Showing posts with label Polynesian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Polynesian. Show all posts

Monday, March 03, 2014

Chasing Captain Cook

Captain Cook's Hideaway, I thought I was done with you.

Back in June 2010, I wrote - and ammended - a series of articles about Captain Cook's Hideaway, the earliest place for Cast Members to drink in the first ten years of Walt Disney World. Captain Cook's and especially their in-house band, rock-folkies The Salt Water Express, have since risen to something of a place of prominence in Disney circles, thanks to their goofy look and elusive hit single from 1972, "Can You Arrive Alive on 535?"


Footage (and music!) of them even cropped up at the 2011 Destination D event sponsored by D23, where Robert Christopher and Gary Stratton appeared in a mildly traumatic promotional short as pied pipers, leading a group of teenagers on a Magical Mystery Tour to Grad Nite 1975.


I thought I had covered Captain Cook's Hideaway sufficiently. Despite some initial confusion, I even identified where I thought it was located. The lounge is described as follows in a 1973 Vacationland:

"For guests desirous for a dark rendezvous and the strains of a haunting guitar, Captain Cooks Hideaway provides both, as well as an outside patio romantically bathed in soft candlelight."

In many late 70s' souvenir books the following photo appeared, depicting what appeared to be this outside patio:


And working backwards from this photo, I identified an aerial view of the Polynesian Village showing where the patio and thus where Captain Cook's was probably located.


Which, to me, seems to be pretty solid evidence. Well, in the past few weeks I managed to turn up some interesting primary documents from the Polynesian, one of which was a cast member orientation guide from way back in 1971 - far enough back that it was simply called the "POLYNESIAN HOTEL". But the real discovery here was two pages showing exactly where everything was in the Great Ceremonial House and Outrigger Assembly House in 1971.


And - surprise - Captain Cook's Hideaway is in the "wrong" place!


The spot I had previously ascribed to Captain Cook's appears to be filled by the "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse", a child care facility. What's most shocking about this is this space still more or less exists - as the seating area to the Polynesian's cafeteria, still called Captain Cook's. Although the original space appears to have been slightly larger to accomodate a bar, it always has been and continues to be a spot with just a handful of tables weirdly crammed inside it.


Although I'm delighted to learn that this particular space at the Polynesian seems to have always been a tiny room with tables, I was simply agast that this spot in particular was Captain Cook's. This was the hopping Cast Member after-work hangout where Salt Water Express sang about State Road 535? You could hardly fit three more tables in here.


A October 1971 Walt Disney World News also mentions the outdoor patio so there must have been a "spill-over" outdoor section very much like the one that still exists today, only servicing those with alcohol instead of Dole Whips.

I went digging back through my files and found that mentions of the "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" at the Polynesian persist on and off until the mid-70s, when it seems to migrate to the Contemporary Resort Hotel, possibly opening up its original space to an expanded Captain Cook's.

So if Captain Cook's expanded into the old Clubhouse space, then it makes sense that Barefoot Snack Bar would take over the old Captain Cook's space, which is the original arrangement which most of us remember from the late 80s and early 90s. That arrangement still exists today, although the seating area has now taken over the original menswear shop.

I was also able to find a clipping at the Orlando Public Library which mentions Captain Cook's:


53 seats seems like too many for that original 1971 corner location even if they were also counting the patio. Since the article also mentions the Tangaroa Terrace, the family restaurant built in a custom structure outside the Great Ceremonial House in 1974, 53 seats (about fourteen-seventeen tables) may describe the lounge's second location in the former Clubhouse space.

As for Salt Water Express, their story is an interesting one. In March 1975, the Vacation Kingdom's most popular duo moved to the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village to open the lounge attached to the Village Restaurant, hilariously named "THE CHUMMERY":

WHY WOULD YOU NAME SOMETHING THIS
It was such a short lived stint that they may have never played there at all. Disney was advertising their return to the Polynesian Village within a few weeks.

