Walt Disney World Mysteries Solved

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

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Published on March 11, 2013 at 4:01 am with 19 Comments

With all of this discussion about the new Fantasy Faire opening at Disneyland, I thought we should take a look at the Fantasy Faire area at the Magic Kingdom. Yep, the area where Ariel’s Grotto used to be was a stage area that existed from 1971 until 1996.

The Fantasy Faire Stage is in the red circled area in this 1990 map of the Magic Kingdom (from the Steve Birnbaum Brings You The Best of Walt Disney World 1990). The stage area had seating for 450 people and was also used as overflow seating for Pinocchio’s Village Haus.

This image is from A Pictorial Souvenir of Walt Disney World (1977) and show the stage and outer edges in full use.

Dave Smith’s Disney A to Z: the Official Encyclopedia (Third Ed.) offers the following entry:

Fantasy Faire Covered area, also known as Fantasyland Pavilion after January 1995, originally used for outdoor stage shows in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, and later for addtional seating for the Pinocchio Village Haus. It closed in 1996.

So, why all of this interest in a stage show area that’s been gone for almost 20 years? Well, I shared an image of the stage in a previous column and it prompted a response from reader Timon:

Fantasy Faire Stage – I’m surprised no one mentioned that the stage was on a lift from the tunnel like the one in Cosmic Rays. You can tell when the stage is up in the photos when you see double pink column left and right of the front of stage. The lift unloaded next to the Wardrobe/Locker room hallway in the tunnel.

Also, a lot of early 70′s kid shows featured the 3 Pigs and backstage we called that working the “Pig Shows”.

I was a stage tech and ran the stage on occasion. The outdoor queue/ playground was where the stage was located not the actual meet Ariel cave. When Ariel was added the old stage and lift was removed. the lower space was annexed into wardrobe. I’ve got pictures (somewhere) if you want them.

Needless to say, I asked for the photos and Timon responded with these fantastic shots from 1977.

In this shot, you can see how the stage has the separate interior columns and the ceiling is obviously not connected at the edges.

The following two images show the stage retracting. I wonder at what point the group stopped playing?

And there you have it! Actual proof that the stage at the Fantasyland Faire retracted like the stage in Tomorrowland at Disneyland and at the Tomorrowland Terrace (now Cosmic Ray’s starlight Cafe) at the Magic Kingdom.

More Theme Park Mysteries!

I’ve noticed this photo a few times in various magazines and guides from the 1970s. My question is where was the photo was taken? I posted the image to the ImagiNERDing Facebook page and a lively discussion ensued with people throwing in lots of great ideas.

My thought is that it is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review area that’s been rented out for a convention or after-seminar dinner.

The image was taken before 1977, so the Village Conference Center wasn’t open. The stage looks fairly permanent (and the ceiling is very high), so it probably isn’t the conference areas at the Contemporary or Polynesian Village. It’s also not the Top of the World Lounge at the Contemporary.

So, any ideas where the photo was taken?

Mystery Globe

Another reader sent this image to me asking if I had any information about it. Right away, it looked like a map from the mid-1970s that I had seen before.

The following map is from the 1977 World Magazine, which was a publication that you’d find in hotels and visitor centers throughout Central Florida. Although the map doesn’t match exactly, it’s done in the same style.

Any thoughts?

Special ImagiNERDing Bonus Features!

This is some of the merchandise that’s listed in the back of the 1977 World Magazine. What I wouldn’t give for the attraction records/booklets. Oh, and the plates, the mug and the shirts. Yeah, that’s an unwound film canister at the bottom.

Sometimes it’s those amazing little details that can go unnoticed for more than 40 years, like the USS fence sign. I’ve written about US Steel and their involvement with constructing the Contemporary and Polynesian Village resort rooms. A reader sent the following two images and information about the sign and area.

Today there is virtually no indication of the US Steel presence (signage) on property. I found this sign adjacent to Warehouse 6, the former room factory, in the Admin Area of the property. Years ago,while inside the warehouse, I noticed there were steel tracks embedded in the concrete floor where the room modules would move along in various construction phases.

A special thanks to the anonymous reader!

Also, this column marks one year of writing at MiceChat. It’s been an incredible opportunity to write for such a large, passionate and engaging audience. Not only have I been able to share my obsessions with Disney, but I’ve met some amazing friends and had quite a few theme park mysteries solved from this column.

A huge thank you to my wife for feeding my Disney obsession with books, ephemera and frequent research trips to Walt Disney World. (And for attempting to organize my massive collection of stuff.)

