Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Magic Kingdom, June 1979

I wanted to use up the last three scans from a batch from June, 1979, and these are they. Them. Those. Whatever! 

Here's a moody view of Fort Sam Clemens on the Magic Kingdom's version of Tom Sawyer Island. It sure looks very much like Fort Wilderness at Disneyland, I wonder how alike they really are? Or were, since Disneyland's version was razed and replaced with junk. How did the Florida fort manage to avoid termite problems? Did they call the Orkin Man? In the shadows you can see kids playing on some rock formations, classic fun no matter when you were born.

This one is the nicest of the bunch, in my opinion; a lovely shot of the Admiral Joe Fowler as it sat at the landing. This angle shows how guests boarded on the second level, and exited down below. Gosh, what's that spooooooky building in the distance?

It's the Haunted Mansion, of course - by most accounts, a superior version to the original in Anaheim, due to some extra scenes. The original is still pretty great, though! I've never known if the rumor that the ornaments on top of this Mansion are based on chess pieces was true, or if they just resemble them by chance. We can see the bat weathervane clearly, and the window that is somehow ominous just by being red.

I have lots more WDW slides for you - I just need to scan them.


Melissa said...

All great shots of a magical time!

The WDW Mansion may have some extra scenes, but I still prefer the DL version even though I’ve only ridden it once. The lighting levels in the load area aren’t so dark that I can’t see where I’m going. Walking in the front door makes it feel more like you’ve stepped into the story of just happening on a weird old house at the edge of town, and walking down the corridor with the clock and changing portraits brings you closer to them and lets you linger a little. And in these modern times, the DL version doesn’t have the McDonald’s Playland queue cemetery or the cartoon ghosts in the final seen. From everything I’ve read, the Mansion in Tokyo Disneyland is the one I’d probably like best if I ever had a chance to see it.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, WDW's fort is very similar to the layout of DL former fort, but WDW's has a few "peek-ins" with some "limited motion" figures of people and animals. They also still have their "Secret Escape Tunnel" from the fort.

Melissa, Tokyo DL's Mansion is my favorite version of the ride, but I still like Anaheim's exterior the best. I do not like those changes/additions to WDW's Mansion, that you mentioned. Horrible! Disney just doesn't know what they are doing anymore.

Andrew said...

Wow, look how busy the Tom Sawyer Island restaurant (Aunt Polly's) is! I guess TSI just isn't the draw it once was. Thanks for these pictures, Major.


WDW’s Fort uses a good deal of Fiberglas and FRP filled with foam ( Like WDW’s Main Street) I think the architectural “chess pieces” of Florida’s Mansion is just people seeing similar shapes to chess - but the details of the manse are correct with Jacobean architecture. TOKYO MAGIC: that is totally what the interactive que Is : McDonald’s Playland!!

When food service was ended on Tom Sawyer’s Island , A good deal of activity was killed off on the island - that happened to Disneyland as well ... long before fort Wilderness rotted . Aunt Polly’s was great : selling “American pic-Nic “ fare : cold fried chicken , ham sandwiches peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches , apple pie ..... . It was pretty tacky when it switched from window service to 3 vending machines!!

One time while working on a New Frontierland and New Liberty Square model at WDI , I accidentally superglued Aunt Polly’s restaurant to by hand! It was only 1/16th Scale , but it happened.

Chuck said...

I was at the Magic Kingdom in May of 1979, so of course I had to look for my family in these pictures. Sadly, no joy.

I vote DL’s Haunted Mansion for all of the reasons cited above. Although I do have a fun memory of my dad & I being the last guests to ride WDW’s HM one night. It was fun seeing all of the doom buggies behind us empty in the mirror room, and it looked like the Hitchhiking Ghosts were riding the cars by themselves. That was the day I figured out how they did the effect. It was also the first time I ever came out of the night-time interior of the ride into an actual night, and it was fun walking out through a deserted Liberty Square.

Mike, now I have this image of a giant, 16/1 scale hand reaching out of the sky and stuck to Aunt Polly’s in my head. Ladies and gentlemen, the power of Imagination! Wouldn’t that made a great concept for an attraction?

Anonymous said...

If I could create a hybrid Mansion with DL’s exterior and MK’s interior that would be awesome! I don’t care for how much of the year Disneyland’s is taken over by the holiday overlay. I just want the good old classic ride experience.


Stu29573 said...

This was one year before I was there, but it looks very close. In other words, I love it!

I agree that the exterior to the DL Mansion is better. I can't speak to the interior, since when I was at DL I was too scared to go in (I was not a brave child). Also McDonalds Playland aptly describes the travesty that resides in Florida now.

