Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Magic Kingdom, early 1970's

Today we're continuing a look at some early slides from Florida's Magic Kingdom. They're not all great, but hopefully together they add up to something significant.

Dad looks groovy in his patterned shirt, very similar to the one seen in this Disneyland photo from about 1970. He is trying like hell to look casual. Surprisingly, he's actually hundreds of feet in front of that palm tree, but careful alignment provides that "holding up the leaning tower of Pisa" illusion that we all love so much.

I wish this one was a little bit sharper; the colorful balloons are a nice accent to the Fantasyland view. In the background is a ticket booth; the red awning is the façade for the Mickey Mouse Revue; and the blue awning to our right? I have no idea what that was for. Señor Toad mebbe. Notice that some of the balloon's have malformed ears, likely due to the use of DDT.

I wonder if this photographer was using a cheap Instamatic, since the picture quality is often a bit soft or dark (in other words, crappy). This fuzzy photo looks across the Rivers of America toward Liberty Square. A Keel Boat is at its landing. Any idea what that object floating on the water would be? At first I thought it was a miniature sail boat, but on closer inspection.... I still don't know what the heck it is.

Over in Town Square, the band (I almost called them the Disneyland Band) has arrived. Security guards have established a perimeter, and they have synchronized their Mickey Mouse watches because that's what security guards do. They have licenses to kill as well. Just try them, I dare you! Presumably it's time for the flag-lowering ceremony, though it appears as if there is plenty of sunlight left. 


Nanook said...


That "casual-looking" dude bears a striking resemblance to Kurt Russell.

And that blue building would be Peter Pan's Flight.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

In the Fantasyland view, the blue awning was for "The Mad Hatter" shop, not Peter Pan's Flight". Peter Pan's Flight would be further to the right out of frame. I'm not sure what shop is there today though.

The floating object is actually a navigation buoy of which there were about a dozen of them marking points of interest along the Rivers of America. Something not featured in the Anaheim park.

I love it when you post 1970s WDW pics. Thanks!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Nice Spaulding Smales hat in the last picture. Very 1970's Cool old pics.

Melissa said...

Cheap cameras in the 1970's took the worst pictures; I can't be sure if the psychedelic effect is the guests' wardrobe or just the general blurriness. Is Mrs. Stripeypants in #2 related to Mrs. Stripeypants in #4? Is the nautically-inclined Sally Field impersonator next to the nightmarish seller of deformed balloons the mother of the French sailor boys from the last 1970's WDW set? Why are the security guards dressed like a Bond villain's white-cravated henchmen? And who, by all that's Disney, is the mysterious figure in the kaleidoscope hat taking it all in, in the bottom corner of #5? It's a CIA operative, isn't it, testing all this so-called "Pixie Dust" and grainy photography as a secret weapon against the Commies! Why else would the band uniforms be red?!?

The only person I feel truly sorry for in all this sordid business is that poor, innocent fellow striking a pose with the palm tree. He sent that picture to every menswear catalog in North America, and all he's got to show for it is a stack of rejection letters as tall as you have to be to board this ride. Spiegel said, "No, thanks." Eaton's said, "No, thanks, eh?" Sears said, "No, thanks; we couldn't sell your waist in our tire shop or your shirt in our wallpaper department." Montgomery Wards sent him a ten percent off coupon to get the oil in his hair changed in either their hair salon or automotive department, and JC Penney hired the guy in the blue T-shirt and black wristwatch on the spot, without even seeing the rest of his body. The tree-leaner went on to become an occasional stand-in for James Best as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane in "The Dukes of Hazzard."

I kid about the grainy photos, but these are absolutely beautiful. Give me a real photo with real color that shows me a slice of life in the parks any day! That's one of the main things I come to GDB for - that "you were there" feeling, and these shot truly deliver on that front.

Melissa said...

I just realized there IS no picture #5 for the CIA man to be in. That's how deep the conspiracy goes.

steve2wdw said...

K Martinez is spot on when it comes to the blue roof and the navigational beacons....I'm not sure if there are any left. I'll be at WDW in 4 weeks to check that out. Great always. Thanks!

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez - That makes so much more sense. Thanks

Chucki said...

The white "dickeys" on the security hosts may be marking this group as an "honor guard" for the flag-lowering ceremony. This accoutrement was commonly used in the US military from the 60's through the 80's to provide a visual distinction for special organizations or groups and is still used today for honor guards.

The security host uniform seen here is very similar to the uniform worn by USAF Air Police during the early 1970s, prior to the introduction of the blue beret.

Melissa said...

If I'm not mistaken, the Fantasy Faire shop is currently between Mickey's PhilharMagic and Peter Pan's Flight. But if that turns out to be the only thing I'm wrong about this afternoon, it'll be a red-letter day.

Now let's get over to the Liberty Tree Tavern; Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake's on me.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, that guy starred in "Russellmania" on stage. It was almost like really seeing Kurt Russell.

K. Martinez, uh oh… Peter Pan? Hat shop? It is kind of amazing to me that the façades don't make it more obvious (unless there was a big sign that I just can't see in that photo). Thanks for the ID on that floaty thing!

Alonzo, "Spaulding Smales"? Who? Whu?

Melissa, except for the kids in the family (and there are LOTS of photos of them) and the Dad, I don't know who is who. There are one or two photos of what might be Mom, but they are so blurry. Dad can't take a photo to save his life. And come on, Bond villains looked much cooler than that guy! They are often dressed in black and look like they might be French. (Sorry, French readers). I am happy to say that these grainy photos are probably some of the least great WDW pix in my collection, with some beauties to come.

steve2wdw, thanks for the confirmation. Let us know what you see on your trip!

Chucki, so do you think they were just trying to look extra official? Or could these guys actually be from the military (which seems pretty extreme for an amusement park)?

Melissa, I will bow to your expertise, since I don't know diddley-squat about WDW.

Nanook said...

@ Major-

"Russellmania" - shear brillance. (Kinda like Beatlemania "not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation")

Melissa said...

The star of Russellmania always has to take a second kurtain call.

K. Martinez said...

@Melissa - Thanks for filling in that Fantasy Faire is now where Mad Hatter used to be located.

@Nanook - No problem. Because I visited Walt Disney World quite a bit in the 70s early 80s, I'm good with the early years of the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center, but once it starts getting into the Eisner era, I have to research a little deeper to figure it out.


Yes, the little sailboat looking thing in the Rivers of America is the navagation-river markers. The River's of America during this time were very themed and if guests were paying attention, they would even be able to identify a shallow shoal and sand bar. The effect was preety neat, as the Riverboat would appear to be hitting a very low part of the river or a sand bar.......water would plume up along the mainland shore side as if the boats hull was running aground. Sharp eyed guests could see the dead trees and debri snagged in the "low" water. A nice period bit of river activity! I don't think the sand bar has been a part of the Riverboat in some time.

Chuck (spelled correctly this time) said...

As was the case at DL, it's possible that these guys were off-duty military personnel moonlighting at WDW (McCoy AFB was still open through 1975 and Naval Training Center Orlando was open throughout the 70's), but they are not wearing actual military uniforms from the period. Still, it's understandable that they would take costuming cues from both military and law enforcement of the period.

I have a picture of me at DL in '95 in my AF uniform with a security host walking by in the background, and the similarities between the uniforms are remarkable...explaining why guests kept asking me questions about where to find lost children or asking me to eject line jumpers all day.