Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WDW Guide, 1979 Part 1

1979. The "Happy Meal" was introduced. The Sony Walkman was for sale in Japan for the first time. Jimmy Carter was President. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and "The Muppet Movie" premiered. In other words, it was the greatest year ever!

Today I have an original, never previously posted (!) article, courtesy of Ken Martinez, featuring a guide to Walt Disney World from 1979. I'm going to "copy/paste" his article to avoid any screwups on my part. Here's Ken:

Walt Disney World Guide – The Magic Kingdom 1979 (Part 1)

Here’s a guide from my second trip to Walt Disney World.  My first visit was in 1978. I visited again in 1979, 1983 and 1984.  I haven’t been back since.  In this particular post I’ll just give my impressions of those early trips I took to Walt Disney World.

Here’s the cover to “Your complete guide to the Walt Disney World Vacation Kingdom” booklet which primarily covered the Magic Kingdom in detail.  These were handed out to visitors of the Magic Kingdom.  At least that’s how I got mine.

Here’s the table of contents and transportation schedule.  I was well aware of what Walt Disney World had to offer before my first trip.  It was an obsession of mine to visit the place since I was 11 years old when it opened in 1971.  I knew from various articles and magazines that I wanted to see such attractions as ‘Mickey Mouse Revue” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “If You Had Wings”.  I read everything I could get my hands on at the local library before taking my first trip in 1978.

As with most Disney park guides there’s always a section on helpful information and contacts.  These early guide booklets were more elaborate than what is given out today at the parks.  Now it’s just a multi-folded single sheet.

One of the strange things about hearing that Magic Kingdom was larger than Disneyland is that when I first visited I was surprised that it really wasn’t that much bigger than Disneyland.  The buildings were taller, but Main Street for the most part felt about the same size as Disneyland’s.  At least the streets themselves didn’t feel that much larger.  It was the Plaza itself that felt absolutely huge and spread out.  I rode the Walt Disney World Railroad and saw The Walt Disney Story.  While the steam locomotives were cool, the actual grand circle tour wasn’t all that interesting to me back at the time.  I do remember a few fake alligators along the route though. I was totally impressed with the Main Street Station, but had a ham & cheese sandwich from the ‘Station Break” snack bar under the Station that was awful.

Adventureland was my favorite land in the Magic Kingdom.  I went on every attraction there and dined at both the Adventureland Veranda and Sunshine Tree Terrace.  I think Adventureland Veranda was my favorite place to eat and a favorite for atmosphere.  I really liked Swiss Family Treehouse and Jungle Cruise, but found Pirates of the Caribbean disappointing.  I remember being really disappointed when I had to get out of the boat before it went up the hill.  That and the ride seemed much shorter than the original.  Caribbean Plaza was really cool though and I remember all the fountains working because I looked for them knowing they existed from reading about it before hand.  Adventureland was truly my favorite.

I don’t remember much about Frontierland except mostly the construction of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with the steel skeletal structure rising and on a later visit seeing partially completed rock formations and lots of scaffolding.  I only did Country Bear Jamboree and Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland, but rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on later visits.  It was my favorite roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom and much better than Disneyland’s in my opinion.  It just seemed more intense.

In Liberty Square I went on the Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents and one of the Liberty Square Riverboats in Liberty Square. I don’t remember which riverboat I went on though.  I skipped the Keel Boats because it covered the same scenery as the Riverboats.  I actually enjoyed Disney World’s Haunted Mansion more than Disneyland’s.  As for the Hall of Presidents, the preshow really tried my patience.  I already knew a lot of the history they were presenting and I just wanted to get onto the presidents themselves in all their Audio-Animatronic glory.  That part did impress me.

I went on every ride here except Snow White’s Scary Adventures and the spinner rides.  I’m sorry I missed the Snow White ride, but figured the Carrousel, Tea Cups and Dumbo were the same at both parks so I skipped those.  I mainly focused on rides that took me to me from point A to point B or were unique to the Magic Kingdom.  Strong memories here for me were descending into the interior load area of It’s  Small World and floating by the windows of the Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant with diners overlooking the boats floating by.  I thought that was cool.  Another strong memory is the queue structure for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which I thought was pretty cool.  From the Mickey Mouse Revue, I mostly remember the silhouette of Cinderella and prince Charming projected onto the curtain/screen.  It’s funny what sticks with us from long ago memories.