Yes, Aunt Polly's closing caused the crowds to go down a bit on TSI, but every time I go they are still pretty busy over there. I like the fort because you can take "pot shots" at Big Thunder with the rifles in the guard towers.

Very nice pictures today, Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I have heard about the additional Haunted Mansion scenes in Florida, but I didn’t know that it was that dark! I’ve also seen videos of the cemetery “gags”, and I truly don’t like them. What were they thinking? Your “McDonald’s Playland” comparison is apt!

TokyoMagic!, oh I like the idea of “peek-ins” at Disneyland! Limited motion is OK too. I worry that someday they will decide that Anaheim’s Mansion needs something similar on the outside, so that folks waiting in the queue will be entertained. Yuck!

Andrew, I didn’t know that was a restaurant, but it makes sense. Aunt Polly is working her fingers to the bones serving all those people!

Mike Cozart, I wish that they’d decided to rebuild Disneyland’s Fort Wilderness using non-wood products. As long as it looked good! Which it certainly does not, NOW. Thanks for the info about the “chess pieces”. Oh my gosh, they switched from an actual restaurant to three vending machines on Tom Sawyer Island?? They should be ashamed of themselves! Talk about crummy. Ya gotta watch that super glue, it’ll get you when you least expect it.

Chuck, the Anaheim Haunted Mansion is the only one I have experienced, so I have no way to really make a fair comparison. But I do love that “southern plantation” architectural style that seems so ready for ghosts to move in. That being said, I like the Florida versions look… just not as much. I once got to ride Disneyland’s HM on a rainy day as the park was about to close; there was only one other couple with us in the stretching room, and the rest of the way was also nearly empty. It was so nice to not have a room full of people shrieking and looking at their phones! “Imagination”, eh? I’ve heard of it!

Celeste, I’m with you, give me the classic Haunted Mansion any day. I’ve mentioned it before, but my visits to the park seemed to always be later in the year, and it was very frustrating to always get the Jack Skellington version. I actually like it OK, but now it’s been years since I’ve been able to see the original “show”.

Stu29573, my nephew was also scared when we tried to take him on the Haunted Mansion… we walked into the foyer, and as soon as he heard the Ghost Host, he did a 180 and headed right back outside! My niece (who was the same age) tried to convince him that the ride “wasn’t that scary”, but he couldn’t be convinced. Wow, they still have rifles that “work” in Florida’s Fort Wilderness? Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Major, these are fine pics, thank you.

I have no idea about anything at WDW, since I have never been there. Hearing that there is still a fort on TSI and the Carousel of Progress is still running is making me reconsider not visiting.

I like the style of the WDW HM, but like most, it seems, I prefer the Anaheim exterior. I think you would enjoy the Anaheim show if you can get past pumpkin season (which I loathe). There have been some worthwhile new additions and (very) minor revisions that have improved the show, not least the return of the Hatbox Ghost, which is very well executed.

Was HBG added to the WDW HM? I haven't heard, and Long Forgotten blog tends to focus on Anaheim.


MRaymond said...

I've only been to WDW once and that was in 1981. Strangely, with all the photos and slides I've lost from DLR, my limited WDW photo's still survive, they were in a different box than the slides.

I prefer the DL Mansion but I do like WDW's extra scenes. I've seen their hitchhiking ghosts and they need to bring the original back.

DrGoat said...

I've never been to WDW so I haven't had the experience but just going by the architecture, I prefer the Anaheim Haunted House. The WDW one is cool, leaning more towards the Mr. Toad type of design, Scottish I guess. Looks cool, but I prefer the good old southern style architecture, with North American spooks. Certainly not opposed to European or British ghosts. I'm sure I have a few deceased Italian ancestors running around northern Italy.
Neat pics Major, thanks.

Melissa said...

The official story is that the WDW Mansion is in the Hudson Valley, kind of like the gloomy old manor Vincent Price sweeps Gene Tierney away to in Dragonwyck. It sort of ties in to the Dutch colonial, Sleepy Hollow section of Liberty Square. And there are a few big neo-Gothic manses dotted up and down the river - Lyndhurst, Wyndclyffe, and Bannerman Castle spring to mind.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa, it's funny that the Southern style mansion is in Anaheim, while the mansion in the actual south, is a New York model...

I'm not sure, though, is Florida the South, or not? Asking for a Californian.


Melissa said...

@JG, I guess it's the same train of thought that led WED to think that people living close to the Caribbean wouldn't want a Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

As a Yankee, I don't think I'm qualified to rule on the Southernness of Florida!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I've met people in Louisiana who claim that it is not "the South", so I am always careful to ask.

