Friday, August 10, 2007

Vanishing Walt Disney World, #1

For better or for worse Walt Disney World has been consistently doing what it was built to do: change. Although the passing of a major attraction or show will these days be greeted with a flurry of photos and video, so that we can rest assured that future generations will have good quality copies of El Rio del Tiempo to puzzle over, each month more and more original, minor establishments are quietly closed or remodeled into something newish.

It is in the spirit of these fleeting locations, which are often the ones which we most wish for extensive documentation of, that I offer this new feature, attempting to capture at least passable representations of recent losses or eminent ones, as well as provide a forum for the pooling of resources among readers of this Blog.

Impending Fatality: Concourse Sundries & Spirits

Although the nearby Fantasia shop has already gone the way of the dodo, Concourse Sundries & Spirits, a funky little alcove in the Contemporary Resort that feels as if it hasn't noticeably changed since 1971, is currently on the chopping block. This functional, minor and unpretentious store still feels, in 2007, like something more at home in an airport. Time has, in short, passed it by, and given that in recent years Disney has been aggressively upgrading its' resort facilities, time is clearly limited for Concourse Sundries & Spirits.

This neat sign is made of neon, but the plastic in front of it is printed with tiny dots, so when you get near the sign, the neon behind becomes "pixelated."

Two views from the door, to the left and right. Notice the tobacco and liquor is still kept in cases set into the point of sale - by 2007 Walt Disney World standards this is incredibly unfashionable. The area to the left of the M+M dispensers, which once stocked magazines and newspapers, is now all Disney publications and DVDs. It is indeed a sad day when a Sundries shop becomes just another Emporium. The M+Ms are covering up what was once a door into the Fantasia shop, now an arcade.

In the early 90's the Eisner administration made an effort to "Modernize" the Contemporary by making it over into a place with lots of swirly colors like Mauve, Purple, Tan, and Turquoise. As part of this effort Chef Mickey's was moved into the Grand Canyon Concourse, which was stripped of much of its' Southwest theme. The Top of the World nightclub also became the high-end California Grill, the only fully successful venue in the whole effort, so much so that the aesthetics of the California Grill are being extended to the entire hotel. This carpet is a significant leftover of Eisner's "Contemporary '94" design effort. It's a good example of how strange his ideas about "entertainment architecture" were. Regardless, this carpet is supposed to make you feel "fun" and is, besides all that, a historically significant item.

The back of the store, complete with a funky mailbox and a few coolers.

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RED ALERT ITEMS: Things I need a number of photos of, recently deceased.

Robinson Crusoe's, Polynesian Resort, 1971 - 2005
Captain Cook's Food Court
Robinson Crusoe's was a significant final holdout of the Polynesian Village of 1971 and primarily offered overpriced mens' wear in its' final years. It was located in what is now the arcade. Across the way, where there are currently spacious bathrooms, was a children's clothing store. Both were open air and remarkably untouched for 34 years. The 2005 opening of the large new BouTiki shop in the lobby made both of these outposts of the original Polynesian superfluous; Captain Cook's, originally a bar and then a food court, expanded and swallowed both up. Photo documentation of the last few years of all three of these locations desired.

News From Civilization
Another lost Polynesian Hotel shop, which sold a lot of generic Island themed junk and some Lilo & Stitch stuff in its' last few years, is currently a Wyland Gallery. Much like Concourse Sundries & Spirits, it was a functional hotel shop.

GENERAL ALERT ITEMS: Probably lost to the sands of time?

Interior photos of The Golden Galleon or Princessa de Cristal, Magic Kingdom Caribbean Plaza

Interior photos of Pecos Bill Cafe, pre 1998 refurbishment, Magic Kingdom Frontierland

Interior photos of the Tricornered Hat Shoppe, Magic Kingdom Liberty Square

Interior photos any pre-1996 Disney Village Marketplace establishment - the older the better!

8 comments:

TiKiMOOSE said...

I found a cool link on the Polynesian!
http://tikiman2001.homestead.com/aloha.html
some cool shots of the place old and new.

imtigger said...

I'm bummed about the Sundries shop leaving.... really bummed. It was the perfect place for a cool drink and a little snack while walking around the Contemporary shopping. It was our place to go if we parked at there to go to the MK, like we're not supposed to ;) , or if we just wanted to hang out at the hotel for the afternoon and boat or shop.

Again, bummed. :( Thanks for the pics tho'. Never thought to take pics there.

Jessica said...

Wonderful post, as always!

I do have a question for you, in a similar vein:
Do you happen to remember there being a gift shop underneath the Tomorrowland Skyway station? I have very vague memories of being in such a store, and it appears that the area still exists now, just with blacked out windows (behind the bathrooms).

I wonder if you, or anyone, has photos or memories of this place. No one that I talk to seems to remember it, but I swear it was there!

FoxxFur said...

It was there, called Ursa's Major Minor Hat Shop, and was one of the places you could get your Mouse Ears embroidered for free. The embroidery later moved to the old Speedway Ticket Booth, where DVC and Pleakley are now, and the hat cart nearby is still called Ursa's Major Minor Hat Cart. The store has been mostly gutted and is a stockroom for outdoor merchandise locations now.

RC said...

wow, this is an incredible project that you're putting together here on this blog.

Jessica said...

Ahh... so that's where Ursa's was! The name sounded so familiar, but for some reason I was placing it closer to Mickey's Star Traders and Merchant of Venus.

Good to know that I am not going crazy (at least not in that sense!). Thank you as always for your wealth of information!

mk said...

According to my 1979 Disney World map - the Ursa Major Minor store is labeled "Skyway Station (Disney Merchandise)" and was located in the same building as the "Skyway to Fantasyland". From my 9/10/2007 and 9/13 visit to the MK, the top level of the Skyway building appears to be storing stage-show lighting equipment and the stairs to the Skyway are chained to stop entry.

Back in 1984 I remember visiting the MK and to bypass the crowds outdoors my mother would take a shortcut by going through the Tomorrowland Terrace. I recall there was a terraced stairway (near where the "alien rocks" are now) and there was a corridor that passed over the former Mission to Mars attraction to what is now Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe. There was also an indoor stage that had live music at night. Can anyone confirm this in the original Tomorrowland Terrace? On my recent visit I was unable to find this area and assume it was removed when the MK Tomorrowland was "updated."

Holidays Orlando said...

There are some Disney World Map on this site.