Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Christmas In The Magic Kingdom, December, 1983

Sue B. (of "Lou and Sue" fame) sent me a large group of scans from photos taken by her father, Lou Perry. He was at the Magic Kingdom back in December of 1983, and Lou seems to have been really taken with the holiday decor along Main Street U.S.A. Who can blame him? There are ten pictures, and that's not even half of the batch.

We're looking back toward the train station, which is mostly hidden behind a colossal Christmas tree. Lavishly-decorated! It may be December, but at least one guest thinks it is warm enough for shorts. There is a blue-draped area, I wonder if that's where the Candlelight Processional would take place?

Classic wreaths and garlands line the street, much like the kind you might have seen on the main street of a real city. 

Ladders and scaffolding above the Elgin shop are there (presumably) because they are still decorating. The potted poinsettias on the upper balcony are a nice touch.

The Horse-Drawn Streetcar is passing by the front of Cinderella Castle. Where are all the crowds?? 

Extra! Extra! Mike Cozart sent me this neat photo showing Mickey and Debby Dane Brown (WDW's first Ambassador) waving to throngs of media members (I assume). Throngs, I say! The panel behind them looks much more ornate than it does in Lou and Sue's photo.

The rest of today's photos are all about the Christmas tree. This one looks to be about five stories tall, just like the ones I put in the atrium of my manse. Where can I get some of those XXL ornaments? 

Oh boy, big presents! The gold package probably contains my TV/Stereo console, with wood paneling and speakers covered with gold-threaded cloth. That baby will have a screen almost 20 inches across!

I guess somebody thought that the tree trunk was unsightly, so they wrapped it. The enormous tree is partially supported by guy-wires (and girl-wires), but I'm not sure what is holding the trunk. Is there a hole in that planter that is filled in most of the year?

A beribboned teddy bear rides a wooden hobby horse - a giant toy for giant children. I can almost hear their thundering footsteps coming down the stairs!

I like these miniature wooden soldiers that look just like their human-sized counterparts in the parades. What a nice souvenir one of those would be - make the darn toddler walk, and put one of those in the stroller! I think I see the tracks that are for a toy train that presumably went 'round and 'round the tree, a nice touch.

The soldiers might be singing a nice Christmas carol, though to be honest they look like they are astonished about something. Somebody probably put one of their friends in a stroller.

Many thanks to Lou and Sue!


Melissa said...

Girl-wires, hehe. The giant gold package contains one pair of socks and a lot of tissue paper. I consider December in Florida shorts weather.

This is the Magic Kingdom I fondly remember. Thanks to Lou and Sue and the Major too!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Melissa, I just saw your picture from yesterday - it fits right into today’s pictures - I love it!

Nanook said...


What lovely pictures of a beautifully-decorated Park-!

Thanks to Lou and Sue for sharing these.


I remember a article in Disney News in the 70’s that designers decorated WDW’s Main Street in a specific victorian Christmas design style that was authentic to a certain period and it had a specific name .... but I cannot recall it. But this is very much the way I remember Disneyland and WDW at Christmas ....

MAJOR : that giant package holds a RCA SELECT-A-VISION console and viewer - “ WATCH THE MAGIC AT HOME WITH RCA!!”

For well over a decade I would go to Walt Disney World in January with some friends ... in 1992 it was so flipping cold!! The Disney gardeners had smudge pots set up around trees and palm trees had what looked like blankets wrapped around the trunk bases to keep them warm.

I had a leather jacket that was kinda “Rocketeer” looking ( flight jackets were popular then ) and in the cold the leather of the jacket became so stiff and hard it was like wearing a fiberglass shell or a horse saddle!The monorail castmembers told us that ice was forming on the monorail beans in the morning between the magic kingdom and Grand Floridian!! They said some managers who had been there since the early 70’s said that had NEVER happened before!!

Those Babes In Toyland soldiers are awesome!!

Fun pictures today!!

Max said...

the end made me laugh

TokyoMagic! said...

