Eyes and Ears Odds and Ends at Walt Disney World in the 1970s

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

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Published on July 08, 2012 at 10:54 pm with 20 Comments

While doing Walt Disney World research, you run across some interesting items. I spend a lot of time scouring old Eyes and Ears, the Walt Disney World Cast Member newsletter, for minutia like shop and attraction openings. Sometimes, you find something that you had been trying to find for years and other times, you can’t believe your eyes. So, sit back and enjoy this look at some of the more interesting odds and ends.

So, That’s How They Do It!

In 1976, Mike Douglas visited Walt Disney World and taped a week’s worth of television shows. Did you ever wonder how they shot all of that on-ride video footage of Space Mountain and other coasters? I would not like to be the camera operator. These were also the old-style seats where two people sat inline. At least the sound guy in the back only had to share a seat with his recording equipment.

50 Millionth Guest!

At a time when Disney was a little more forthcoming with their attendance figures, 1976 saw the arrival of the 50 millionth guest. But who would it be?

The Design & Development Department has created sweatshirts with “50 Millionth Guest — March ’76″, Mickey Mouse hats with the same emblem and a trophy for the event. The Entertainment Division and Publicity have been coordinating the arrival so everything goes perfectly.

The guest (or guests) will be greeted by the World Band, Disney Characters and our Ambassador, Mary Ann Carter. After this official welcome and a ride down Main Street in the Fire Engine . . . Walt Disney World’s 50 millionth guest (s) will have a guided tour through the Magic Kingdom.

10 Year-Old Boy Learns Lesson!

So, guess what happens when you cut in front of your sister in line?
A 13-year-old girl from Vienna, Virginia entered the Magic Kingdom’s gates Tuesday, and became our fifty-millionth guest to visit Walt Disney World since the front gates were first thrown open in October of 1971.
Surprised and slightly apprehensive, Miss Susan Brummer exclaimed that she was “wondering what I’d done wrong” when she was suddenly approached by a Disney official (Bob Matheison) and then confronted by an array of microphones, television cameras and full-dress World Band, along with numerous reporters from the local media.
Susan was identified by Bob Matheison, Vice President of Operations Division, as the lucky number 50,000,000 at 10:32 am Tuesday morning, and became part of Walt Disney World history when she and her family entered the Magic Kingdom. She was accompanied by her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Bob Brummer, andher 10-year-old brother, Bobby. ” If I hadn’t cut in front of Susan, it would have been me,” Bobby later said.
Upon entering the Park, Susan, an 8th grade student in Vienna, was greeted by our Ambassador, Mary Ann Carter, along with Mickey Mouse, Pluto and Goofy. They presented her with a special V.I.P. shirt identifying her as our 50 millionth guest and an original global trophy which the Design & Development Department provided.
In addition, Bob Matheison prsented Susan with a lifetime pass to the Magic Kingdom. (March 5, 1976)

So, there’s a lessons for all you younger brothers out there: be nice to your sister!

Celebrating Epcot’s 30th Anniversary!


Monorails Due for Two and a Half Million Mile Oil Change and Beam Rotation!

On January 9, the combined accumulative mileage of our 10 Walt Disney World monorails have traveled nearly two and a half million miles, when they registered 2,442,000 miles on their support beams. Another way to look at this is that the monorails together have traveled far enough to make five round-trips to the moon and back . . . a distance of 238,857 between here and there!

Our monorails have changed somewhat over the past four years, so we thought we’d take a minute to look at them. In the past, all 10 trains had five cars in them. But this past fall, we added a sixth car to all of the express trains, bringing their capacity up from 212 to 252 guests. These express trains travel the outer beam and make the 2 and 3/4 miles trip in only 11 minutes. The five trains with six cars include Monorails Black, Purple, Pink, Yellow and Silver.

The monorail with the most accumulative mileage since opening is Monorail Orange with 239,529 (almost to the moon!) and the least accumulative mileage is Monorail Black with 158,948 miles. However, Monorail Silver had the most mileage put on it in one month when it registered 6,393 miles.

The Funny Old Truck at Fort Wilderness! (Disney Dining Plan NOT Included!)

Another example of why 1970s Walt Disney World was such an amazing place and time!

There’s a guest service at Fort Wilderness that very few people know about… part service and part attraction, causing continued comment from our guests.

It’s our FOT fleet; the two trucks that cover the Fort Wilderness campgrounds selling grocery and produce items to our guests at their campsite.

FOT is an abbreviation for Funny Old Truck, the accurate yet mildly amusing description of these vehicles.

FOT #1 began its service shortly after the campgrounds opened. The truck’s body was constructed from several vehicles.

But it’s FOT #2 that causes the constant comment. The truck is an authentic antique and qualified for a permanent license plate saying so. It joined the fleet during the summer of 1974 and has since become our guests’ favorite vehicle.

FOT #2 is a 1928 Double A, 1 1/2 ton truck with a few modifications…a new engine and transmission (automatic) plus wooden bins and racks to hold its merchandise. There’s even a special compartment to hold perishables like milk on ice.

