03 September 2021

Walt Disney World 50 for 50: Taking Picture is Makin' Memories

Disney is good at identifying spots that would be perfect for a photo, adding a sign to the area, and then letting you snap away to your heart’s content! Sometimes, however, they create perfect photo ops that stand the test of time. Digging back into into our personal Walt Disney World photo archives, we’re heading over to the Contemporary Resort
If you grew up visiting the Vacation Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s you too may know the joy of grapping a motor launch from Fort Wilderness on a trip over to the Contemporary Resort. The anticipation of knowing that you would soon be in the Fiesta Fun Center for hours on end, playing what seemed to be a never-ending supply of arcade and pinball games, air hockey, and a shooting arcade, or grabbing something from the snack bar and taking in a movie. The possibilities were endless! If you were like my family, however, you also had to stop at the Mickey sculpture just outside of the main tower for a family photo. Oh sure, climbing on the ears was fun, but we had places to be!
By the way, I would like to not be blamed for my clothing choices in these photos. It was the 1980s, that’s my only defense. Even looking at these now, I appear to have been trying to cover myself up in one, while praying that this photo never sees the light of day in the other.
The sculpture is a hallmark of many family vacations, and likely many people my age have photos in front of it. That was easier when the main resorts were all on a monorail line or just a boat ride away. While the Contemporary Resort is still a marquee destination, whether to stay or to dine, it isn’t a resort that requires a visit on every trip at this point. That said, there have been some changes to the Mickey sculpture over the years.
Here’s what stands out to me. The sculpture placement has changed. Originally it ran parallel to the North Garden Wings, seen in the background, but now it faces out over Bay Lake. The backdrop is an upgrade, but I still like seeing some of the resort in the photograph. The pad it is placed on, and how it is attached to that foundation, has also been changed. The original sculpture sat on a paved area that was Mickey shaped. However, more recent pictures show a round pad with darkened pavers in the form of a Mickey underneath. Additionally, the metal framing isn’t simply bolted to the ground any longer, as box like footings are placed at the two points of contact.
Last, but certainly not least, are the people who can be in your picture. You’ll notice in the photo above it features three people, my sister, dad, and myself. My mom is missing, as she was in most of the early photos I have from Walt Disney World, because she was behind the camera. You could certainly ask someone to take a picture for you in most places around the parks, but this photo op is a little off the beaten path. Thankfully, everyone can now step in front of the camera, as this area has added a camera holder at just the perfect height for a family or group photo.
How we look at changes, in particular how we look at changes to the environments and stories of Walt Disney World, depend greatly upon what perspective we carry with us. I can’t say for certain whether I prefer the old set up of the Contemporary’s sculpture or the new staging. For some, they’ve only ever seen it one way or the other, and that informs how they feel about the sculpture. I am happy that I’m able to document the changes when they occur, and that I can still take a motor launch over to the Contemporary. Except these days it’s usually for the photo op and to grab a bite to eat, though I’m not opposed to the occasional game of air hockey.

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