I would love to have one of those "Babes In Toyland" soldiers!

"Mickey's Christmas Carol" was released in December of 1983. That year, the characters from the animated "short" were used in the Christmas parade and in a stage show (on the Space Mountain Stage), at Disneyland. I wonder if they were also used that year, in shows and parades at WDW?

Thanks for these great "eighties" Christmas pics, Lou, Sue, and Major, too!

Chuck said...

The more I look at the "eyes" in the castle's "face," the odder they look to me. Is the only access to that balcony by cherry picker? Why is it even there? Was it walled off to prevent the princess imprisoned within from escaping or even gazing out upon the world? What is the overarching Imagineering metabackstory that explains this and ties it to the larger narrative encompassing all of Fantasyland, Liberty Square, and the Space Mountain cast member restrooms? Why am I risking being late for work obsessing over a balancing, decorative architectural detail in a theme park instead of putting my breakfast dishes in the dishwasher and heading to the shower? Why? Why? WHY????!!!!

Andrew said...

In the picture Chuck is obsessing over, there's a lady in the bottom left waving a ticket book or some other paper in the air. Maybe she's telling her family that they need to get over here right now because the Horse-Drawn Streetcar is the perfect opportunity to use some "A" coupons. Little does she know, the Streetcar has already left and the horse is mere seconds from flinging her to the curb!

I think the flowerbed in the foreground is where the Partners statue is now. And just like yesterday, I guess I'll be a smart-aleck and say that you can see the scalloped edges of the Carousel through the Castle, which denotes its manufacturer as the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

Thanks, Lou and Sue.

Chuck said...

My purpose in life is to be a reference point for others, sometimes to identify a picture, other times as an example of what could happen to you if you allow your obsessions free reign.

I really do need to get to work.

Stu29573 said...

I thought that by 1983 the Candlelight Processional had already moved to Epcot, but I could be completely wrong.
Actually, the decorations are pretty close to what they do now. We were there in 2015 right before Christmas, and it looks similar. The garland and wreaths over the street are moved for the broadcasted Christmas parade.
I'm surprised that the toy soldiers didn't blast the soldier thief with their trusty cannon! Why have a cannon if you're not going to blast a few people?
Thanks Lou, Sue, and Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I hope it’s a GIANT pair of socks. Argyle. I thought Florida got cold in the winter?

Lou and Sue, I’m still not sure if that photo shows Melissa, or her sister!

Nanook, it looks pretty great, I agree.

Mike Cozart, hmmm, I did not know that there were names for different Christmas design styles. And while some of the decor might pass as Victorian, a lot of it appears to be the kind of thing that looks more “1950s USA” to me. But what do I know! Select-a-vision? I could never dream to have such a technological miracle. Turn the channel just by pushing a button? Incredible! Hey, Melissa said December was “shorts weather”! Maybe it could vary wildly depending on the year. I had (and still have) a leather flight jacket, though I haven’t worn it for many years. It sure was great when there was a cold wind blowing. Ice forming on the Monorail beams, crazy!

Max, ha ha!

TokyoMagic!, yeah, that would be a great souvenir. I’m sure they were bolted to the ground to prevent light-fingered guests from walking away with them. I’d also like to know if the characters from “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” appeared at WDW!

Chuck, are you OK, buddy? ;-) I didn’t really notice the “face”, but it is not a happy face, no siree. The “eyes” appear to be decorative rather than functional, but maybe there was a secret panel or door so that Mickey or Darth Vader could appear and wave to the crowd. Maybe FoxxFur has already written an extensive and well-researched article that will answer ALL of your questions. Life hack: bring your breakfast dishes with you into the shower.

Andrew, that ticket lady is definitely trying to get somebody’s attention. She got OUR attention, 37 years later! I wish I was more familiar with WDW paper items, I always like to ID such things from Disneyland if I can. I keep forgetting that the Magic Kingdom has a “Partners” statue too. I didn’t know that carousels made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company all had scalloped edges!

