Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Special Guest Post - Walt Disney World, 1972

Today I have the honor to present the second (and final) post from GDB regular Mark S. Besotted, featuring photos of Walt Disney World as taken by his mother in 1972. Like its older cousin on the west coast, I wish I could have seen WDW in its earliest days! Here's Mark's commentary, which seems to start abruptly because I rudely divided his mega-post into two separate posts. That way I can spend more time watching "The View" and eating pizza rolls! Smart, no?

There weren't even a lot of tall trees in Frontierland yet. This is, of course, the World-famous Back Side Of Liberty Belle. 

The tall tree was nearby, though. Here's the star of Adventureland, in all its stair-climbing glory.

This sleepy hippo was the star of a million tourist photos. 

Landscapers have a concept called "Desire-lines," the paths people carve into grassy areas where they need sidewalks. These hippos were a "Desire-Photospot."

This jungle hut still looks almost identical today. Except at Christmastime, which we all know is a big holiday in the jungle, apparently. 

Like its cousin in Anaheim, this cabin stopped burning a while ago. Unlike the Anaheim cabin, you can see no settler in his new Arrow shirt. 

And on the other side of the boat, we see a village of Friendly Indians. They're pretty understanding, considering how close the railroad right-of-way is to their home.

And here's the thing I remember most from early WDW. They had topiaries EVERYWHERE. These days, you have to visit Epcot during Flower and Garden to see any specially-trained shrubbery.

Many thanks to Mark S. Besotted for sharing his family photos! Who knows, maybe we'll see more from other locations someday.


Nanook said...


Thanks again for sharing your photos. I kinda forgot about all the topiaries scattered-about the Magic Kingdom back then. My, how things have changed.

K. Martinez said...

So is this the final post from Mr. Besotted on WDW or the final post period? I hope there's more from Mark as I've really enjoyed his posts here on GDB.

Love the Admiral Joe Fowler passing by pre-Big Thunder Territory. And when they dropped the Admiral's Riverboat in 1980 it was a total bummer!

Does the Swiss Family Treehouse still have its Spanish moss? That's one of the features I liked about it in the 1970's.

Anothe question. Was the Burning Cabin on the island before Tom Sawyer Island was built and opened in May of 1973-?

Thanks again for sharing your photos with us, Mark. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Scott Lane said...

Ken - Yes the burning cabin was there before the island was built up for Mr Sawyer.
But you are correct, that is the Admiral Joe in the first picture not the Liberty Belle. The LB not having been built yet.

Thanks again for sharing your pictures, Mark.

Chuck said...

Ken, in fact, the burning cabin was there before Disney built the Park. That was one of the reasons the MK is where it is today - that naturally occurring gas line. The WDW Rivers of America wss sponsored by Izod, so the Imagineers omitted any reference to one of their competitors.

I remember being so excited to see the topiaries everywhere on my first visit, as they were one of my favorite features of an overwhelmingly favorite-studded iasw at Disneyland.

I love how the treehouse towers over everything around it, much like the treehouse in the movie.

Thanks again, Mark & Major!

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks for sharing your photos, Mark – and thanks, Major, for posting them. The topiaries during this area always stuck in my mind too; it's a shame they aren't so prominent anymore.

K. Martinez said...

Scott and Chuck, Thanks for answering my question. The burning cabin thing never occurred to me until today's post in which it appears to have existed before TSI was built up and opened.

One more question. Was it the same with the Burning Cabin on Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island or were both built simultaneously?

Chuck said...

Ken, the WWW says the BSC was added to DL's TSI in '56.

K. Martinez said...

Thanks for the quick reply and answer, Chuck! And I had to look up Izod as I'm hopelessly out of touch with the textile/clothing industry. A fashion plate I am not, but that was a good one!

steve2wdw said...

The first photo is actually not Liberty Belle....Liberty Belle has one smokestack and was previously named the Richard F Irvine. This ship, as mentioned by K Martinez is the Admiral Joe Fowler, the original paddlewheeler, which was sadly, dropped while being lifted at dry dock, breaking it's hull in sad. Love seeing all these shots with the very young vegetation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark and Major for glimpses of the park I have never visited.

Really enjoyed this.


Melissa said...

Thanks, Maj and Mark! I still remember the Magic Kingdom still looking kind of sparse and bare landscape-wise in the winter of 1983.

The old Liberty Square boat dock is still there, just outside the gates to the Haunted Mansion, acting as stroller and wheelchair parking.

I think I read somewhere that they're not doing the Jingle Cruise at WDW this year? Or was that just wishful thinking on my part?

K. Martinez said...

Melissa, WDW is still doing the Jingle Cruise. It's DL's Jingle Cruise that went away this year.

Dean Finder said...

That particular topiary (the Sea Serpent near the Hub) is still there, even after all of the renovations. But there are far fewer across WDW year-round. Most of them are now seasonal decorations.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Whoops! I'm late coming by today, but this isn't the last batch of photos from my family, promise. (I still owe our gracious host several more posts, and I need to get to scanning. Sorry, Major!)

Ken (and others), oy vey. I figured I'd mess up at least one thing on my commentary, but I feel bad it was that big. I should have known the boat's name too, since it wasn't so very long ago I heard the awesome fellas at the Retro WDW podcast discussing early boats and monorails...
I *believe* the moss is still there, but sadly I can't remember from my last trip in March.

Melissa, my next batch from WDW is around the same time as your memory -- maybe we'll see you in the background of a few.

Thanks, all, for your comments. I'm glad to have something fun to share.

K. Martinez said...

Hey Mark, Don't ever feel bad about a mess up. I've done my share of goofs and I know others have too. I'll just say welcome to the club. You're posts are always enjoyable and I'm glad to hear there's more coming from you. Thanks again!

TokyoMagic! said...

Well, I'm late for commenting on this post. I was going to mention that the sea serpent topiary was still at the Magic Kingdom, but Dean Finder beat me to it. Parts of the Admiral Joe Fowler, including it's bell, were saved and used on Tokyo Disneyland's Mark Twain, which opened with that park in 1983.

Thank you for sharing more of your family photos, Mark. I'm glad to hear that this isn't the end of what you have to share with us!