Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Magic Kingdom, December 1971

Here are three more scans from a set of slides from Walt Disney World, when it was only a few months old.

First up is this nice shot from Fantasyland - the shadows are too dark, but the rest of the photo is clear and bright. I've always wondered if the Skyway in Florida went higher than the one in Anaheim? I'm picturing an invisible Matterhorn, and that red bucket actually looks lower than I would expect. The Carrousel tent gleams in front of us - I can almost hear its distinctive music.

I think this is Liberty Square (?). This is an angle that I don't think I've ever seen before (which isn't saying much). The gardening staff left behind a watering can and a box of plants. I'll bet that low stone divider wasn't sufficient to keep the public out of that planter.

Presumably this photo was taken from Liberty Square looking at the Rivers of America and into Frontierland. Just like Disneyland, Florida's Tom Sawyer Island would not be ready the first year. In fact it didn't open until May of 1973. This is kind of a neat view, with the canoe passing by the "Admiral Joe Fowler". The story goes that the Fowler was damaged during a refurbishment in 1980; since there was another steamboat by then (The "Richard F. Irvine"), somebody made the decision to scrap the "Admiral Joe". 


Nanook said...


Actually, the Skyway at WDW didn't require the use cables for its locomotion or vertical support. The buckets merely "floated-along on Pixie dust".

And yes, that's Liberty Square, with I believe the Heritage House 'merchandise opportunity' towards the right sporting the three windows, with the Hall of Presidents just beyond to its right.

Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...

Make that... with the Hall of Presidents just to its left. It's there somewhere.

TokyoMagic! said...

I love early WDW pics. And what a perfect follow-up to yesterday's post with Ken's guidebook.

Does anyone know if "The AristoCats" shop in that first pic (on the right) is still called that? I know Tokyo Disneyland still has their shop by the same name (and same exterior), but it's located on the opposite side of the walkway/courtyard.

And it looks as though the Skyway is going through a hole in the roof of the carousel. Maybe they should've had it do that, since WDW never got a Matterhorn.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, you are right. The Hall of Presidents is hiding. The tower or turret on top of the building is almost completely blocked by that tree, but we can see the sign for the attraction out in front of the building (just above the heads of the people that are to the right of the tree. We can also see the Liberty Square stocks on the far left of the pic. It looks like two people are sticking their hands and heads through the openings for a photo. At least, I hope they are doing it for a photo, otherwise they would just look silly. I think we can actually see one or maybe even two people taking pics.

Scott Lane said...

Loving this early WDW stuff! Somewhere I've got pictures of the river drained and some work vehicles (pickup trucks - bad show!) parked at the island during construction.
As far as the Skyways go, to my memory one was not appreciably higher than the other but I've never seen documentation either way.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook and TokyoMagic! did some great identification on the Liberty Square buildings. In addition, all the way to the far right is "Sleeping Hollow Refreshments" and towering above Heritage House, hidden by the tree are the spires of Cinderella Castle.

These are some wonderful images today. For me Walt Disney World isn't just about a place. It's also about a time and era. It's about a state of mind in which in the 1970's I could imagine the prospects of what the Florida property held for the future which was to include an experimental working city. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic!, "The AristoCats" shop is long gone and the location is now called "Sir Mickey's" and has a giant beanstalk integrated into the architecture.

K. Martinez said...

From reading statistics in the past, both the DL and WDW Skyways reached a maximum height of 60 feet. While the Disneyland Skyway passed through the Matterhorn, the WDW Skyway had its own unique feature in which it changed direction within the Grand Prix Raceway footprint. I thought that was very cool. Not as cool as passing through the Matterhorn, but still cool.

Chuck said...

Is that kid in the center of the Fantasyland photo wearing a sailor hat? And why is there a giant trapdoor in the middle of the square?

In that Liberty Square overview, you can also see the decidedly unthemed show building housing the theater for the Hall of Presidents trying desperately to hunch down behind the colonial facades. It's actually pretty successful most of the time; this is the first time I can remember ever noticing it (although there's probably evidence somewhere in the GDB comments log of me noticing this for the first time - perhaps multiple times - years ago; feel free to call me on it).

To the left of the stocks, you can see the rounded brick "turrets" that mark the exit to the HOP. If we were to look at them head on, you could see that they are an extremely compressed interpretation of the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, the building that housed the legislature of Colonial Virginia.

Those people may not be posing for photos. In the early days, the stocks were a functional deterrent for line jumpers. That's actually an empty box of rotted vegetables and fruit. It was a different world in 1971.

