Monday, September 21, 2015

Walt Disney World at Night - November 1971

At last I am getting back to a bunch of images scanned from some 35mm negatives given to me by "Mr. X", from photos taken during his first trip to the Magic Kingdom during the Thanksgiving season in 1971. The park was only a few weeks old! I will be starting with a series of night views first, just because. I've been saving these for a while.

Walt Disney World's Main Street Station is just plain big, and quite grand, but in this closeup it feels very similar to the one at Disneyland. I love the warm glow of all of the lights. Imagine being there less than a month after the park had opened! The couple to our left are at a window (wearing silly souvenir hats and matching jackets), did you have to buy a ticket to ride the WDW Railroad? Or could you buy ticket books there?

Here's a lovely shot of the Main Street Cinema, back when it showed a selection of silent classics and Disney short subjects on "6 Separate Screens". Note the Christmas decorations, which are rather understated by today's standards - much more like the kind you might have seen on an actual midwestern Main Street. 

My understanding is that the Main Street Cinema is now a retail space, which seems like a darn shame.

Stay tuned for more night views of the Magic Kingdom - some are super nice. After that, there are some beautiful daytime shots as well!


TokyoMagic! said...

I like the understated Christmas decorations. Sometimes less is more.

Nanook said...


It's all so brand new-! Kinda like a new house or new car. Do you suppose WDW still had that "new 'theme park' smell"-??

And... I'm with TokyoMagic!: Less is more - whether it's Xmas decorations or virtually anything else, for that matter.

Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

"Less is more"... I so agree. And along those lines, I'm not sad to see the Osborn light show leave DHS. I'd love to see a more understated celebration there, one perhaps in line with how the city streets of the cities depicted truly are decorated. Anyhow, love the pics of 'New WDW'. As an east-coaster, I really enjoy all the Disneyland pictures as I rarely get there, but seeing my 'home' park is also great fun. Cheers! Meredith

Pegleg Pete said...

Early WDW nighttime shots! These are great. I can't wait for the other photos in this series. Thanks, Major!

K. Martinez said...

The Main Street Station at the Magic Kingdom is a beauty inside and out. I'm so glad to hear you have another early WDW series. Always look forward to those. Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

These are so gorgeous and atmospheric - thanks to Mr. X for sharing them and the major for scanning and posting!

Yes, tragically, the Main Street Cinema is now an "Art of Disney" shop that sells the higher-end souvenirs like limited edition prints and figurines. The marquee reads, "NOW PLAYING: THE ART OF DISNEY." As a tribute to the former attraction, there's a screen (like, big-screen TV size) playing cartoons at the back of the shop where the real screen used to be.

I'm always torn about these "tributes" to former attractions. One the one hand, it's nice to have history acknowledged, but on the other hand, if the replacement isn't as good as the original, it kind of rubs your nose in that fact.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I assume that the decor for the holidays is considerably more elaborate at the Magic Kingdom these days…

Nanook, yes, it did have that new theme park smell… nowadays they have to hang those little cardboard pine tree air fresheners all over.

Meredith, I’ve only seen photos of the Osborn Lights, and it is pretty crazy. I’m sure it is pretty in a way, but “over the top” is an accurate description. Unfortunately, I think that most folks today want as much glitz and glitter as they can get.

Pegleg Pete, there are a few in this bunch of night shots that I think are really nice!

K. Martinez, I have other WDW slides, but I just went through them (the fit in a medium sized box) and there are a lot of duds. Arg.

Melissa, it makes me crazy when they turn something interesting into a mere store. Doesn’t the Magic Kingdom have enough places to buy high-end souvenirs? The Main Street Cinema was never about making more money, it was about adding richness to the theme of the area - something that has gone by the wayside.

Nanook said...


As much as I'll take any opportunity to reiterate the "less is more" philosophy - as I did in my previous comment - I have to admit I was duly 'wowed' by the Osborn Lights. I suspect one reason is the lights only occupied one small portion of the park, and are certainly unique - in a good way.