Chuck, too late, I already obsessively keep track of everything you do and everywhere you go. Don’t you think you should have had some fruit this morning? Please smile for the hidden cameras!

Stu29573, it never even occurred to me that the Candlelight Processional would NOT be in Town Square. Looking at an article on the D23 website, I see that the Processional moved to EPCOT in 1994, so it would have still been in the Magic Kingdom in ’83!

Melissa said...

@Major, it’s me in the picture; Sis was sleeping late at the hotel. The fourth Dan was manning the camera!

It does get colder in Florida, especially after sundown. I guess it’s mostly tourists from places with even colder winters who feel comfortable in shorts!


It appears the castle’s “eyes” have always been that way. Many older pictures don’t show the details behind the proclamation arches ....because of poor lighting or cavers quality of the period. For some special events drapes are bund in those arches further obscuring the view begins them.

I don’t know how to link or post an image - but I’ll send it to MAJOR ... but I found a preopening close- up of Mickey Mouse and the first WDW ambassador Standing in “the eyes” with a banner reading “remember oct 1971 opening” and you can see the same “wall” panel as it is today.

Anonymous said...

Big thanks, Lou, Sue and Major.

It's enjoyable to see a themed "land" decorated in keeping with the theming, instead of bizarre fever dream decoration that has taken over modern Main Street.

Melissa, thanks for the photo posted yesterday, good to see our friends having fun.

I can't imagine snow in Florida, mostly because I have never been to Florida.

Chuck, obsessing over minutiae is what we do best here, play to your strengths.


Nanook said...

@ Andrew-
It’s not likely that lady is waving an ‘A’ coupon, as they disappeared when EPCOT opened, October 1, 1982.

Anonymous said...

I love the simplicity of the decorating. Seems so much more enjoyable than the overwhelming in-your-face of today. KS

Andrew said...

Crap, Nanook, I failed! :-C

JC Shannon said...

Hey, great photos from Lou and Sue, as usual. Lou has the eye, by golly! I was really busy today, but I will enjoy these for hours tonight. Thanks to Major for sharing these.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, OK! I forget if you and your sister are twins, but you do bear a strong resemblance to each other (you’d sent me a photo of her at WDW, outside the barber shop)! You’re right, if you come from a place where it is 14 degrees, then 40 degrees probably feels pretty balmy.

Mike Cozart, you are right, the details just kind of got washed out in the newer photo, the scrollwork is still there. Thank you for sending the photo!

JG, I understand the idea that dazzling the eye is fun for guests, but I also feel like they’ve thrown the theme of “a street from 1910 (or whenever)” out the window. Now it’s just a big, shiny amusement park, everywhere, all the time. I’ve seen photos of Florida oranges coated in ice, so I know that it does occasionally get real cold snaps.

Nanook, don’t confuse me with the facts!

KS, I agree with you!

Andrew, welcome to MY world!

Jonathan, stay tuned for more Christmas-themed photos from WDW, courtesy of Lou and Sue.


That balcony in the construction drawings is called CLOCK TOWER GALLERY. A gallery In architecture is usually the waking space under a balcony. If there’s no upper balcony, it’s a porch. If the porch is in at least 3 sides( connected )of building and us single story , it’s a verandah.

“The more you know.......” ( sparkle, sparkle ... shooting star)

"Lou and Sue" said...

Spent all day thinking about how many soldiers we can walk away with, if a couple of us use mega strollers. Anyone in with me??

I love today's comments and Mike's added picture of Mickey and the first Ambassador!

Thank you, Major and everyone!

Chuck said...

Mike, what, no references to Master Gracey and the bride's ring embedded in the pavement? Man, those early Imagineers just didn't get it.

Thanks for the extra picture. The sharp detail shows how they went to the extra effort to make the "stone blocks" (presumably molded concrete) appear weathered. Looking at that photo, I'm guessing there is a door at the extreme left or right behind the archway.

And I forgot to thank Lou & Sue. Thanks, Lou & Sue!