A Celebration of Walt Disney World’s First Two Decades
As we rapidly approach Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, it feels like the ideal time to take a look back at the resort’s history. For half a century, Walt Disney World has been filling our lives with magic and memories. As excited as we are to see what comes next, it’s fun to stop and fill our hearts with a little nostalgia. So, with that in mind, we’ll be spending the next few weeks on the blog revisiting some highlights from each decade. This week we’ll be visiting the 70s and 80s.
Wally Boag and the Diamond Horseshoe
If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you may have noticed that I’m an enormous fan of Wally Boag. Though he’s best known for his work at Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe, he also spent a portion of his Disney career at Walt Disney World. With the opening of the new resort, Boag relocated to Florida and recreated his traveling salesman/Pecos Bill character for the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland. The show began with these heartwarming words:
“Hello everybody! We’re mighty glad to see you! Here at the Diamond Horseshoe. Hello everybody! We’re mighty glad to greet you! Here at the Diamond Horseshoe. If you are a stranger, just say “Howdy stranger”. We will soon be friends that way. The welcome mat is out today. At the Diamond Horseshoe Cafe.”
Boag also began performing a show the Contemporary Resort. However, his stint in Orlando was relatively short lived. After 1973, he was back in California. Still, every time I step inside the Diamond Horseshoe I can see Wally singing, dancing, and cracking jokes on the stage.
For more on Boag, check out: https://celebrationspress.com/2018/01/29/12-facts-about-disney-legend-wally-boag/
Mickey Mouse Revue
When I think of Magic Kingdom attractions that I wish I had experienced, Mickey Mouse Revue is always near the top of the list. I’m a sucker for musical Audio-Animatronic shows. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and The Country Bear Jamboree are like my home away from home, so I am certain I would have loved the Mickey Mouse Revue.
Located in Fantasyland, the show featured Mickey Mouse as conductor of an orchestra made up of various Disney characters. The Audio-Animatronic figures were adorable, featuring characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, the Mad Hatter, King Louie, as well as Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Among the songs performed during the show were, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” “I’m Wishing,” “The Three Caballeros,” and the “Mickey Mouse Club Alma Matter.”
The show closed in 1980, but you can still find its fingerprints on the park. Today, the space where the Mickey Mouse Revue took place is now host to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. It’s sort of a spiritual successor to the show, featuring medley’s of favorite Disney songs, and even including a conductor Mickey (though his role is temporarily usurped by Donald Duck). You can also still see the Audio-Animatronic figures of the Three Caballeros. They were relocated to Epcot and can be spotted near the very end of the Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros in the Mexico pavilion.
While we’re on the subject of beloved Audio-Animatronic shows: the 1980s brought us the opening of Epcot Center (now simply Epcot). It was a slightly altered take on Walt Disney’s last great project. Instead of a “city of the future” Epcot was created as a sort of permanent world’s fair, which featured both cultural and technological education, as well as other forms of edutainment.
Kitchen Kabaret, formerly located in the Land Pavilion, is a brilliant example of how those early Epcot attractions combined imagination and education. The show was 13 minutes long and taught Guests about the importance of healthy eating and the four food groups. Such subject matter could have been dry, but not when hosted by a character named Bonnie Appetite and her singing and dancing food friends. Bonnie was accompanied by the Kitchen Krackpots (made up of a container of mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and other assorted items) The characters Hamm & Eggz performed a vaudeville-esque comedy routine, and Mr. Dairy Goods (a singing milk carton) performed with his Stars of the Milky Way (an assortment of dairy based foods).
The show is, perhaps, best remembered for the catchy little ditty “Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit.” It remains a popular favorite and has resurfaced in shows like Epcot Forever.
For more on Kitchen Kabaret check out: https://celebrationspress.com/2017/10/23/four-nutritious-facts-about-the-kitchen-kabaret/
Journey Into Imagination
While we’re at Epcot, let’s travel from the Land pavilion over to Journey Into Imagination. Today, it is known as Journey Into Imagination with Figment, and it features the delightful Dr. Nigel Channing (as portrayed by legendary actor Eric Idle). In today’s version, the attraction shows us how the senses impact imagination. However, in its earliest incarnation, the attraction took Guests through the whimsical world of the Dreamfinder and his Dream Mobile.
Created by Tony Baxter and Steve Kirk, Journey Into Imagination opened in 1983. Guests traveled with the Dreamfinder as he and his purple dragon friend, Figment, gathered up ideas and dreams. They then took their bag of dreams to the Dreamport and explored rooms devoted to things like literature, the performing arts, and science. After the journey, Guests disembarked and could go explore ImageWorks. Perhaps the most memorable part of ImageWorks was the Rainbow Corridor, a tunnel that glowed with the colors of the rainbow. It was an utterly enchanting space to move through.
Of course, Journey Into Imagination is best known for Figment (who remains a popular character within the parks) and the classic Sherman Brother’s song, “One Little Spark.” Both remain a part of the current incarnation of the attraction, and both are two of the most enduringly popular original creations from Epcot.
For more on Figment, visit:
To learn a little about the voice behind Dreamfinder read:
Of course, there’s no way to make a list like this without leaving some things out. For instance, I didn’t even get to talking about the wonder that was Horizons. That’s the beauty of Walt Disney World. There’s always been more to explore and experience, more to dream and wonder about, and more to love and remember than you could possibly fit into a single article, or even a hundred articles.