25 January 2011

On the shores of Bay Lake

Fort Wilderness has always been my respite from the rest of the world, even when I am at Walt Disney World I need a break every once in a while. To wander the trails, sit on the shore of Bay Lake, reminisce about my childhood, find remnants of a Fort Wilderness few remember these days and maybe grab a couple of pieces of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had is an experience I cling to desperately. Having not been able to interact with Fort Wilderness for its first decade, due only to the fact that I hadn’t been born yet, inevitably leads me to collect pieces from that era of the camp going experience.

Case in point, this terrific rack card from the 1970s. Rack cards have been around as long as people have piled into motor vehicles to hit the open road. The narrow cards use engaging images to entice travelers to divert to the advertised hotel, attraction, landmark or restaurant. This Fort Wilderness card appears to have been printed on a wooden plank, with highlights from the resort’s recreational endeavors being highlighted in photographs and the more benign offerings stressed in the text portion. To top off the experience, the characters of Br’er Bear and Br’er Rabbit are used to emphasize the rustic nature of Fort Wilderness and to remind passersby that you never know who you might meet once you step inside the borders of the Vacation Kingdom.

Unlike the majority of rack cards that include a map to the destination, the map on the flip side of the Fort Wilderness card shows the location of Fort Wilderness, but only in relation to the rest of the Walt Disney World property. This map also exploits characters, Br’er Bear returns to enjoy the great outdoors, and this time he is joined by Goofy in golf attire and Donald Duck as a water-skier. These are classic interpretations of the characters, but the true gift of this map comes from the striking designs depicting Cinderella Castle, Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Polynesian Village. As much as I love Fort Wilderness, I am ashamed to admit these simple, elegant designs are the real reason I added this card to my collection.

I could expand upon the fine details associated with 1970s Walt Disney World graphic design, but there is already an excellent resource at Passport to Dreams Old & New. Be sure to check out their article, Iconography, for more on how the little things matter when designing.

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