Retro Disney World

You are here: Home Podcast JT

We have a good one for you today. Art & Linda are at The Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground in December of 1976. The great thing about this footage is the sound! You can actually hear some things that have been lost in time. I couldn't belive the ferry boats still have a nearly identical sound as they do today! Bay Lake has a different look as well.  The trees, vegetation and foliage all look shorter; basically you can see more of everything compared to now.

The big thing for me though, being a Fort Wilderness dweller, is seeing the various transportation options. I remember seeing some of this as a kid, but you don't realize how many options you could have chosen, until you see this film.  We see sailboats, sidewheelers, ferries, sprites, water skiing, pontoon boats and of course the train.... More on that in a minute. Did you see people using the beach? Absolutely love the craziness on Bay Lake at the Fort Wilderness beach. I for one have played volleyball there and spent many hours of Spring Break chilling on that beach.

The railroad though; unbelievable. This is one of the best movies I have seen with sound and color of the Fort Wilderness Railroad...I'm blown away at the size, sounds, speed and just how colorful it is. Take a watch around the 8:10 mark as the bell ringer / employee jumps right off the moving train. Just another thing you would never see happening at WDW today. 

Finally, for all you Fort Wilderness regulars, you'll notice some great golf cart footage complete with a Christmas music soundtrack and gas powered glory. This film truly is a time capsule from the Disney World campgrounds. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. 

So I learned something new today.  Back in the 80s, Fort Wilderness had a breakfast show.  What I find interesting is I stayed at the Fort forever, and I don't recall seeing anything related to this whatsoever.  I must have walked by Pioneer Hall many, many times and just didn't pay attention to the showbill signs posted.  Too focused on finding the lawnmower tree I suppose.

I've also heard that originally in Pioneer Hall, they used to have super fun learning sessions about nature and animals showcased in films and with guest speakers.  Who has footage or pictures of that going on?  There is the gem we need for the Imageworks Department...

This whole breakfast show came to light for me when this eBay posting from Theme Park Connection circulated across my desk.  Melvin the Moose, the actual moose, is for sale!  Now for me, this doesn't mean a whole lot because I've never seen him live.  This does happen to be a piece of Fort Wilderness history though and is also super cool, so this will be a fun one to keep an eye on the next couple days.  - Click here to view the auction -

I also did some digging and found Melvin in action.  It doesn't look as big in size on the auction page, but I did some analyzing and believe it is the real deal... Hope you enjoy!

The souvenirs of today at WDW are usually pretty lame.  We get a rare treat here and there of something cool and unique.  Mostly though, they are just "Disney Parks" items that aren't special or unique.  The resort specific merchandise is slowly making a comeback and sometimes we will see a must have item show up.  eBay is one of the best places to see what used to be offered back in the Retro Era. 

I found a very rare, vintage Mickey Mouse Zippo Lighter on eBay today.  "Musket Mickey" is featured and so is Fort Wilderness.  From what I can gather, this is from the mid 70s.  Incredible find that of course costs a ton of money for an old lighter.  Either way though, it is very cool and very rare.  eBay Link

For some midweek fun, I'd like you the readers to post links, pictures, or whatever else to what you think is a rare souvenir.  We have posted some in the past on the site, but what can you come up with?  Is it something the Main Street Tobacconist used to carry or a vintage belt buckle?  Post your links on the site, put a picture on the Retro Disney Facebook page, or tweet @RetroWDW - If you happen to own one of these great souvenirs let us know, maybe we can get some high quality photos from you for the site.  Thanks for your input and enjoy!

Mickey Fort Wilderness Zippo




I stumbled upon this gem on YouTube a little while ago.  When watching it, I find it is full of amazing sights and retro fun.  The aerial shots at the beginning show the old TTC setup, the square plot of land where the Grand Floridian ended up, and even the moat around in the Magic Kingdom which is slowly being filled in as we speak. 

This video really has a 70s feel to it.  You get a great section filled with the various watercraft and this is also where we found the waterski show footage from a previous post.  Another crazy observation is how everything seems new and not grown up yet.  The trees look little and everything seems to resemble a new housing alotment or something like that.  The Fort Wilderness section at the end shows off some great nature trails that are no more and they also discuss how a ton of WDW is a nature preserve.  This section of the video has that 70s nature film look to it, reminds me of elementary school almost.  Some of the old Fort Wilderness playgrounds get some screen time too.  The live music featured randomly throughout is crazy to me too, as I've never seen it like this in person.  There is a live band where Cosmic Ray now resides and also the old Top of the World Lounge, in all of its 70s red/orange glory. 

This is a great little video that runs about thirty minutes.  Hope you enjoy your trip back to 1972!