I remember the entrance to Tomorrowland being really cool, but that the rest of the land was lots and lots of concrete.  If You Had Wings was my favorite ride here and I was well aware of its existence before my first trip to WDW so it was a must do for me.  I really liked Space Mountain here, especially the queue load area where you could look up and see the entire coaster structure with “rocket” vehicles whizzing by in the darkness.  From what I understand, it’s now covered up.  Now Carousel of Progress contains a bit of irony for me because I’m a west coaster.  In all the years I visited Disneyland it’s one of the few rides I didn’t go on.    I finally decided to go on it when visiting Disney World.  Now most GDB readers have a strong connection to the song “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” when talking about Carousel of Progress, but for me “The Best Time of You Life” is the song that I associate with Carousel of Progress.  I didn’t bother with Mission to Mars or America the Beautiful because I figured they were the same as Disneyland.  Everything else I went on.  I remember returning in 1983 and being disappointed that the pylon waterfalls were removed.

1979 was probably my favorite year at Walt Disney World because by then, Tom Sawyer Island, Caribbean Plaza and much of Tomorrowland was added.  In addition, most everything from the beginning was still there including the Mickey Mouse Revue, Plaza Swan Boats, Explorer Canoes, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and If You Had Wings as well as the waterfall pylons of the Tomorrowland Entrance.  After that, things started disappearing here and there.  My last trip to the Magic Kingdom was in 1984.  Notice that Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and Plaza Swan Boats are shown here on the map, but not on the individual attractions list.

Since I haven’t been back in over 30 years, lots of these memories have faded, but I what I shared are key memories that have stayed with me from those trips.  Hope you enjoyed.  Coming next: Part 2 covering The “Vacation Kingdom.”

Thank you very much to Ken Martinez! As he said, part 2 is coming right up.

Monday, March 27, 2017

More Monorail Cafe, May 1999

Today I will be sharing the last of Mr. X's wonderful photos of the Monorail Cafe - formerly at the Disneyland Hotel. As I related in earlier posts, Mr. X knew that the Monorail Cafe was going to be removed, so he wisely brought his camera on two different days and snapped some nice pictures.

I'm sure it drove Mr. X crazy that he had not gotten there early enough to avoid having guests in the images, but sometimes you just have to roll with it. And I think it's sort of nice to see the family enjoying breakfast in front of that awesome mural!

There's "hidden Mickeys", and then there are "in your face Mickeys". In case you forgot that you were at Disneyland, they included some Mickey head tiles. They could have sold those on eBay for a pretty penny after the restaurant was razed! It's nice to get a peek at the men who prepared the food. I gotta get me a chef's toque.

The cafe had a nice comfortable vibe, like a good vintage coffee shop. This is a great view from the back of the restaurant looking toward the front. There's June, our friendly and efficient waitress! She calls me "hon". 

Unlike some "retro" eateries, the Monorail Cafe didn't overdo it with vintage decorations. Just a tasteful selection of old ads around the restaurant. I only recognize a Coke ad, a photo of Annette Funicello from her Mickey Mouse Club days, and a Popsicle ad illustrated by Vernon Grant (famous for creating Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop! for Rice Krispies). Who's the baseball player? I say Ted Williams, but it could be just about anybody. Somebody out there will know.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Monorail Cafe!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jungle Cruise, July 1963

It's time to use up more "not ready for prime time" scans. Like this one, featuring the Sacred Elephant Bathing Pool. Man, those elephants sure know how to have fun! Soaking in the cool river water, splashing and spraying and generally goofing off. Reminds me of the bears in Nature's Wonderland. I guess elephants have no need to worry about piranhas - or the wily candiru. Yikes.

Sometimes, a person really wants to buy a good souvenir. Not some plush animal or mass produced t-shirt, but something special that will get all the folks back home talking. This is where Trader Sam steps in! He has the largest selection of authentic shrunken heads this side of the Zambezi, all guaranteed fresh. Nobody can eat just one, or so I hear.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Midwest Buildings

I love the look of old buildings, and being a midwestern boy myself (born just outside of Chicago), I am especially fond of the midwest. Today I have two vintage slides featuring some nice old structures.

First up is this slide (undated, but almost certainly from the 1950's) looking across the city of Detroit, with Hudson's department store in the foreground. Hudson's was a chain of department stores, and this 25-story building was its flagship store, and it was the tallest department store in the world ("...as of 1961" says Wikipedia). This flagship store closed in 1983; Hudson's was bought out by the company that owns the Macy's chain of stores. The building was imploded in 1998.

