Friday, July 08, 2011

Walt Disney World, May 1972

I have a small bunch of slides from Walt Disney World, from May 1972. The park had only been open for about 7 months at that point... our photographer went to the roof of the still-fabulous-looking Contemporary Hotel to snap a few wonderful panoramas. I wonder if guests can go up to the roof nowadays?

This first shot captures almost all of the Magic Kingdom, from the entrance to Main Street at the left, to the back stage areas beyond Tomorrowland to our right. Florida sure is flat! Let's look at some details.

First of all.... Monorail! Notice all of the topiary animals along the roadways, as well as the many vehicles parked behind Main Street. You can see the towering building that holds the "Tropical Serenade" (aka "Enchanted Tiki Room") attraction in Adventureland.

Cinderella's castle dominates the landscape; if you look carefully, you can just see the Haunted Mansion, partially obscured by the castle. I can see the white tower of the building that houses the Hall of Presidents, and can even see the Skyway buckets in Fantasyland. The back side of Tomorrowland isn't very exciting - and that area looks somewhat unfinished.

Looking out towards part of Lake Buena Vista, you can see one of the side-wheeler "Osceola Class" steamboats (yes, they had real steam engines) crossing the lake, presumably taking guests to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. There's a tram as well!

Panning to the right, the steamboat sneaks into a second photo, while a larger ferryboat sits at the landing. Two monorail trains can be seen on the beamway too, one having just left the station

I hope you've enjoyed these! There will be some more Disney World images coming up. Meanwhile, I highly recommend Foxxfur's amazing blog, and this informative article about Lake Buena Vista and the history of various watercraft used there.


TokyoMagic! said...

Boy oh boy....I would have loved to have been able to visit Walt Disney World at this point in time. You are right Major, Tomorrowland wasn't finished yet. You can see that the PeopleMover track just comes to a stop at the ends of both buildings. There is also a construction wall across the main Tomorrowland corridor and there's just a slab of bare concrete where the Star Jets platform and PeopleMover station would eventually go. And of course, no Carousel of Progress or Space Mountain yet.

Incredible WDW pics today, Major. Looking forward to more!

Nancy said...

awesome!! i have a picture much like this one that I took on one of our visits during the late 90s before the Skyway was gone. that is the very reason i love it so much. i will have to get it out and compare them!

TM, i noted construction of my beloved PeopleMover right away, too. its the ride i love most in Tomorrowland. going to find that photo right now....cya all later! :D

Pegleg Pete said...

These are great! It was around this time that I went to WDW for the first time and so I always love to see photos from that era (pre-POTC and Space Mountain). Can't wait to see more.

Kurt Nelson said...

Yes you can still go to the roof of the contemporary! In addition to being officially connected to California Grill, you can walk up the stairs anytime of day for easy access to the viewing platform.

Major Pepperidge said...

Thanks for pointing out all of that stuff, TokyoMagic! I didn't even notice the Peoplemover construction, and the absence of Space Mountain and the Carousel of Progress went right past me. I'm not sure the rest of the photos from this lot are so interesting, but hopefully you will like them!

Nancy, I thought you might like these, being from your side of the continent.

Pegleg Pete, I have one or two other small lots of WDW pictures, so there should be something of interest in those!

Kurt, thanks for the confirmation about the roof. I wish I could find photos from today, taken of the same views. It would make a fascinating comparison!

JG said...

These are new and different to me. Surprising how big and exposed the backs of the buildings are, compared to the lengths taken to hide the back-of-house in Anaheim.

This place is so wide open, there's nothing to do about it.

I'm curious about the "scale" of WDW. For example, DCA is wide open and spread out, and so it feels "wrong" (uncomfortable, awkward) when compared to Disneyland, which is tiny and intimate in scale, even allowing for it's size.

Is WDW like DCA in this regard?


LauraJ953 said...

LOVE these photos! I've been a long time lurker - So excited to see some WDW pics.

The openess of these pictures struck me too - everything is now so grown up that you are completely unaware of all the backstage goings on and the cast memember parking especially! From these pics it looks like you would clearly see all this from the Monorail - or perhaps the excitement of going through the Contemporary was enough to draw attention away from the man behind the curtain?

Unknown said...

These are FAB! I have some early WDW pics floating around here.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I am the wrong person to ask about WDW... I've never been to Florida at all. A friend of mine is not crazy about the scale of the Magic Kingdom, but on the other hand he IS a die-hard Disneyland devotee.

