Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Magic Kingdom, December 1971


I'm getting down to some of the last scans from a lot of slides dated "December 1971", featuring the Magic Kingdom! 

First off is this nice shot of an artist drawing a little girl's portrait, in what I guess is East Center Street (notice the sign reading "Art Festival"). The easels have lights on them for night portraits, which will make vampires happy. Check out that very unsafe tangle of electrical cords in the middle of the street, which was totally my idea.

Here's a great photo of a busy Town square during the park's first Christmas season. The Horse Drawn Streetcar was a popular attraction, apparently. Why walk up to the castle when you can ride? Notice the gentleman to the right, blue cardigan, white shirt...

... I think that's him, now seated in the second row, facing away from us! Look at all the people, waiting for one conveyance or another. Hop aboard an Omnibus, why don'tcha. To the right is the Hospitality House, which was... well, I don't really know what it was. Maybe the Florida version of the INA "Carefree Corner"? I hope they gave out moist towlettes - nothing says "hospitality" like a moist towlette.

Here's an odd one, possibly shot from aboard the WDW Railroad? To the right, I think we've got Adventureland, while those "lodgepole" shade structures (apparently incomplete) look more Frontierland-ish. All of that bare dirt is magnificent!


Nanook said...


Oh dear - all those electrical cords are just an accident waiting to happen-!! Just where was OSHA-? Oh, wait - make that the 'Reedy Creek' version of OSHA: Mickey Mouse with a Reddy Kilowatt hat. (Or would that be a Reedy Kilowatt hat-?? Oh mercy-!) Other than the Xmas tree, there seems to be little to indicate the Christmas season.

A little known fact is dirt was a big feature at the Magic Kingdom when it first opened.

Thanks, Major - & a Happy Fourth to all.

Scott Lane said...

That is indeed Frontierland in that last picture. That view is no longer possible from the train as that ground in front of us is taken up by Splash Mountain. Those folks crowding on the left in the frame must be queueing up for Big Thunder.....but they've got a long wait. It won't be built for another several years.
That building with the belfry to the right is the Country Bear Jamboree, I believe.

I don't remember what the Carefree Corner was, exactly. I seem to remember eating there on one of our first trips. That building would later become home to the Walt Disney Story but has returned to its food-serving roots as Tony's Town Square. (the only place in the MK where you can purchase alcohol)

Pegleg Pete said...

Great photos today, Major – thanks! That last one is especially interesting. I'm not sure what's going on with that crowd by the river. As Tom Sawyer Island wasn't open yet, they can't be queuing for rafts. This is around the location where one boarded Davy Crockett's Canoes (you can just make out what may be a canoe in the water to the right of the throng) but that's a lot of people queueing up to paddle. Maybe there's some sort of entertainent or talk going on? Or maybe people were extra keen for the canoes as there just weren't so many attractions open yet? Thanks again. And a very happy Fourth to all those in the US.

Chuck said...

Happy Independence Day, everybody! Thanks for the well wishes, Pegleg Pete! What an awesome coincidence that the fourth of July falls on the same day in both the UK and US.

All sorts of goodness visible here today, much of which has already been pointed out.

The two Town Square photos are magnificently composed and afford for all sorts of people-watching. While the second TS image is probably the better photon my favorite details are the the Mickey-ear-shaped balloons to the rear of the streetcar and another one held by a guest on the streetcar itself. I dragged a Disneyland-printed clone of one out of the Happiest Place on Earth on my first visit that previous summer, the only balloon I ever owned from a Disney Park.

The last photo has a lot of interesting details in it as well, although as Pegleg Pete and Scott Lane have pointed out, it's also notable for what isn't in the photo as well. For example, just out of frame to our right is where Caribbean Plaza (featuring the E-ticket attraction "Highlights from 'The Pirates of the Caribbean'") will open in 1974.

If you look along the skyline from right to left, we start with Pecos Bill's Cafe, followed by the bell tower of the Country Bear Playhouse. That massive crowd out front is actually probably waiting to get inside - it was a surprise hit and didn't have the capacity to handle the demand. That's why the Disneyland version had two theaters - to cope with the expected crowds that never materialized there.

