Imaginerding Vintage Walt Disney World Photo Finds

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney History, Disney Parks, Features, Imaginerding, Walt Disney World

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Published on November 12, 2012 at 5:01 am with 8 Comments

Doing Disney historical research means lots of different things. Sometimes it’s interviewing a Disney Legend, scouring Disney maps or leafing through older Disney publications. Recently, I was perusing my collection of Disney News and I realized it was a treasure trove of amazing vintage Walt Disney World images. Disney News was the official Magic Kingdom Club Publication and started in December 1965. It changed to Disney Magazine in March, 1994 and ceased publication in 2005.

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting items I found.

The cover for the Winter 1978/1979 issue of Disney News.

So, this was Christmas 1978 at the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. Not quite the same spectacle that it is today. A life-size Nativity scene was held twice nightly at the Walt Disney World Village from December 15-24. Talk about a short season! The Candelight Processional was held in front of the Main Street Train Station with a 1000 member strong choir. The celebrity narrator was Ross Martin of the “Wild Wild West” TV series. It lists the performances for December 16-17.

Attention to Details

The following three images share some great details from the Magic Kingdom in an article that urges visitors to notice the small details of the park. It’s a pretty interesting juxtaposition, especially the photos of the lamps and the light from the Plaza Restaurant. You can still catch a few of them today. Do you spot any images that look like they are actually from Disneyland?

The Fall 1985 Disney News. Everybody neat and pretty?

Say hello to Gyro!

What’s 4 feet 10, weighs a portly 150 lbs., has a blue body, and a golden head encasing a computerized brain that controls its electronic senses? It’s GYRO–the very latest in electronic robots. GYRO strolls around the grounds of Future World in Epcot Center at Walt Disney World, conversing with guests who marvel at its mobility and intelligence. When they ask how GYRO works, however, the robot is evasive. And because it talks, guests often stare into GYRO’s 12-inch screen of a face and say, “Okay, who’s in there?” The robot’s honest answer is , “Npbody/” Only micro chips and lots of electronic wizardry.

Who doesn’t love great concept paintings for Epcot Center?


This image is from an article about Ward Kimball and his backyard train, the Grizzly Flats Railroad. If the station looks familiar, it’s from So Dear to My Heart. Walt gave it to Ward for Grizzly Flats. A few years later, Walt tried to buy it back for Disneyland, but Ward refused!

I know, it’s an ad for a Greyhound but it’s parked at Epcot Center!

I zoomed in to get a closer look at the artwork on the side of the bus!

The robot in the scan above is called the OMNIBOT and was available for sale in the Centorium. It was considered a personal robot and if you wanted to buy one for yourself, you had to ask for the price!

What’s really great about the photo, of course, is the image of the Centorium. The Centortium was located in Communicore (awesome name for a podcast, right?) and was the largest shop in Epcot Center. The second level of the store was where they sold the more expensive items and collectibles.

I have that book, the Future World of Agriculture. It’s also a great shot of the Kitchen Kabaret plushes.

And I left the best photo for last.

Figments make fascinating friends.

What else can I say except Children of the Corn, er, uh, Children of the Figment.

I love seeing how Disney promoted the theme parks, especially the late 1970s and early 1980s.

So, which vintage Walt Disney World photo was your favorite?

ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at [email protected].

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • doppio

    So retro cool. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks, George!

    Christmas from Dec. 15-24 in 1978. In 2012 the money-grubbing clods at Disney Parks were putting up Christmas snow on the castle in late October. I know it starts earlier everywhere, but Disney is now crassly leading Christmas into early October. Maybe start a week before Thanksgiving at the earliest next year. Film your ABC special later.

    (On the other hand, Disneyland’s lost and found just mailed me a sweatshirt that I lost in the parks. This was done quickly and with the postage (priority) at Disney’s expense. And women may now work on the Jungle Cruise, so it’s not all bad these days.)

  • Dusty Sage

    Two nights of Candlelight, 10 days of Christmas? Perfect!

  • Pingback: Imaginerding Vintage Walt Disney World Photo Finds – MiceChat (blog) | Mouse House Online()

  • DisWedWay

    Glad John Lasseter ended up with Ward Kimball’s train depot you pictured above.

  • Pingback: Uncle Walt Disney as Spiritual Guide – Huffington Post (blog) | Mouse House Online()

  • Timekeeper

    Love the old Epcot Center Main store, Centorium, before it became Mouse Gear and the Art of Disney Gallery.


  • D.O.M.

    I like that the Dreamfinder symbolizes finely sculptured porcelain. I didn’t know that.