Monday, March 01, 2021

Frontierland, The Magic Kingdom, June 1979

Today is our friend David W's birthday!

Here are four vintage photos  (over 40 years old) featuring details from Frontierland in The Magic Kingdom (let's just call it "TMK" for short). Hooray!

Like most things in TMK, Harper's Mill is much larger than its Anaheim counterpart. They needed much more flour and cornmeal to feed all those guests. I like to have a scoop of cornmeal in my pocket for a healthful snack. Yes, of course I will share! This is a pretty scene to view from a passing steamboat.

Speaking of steamboats, there's the Richard F. Irvine, recognizable with its single stack. And the big sign on the back. The vessel appears to be out of service. It was eventually renamed the Liberty Belle in 1996 - I'm sure most guests had no idea who Dick Irvine was, I wonder if that was partly why they decided to give the steamboat a more generic name? To the right we can see part of a trestle bridge that I believe took the WDW Railroad over a waterway.

The Alligator Swamp bait shop and iPhone repair. Don't pay more to fix that broken screen! The old man in his rocking chair reminds me of a similar character seen in the Blue Bayou in Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. I told Walt that this guy should spit a big wad of tobakky juice every minute or so, but he didn't listen.

And here's the Friendly Indian Village, looking sunny and altogether pleasant. If they have any teepees for rent, I may relocated from L.A. The Indian chief sits on horseback on a small rise to send us a greeting. A young boy stands on an upturned canoe with his faithful pup, but the boy isn't as shiny as his Anaheim counterpart.

 I have lots more Walt Disney World photos to come!


Nanook said...

Some nice images, here. It appears the partial image of the fella in the last picture is holding a Polaroid SX-70 Camera.

Thanks, Major.

Pegleg Pete said...

Great pics today, Major – thanks! That patch of grass to the left of the Richard F Irvine would soon be subsumed by the furthermost stretches of Big Thunder Mountain which would open in September of the following year. And, as I missed yesterday's post, a belated Happy Birthday to Lou and a Happy Birthday to David W today!

TokyoMagic! said...

That bridge in the second photo is the one that rotates on a central post/pedestal, to allow the steamboat access to a backstage dock, where it can be rehabbed. That same waterway is the one that curves around the west side of the park and connects with the Seven Seas Lagoon out in front of the park.

That fisherman in the third photo is Beacon Joe, and his dog is Rufus. The figure of Beacon Joe also appears alongside Tokyo Disneyland's river, and also in Anaheim's Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. In the Haunted Mansion, he is the King, seated at the dining table in the ballroom scene. And he actually appears twice in Pirates of the Caribbean. Major, you are right about him being the same guy who is sitting outside of the shack, in the Blue Bayou scene (at the beginning of the ride). But he is also one of the guys in the jail cell, near the end of the ride!

TokyoMagic! said...

If anyone is interested, here are some shots of Beacon Joe at Walt Disney World, in 2011:

And here are a couple shots of him at Tokyo Disneyland, in 2010:

Stu29573 said...

Im so glad that MKs river is largely unmolested! I love a trip around her every now and then. This brings up a memory. Once, while I was riding early in the morning a gator swam up beside us and lazily swam with the boat. A lady stsnding near said "Oh my gosh! There's an aligator down there!" At which point her husband casually said, "This is Disney, it's fake."
I reported it to the dockhand when we got off and he said he'd alert animal control.
Happy birthday, David W!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ooops, I forgot to wish David W. a happy birthday. HAPPY B.D., D.W.!!!

Chuck said...

Happy birthday, David W.!

These were taken just about he time of my first visit to WDW (either late May or early June of 1979).

I remember the Richard F. Irvine out of service and tied up at that exact same spot. That bridge rotates on a swivel to allow larger boats to pass. Just around the bend to the left, out of sight of nosy guests, is a lock to bring boats, fish, and freshwater merms down to the level of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.

Note how the grass along the bank in the second photo is neatly trimmed. There was a lot of that around WDW back then. It looks nice, but it makes Alligator Swamp look a little less "real" and a lot more "theme parky."

It will take a while for the young boy in the last photo to reach the sheen of his Anaheim cousin, but years of faithful application of Prop Polish will do the trick. Wish I'd understood that philosophy better when Rogaine went over the counter in 1996.

Note that there are no less than four canoes in the village; its Disneyland analogue never had more than two. These canoes seem to be a lot smaller, too. Also interesting to see that three of them are resting on log "stands" to keep them off the ground. I wonder if that was done due to the much-more frequent rains in Florida.

Stu, thanks for the story. I'm glad the Disney folks have a team to handle out-of-control animals like that panicky woman and her idiot husband.

Andrew said...

Stu is right that this is unchanged... I have pretty much the exact same pictures from 2014. The only difference was that Harper's Mill was red. This video shows the bridge rotating in a time-lapse, which I thought was kind of neat.

Thanks, Major, and happy birthday to David W.

