Documenting Walt Disney World history is most often done through official Disney publications and releases. You will run into different pieces of information that will lead you in specific directions or will offer insight into how things used to be done. Reader Ed L. sent me brochures, maps and guidebooks from his family’s 1990 Walt Disney World trip. As I’ve been scanning, I’ve run across some great information. Let’s take a look at the Walt Disney World 1989 Resort Vacation Handbook.
As part of the Magic Kingdom Club (created in 1957), MKC members received discounts and special privileges at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. As MKC members, Ed’s family received the Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Handbook to explain what a Walt Disney World vacation is and what services and discounts were available. I’m always amazed at how Disney described Walt Disney World through their marketing and public relations pieces. Let’s take a look at the handbook from 1989.
Accommodations and Rates
There’s only one thing better than visiting the WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort. Staying here! Seven spectacular resorts, all independently managed by the Walt Disney World Co., offer you a range of accommodations and rates. You’ll find information on everything from magnificent suites to lush campsites in this section of your handbook, along with such necessary information as check-in and check-out times, number of people allowed in each room, and so on.
You’ll also find information about accommodations at the WALT DISNEY WORLD Swan (opening Fall, 1989), WALT DISNEY WORLD Dolphin (opening Summer, 1990) and the seven Official Hotels of Walt Disney World, located at Disney Village Hotel Plaza. These independently managed, quality hotels can accommodate you when rooms of your choice are not available at Disney-owned resorts.
Valid Magic Kingdom Club card must be presented at time of registration to receive special club member rates.
This is a great section of the handbook because they list the seasons for the resort (Regular and Value). The dates are listed and follow patterns we still see today. It’s interesting that there isn’t a need, yet, for a Holiday rate. Listed are special MKC rates: Super Club Savings (35% savings) and Club Saver Sates (20% savings). Another change is how views are presented. Back in the day, the term Parking Lot View was listed; today, it’s referred to as Standard View.
There are nearly 150 places in the Walt Disney World Resort where food can be purchased. They range from counter service to buffeterias to full-table service. Beer, wine, and spirits are available at all table-service restaurants except those in the Magic Kingdom. Because of the large number of restaurants available to you, we have restricted the listings in this handbook to Epcot Center World Showcase restaurants, dinner shows, and character breakfasts and dinners.
That’s an interesting statement: [...] we have restricted the listings in this handbook to Epcot Center World Showcase restaurants, dinner shows, and character breakfasts and dinners. So, they’re still pushing the restaurants at Epcot as a major reason to visit. There are a few interesting tidbits listed about dining the handbook. No food may be brought into the parks. Limited picnic facilities were mentioned near the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Epcot Center Entrance Plaza. Obviously, the Disney-MGM Studios wasn’t planned with picnic facilities. Same day dining reservations are required for full-service restaurants at the parks. For Epcot Center dining, the handbook mentions using the WorldKey terminals (check out my article on the kiosks). Otherwise, you have to hoof it to the restaurant to make a reservation. Guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort are able to make a next day reservation by calling a special number between 12 noon and 9 p.m. one day in advance but not two.
Character meals were available. Guests were directed to 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary Cafe at the Contemporary Resort. There were six locations listed for Breakfast with Disney Characters with prices ranging from $5.95 to $18.95. Most of the prices for adults were around $9.95 for a breakfast meal. My, how times change. (Check out my article on the evolution of character dining.)
As you will discover, the Walt Disney World Resort is a complete vacation destination, Every recreational opportunity you’ve ever dreamed about is right here within our 43 square miles. Sail, fish, ski, bike, jog, swim, ride a trail on horseback, play tennis, or gold on our three championship courses. Every opportunity is described in this section so you can plan your vacation accordingly.
So, judging from the image, there were a few things you could do at Walt Disney World instead of enjoying the theme parks. Oddly, golf isn’t shown in the image. Golf was a major marketing tool in the 1970s (especially since most Walt Disney World executives were avid golfers). A few highlights:
- Biking at the Village Resort, Caribbean Beach and Fort Wilderness.
- Boating at all Walt Disney World Resort marinas.
- Electric Carts at Fort Wilderness and Village Resort (yeah, electric carts for convenient transportation).
- Fishing. Two-hour excursions could be booked and complimentary fishing was available on the waterways of Fort Wilderness.
- Golf. Three championship courses and one 12-hole executive course.
- Horseback Riding at Fort Wilderness. The minimum age was 9 and a guided walking tour was available.
- Jogging. Wait, jogging? Apparently, Disney had a two-mile trail at Fort Wilderness and a 1.8 mile fitness trail at the Village Resort. (Check out the couple in the image with sweat bands and jogging outfits!)
