Thursday, October 18, 2018

Three From Walt Disney World, November 1971

It was the first Thanksgiving holiday at the Walt Disney World, and Mr. X was there to see the action! 

My poor scanner did not know what to do with this image - it came out weirdly purple and green, for some reason. But I gave it some candy, and then I got this beautiful twilight image showing the entrance to Tomorrowland. So nice! 

I had to make some guesses when adjusting the hues, trying to figure out the color of those walls - I think they were kind of aquamarine? Notice the coats and sweaters - even Florida can get chilly in November, I suppose. The palms in the distance still have that "just planted" appearance, and Tomorrowland has a ghost-towny aura, as if all the buildings are boarded up. If a tumbleweed rolled through, I wouldn't be too surprised. Was the Grand Prix Raceway the only Tomorrowland attraction open at this point?

Three sailboats huddle together for warmth after laying their eggs in the soft sands of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Don't you wish you could be there when the babies emerge? The man and woman to the left are trying to decide if they want to catch a brain-eating amoeba or whether they should just go ride "Mr. Toad". It's a real "Sophie's choice".

Concrete and glass make the blocky "Bayside South" building look like a fine example of Brutalist architecture. I'm sure the rooms were very cozy inside, though!


Nanook said...


If I have my facts straight, the following attractions were open in Tomorrowland as of Thanksgiving, 1971: The Grand Prix Raceway & 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. One could also dine at the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant.

As to the untenable choice of having to decide between a ride on Mr. Toad or catching a 'brain-eating amoeba', I must, regrettably, indicate the former. (Hell always seemed the better option-!)

Thanks, Major.


SKYWAY and GRAND PRIX RACEWAY were the only October 1st 1971 opening day Tomorrowland attractions. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL openened in November of 1971 and FLIGHT TO THE MOON opened during the 1971 Christmas season. In 1973 the Gran Prix Raceway was completely remodeled and the track plan expanded. The remodeling included new graphics and race banners and new car colors and updated racing graphics.
Part of the slow development of Florida’s Tomorrowland was because of the PEOPLEMOVER - the attraction was designed to use the same tire/motor propulsion system as Disneyland’s. But when the linear Induction Motor propulsion system was chosen the roadways had to be re-designed to accommodate the WEDWAY system.
When the decision was made to progress with the WEDWAY system it was also decided to create new PeopleMover car vehicles ( originally WDW was going to use the 1967 DL PeopleMover car bodies minus the roof canopies. For whatever reason the project for the new PeopleMover designs was given to George McGinnis - an industrial designer . I LOVE the Disneyland 1967 PeopleMover style buy former automotive designer Bob Gurr ..... but I am AMAZED that the simplified industrial designed WEDWAY PEOPLEMOVER still looks very contemporary / futuristic .

MAPO workers jokingly/lovingly referred to the DL PEOPLEMOVER as the “FENDER” ( automobile fender- it’s style is based on the front end fender of a 1965 Cadillac) and the WDW PEOPLEMOVER the “DUMPSTER” ( trash dumpster)!!

TokyoMagic! said...

Whenever I think of brain-eating amoebas (which is often), I think of the "Far Side" cartoon in which an amoeba is sitting in a chair watching TV. The TV screen is divided into nine squares with an amoeba in every square, and all of them are singing, "That's the way we became The Amoeba Bunch!" The caption under the cartoon panel was, "Single Cell Sitcoms." I guess you had to be there.

Is that a crane visible above the hotel in the third pic? Was some hotel construction still going on after the park opened?

Chuck said...

Tomorrowland looks so barren and lonely without the Rocket Jets. The PeopleMover right-of-way on the second floor of the America the Beautiful and Flight to the Moon buildings forlornly waits for 1975 to arrive.

Also note the original, smooth-faced design of the entrance waterfalls.

In the second picture, the sails all feature the Sunfish corporate logo. Anyone know when they added Disney characters?

THanks as always to the great supplemental information, Mike Cozart!

Scott Lane said...

Contrary to Nanook's post, and unlike DL's Matterhorn, there is no argument anyone could make that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was even close to being in Tomorrowland. It was very firmly entrenched (pun intended) in the north end of Fantasyland.

Chuck said...

Wait - that photo I linked is from December of 1971. That means the sails changed rather quickly, or perhaps there was a mixture of standard and custom sails. Or maybe those boats in today's photo were themselves on vacation at WDW, sunning themselves on the beach.

JC Shannon said...

