Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Walt Disney World, November 1972

Here are the first few scans from a small lot of slides showing Walt Disney World when it was only about a year old. None of the photos show anything that amazing, but they are clear and colorful.

As always, my knowledge of the Magic Kingdom is practically nonexistent, so any information that GDB readers can volunteer would be appreciated!

I love this first one with the motorized fire truck full of passengers. There's the firehouse behind it, just to our left. It's hard for me to get my bearings, but it sort of looks like Florida's firehouse is on the west side of left (or east) side of Main Street. Is that the case? Notice the streetcar tracks leading to those big double doors that admit vehicles backstage.

Tinkerbell Toy Shop! I would love to know what sweet merch was available inside. Oh man, years ago (in my pre-blogging days) I was harshly corrected by Disney pedants who made sure that I knew that the name of our favorite fairy is "Tinker Bell" - only cretins and Neanderthals like me called her "Tinkerbell".  I don't feel so ashamed anymore! Now I'm back to eating solid food and my night terrors have mostly subsided. 

Notice how clean and shiny the park looks, and how great the Florida sky is.

Mr. Pink tries to be incognito as he walks past Dumbo's Flying Elephants, but WE see him. And love him. Timothy Mouse (one of my favorite Disney characters) stands on a glittering disco ball because why the hell not. In the background to our right the palm trees and rock work are signs that the old "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" attraction is right there.

Stay tuned for more Walt Disney World circa 1972!


Nanook said...


The Firehouse on Main Street is just as it is at Disneyland - on the west side of the street, adjacent to The Emporium.

Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

Wowee-wow-wow! I love all pictures of the early Magic Kingdom, but these are especially nice in detail and clarity. What a way to start a Wednesday!

Yes, the Magic Kingdom fire station (now the headquarters for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, meh) is off to the left as you enter the park. I’m not sure if it was in the same place back then, but today the Harmony Barber Shop is tucked into that shady little nook between the big vehicle doors and the Emporium, where it looks like the purple-skirted lady and her party are heading.

Because why the hell not, indeed. I think my favorite people-watching moment of this lot is the bored-looking lady in the Dumbo just left of the red lamppost. Hooooo-hum.

Melissa said...

OK, a little research of vintage maps tells me that the Barber Shop used to be on the now-gone West Center Street, which was knocked out for the expansion of the Emporium in 2002.

A not-so-sharp picture of the current entrance from my 2012 trip.

I don't think I ever checked out West Center Street as a kid - I was in too much of a hurry to get to the Tomorrowland rides or take a spin on the Jitney.

K. Martinez said...

I like the pink elephant on parade in the Dumbo pic. He matches the railings nicely.

I never tire of 1970s Walt Disney World. Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

It's also cool to see the old Fantasy Faire outdoor stage (RIP 1996) peeking up from behind Dumbo.

K. Martinez said...

@Melissa - The Magic Kingdom's original Fantasyland is practically half gone. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mickey Mouse Revue, Skyway, Snow White's Scary Adventures and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are all history. The only original dark ride left is Peter Pan's Flight.

Disneyland's Fantasyland fared much better in keeping it's original attraction line up.

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks for the great pictures today, Major. I'm quite jealous indeed of that pink on pink ensemble in the final pic!

steve2wdw said...

As everyone else has said, yes, the firehouse is in the same spot as it is in DL. The big doors are on the car barn, where the horse drawn trolleys are parked. It also houses a few stalls for the draft horses that pull the trolleys. Between the car barn and the fire station is another set of gates that the parade emerges from. The Magic Kingdoms parade route was cleverly designed as a loop, so the parades enter here on Main Street and pass up to the castle, then head west through Liberty Square and Frontierland, and finally exit the park on the west side, where parade storage and maintenance resides behind Splash Mountain. A backstage road leads from the maintenance sheds to a train crossing backstage in Adventureland and travels between the Jungle Cruise and the Railroad, providing passage back to the holding area behind Main Street west and the gates not visible in the picture. With this design, all parade floats end up at maintenance at the end of each run. Daytime parades usually run from Frontierland to Main Street, while night time parades run in the opposite direction.
The Harmony Barbershop is indeed squeezed into that little shaded area to the left of the Emporium. It's still hugely popular and I've never seen the shop without a customer.
Thanks for these great Magic Kingdom slides.

Chuck said...

The Car Barn always reminds me of the very young jackass of a CM who confronted me in '97 when I tried to take a picture from 25 FEET OUT THE STREET through the WIDE OPEN Car Barn door.

I'm sure I've told this story here before, but never as a one-act play...


[CHUCK THE GUEST is walking along MAIN STREET, U.S.A. He notices the doors to the CAR BARN are open and he raises his camera to his eye and focuses his zoom lens to take a picture.]

[JERK CM steps in front of CHUCK THE GUEST, blocking the shot.]

JERK CM: [in a voice dripping with superior sarcasm] "Whoa, there! See something interesting?"

CHUCK THE GUEST: "Um, actually, yes. I'm really interested in how the Park was built, how it's operated and I've never seen those doors open before." [Raises camera again and shifts to left to see around JERK CM, who moves to his right to continue blocking the shot.]

