Monday, April 24, 2017

The Magic Kingdom, December 1971

Here are four more photos from Walt Disney World's first few months!

Presumably this group of musicians was in Adventureland, since steel drum music evokes a sun-drenched tropical vibe. Doing a little research (emphasis on "little"), I have found references to "J.P. and the Silver Stars", a pretty awesome name for a band! They continued to perform at the Magic Kingdom all the way into the mid-1990's - perhaps longer.

Listening to various podcasts, I get the impression that live music is not quite as easily found at Walt Disney World compared to Disneyland. Having never been there, I can't say, personally. You can find a few videos of J.P. and the Silver Stars on YouTube.

Meanwhile, over at the Swiss Family Treehouse... just look at the line! Those Swiss really know how to throw a party, and everyone knows it. My guess is that the surrounding jungle has become quite a bit more luxurious over the past 40+ years.

And here's a pretty shot of Cinderella Castle, taken on this awful, cold December day. This photo is 89% "postcard worthy", but it juuuust misses the mark!


TokyoMagic! said...

Yay, more early WDW shots! Does anyone know the name of the instrument the lady is playing in the first two pics? I had to play one of those in my elementary school's 5th grade Christmas pageant, but now I can't remember what it's called. And by the way, the lady is wearing a silver star around her neck!

Nancy said...

Wow, the Swiss Family Treehouse looks so lonely! It is pretty much in the middle of a forest these days. This view also makes me realize how close it is to the beginning of the bridge. It always seemed much longer a walk to the actual tree than it is. Such a cool view!

Thanks for sharing more WDW goodness. I was not privileged to visit there for the first time until 1979, and I treasure all of these peeks at the early days. :-)

Pegleg Pete said...

My first visit to WDW was in August 1973 and the Treehouse was one of the attractions which lodged particularly vividly in my memory. I don't remember it seeming anywhere near as isolated as it appears in this shot. I wonder if they had already added more foliage by then – or if my memory is just faulty? Great pics today, Major. Thanks.

Chuck said...

J.P. and the Silver Stars were featured on the original "Official Souvenir Album of Disneyland and Walt Disney World." I can still remember the anticipation of that track coming on the stereo; not only did I like the piece, it also meant that "Grim Grinning Ghosts" was coming up next.

While I like the current lush verdure of Adventureland, the way the Swisskapolka Jukebox towers over its surroundings in the second photo is very reminiscent of the way it looks in the film.

In the first couple of photos, the gazebo column bases (and possibly the snack stand in the background) appear to be an example of the concrete "brickwork" that featured in many less-important structures at WDW. The "brick" wall along the walk to the Haunted Mansion is constructed in the same manner - a concrete wall that is then painted to resemble brick and mortar. I remember feeling cheated when I noticed that on my high school graduation trip, but since then I've grown an appreciation for what was a cost-saving measure but still executed with style. A Six Flags park wouldn't have even attempted something like that. I do wonder sometimes how the maintenance costs would compare over 45 years of real brick vs. having to repaint the concrete in two colors.

TM!, that instrument is called a "guiro." I remember playing one in music class in second grade and being incredibly excited to find one on Olvera Street during a family trip to LA later that same year. I lost the little stick thingy pretty quickly, but I still have the basic instrument, faintly scuffed with paint that transferred from the pencils I used to play it.

Thanks for a great start to the week, Major! I'll have steel drum music in my head all day!

K. Martinez said...

Always love and appreciate early WDW. Thanks, Major.

J.P. and the Silver Stars actually did an entire album of their music played at the Magic Kingdom called "Walt Disney World - Adventureland Steel Band". I still listen to it from time to time. It's quite enjoyable. I kind of consider them a WDW entertainment legend

Another entertainer who I consider a WDW legend is Michael Iceberg who performed at the old Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom. He had this huge instrumental contraption on stage. It definitely fit the mode of Tomorrowland.

Here's what I consider his signature song "Love is What We're Here for".

Here's a video of Michael Iceberg performing live at the Tomorrowland Terrace(full show). It's almost an hour long and of poor quality, but the music is quite entertaining in my opinion.

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks, Chuck! Yeah, I guess a pencil would work in a pinch!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Major for the time and effort as always. I may have to go the Park in the next week or so. I don't know if anyone cares all that much but I've had a small reversal of health's fortunes in the last week and a half. If I do go to the Park I'll forward some info for the general amusement of all, if that sort of thing amuses. Y'all fill in nicely for family and nostalgic memories and I don't think that feeling is much of a surprise 'cause you're all so damn cool. Oh yes you are, so damn cool. Can I buy anyone a Magic Pencil or maybe a pristine, uncut animation cel if the animation corner is open? I'm taking orders now.

Nanook said...

@ Patrick-

Just have FUN-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, as everyone knows, that instrument is called a “scrapey thingy”. Also, I played an angel in the Christmas pageant for four years in a row, giving me the opportunity to just stand there with a fake candle. A silver star, eh? Vampire troubles, begone.

Nancy, I need to look for a contemporary photo of the Swiss Family Treehouse in Florida. I’m sure it looks WAY different.

Pegleg Pete, as usual I am completely ignorant about pretty much anything to do with the Magic Kingdom, except that it was built by AA figures.

Chuck, I’ve heard that song that was on that “Official Souvenir Album”, and I can’t say it was my favorite. If it doesn’t have accordion, I don’t want to hear it, is what I am basically saying. Which is why the Swisskapolka is on my “Hot 100”! I always thought that they fake bricks at the parks were amazingly convincing. Yes, if you looked very closely you could tell, but… why would you do that? Disneyland was built by many of the same people who built the sets at the big studios, and therefore used a lot of the same tricks, which is pretty neat.

K. Martinez, I always knew you were into Metal. Get it? Steel drums? Metal? I crack myself up! Michael Iceberg’s music was one of those things that I downloaded when I discovered so much Disney park music on Napster and other places. I can’t say it’s my cup of tea, but many folks love it, for sure.

TokyoMagic, all the best instruments can be played with a pencil. Except for the accordion.

Patrick Devlin, I guarantee that all the GDB regulars DO care. If you have a chance, please go back in your emails and see the message I sent you, perhaps a week or so ago. I hope you have a wonderful visit!

Nanook, good advice.

TokyoMagic! said...

Patrick, if you do go, I hope you have a wonderful time at the Happiest Place On Earth! And I would love to hear about your trip!