The first scan is kinda magical at that time of day. The first thing I thought of was the Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. Very futuristic. The second photo is really very artsy and colorful, I wanna go there, if they only eat brains, I'm in the clear. And finally the third photo could be the Politburo Headquarters in Murmansk. I think the architect is in a Gulag somewhere in Siberia. Crimes against concrete. Very cool snaps today comrade Major. Spaseeba.

Anonymous said...

Ha, what Jonathan said. Starfleet Academy is a lovely campus, I've enjoyed it every time I visit.

Bayside South is definitely a blunt effort. The ribbed "corduroy" concrete block dates it within a few years. It looks like a first-year school project.

@Tokyo, that is definitely a bit of tower crane peeping over the top. We saw some snaps a while back where multiple cranes were used on the Contemporary Hotel just behind Bayside South . Maybe this is the last of that group before it migrated further south for the winter, as all cranes do.

IIRC, part of the innovation of the Contemporary Hotel was the fabrication of the guest room "modules" off-site in a plant and then they were transported and lifted into place by crane.

Modular construction similar to this is more common now, but mostly restricted to free-standing buildings and not for pieces inserted into bigger structures. Perhaps the day will come.

The Bayside South building pictured here looks like guest rooms, was this a wing of the Contemporary Hotel, perhaps paired with Bayside North? I'm sure any hotel at Disney World would be fine, but I would only want to stay where I can open my door and watch the monorail go right through the building, like the one at Star Fleet.


Melissa said...

The Tomorrowland entrance looked roughly the same when I got there a dozen years later. I was a weird kid, I know, but it moved me to tears then as much as the picture does now. It was everything a great, big, beautiful tomorrow was supposed to look like - and it wasn't in my head or on a movie screen; it was right there for me to walk my real-life body into.

Melissa said...

And I'll defend Brutaliat architecture to my last raw concrete bone!

Anonymous said...

Unless I'm mistaken, the image on this Disney page

is more or less the same location and angle as the WDW Tomorrowland photo.

Forking shirtballs, have things changed!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I thought that the 20,000 Leagues attraction was considered a Fantasyland ride at WDW? From what I have gleaned online, the Florida version of Mr. Toad was far superior (twin tracks!) to the Anaheim version. I’m very happy that we still have ours though.

Mike Cozart, thank you! So it is possible that “America the Beautiful” was open by this time. Sounds like “Flight to the Moon” wouldn’t come along for a few weeks. So… two attractions for the whole land… that’s kind of amazing. I have a wonderful photo of the Grand Prix Raceway that is unlike any others I’ve seen, so stay tuned for that. The Florida Peoplemover is very cool (no constantly-turning wheels to wear out), but it is a bit of a bummer that it runs perfectly flat, unlike the one in Anaheim, which could (and did) go up and down some considerable inclines as certain points. I’ll have to look up the Wedway Peoplemover to see how it differs from the familiar Bob Gurr version. Thanks again for all the info!

TokyoMagic!, “The Far Side” was one of the best newspaper comics (along with “Calvin and Hobbes”). So great. I used to have many “Far Side” books, but a lot of them are gone. And yes, that’s a crane, we’ve seen that same crane in a number of hotel exteriors from this batch.

Chuck, yes, Tomorrowland really looks desolate - it might be why there are relatively few photos of it in my collection. I’ve read that bumps were added to those entrance waterfalls to make it more obvious that water was running down them, I wonder when that happened. My guess is that there were sailboats with Disney characters on the sail, and others with the Sunfish logo.

Scott Lane, yes, I was pretty sure that the 20K attraction was a Fantasyland ride! Wasn’t it right near the Mad Tea Party?

Chuck, yeah, if I had to bet money, it would be that there were both kinds of sails at the same time.

Jonathan, I was very thrilled to scan that first image, but my scanner really was “confused” by the evening colors. I had to do lots of adjusting, and it still feels a little “off”. But at least it’s not a Peter Max painting anymore. I’ve seen some Brutalist architecture that is pretty neat (in Brazil, for instance), but some of it really is kind of soul-crushing. Like living in a post office.

JG, one of the J.J. Abrams movies used the Getty Center as Starfleet Headquarters, so when I go there I can’t help thinking of that movie! I also spoke to a guy who said they used the Anheuser Busch brewery in Van Nuys as the “Enterprise” engine rooms. I wonder if that Brutalist style was considered ultra-modern at the time? Welton Becket was no slouch (Transamerica Pyramid, Pan Pacific Auditorium, Capitol Records building, etc). I’ve heard lots about the modules built for the Contemporary Hotel, but I am unclear about whether they actually slid into place as easily as they were supposed to. And I believe that Bayside South (and North) were indeed wings to the famous A-frame hotel.