CHUCK THE GUEST: "I'm really sorry, but I'm trying to take a picture. Do you mind stepping aside for just a second?"

JERK CM: [In his best caricature of a stereotypical, authoritative small-town law enforcement officer straight out of a 1970's TV show] "Well, I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

CHUCK THE GUEST: [Confused as he sees other GUESTS peering into the open CAR BARN from the street without molestation] "I don't understand. Why not?"

JERK CM: "We just don't allow that. I'm going to have to ask you to move along."

[CHUCK THE GUEST stares at JERK CM incredulously as the CAR BARN doors close. JERK CM walks away before CHUCK THE GUEST can think to read his name tag to lodge a complaint or just kick him in the groin.]


Chuck said...

@Melissa - I actually had my hair cut at the old West Center Street location when we were there for the MK's 25th Anniversary. One of the best haircuts I've ever had - very reasonably priced - and the ambiance was outstanding.

Chuck said...

Someday somebody's going to look at these photos and say "Only ONE Dumbo ride? What were they thinking?!"

Melissa said...

Because I had nothing else to do at lunch, here's a quick, rough, poorly-scaled map of Main St. shops, restaurants, and other notable landmarks in their currect locations, to compare to the detailed 1973 map at Yesterland.

Melissa said...

@Chuck - I can't help mentally casting John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson from "The Office" as CHUCK THE GUEST and JERK CM, respectively.

My sister and I both had our hair cut at the new location in 2012, and because it was her birthday they put this shiny confetti in both our hair and sprayed it in. It was a blast, and people stopped us all day to ask where we had gotten it.

@K. Martinez - I think the WDW version of it's a small world was also an opening day attraction (although that may not count as a "dark" ride, depending on one's point of view).

K. Martinez said...

@Melissa - Yes, there are lots of dark rides at the Disney parks including Pirates if the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, it's a small world, just to new a few. I use the term "dark ride" for attractions of the spook-house track variety that are lit with black light. In Anaheim, they're referred to as the Fantasyland Dark Rides. That's what I was basing the term "dark ride" on.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, thanks for the info… after I wrote the post, I looked it up online, but didn't go back and fix it!

Melissa, just wait, there are more (from a different lot) that will really thrill you. Funny that the barber shop doesn't get a bigger sign, you'd never know it was there.

Melissa #2, ah, that's a much better picture! Again, I have one great photo of it, but you'll just have to wait!

K. Martinez, that "pink elephant" coordinated wherever he went!

Melissa #3, I noticed that sign, and was surprised, since I somehow thought that the Fantasy Faire was something that came along later.

K. Martinez, even though I've never been to WDW, I am sad for the folks who go there, since Snow White and Mr. Toad are gone. The new 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride looks fun and all, but the dark rides are such classics.

Pegleg Pete, you're welcome!

steve2wdw, wow, that's a lot of information! Very cool. It was smart of the designers to think about parade routes - I'm sure they were an afterthought at Disneyland. As for the Barber Shop, my vintage photo shows a guy getting a haircut, which I assumed was a rare event. Apparently not.

Chuck, your "almost backstage" stories! Weren't you the guy who almost made it backstage at Disneyland when a female cast member assumed you were with Security? Who knows, maybe the cast member who wanted you to stop taking pictures was just "following orders". I wonder what would have happened if you had just said, "I have no intention of moving along, If the doors are wide open, that's YOUR department. I'm doing nothing wrong. Kiss my shiny metal a**!". Then you could have gone all "Billy Jack" on him! YEAH!!

Chuck #2, even if I NEED a haircut, I wouldn't want to take the time at WDW! I'll just use my Flowbee when I get back to the hotel room.

Chuck #3, I think they need another gated park that is JUST Dumbo rides. Maybe 40 of them.

Melissa #4, what the heck is the "Hall of Champions"? A sports memorabilia store??

Melissa #5, I love your story about the shiny confetti in your hair (and your sister's hair). Such a fun idea. It would make me want to always say it was my birthday when using the Main Street barber shop.

K. Martinez, I agree that a "dark ride" generally involves the use of black lights.

Chuck said...

Your memory is correct, Major. Maybe they had a WDA-wide APB out on me after that incident at DL in '95 - "presumed armed (with a camera) and dangerous (to backstage secrets). De-escalate any potential encounter with belligerent sarcasm and arrogance."

That might explain the rude and sarcastic interaction we had with a couple of young security hosts when we tried to walk from the MK to the Contemporary that evening. It was bizarre and very un-Disney, and that day gave us the only negative experiences we've ever had with CMs in 40-some years of visiting the Parks.

As far as a haircut was concerned, I was stuck - I had an important briefing back at the squadron first thing in the morning the day we were supposed to get back and had forgotten to get shorn before departing for FL. It would not have been a good thing to come in looking shaggy and almost out of regs. Plus it was kind of cool to brag about getting a haircut on Main Street. It cost me more than the price of a haircut, however; my wife wandered off unsupervised to shop and, well, let me just say that several purchases were made.

Melissa said...

The Hall of Champions sells any Disney merch that's sports-related. Mostly clothes.

@K. Martinez - makes perfect sense about the dark rides; I was taking the word "dark" too literally!