I'm not sure what that tall, green pole-looking thing is between the bell tower and that clump of trees. I found a low-res, B&W aerial that suggests that there was some sort of tall, pole-like structure just outside the MK on the shore of that little lake behind where Space Mountain now sits, but I have no idea what it might have been or if I'm even interpreting the image correctly.

The next buildings along the skyline are Liberty Square. I think that's the old Silversmith's Shop on the right and the entrance and bell tower of the Hall of Presidents on the left, with Cinderella's Castle looming over the area just like you would have seen in real colonial America.

Tracking on to the left you can see the blocky show building for the Hall of Presidents and the Mickey Mouse Revue. It still boggles my mind that it never occurred to me that those were the same building until some time in the last year.

Moving on past the still-uninhabited Tom Sawyer Island, you can catch a glimpse of Fantasyland. I think that's the Skyway Chalet, it's a small world, and Peter Pan's Flight.

Thanks for the nice set today, Major! Now go enjoy some fireworks! I hear they're delicious with an orange soy glaze...

K. Martinez said...

Christmas in July is a favorite of mine. 70's WDW is a great way to start the day. Thanks, Major.

Happy 4th of July to all!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the scene with the electrical cords could only be improved by a few random puddles of water. I would expect the Imagineers to think of things like that, so I am very disappointed! You get 10 points for mentioning Reddy Kilowatt, btw.

Scott Lane, thanks for that info - it’s cool to have a photo of a view that can’t be taken today. Gosh, that building with the belfry does not seem very “Country Bear-ish” in appearance; I suppose it’s more Appalachian or something? It’s funny, I read the line about the Hospitality House returning to its food-serving roots, and my brain instantly thought of a restaurant that only serves roots. FIBER!

Pegleg Pete, yeah I wish I knew why that big crowd was gathered there by the river. Free churros? (I know, this was years before churros were a thing). I do remember my friend “Mr. X” saying that his trip to the Magic Kingdom (in November of 1971) got very very crowded, so perhaps it was just a case of too many people and not enough attractions.

Chuck, I am just glad that, so far, the 4th of July has never occurred on Friday the 13th - that would be terrible. I saved a Mickey ear balloon from the 70’s, even untying knot so that I could lay it nice and flat; but the years were not kind to that thin latex, and it shriveled up. As I’ve probably said before, I was never that big of a fan of the Country Bears, so its popularity has always baffled me. I’m glad people enjoy it, but… why? Marc Davis was a genius, but I think that he needed someone like Claude Coates to help make a better attraction; sitting in a theater watching singing robots was just not my thing (Carousel of Progress excepted). Thanks for all the info on the various buildings and attractions!

K. Martinez, I like Christmas in April, when it’s not so hot. Happy 4th to you too!

Unknown said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the World's lowest slung monorail beam. It's right there, crossing the last photo...

K. Martinez said...

Major, up her in July it's not so hot, so I can still like Christmas in July. But, I can enjoy Christmas in July in April as well because I've always been a fan of Preston Sturges.

Chuck said...

Just noticed this this morning when my desktop background rolled through the image, but the second photo in this set is eerily reminiscent of a Disneyland photo you posted on 13 Jun. Comparing the two you can see the similarities as well as the differences between Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom and it's younger sister.

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, it's not far from being the first Monorail subway.

K. Martinez, unfortunately I don't get your Preston Sturges reference, as I have possibly only seen one or two of his movies. :-(

Chuck, you ain't kiddin'... those photos are remarkably similar!

Leonard said...

The building with the belfry is the "Town Hall" of Frontierland. It's entirely a facade (you can't go through the "doors"). It's part of the exterior facade around Pecos Bill's cafe. As you face it, the exit to the Country Bear Jamboree is to the left. The entrance to the Country Bears is in it's own "building" further down the street on the left. Originally the blue building to the immediate left of the town hall was the Mile Long Bar (which did have the talking trophy heads from the CBJ inside to entertain guests). The Mile Long Bar is now incorporated into Pecos Bills.