19 September 2017

Where Storybook Dreams Come True

Some of the greatest treasures of Walt Disney World history are the photos of areas as they’re being constructed. They give you a glimpse into what needed to be constructed first in order to get attractions online in time. You can see the bones of a land, attraction, resort, restaurant, or shop, bearing witness to what makes it tick. They are important pieces of historical documentation. Plus, they just plain cool.

This aerial photo of Fantasyland is dated from September of 1971, but with the Magic Kingdom opening on October 1 of that year, I’m leaning towards the idea that the photo was taken slightly earlier in the year but was released in September of 1971. Regardless of the date, there are a lot of cool moments to unpack in here.

Let’s start with the obvious, Dumbo is clearly not ready for take-off just yet, but it’s nice to see him in his original placement. He’s almost ready for flight, but there are clearly some finishing touches that need to happen to the center spindle of the attraction. Not to mention, it appears that the control booth is missing its roof.

Moving over to Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, it appears as if the main draws of this attraction, i.e. the carousel horses, have not yet been installed. However, the beauty of the tournament tent that makes up the shelter of this attraction is on full display.

Pinocchio’s Village Haus is looking good, but his courtyard is definitely a work in progress; as are most of the sidewalk and landscaping elements throughout the land.

A detail that may go unnoticed, but most assuredly deserves mentioning, are the posts of the Skyway between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The grain of the photograph makes it hard to tell if the cables have been strung across the posts yet, but to my eye it doesn’t appear that they have. Considering cranes may still be moving in and out of the area, it isn’t hard for me to believe that these would be some of the last elements to be completed.

Last, but certainly not least, is the lagoon of Vulcania just peeking in on the top right. You can see a bit of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Submarine Voyage track, but the lagoon has definitely not been filled yet. Considering the attraction would open two weeks after the Magic Kingdom itself had opened, it’s no wonder this area is still at low tide.

What else do you see, or see that is missing, in this photograph? Each eye is different and every eye is drawn to something different, and that is the beauty of looking back at any project in Walt Disney World. It’s hard to believe this photo was taken over 46 years ago, but it some of the changes that have happened to this courtyard since then feel like they occurred so many years ago. The real point is, history is fun, if you know where to look!

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