Melissa, oh cool, I’m glad the entrance still looked like that when you saw it. Were the waterfalls working? It doesn’t sound like you were a weird kid at all. This coming from somebody who was a weird kid! ;-)

Melissa, no need to defend it! Like I said to Jonathan, I like some of it very much.

Melissa said...

I know I've said it before, but the 1998 renovation was at the same time overwhelming and half-assed, so you can clearly see the bones of the original Tomorrowland under all the Christmas tree doodads that were glued onto it. I guess that's hopeful, in a way? It wouldn't be an impossible job to refurbish it to one cohesive design. I'm not saying it has to look like 1980, but it would be great if it all looked like it belonged together.

This would be the time to do it, with the new attractions going in. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any plans for a comprehensive aesthetic overhaul of the entire land on the level of what's needed.

Chuck said...

Major, the waterfalls at the entrance to 20K's show building were near the Mad Tea Party. The entrance to the 20K queue was right across from the entrance to Mr Toad.

For reference, check out time-lapse video.

JC Shannon said...

Major, I have heard that the minimalist architecture in Sao Paulo is magnificent. You did a bang-up job restoring the Tomorrowland by scanification modification, say that three times fast. I love it.

Melissa said...

Scanification Modification,
Higitus Figitus Migitus Mum,

Melissa said...

(Darn it, should have tried to work "Depinkification" in there.)

JC Shannon said...

Mellissa, great Latin interpretation. Like all your poetry, I love it!

Anonymous said...



Chuck said...

JG, I was thinking the same thing.

Major Pepperidge said...

Anonymous, ay caramba! I guess if I can’t say something nice I shouldn’t say something at all???

Melissa, it’s strange to think that, with all of the talent at Disney’s disposal, they sometimes really do create some eyesores these days. They also still do some wonderful work! But It kills me when they already have something great, and then they make it worse in “improving” it.

Chuck, aha, thank you, that is helpful!

Jonathan, I have a pal who will be going to Santiago, Chile in a few months, he said that it has incredible, super-modern buildings. Not at all what I would imagine. Thanks for the nice compliment!

Melissa… in the best tradition of “Bibbidi-bobbidy-boo” and “Supercalifragilistic (etc)”!

Melissa II, actually these slides were not pink… it’s just that scanning from color negatives is not my forte.

JC, JG, and Chuck (and Melissa!), if only we could have that word on a t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

The Bayside South or South Garden Wings are guest rooms at the Contemporary to this day. The North Garden Wings were demolished for the DVC Bay Lake Tower, continuing to throw off the beautiful symmetry of the original designs.

Anonymous said...

@Other Anonymous. That is sad to hear.

@Chuck, great minds, etc.

@Major, it could happen, complete with the Eye.


Mike said...

I love, love, LOVE that picture of the '71 Tomorrowland entrance. You rightly describe it as a "ghost town" because at that time it WAS a ghost town with hardly any attractions yet added. Fortunately, my first visit to WDW was in 1976 and the Star Jets, If You Had Wings, Peoplemover, and many other attractions had been added by then. But it still had those original white waterfall entrance towers. Tomorrowland has always been my overall favorite of the themed lands in both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland (even though my favorite individual ATTRACTIONS are both outside that land - Pirates of the Caribbean followed by the Haunted Mansion as a close second). I have no doubt that Tomorrowland most impressed me at that time because it was the same year that the movies Logan's Run and Futureworld - both in settings very similar to the stark white appearance of early original Tomorrowland - came out, and also, "futuristic" shopping malls with a similar white appearance were making their debut in my hometown as well as others. White was the look of the future (witness Monsanto's House a couple of decades even earlier!) - and Logan's Run was actually shot in great part at a shopping mail in Fort Worth, Texas. I also appreciated what I saw as similarities to the TV cartoon The Jetsons which was one of my favorites at the time. To this day I STILL think of the original "white" look when I think of Tomorrowland, and I was very, VERY disappointed with the black-and-gold renovations in the late '90's and even wrote to Disney to express my opinion about it! I really do still miss those white and blue waterfall entrance towers and always appreciate it when you and others post pictures of them - especially like this early one to which I previously had seen nothing comparable. Thank you!