When GAF released its first park guide for Walt Disney World in 1972, it included helpful tips on photography to capture the perfect shot. To further develop the perfect still, they also created the GAF Photo Trail. On each Magic Kingdom park map twenty-four locations were marked to supply camera happy tourists with picture perfect photographs. These stops along the photo trail were, just like today’s Kodak Picture Spots, marked with a sign to assist the photographers. While twenty-four may seem like an odd number of stops for those of us in the digital age, it was the perfect amount in 1972, as most film came in rolls of twenty-four.During my most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to hunt down the old trail and see what the sights would look like if the same path were used today. I found that the times have, indeed, changed the Magic Kingdom. Caribbean Plaza did not exist in 1972, nor did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mickey’s Toontown Fair, or half of Tomorrowland, just to name a few. 1972 did, however, include the Skyway, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and quite a bit less greenery. The thirty-seven years of change between then and now is apparent in the photographs, such as the shot arrange to optimize the view of the 20,000 Leagues lagoon which now only showcases a stand of trees and shrubbery.
It should be noted that throughout this process I only had the locations of the photo trail stops, and not the staged photograph to know what I should be photographing. Although, in many cases, the target of the picture was obvious. While several of the spots still offer excellent views of the Magic Kingdom in all her splendor, only one still exists today as a Kodak Picture Spot. That location is the station near Sleepy Hollow Refreshments that offers a stellar view of Cinderella Castle’s profile.
If anyone has photographs of the GAF Photo Trail from the 1970s, and they would be willing to share them with the readers of the Main Street Gazette, I would be thrilled to share them. As well, I hope this look at the previous photo stops reminds all of us to stop, look around, and remember the history and memories the Magic Kingdom has provided us with.