Bob Christopher and Gary Stratton's contract was renegotiated in 1976, at which point they began appearing under the new name "Stratton & Christopher". In-house references to the group (and their popularity) begin to decline from that point onward, and by the late 1970s seem to vanish altogether. In the early 80s they seem to have moved to a well-reviewed restaurant called Limey Jim's at the US-192 Hilton Resort.

They pop up again in California in 1986, filing a trademark on their name and logo which may be viewed here. I haven't been able to find much past that. Besides the few pictures gathered here, no recordings of either Salt Water Express or Stratton & Christopher seem to survive. Which is a real shame - I know I'd love to hear "Can You Arrive Alive on 535?" at least once in my life.

The Polynesian Resort is now in the process of being dramatically altered - a new wing is going up in what was once open lagoon space, the name is reverting to the Polynesian Village, and sections of the hotel are closing one by one for remodeling. Renewal is a constant cycle of life at the Disney hotels, although none feel as sacred or personal to me as the Polynesian. Since the Tambu Lounge was relocated out to the lobby during the refurbishment which changed the original Papeete Bay Veranda into 'Ohana, maybe this newest refurbishment can bring back more vintage Disney names than just the one for the whole hotel.

Too long relegated to an eatery in its former location selling burgers, it may be time to reclaim the name of Captain Cook and attach it to a new Captain Cook's Hideaway, selling stronger stuff than Dole Whips. It would be a nice nod to the past in the one Disney hotel which seems most thoroughly drenched in it.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

Sunrise Over the Polynesian

Here's a somewhat dispiriting paradox for you: the Walt Disney World theme parks are at their most beautiful when nobody can see them.

This isn't really by design, mind you. Once the last guests roll out of the park at night and the various facilities power down and turn their work lights on, and bit by bit as third shift rolls in, the "show lights" which make places like Magic Kingdom and EPCOT so beautiful at night turn off. Trucks and cars replace pedestrians. Even the street lights turn off, and the theme parks become dark, even beautifully sinister places. Many third shift employees bring their own stereos, and a patchwork of FM radios and CDs replaces the familiar peppy background music. Electrical generators create pools of light for projects amid the stark darkness, and sidewalks are hosed down. The parks become dark and dripping places.

Pre-Dawn sky, 2005
Then, gradually, the sky turns midnight blue and this strange place begins to turn back into the place we know, and that's when it happens. The open Florida pre-dawn sky gives way to a beautiful, indirect yelllow sunlight, somewhat like the light Disneyland gets out West in the first part of their day, and pockets of humidity become a gentle ground fog that settles over bodies of water. If the parks ever open at 7 am or 8 am around Christmas, some of the very end of this may be observed. By 10:00 am the air gets hot and humid and the light turns that Florida white-hot and the day truly has begun.

Pre-Opening Sunlight
As a Cast Member I savored these hours before the madness truly descended. Seeing the parks so clean and so empty and so lovely was a reward that made up for the pathetic monetary compensation, and I could see it whenever I wanted. I wish I could get there so easily still, but the parks are not open to those who don't work there in those morning hours, meaning I mostly have my memories and a handful of photos to guide me.

But, you know, you can go to the resorts whenever you want, and late last month I did just that. The Polynesian Village hasn't changed much since 1980 but appears to be next up on the block for Disney Vacation Club expansion, the same fate which brought us a huge tower sitting beside the Contemporary. Although hopefully the Polynesian iteration will be less destructive to original design elements than others have been - they have, after all, nearly no space to work with - it felt imperative to capture something of the feel of this easterly portion of the resort on the eve of the start of construction. Working steadily for about 45 minutes, I was able to capture a mostly unbroken sunrise over the Old Polynesian.

This is the edited version. Compared to some of my other videos, I've done very little to this footage - no music to accompany it, no reshuffling of shots - I did abridge certain shots with fades, but allowing for the fact that this condenses an hour of material into six minutes, it's as close to a real-time sunrise as you can get without being there.

I like the unedited feel of it - the true look and sound of a remarkable place coming online. My overall goal in these videos is to capture that dimension that motion pictures are capable of but photos aren't always - that sense of place and time and, like the Lumiere shots of Parisian street scenes, I've found that the camera plunked down somewhere and allowed to simply record can capture pools of magic. Listen carefully here, and you can hear the Walt Disney World Railroad being brought on the tracks across the lagoon, deliveries being made at the Polynesian, and more.