K. Martinez said...

Happy birthday, David W.!

Love these MK Frontierland pics. Especially the pic of Beacon Joe, my favorite tableau on the Rivers of America at the MK.

I'm not sure why they changed the Richard F. Irvine to the Liberty Belle, but the Admiral Joe Fowler and Richard F. Irvine still exist as boats elsewhere in WDW. When I used to visit WDW in the late 1970's early 1980's there were two ferryboats to the MK that crossed the Seven Seas Lagoon to get there. They were the "Magic Kingdom I" and "Magic Kingdom II". Now there are three ferry boats that take guests to the Magic Kingdom.

Richard F. Irvine (formerly Magic Kingdom I)
Admiral Joe Fowler (former Magic Kingdom II)
General Joe Potter (formerly Kingdom Queen)

Thanks for the cool pics, Major. Very happy to hear lots more WDW photos to come!

zach said...

Happy Birthday, David W, and a fine name I might add! A day and many, many years younger than Lou, I reckon.

I always enjoy photos of TMK since I have never been. I bought my first guide book back in the 70's, always assuming I would go some day. Life happens fast.

Thanks for the video, Andrew. It's always fun to see 'backstage'.

Thanks, Major. And happy March. Spring is coming and, hopefully, a better year for all.


JC Shannon said...

Happy birthday David W.! Photo #3 is an I want that job moment. Andrew, I enjoyed the video. I had no idea they worked so fast in Florida. Thanks Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I think my mom had one of those cameras! I never cared for the way Polaroid photos turned out, in spite of the novelty of having a developed picture in 5 minutes.

Pegleg Pete, thank you for the info about the fact that Big Thunder Mountain would be coming along soon. Very interesting!

TokyoMagic!, I have seen that bridge before, but did not know that it rotated; that’s a pretty cool solution to the problem of passing steamboats. “Beacon Joe”, that’s a new one to me. Any idea how he got that weird name? Is it just that he is a notable feature along the water? I am familiar with the use (and re-use) of faces in the Haunted Mansion and “Pirates”, it’s kind of fun to look for them. I guess sculpting and casting new heads is a time-consuming and expensive process, otherwise why not just make everyone unique?

TokyoMagic!, thank you for all of the links to your photos from WDW and Tokyo Disneyland!

Stu29573, you aren’t kidding; my friend Mr. X can’t wait to go back to WDW to enjoy their unaltered Frontierland; he’s pretty upset at what “Galaxy’s Edge” has done to his favorite place at Disneyland. I love your alligator story.

TokyoMagic, it’s too late!

Chuck, it sounds like you saw WDW at its peak! Lucky. Is there really a lock? Does that imply that there is a change in elevation? Or is it just a way to control what goes in? You make a good point about how diligent landscaping can make a swamp look a little less “real”. I kind of like the smaller canoes on shore at the Indian Village; they feel more like the sort of thing that people might use for just for hunting or quick transportation. They don’t always need a 20-person war canoe. And I can’t fault that guy for assuming that an alligator is fake at the Magic Kingdom!

Andrew, I have found that, like Disneyland, people tend to take the same general photos of the same general things most of the time. That’s why it’s so fun to find anything different! Thank you for the link to the time-lapse video, very neat. There’s the lock that Chuck referred to as well.

K. Martinez, I learned from Foxxfur’s blog that the history of the WDW watercraft is somewhat complicated. Partly because there are so many of them! The name changes don’t help matters. Thanks for the summary of what’s what!

zach, do you like David W.’s name because you are a fan of TV producer David Wolper? I’m sure you know that I have also never been to WDW (or Florida for that matter), but I am sort of fascinated with the history of that place. Happy March to you, and to all of the Junior Gorillas!

Jonathan, as lazy as I am, I think I need more to do than just rock in a chair and fish! Maybe I cuss a lot too?

"Lou and Sue" said...

Happy Birthday David W! Thanks for all the fun stuff you add to GDB - we're glad you're a member of our troop!

TM! Chuck and Andrew: Thanks for all the bridge and waterway info and video. Very interesting!

Pegleg Pete - I'll pass on your "Happy Birthday" to my dad, when I see him later today. Thank you!

Fun info and facts from everyone today - thanks!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Stu, HERE'S some footage of your fake alligator. Yikes!

Stu29573 said...

Yup, Sue. The second one looks just like him!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to David W.!

It's fun to see the differences between the parks here. I guess the Florida park is big enough that Wookie World would fit without stealing space from another land. I'm sorry Mr. X is upset about Frontierland Anaheim. I'm reserving judgment till I visit.

Thanks everyone for the added links and videos etc. Enriches the post with good information.

I'm not keen on alligators in general, definitely not keen on them in a theme park, unless they are animatronic. Major, do alligators eat cornmeal? You could distract them by throwing it on the water while you escape with your jetpack.

The Indian village suffers a bit in comparison to the Anaheim version, I think the berm behind adds some closure and vertical space to the scene, even though the tableaux are very similar.