The top and rear racks are filled with a large assortment of fresh produce; citrus, lettuce and tomatoes. The fruit is arranged to look like an open-air market…crates of corn rest next to flats of fresh strawberries and delicious apples add a special touch.

There are kerosene lanterns (now connected to the truck’s electrical system) hanging from the roof that provide light on the FOT’s night runs.

Fresh doughnuts and sweet rolls are displayed on fold-down sides, where they easily catch the eye. Potato chips swing from lines strung under the roof.

The trucks make two rounds each day…one in the morning and again in the evening. During the course of the two to three hour runs, every campsite will be visited at least once.

The clanging of a cowbell or the grumble of the “ah-ooo-gah” hom informs guests of the truck’s approach. Many just smile and mutter “I don’t believe it” as they browse the merchandise. While the odometer on FOT #1 has been frozen at 49,999 miles, these trucks do run daily, cancelling only for rain. An average run will cover between eight and ten miles, circling among the over 700 campsites.

Born to be Mouse-y!

I wonder how many miles to the gallon he gets with ears like that.

Next time you’re at a stoplight and a motocycle rolls up next to you sporting a set of ”Mouse ears” on top, don’t look twice…it’s only Marty Soloman, Operations Division host at Fantasyland’s Skyway, Marty took one of our standard Mickey Mouse hats, removed the ears bolted them on his helmet. And he says he has received some strange looks from people, along with plenty of pointed fingers and laughs.

Cinderella Flash Mob!

Did you know that Cinderella cut the ribbon for the Grand Opening of the Disney Village? It seemed to attract a much different type of crowd than the recent Grand opening of CarsLand. I don’t see any bloggers or podcasters in that crowd.

Scrooge McDuck Does Not Like the Fancy New Teller Machines!

When SunBank debuted the new Teller Machines in 1976, customers had access to over 50 machines throughout Florida. Of course, you have to know your secret number! This machine was located on the side of the (current) Sun Trust building near the Disney Village.

Scrooge doesn’t look like he is going to loosen his grasp on those money bags anytime soon!

Have you run across anything strange in your Walt Disney World travels?

Looking for more hidden details and history of Walt Disney World?

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! (I just celebrated five years!)

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I am one half of the incredibly talented, handsome, charming, sanguine, lucent, refulgent, beguiling, hilarious, perturbable, welcoming, sentient, loquacious, side-splitting, mesmerizing, scintillating and intelligent duo behind Communicore Weekly. 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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Comments for Eyes and Ears Odds and Ends at Walt Disney World in the 1970s are now closed.

  1. Thanks George

    • Thanks for reading!

  2. That camera dude does NOT look comfortable in that first photo.

    • And neither does Mike Douglas!

  3. I wonder whatever happened to Susan Brummer, and f she still uses her lifetime pass?

    And how cool are the FOT’s?!?

    • I saw Bob Matheison at the Destination D $0 Years at WDW (May 2011) and he said that picking the first family on 10/1/71 was a nightmare. Bob said the guy kept coming back for years and kept asking for free stuff (even free quarters for the arcade).

      I am assuming that Susan’s pass is probably still good, but I wonder if they turned it into a lifetime pass for all of the parks when EPCOT Center opened.

  4. Sure miss the FOT trucks at Fort Wilderness – it was a little piece of magic (along with the Fort Wilderness Railroad) that made the campground unlike any othere. Does anyone know what happened to these trucks?

    • There is not a lot of published info about them. I will be on the lookout and try to update you and the other Mice Chat readers. Thanks!

      • thanks! look forward to it!

  5. WOW! There were ATMs in 1976? I thought the first ones were Versatellers from B of A in the mid 80s.

    • I’m not sure if this was part of WDW’s plan for the future of EPCOT. I read an article that Card Walker was quoted as saying that the idea of EPCOT was central to everything they were doing at the Florida property. Not just building EPCOT Center but adding advanced technologies to everything they do (like the first fiber optic phone system and the first 911 system). I can only assume that the ATM was in that plan. ;)

    • Actually the first ATM appearedin 1969 at Chemical Bank in NYC.

      • Thanks! Glad to know about Chemical Bank. :)

  6. Oh my goodness, I had totally forgotten about the FOT (Funny Old Trucks) at Fort Wilderness.

    Loved this look back at quirky old Disney World.

    • Thanks!

      I need to get access to the Disney Archives so I can do some serious research!!! (That’s right *3* exclamation points.)

  7. That almost looks like WED President Carl Bongiorno back then at the teller machine. Yes what did happen to the FOT trucks? With the steam trains gone to California and River Country closed what is there left to do from these happier times. Would love to see them put it all back in 1970′s running order- which is possible with modifications and some $$$$.

    • I will check and see who the people in the photo were. Also, I would love to see a return to some of the Vacation Kingdom of the World ideals.

  8. This is wonderful. Thanks George. I’m really looking forward to future posts like this. How I envy you going through the archives.

    • Thanks, but it is actually my own personal archive of Disney information and books. I *want* to be able to get into the Archives for some serious research one day. :)

  9. Did that Mike Douglas footage play on the screen that just displays generic mid-80s/90s footage today?