It's not quite like going into Magic Kingdom on your off day to watch the sun rise over Cinderella Castle, but it's close.

And check out my YouTube page for more videos, including unedited single-shots and some shorter edited sequences.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Echoes from October 1971

Disney historians are treasure hunters. When I was young, I had the idea that being a historian or expert on anything would be ninety-percent tedium; locked out of the official Disney record halls and vaults, most of the major history-interested folk are left to rummage through bins, binders, and stacks of old paper, furtively hoping to find some previously unheralded treasure: a strange photo, new factoid, some new piece of the puzzle. Sometimes we luck out.

What follows is a stack of 35mm slides I recently acquired. As luck would have it, they are stamped "November 1971", which could indicate that they are from October 71, if the photographers waited a bit before sending them off for development, but in any case they are a rare candid view into a Walt Disney World just starting to burst onto the cultural scene.


These folks stayed at the Polynesian Village! This is the original pool area. See all the torches? I've seen it reported online that the torches are a later addition to the Village, but here they are, scarcely a month after opening.  Way to put the lie to that. See that white blob way in the back off to the left? That is one of the original luxury Yachts parked in the Papette Bay Marina at the Polynesian. From an April 1972 Walt Disney World News we learn:
"COCKTAIL CRUISES depart nightly at 7:30 pm from the Polynesian Village marina. For an hour and a half complimentary cocktails are served on one of the Chris Craft yachts or Aqua Homes. The cost is $10 per person including drinks.


DINNER CRUISES leave from either resort-hotel marina at 7:30 pm nightly. Hostesses serve complimentary cocktails and a steak or shish kebab dinner during the 2 1/2 hour cruise. The cost is $30 per person, payable in advance at either hotel marina.


All the boats, yachts, and Aqua Homes are available for private charter. Touch "1" about hosting your own dinner cruise....treasure hunt....cocktail party....or family outing."
The Cocktail Cruise and Dinner Cruise would each respectively cost $51 and $154 today, by the way.
Those yachts were big ticket items.

Hey, Bob-A-Round Boats!


You can learn more about the Bob-a-Round boats here and here. An October 1971 Walt Disney World News, contemporary with the visit depicted here, has an impressive rundown on the watercraft available at Walt Disney World, including: Capri (14'), Sunfish, Sailing Outrigger, Bob-A-Round, Paddle Boat (2 seats), Paddle Wheeler (5 seats), Outrigger Excursion (Polynesian War Canoe), Trapper Canoe Excursion, High Speed Boat, Hobie Catamaran, Ski Boat, Aqua Cat, Super Dingies (!!!), and Sail Boats.


Here's a true obscurity. This view from the monorail shows the Polynesian Village putting green. This was later replaced with a picnic pavilion, and later a large, shield-shaped pool. The Polynesian Village would expand nearly continuously throughout the 70s and 80s, today this is the lush grounds surrounding the Tangaroa Terrace east of the Great Ceremonial House.


Disembarking at the Magic Kingdom; hey, see those cranes at the Contemporary? Construction would not halt at the Contemporary until November 1971, another hint that these photos could've been taken in October.

Dead ahead, by the way, past the Steamboat Dock, is a stretch of grass where the Ferryboat Landing would appear six months later.


Yikes, there's two of them!


If you look way in the back you can see a "America the Beautiful" poster hanging just to the left of the entrance tunnel. The attraction itself would not be ready for another month.


And just inside the tunnel to the right, an original "Tropical Serenade" poster. Also note the lack of a "Here you leave today..." plaque, Magic Kingdom went for over thirty years without one. I guess after making you drive through the entire property to get to the park, WED figured you had already gotten the hint.


Obligatory group photo! It's nice to know that that goofy Popcorn wagon inside the entrance on the left has been exactly the same for four decades now, isn't it?

