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Disneyland in the 60’s

By Keith Mahne

Much like retro Disney World videos, I’m a sucker for vintage Disneyland ones as well. I take joy in watching visitors dressed in their Sunday best and love noticing how different things have changed over the years. There is nothing quite like basking in the magic of vintage Disneyland. Seeing the park during a time when attractions like the Skyway, PeopleMover, and Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland continuing to mystify guests and realizing that everything present was touched by Walt is what I enjoy the most. Today, let’s travel back to Disneyland of the 1960’s and revel in the magic together…

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Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four.

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

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A Dream Called Walt Disney World

By Keith Mahne

I am absolutely obsessed with retro Walt Disney World! I love collecting old souvenirs, looking at vintage photos, listening to original soundtracks, and especially, watching old travelogues of the vacation kingdom of the world. My endorphins go crazy as those cozy, nostalgic memories come flooding in. Watching the older videos reminds me of why I fell in love with WDW in the first place. A retro Disney World video that I particularly enjoy, as do my endorphins, is called A Dream Called Walt Disney World, which was released in 1980. It’s jam packed with that vintage, classic Disney we all adore. Get ready to be transported to a time when the Magic Kingdom was the only park on property and you could still jump on a slide at River Country for a fun filled day in the cool waters of Bay Lake…

(Please pause the Disney Avenue Music Player in the top left-hand corner prior to playing the video below if you are on a desktop computer.)

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Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four.

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

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EPCOT Construction Cavalcade: 1979-1981

By EPCOT Explorer

Sometimes, when writing and researching you come upon a group of interesting things and have no idea what to do with them, as they are just implicit pieces of a whole body of study. Although that sounds frightfully academic, this even happens in researching something fun, like EPCOT Center and Walt Disney Productions. So… in that spirit, let’s take a look at some wonderful, early EPCOT Center photos from it’s formative years. You’re not going to want to miss these…

Our first two shots come from 1979 and show the finalized model of EPCOT Center. Spaceship Earth is finally a full sphere, and most of the pavilion models have coalesced into the versions we know today. A notable difference? FutureProbe in place of Horizons. More on that later.

Above is the groundbreaking ceremony for EPCOT Center. Former Florida Governors Claude Kirk and Reuben Askew, Card Walker; the current Disney Chief Executive during this time, Robert Graham and former Governor Haydon Burns all pose with shovels and before a massive plywood mock-up of Spaceship Earth.

These next three pictures are a fun look into WED Enterprises’ model shop in Glendale, California. John Hench is posing with the model of World Showcase, probably for a press event, and Marty Sklar is candidly (hah) observing the completion of the Spaceship Earth model. Notice the artisan applying the geometric skin to one side, you can see the differences in shape and texture on the model. The Universe of Energy makes an appearance, too, in the form of its massive mural that would later be installed in the diorama. This mural was developed and billed as “the largest backdrop built for a show feature in history”. Considering the scope of the Universe of Energy, this is certainly no stretch of the imagination.  All photos are from 1980.

Speaking of large murals, Jack Lindquist stands in front of a small mock up of the Mexico pavilion’s tableaux. The pyramid and backdrop planned for World Showcase would eventually grow to be 220 feet long, complete with an erupting volcano, towering above the Yucatan wilderness. Jack Lindquist, though the Senior Vice President of Marketing was formally in charge of World Showcase Promotion and can be attributed with finalizing many of the agreements between Disney and the respective nations to be exhibited in EPCOT.

Mid 1980, and the ride system for Horizons is being tinkered with…. though Horizons isn’t called Horizons, yet. This is FutureProbe, and although it bears a different name, the intent and experience matches the one to come to EPCOT in 1983. What you see here is a model of the Omnimax domes that the ride boasted and that surrounded guests with imagery. Also visible is the train of modified and hanging Omnimover vehicles that transported visitors from the FuturePort to under the sea, over the land, and even to out in space. The final version of Horizons would not have 3 levels of trains, however, just one.

1981 takes us into the realm of construction photos… The Universe of Energy’s dinosaurs are making their way from Asian Way to be installed in their pavilion, and the Journey into Imagination is merely a flat warehouse. The iconic glass pyramids will be installed much later, using a unconventional space frame construction method. Meanwhile, the warehouse containing the ride was been water sealed and installation of the ride began. Fatefully, though, Journey into Imagination proved to be problematic and would not open until March of 1983, five months into EPCOT Center’s operations. Also pictured is the “laser ballet” scene, part of the “Arts and Literature” scene. Although this picture shows off the lasers formulating an image of Figment out of thin air, this effect didn’t make the cut, and instead the lasers projected more simple images in the final version of the ride. Most notable were music notes and the theatrical masks of comedy and tragedy.

And to cap off this batch of photos, the groundbreaking ceremony for Journey into Imagination. Interesting to note is the artwork featured on the sign that Dick Nunis is standing next to: It’s much more homespun and less futuristic and grand, perhaps to better tackle the earlier concept of Dreamfinder as a magical professor who toured the world, with his pet dragon, Figment.

What really makes all these photos remarkable is the amount of detail and care that went into crafting, creating, and molding each part of EPCOT Center into the park that finally emerged in 1982. Each detail has a story, design process, and reason for being there. EPCOT Center delights in these details and was a work of art, the culmination of vision and talent for a large group of very dedicated artisans, engineers, and planners.

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EPCOT Explorer has been visiting the Walt Disney World Resort since he was 2 years old and has recently just made his first visit to Disneyland. EPCOT Explorer’s first ‘Disney’ interest is the history of EPCOT Center of his youth and the brand of optimism, futurism, and culture that was originally found in the park. Other interests include the thematic interplay of design elements in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdoms that make these theme parks repositories of culture and Americana. EPCOT Explorer is also interested in the World’s Fairs for their connections to EPCOT and tiki culture, since the return of the Enchanted Tiki Room to Walt Disney World in 2011. EE’s writings often focus on the minutia of Disney’s enterprises and attempt to uncover how and why the parks function in the manner that they do. EPCOT Explorer is currently a graduate student and Teaching Assistant in History at Florida International University. EPCOTEXPLORER.TUMBLR.COM

You can find all of EPCOT Explorer’s articles here.

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