I was glancing through the 1974 A pictorial souvenir of Walt Disney World, looking for some inspiration, when I ran across a specific photo that helped confirm a detail I’d been trying to corroborate for years. I was touring the Magic Kingdom with Foxfurr from Passport to Dreams Old & New one balmy Saturday afternoon in 2009. We headed into Liberty Square and she was excited to find two benches. Yeah, Disney historians get excited over the strangest things. More about those benches in a moment.
As I opened the paperback souvenir guide, I was drawn to this tiny photo that started a paragraph about the Vacation Kingdom of the World. You’re supposed to pay attention to the little girl with Mickey Ears and a Mickey shirt sitting on the bench. I think she’s eating something. (I also think the ears were added later.)
My eyes went to the top of the small photo when I noticed the garbage can next to the white structure that looks like a fence. I need to enhance this photo…
Enhance 224 to 176. Enhance, stop. Move in, stop. Pull out, track right, stop. Center in, pull back. Stop. Track 45 right. Stop. Center and stop. Enhance 34 to 36. Pan right and pull back. Stop. Enhance 34 to 46. Pull back. Wait a minute, go right, stop. Enhance 57 to 19. Track 45 left. Stop. Enhance 15 to 23. Give me a hard copy right there.
Is that the bench that we ran into in Liberty Square?
Foxxfur claimed to have a video from the first year of the park that showed the benches. I’ve been keeping an eye out for them ever since. The following two pictures are from January, 2013.
The benches are in the area by the Princess Tiana Meet and Greet and the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom area by the Christmas Shoppe.
So, take a moment to pay your respects to one of the few, original Magic Kingdom benches before they’re taken away or made part of the new FastPass+ system. Feel free to take your own pictures of the benches and email them to [email protected].
More Theme Parkeology
Here are some random shots of interest from the first few pages of the souvenir pictorial.
This aerial shot graces one of the first pages. You can see how small the Polynesian Village was and how symmetrical the original layout was. Notice the putting green on the left hand side of the resort. The bump out of land in between the Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian Village was where the Venetian Resort was going to be. Apparently, there is a large sinkhole there. On the right side, where the Grand Floridian resides, is where the Asian Resort would have been. If you notice the island in the middle, you can see a structure that looks like a pier. It’s actually Dick Nunis’ wave machine.
Wait, you didn’t know about the wave machine on Seven Seas Lagoon?
Before opening, Dick Nunis fought for a $400,000 wave machine for the Seven Seas Lagoon that would lap waves on the shore of the beach at the Polynesian. Dick hoped that professional surfers would be able to put on shows and that children and body surfers would be able to enjoy the inland ocean experience. The wave machine worked, although it mostly eroded the Polynesian’s beach. As a side note, Dick Nunis would ride the first wave at the opening of Typhoon Lagoon, almost 17 years later.
Not much else to say about this photo except, “Sombreros are cool. I wear sombreros now.” Obviously, the young woman forgot her sunscreen and her fashion sense.
The best thing about this photo is the amazing 1970s shopping bag. Oh, and Mickey’s collar. Is that Count Mickey?
I think the looks on the guests’ faces are quite telling. I’m not sure what Mickey is doing. Besides, what’s the purpose of this image in a souvenir guide? That’s a massive camera, by the way.
Top of the World Lounge–a night spent in burnt umber. All you need to know about the Top of the World you can read here.
What a great photo. Especially one in a guide about Walt Disney World. This could be any 1970s photo of camping, but we all know it’s Ft. Wilderness.
I’m pretty sure this amazing photo is from the Polynesian Princess. The carpet and the wall covering just kind of confuse me.
A majority of the photos from the souvenir pictorial show a much older clientele enjoying the Magic Kingdom. For some reason, when the early guides show any beach scenes, there is a plethora of bikini-clad younger women in the shot. What’s even more interesting is trying to figure out where this photo was staged. We’re somewhere on the shores of Bay Lake. Since we can see the Garden Wing of the Contemporary, I’m assuming we’re on the shore of Ft. Wilderness. Although, we could be on the beach at Discovery Island. Maybe…any thoughts?
Our final shot leads us to the Magic Kingdom. Besides the great view of the Magic Kingdom’s skyline, we have a great shot of the Southern Seas. I love that you can see the Tomorrowland towers and the Skybuckets traveling over Fantasyland.
What do you think about the way that Disney promoted the Vacation Kingdom of the World?
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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