The Magic of Walt Disney World

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

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Published on August 25, 2014 at 2:00 am with 5 Comments

I grabbed a copy of The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World by Valerie Childs to review for my Book of the Week segment on Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™). With over 130 episodes, it means I reviewed more Disney books than most people own (my personal Disney library sits at over 850 titles). So, occasionally, I have to do a deep scan of my bookshelves to find a title that will interest the listeners.


The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World is beloved because of the amount of photos presented. It’s a look at both properties from the mid- to late-1970s with some stunning shots that you can’t always see today. The text supports the photos but is nowhere near as compelling as the massive amount of photos in the book. I’d like to share some of my favorite Walt Disney World photos from the book and delve a bit into their history and unique nature.


It’s a large-format book that measures 9.5″ x 11″ with many full-fold images like the one above of the Admiral Joe Fowler and the dock for the steamboats. It was also the queue for the Mike Fink Keelboats. The Fowler was damaged during repairs and was scrapped in 1980. The keelboats operated from 1971 to 2001.


Just a fantastic shot of Main Street, USA with the afternoon parade. Notice the cameraman on the roof of the GAF Camera Center? I wonder why they were recording this parade. Can you imagine a Main Street with all of those trees, today?


This is a full-fold image of the Empress Lilly at the Village Marketplace. I used my minimal Photoshop skills to repair the center fold, but the real beauty is the sunset captured and the long-lost feel of a Walt Disney World vacation from the first decade.


A beautiful shot of The Tropical Serenade in the dusk of early evening. You can see how the Imagineers really thought about lighting the structure to pull your attention and draw you in from the entrance to Adventureland.


A gorgeous shot of the gold course near the Golf Resort showing the waterways and winding paths. In the distance, you can see the buildings of the Polynesian Village Resort and the Contemporary Resort. The spires of Cinderella Castle beckon us to enjoy the Magic Kingdom. I’m assuming this is the Palm Golf Course.


An extremely rare shot of the interior of a shop at the Magic Kingdom. Olde World Antiques existed from opening until 1996 when it was taken over by the Liberty Square Christmas Shop. Many items in Olde World Antiques were one-of-a-kind and somewhat expensive, helping to doom this unique and unprofitable shop. Still, what an amazing space.


This was part of the Polynesian Village pool space. You can see the top of the main building in the background above the trees.


There are some great details in this photo from Liberty Square. Notice the boy in the light green shirt and the tri-cornered hat? He’s part of the daily “Sons and Daughters of Liberty” ceremony. Usually, a young boy and girl would be chosen before the ceremony and instructed on what was going to happen. They would march with the Liberty Square fife-and-drum corps to the Liberty Belle and a proclamation would be read stating the children were Sons and Daughters of Liberty. Make sure to notice the ground, as well. There are three different types of tile and cement in this one shot.


The Admiral Joe Fowler glides around Tom Sawyer Island with the cars from the Walt Disney World Railroad in the foreground. This photograph was probably taken from the area that is now where Splash Mountain is.


I’m not a golf fan, but who doesn’t love this photo of Mickey holding the flag at the pin?


Just a great shot of the Richard F. Irvine traversing the Rivers of America


Check out the lack of tree and foliage canopy on the Jungle Cruise! We should be okay, since the hippos are only dangerous when they’re wiggling their ears.


Another shot of the Jungle Cruise without the massive jungle canopy we see today. The boat traveling by the African Veldt is the Mongala Millie. I can only imagine how different the experience of the Jungle Cruise would have been back in the 1970s.

What’s your favorite image from the book? What part of the Magic Kingdom would you like to visit from the 1970s?

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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  1. Wonderful read. My favorite image is the DL Space Mountain queue that shows a cast member in his vintage orange costume. This book is one of the most candid collection of images I have ever seen in a company-approved publication. There are not a lot of over-the-top staged shots in it, especially when it comes to the guests in the parks. There’s one particular pic of Mickey and two kids (approx. pg. 43, lower right corner). Look closely at the boy in the red jacket and cowboy hat. See if you can read what’s written on his t-shirt.

  2. This is one of my favorite books and reflects the era when I liked the Disney parks best. To me there was nothing quite like Walt Disney World in its first decade.

    The image of the Admiral Joe Fowler and Walt Disney World Railroad along the Rivers of America was taken from the northern border of where Big Thunder Mountain now stands, not Splash Mountain. The railroad bridge is the clue.

    I’m pretty sure the golf course in the foreground of the “Vacation Kingdom” image is the Palm Course.

    Nice article. Thanks, George.

  3. this is amazing thank you GT

  4. one of my favorite disney picture books. seeing WDW in the 70s is just mind-blowing. so little foliage, so few people.

  5. Love the shot of the Jungle Cruise – why? The African Veldt area looks more realistic without all the canopy of trees!