Notice that the twin on the left is holding one of those huge fold-out "official maps of the Magic Kingdom". As I've previously established, there was no official GAF guide park map until mid 1972.


The Sunshine Pavilion, with Clyde and Claude. Notice the two resident goddesses, Pele and Hina, staged up on the outer wall of the Tiki Room. This is also how they are staged at Tokyo Disneyland and I had always suspected that Florida once arranged their preshow in this way but had been unable to prove it. Due to plant grown Hina moved down into the terraced pond in the 80s and Pele was finally repositioned for the new Tiki Birds show in 1998, the staging which reigns to this day.

Now that the Orange Bird, Citrus Swirl, and orange grove references have returned to the show, it'd be nice to see those plastic oranges return to the central planter below Clyde and Claude there; I'll wade out there myself if Imagineering doesn't want to.


Now this one is a fantastic view, showing the original arrangement of the Liberty Square bridge. It can be seen both how high this particular feature was in 1971, when it actually did look something like the Old North Bridge at Concord on which it was based, and corresponds closely to the Herb Ryman concept art for this area. It was rebuilt sometime in the first decade to accommodate either America on Parade or the Electrical Parade which decreased the hump you see here, and it was flattened totally a few years ago.

The original entrance was through a court of 13 flags which were eventually moved to surround the Liberty Bell replica at the back of thew land, itself installed in 1987. The entire area was rebuilt in the early 90s with brick walls and props, complete with a guardhouse. Silly People will tell you that the guardhouse used to be a ticket booth. This is why you don't believe things Silly People say.


Liberty Square again, from the interior of a Keelboat. If you enlarge this picture you'll see a huge throng of people swarming around the front of the Hall of Presidents. This is the line. From opening until essentially the late 70s this show was packed with people at all times of the day.


Continuing the Keelboat ride we pass the weirdly depopulated Indian Village. Dick Nunis absolutely hated the Florida train ride, which then and still does pass a lot of Florida nothing. By December 1972 figures began popping up in this scene, which actually required a good deal of shuffling about of scenic elements and the removal of live-flame gas campfires. In 1973, further embellishments were added alongside both the River and Railroad, although the cancellation of Western River Expedition put the kibosh on an Eastside version of the Grand Canyon Diorama. The problem never was and still is not fully solved.


The Contemporary Resort as seen from the Walt Disney World Railroad and another view of those cranes. Disney actually ended up buying out US Steel in 1971 to finish the work themselves. Also seen here: an original red parking tram, one of those ones that would famously overheat on their way under the water bridge.

The water retention pond in the foreground (it's a Florida thing...) would be totally reworked in 1974 to allow the construction of Space Mountain.


Okay, this one was a biggest find in the collection. On the right you can see the original location of the Fantasyland Portrait Artists, as well as a wooden shade structure on the front of their space which was shortly demolished. This is the only photo that I've seen of the artists in their original location, and I had to do a good deal of digital fiddling with this slide to make the artists totally clear.

This space was later used as the furthest reaches of the Peter Pan queue, at which point the artists got a dedicated new building on the other side of Fantasyland, across from the Mad Tea Party. That space became the Enchanted Grove juice bar in 1980 when Florida Citrus Growers renewed their sponsorship.


A lovely view of the Small World / Village Haus complex with those famous Skyway buckets overhead. Also in this photo: a great early view of our friend, the rooster-headed lamp, who I profiled not just a few months earlier in this article.


We end our spin around the Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland with a view of the attractive Royal Candy Shoppe facade, the Round Table soft-serve ice cream spot in the very back, and the small covered porch area between them which would shortly be converted into the Lancer Inn pizza window. I think these Tudor-style facades in their original colors and textures are quite charming, although later creative regimes have been less than kind. This sort of Fantasyland architectural treatment would provide the basis for the 1983 reboot at Disneyland.