Thanks to Dusty Sage and Fishbulb for welcoming me into their amazing family and offering me the opportunity to work with some fantastic writers and Disney Legends. MiceChat is an incredibly supportive community, even if the MiceChat corporate jet is always booked. ;-)

Of course, I wouldn’t be here without Jeff Heimbuch, my brother from a different mother (and father). When we first started talking about doing a Disney video show, I never imagined it would lead us to producing one of the most successful Disney podcasts in such a short time. Thanks, bro! It is the Greatest Online Show™.

And thank you to the tens of thousands of folks who read this column every week. You are the real heart and soul of the column and of the site. I sincerely appreciate you, your thoughtful comments and support.

ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

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

Be sure to visit Imaginerding.com for Disney book reviews and more!

You can follow me on Twitter @imaginerding or like Imaginerding on Facebook.

I am one half of the incredibly talented, handsome, charming, sanguine, lucent, refulgent, beguiling, hilarious, perturbable, welcoming, sentient, loquacious, side-splitting, mesmerizing, scintillating, lustrous, invigorating, incandescent, inescapable, rollicking, perceiving, wayfaring, devastating, steadfast, cinematic, whelming, imposing, irrefutable, breathtaking, carefree, witty, sparkling, joyful, indulgent, coquettish, snarky, historically accurate, festive, award-winning, enigmatic, thematic, jovial, sneak-peaking, pedantic, beloved, studious, fantastical, simulating, demonstrative and intelligent duo behind Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™). You can find them on the Mice Chat Youtube Channel.

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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  • Trumpet

    Great Article Werner

    Love all of the Disney mystery solving. Still, Disney theme parks are covered in mystery, so there are still more out there..

    Thanks Again George


  • Timchat2

    The USS fence sign is exactly the kind of little history details I love to hear about. It’s rather wonderful that it still exists. Great stuff!

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Don’t hate me, George… I have that Country Bear Jamboree attraction soundtrack record. I’ve had it since the late 70s or early 80s. I played that thing to death (and how I learned the recite the show by heart). The record isn’t in the greatest condition anymore (neither is the jacket/booklet), but I’m proud to say I still own it!

    I wish I had the America Sings one though. I LOVED that show when I first saw it in 1985. Was so sad when I returned to Disneyland in 1989 and discovered it was no longer there. :(

  • Jeff Heimbuch

    A column about a super nerdy detail? Seems awfully fitting for your one year anniversary column!

    Congrats on the birthday, buddy, and here’s to many, many, more…of both the column AND the Greatest Online Show™.

  • http://thedisneyproject.com Keith Gluck

    Great Column! And happy year-aversary, George!

    “That’s one year, yo.”

  • Johnny

    I think you’re right about the stage photo. Pioneer Hall was a very popular place to catch a patriotic show like that.

  • lnsemsf

    A friend of mine worked at a used music store here in Tampa several years ago and somebody came in wanting to sell old records. 2 of the ones he had was the Country Bear Jamboree and Haunted Mansion albums. He bought them for around $1 each and gave them to me as a gift. They still sit right above me when I am at my computer every day, along with my MSEP picture disk. I’ve never dared to play any of them since I have them in digital format,but the books inside are pretty cool.

  • http://datelinedisneyland.com Andy Castro

    Great article and congrats on your one year anniversary here at MiceChat! :)

  • davidrusk

    Great article! I love Disney details. Happy Birthday from one of your many fans!

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Happy anniversary George. Your nerdiness fits right in here!

    Thank you for another wonderful article filled with Disney mysteries!!!

  • mratigan

    Great article. Has it really been one year………seems like yesterday. Any way, congratulations!!!!!!!

  • mdpfan89

    I think the Banquet photo is from the Contemporary 2nd Floor Ballroom of the Americas
    There’s a stage in the main ballroom.

    Check out this photo
    (Image Source: passport2dreams.blogspot.com)

    • danyoung

      Thank you for that picture. I actually performed in that room with a show group that I used to travel with. I remember there was a very cool LED light curtain that had several computer presets for different looks. Made a nice addition to the show!

  • Timekeeper

    I actually found that vintage Donald Duck plush from the catalog at a craft fair, quite a surprise really for me that it’s from 1970′s WDW.



    Does anyone know who those neon cats are behind Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum?

    • George Taylor

      Those are from the Aristocats!

  • cyre

    My mom has the bigger version of that donald.