Retro Disney World

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Our latest film restoration is a trip backward and forward in time! We'll let How Bowers (who is also a voice on our podcast) explain:

So many visions of the future are so off the mark that they often end up being laughable—a trait put to good use in the "Looking Back at Tomorrow" segments in Epcot Center's Horizons pavilion. It's especially remarkable then that in 1975 Disney debuted a post-show for the RCA-sponsored Space Mountain attraction at Walt Disney World that predicted the household of today with uncanny accuracy.

Here's a short list of things the attraction got right:

  • Huge wall-mounted widescreen flat panel televisions
  • Curved flat panel televisions
  • Laptop computers
  • Video chat
  • Online shopping
  • Online learning
  • Video games with motion controllers
  • Baby and home security video monitors
  • Movies on shiny discs
  • The general acceptance of unnaturally colored hair

What it didn't quite get:

  • No Internet
  • No cordless or cell phones
  • Streaming video (RCA could have foreseen this, but as one of the points of the attraction was to sell Select-A-Vision players, it's excusable
  • Teens still being excited about Elvis

Besides the futurism, guests also got to see themselves displayed on television sets, which was quite a novelty at that time. They also got to hear a super-catchy Buddy Baker song, "Here's to the Future," with a repeated refrain that "RCA leads the way."

We're going to get to the bottom of the reasons, specific length lost, and other goodies as a quick followup segment in the next podcast.. However until then, sadly watch the speedway shrink before your very eyes..

Below you will find the restored film of my first trip to Walt Disney World in October 1980. I'm a tad over 6 years old in the film, a big time first grader that wears a sun visor without concern about his image. The Kodak processed Super8 film features sound and the run time is over 30 minutes.  The sights and sounds included are amazing - The barker from PoC, a brand new Big Thunder, Adventureland Steel Drum Band, the Empress Lilly character breakfast and The name a few...

But the content is not what is important here. My father filmed many events in our lives and I'm fortunate to have these memories preserved on film. The ability to see see my grandparents again is a gift I will treasure forever as they were the key inspiration for my fascination with WDW and now I want to share that gift with our followers.

As you spend time with the people you love, cherish the time you have with them. Remember the photos and videos you are taking aren't just capturing the present but creating memories that will last a lifetime for all.

I wish you and your family all the best during the holidays and a wonderful new year!


Contemporary ResortWelcome to Episode 2 of the Retro Disney World Podcast.  We have had lots of great feedback thus far, we hope you continue to enjoy our retro presentations!

Introductions - The regular crew is all here, Todd, Brian, How & JT are all present and accounted for. How kicks off the podcast with the correct story behind the crying aligator gag in the Jungle Cruise from the last show.

Main Topic - The team starts by mentioning their favorite part of the Contemporary Resort, from there we dive into the overall design, the association with US Steel and how the rooms were constructed. JT gets to say "Like a chest of drawers" a few times while Brian imagines the construction view from Roy's Cabin. Todd struggles with the escalator size and continually gets lost in the Grand Canyon Concourse. We move on to the north & south wings and then ask "What would you pay to stay in a retro Contemporary Room?" Todd once again mixes up Shari Lewis and Phyllis Diller as we move up to the Top of the World. The commercial discussed during the show can be viewed here: US Steel Contemporary Resort Hotel Construction Commercial

Guest Star - We welcome Chad from to the show to discuss his amazing reproduction Paul Hartley map of WDW that hung in the rooms at the Contemporary and Polylnesian Resorts.

Audio Puzzler - Congratulations to Carolyn for winning the Episode #1 Audio Puzzler, the answer was "Foot Power Scene" from World of Motion. . If you think you know the answer to the audio puzzler, email us! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  We will enter all correct answers into a drawing for retro prizes! All correct answers will be entered into a drawing in December 2015 for a Paul Hartley reproduction map from!!

Viewer Mail - From David, we discuss a retro WDW Globe souvenier, one that How purchased a number of years back  - Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Film Restoration - We watch and discuss a retro film that has been restored with Pixcel and Imageworks. Follow along with us as we add color commentary to this film: Contemporary Resort - 1970s Shag and Flair - Restored Home Movie HD

We hope you enjoyed this episode! If you have any questions, suggestions or find errors please email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Be sure to check back with us very soon for Episode #3 when we pay a visit to Fort Wilderness

Until next time, "Do not pull down on the safety bar please...I will lower it for you..."


Ahead of our podcast episode devoted to the Contemporary Resort ( we bring you three restored home movies of the A-frame building bundled ito one 9 minute package!

The first of the three is a silent 8mm film and we were impressed at the filming locations and the steadiness of the camera. There are many shots of the monorail gliding in and out of the resort - almost to the point of ad nauseam; fortunately we soon move inside and are treated to the area that has now become Chef Mickey's. Look at the lights! Look at the Orange Juice dispenser on the buffet table! Then, surprise, more monorails again! This time taken from the balcony off to the side of the resort - I must admit the shots obtained from this perspective are very unique, especially at the 2:18 mark - what a unique vantage point! Out to the concentric circle pool we go - this time more monorails and some nice exterior shots before monorail glides away from inside the hotel.

Our second film is also silent 8mm and comes in at 3:45 and is very short but features a long shot from a boat on the way over from Ft. Wilderness. Then Bob-A-Round boats at 4:14 !! Finally we end with some wing shots and the pool area.

The third film is Super8 with sound, although what sound was recorded is really just the din of the cavernous interior of the resort. We start off with a slow pan of Bay Lake. Another monorail pulls in, get a load of the carpet color and design - now that would be a great cell phone cover case! Interior shots of the Grand Canyon Concourse continue, and then the party begins at the top floor of the resort looking down. The pan shot that ends this film really shows how the north side of the concourse was laid out.
Learn how to get 10% off your digital transfers and FREE restoration of your films!

There comes a time when an eBay automated search turns up a diamond in the rough - this has surely got to be one of those times. Brian and I both found this film on the auction site and we immediately began to ensure that we would be able to secure it. We accidentally bid against each other, but no harm done, we got the film.

There are a few things that make this particular film unique. First it was taken on October 14, 1982 - a mere 13 days after EPCOT Center opened its doors. Second it is film, not video. In 1983 Sony released the first home camcorder and the influx of grainy poorly lit home videos boomed from there. It is very rare to find any film footage of EPCOT, let alone this early in its life. I believe this footage was taken by an older couple, there is a woman who appears in the film a few times wearing a long pink skirt - on top of that, they have almost zero interest in Future World. I can only assume, and maybe a stereo-typical one, that this couple made the pilgrimage to EPCOT and by 1981 they weren't about to spend any money on a "newfangled Super8 sound camera" and "fancy technology" wasn't that appealing to them, hence they spent their time at World Showcase over what appears to be two days.
The film starts off back in the parking lot of EPCOT. We see the monorail swing by and we are quickly whisked away to the fountain. From there it is a tour of World Showcase. There are some very nice slow pans of the Lagoon and a great shot of the chrome windowed Friendship boats. Note how the small trees make some countries look like they are on top of others. The Germany pavilion, which was going to house a Rhine River Cruise attraction, shows its massive size more than it does today. The first part of the film ends with a sunset over Paris.
Remember when I said the photographer had almost zero interest in the future? Well this all changes at the 6:02 mark when Horizons comes into focus, under construction. You can see welders and steel workers on top of the structure - the familiar Horizons shape is very clear. From there we are back to World Showcase and the film ends with a fantastic shot of the monorail gliding into the station.
Learn how to get 10% off your digital transfers and FREE restoration of your films!

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