What's maybe most remarkable in this set of slides is that there is not a single typical view anywhere in them. Generally, we can expect to find the same old photos people have been taking at Disney World for decades now, but this particular photographer saved his film, probably investing instead in the Disney-provided GAF Pana-Vue souvenir slides sold around property. His enormous good sense then has really paid off now: although Magic Kingdom has been, from its opening to now, perhaps a far more conservative institution that Disneyland, of which far less from its opening day is now recognizable, this odd little group of twin ladies and their friends captured some truly unique and invaluable, fleeting things on film on their vacation over forty years ago.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

People I've Met in the Past: Part Two

In Part One we explored what I think of as the "Cast of Characters" of early Walt Disney World souvenir guides, the people and pictures and places which are almost signposts on any pictorial trip back into the past. Walt Disney World has a memorable cast, as I'm sure does Disneyland, although my limited collection has really only ever indicated one memorable recurring character in their guides: Phone Girl. There is, however, another type of character we meet in the past, although these people don't generally come to us in one sitting with any one piece of paper, book or booklet.


We become familiar with these characters through collecting. One day you notice a slight difference between two photos you thought were identical in two different publications. You go looking for more of these discrepancies. Gradually more and more are revealed. Even at some remove and allowing for different cropping and printing of the various photos, it becomes possible to reconstruct a photo shoot.

Take this dapper quartet, for example.


They're sitting in the plush environs of the Magnolia Room at the Walt Disney World Golf Clubhouse. Actually, to be specific, they're in the Palm Lounge that adjoins the Magnolia Room on two of its four sides, as the lounge offered those large windows we see overlooking what I believe in the last hole of the Magnolia golf course. The distinctions between the two venues was hazy at best.

First, let's point out the obvious: the screaming colors. Not just that guy on the right's astonishingly orange blazer: even the table setting and glassware reflect that era's curious love of vibrant earthen tones and brazen textile patterns. The artificial splendor of potted trees and bushes is a hallmark of country clubs the world over but here reminds me of the "indoor forest" of the later Village Restaurant at Lake Buena Vista.

I've always been intrigued by Orange Jacket Guy's apparent annoyance at his glass of sweet tea. It's probably just an inopportune moment to have a picture taken, but he really seems sort of annoyed by it.

Hey, see that dinner roll sitting in the middle of the table at the front?


A mildly different angle of the same scene taken possibly immediately before or after the photo above. The lens has been changed and the photographer has moved slightly to the right. This is by far the more commonly printed version of this photo, despite being an arguably inferior one. It's possible it's been badly cropped, but I've yet to turn up a larger version. It's easy to see why it was more often chosen because Orange Jacket Guy doesn't look so annoyed. Notice the golf game progressing in the background?

That dinner roll is still sitting there.


Dinner roll is still sitting there. Apparently these people were not permitted to eat anything. Maybe the food was plastic?

Now the cocktails and soft drinks are gone and a bottle of wine has appeared. Also, Orange Jacket Guy is completely gone, and the stage belongs solely to his friend, who in fact looks remarkably like young Malcolm McDowell.

There's probably even more photos of the adventures of Orange Jacket Guy and Malcolm McDowell-lookalike, but it's sort of remarkable that any variants of the initial set of photos got printed in official publications at all. Disney tended to scrupulously avoid printing obvious variants of similarly staged scenes, so we have no record at all of, say, alternate takes of that couple dining in King Stephan's Banquet Hall.

That's one kind of game that can be played with early WDW publicity. This next example is even more diffuse in that these photos were printed over a very wide variety of brochures and leaflets and feature the same models in very different situations.

I call it the "Beard Guy" series : wherein he and his lady friend could be seen lounging at the Barefoot Bar at the Polynesian Village:


Or lurking at the beach:


Her super-prominent wedding ring here has always intrigued me. Was Disney concerned that their good intentions not be misunderstood or was that just something the model brought with her? Anyway it colors your perception of an otherwise unremarkable picture.

Following hi-jinx at the Polynesian, Beard Guy and Lady Friend leap time and space to the Village, where they may be seen investigating wares in the Candle Chalet:


This is the first example of Beard Guy performing his patented "dramatic reaching for something".

This photo irritates me to no end because it's a really good look at the interior of the Candle Chalet, possibly the only one in existence, and was invariably printed over the seam of two pages of various editions of World Magazine. To even stitch it together the way I've done here I had to undo those thirty year old staples and gently disassemble the book, then put it back together after scanning.