In the last photo, you can see the elevated right-of-way for the WDW RR in the rear left of the photo. It's that straight line above the grey line above the light green hill in front of the distant trees. The people just in front of that are queueing up for Big Thunder Mountain. They may be there a while.

The wooden fencing enclosing the boiler on the Fowler looks so strange to me after seeing the metal "cage" on the Mark Twain for so many years. It's probably more historically accurate, but I'm just not used to seeing it.

Fun set today, Major!

K. Martinez said...

"(although there's probably evidence somewhere in the GDB comments log of me noticing this for the first time - perhaps multiple times - years ago; feel free to call me on it)."

Chuck, I'm sure there is evidence and I'm going to dig it up and post it right here. BTW, there is no Haunted Mansion in Disneyland because you don't ever remember noticing it. ;-)

Again, Chuck, you have a great eye for detail and your descriptions and historical references add much to the subject. If it wasn't for that, I'd probably never pick up on such things. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The Hall of Presidents is also without its covered entry and extended queue shade in this pic.

The show building received themed decorative work sometime in the early 90s I believe.

Chuck said...

Thanks, Anonymous. That may explain why I never noticed it - I wasn't looking for it before the '90s, and after that it was already gussied up.

(For the record, I didn't notice the HM's fairly obvious show building at the MK either until it was pointed out in an article at And Ken - where exactly did they put the West Coast copy of that classic WDW attraction at Disneyland? Has it been there long?)

I found a photo depicting the show building's current-ish (2011) theming in relation to the colonial facades.

The original blog post that that photo comes from jogged my memory that the MK's riverboat(s) load on the boiler (2nd) deck and exit on the main (1st) deck. That may help explain why there are so few people there in today's photo.

Thanks, TM!, for posting that photo and accompanying article!

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks, Ken. I was wondering what it was I was seeing behind that tree, but next to the turret on the Hall of Presidents building. Of course, it's Cinderella's Castle! Duh! I couldn't make it out for some reason. And thanks also, for that pic. I've seen that beanstalk on the building during every visit there, but for some reason, I was thinking it was on the building on the other side of the walkway. DL Paris has the large beanstalk too and I can't remember which side it's on. The details at the parks (other than Disneyland!) start to blur sometimes because of slight variations from park to park. As I mentioned, that same store exterior is located on the other side of the courtyard in Tokyo.

Chuck, I was also wondering about that trap door thingy in the middle of the walkway. Maybe that's the pit where they throw the line jumpers after they've been in the stocks for a while. And thanks for providing the link to that photo and also that post on my blog. I didn't even know I had posted a pic showing the Hall of Presidents show building! And speaking of show buildings, I know the Hall of Presidents and the Mickey Mouse Revue (now Mickey's Philharmagic) theaters are in the same large show building, but now I'm wondering if they are connected on the inside in some way?

Chuck said...

TM!, there's a bottomless pit that prevents transit between the HOP and the MMR/Legend of the Lion King/MP parts of the building. It's actually a natural feature that predates the Park and forced the present attraction layout. The original idea was a musical ride-though of American Presidential history featuring characters from classic Disney films, but the concept had to be split due to space limitations.

My understanding is that Disney executives have a plan to add characters and a toy shop to the HOP, but it's been put on hold while they weigh they economic advantages of using classic animated, Marvel, or Star Wars IP in the project.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I had a Bicentennial/Disney bedspread in 1976 and Mickey was on it, dressed as George Washington. Minnie was Betsy Ross, but I can't remember what Goofy and Donald were dressed as. So, I can almost visualize the musical ride-through that you are describing. Now that they have done a character overlay to It's A Small World at Disneyland and Hong Kong (does WDW have that version too?), I can also see a certain "Imagineer" going to work on the Hall of Presidents and making the presidents wear character clothing. Washington can wear Mouse Ears, Lincoln can wear a Donald Duck hat with the squeaky bill, and Trump can wear a Grumpy sweatshirt!

Pegleg Pete said...

TokyoMagic, I'm pretty sure the beanstalk at Disneyland Paris is on the right side of the courtyard as you look from the castle. My sister was at WDW in late January and told me that the HOP was down for the week while she was there. Does this mean they were already updating it? If so, that's remarkably swift of them ...

Chuck said...

TM!, it wasn't this pattern, was it?

K. Martinez said...

Those are great ideas you guys have for the Hall of Presidents, but I'm still waiting for the collector's edition of "Profiles of American Presidents in Butter".

