As we strategy the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, it's fascinating to ponder that the holiday vacation spot that opened in 1971 was really supposed to be considerably completely different in some ways.
The late Roy Edward Disney, son of Walt's older brother Roy Oliver Disney, advised me in an interview in 2004:
"I used to be at all times so happy with my dad. Walt needed to construct this futuristic metropolis known as EPCOT the place folks had been going to dwell. My dad did not understand how that made us any cash. He argued with Walt that we wanted to construct a Magic Kingdom and a few inns first to get cash to afford to construct Walt's Epcot.
"Walt stored insisting that EPCOT wanted to be constructed first or it could by no means get constructed. Walt died whereas they had been having these arguments. So Dad received by default and he regretted successful that means. Walt in all probability would have been shocked to see what all of it is in the present day. EPCOT, in fact, was purported to be an actual city the place folks would dwell and the ultimate factor was a lot completely different.
"My Dad actually put his coronary heart and soul into constructing [Walt Disney World]. I've by no means been prouder of anyone in my life than seeing my dad up there on the dedication ceremony for Walt Disney World."
Walt's intention was to not construct one other theme park, even one which was higher than Disneyland. His want was to construct a working group of the long run that would come with an leisure venue like a theme park.
Walt felt that his Imagineers knew the right way to construct a theme park, and did not want his fixed supervision—and advised them so. He had a special workforce engaged on his idea for EPCOT on the similar time.
"Walt had been requested, I am positive begged, by folks everywhere in the world to repeat Disneyland in any variety of completely different locations," mentioned Imagineer Marvin Davis to author Howard Inexperienced. "He at all times steadfastly refused to do one other Disneyland as a result of he mentioned he had executed the very best park he knew the right way to do and why would he wish to repeat himself?"
With Walt's dying in 1966, Roy O. Disney assumed management and shifted all of the sources to constructing a theme park; resort inns; and ancillary issues like golf programs, water actions, horseback using to assist that trip vacation spot and improve the period of time company would keep.
After all, when Walt Disney World opened on October , there have been vital variations than what the park seems to be like in the present day.
As an example, The Fundamental Road Cinema really confirmed films, Liberty Sq. didn't have a Liberty Bell reproduction, and the doorway to Tomorrowland was over a large bridge that featured two majestic monolithic towers on the left and the appropriate that had water cascading down a tile floor alongside the perimeters.
There have been additionally points of interest just like the Mickey Mouse Revue, the Skyway, 20,000 Leagues Below the Sea, the Diamond Horseshoe Revue, and extra which can be vaguely however fondly remembered in the present day.
Nevertheless, the unique plans for Walt Disney World had been a lot completely different than what was really there, beginning with doable points of interest.
When designing the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers didn't wish to merely repeat what they'd already executed at Disneyland, however to create one thing completely completely different.
The 1968 Annual Report back to Disney stockholders said: "Though many points of interest can be acquainted to the 76 million individuals who have already visited California's Disneyland, many extra can be distinctive to the brand new theme park in Walt Disney World."
Particularly, Fantasyland would have regarded related, however with completely different points of interest primarily based on traditional Disney tales duplicating the identical emotional experiences. As an alternative of a Snow White darkish journey, Imagineers determined to make use of a special Disney princess. The story of Cinderella didn't provide any dramatic confrontations.
Nevertheless, Imagineers had seen how company had loved the Sleeping Magnificence Fortress stroll-via tableaus in California, and felt the 1959 traditional animated movie had particular prospects.
The proposal was for a typical Disney darkish journey displaying scenes from the story of Sleeping Magnificence the place the company could be being chased via completely different story segments from the movie by Maleficent's goons, who had been hiding within the surroundings and peering ominously on the journey automobiles.
The large climax could be a confrontation with Maleficent herself who had reworked into a hearth-respiratory dragon and could be leaning in towards the riders who escaped her fiery breath on the final minute.
As an alternative of the favored Peter Pan's Flight attraction at Disneyland, the Imagineers proposed utilizing the overhead monorail observe to fly company into a completely completely different journey impressed by the favored movie Mary Poppins (1964), since visitor surveys had proven Disney guests would get pleasure from a journey primarily based on these characters. The first proposal was to make use of overturned umbrellas as journey automobiles to soar over the rooftops of London to imitate Mary's personal journeys together with her umbrella. A model that was extra severely thought-about was to make use of the colourful carousel horses from the movie as journey automobiles. Friends would discover themselves leaping via the chalk work executed by the road artist Bert, the pal of Mary Poppins, because the horses bounced alongside. A number of doable tableaus would have included scenes impressed by the movie, just like the fox hunt and a horserace.
