Over the past year of writing for the fantastic Mice Chat audience, I’ve made lots of new friends, answered lots of theme park mysteries and shared my love of theme park ephemera. I’ve had a ton of email from readers sharing images and stories relating to posts. I’ve got a few to share and some other images I captured of our elusive Bob-A-Round boats from some early Walt Disney Worlds television specials.
The Bob-A-Round Boats
My very first column for Mice Chat was on the Bob-A-Round boat. At the time, I pretty much had every photo in existence of the boats that bobbed along the various waterways of Walt Disney World from opening to about 1978.
First up is a shot from Jeff Lange (http://jefflangedvd.com/) with a family vacation photo featuring a Bob-A-Round docked at Fort Wilderness.
The Bob-A-Round is on the left hand side of the dock with the red and white striped awning.
I was watching an amazing video from 1975 called Welcome to the World (from the Progress City PublicAccess Channel).
This campy spectacular aired as an episode of “The Wonderful World of Disney” on March 23rd, 1975. Host Lucie Arnaz is joined by Lyle Waggoner and Tommy Tune as they introduce viewers to Walt Disney World’s newest attraction, Space Mountain.
We’re on the beach of the Polynesian as Lucie Arnaz sings about getting to the top. Much like any publicity that Disney did in the 1970s, they made sure the shots were full of people and boats. You can see the Bob-A-Rounds in the upper right corner.
The finale of the musical number has Lucie standing on a boat with Aqua Cats (about $6.00 per hour) circling her.
The Bob-A-Rounds are present but they’re relegated to the background. For the brief moment they’re on screen, you can see how uncontrollable they seem to be.
The final shot is a brief segment where Lucie sings about the wonders of everything at Walt Disney World and the Bob-A-Round is shown for a second or two. It’s a great shot. If you do get the chance to watch the video, make sure to not stare incredulously at all of the things that Disney lawyers would never allow today, like Tommy Tune dancing on top of the Southern Seas and the Main Street Hospitality House. Crazy times, indeed.
The Bob-A-Long Boats
Shortly after writing about the Bob-A-Round Boats, I was contacted by Disney Legend Bob Gurr and he shared some very exclusive photos and the tale of the Bob-A-Long Boats. He was under the assumption that the production model never made it into use. Lo and behold, I was very surprised to see another photo from Jeff Lange (seriously, this guy has the best Walt Disney World vintage photo collection). My Communicore Weekly co-host, Jeff Heimbuch, quickly pointed out that the photo was indeed a Bob-A-Long Boat!
So, the boats were produced and actually used! Below is a photo provided by Bob Gurr.
Dividing Main Street, USA, from 1971 until 2001 was Center Street, which was separated into East and West Center Streets. East Center Street still exists but the charming segment of West Center Street was converted into the Emporium extension. Ian Parkinson (fellow Mice Age/Mice Chat writer) sent in this great photo from 2000.
I posted about the evolution of Character Dining and the first character meals at Walt Disney World. I wrote briefly about the Melvin the Moose Breakfast Show, which was always thought to be the first character meal until I dug a little bit deeper into the early Walt Disney World literature. The first character dining experience was almost 10 years earlier. The following image is from a 1987 travel guide.
Did you get to experience Melvin the Moose?
Do you have any amazing photographs to share?
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