still has a rope drop - evidently preceded by a "special show" - and is made even more complicated these days thanks to the great "popularity" of..... yes, that's correct: Frozen. UGH-!

Thanks, Major.

Nancy said...

It has been a good many years since I was early enough for rope drop, but I do remember it being at the end of Main Street proper at the intersection of Casey's and Carnation Cafe or thereabouts, though I am not sure if it has always been there, esp. in the early days. My first visit was not until 1979 and we were not up from Miami that early on that day.

I love these topiary, just ordinary animals looking so cool. I love the characters but these are awesome. I dont recall seeing them at TTC or other locations such as this lately, but dont quote me on that!

I believe I have a picture of The Hub that has no one else is in, taken when we had early entry for a character breakfast at Cinderella Castle, but I somehow think they didnt have character meals yet back in 74, but again, I am in no way sure about that either!

I always love seeing WDW in the early days...thanks as always for including them with vintage Disneyland! :)

Pegleg Pete said...

Great pics today, Major. I haven't been at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom at opening time in about a decade but at that time they had a show whereby Mickey arrived by train and cut a ribbon. This was followed by the standard rope drops at intervals deeper into the park. HK Disneyland had a similar show at opening time as of a couple of years ago, although I seemed to recall Mickey arriving through the tunnel on one of the vintage Main Street autos.

Melissa said...

the last time I was at Magic Kingdom rope drop was 2012, and there was still a show. The Mayor of Main Street officially opens the park, there's music and dancing by all the Main Street characters (including the Dapper Dans), they pick a family at random to be the first to ride the train, and all that jazz. And unless you have pre-opening breakfast reservations at one of the restaurants in the park, you're almost NEVER going to see Main Street that empty in the morning anymore.

I haven't been to the TTC since I was a kid, but there do seem to be fewer topiaries in general at the MK, except during special occasions. Mind you, I haven't been since the Hub renovation, so I don;t know as much about the Main Street/Castle area as I used to.

These pics are all winners! What lovely skies!

Chuck said...

In '07, the Magic Kingdom's welcome show included a shower of Mickey-shaped confetti. Pretty sure I still have some examples. I know we have pictures of it.

My wife surprised me with the "Magic Behind Our Steam Trains" tour in '04, and it was surreal - as well as über cool - to see Main Street forlorn and abandoned - or maybe gathering its strength for the coming day - before the crowds arrived.

I don't think - at least, I can't remember - ever writing a sentence - that is, to say, a linguistic unit consisting of one or more words that are grammatically linked into a complete thought - punctuated with as many dashes - indicating parenthetical thoughts - as that last one I wrote - with the possible exception of this one.

K. Martinez said...

Where's the Matterhorn?

Chuck, The "Magic Behind Our Steam Trains" tour you took sounds awesome! Did you take any pics?

Chuck said...

I did, but they are less than spectacular. I was more focused on the moment than capturing it.

Need to dig those out...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, oh I definitely have limited knowledge! I looked at an old map of WDW, and thought that the TTC looked like a likely spot, but still wasn’t sure. Those fiberglass light fixtures were probably the best thing for the job… tough and weatherproof. They’re pretty unobtrusive too! I was pretty sure they do a rope drop ceremony now, but wasn’t sure if they have done that since the very beginning, or if that was a “thing” that developed later. “Frozen”… I wish I loved it as much as most people seem to… but I am definitely not their target demographic.

Nancy, I have only seen the rope drop at Disneyland once; usually because the people I’m with don’t want to get to the park that early. On my last trip we didn’t get there until almost 11 o’clock.. the day was almost half over!!

Pegleg Pete, that is much more elaborate than anything I’ve seen at Disneyland. When you say that there were “standard rope drops at intervals deeper into the park”, I had never heard that before.

Melissa, the “Mayor of Main Street”? I didn’t vote for him! Is the “Mayor” a different person depending on the day, or has that role belonged to the same person for decades? It sounds like some of the topiaries have been yanked… why pay for all of that maintenance? It’s a shame though, I really do associate those playful animals with “It’s a Small World” and WDW.

Chuck, confetti, I’ll bet the sweepers loved dealing with that stuff! I have the audio to a “Magic Behind Our Steam Trains” presentation (not sure what year it is from). You must really have to get there super early. 6 o’cock? As much as I would want to see it, that would be a tough thing to deal with. I need my sleep! And I should write a whole post as one crazy sentence!

K. Martinez, the Matterhorn is hidden behind Pocahontas’ castle!

Chuck, I am guessing it was pretty dark in the roundhouse, based on photos I’ve seen of the Disneyland version.

Melissa said...

Even the corrupt politicians at Disney World are adorable.

zach said...

Having never been to WDW (How did THAT happen?) I enjoy seeing photos from the early days of the Magic Kingdom especially. So, thank you. But... what that elephant topiary is doing is just wrong.


Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, how could one NOT be happy to be Mayor of Main Street?!

David Zacher, I have never been either. I always wanted to go, but it just never worked out. And yes, what IS that elephant supposed to be doing??

Nanook said...


In actuality, those old PAR lamps would do a piss-poor job of lighting the Floral Mickey - especially from that relatively short distance and low angle. I would've thought more specialized fixtures (with a controlled beam spread and brighter) would be installed farther away and from a greater height to insure the best illumination of our little friend.

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, No problem. It just sounds so cool the way you described your experience. I rarely take a camera when visiting theme parks as I usually want to be in the moment and absorb everything with my own senses.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, what does "PAR" stand for, anyway? I just realized I have no idea!

K. Martinez, I'm the same way as Chuck... even though I like *having* photos, I don't like lugging a camera and looking at the world through a lens. Maybe if I went to Disneyland more often, it would be different.

steve2wdw said...

PAR stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector....used to be in a band years ago, and I asked our lighting guy the same question! Love the early WDW pics....keep 'em coming :)

Major Pepperidge said...

steve2wdw, thanks! I would have never guessed "Parabolic Aluminized Reflector". You will definitely see more WDW photos!

Dean Finder said...

Back in the '70s, the WDW monorail spiel actually mentioned the Topiary Garden at the Transportation & Ticket Center.
You can hear it on the "Evening in the Vacation Kingdom" track of Foxxfur's outstanding Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World

Major Pepperidge said...

Dean Finder, I have that track from Foxxfur, so I'll have to listen to it all the way through again. I have some early shots (maybe taken from the Contemporary Hotel) in which you can see LOTS of topiaries all over the property, it's kind of amazing how many there were. Especially when you think that they all needed to be maintained by an army of gardeners.

Big Fez said...

I can confirm that picture 1 is at the TTC. Those topiaries are long gone. The area on the right is the ramp to the resort line. This may have been used as the exit for that line (today it is used for both entrance and exit).

If you took the picture today, you would see a Coffee/Pastry Kiosk in the area in front of the topiary.

Major Pepperidge said...

Thank you, Big Fez!