As I’ve often bemoaned, documenting early Walt Disney World history can be difficult. Unlike today’s digital cameras, taking photographs during the first 30 years of Walt Disney World was either an expensive process or one that’s very ephemeral. In the 1970s, many people owned Polaroid instant cameras and while it made taking photographs easier and more convenient, the nature of the film stock often left photos that weren’t clear and weren’t set up for archival purposes. Even with simpler point and shoot cameras (with 110 film or disc based), the film was still expensive enough that people were careful with the subjects they shot. Most Disney vacation photos feature oft-photographed landmarks with family members squinting towards the sun.
I ran across a great video from 1991 (It’s embedded at the end of the article) that features a tour of the Disney Village Marketplace. I love scanning older videos for long-gone attractions and changes in the theme park geography. Right from the get-go, I was blown away by the video. The person operating the camcorder had the foresight to actually videotape the signage from the stores at the Disney Village Marketplace.
The Empress Lilly was the end of the Disney Village until the opening of Pleasure Island. In 1991, the paddle wheel still rotated and the Empress Lilly was still a premier dining establishment.
I pulled this shot from the video because you can see the flote dock. It’s where silent flote boats would dock from the Lake Buena Vista Club. It was a private dock used only by the flote boats from the club. Other boats would dock at Cruise Dock West and guests would have to walk from Chef Mickeys (former Village Restaurant and now the Rainforest Cafe) to the Empress Lily.
All descriptions in italics are from the 1991 Steve Birnbaum Brings You the Best of Walt Disney World.
Minnie Mia’s Italian Eatery (also called Minnie Mia’s Pizzeria): Deep dish pizza by the slice, or the entire pie, is available at this window-service establishment. Beer and soft drinks are also offered. Serves lunch, dinner and snacks.
Team Mickey’s Athletic Club: The locker room decor is the perfect setting for sports clothing, activewear, and sports equipment for the whole family. This is the place to find T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other items with Disney University logos, as well as Mickey and Goofy emblazoned on shirts from the nation’s top colleges and universities.
Chef Mickey’s Village Restaurant: This unassuming dining room is one of the most pleasant restaurants in Walt Disney World–and there’s no waiting since reservations are accepted. There are fine views of Buena Vista Lagoon, and the sunshine that streams through the windows keeps a whole garden’s worth of house plants robust and green all year. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, and offers fresh Florida seafood and a variety of pasta dishes. Mickey Mouse strolls through the dining room every evening. Adjoining the restaurant is the living room-like Village Lounge. Fitted out with comfortable club chairs, it’s a great spot for after-diner drinks.
Mickey’s Character Shop: This is the largest Disney merchandise shop in the world. As you enter, be sure to take a look up at Mickey, Minnie, and Donald flying high in a 20-foot-tall hot-air balloon. Dumbo, Jiminy Cricket, Minnie and Mickey, Chip and Dale, Tigger and Eeyore, and Tramp and his Lady are all here too—stuffed, in porcelain, and emblazoned on everything from T-shirts and back scratchers to pencils and carry-all bags. New this year is merchandise bearing the likeness of a variety of Muppet characters including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, and Gonzo. There is an enormous assortment of clothing items , plus toys, games, hats, and visors. Be sure to check out the larger-than-life stuffed Mickey.
A screen capture of the hot-air balloon!
The T-shirt decorator might have been new. It was a computer-controlled arm that airbrushed a design onto your shirt.
Finally, we have a shot of the Village Whatchamacallit. It was a slide/playground area near the current World of Disney Store (for a while Disney replaced the Whatchamacallit with a giant kaleidoscope).
Make sure to check out the video and leave a comment letting the owner know you appreciate it!
Did you get to visit the Disney Village Marketplace? Any favorite shops or restaurants? If you have any photos or video to share, send me an email (address is in the footer).
Communicore Weekly: The Musical!
Communicore Weekly, the greatest online show, is proud to announce the release of Communicore Weekly: The Musical! For the first time ever, hear the true origin story of how Jeff and George were brought together to face the biggest threat that the Disney theme parks, and the universe, has ever faced: Michael Eisner!
Through the use of patent-pending time travel technology, Communicore Weekly was able to obtain an episode of the radio broadcast “Theater On The Move” from the year 2215. In this episode, they are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Communicore Weekly: The Musical, and have brought the actors playing the pivotal roles of Jeff and George onto the show to discuss the lavish anniversary production and to share the music of the show.
Featuring all-new, all original songs from Amplify This Music (better known as the Communicore Weekly Orchestra), Communicore Weekly: The Musical will have you in stitches when you’re not tapping your feet along to the catchy tunes.
Download it today: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/communicore-weekly-musical/id790706469
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!
- Watch Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™) on the MiceTube channel.
- You can follow me on Twitter @imaginerding or like Imaginerding on Facebook.