This one is a borderline case. It could be Beard Guy and Lady Friend (the telltale beard isn't visible to help), or it could be a similar couple who were photographed in and around the Lake Buena Vista Club and Treehouses. Whichever it is, it's a very rare look inside the original Flower Garden shop at the Village, so the era is correct, and nobody would likely have noticed the discrepancy had I not just pointed it out to you.

So there.


They've moved on to the Village Restaurant now, and I'd really like to know what Lady Friend is drinking, because if that's beer it's being served in a really unusual glass. It could be a mimosa or something. Notice also the hilariously over sized pepper mill. Massive pepper mills were a real trend there for a while, almost de rigueur to indicate a general shift away from the mid century tendency to use pre-ground pepper, as if the size of a mill made the difference more important. I wonder if she was allowed to eat any of that salad, or whether it was plastic too.

I call that one "Beard Guy Looms".

One thing I like about Beard Guy is that he has two modes: "Dramatically Reaching for Something":


...or: ZANY!


Look at that. Has anybody ever been happier to examine copper cookware than Beard Guy? They're in the middle of the Pottery Chalet, by the way, which besides offering pottery was an all-around housewares store. But seriously, Beard Guy, when he turned on whimsy, the fun never stopped:

"Wicker makes me act all zany!"

Here they are clowning around in Cane, Rattan, Wicker and Suns, a shop that was technically part of Port of Entry. I believe that's the shop's signature item, the wicker rickshaw. Back then, every shop at the Village was sure to stock items intended more for novel shopping than buying, and this was one of them. Not like Walt Disney World vacationers were likely to buy things like giant bamboo birdcages, anyway.

It's easy to make fun of photos like these and in the previous post, but you know what? They're still fun to look at, and not just from a historical perspective, either. We tend to look back with ambivalence at things like marketing from other eras because styles and fashions change; there's no way any of this could be used today to effectively "sell" Walt Disney World even if any of the things shown here still existed (hint: most of them don't).

But who really looks twice at the 2010-era marketing these days? The photos of gleaming pudgy-faced moppets cavorting with costumed characters or in princess dresses show a high degree of technical polish and sophistication, but as marketing has become more sophisticated, charm has been left behind. These photos shown unrehearsed, unretouched people behaving simply in places which were not treated like photo studios. These are real places and we respond to the simple "go out and take pictures" ethic of early Disney World promotion. It shows something far closer to what the actual experience of the place was rather than the MBA statistics-driven school of marketing now in vogue.

Me? I'll take Beard Guy or Sombrero Girl any day. I suspect you would, too.

--
ADDENDUM: September 22, 2011
Thanks to Mssrs. Jason and Alex, we now know the identity of "Beard Guy". And he is, surprisingly.... noted artist R. Tom Gilleon! No, seriously, look at his site. Tom, a Florida native, worked for WED for a time on EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland before moving out West to paint his familiar vivid canvases. I've also been sent along this recent photo:


Beard Guy, thankfully, still has a beard. This casts entirely new light on these nostalgic promotional photographs: how many of these "unrehearsed" models were actually culled from the talent pool Disney had cultivated in Florida? Tom was probably chosen for his unique expressions and beard, looking as he does not like a Cast Member, but many of the people we see in these photos are fairly well-dressed and trim, which certainly explains some of the unique qualities of many of these early souvenir guides and photographs.

Over at Walt Disney World: a History in Postcards, Brian Martsolf has already identified a number of photographs which likely show the Magic Kingdom during construction, which means that the bulk of the people in those photos were currently employed by Walt Disney World and many of those earliest photographs show the Magic Kingdom very much still in a state of becoming. Take a look again at the "Gene Hackman in a Teacup" photo:


First, obviously, this photograph is from the first eight months of the resort as the roof has not yet been added to the Mad Tea Party. But look in the background, over by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. See that irregularly shaped object? Doesn't it look like something with a tarp thrown quickly over it?

