Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Walt Disney World Vacationland - Part 4

Here is Part 2 in a series from Ken Martinez, with more memories of Walt Disney World the way it was some 43 years ago. Here's Ken:

Walt Disney World Vacationland Magazine Spring 1975 – The Vacation Kingdom 

Here’s the fourth and final installment of the Spring 1975 issue of the Walt Disney World Vacationland Magazine.  Today’s article is titled “Sailing with the Fleet of the Kingdom”.   One of the early features played up in the Vacation Kingdom’s early years were the recreational water activities, whether it was boating, water skiing, tanning on the beach or swimming.  Much has changed between then and now. 

I like the image of the Bob-A-Round boat.  I had no idea they were equipped with stereo music.   I’d be curious as to how many of the various watercraft exist still today.  Do the paddlewheel steamers “Southern Seas” and “Ports O’ call” still exist or were they retired over the years?

Here’s a fun map of the Vacation Kingdom and what it had to offer early visitors.  There’s still only one theme park at this time.  I like the oversized people and Disney characters on the map.  Some of them are almost as tall as Space Mountain.

Here’s an ad for Walt Disney World’s host community Lake Buena Vista.  The early hotels at Hotel Plaza were Dutch Inn, Howard Johnsons, Royal Inn and TravelLodge.  I  wonder if most of those hotels have different owners now. 

The “Vacation Kingdom” also included a horse ranch called the “Tri-Circle D Ranch” for Disney’s various horses both in the Magic Kingdom and for recreational use at the Fort Wilderness Campground.

What I find interesting about this article is how Disney had to prepare and plan this ranch and train all the horses and hire all the right people all before the opening of Walt Disney World.  So not only were they working on opening a theme park, but the campground, the horse ranch, the various activities on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon and the two hotel properties, Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village.  It certainly seemed like a more complex operation than Disneyland.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s article.  This is the final for the Spring 1975 issue of Vacationland Magazine, but there are more Vacationland magazine articles to come.  Stay tuned.

Thank you, as always, Ken! There are more articles from him coming up.


Nanook said...


More great memories abound. For some odd reason I did know the Bob-A-Round boats had on-board music. I'm afraid some of the meals served at WDW during its formative years contributed to occasional cases of gigantism among the guests. (The menus were modified in later years).

I had forgotten there was a 'Shetland Pony Ride' for the wee folk at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch - undoubtedly inspired by the Beverly Ponyland adjacent to Beverly Park in Los Angeles.

Thanks again, Ken, for sharing this interesting brochure.

Melissa said...

The Bob-A-Round boats are another one of those attractions I'll always regret not getting to do before they were gone.

The Tri-Circle-D is still around, and you can still pay to ride a horse there.

I've really enjoyed this series of scans!

JC Shannon said...

My cup runeth over. I love these scans, they make me want to pack up the fam and head out on a road trip. So many different water craft, and fun to be had by park goers. Disney went all out with WDW and this brochure says it all. My favorite is the map. So colorful and fun, it is a work of art all by itself. I have enjoyed this series and learned alot in the process. Thanks Ken, for sharing it with us.

Major Pepperidge said...

It's kind of amazing to see how much this magazine stressed the various water activities, when those are all but forgotten today. Can you still rent a sailboat, even? Or has fear of gators made them go away. I love the clumsy Bob-A-Round boats. Ken, "Passport To Dreams Old and New" did an excellent (as usual) article about hose paddlewheel steamers here:

And like JC Shannon, I have hardly met a Disney map I didn't like, and that example of WDW is fantastic.

K. Martinez said...

I'm running late today. Sorry for the late response.

Nanook, You certainly knew more than I did about the Bob-A-Round boats. It's amazing how something like the Bob-A-Round boat would develop a following and articles devoted to it. I love things like that.

Melissa, There are a lot of WDW attractions I missed because I haven't been back since the mid-1980s. The things I regret missing most would be "SpectroMagic!" and "The Great Movie Ride". It's kind of a bummer, but I'm glad to hear the Tri-Circle D Ranch is there and operating.

JC Shannon, I'm glad you enjoyed today's post. Disney maps are some of my favorite souvenirs whether it's a wall map, brochure map or Disney hotel map. They either have great graphics, chock full of information or have both. Definitely in the top five collectibles.

Major, Thanks for chiming in. It seems water activities have been played down in favor of cruises and transportation around the various lakes and waterways. It's weird to see so many water sport activities in earlier WDW publications and now it's centered more on dining and shopping.

Thanks for the link to the "Passport To Dreams Old and New" article. She's my personal favorite when it comes to all things Walt Disney World.

Thank you all for the kind comments.

Sunday Night said...

You are not running late Ken, you are just posting at a sensible hour. Welcome to GDB After Dark!
I always enjoy your contributions to this site and your memories of the various attractions you have visited over the years. Thanks for sharing!

dean finder said...

You can still rent various watercraft at WDW. SeaRaycers (2-person speedboat styled boats), Boston Whalers, and Suntracker pontoon are available on Bay Lake and the 7 Seas Lagoon. Fort Wilderness also offers kayaks and the Polynesian
Parasailing and jet skis were recently cancelled, I assume because the vendor couldn't get insurance after the child was killed.
I'm not sure when sailboats ended, though I know bob-a-long boats didn't last long -- guests had a habit of running the batteries down and needing a cast member to tow them home.

Melissa said...

The Bob-A-Rounds are a favorite with the Communicore Weekly podcasters; they're even mentioned in their theme song.

Chuck said...

I recently discovered Communicore Weekly and, thusly, the Bob-a-Round Boats. That earworm of a theme song kicks in in my head every time I see a Bod-a-Round or a five-legged goat.

I love the map. Two things stand out to me. First, the backpacking family in the upper right. That's not an activity I've ever associated with WDW before. I suppose it could be done, but you wouldn't have much room for souvenirs.

Second, River Country isn't shown on the map. I find that odd, considering that there was an entire article on the place elsewhere in this issue. I'm assuming they just hadn't updated the map yet.

Thanks again, Ken!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Map. Major, I agree, my favorite souvenirs of almost any place are the maps, and the Disney maps are among the best.

A map is usually the first thing I pick up anywhere, even in this day of smart phone mapping, and I keep them all, annotations and markups included, the best souvenirs and many times, free for the asking.

Also, wishing to visit WDW.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the side paddlewheelers disappeared sometime in the 1990s, victims of age and lack of desire to maintain/upgrade.

The Hotel Plaza hotels are all still there...eventually seven were built on that corner of WDW. All the owners/names have changed various times over the years. I think the buildings are essentially the same with upgrades, except what was the Royal Inn. I believe it was completely rebuilt following hurricane damage in the early 2000s.