With our recent restoration of the River Country home movie from 1978 (http://www.retrodisneyworld.com/imageworks/films/river-country-78) we recieved a few comments from our followers - on in particular was BJ Major, and we asked her to wite a short story about the Cast Member Preview weekend for RC back in 1976. We thank her for sharing her memory with us! Here is what she had to say:
Hello, my name is B.J. Major and I was asked to write and comment about my experience as a Cast Member attending the special Preview Weekend opening of River Country in Fort Wilderness. I had only been working for a few weeks as a new hire at Walt Disney World in the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village when this opening weekend occurred. My roommate Debbie and I (we both worked at the "Lite Bite" in the Village) were very excited to attend the opening. In actuality, it had been the first water park experience I had ever had.
Please understand that this experience for me was as a 22 year old, 39 years ago; I'm obviously a lot older now and all of the details aren't as recallable as they once were. But I do remember that it was a very fun day; everything in the new water park was working just fine and being the obsessive that I am about theming at Disney, I loved everything that was made to look old and rustic in order to recreate the experience of an old fashioned swimming hole. I'm pretty sure I got as much out of that as I did enjoying the water attractions. I liked the "cove" feeling of the park; you were right there on Bay Lake but just secluded enough to feel separate from everything else going on. Fort Wilderness was always one of my favorite WDW areas and at this time, even the Fort Wilderness steam trains were still running.
I also remember that the chocolate chip cookies at Pop's Place (the River Country snack bar) were simply amazing. I'm surprised that I remember this, but I do. If I recall correctly, only our photo WDW ID cards were required for entrance that weekend, I don't think it required special tickets of any kind. The employee newsletter, "The Eyes and Ears of Walt Disney World" had the Cast Member Preview Weekend as its front page story with the headline "The World Has A New Country, River Country!". Some of the Disney characters were there in costume also, appropriately attired for the occasion (Goofy in a one-piece old fashioned bathing suit, etc.)
There were some River Country photos taken of Debbie and myself that day; unfortunately, they did not survive my cross-country moves until I could digitize them. I do attach here a photo of Debbie (blonde on the right) and myself outside the Lite Bite restaurant as one of the few that I have which did survive from that era. I do collect certain Disney pins and I made sure to get the commemorative River Country pin that was made a couple years ago. I have strong opinions about the neglect that River Country has received since its unfortunate closure. If anyone would like to read that, it's an editorial entitled "Upholding Walt Disney's Standards" on my Disney music discography at the address below.
Welcome to Episode 10.5 of the Retro Disney World Podcast: "RetroCon and Episode Previews" - We appreciate your support and hope you have been enjoying each and every episode. Be sure to check out some of our previous shows.
RetroCon - Brian and JT will be a RetroCon at a Retro Disney World table this coming weekend in the greater Philadelphia area! Brian discusses what RetroCon is and explains the cool items we'll have on display as well as give-a-ways and the secret password to get early access to the next podcast episode!
Episode Previews - Next month our episode is titled "First things First"... we've got two special guests on the show and we're going to also discuss some crazy stories about the First Families at MK and EPCOT - and we will show how the STOL port was not the first airport on WDW property! Brian gives a sneak peek at the upcoming Christmas episode and calls out for photos, memories and documents relating to the holiday season.
RetroWDW Merchandise - www.retrodisneyworld.com/supportus
Listener Memories - We go over how our new segment will work - we setup a phone number where you the listener can leave us short, under 3 minute, messages with your memory from disney world of past years. We'll put many of your memories on the air in this new segement. Leave a short memory/story today: Call 1-978-71-RETRO (73876)
Film Restoration - A quick discussion onf our account on Patreon.com where you can pledge to help the restoration effort and in return receive exclusive early access to this podcast for 1 year! If you can help us please check out Our Restoration Project on Patreon.com
Over the past year of so we've been restoring many Magic Kingdom films...each of which lends to some amazing discovery that we haven't seen before. However, when you discover a film that includes footage from MK and River Country you tend to get very excited, and then when you realize there is more RC footage than MK you really get pumped...and realize some took an expensive (for the time) camera into a water park, positioned themselves above rides, on the beach and possibly in the water to capture some amazing footage. While portions of the film are over exposed, we left them in as footage of River Country is so rare!
Ok so what is in this film? First we start off with a slow pan from the tower windows at the Royal Inn (it became the Hotel Royal Plaza and is now The B Resort). The footage starts at Empress Lilly and pans over past the preview center building and then a quick zoom over a hazy horizon to the Magic Kingdom where you can barely make out the Contemporary and Space Mountain (Thanks to @BrianPMiles for figuring out the MK and the hotel.). We then stand on the beach (or possibly in the water) looking towards the Rope Climb, panning to the left past the Cable Ride and ending at the Boom Swing with the finale to White Water Rapids in the background. Next up is great footage of the Upstream Plunge and then back to the terminus of White Water Rapids. Next up has got be one of the best amateur shots of Whoop 'n Holler we've seen, this positioning is key and you can clearly see the slide in action. More Upstream Plunge action is followed by an up close and personal look at the Cable Ride and then our day ends at the White Water Rapids.
