1970s Walt Disney World Finds

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

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Published on November 11, 2013 at 2:00 am with 6 Comments

Digging back into the research files to share some interesting finds from 1970s Walt Disney World. A majority of these images came from various cast publications and guides. Sometimes you never know what you’ll find when you search through the archives.


Cast from the Liberty Tree Tavern celebrated the first Thanksgiving with a famous guest of honor. It’s a great shot of the cast outfits for the restaurant as well as a look at the knee-high wall surrounding the Rivers Of America. The inclusion of the sign is a great touch and you can spot the differences in the current sign, including the lack of a sponsorship.

columbia-harbour-wdw-vacationland-1973A fantastic photo of the Columbia Harbour House from a 1973 Vacationland. Again, you can see the cast member costume but you also get a great shot of the interior decor. I’m wondering if the cast member is bringing refills to people. Also, anyone have an idea where this photo was taken?


 Meet Joe Shepard, Pepsi Cola Programs Coordinator for Walt Disney World. A former business major at Mississippi State University, Joe comes to the Vacation Kingdom following a promotion from Florida and Georgia District Manager for Pepsi. Joe and his staff are getting ready for the national Pepsi Convention at the Contemporary Resort in October [1972].

So many amazing things in this photo. Obviously, the sign is great. We can see that Pepsi and Frito-Lay were the original sponsors pf Pecos Bill Cafe. (Pecos Bill Cafe was open from 1971-1998. In 1998, the Mile Long Bar and the Pecos Bill Cafe were merged into the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe.) There’s also a nice tease of the Frontierland Railroad Station (1972-1990). The amazing Widen Your World has a great article on the station.


 More Center Street

flower-st-wdw-vacationland-1973Like the Bob-A-Rounds, I’m obsessed with the loss of West Center Street at the Magic Kingdom. It forever changed the fabric of Main Street (like the loss of the seating area behind Space Mountain and the reduction in size of the courtyard to the right of the Pirates queue). I posted about Center Street and I always enjoy photos from this area. I was surprised to see an image in the 1973 Vacationland from inside West Center Street. You can barely make out the sign for the Greenhouse on the right of the photo.


 On October 25, 1971 shortly after sunset, 142 musicians representing 58 nations gathered in the forecourt of Cinderella Castle to climax the day’s events. Arthur Fielder conducted the World Symphony Orchestra before 2,500 invited guests who were welcomed by Mrs. Lillian Disney Truyens and Roy O. Disney.

Just a great shot of Roy hanging out with three of the Studio’s most famous characters.



Backstage at tour Magic Kingdom stroller shop Mark Meyers assembles one of 1,260 baby buggies available to daily guests. Over 50 wheelchairs also make up the fleet that spends its time not in storage, but in the Magic Kingdom’s themed lands. Mark tells EYES & EARS that on a busy day well over 1,000 strollers are rented to our guests. Employees on presentation of an ID card can use them for free!

They still rented 1,000 strollers a day back in 1971-1972. They don’t look too comfortable and could potentially do a lot of damage to the back of an unsuspecting adult’s ankles.

Magic Shop


A magician for almost 8 years, Bob Apodaca hails from New Mexico and Los Angeles, where he became a card trick expert before coming to Walt Disney World. Bob’s assistant during daily magic shows in the Main Street Magic Shop is Angie Spanko.

I can’t imagine what a magic show looked like in the early days of Walt Disney World.



The latest STOLport Stowaway winner, Contemporary Resort waiter Jack Croach practices a little flying beforehand with Dumbo.
Jack heads south via Shawnee Airlines for a three day/two night holiday as the second of three lucky employees to win the expense paid trip.

The STOLport is one of those crazy 1970s Walt Disney World projects. What’s particularly funny is the image of Mickey blindfolded.

Walt Disney World Theatre Workshop

The Walt Disney World Theatre Workshop took to the stage with an original production, “Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust,” playing to a packed house for five straight nights at the Diamond Horseshoe.
Depicting a brief history of Walt Disney World in script and song, EYES & EARS takes a brief look “backstage” at some of the highlights.


The audience watched the staff of the University, (l-r) Bill Hoelscher (Scott King), Mickey Mouse and Professor Ludwig Von Break (Harry Winkler), hard at work during orientation.

BillHoelscher is featured on a window on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. He worked as an ex-Disneyland Jungle Cruise foreman and was a recruiter for the Disney attractions at the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair. Eventually he would be in charge of Walt Disney World Cast Activities.

Anyone have info on Harry Winkler?


Charmin Prints (Steve Riddle, extreme left) paired up with the play’s heroine Snowella Beauty (Susan Marshall, extreme right). Tillie the Tour Guide (Susan Hatfiled) ignores the mystical powers of “Un-Disney” (Mike Cowing).

I found information on Susan Hatfiled in the Orlando Sentinel:

Actress Susan Hatfield, best known for playing G. Gordon Liddy’s wife on Miami Vice, joined Walt Disney World more than 20 years ago as a tour guide but soon became a local celebrity.

She starred in nearly every show the park produced and played a host of memorable Disney characters. Hatfield led the Halloween parade for years as Maleficent, was Cinderella at the opening of Tokyo Disneyland and even spent a claustrophobic, never-again half-hour in a “head” costume as Friar Tuck.

Her favorite role was the one she usually played on promotional tours – Mary Poppins.

Appearing as the prim and proper English nanny, Hatfield caught the eye and started dating baseball superstar Johnny Bench.

I couldn’t find anything substantial about Steve, Susan M. or Mike. Any leads?

 Country “Bare” Band


Meet the Country “Bare” Band which includes Dave Brewer, Ken Horn, Mike Macek, Tom McCormick and Tom Porter.

I can only imagine what this skit entailed. A cursory Google search revealed nothing of interest about any of the “Bare” Band members. It seems like it was a raucous time, though.

Do you have any great stories from the 1970s? Do you know any of the people featured in these clippings?

ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

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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  • psa928

    The caption for Roy’s picture mentions Lillian Disney Truyens. Wasn’t her maiden name Bounds?

    • George Taylor

      I was wondering if someone was going to catch that! She married John L. Truyens in 1969. He passed away in 1981.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • WorldLover71

        I can’t beleive I never heard she had remarried before this. I guess you do learn something everyday!

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    LOL. Country “Bare” Band. Can you imagine them trying this today?

    • Kurtoon

      Have you seen the Disney Channel lately?
      Errrr… I mean the Disney Channel stars.

  • Freddie Freelance

    Susan Hatfield at IMDb. Not much there, but covers nearly 30 years of career.