Sunday, October 2, 2011

Walt Disney World 1977: A Nostalgic Look Back

1977 Walt Disney World guide
“I love the nostalgic myself. I hope we never lose some of the things of the past.” – Walt Disney

With Walt Disney World celebrating its 40th birthday yesterday, I decided to rummage through some old Disney photos. I came across these pics from June 1977 when I took my first trip to Walt Disney World with my family. I had just turned 15 and received a Kodak Instamatic camera for my birthday (forget Instagram all you iPhone users, I had the real thing). For serious photographers, it was a toy camera, but to me it was the most awesome gadget ever. The camera took 126 film cartridges and required an 8-bulb Flip Flash if you were shooting at night or indoors (if you don't know what I'm talking about, Google is your friend). It even had alphabet stickers so I could put my initials on the back. How cool was that?

I'm sure I still have that old Instamatic stored away in a box somewhere. I loved that thing and used it for many years. As you'll see below, it took some fairly decent pictures.

I made the trip to Walt Disney World with my mom and my sister. My dad had died suddenly in 1976 and this would be the last family vacation the three of us would take before my sister went away to college. By the end of the summer, my mom and I would move to Orlando, where I graduated from high school in 1980.

During those three years in Florida, mom and I made a lot of trips to Walt Disney World. This first one will always be my favorite.

Once upon a time, there was only one theme park inside Walt Disney World.
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom.

One of the few shots of Cinderella Castle I took during the trip. Film
cost money (remember film? HA!) and exposures were limited.
We're spoiled by digital cameras these days--and, boy, do I appreciate it.

A rare picture of my mom (and me) on Cinderella's Golden Carrousel.
To say she hated to have her picture taken was a huge understatement.
Try loathed, despised. I did not inherit that trait from her.

Gone, but not forgotten:  the Nautilus cruises 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Fantasyland's great E-ticket ride.

My buddy Tigger and I in front of the entrance to Adventureland.

Once upon a time, the entrance to Tomorrowland was an inviting blue and
white with cascading water.

"Presented by America's Investor-Owned Electric Companies": the WEDway
PeopleMover...with the StarJets circling above.

"Row five, green light to go!" Long before it was the Tomorrowland Speedway, it
was the Grand Prix Raceway.

A view of the Grand Prix Raceway from the Walt Disney World Railroad
with the Skyway in the background (sigh).

From the Monorail, a slightly blurry Space Mountain.

The Contemporary Resort Hotel, still my favorite hotel at Walt Disney World.
The Monorail goes right through the middle of it, hello!

The Polynesian Village Resort Hotel. On the left, you can see the Oahu
Longhouse under construction. It was later renamed "Tokelau."

My sister and I about to take a cruise on the Seven Seas Lagoon in a mini speedboat.

Pioneer Hall, perpetual home to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.

Forget Typhoon Lagoon. Forget Blizzard Beach. The best water park ever at
Walt Disney World was River Country on the shores of Bay Lake.

Slippery Slide Falls at River Country. That's me on the left about to take the plunge.

Before branding and commercialism took over, the Downtown Disney
Marketplace was simply known as the Village at Lake Buena Vista,
full of quaint shops and restaurants. Fulton's Crab House used to be
the uber-classy Empress Lilly (named for Walt Disney's wife Lillian),
home of three restaurants: the Steerman's Quarters, the Fisherman's Deck
and the Empress Room. The Baton Rouge Lounge served up some
mighty fine cocktails too.

Happy 40th Birthday Walt Disney World!


  1. Thanks so much for the look back to 70's Walt Disney World. Even for all the growth it's had into a mega-vacation resort over the past 40 years, this is still the one of my memory. It looks beautiful, sparkling, and most importantly, relaxing!

  2. Nice photos !
    January 1977, I got to see my first Palm Tree, and Florida, and a vintage submarine near our hotel.... and last but not least.. Disney World.
    I wish I had a time machine so I could take my wife there and she could see it before the commecialism, branding, and huge lineups.