As an alternative of a Mr. Toad attraction, the Imagineers initially pitched the thought of an attraction primarily based on the animated characteristic The Sword within the Stone (1963) because the character of Merlin slot in so appropriately with the theme of Fantasyland. The a part of the movie that supplied essentially the most choices for dramatization was the well-known wizard's duel between Merlin and the witch Mad Madam Mim, with them every getting zapped and remodeling into completely different creatures. The finale would have had the journey automobile circling round Mim after she had was an enormous dragon simply earlier than she is defeated by Merlin.
With Fantasyland so near Liberty Sq., there was additionally dialogue about having a darkish journey primarily based on The Legend of Sleepy Hole (1949) close to the intersection of the 2 lands to behave as a transition. Friends would have ridden in hollowed-out spinning jack-o-lanterns via a wide range of scenes till the ultimate confrontation with the headless horsemen.
Disney followers have thought that these points of interest had been by no means constructed as a way to lower your expenses (as exemplified by the carnival-like entrance to "it is a small world" somewhat than the far more spectacular construction at Disneyland), but the repeated points of interest had been made longer and with extra particulars that value simply as a lot as constructing one thing new.
Roy O. Disney realized that many East Coast company would by no means go to Disneyland, however needed to see the points of interest they'd seen footage of or examine so insisted there be a steadiness between the traditional points of interest and new distinctive ones.
Maybe essentially the most spectacular new attraction could be in Frontierland.
Western River Expedition was an attraction that will have been constructed within the space that Splash Mountain and Huge Thunder Mountain occupies now. It was jokingly referred to by Imagineers as "Cowboys of the Caribbean" due to its superficial similarities to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland.
"For some cause, it was thought that due to Florida's shut proximity to the Caribbean, a journey coping with pirates would not be as well-liked in Walt Disney World because it was in Disneyland," Imagineer Tony Baxter mentioned.
Thunder Mesa Mountain would have featured a wide range of points of interest along with Western River Expedition together with a runaway mine practice journey, climbing trails, a canoe flume journey, a Pueblo Native American village and extra.
To accommodate all of this, a 4-story present constructing would have been adorned to appear like the orange mesas of the American desert and Monument Valley. The WDW railroad would have gone via the constructing to supply company a glimpse.
Imagineer Marc Davis spent 5 years making a humorous 10- to 12-minute boat journey via a wide range of Wild West scenes. It was primarily based on an idea he had developed as early as 1963 a couple of Lewis and Clark River Expedition for the by no means constructed St. Louis indoor theme park Walt Disney was contemplating.
Friends would have entered via a cave that was really a tunnel into the mountain and boarded boats that took them up a waterfall after which into the winding river.
Scenes would have featured comedian Native American figures (together with a rain dance with disastrous outcomes), stagecoach robbers (the place even their horses wore bandana masks), prairie canine, antelopes, buffaloes, singing cowboys, and might-can dancing saloon women.
It might have contained greater than 100 Audio-Animatronics figures. A buffalo and prairie canine had been really constructed for the attraction and later integrated into the opening ranch home scene within the Dwelling With the Land attraction at EPCOT.
Davis spent many lengthy months engaged on the attraction and had the enthusiastic assist of Roy O. Disney and Dick Irvine, who was president of Imagineering .
Detailed sketches had been made and fashions had been created. Imagineer Mitsou Natsume even constructed an in depth mannequin of Thunder Mesa and the outside of the Western River Transport & Navigation Firm that was displayed for a few years within the pre-present space of The Walt Disney Story on Fundamental Road USA.
At one level, colour stylist Mary Blair, pal of Davis and his spouse, was introduced in to seek the advice of with the colour selections together with a Painted Desert backdrop. Composer Buddy Baker had the beginnings of a theme track that will repeat all through the journey.
The attraction was publicized with idea artwork within the Magic Kingdom guidebooks for 1971 and 1972, and even a postcard—because the undertaking was purported to open with the park, however due to time and funds elements was relegated to Section 2 that will be accomplished by 1975.
The undertaking was ultimately cancelled due to prohibitive prices (estimated at greater than $120 million), the lower in reputation in Western films and TV reveals, and different elements—together with company demanding the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
Even the resort inns had been going to be completely different.
In 1967, the Disney Firm created a full-colour map to point the assorted resort inns that will encompass the Magic Kingdom theme park.
The Disney Firm needed them to seize the identical Disney magic and storytelling that was evident within the points of interest.
That map confirmed a Cape Cod Village, a South Seas glass skyscraper within the form of a pyramid, Yesterday Resort (to theme in with Fundamental Road U.S.A. and at one level was going to be positioned contained in the park itself within the constructing that now homes the City Sq. Theater), Frontier Village, Spanish Colonial Resort, Oriental Motel, the Dutch lodge, and the African Resort (to theme in with Adventureland).
As well as, there have been areas within the entrance of the Magic Kingdom earmarked for an ice rink and a curler skating dome.