The flat landscape is kind of impressive in its vastness; I am unsure as to which building this photo would have been taken from; one guess is the David Stott Building (a lovely art deco edifice, 38 stories tall). 

Next comes this fairly spectacular slide, helpfully hand-labeled "View from KC courthouse". I just love all of those old brick high-rises! And the view all the way to the horizon is pretty sweet. I wish I could find a contemporary shot looking in the same direction.

At first I was quite baffled by the gothic building in front of us; I looked and looked at recent photos of buildings near the Kansas City courthouse, and nothing resembled this at all.

Finally I happened upon this nice shot (courtesy of LIFE) that told me it was the Bell Telephone Building - now known as the Oak Tower. 28 stories high, completed in 1920 after many delays due to WWI. It was originally only 14 stories tall, but Bell needed more space, so they doubled the height in 1929.

So, here's a current photo of Kansas City's courthouse - a suitably solid and impressive-looking structure. But where is the nearby gothic building seen in the previous image? 

It turns out that the rather plain white tower to the left is the very same high-rise! Apparently the building was sold in 1974, and all of the elaborate ornamentation was either removed or covered with stucco. Even the window arrangement is different at the top, so much remodeling must have been done.

Here's how it looks today! I like the way it looked with all of the filigree. Not that anybody asked me.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Midwest!

Friday, March 24, 2017

More Beautiful Frontierland, May 1958

Here are a couple of nice photo featuring Frontierland, on a lovely day - my guess is that even though the date stamp reads "May 1958", the photos were taken a month or two before that. 

Look at that sky! Definitely a winter (or early spring) sky in SoCal. And it feels like we are in a real frontier - never mind that cable thing in the distance! I don't have much to say about the image, except that I deem it to be... POSTCARD WORTHY!

It's a shame that this one turned out to be underexposed - not only would have been another beautiful view with that glorious sky, but as you can see, the Columbia was under construction in Fowler's Harbor. Which is pretty interesting! I have another photo of the Columbia as it was being built, and I believe that it is also very dark.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Steve Stuart in Disneyland, March 1961

We're down to the last of Steve Stuart's personal photos of vintage Disneyland, and beyond that there are just a few other slides to share here. Bummer! But nothing lasts forever. As usual, Steve has provided some fun commentary to accompany today's photos. Here he is:


Return with us once again, to those thrilling days in March of 1961, when four friends spent a day at Disneyland, and view the final set of images from that visit.  In this first one, I’m a bit uncomfortable with this oddly erotic “tiki god ‘love’ scene”, right there in the heart of Adventureland.  I’m somewhat in doubt this was what Walt was referring to when he mentioned “… the hard facts that created America”, but for a group of 10-year old guys who couldn’t care less about such dedication plaque verbiage, (although it just may be the most brilliantly-written and meaningful ‘mission statement’ of all time), perhaps this was merely a bonding moment on the road in search of those hard facts.  Our wooden friend is quite photogenic, and can be spotted in many a shot from Adventureland over the years – and I believe he has had more than one place of residence there.  

In the background, we can see the Adventureland-side dining terrace of the Plaza Pavillion.  (The Tahitian Terrace Restaurant would not yet open for another 15 months).

As we once again are seen heading first up and then down some rabbit hole, Ricky has obviously been carefully studying the pages of Highlights for Children a bit too closely, as he seems to be channeling the ‘good manners’ of Gallant.  He clearly doesn’t want to become a Goofus for some poor sweep, who would needlessly be dispatched to ‘rescue’ a lost hat that might become dislodged while visiting Alice and her travails in Wonderland.  The rest of us are clearly non-plussed.  In the background we have a nice shot of the “tent” roof and finial of the Fantasia 2 eatery.

In this final shot from Alice I notice both Peter and I are wearing rings.  Well, aren’t we the “fashion plates” – or the objects of derision from “big boys” – although oddly-enough, I don’t remember such moments.  

Thanks as always to Steve Stuart for sharing his great photos. Next week: the last from P.O.P.! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Town Square Ceremonies, Part 2

Here is the second helping of photos taken during the celebration accompanying the opening of "The Walt Disney Story" in 1973.

The cavalcade of olde-timey shenanigans continues, with Keystone Cops present to prevent riots, pie fights, or seltzer bottle-related mishaps. A yellow horseless carriage heads around Town Square in one direction, while an Omnibus heads the other way. Will they crash in front of Main Street Station?! Where is Buster Keaton when you need him?