And maybe there aren't as many people walking around the park as you might expect? And look again at "Gene Hackman". Doesn't it look sort of like he's... wearing a name tag?

I'm willing to bet that everyone in this photo is a Cast Member or Contractor for Walt Disney World, that this was taken during a preview day in August or September 1971, and that the object in the background is covering the fact that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is still under construction. The ride wouldn't open until December. Sort of puts a new - if you'll pardon the pun - spin on things, doesn't it?

Me? I'm very excited by this news. Now that we know Beard Guy is Tom Gilleon, who knows who Sombrero Girl is or who that kid facing off with one of the seven dwarfs grew up to be.

Maybe it could even be you, reading this blog, right now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Palate Cleanser

My goodness, it's been a long time, hasn't it? It has... in the meantime I've gone to Disneyland and come back with a head full of ideas and not much desire to write them. A lot of stuff has happened to Disney and to the rest of the world too, and not all of it has been great.

What we need is a palate cleanser, hopefully to kick my butt back into gear and to give us all a little relief from drudgery. And since this is Passport to Dreams Old & New, that likely means... seventies stuff. Bright, beautiful, early Walt Disney World goodness to keep us mindful of our priorities.

Shall we?


This early Walt Disney World couple, taken for a 1976 merchandise catalog, may be showing off their spiffy "Collegiate" tees but they're also standing in a spot where taking this photo is today impossible. In the background where the white rail and benches are was the original proposed location for the Tomorrowland Railroad Station; it's also the original exit to the Space Mountain attraction. Today, a massive half round salmon colored arcade blocks this fantastic view.


Wow, look at the line for the Peoplemover!! All those people are going to be happy to have spent their E ticket (yes, it was an E ticket in 1975) on what is arguably still one of the greatest experiences at Walt Disney World. Who remembers the little dioramas in the tiny hexagonal boxes on your way up and down the speedramps (visible in the background here)? Tomorrowland was so awesome.


Look how clean the track is. Tomorrowland hasn't looked this good in years.

Hopping across the Seven Seas Lagoon, we come across this group, also modeling Walt Disney World "Ready To Wear" tees at the Polynesian Village:


Besides Bob-A-Round boats and the Asian Resort expansion pad, let's take time to apprechiate the rich wood grained sides of the Polynesian longhouses long before they were painted cartoonish yellow and the lovely effect of the decorative wood tucked into the peak of that roof before it was alternating shades of yellow, orange and white. The roofs of each longhouse were intentionally rusted to an orange patina instead of being painted that way.


Here's a Rarity I've been looking for for some time: this is the sign for the short lived Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village tobacconist, which as you can see did not lack for seventies "groove". All of the original Shopping Village signs were brilliantly executed craftwork pieces; the sign for "Von Otto's Antiques" was emblazoned on an antique coffee grinder and anybody who stared in fascination at the sign for "Lite Bite" will likely never forget it. This one can't quite compare but it lasted less than two years, so what it lacks in interest it makes up in obscurity!

The following pictures were taken to celebrate the second anniversary of the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village in Eyes and Ears of Walt Disney World, and although they focus on goofy-looking Cast Members, the photos, like most, reveal interesting details at the margins that the photographer did not intend.


It's fun to see the proper scale of this sign which featured an actual spout! It's also fun to see the rather uninspired costumes worn by cast outside of the "Vacation Kingdom"... that blazer with the Lake Buena Vista emblem looks pretty dorky today. The caption for this one is too cheerfully lame not to reprint:
"Modern as well as 'vintage' spirits are the specialty of the Vintage Cellar. Jo Tisdale and Jerry Robinson compare their job with the Haunted Mansion... both deal with the spirit world!"
Well... not everyone got to wear the Mansion green and white, so we'll go easy on them.

This rather assertive mugshot is chiefly interesting for capturing, even if in passing, the interior of Shoe Time. The ladies pictured therein are Jeannie Clarke and Kaye Frampton.


...and we'll go out with this page from the merchandise catalog we've been skirting this whole time. I don' know if these kids are actually in a room at the Contemporary or on a set somewhere, but I suspect that this will bring a smile to even the most hardened heart: