Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Walt Disney World, November, 1971

Following Ken Martinez's post about the early plans for Walt Disney World, I thought I'd share some more photos from the first month (or so) of the park's existence.

It's a shame that Walt Disney did not live long enough to see the realization of his dream park in Florida. And while I have no idea if the wonderful A-frame Contemporary Hotel was on the drawing board at the time of his passing, I think he would have been mighty pleased with it. I love this shot, looking across the Seven Seas Lagoon (I believe). A ferry and a few sailboats skim across the surface of the lagoon, and an arched expanse of Monorail track can be seen as well. 

Over the years, additional structures have been added, including a tower next to the Contemporary - I like this clean, early view.

Moving in much closer, it is evident that work is still being done - landscaping in the mid-foreground, while a crane peeks up from over the top of the hotel. I have a question! The Contemporary Hotel almost always appears bright white in photos, and yet it looks more of a sand color here. I admit that scanning negatives can be a challenge, so perhaps I did a poor job of adjusting the images.

Here's a wonderful angle, with one of the Monorails leaving (or entering??) the Grand Concourse.

"Mr. X" took lots and lots of photos of the Contemporary Hotel and the Grand Concourse, so I hope you have enjoyed these examples!


Nanook said...


That iS the Seven Seas Lagoon. And it appears Monorail Yellow (or Gold, perhaps,) is exiting the Contemporary Resort heading towards the TTC.

And let's just say the color of the Contemporary Resort in these images appears to be 'bone'-!

Thanks, Major, and as always to "Mr. X"-!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ecru! Like teacher's teeth! Sorry, but certain films, TV shows and TV commercials get stuck in my brain and they never leave.

I see Herbie hiding on the far left of that last pic. And his red cousin is in plain view on the right. I wonder if there is any chance that those Bugs still exist today?

Below the two openings in the building for the Monorail, I see what looks like a third large opening or doorway. It also looks like there is a railing and maybe some lampposts near that opening Does anyone know if there is/was a patio located outside at that level?

Scott Lane said...

The colors here look about right to me. The Contemp can look stark white from a distance in the noonday sun, I suppose, but it's not really.

TM: I've never been out there, and I don't remember there being anything there (or seeing people out there) back in the "old days" but there is access and I think it may be a smoking area or something now.

Mike said...

The monorail would definitely have been leaving the Contemporary as it is on the “inner” loop which is the local loop on which the monorails run clockwise and stop at all resorts. The “outer” track is the express track which runs counterclockwise and stops only at the TTC and Magic Kingdom.

K. Martinez said...

That first shot is a beauty. The Contemporary is something Disney won't do anymore. I love the modern style. The only two hotels on the property that come close to this are the Swan and Dolphin Hotels and those aren't even owned by Disney.

The resort hotel was at one time going to be called "Tempo Bay Hotel". Story is that "Contemporary" was a placeholder name and the WED designers decided to call it "Tempo Bay". Roy Disney caught wind of it and told them to change it back to the Contemporary Resort Hotel name as he liked things to be called what they are. I agree.

Nanook, I believe that would be Monorail Gold as Monorail Yellow didn't come into service until December 1971.

K. Martinez said...

If Mr. X took lots of photos of the Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Grand Canyon Course, I hope to see them all. Thanks, Major and Mr. X.

zach said...

Great photos today! I especially like the drama of #3. Some want to visit the Parthenon or the Eiffel Tower or the Great Pyramids. All worthy but I just want to ride the Monorail, just once, through the Contemporary.


Anonymous said...

These are really great pictures. I've always thought the Contemporary with the monorail running through it was such a great concept. Seems like Star Trek.

Thanks Major.


Melissa said...

The Contemporary is timeless! I think it's my favorite of the Monorail hotels, even though it isn't as over-the-top "themed" as the Polynesian or Grand Floridian. And yes, riding the Monorail right into the building is an amazing feeling.

dennis said...

That red VW in the last picture looks just like my first car!
Dennis, Levittown, Long Island,NY

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I think “bone” is a nice, solid, 1970’s name for that color! Just like avocado green or harvest gold.

TokyoMagic!, Herbie got in for free, and he abused his privileges over and over. What a diva. We used to own a VW bug, I think it was something like 1966. It got stolen. When we told the police, the guy on the phone said, “It’s probably in Tijuana by now”. Thanks, officer! I also wondered what all of those outdoor lamps were there for. Hopefully someone can help!

Scott Lane, in 1970, every area was a smoking area! ;-) I’d like to believe that the area in question was for outdoor dining, but I don’t really know.

E Michael Gannon, Thanks! My problem is that I can’t tell north from south in most photos of the Contemporary, although I guess “clockwise” works the same not matter what.

K. Martinez, I’ve always been a bit unimpressed by the Dolphin and Swan hotels. Michael Eisner loved Michael Graves’ architecture, but both of these feel kind of “blah” to me. I’d never heard that thing about the name originally intended to be “Tempo Bay Hotel”… what a terrible name! Roy Disney was right.

K. Martinez, unfortunately most of the Grand Concourse photos were taken at night, so they’re not quite as wonderful as one might hope. There’s still some good details though.

David Zacher, I’ve actually been inside the Great Pyramid! But I still want to see the Contemporary Hotel someday.

JG, I agree, that was one of the coolest features (and still is).

Melissa, is 1970 too late to consider the Contemporary as “mid-century modern”? It has that feel of clean shapes and minimal frippery. Mr. X said that as the Monorail approaches the Hotel, the size of the tunnel seems to get smaller and smaller. “It won’t fit!!”.

dennis, I was just looking at some photos of San Francisco from the 1970’s, it is amazing at just how many VW bugs there are in that city at around that time.

Melissa said...

Yes, I would definitely call the architectural style of the Contemporary Modern or Late Midcentury Modern. It also has elements of Brutalism, with the raw concrete and exposed steel, modular construction, and overall effect of massive solidity. It's also the home of the legendary Five Legged Goat!

Dean Finder said...

Foxxfur has an excellent breakdown of what was in the concourse in this era:

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

Even nearly 50 years after being constructed, the Contemporary Resort still remains...well, contemporary. That makes it the best! :D