Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Around the River, The Magic Kingdom, November 1971

Gosh, I have been going through some boxes, and I have more WDW slides than I originally thought. They're not all great, but perhaps I should start going a little heavier on the Disney World stuff. In the mean time, here are three beauties from Mr. X, from the earliest days of The Magic Kingdom, and all relating to the "Rivers of America". It's nice to have a theme.

This first image shows a view looking across the river, with the buildings of Frontierland in the distance. I don't really recognize any of the structures, but I'm sure many of you do. For instance, what's that thing with the tower, slightly right of center? Anyhoo, Tom Sawyer Island is close to us, but you can't go there yet... it won't open until May of 1973. 

I think this is a pretty neat picture of the "Admiral Joe Fowler" (the boat, not the actual Admiral). From the looks of things, guests would board from that upper level, and de-plane from the lower level. Watch your heads... buh-bye. In the distance, to the right, we can see Adventureland's "Tropical Serenade" building. In the extreme foreground to our right is the prow of the Gullywhumper Keelboat, while the Bertha Mae is docked to our left.

Next is this familiar little tableau, on Tom Sawyer Island - the hideout of the notorious river pirates! I seem to recall being told that the sounds of talking and singing could be heard coming from the cave, and that there was some sort of projection effect at night - firelight? The dappled effect from a disco ball? I don't remember. But I do love that so much could be evoked from some static set pieces, a few sound effects, and some lighting.


Nanook said...


I believe that building with the tower is just beyond what is now the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe (formerly the Mile Long Fixin's Bar). Although I could be totally wrong. I don't know what was associated with the tower.

As fo that tableaux on TSI, that was actually the entrance to Studio 54 - South.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Man, do I love 1970's WDW! There's just something about it.

In the first pic, that tower is Frontierland's "Town Hall". At the time the photo was taken, from right to left were Pecos Bill Cafe, "Town Hall" facade, Mile Long Bar, Frontier Trading Post and partially hidden, Country Bear Jamboree.

I've always liked that river pirate hideout tableau along the Magic Kingdom's Rivers of America. Great set today! Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

It would seem that the various TSIs have been dealing with a pirate infestation for far longer than we had originally thought.

Pegleg Pete said...

These are some nice photos, Major. Thanks. I can certainly remember sounds emanating from the pirates' lair but I can't recall if, at night, there was a lighting effect as well. I'm excited for more early WDW pics - 2018 is looking up already!

Melissa said...

Beautiful pictures today; I especially like how they captured the sunlight playing on the water.

I have a picture if the exact same view as the third image; it was taken from the Liberty Belle steamboat in 2011. I love those little spots where barely anything has changed.


That bell tower building is part of the Mile Long Bar / Pecos Bill Cafe complex - it represents a Town Hall (at one time in plans it's referred to as MINERS UNION HALL - and at one time it was to have a bell but I don't think it ever did) it's almost a direct copy of the Nevada City Hose Company # 1 (fire station) built in 1861. BTW : Nevada City CALIFORNIA . The original historic structure was once the exact same color scheme - as the WDW copy But has since been completely whitewashed.

The Disney Dudebro said...

There's something uncanny about looking at WDW photos from the early day. Everything looks really bare, especially with all of the foliage not having fully grown in. A big contrast from the current Frontierland, which is truly a frontier land.


I recall the River Pirate Den featured racous voices and a few tipsy men singing " little brown jug".

I think narration on the Riverboats made nite that since the river pirates were drunk (our) steamboat could pass unharmed.
I miss those kinds of elements that were developed for Florida's Rivers of America - especially like after the captain brags he knows every twist , Bend and sandbar and then theboat skims a sandbar and the riverwater sprayed out from the side of the boat's hull that was suppose to be a scrapping against the bar . Guests would Skyway run over to that side to see what was happening be cause the water sprays were so loud ( and it really sounded like something was scaping against the hull of the boat!!!) Disney wound never include a authentic detail like that anymore in it's American Parks / unless spider man could be doing it.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Studio 54 South at WDW - perhaps on Pleasure Island. Aren’t they adding a “Club 33” there (as well as at other parks)?

K. Martinez, thanks for the building IDs. I won’t remember any of it, but that’s my own fault! I like the river hideout too, if I was a river pirate, that’s where I would want to be.

Chuck, maybe they need to get the Flit?

Pegleg Pete, I only knew about the lighting effects because somebody on this blog mentioned them. Maybe it was Mike Cozart? There are lots more WDW pix, though most are not as great as these examples from Mr. X.

Melissa, I think I posted a very similar image of the river pirate’s hideaway myself - shutterbugs must have liked the way it looked.

Mike Cozart, ah, the old Mile Long Bar (etc)… very cool that they actually took the trouble to base the design on a real historical building. I’m surprised that the WDW versions hasn’t been painted pink by now!

The Disney Dudebro, I get the same feeling looking at early Disneyland photos. Mr X. (who took today’s photos) is now looking forward to going back to the Magic Kingdom, because he feels like Anaheim’s Frontierland has been ruined (Star Wars Land, etc), and that the Florida version is the good one.

Mike Cozart, I had never heard about the detail of the riverboat scraping a sandbar, complete with noises and spraying water. Very cool! And I love that they added to the joke with the boastful narration moments before. Did they only do that for a short time? I wish I could see photos (or video) of that happening.


I have somewhere a live audio recording of the Richard F Irvine Riverboat narrated by Pete Renedout I think from 1986 - and you can hear the water spray and noise - I think k they was a shipmate yelling "sandbar off the starboard side" the sound is very similar to when the engineers on the DL RR "blow out the boiler" in frontierland station to clean out the water pipes . So I know there were doing it in 1976 and at least through 1986.

Melissa said...

The MK's Frontierland is one of the best places in the park. Of all the lands, it has retained the most if that immersive effect where you feel like you've left the outside world.

JG said...

I enjoy the MK pics, even though it is mostly strange to me. I like to see the differences from Disneyland, like "what can we do to make this better".

I'm sure preferences are all aboutwhat you are used to, which park you grew up with. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Disneyland fan, at least until they add The Rock to Storybook Land.


George Taylor said...

I love these shots!

The picture with the Admiral Fowler shows the current load/unload (the top) and the queue for the keelboats on the bottom!