- Petting Farms. Animals and pony rides, presented by Gaines Foods, are a hit at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
- Roller Skating. Again…what? Unique skating rink at XZFR’s Rockin’ Rollerdome.
- Zoological Park. Enjoy 90 animal species, many exotic, and 250 species of plants at Discovery Island.
Disney Learning Program
Fun and relaxation are only part of what’s offered at the Walt Disney World Resort. The vast physical and human resources, both “on stage” and behind the scenes, provide a tremendous living laboratory for learning. For your added enjoyment, the Walt Disney World Resort has developed learning programs to unlock these resources for guests of all ages.
There were two programs listed for adults (16 and over): Gardens of the World (at World Showcase) and Hidden Treasures of World Showcase. The programs were only $15.00 per person and limited to groups of 20.
The Wonders of Walt Disney World are a series of nationally recognized education programs. Educational authorities have given approval to the educational concepts to the 6-1/2 hour field trips designed for guests aged 10-15.
- Exploring Nature: A True-Life Adventure. A tour of Discovery Island and Disney’s 7,500-acre wilderness preserve.
- Disney Creative Arts. Students learn the basic shapes in character art and animation.
- The Walt Disney World of Entertaining. Students learn from performers and meet the people behind the scenes.
It is our goal to anticipate your every possible need while you are a guest at the Walt Disney World Resort. This section of your handbook tells you where to find everything from babysitters to car care.
The largest section concerns baby care with information about in-room and in-center baby sitting. The Mouseketeer and Neverland Clubs are mentioned but not the prices.
Shopping at Walt Disney World Resort can be everything from breathtaking to hilarious, and opportunities to be a part of the fun are abundant. In addition to over 50 shops at the Magic Kingdom Park, there are about 20 at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, and nearly 60 at Epcot Center.
At the Disney Village Marketplace, and Pleasure Island, Magic Kingdom Club members receive 10% discount on merchandise (minimum $10.00 purchase excluding food items, periodicals, tobacco and alcohol products, and Lladro porcelain). There are 19 shops in the Disney Village Marketplace where you can find gifts from European designers to Florida souvenirs and the World’s largest selection of Disney merchandise. A footbridge away is Pleasure Island and another 11 shops offering private-label fashions, accessories, T-shirts, posters and prints—the works.
Each of the individual resorts has its own special flavor of shopping opportunities. If you were born to shop, you’ll love the shopping bonus at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Compared to the amount of shopping experiences available today, it’s surprising that there is only one page dedicated to shopping and over half of it is the image. But how great is it to see the sign of Sir Edward’s Haberdasher?
You can use public or private transportation to travel to the Walt Disney World Resort, which is located southwest of Orlando, off Interstate 4, west of the Florida Turnpike. Motorists traveling I-95 or U.S. Highway 1 should take I-4 West to the Walt Disney World exits. Motorists traveling south on I-75 should take the Florida Turnpike to the Kissimmee-St. Cloud interchange which connects with U.S. Highway 192 and the Walt Disney World Resort.
Once you reach the Walt Disney World Resort, your Resort I.D. or All Three Parks Passport entitles you to travel on the Walt Disney World transportation system, which includes monorail, ferryboats, motor launches and buses.
This is the only page dedicated to transportation. Yes, that is the Ports O’ Call at the top right.
Walt Disney World Property
They had me at map. It’s a fairly simple representation of the property, but it does give s good overview of the resorts, theme parks and other amenities.
Your visit to the Walt Disney World Resort involves opportunities to visit: Three major theme parks–Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, Epcot Center, and Magic Kingdom Park; Two water adventure parks–River Country and Typhoon Lagoon; A certified zoological park–Discovery Island; A nighttime entertainment, dining and shopping complex–Pleasure Island.
Each day’s admission to these parks and attractions requires a ticket or passport. The prices are listed in the Magic Kingdom Club price guide. Children under three are admitted FREE! You may purchase your tickets or passports with your American Express Card, the official card of the Walt Disney World Resort, MasterCard or VISA.
In planning your trip, keep in mind that it takes at least four days to see the three theme parks. The 4-day All Three Parks Passport is your best ticket value.
Valid Magic Kingdom Club members MUST present their card at time of purchase to receive their discount.
Sadly, ticket prices aren’t mentioned in the handbook. They refer you to the MKC guidebook for special pricing.
Overall, I was impressed by the amount of information about the Walt Disney World Resort that is offered. The 28-page handbook was one of the few resources (outside of the Official and unofficial Guidebooks) for people to get information about the resort.
Did you have a favorite image from the guidebook? Anything that surprised you?
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ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor
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