LauraJ953, glad you liked these! I sure wish I could have seen Disney World in these early months.

theelfqueen, if you ever want to share your photos here, just let me know, your majesty!

Vaughn said...

JG, I have been to WDW a couple of times, and that is what struck me; the wide open feel of it compared to Disneyland. Also I left with the impression that they tried to save money on the rides as well. So my comparison would be Disneyland has less land but higher quality and WDW has lots of land and they felt the need to fill it with cheaper construction. Still worth the trip however, and I would go again given the chance.

ericpaddon said...

Keep them coming! As a devotee of WDW in its early years, this kind of imagery is for me, what 60s DL imagery is for the DL buffs.

Tomorrowland was about to get its first major addition with a ride called "If You Had Wings" at the time these pix were taken. The actual opening took place in June.

Chuck said...

I was ten during my first trip to WDW's Magic Kingdom, years before EPCOT Center and the rest, and it had been two and a half years since my last trip to Disneyland and my family had relocated from CA to IL. I remember walking down Main Street with my dad and him asking me "wow - doesn't this look bigger than Disneyland to you?"

I went back to WDW at 18 on a family graduation trip and again on my honeymoon at 24, and by that time I'd not only gotten used to the scale of the park but had also begun to discount many of my memories of Disneyland as a 2-7 year old.

A week after getting married, my wife and I moved to the LA area where I was heading to my first duty station with the Air Force. Our first trip to Disneyland was several months later (I can't believe we resisted so long, but money was really tight back then), and I can clearly remember walking down Main Street and realizing that my 17 year old memories had actually been correct.

Since then, I've read that WDW was intentionally built on a grander scale because they had so much more land to work with. That's why Cinderella's Castle is so much larger than Sleeping Beauty's. And the "outside world" is so far away, there's no need for a berm to block your view of it.

After being an annual passholder at Disneyland, WDW's MK can seem disorientingly large. Standing at the north end of main Street looking across the Hub in the morning, the distances are actually great enough to allow atmospheric haze to distort colors slightly.

Both parks have their good points, but I personally find myself preferring DL's more intimate scale and cozy feeling. I like a park with a berm (it'll be easier to defend come the zombie apocalypse). I know WDW afficianados who feel claustrophobic in DL. I guess it's what you're used to.

Thanks for jumping coasts today!

Caspian said...

Here are a few shots from March from near to the same location. These are actually from the top of Bay Lake Tower, so not quite the same angle. Enjoy!


Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I am still dying to go to Florida some day... I know it will be different from Disneyland, and that's totally OK. I expect it to be fascinating.

Caspian, thanks for the link! Boy, Space Mountain really dominates that part of the park, huh? That thing is HUGE. Love the time of day too, after sunset.

Toby Bo said...

At the Contemporary Resort the main elevators are programmed not to reach the top.If you have a reservation for the California Grill they have a special elevator.Looking down from the top you can see the front of the monorail passengers.The stairs are easy if you consider climbing fourteen floors easy.The stairs are full of cigarette butts.Disney is wary of wanderers because of pizza delivery scams.Check out the Bay Lake Towers they have attractive bamboo in the back.

Walter said...

Love how you can plainly see where they just tacked on the addition to the Circlevision building for If You Had Wings, when they realized capacity was so low at park opening. They pretty much put up the addition in like six months.

Makes me wonder, though, whether the master plan for Tomorrowland was only finalized in early 1972, because the Peoplemover's entrance into the Circlevision/If You Had Wings building has been built and is easily visible. Before the IYHW addition, would the Peoplemover have made a shorter (and exterior) circuit of the smaller Circlevision building? Was the Carousel of Progress even slated to be built in the land's corner to add another wrinkle in the Peoplemover's potential track?

Also, I have forgotten how strange that square piece of land meant for the Asian resort looked.

Major Pepperidge said...

Walter, obviously you (and many others) know a lot more about WDW than I do. I honestly don't have any answers to your queries, maybe somebody else does.

Is the plot of land where the Asian resort was supposed to go that rectangular chunk sticking out into the lake in that last photo?

steve2wdw said...

The square plot of land in the last picture is indeed the current home of the Grand Floridian, and yes, it was originally the "future" site of the Asian. What strikes me in this picture in the amount of trees along the Seven Seas Lagoon between the MK and the Contemporary. I wonder if they died off naturally or if they were removed to provide better views of SSLagoon from the Contemporary. Of course the bus transport center takes up most of the area directly in front of the large ferry sitting at the dock. I love these old WDW images....keep 'em comin'!