Did WDW really not have POTC? I thought I have read that it does, or was it a late addition?


Chuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck said...

JG, POTC @WDW’s MK (yes, I did that on purpose) didn’t open until the end of 1973, added because of guest feedback (“Where’s the pirate ride?”). The unplanned budget for that and the reduced revenues due to the oil crisis postponed Phase 2 long enough to kill Big Thunder Mesa.

DanSt3/SkyMagic said...

JG - WDW did not have PotC initially; they thought it was too close to the real Caribbean and all so the locals wouldn't find it exotic enough - and they supposedly would have The Western River Expedition (intended to be the East Coast's signature attraction) in Phase 2 shortly thereafter. But everyone who visited wanted to know why PotC wasn't there. So due to popular demand PotC was added by 1973, taking WRE's budget...

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I just realized something. Fort Samuel Clemens is at Tokyo Disneyland. Walt Disney World's fort is called Fort Langhorn. Was there a name change at some point?

Here's a pic of WDW's fort from 10 years ago:


JG, WDW didn't have a POTC when it opened, for the reasons that Melissa mentioned. Instead, they were supposed to get the Western River Expedition, to be built at a later date. Supposedly, so many of the people visiting WDW in the early years complained that there was no POTC in that park, that management had one "whipped" up very quickly. And because they did it so quickly (and I'm guessing, also "on the cheap") they eliminated quite a few of the scenes from the original version at DL.


Well , in actuality the Disneyland Haunted Mansion is based on a mansion from Baltimore Maryland. It’s not necessarily a “southern” design but neo-classical revival popular from the 1830’s and into the start of the civil war. And popular with public , state and residential architecture. But it fits perfectly in New Orleans.

The Florida mansion is based on several styles over a period of time resulting in a “WED MIX” and it works. The reference to “Dutch Gothic” is a term coined by Disney to explain the look and style of the mansion. It is indeed a style that is a mix of FLEMISH brick work which is its real link to the Dutch . The rest of the style is English Jacobean - once common in America but almost non-existent today. Only two examples exist anymore in the USA ..... and if you observe Bacon’s Castle in Virginia you will see a source of inspiration for the WDW mansion. Combined with concept designs for post civil war homes in the Hudson River Valley and a dash of “Dark Shadows” you get the mansion architecture of Liberty Square. In a side note if you compare Bacon’s Castle today you will see some of WDW mansion elements .... but look at Bacon’s Castle when it was fairly new in the 1690’s and you’ll REALLY see the Florida mansion’s Jacobean source! Red diamond cut glass windows , the flared chimney wings and the original Flemish ( Dutch) row brick.

So Disneyland’s “southern” mansion is based on a Baltimore prototype , Walt Disney World’s “Yankee” manse has more design originals from Virginia than New York!!

And while WDI will tour that Phantom Manor is based on designs from the West like the 4th Ward school in Virginia City , Nevada .... the real prototype for Phantom Manor’s “western mansion” look is really from a Eastern mansion prototype .... almost a total design lift!..... but THAT’S another story .

WDI tends to direct people’s attention the other way when then rip-off an existing design for THEIR parks!! Lol!

Melissa said...

When I was a kid, the fort on WDW’s TSI was called Fort Sam Clemens. The change to Langhorn came, I believe, in the late 1990s.

"Lou and Sue" said...

WOW, Chuck, Dan and TM! All on the same wavelength!

Chuck said...

TM!, looks like you, me, and DanSt3/SkyMagic (welcome, DanSt3/SkyMagic!) were all saying pretty much he same thing at the same time!

WDW’s TSI originally had a Fort Sam Clemens as well. It was renamed Fort Langhorne in 1995 as a tie-in to the Jonathan Taylor Thomas film Tom and Huck. (Mark Twain’s full name was “Samuel Langhorne Clemens”).

I know I’ve mentioned before that Mrs. Chuck and I refer to the MK’s POTC as “Highlights from Pirates of the Caribbean.” I’d always thought that the omissions were a budget decision, but FoxxFur over at Passport to Dreams makes some pretty solid arguments that the omissions were conscious decisions to a) tighten the storyline and staging and b) avoid repeating certain design elements (the long, slow trip through the caves and the ride up the waterfall at the end) that were planned to be part of the Western River Expedition inside Big Thunder Mesa. This article addresses some of those arguments and links to other essays that expand on some others.

Chuck said...

…aaaand Sue and Melissa beat me to two observations. Gotta stop writing such darned long comments…

Melissa said...

Proof that all the Junior Gorillas have great minds.

"Lou and Sue" said...

...that think alike!

One last quick comment: The DL POTC is my favorite because it has two “falls”! My favorite part of the ride!