Thursday, March 12, 2015

Walt Disney World, December 2 1975

It's time for more vintage Magic Kingdom views.

We'll start with this picture of Br'er Bear, surrounded by adoring fans. He's even signing an autograph! I didn't know that the costumed characters did that way back in '75. Was this photo taken at Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island? Or somewhere else in Frontierland?

Here's a pretty shot of the "Richard F. Irvine" riverboat. Ain't it a beauty? It only has one ornamental "smokestack" (as opposed to the Mark Twain's pair). Walt Disney World used to have two riverboats, the other being the "Admiral Joe Fowler". The "Admiral Joe" was retired in 1980, and the Irvine was refurbished and in 1996 was renamed "The Liberty Belle". 

Next is this blurry (but still kind of scary) closeup of Br'er Fox; it's safe to assume that these "Song of the South" characters were often seen among the crowds in Florida. You sure don't see them much today!

And finally, I like this neat shot of the Bertha Mae casting off from the dock. Look at the effort that the cast member exerts pushing the boat away! I wonder if anybody ever fell into the water doing that maneuver? In the background you can see the covered queue for the Haunted Mansion.

Stay tuned for more from the Magic Kingdom!


Nanook said...


That first image certainly looks as if it were shot at Fort Samuel Clemens (changed to Fort Langhorn in 1995) on Tom Sawyer Island.

Although it looks as though the CM in the last image is assisting the Bertha Mae, it's actually Bob Fosse stretching prior to appearing in Disney On Parade-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ha, ha, Nanook! Or maybe it's Tommy Tune getting ready to star alongside Lucie Aranz in the Space Mountain Opening Day Special!

Major, just to the left of the steamboat, I believe we can see some of the totem poles that were visible in this construction photo that you posted back in October: Walt Disney World Totem Poles.

Graffer said...

The Admiral Joe Fowler was 'retired' because in 1980, as it was being lifted by a crane, it slipped and the hull was destroyed. It was later buried somewhere on the WDW property.

K. Martinez said...

That first shot was not taken from Fort Sam Clemens, but from the Frontierland "entrance" sign between the Diamond Horseshoe and Shootin' Gallery.

Some additional info related to today's post:

Frontierland was the only original "land" in the Magic Kingdom not to be connected directly to the Plaza. You enter Frontierland through Liberty Square or Adventureland.

Also, the Magic Kingdom Ferry Boats which shuttle guests between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom were originally known as "Magic Kingdom I" and "Magic Kingdom II" and later changed to "Admiral Joe Fowler" and "Richard F. Irvine" respectively. Disney later added the "Kingdom Queen" which was also renamed later as "General Joe Potter".

Vintage Walt Disney World is always a thrill to see. Thanks, Major.

Pegleg Pete said...

Great pics today, Major. It's a shame one doesn't see more of the Song of the South characters in the parks these days. You might have thought they'd at least circulate in Critter Country. I guess it's some consolation that we get to see them inside Splash Mountain.

Steve DeGaetano said...

No need to put "smokestack" in quotes--it really is the exhaust stack for the steam boiler--smoke does indeed go up through it. In that respect, it isn't even "ornamental!"

Chuck said...

That third photo will come back to haunt me when I turn out the lights to go to bed.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great shot of the Bertha Mae (and contorting cast member).

The first thing I thought of when I saw it was all the pole pushers falling in the water in Davey Crockett and the River Pirates/River Boat Race episodes.

Chuck said...

On my first visit in 1979, I remember seeing one of the steamboats tied up on the south side of the canal that connects the Rivers of America to the Seven Seas Lagoon, just west of the swing bridge on the WDW Railroad.

Because the second boat has been gone so long, I never really thought about how the physical differences between DL and the MK would change operations in the different parks. Without a Fowler's Harbor to dock an out-of-service boat in (WDW's drydock is located in the NW corner of Bay Lake and requires a tug to get a steamboat with no steering gear there), they'd have to put it somewhere, and that's the most logical place.

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez-

Thanks - That makes more sense.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, how am I supposed to keep track of things at WDW if they keep changing the names?! Somehow I can't imagine Bob Fosse ever going to a Disney park, but you never know.

TokyoMagic!, those sure look like totem poles to me. Thanks for pointing those out!

Graffer, I had read about that (I think on the wonderful "Passport to Dreams" blog), what a travesty.

K. Martinez, that's what I thought might be the case, since the "stockade" entrance at Disneyland can also look like Fort Wilderness from certain angles. The "Passport to Dreams" blog wrote an extensive article about WDW's watercraft, it is pretty fascinating, even to a Disneyland boy like me!

Pegleg Pete, I know there are certain days when the parks will bring out rare characters, I wonder if the "Song of the South" costumes are dusted off then?

Steve DeGaetano, I could have sworn that I'd read that the real smokestacks were those smaller white ones sticking up on either side of the stern. I guess it was either inaccurate, or I just misunderstood it.

Chuck, that's why you should never turn off the lights.

Alonzo, when I saw that footage of the people falling in the water, I couldn't help wondering how deep it was. I've heard that in many places it isn't more than about waist deep… you'd have to fall (or dive) pretty carefully…

Chuck, I assume that WDW has so many watercraft that it just made more sense to have a dry dock that wasn't in Frontierland. It must be able to handle several boats at once? Now I need to look for a photo of it.

Nanook, it is all a construct of The Matrix anyway….

Steve DeGaetano said...

Major--the smaller stacks exhaust the "spent" steam that was used to power the pistons.

On a steam locomotive, both the fuel exhaust and the spent steam go up a single smokestack. But on the Disney steam boats there are separate stacks for fuel exhaust and steam exhaust.

Thanks for the great images! My first time at WDW was last summer, so it's neat to see these earlier images.