Sunday, September 20, 2009

See the Village. Tonight. Part Two...

When last we left our tour of the Walt Disney World Village we were at the doors to Cane, Rattan, Wicker & Suns, wondering where to go next.

The view ahead looks like this:

Since posting this image without comment is like putting up an image of the surface of the moon given how little the current area resembles this, allow me to isolate the relevant area of the image and provide some context.

The structure we see in the most immediate foreground on the right is the Captain's Tower, an open air pavilion with a tall central spire which serves as the central landmark of the Village. The tower hosts special events such as art displays, celebrity appearances, craft fairs and so on. Darth Vader appeared here to promote Star Wars in 1977. The "Glory and Pageantry of Christmas" show, a sort of living nativity, was held here for a few years before moving to the Dock Stage. The central spire of the Captain's Tower was taken down in the mid-90's to convert the pavilion to a kids' clothing store. It was partially enclosed at this time. The pavilion was further enclosed to become Disney's Pin Traders in 2000. Much of the original structure still survives.

In front of the Captain's Tower, a number of steps can be seen descending. These ended in a reflection pond. This was filled in with a kiddie train ride in the mid-1990's.

In the middle distance on the left is the side of a shop which is now known as Pooh Corner. The original windows may still be observed to this day. This photo dates from 1976 and this shop would've been known as Posh Pets at this time. In the background on the right we see a number of orange umbrellas belonging to the Gourmet Pantry, a sort of deli and grocery store. Behind those umbrellas: a row of windows looking into The Village Candy Shoppe, stocking a similar selection as Main Street's Market House. The Gourmet Pantry would later expand to fill this entire building, which was renovated into Mickey's Pantry in 1996, and closed in 2003 to make way for The Earl of Sandwich.

In the very back of this we can see the side of what is now Disney's 13 Days of Christmas, but which then housed Toys Fantastique, an import toy store. On the right, just out of view, is Heidelberger's Deli, a dark toned little corner eatery offering dark rich German beer and large sandwiches.

But we'll save all that for later. Let's pop into the dimly lit little chalet to our immediate right just past Port of Entry, known as Sir Edward's Haberdasher.

It is more or less what is expected, although an interior view like this is today very rare. In 1989 this little building was brightened up considerably and reopened as Harrington Bay Clothiers, as generic a menswear shop as can be imagined. The whole building was bulldozed in 2000 to make way for the Once Upon a Toy Hasbro shop.

It's time to stop by the Flower Garden to pick up a fresh flower arrangement. The Flower Garden also sells cacti and is the centerpiece of the Village's yearly Easter celebration, as well as the annual Village Flower Festival, a tradition which would be expanded in the 1990's to become the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival. Speaking of which, starting in 1979, the Walt Disney World Village is going to host a Wine Festival, with the Village Spirits and Vintage Cellar shops as the focal point of this event. Later this would move to the Lake Buena Vista Convention Center, and finally to - you guessed it - EPCOT.

Let's take another look at the Flower Garden. This later became the side of the Christmas shop. The distinctive staircase is still there, but the Captain's Tower in the background is not. This is a first year photo, look at the trees! The older folks in the audience may remember those Disney 70's strollers....

Across the way is Country Address, an upscale women's clothing shop, where Goofy's Candy Kitchen is now. Behind the Flower Shop is Micheal's Barber Shop and Shoe Time. Country Address moved around a lot throughout the 1980's and lasted until the mid 1990's, when The Art of Disney replaced it definitively. This promotional picture gives us a rare look at its' original sign:

The Village's distinguishing feature was, in fact, her beautiful craftwork signs.

Captain Jack's dropped the oysters in 2000 and became simply a "restaurant"; the Windjammer Dock Shop vanished in the 1990's when Captain Jack's expanded its seating into its old waiting area and the shop became a very narrow reception room. Miss Merrily's Fashions is the second name of a designer clothing shop known as Miss Merrily's Madness; it catered to hip young girls.

We've reached the far end of the Village. Time for dinner at one of the best restaurants on property!

The gull on this sign is also the inspiration for the logo of the Village itself, a silhouetted bird flying across a blue circle. The open dining room of the Village Restaurant is big on sunlight, skylights, and false trees.

See that recessed seating area at the back on the left? This gentleman is being treated to an unexpected fashion show, direct from Country Address! Did he buy that pipe at Pipe Dreams earlier today? The restaurant is tastefully decorated with the same weathered bricks which the rest of the Village is built with, with burnished wood tones and blinds.

One bank of windows look out on a private canal which divides the Village from the Townhouses of the ambitious Lake Buena Vista community building effort, and the hotels of Lake Buena Vista down the way - Old Dutch Inn, TraveLodge, Howard Johnson's and others. The other windows look out on the Village Lagoon, and diners can watch guests paddle by in rented boats. This view is also shared by the Village Lounge, a hot spot for Jazz performances at night.

Night falls on Lake Buena Vista. Aren't you glad you took the time to enjoy this quiet corner of the World?


The Shopping Village. Walt Disney World's newest addition. So different. So unique. So exciting. Only the Disney people could've done it. Just ten minutes away in the Host Community, Lake Buena Vista.
At the Village, you'll watch Old World craftsmen at work with pottery. Crystal cutting. Toledo gold engraving.
You'll discover European and Oriental antiques. Candle crafts. Custom-blended tobaccos. Designer originals. And posh pets.
You'll savor the flavors of imported beers in frosted mugs. International cheeses. Oysters on the half-shell. Fresh-ground coffees. And tasty homemade candies.
You'll explore 29 cedar-shingled shops and four distinctive restaurants clustered on the banks of a beautiful blue lagoon.
After you've seen the Magic Kingdom. See the Village. Today. Or on your way home tonight. Open every day 10 till 10."

- Walt Disney World Village promotional flier, 1975.

Appetite readied for more Walt Disney World Village? Here's some further readings:
The Walt Disney World Village List - every shop, in chronological order.
Widen Your World - my writeup on the history of the Village for the internet's definitive WDW history resource.
My Flickr Account - with hi-res versions of all of these photos.