Tuesday, March 28, 2017
1979. The "Happy Meal" was introduced. The Sony Walkman was for sale in Japan for the first time. Jimmy Carter was President. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and "The Muppet Movie" premiered. In other words, it was the greatest year ever!
Today I have an original, never previously posted (!) article, courtesy of Ken Martinez, featuring a guide to Walt Disney World from 1979. I'm going to "copy/paste" his article to avoid any screwups on my part. Here's Ken:
Walt Disney World Guide – The Magic Kingdom 1979 (Part 1)
Here’s a guide from my second trip to Walt Disney World. My first visit was in 1978. I visited again in 1979, 1983 and 1984. I haven’t been back since. In this particular post I’ll just give my impressions of those early trips I took to Walt Disney World.
Here’s the cover to “Your complete guide to the Walt Disney World Vacation Kingdom” booklet which primarily covered the Magic Kingdom in detail. These were handed out to visitors of the Magic Kingdom. At least that’s how I got mine.
Here’s the table of contents and transportation schedule. I was well aware of what Walt Disney World had to offer before my first trip. It was an obsession of mine to visit the place since I was 11 years old when it opened in 1971. I knew from various articles and magazines that I wanted to see such attractions as ‘Mickey Mouse Revue” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “If You Had Wings”. I read everything I could get my hands on at the local library before taking my first trip in 1978.
As with most Disney park guides there’s always a section on helpful information and contacts. These early guide booklets were more elaborate than what is given out today at the parks. Now it’s just a multi-folded single sheet.
One of the strange things about hearing that Magic Kingdom was larger than Disneyland is that when I first visited I was surprised that it really wasn’t that much bigger than Disneyland. The buildings were taller, but Main Street for the most part felt about the same size as Disneyland’s. At least the streets themselves didn’t feel that much larger. It was the Plaza itself that felt absolutely huge and spread out. I rode the Walt Disney World Railroad and saw The Walt Disney Story. While the steam locomotives were cool, the actual grand circle tour wasn’t all that interesting to me back at the time. I do remember a few fake alligators along the route though. I was totally impressed with the Main Street Station, but had a ham & cheese sandwich from the ‘Station Break” snack bar under the Station that was awful.
Adventureland was my favorite land in the Magic Kingdom. I went on every attraction there and dined at both the Adventureland Veranda and Sunshine Tree Terrace. I think Adventureland Veranda was my favorite place to eat and a favorite for atmosphere. I really liked Swiss Family Treehouse and Jungle Cruise, but found Pirates of the Caribbean disappointing. I remember being really disappointed when I had to get out of the boat before it went up the hill. That and the ride seemed much shorter than the original. Caribbean Plaza was really cool though and I remember all the fountains working because I looked for them knowing they existed from reading about it before hand. Adventureland was truly my favorite.
I don’t remember much about Frontierland except mostly the construction of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with the steel skeletal structure rising and on a later visit seeing partially completed rock formations and lots of scaffolding. I only did Country Bear Jamboree and Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland, but rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on later visits. It was my favorite roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom and much better than Disneyland’s in my opinion. It just seemed more intense.
In Liberty Square I went on the Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents and one of the Liberty Square Riverboats in Liberty Square. I don’t remember which riverboat I went on though. I skipped the Keel Boats because it covered the same scenery as the Riverboats. I actually enjoyed Disney World’s Haunted Mansion more than Disneyland’s. As for the Hall of Presidents, the preshow really tried my patience. I already knew a lot of the history they were presenting and I just wanted to get onto the presidents themselves in all their Audio-Animatronic glory. That part did impress me.
I went on every ride here except Snow White’s Scary Adventures and the spinner rides. I’m sorry I missed the Snow White ride, but figured the Carrousel, Tea Cups and Dumbo were the same at both parks so I skipped those. I mainly focused on rides that took me to me from point A to point B or were unique to the Magic Kingdom. Strong memories here for me were descending into the interior load area of It’s Small World and floating by the windows of the Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant with diners overlooking the boats floating by. I thought that was cool. Another strong memory is the queue structure for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which I thought was pretty cool. From the Mickey Mouse Revue, I mostly remember the silhouette of Cinderella and prince Charming projected onto the curtain/screen. It’s funny what sticks with us from long ago memories.
I remember the entrance to Tomorrowland being really cool, but that the rest of the land was lots and lots of concrete. If You Had Wings was my favorite ride here and I was well aware of its existence before my first trip to WDW so it was a must do for me. I really liked Space Mountain here, especially the queue load area where you could look up and see the entire coaster structure with “rocket” vehicles whizzing by in the darkness. From what I understand, it’s now covered up. Now Carousel of Progress contains a bit of irony for me because I’m a west coaster. In all the years I visited Disneyland it’s one of the few rides I didn’t go on. I finally decided to go on it when visiting Disney World. Now most GDB readers have a strong connection to the song “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” when talking about Carousel of Progress, but for me “The Best Time of You Life” is the song that I associate with Carousel of Progress. I didn’t bother with Mission to Mars or America the Beautiful because I figured they were the same as Disneyland. Everything else I went on. I remember returning in 1983 and being disappointed that the pylon waterfalls were removed.
1979 was probably my favorite year at Walt Disney World because by then, Tom Sawyer Island, Caribbean Plaza and much of Tomorrowland was added. In addition, most everything from the beginning was still there including the Mickey Mouse Revue, Plaza Swan Boats, Explorer Canoes, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and If You Had Wings as well as the waterfall pylons of the Tomorrowland Entrance. After that, things started disappearing here and there. My last trip to the Magic Kingdom was in 1984. Notice that Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and Plaza Swan Boats are shown here on the map, but not on the individual attractions list.
Since I haven’t been back in over 30 years, lots of these memories have faded, but I what I shared are key memories that have stayed with me from those trips. Hope you enjoyed. Coming next: Part 2 covering The “Vacation Kingdom.”
Thank you very much to Ken Martinez! As he said, part 2 is coming right up.