Nanook, I had an SX-70 camera years ago for work. It was handy in documenting existing buildings to see that all the required conditions were recorded, without waiting for film processing. Often I was measuring and recording buildings in Los Angeles area and then returning to my Northern California office to draw them up. Every time, we would find there would be some essential condition that wasn't shown in any photograph, just out of range, and so hard to fly back to the site to re-shoot it. Having that instant response was very helpful. Crummy pictures though for any other purpose.

Digital photography has been a huge boon for my work.

Thanks Major for bringing all of us together with these pictures.


Melissa said...

Happy birthday, David!

Chuck, you made it to WDW just a couple of years ahead of me! These pictures are really pinging my Nostalg-O-Meter.

I’m surprised the boy is less shiny than his West Cosst cousin, with all that Florida humidity.

I think the renaming of the Irvine may be related to the fact that while it’s associated with Frontierland, the dock exists geographically within Liberty Square. The new name links it more closely with that area.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Major, Pegleg Pete, Stu29573, TokyoMagic!, Chuck, Andrew, K. Martinez, zach, JC Shannon, "Lou and Sue", JG & Melissa- for the much appreciated birthday wishes.

zach- A day & 30 years younger to be exact.

-DW (David W.)

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, stay tuned, this Saturday you’re going to see some neat photos from David W.! Maybe you can print out all of the birthday wishes for Lou, though it’s not quite as nice as a bunch of cards.

Lou and Sue, I saw a video of a woman swimming in Florida and she freaked out because a manatee was near her. I thought, “Don’t you know there could be gators nearby?!”.

Stu29573, California has a lot of problems, but I’m glad that alligators is not one of them.

JG, I don’t know how much bigger the Magic Kingdom’s footprint is compared to Disneyland, but their Frontierland looks pretty darn impressive. As you said… all that space! My brother watches fishing videos on YouTube, and he watched one particular video where some guys were boating up one of hundreds of little canals in Florida, and I swear that they were surrounded by *hundreds* of those scary reptiles. It was surreal. They sure rebounded from being endangered, like they were when I was a kid. I think a gator would only eat cornmeal if I was battered with it and deep fried. I thought the WDW Indians looked pretty good! When I went to art school, fellow students used Polaroids for handy instant photo reference, for instance if we had a model to use in an ad or whatever. And they were certainly useful for that, but I preferred using a real film camera and dropping by a 1-hour developer place instead. The results were so much better.

Melissa, I’m so jealous of anybody who got to go to WDW in the ‘70s; if I ever DO go, I know I’m going to be thinking of photos like today’s and wishing that the park was still like that. Frankly I’m surprised that they used the name Richard Irvine at all, I wonder if that decision was made when Walt was still alive?

DW, I’m glad you tuned in today!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, I can't wait to see David W's pictures - especially since you're posting them this Saturday! On Saturdays, you always either take us to fun new places or show us really fun/funny people. I'll definitely check back in.

BTW, when I was re-reading yesterday's GDB post and all the comments to my dad, this afternoon, my dad said that picture isn't a 5-year-old picture of him. It's a 4-year-old picture of him. I had to chuckle because his memory is better than mine, I guess, 'cause I gave Major the wrong info. It's wild to think that he remembers taking that photo, 88(!) years ago!

I enjoyed today's WDW trip!

Chuck said...

Sue, I can relate to your dad's memory of that photo session. My parents have a set of Olan Mills photos taken of me when I was about 18 months old. I'm holding a stuffed animal in one and my face is streaked with tears in another. I remember the photographer handing me the stuffed animal for one photo, then taking it away for the next, which is why I was so upset. I can also remember the location of the studio in downtown Bowling Green, and I don't ever remember going there again. Funny how a single event like that can leave such an indelible impression.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck, that IS cool—to remember those early early events. It’s amazing how our brains work! But now I feel bad about that photographer making you cry. You should post the happy photo of yourself with the stuffed animal—please send it to our Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I don't think I can remember back that far. However, I do remember a photographer coming to our house and setting up a professional "backdrop," before taking portrait shots of my brother and I. I would have been 3 years old. Still, it's not as impressive as you remembering back to when you were 18 months old!

And that's interesting about the toy and the tears. We have a portrait of my mom when she was probably about 2 years old. She is holding a stuffed toy dog with both hands, but there is a ball tucked under her arm. My grandmother said that the photographer made the mistake of giving her both toys to see which one she would like better, but then she cried when they tried to take one of the toys away for the photo. In the finished picture, she looks just as happy as can be......with both toys!

Melissa said...

Reminds me of the portraits we have of Mom and her twin on their fifth birthday. The photographer told them to PRETEND to take a bite of their cake. My aunt is posed like a little doll, with her fork between dainty, smiling lips. Mom’s plate is empty and there’s frosting on her face.

Chuck said...

That's awesome, Melissa!