Thursday, September 22, 2016

Walt Disney World - 1977 Resort Guide, Part 3

Yo yo yo! It's time for the third installment of Ken Martinez stuff from Florida! 

Walt Disney World - Resort Guide 1977 (Part 3)

Continuing with the "Walt Disney World - Resort Guide" booklet, featured in today's post are the Golf Resort and Fort Wilderness Campground.

The Golf Resort Hotel, which opened in 1973, was the third Disney hotel built on the property. It was also the first Disney hotel that wasn't connected to the monorail system. The resort hotel which was also known later on as "The Disney Inn" is now owned by the United States Department of Defense and used for military personnel on vacation in Walt Disney World. The current name of the hotel is "Shades of Green".

The Golf Resort Hotel was built in between two PGA Championship golf courses, the Palm Course and the Magnolia Course. Featured here is a map of the hotel and the two golf courses. The Golf Resort Hotel wasn't thought of as a "Disney" hotel by the public and it was off the monorail line so it didn't enjoy the same occupancy rate and success as the Contemporary or Polynesian did. Because of that, Disney changed the theme to "Snow White" and renamed the hotel "The Disney Inn".

Instead of staying at a resort hotel, a family visiting Walt Disney World could "rough" it out at the Fort Wilderness Campground. The place is home to what is probably the most famous show of all of Walt Disney World, "The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue". In fact I think it is probably the longest running stage show in Disney Parks history.

Featured on these pages is a map of the Fort Wilderness Campground area including the then new River Country, Treasure Island and what I love most, the Wilderness Line layout. The Wilderness Line Steam Train is now a lost piece of Walt Disney World history.

Coming up next: The community of Lake Buena Vista.

As always, my thanks to Ken Martinez for this post!



TokyoMagic! said...

I am not very outdoorsy, but for some reason the Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds are sounding kind of fun right now. I want to see the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue! I also want to ride the Wilderness Line! Are any remnants of the train tracks still in existence today? And what happened to the trains themselves? I think maybe that was discussed here a while back, but I can't remember.

Ken, thanks for more vintage WDW!

Chuck said...

Fort Wilderness is, in my opinion, simply the best campground ever.

I stayed here as a ten-year-old in '79, back when you could swim in Bay Lake in not one but two swimming areas on the beach, one on either side of the Fort Wilderness Landing, each complete with sand and a diving dock. We'd head on down in the evenings to watch the Electrical Water Pageant as it floated across the lake, and the last night of our visit was the first night the MK was open late enough for fireworks, and we took them in from that beach.

Discovery Island was right across a narrow channel, and then there was that day at River Country. Memories...

My wife and I stayed here a couple of times, once in a tent over the WDW 25th Birthday celebration weekend in '96 and again in '04 in a pop-up trailer with a toddler and a baby, and the experience was always top-notch. Bus transportation around the campground was frequent and reliable, and the roads were bicycle friendly. There was a good-sized pool, a restaurant and wine bar, boat and canoe rentals, and the Hoop-de-Doo Revue. A nightly campfire sing-along and Disney cartoon festival provided entertainment for the whole family, and I can still see my then-two-year-old turning to me and laughing with every fiber of his entire being at the on-screen antics of Donald Duck (in fact, the experience saved the Duck for him after he had been absolutely terrified at Mickey's Philharmagic). And they were really nice when my wife backed over and knocked down the entry sign to Bay Tree Lane.

My only real regrets with Fort Wilderness are never taking my wife to River Country or Discovery Island and my first visit being too late to ride the Wilderness Line.

TM!, I haven't been to Fort Wilderness in a long time, but I know that a large chunk of the right-of-way, the two bridges, and a section of rail in between them in the easternmost portion of the route were still in place as late as 1998 (I was too busy wi' ma wee bairns to take a look in 2004). There were also a few other remnants here and there - the Main Settlement Depot was still standing, there were a couple of asphalt patches where the rail had crossed roads, you could see where crossing signals had been cut off at ground level, and I found one set of crossing signal light fixtures set in the ground and repurposed as spotlights for a sign.

I shot at least one roll of slides on that visit; I just need to find them...

Thank again, Ken!

Patrick Devlin said...

Thanks, Ken, for the photos and good writing: always a treat.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Thanks Ken!

The Fort Wilderness RR is not so much lost as it is dispersed, some of it hidden in plain sight. All four locomotives reside in the hands of Disney fans, some in various stages of restoration. The agreement signed by the parties and Disney allowing the company to donate the engines stipulated that the engines would never be made operational (for liability reasons). However...;)

Several of the cars also still exist, some on Disney property, some in private hands, some in various zoos, etc.

Sharp-eyed GDB readers will notice the small black lanterns below the headlights on the WDW RR steam locomotives. These are called "classification lights," and were used in real railroading to tell crews the status of the train. The particular lanterns on the WDWRR engines were once used as tail lights (technically called "marker" lights) on the last cars of the FWRR trains!

Readers wanting to know more (and when I say "more" I basically mean "everything") about the FWRR owe it to themselves to get this book:

It's loaded with photos, drawings, maps, you name it. Many of the photos were taken by young CMs back in the day and the quality leaves a bit to be desired, but of the RR are almost as rare as hen's teeth, so I give 'em a pass.

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic!, I'm sure GDB readers will chime in. See Chuck's and Steve's comments.

Chuck, Your writing about the Disney experience brings me right there in the moment and adds a lot to these articles. Definitely look for that roll of slides and check with Major to see if you can share them with us. I'd love to those images.

Patrick Devlin, Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying these.

Steve DeGaetano, I was 99.9% expecting you to chime in just for the Wilderness Line. Again, thanks for so much background and detailed information. As Chuck also mentioned, it's a shame they can't restore them to an operative level. Thanks for the link on the FWRR book. I wondered about those books but never purchased any. I'll definitely had to check them out. I can never get enough of the Disney railroads. Thanks for the recommendation.

Nanook said...


Thanks for posting more images from WDW. I think the last time I attended the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue was back in 1977, but I can still remember bits and pieces of the show. And I did visit the Golf Resort around that same time.

Thanks for the memories.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck and Steve, thanks for the additional info about the Wilderness Line!

Melissa said...

The Hoop De Doo Revue was the highlight of our 2011 trip.

I had broken my foot, but there were downstairs tables left and all the sold-out performances that week. So, I had to hobble up those long narrow stairs on crutches and not go to the bathroom the whole evening. Still, it was well worth it and one of my fondest memories.

I found their cornbread recipe online, and it's one of my standard things that I take to potlucks.