Chuck, I was looking at my Disneyland wall map and it still shows Haunted Mansion as a "future attraction". It looks like it will be located just before you get to the Indian War Canoes and Indian Village. I can't wait for it to open. Now I'm wondering what this towering "Space Port & Rocket Flight" thingy is on the map. It's huge!

TokyoMagic!, with all the Disney parks you've been to, I'm surprised you keep them as straight as you do. Now I'm going to have to check out some DLP and TDL pics to see what you guys are talking about.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I thought the WDW Skyway used magnets! How do they work? YES, Insane Clown Posse reference, a first on GDB!

Nanook II, ah, the Hall of Presidents. Won’t it be weird to see our latest leader in robot form?

TokyoMagic!, I didn’t notice that AristoCats shop, thanks for pointing it out. Very timely, as that movie was fairly new back in 1971. The Skyway IS going through the roof of the carousel - it was only large enough for hamsters.

TokyoMagic! II, jeez, I would have never noticed the stocks if you hadn’t pointed them out. Hilarious. I had no idea those were in the Magic Kingdom. Nothing like an old fashioned punishment (torture?) device for an amusement park - though I know they had them lots of other places too. Like Universal Studios.

Scott Lane, now I can be jealous of WDW because their Rivers of America will be bigger than our truncated version. Thanks for the Skyway info.

K. Martinez, “Sleeping Hollow Refreshments”, I wonder why they didn’t call it “Sleepy Hollow Refreshments”? Like you, I like the very 70’s look of the Magic Kingdom - I would assume that most vestiges of the original 70’s park have vanished.

K. Martinez II, I knew about the change in direction for the Skyway, but only fairly recently, and from looking at photos that I had scanned.

Chuck, you can see lots of sailor hats in old photos - at some point they became popular with kids and teenagers. The trap door led to the room full of money. I’m kind of surprised that the Hall of Presidents building needed to be so huge, but I guess large scale is what WDW was all about. You don’t want to see all of the cyber-Presidents in a tiny nightclub. Ha, I read your line about Big Thunder Mountain and thought, “Whaaaaa?”. But then I kept on reading. Also, thanks for pointing out the detail on the Joe Fowler, with the fencing around the boiler.

K. Martinez, that Chuck, he’s crafty!

Anon, thanks for the info!

Chuck, the Anaheim Haunted Mansion was removed in 1983 due to lack of popularity. It was replaced with a dark ride based on “Sammy, the Way-Out Seal”, and is one of the most thrilling attractions ever.

TokyoMagic!, I actually did not know that Florida had one of those buildings with the beanstalk outside - as you mentioned, there is one in Paris that I’ve seen pictures of. Not sure what kind of merchandise is inside. Probably snails.

Chuck, you sure know your Magic Kingdom history.

TokyoMagic!, I only had a Disney Bicentennial t-shirt. I didn’t wear it much because I was growing so fast at the time. I’m trying to figure out who you are referring to when you mentioned a certain Imagineer…?

Pegleg Pete, all I need to know is… how are the beans?

Chuck, I’ll bet that WAS the pattern, since that is the standard Disney version of the “Sprit of ’76” that was on everything back then.

K. Martinez, um… butter?!?! I mean, chocolate, OK, that totally makes sense, but butter. That’s just weird.

Nanook said...

@ Major-

Yes - that IS a first for GDB: an Insane Clown Posse reference. But then again, 'cutting edge' is what GDB is all about.

And what do you mean "...won't it be weird to see our latest leader in robot form" - he already is.

TokyoMagic! said...

Pegleg Pete, thanks for the DL Paris info. You are right, the "beanstalk" shop it is on the right side! And yes, they are currently "updating" the Hall of Presidents at WDW. Or maybe they're setting it back 200 years?

Chuck, that was the pattern, and I still have it! I forgot that Goofy was in the stocks! And I'm just now remembering that I also had WDW sheets! I'll have to dig those out, take pics, and then post them.

Major, I had hamsters when I was a kid. I should have built them a Hamster Skyway! I had something called a "Sky Wheel" that was made by Habitrail. Sometimes the hamsters would go to the bathroom inside of it. A shop at DL Paris that sells snails! Ha, ha, I love it! The "imagineer" that I was talking about was the one that ruined the Rain Forest room in It's A Small World. It's the same one that ruined Club 33, among other things. Maybe they should just get rid of the full-sized figures of the Presidents and have the show feature just their jars. And just like on Futurama, they could have two Grover Cleveland heads!

Chuck said...

TM!, I always thought it would be cool if the AA Presidents could get up and walk around. But on second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea...