Monday, November 02, 2020

Walt Disney World, June 1979

I recently delved into my box of Walt Disney World slides and scanned a bunch, skipping the usual photos of Cinderella Castle or anything else I deemed to be boring.

This first one is unusual, a shot of two of the steamboats that would take guests back and forth across the Seven Seas Lagoon, from the parking lot to the park. It appears as if they might be out of commission for the day, there's a workman doing something mysterious. From what I have gleaned online, there were two "classes" of steamboats - one was the Kingdom Queen class (consisting of the "Richard F. Irvine" and the "Admiral Joe Fowler") , and the other was the Magic Kingdom class, the "General Joe Potter".

There's the good old Mickey Mouse floral portrait. I hope that they someday replace this with a storm trooper.

Here's a fun photo of a busy Main Street, with lots of 70's fashions to enjoy. What are you staring at, lady?! You too, grandma! There's an Omnibus trundling down the street, full of guests.

I don't recall ever getting a decent look at the mini-posters on the sides of Magic Kingdom Omnibuses before, so I was interested to see these. Zooming in only helped a little, so I looked on Google to see if I could find better images.

The only thing I found was a series of pins from the park's 40th Anniversary in 2011 (they released a LOT of pins for that occasion). I could see that the designs matched up with the posters quite well! I cropped off the characters that popped up above each "poster", though I couldn't do anything about Zazu on the Tropical Serenade pin. I'm sure that the Jungle Cruise pin is a match, but the colors look quite different. The Haunted Mansion graphic is interesting because they used such a cartoony ghost, something that seems to have been considered (and rejected) from the actual attraction (see THIS POST from the Long Forgotten blog).

Our photographer must have wanted to capture the general hustle and bustle of Main Street. There goes a Horse Drawn Streetcar, without so much as an empty seat. I love that people wanted to ride these classic A-ticket rides back then!

Stay tuned for more Walt Disney World/Magic Kingdom photos!



The original WDW ferry boats were MAGIC KINGDOM I, MAGIC KINGDOM II ( the single smokestack craft) and the KINGDOM QUEEN ( the double smokestack ferry) theses were modeled after actual 1890’s Manhattan Ferry Boats used into the 1920’s. in the 1990’s the fleet was altered greatly for safety - including reconstructing the pilot houses at a slant for better visibility of the bows of the craft. At this time the boats were all re-christened THE ADMIRAL JOE FOWER , THE RICHARD F IRVINE and THE JOE POTTER ( the first two were originally the names of the Liberty Square Riverboats .... the Richard F Irvine having been re-named the THE LIBERTY BELLE.

I have several original omnibus used attraction advertising placards including TROPICAL SERENADE, MISSION TO MARS , COUNTRY BEAR JAMBOREE , and GRAND PRIX RACEWAY. I had ITS A SMALL WORLD - but decided to sell it. They are lithographic prints mounted to aluminum with some kind of coating on the front to protect them - someone told me who worked in WED graphics they were coated with a clear liquid ceramic to prevent fading - something they were testing to use in WDW signage and a revised 70’s formula used on the Disneyland Tomorrowland Mary Blair tiles. The WDW omnibus Attractions placards were all designed by Imagineer Paul Hartley - except Mission to Mars. If the ceramic coating was used to prevent fading - it worked my attraction placards are vibrant and crisp in color and are dated 1972 on the reverse ( except MARS that has no date at all)

I love arriving at the Magic Kingdom by the Ferry boats - and hearing them across Bay Lake is a distinctive VACATION KINGDOM experience and memory.

Nanook said...

Actually, guests arrive at the Magic Kingdom from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). The younger of the two gals walking in front of floral Mickey is definitely wearing 'sensible shoes'. Her pair looks quite substantial.

Even if you don't ask, you often receive. Mike to the rescue, again. Truly fascinating, as per usual-! Thank you Mike.

And thank you too, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I love WDW images from the seventies!

I was curious about those mini attraction posters on the side of the Omnibus, so thanks for looking those up for us, Major.

That artwork of the "cartoony" ghost, was also used in one of the Haunted Mansion children's records (the smaller "See, Hear, Read" version):

Chuck said...

Since my first trip to WDW was in May of 1979 and there was often a lag time between film exposure and processing, I took a super-close look at these to see if I could spot my family. I didn't, but I did spy some interesting details.

In the third photo, track right in line with the omnibus, past the stroller but before you get to the guy in gym shorts and red-striped tube socks. There's a guy wearing a red shirt (which foretells his imminent doom) with a blue handbag over his shoulder carrying a large plush Mickey in a clear plastic bag. Track to the extreme left and you can see Daryl Dragon leaning against a trash can, wondering where his keyboard and singing partner are.

The last photo confirms that the photographer waited a while before having his or her slides developed. At the right end of the photo, you can see three young sailors (one mostly obscured by a woman's noggin) wearing the Navy winter blue uniform, which looks almost black, known colloquially as the "Johnny Cash" uniform. The transition from winter to summer uniforms in that part of the country was usually around 1 April, which helps explain why most guests are wearing long pants.

Young sailors in uniform on liberty were a fairly common sight at WDW due to the proximity of nearby Naval Training Center Orlando, located on the site of the former Orlando AAF/AFB just north of what is now Orlando Executive Airport. NTC Orlando closed in 1999.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I had noticed Mr. Dragon, but didn't see Tennille "hangin' around." I suppose the blond guy's head could be blocking her. Maybe they were getting ready to do an impromptu street performance of "Disney Girls." ;-)

Andrew said...

I've never noticed the canopy structure in front of the Magic Kingdom train station. I guess (maybe I'm wrong!) that fits with old train stations on the east coast, unlike the Disneyland midwestern station.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, thanks for all that great information about the various steamboats! And I am very jealous of your Omnibus mini-posters (or placards?), I remember Hake’s collectibles selling a strip of Disneyland Omnibus posters years ago (probably more than 20 years at this point), and I just didn’t have the money to bid on them. It killed me! I always assumed that the Disneyland versions were silkscreened onto metal, but really have no idea. Interesting that they coated the WDW with clear ceramic material. Who knew! Gosh, I’d love to see your placards, and wish I could see some of the others that existed over the years.

Nanook, isn’t the Transportation and Ticket Center near the parking lot? Maybe not! Judging from everything I’ve heard about the amount of walking necessary at the Magic Kingdom, I think sensible shoes are the only way to go.

TokyoMagic!, since I am “poster crazy”, I had to look up those Omnibus posters. And THANKS for the link to that Haunted Mansion children’s record artwork!

Chuck, whenever I give the date of the slides that I post, I am referring to the date stamp; I know that YOU know that the photos could easily have been taken months (sometimes many months) earlier. In the third photo, could that be a plush Tigger (to the right of the man with the red shirt carrying the blue bag)? There’s that striped tiger tail sticking out of the plastic bag, that thing is huge. And only you would know the details of those Navy uniforms! Which is a cool thing. I thought those were security officers, it did not occur to me that they could be military. On the other hand, I thought that Darryl Dragon was an actual Navy officer!

TokyoMagic!, Tony Tennille is already thinking about going solo by 1979. The Captain was not exactly Mr. Excitement. That title went to Jeff Altman of “Pink Lady and Jeff” fame.

Andrew, I do not know a lot about old train stations, but I’ve seen lots of antique toy train stations, and they often have canopies similar to the one at WDW, often with clear glass to admit more light.

JC Shannon said...

I Am in awe of Little Shorts Guy's socks. I want em. Chuck, I partied with a bunch of submariners in Guam once. We drank Depth Charges till dawn, and they regaled me with stories of staying submerged for weeks at a time, and I had a new respect for the Navy after that. Major, don't give em any ideas, or Vader will end up as a flower bed as well. Great scans today, thanks Major.

stu29573 said...

I think the area in front of the Magic Kingdom is the perfect prelude to the park! It's very peaceful and exciting at the same time. The sound of the boats and the water lapping on the shores, combined with the music and hubbub of the park is pure magic!

zach said...

After the font discussion a few posts ago (surprised we didn't hear from Brick Heck) I thought someone would have, by now, called out the Fantasyland font on the small world poster.

We usually used our left over 'A' tickets for the Main Street vehicles.

T thought the 'Captain' was John Travolta in disguise.

Having never been to WDW I appreciate these photos, so thanks!


Melissa said...

So many great peoplewatching people in that third shot! In addition to the Trash Can Lounge Singer, the beardy guy with the tote bag, and Dr. Kneesocks, there’s the Grandma at left having a Fred Sanford-style heart attack, Farmer Brown in their plaid shirt and overhauls, the two foreground ladies with that nervous look you get when you realize you’re about to be caught in some stranger’s picture, and the little pigtailed girl pulling on her ear like Carol Burnett.

Now I’ve got the Imperial March stuck in my head, but with the lyrics to the Mickey Mouse Club March.

Yeah, you don’t see the Main Street Vehicles full too often nowadays, because they only run first thing in the morning when most people are either running to headliners to avoid the crowds or seeking out coffee and breakfast.

And I’m with Mike - arriving at the Magic Kingdom by ferry really is magical.

Nanook said...

Yes, the TTC is adjacent to the Main Parking Lot for the Magic Kingdom, but if you plan to board any mode of transportation for the MK (and now EPCOT), you'll need to do it there.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, I think you're possibly looking at the same "stuffed" character that Chuck is looking at. What looks like an orange and black striped tail - is actually the orange shoes on Mickey? or Minnie? I think??

Melissa, your crowd description is priceless! You would be a fantastic Disney parade announcer - sitting up above and describing everything for the TV and radio audiences. You're hired!

Love today's pictures and commentary! Thank you, Major!

Melissa said...

Oh, I forgot: Hellooo, sailors!

DBenson said...

I may have told this one here before, so apologies if redundant. In 1984 we made a family trip to WDW -- almost all adults, with one preteen, so we viewed it as adults.

The old-fashioned ferries were an inspired transition from the endless parking lot, which was separated from the Magic Kingdom by a substantial lake. For Californians, physical and psychological distance from cars and parking lots signified a genuine escape from reality. A lovely touch at old-school Disneyland was that once you walked under the railroad tracks, the parking lot was invisible.

But what hit me was when, once on the ferry, I saw everybody excitedly craning their necks for a view of the promised land. Like immigrants seeing the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline for the first time. We were even on the sort of vessel that may have shuttled our forebears from Ellis Island.

Were the imagineers consciously tapping into our national memory?

Major Pepperidge said...

stu29573, man, I wish I’d experienced the things you describe. Especially decades ago… just like Disneyland, things have changed greatly - somethings for the better, some for the worse.

zach, I had to look up Brick Heck. Why would we hear from him about fonts? I guess I expect the Small World font on a Small World poster, so it didn’t “call out” to me, if you know what I mean! And using you “A” tickets on the Main Street vehicles is a great way to go.

Melissa, these photos are great examples of images that show a busy park, and the fun appeal of after-the-fact “people watching” that these vintage photos can provide. Overalls… I remember when we moved from California to Pennsylvania, and suddenly all the boys at school were wearing overalls and waffle stompers. I’d never worn overalls in my life, but suddenly needed some so that I didn’t stand out like some sort of city slicker! At my nephew’s high school graduation, the band played the Imperial March as the class of 2019 exited the field, I thought that was so funny!

Nanook, what if I want to swim across the Seven Seas Lagoon?

Lou and Sue, I suppose anything is possible, but I still think that the body in the bag is very Tiggery! I’d love to hear Melissa describe a Disneyland parade, or heck, any parade. How about the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1st?

Melissa, those sailors can hear you through time and space, and don’t know what is going on.

DBenson, I love your story (and I don’t recall you telling it before) about your experience going in 1984. I completely believe that arriving by ferry is a unique experience. Think of Pinocchio going to Pleasure Island by boat! You hear people like John Hench talk about things such as transition (going through tunnels for instance) that act as a sort of “edit” that takes you from one scene (the “real world”) to another (the fantastical world of the theme park), though the effect is subtle and mostly subconscious. Your Statue of Liberty analogy is funny, but very vivid. It is possible that those guys were aware of the power of such transitions - going through the Wawona tunnel and emerging into the beauty of Yosemite Valley, heading into a big city from the outskirts, and so on.



Yes I was lucky to get the WDW omnibus attraction showcards when I did. Back when stuff like that was affordable. I have never seen any WDW come up for sale or auction since.

The book THE ART OF Walt Disney World shows all of the omnibus attraction showcards - except Mission to Mars.

The Disneyland omnibus attraction showcards LOOKED like they were silkscreened because they used similar attraction poster graphics , but they were actually hand painted !!!! They used a guide of course. I know two collectors who have complete sets except one had RAINBOW CAVERNS and needed the DL RR , and the other had the RR , but wanted Rainbow Caverns, so they both traded for the one they wanted.

Back in the mid 1990’s there was a proposal to do Disneyland attraction poster lithograph sets - you would get 6 attraction poster reproductions in a packet (this was to cut down on the extra expense of selling matted mini posters and having to shrink wrap them ) but there were plans for doing a set of omnibus placards also ..... but the merchandise buyer thought they were ugly so it wasn’t to be. ( she also thought the attraction posters were ugly too but there was already a big guest following for them )

Anonymous said...

I'm late, but enjoying all the comments.

Main Street looks pleasantly busy here, not overcrowded.

I agree, arriving by boat would be a better separation than a berm. Does WDW have a berm? DO you enter under the WDWRR in a tunnel?

As always, thanks to Mike Cozart for the amazing detail.

Major, Jonathan beat me to the Vader comment, but maybe they would do Carrie Fisher's Leia instead since she is now a Disney Princess.


Chuck said...

Major, one of those sailors shows up in the third photo, too, and I thought he was a security guy at first as well. It wasn't until I saw the three men in black in the next image that I made the Navy ID. And I'm with Sue - I'm pretty sure that's a Mickey or Minnie plush. I think it's on its back in the bag with its nose poined upwards.

JC, I worked for and with submariners at Offutt, and in my Combat Camera days I deployed or participated in exercises with a lot of Navy photographers and assorted straphangers. Those guys know how to party - as well as how to make sure everybody gets home safe.

Compare and contrast with that jackass AF captain I encountered in Thailand who was drunkenly giggling and trying to put a poor, alcohol-poisoned airman in an Academy-style position of attention while my roommate and I - who had never met this kid before - took turns walking him around until he threw up so he didn't fall down and drown in his own vomit, then found his buddies and got him back to his hotel. Oh, and that jackass captain just happened to be the flight surgeon attached to the 67th Fighter Squadron for the exercise deployment. Great bedside manner. First do no harm indeed...

Chuck said...

JG, yes, you do enter the MK through tunnels under a raised railroad roadbed, but that's the only thing that remotely resembles Disneyland's perimeter berm, and even here it differs - the two tunnels are connected by the guest locker room located underneath the Main Street Depot.

Andrew, I meant to comment earlier but forgot - that canopy over the passenger platform has been there from the beginning. The MK's Main Street is supposed to be that of a bigger town than the one at DL, and larger burghs' stations tended to have covered passenger platforms. You probably already know this, but the MK's Main Street Station was inspired by the former station in Saratoga Springs, NY. In any case, a covered passenger waiting area is pretty much required in the Florida climate, and it helps keep the platform dry during the near-daily rainshowers.

Dean Finder said...

I'd thought that guy leaning against the trash can was a young David Lee Roth

zach said...

Major, On the show 'The Middle' Brick was the president of the Font Club at his High School.


Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, hmmm, I wonder if I know at least one of the people who has a complete set of WDW mini-posters? I’ll bet I do. I have no doubt that the WDW versions are scarcer, but I would want Disneyland. You know how it is! Hand painted, wow. Probably cheaper to do compared to making all those screens and so on. I wonder how long the signs lasted? That merchandise buyer was a dope, it makes me wonder what other wonderful things we didn’t get because she didn’t like them?

JG, while in theory I like the idea of going to an empty park, a certain amount of people adds good energy and life to WDW or Disneyland. I don’t believe the Magic Kingdom has a berm, but please chime in if I am wrong!

Chuck, oh I’m sure you are absolutely correct about those guys being sailors, it’s just that when I saw them, I thought, “Huh, two security guys, that’s unusual”. Doh. I don’t know why my brain can’t make that plush into Mickey or Minnie, but I’m not going to sweat it. My dad used to tell plenty of stories about officers in the Navy who he considered to be unprofessional, if not sadistic. Enough of them that he opted to retire from the Navy after his 20 years, even though it was his life.

Chuck, yes, I was thinking that the RR station was the only place that I could think of that resembled a berm. Amazing that Saratoga Springs - not exactly the biggest city in the U.S. - had such an impressive train station. Maybe that town was much more important than I realized. Did all the frozen people from up north pass through?

Dean Finder, David Lee Roth with a skipper’s hat? (Your link takes me to that version of “Mad World”, which I like!).

zach, I have never seen that show, but I approve of a Font Club. That would have been my jam!

Melissa said...

Saratoga Springs was a resort town; a lot of rich and influential people passed through. I’m sure having a beautiful train station was considered a good thing, because it was the first sight all those tourists would see.


MAJOR: no; the two collectors I know have full sets of the DISNEYLAND omnibus attraction show cards ( hand painted ) not the WDW versions

Warren Nielsen said...

Major and all,

I'm late here too, real late. I always think of the old Washington State ferry system boat named 'San Mateo' when I see or think of the ferries from the TTC to the park.

I rode the thing once or twice before it went out of service. Classic.

Fun Florida stuff today.


Andrew said...

Thanks for that link, Chuck. I had heard that fact but have never seen a picture.

Chuck said...

I've never heard of a Font Club before. I guess the first rule about Font Club is you don't talk about Font Club.