When looking around the web, I am always drawn in by the vintage and retro photos people have of WDW.  If you really think about it, the entire complex is photographed so often and even when cameras were "tougher" to use, people still took tons of photos at Disney World.  With that being said, the amount of unpublished and even un-digitized photos has to be huge.  This collection we came across is no exception.  These were found on the forum, which is a great source for all things Fort Wilderness.  They always have people updating what is going on at Fort Wilderness and also discussing the good old days.  We were given permission to share this great photo collection of River Country in 1989.  They are all located in the special collections area, but these are just a few of the great photos that were shared with us.  I grabbed some of our Abandonedland photos as well for a comparison, just for fun.  FortFiends sent us a total of ten images, so be sure to check them all out here:

River Country '89 Slippery Slide Falls 2Pool

River Country '89 Water Area & RopesView from bridge

River Country '89 Kiddie CoveKid Slide

When I started looking through the Bill Cotter photos, I was just amazed at how many gems and awesome photos are included.  The content and history is amazing and I almost don't even know where to start! Well I think I have found a solid topic that I'd like more info on, and will be doing some more research like usual.  The infamous WDW Water Ski Show.  Some people may not know this even existed, but according to legend there was a choreographed ski show that took place on the lakes: Bay Lake & Seven Seas Lagoon.  This was to entertain people at the different resorts and I'm sure it did.  I do believe this is where we get those famous images of Goofy and other characters skiing behind a boat and hanging on for dear life.  I have posted four Bill Cotter photos of what looks like setting up for the ski show, Pluto zipping by at night, Donald cheering on some other night skiers, and some super safe no life jacket skiing.  I also found a quick clip on YouTube that looks perfect for our favorite era of Disney Entertainment. 

My questions are simple, and maybe our readers can help with the search.  What years did this run? Was it performed on both lakes? Why did it shut down? Finally, what in the world is with the night skiing? Did they perform a ski show in the middle of the night for some reason?  That one really has me confused, but I hope you enjoy the photos.  Post a comment or link below if you find some interesting facts, pictures, or even film of the infamous WDW Water Ski Show.

008 - Water Skiing Show - day009 - Water Skiing Show - night003 - Waterskiing show


001 - Pluto and Goofy waterskiing at night








One thing that always nags me about missing the old days, is how much has changed on Bay Lake & The Seven Seas Lagoon.  I am more of a Bay Lake/Seven Seas Lagoon kinda guy - just spent most of my time swimming, ferry boating, Water Spriting, and anything else starting out on the original two lakes.  When I look now, it is literally a ghost town.  Short of the small and large ferries driving back and forth, not much else seems to be going on.  I see the occasional Sea Raycer and sometimes a parasailer, but other than those items, I find it pretty lame anymore.  Sammy Duvall seems to be showing some signs of life, but they aren't "Disney" really.

I found this YouTube video today, which is mostly River Country, but it does show what I am talking about.  Bay Lake almost looked downright dangerous with all the boat traffic and such.  Maybe I just answered my own question.  The danger and liability of such a bustling place at the hands of simple vacationers might have proven time and time again that bad things can happen.  I don't know about you, but watching this footage just blows my mind more people didn't drown or crash with all of the activities Bay Lake had to offer.  The paddle boats, sail boats, and water sprites all negotiating the same area looks scary to me, especially if you were in a paddle boat.  Is there a list somewhere of all the different watercraft that was available for vacationers to try out?

River Country is another one that amazes me each time I view these old films.  Rules seem very relaxed and it looks kind of like a free-for-all (Ted Nugent).  Does anybody agree with me that in our lawsuit loving society, this type of Walt Disney World will never exist again?  Is the old Bay Lake gone forever?  Watch the movie and see what you think.  Leave a comment or tweet with your thoughts.  Also, check out the crowd getting filmed for the 10th Anniversary special, very cool!  Enjoy!

This video caught my eye a few months back on eBay.  It was cheap enough, so I figured why not?  I bought it and ripped it to my computer.  This one really captures that old, gritty feel that some of the old pictures on the site have.  For some reason, I always have this impression that Disney World back in the 70s and 80s was yellowed out and orange colored everywhere, just like the discolored photographs.  Obviously it wasn't, but when you look at all these old pictures, videos, etc and then see all the earthy tones, it just starts to stick.  I really enjoyed the various means of transportation they show towards the ending.  Anyways, enjoy this movie and have a great weekend.

I was doing some random searching for Disney World merchandise the other day and came across a real gem.  This thing is so cool!  A Walt Disney World Globe!  This has all of those great vintage places like Treasure Island and it shows people swimming in the lake.  I am not sure of a year on this, the post says early 70s, which sounds correct.  These are rare finds as you can see from the asking price.  Anybody have one of these in their collection?  What was the original price when it was new?  I had to share this, how cool would it be to have this sitting on your desk?  Enjoy!

WDW Globe

Vacation Kingodm '73 Pictorial Souvenir

Found this picture on the back cover of the 1973 Pictorial Souvenir.  I loved the vintage look to it and also how they made the monorail look like a blur. The classic tagline at the bottom just can't be beat in the eyes of a Retro Lover.  Enjoy!

Page 1 of 3
You are here: Home Podcast JT