The Dapper Dans are back, and the benches are full of couples. The men all wear cream-colored suits, while the ladies wear pastels, pink, blue and green. The cops are wishing everyone a good day - this is when Keystone Cops are the most dangerous! 

Now everybody's dancing; who among us has not spontaneously busted a move on a busy street? I know I have. 

I'm kind of surprised that there does not seem to be any existing footage of this event - please correct me if I'm wrong! Imagine all the work - costumes, choreography, music - that went into creating this performance that was done once, and then it was over forever.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Walt Disney World – Resort Guide 1977 (Part 1)

NOTE: Well guys, ol' Major Pepperidge screwed up today. Somehow I managed to repost an article that Ken Martinez sent to me months and months ago. Not sure how it all happened, except that I was probably in "WRITE AS MANY POSTS AS POSSIBLE IN ONE DAY" mode. I'm going to be gone for most of the day, or else I would attempt to fix it. So it's just going to have to be a repeat! Sorry about that.

Ken Martinez is going to sharing some Walt Disney World stuff with us over the next few weeks - here he is to explain it:

Walt Disney World – Resort Guide 1977 (Part 1)

Walt Disney World will have its 45th anniversary on October 1st of this year so I wanted to do a little project on the early years of Disney’s Florida property to coincide with the celebration.  In future posts I’ll be sharing guide booklets and other ephemera/memorabilia featuring the Vacation Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center.  The little guide booklets I’ll be sharing were handed out to visitors of the Vacation Kingdom from the period of 1977 to 1983.  It is the Walt Disney World of a much simpler and quieter time when visitors to the Vacation Kingdom could experience their vacation in a more leisurely pace that what visitors experience today.  The first booklet I’m featuring is about the resorts of Walt Disney World in 1977.  I hope you enjoy this series.

Here we have the front and back cover of the “Walt Disney World – Resort Guide” booklet.  This booklet and the others I’ll be sharing are the ephemera I picked up during my trips to Walt Disney World in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Here you can view a stylized map showing the locations of the wonders of the early  “Vacation Kingdom of the World” including the Magic Kingdom, River Country, Treasure Island and Lake Buena Vista.

Here we have a little transportation map showing how to get around the “World” I love the original 1970’s icons of Walt Disney World.  The resort icons especially are a wonderful example of the style of graphics Disney used in the 1970’s

Here are some facts and Information to help make your stay in the “Vacation Kingdom” a more enjoyable one.

Coming up next:  the two original hotels of Walt Disney World - the Contemporary and Polynesian Village Resorts.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Tomorrowland Entrance

I just scanned a batch of slides from October, 1961, and was especially taken with this beautiful photo showing the entrance to Tomorrowland. It looks so clean and lovely, and there's something about the design that makes one want to go in. 

We've got the Monsanto House of Chemistry to our right, the Clock of the World in the middle, and America the Beautiful to our left. Look at all those sweet attraction posters! In fact, look at the one to the extreme right. Here, I'll zoom in a bit...

Notice that the actual Moonliner no longer sports its TWA moniker, since that company had ended its sponsorship of the attraction some time in 1961. The Disney folks altered the attraction poster, covering the printed "TWA" with a red/pink stripe. Don't give those jerks any free advertising!

Here's how the poster normally looked, for those who don't know. Fantastic! (No, I don't have one).

All of this reminded me of another scan of the entrance to Tomorrowland that I had shared way back in 2010, this time from a slide date-stamped "April 1962". Clearly, somebody decided that the additional pink stripe looked weird.

As you can see, it almost looks like someone went in with a bottle of whiteout - even in this blurry enlargement you can see a  smudged area where the new stripe used to be.

Maybe this is only interesting to poster nerds like me?

As you probably know, McDonnell Douglas took over sponsorship of the Rocket to the Moon attraction sometime in 1962, and the paint scheme of the Moonliner was completely altered.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bad Frontierland, October 1963

The title of this post is "Bad Frontierland", but it's the photos that are bad. Frontierland was just fine in 1963!

I suppose one gets a sense of civilization just beyond those plants and trees. After weeks of merciless wilderness, that log fort looks like a palace!

This is not the most exciting picture, but it shows and area that will be forever changed with the addition of Star Wars Land. "Chief Wavy" is slightly obscured by a tree, but three of his attendant warriors can be clearly seen behind him. Beyond those trees - parking lots, hotels, and endless Orange County suburban sprawl.

Personally I love photos of the burning settler's cabin, but this one is awfully dark. On the other hand you can see that the flames are really blazing! The poor settler isn't enjoying the spectacle so much.