By 1969, these doable resorts had been narrowed right down to Disney Persian Palace, U.S.A. Disney (that will change into briefly Tempo Bay Resort and eventually the Up to date Resort), Far East Disney, Venice Disney and Disney South Pacific. Frontier Village was renamed Diamond D (for Disney) Dude Ranch on its solution to turning into Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds.
After all, these weren't the ultimate names however "placeholders" to provide a way of the kind of resort that will be constructed. For instance, the Up to date Resort was certainly initially known as "the Up to date" however that was not supposed to be its identify, only a description of what the theme of the place ought to mirror.
When Imagineer John Hench and others pitched the identify "Tempo Bay" for the resort and the identify began showing on advertising together with a postcard, Walt's older brother Roy who was main the corporate checked out them and mentioned, "What's incorrect with the identify 'Up to date'? I prefer it."
At one level, Imagineer Claude Coats created idea artwork for an attraction that will have been positioned between The Up to date Resort and the again of Tomorrowland and make the most of the water of close by Bay Lake. In accordance with Imagineer Tony Baxter, Claude Coats at all times liked dinosaurs and helped design those for the 1964 New York World's Truthful and so company would have been in a position by a twisting water journey to journey into the prehistoric previous to confront life-sized dinosaurs.
After all, most Disney followers know that three different WDW resort inns that had been purported to open with the park had been nonetheless deliberate for the subsequent few years.
The Asian resort lodge was scheduled to open by 1973. Land had been cleared and ready the place Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa stands in the present day.
A sq. plot of land prominently jutted out into the Seven Seas Lagoon and the close by street had been dubbed "Asian Manner." The Asian's imminent completion was heralded on the official recorded monorail spiel and WDW literature just like the Stockholders' Annual Report. There have been additionally plans to have massive assembly rooms below the visitor space of the resort for conventions.
Positioned between The Up to date Resort and the Ticket and Transportation Heart close to the water bridge on the Seven Seas Lagoon, the Venetian resort, an "enclosed small boat harbor and complicated system of waterways will recreate the previous world attraction of the famed Italian 'Metropolis of Canals'. Procuring can be a novel expertise as company journey by gondola alongside 'streets of water' and below ornate bridges linking numerous sections of the resort. The type is paying homage to St. Mark's Sq., full with a 120-foot campanile that can toll the time. The total foyer can be glass-topped, creating a superb, sunlit atrium impact indoors."
Positioned to the north and barely east of the Up to date Resort on Bay Lake, the Persian resort was to be paying homage to the story of The Arabian Nights and would "reign like an unique far-Japanese palace on the Northwest shore of the lake. Jewel-like mosques and columns will rise above landscaped courtyards, whereas terraced sundecks provide sculpted swimming swimming pools and 'previous Persian' eating services. Visitor will virtually be capable to sail to their very own rooms via a sheltered marina."
Monetary challenges together with the 1973 gasoline disaster prevented the constructing of extra resorts for greater than a decade together with one known as Cypress Level Lodge that later developed into Wilderness Lodge.
Walt Disney's authentic hand-drawn plans for the Florida property included many issues that by no means had been constructed for 1971, like a swamp journey.
Nevertheless, that very same drawing clearly confirmed that Walt supposed the property in 1971 to have an working worldwide airport with at the very least three parallel runways on the land now roughly occupied by the town of Celebration.
When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, there was no Orlando Worldwide Airport (not till 1976), simply Orlando McCoy Jetport (which is why baggage tags for in the present day's passengers nonetheless say "MCO" because the reference to that location) that had restricted capability.
With the anticipated inflow of holiday makers, lots of them from different international locations, it was vital to construct an "airport of tomorrow" in the present day to accommodate them.
Roughly throughout the road from Walt's airport could be the first entrance to the EPCOT undertaking or the Fundamental Gate (which is why the non-descript constructing that homes Leisure, Merchandising and Disney Design Group on Sherberth Highway is called "Fundamental Gate", since that's the place the deliberate entrance to the property was to be positioned).
Like Disneyland, Walt supposed to manage the crowds with only one entrance, whether or not the company arrived by automobile or by aircraft. A Welcome Heart staffed by forged members who spoke completely different languages could be there on the Entrance Complicated to help overseas guests.
Nevertheless, the persevering with enlargement of Orlando Worldwide Airport, in addition to drastic modifications to the unique plans for EPCOT itself, resulted within the massive airport undertaking quietly disappearing as an pointless expense.
Principally, when the Disney Firm deserted the plans to construct the EPCOT metropolis that Walt Disney envisioned, the airport was deserted, as nicely.
"It made nice sense to Walt, however he did not dwell lengthy sufficient to get into the nitty gritty particulars of getting an thought to work," recalled Imagineer Marty Sklar. "There is a gigantic distinction between the spark of a superb thought and the every day operation of an thought."
So the 1971 Walt Disney World supplied to company was a lot completely different than initially deliberate.