Before we go, recently we were able to procure two very special 16mm WDW films; these are not home movies, but professional productions that we would like to restore and share with the world. Together they have a runtime of over one hour, include sound and from our research there are no existing High-Definition digital prints of either of these films anywhere. We have seen a few horrid grainy VHS transfers, but they are just that, abysmal and nearly unwatchable. Because we want to have these films scanned and digitally transferred with the best possible technology the cost of this process is beyond our current budget - this is where we need your help. We've setup a support us page at Patreon, while similar to Kickstarter or Indigoog, Patreon is crowdfunding that is geared towards those producing media. Your support will not be left un-noticed, not only will you get to view the restored films before the general public but we've got some additional rewards for helping us out. We respect the fact that not everyone can support this endeavor, but we thank all for their continued support. If you can, please support us at https://www.patreon.com/retrowdw
And now, lets go back to River Country in 1978...
Learn how to get 10% off your digital transfers and FREE restoration of your film! retrodisneyworld.com/imageworks
Congratulations you are booked for the 2016 RetroWDW Lake and Lagoon Tour!
The details you will need to know
When: November 19th and/or 20th, 2016 at approx. 1pm
Where: Contemporary Resort Boat Rental Dock
You will receive your tickets via email before November 15th.
You will be assigned a date, time and boat number.
On the Day of the Tour
Please report to the Contemporary Resort boat rental docks no later than 15 minutes before your sail time.
Look for a RetroWDW crew member wearing a Lake and Lagoon tour t-shirt - They will check you in and direct you to your boat
You will not have an opportunity to disembark at any time, so please make all necessary bathroom arrangements prior to boarding
Total time on the boat will be 1 hour.
Alcoholic beverages are NOT permitted on the tour.
The Fine Print
All purchases are final.
No refunds will be given for no-shows.
Refunds for the value of the boat rental will be given only If the boat portion of the tour is cancelled for one or more of the following reasons:
Boat is not available
Boat is not allowed to leave during inclement weather
Boat is cancelled due to some unforseen event
If in the event the tour does not sail, T-shirts and pre-paid lunches will be distributed and the historical tour and trivia contest will be held elsewhere on the grounds of the Contemporary Resort.
The RetroWDW 2016 Lake and Lagoon Tour is not sponsored by or affiliated with any part of The Walt Disney Company,Destination D, D23 or the Walt Disney World Resort.
WAIVER: By purchasing these tickets you agree to the following for you and all people in your party: I understand that there are risks associated with my participation in this Activity, such as physical and/or psychological injury, pain, suffering, illness, disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, death or economic loss. These injuries or outcomes may arise from my own or other’s actions, inactions, or negligence, or the condition of the Activity location (s) or facility (ies). In consideration for being allowed to participate in this Activity, I release from liability and waive my right to sue AeroPro LLC, RetroWDW, their employees, officers, volunteers and agents (collectively “District”) from any and all claims, including claims of the District’s negligence, resulting in any physical injury, illness (including death) or economic loss I may suffer or which may result from my participation in this Activity, travel to and from the Activity (including air travel), or any events incidental to this Activity.
If you've listened to podcast Episode 10 of the Retro Disney World Podcast: "Hooray for Floridawood" you may be wondering where some of the attraction sound bites originated from. Todd has just shared nearly 40 minutes of footage from his trip in August 1989 that was used for parts of the podcast. The video starts out at 6:30am, the sun is just coming up for a very early 7am opening.
Apparently back then The Great Movie Ride was the place to go first thing in the morning! Then we are off to the Backstage Studio Tour, which takes up nearly half of the video! From there we watch a good portion of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which has not changed over the years but this particular day the trap door in the final scene was working. Some quick footage of Star Tours under construction is followed by the Dip Mobile, NY Street, shots around the park, night shots, The Roger Rabbit/Acme Cartoon area and some more final shots around the park.
Its amazing to watch what has and what hasn't changed over the years. Of course the park is going to go under a massive change in the next handful of years so most of what you see here,if it isn't gone already will be added to the history of WDW.
For many of us fans the Horizons pavilion in EPCOT Center will always hold a special place in our hearts. While it closed years ago it lives on for many in the ride's dialog and many can recite it from memory. One particular part of the attraction recently inspired us to create several t-shirt designs, the first of which (oh yes, there are more on the horizon!) we are revealing today..
Welcome to Mesa Verde University!
On the outskirts of a well established desert landscape where storms roll in from the north and harvesters tend to Lorange crops lies the agricultural driven campus of MVU. Established in 2083 by a grant from Edias Clevenshoe (the philanthropic founder of Pegasus Industries) the university was chartered to create the the agronomists of tomorrow. The dedication to the cultivator arts is evident in the MVU motto which reads:
"Nobis septem annos liberos mittite, agricolas remittemus"
("Send us your children for seven years, we will return farmers")
You can become an alumni of the distinguished Mesa Verde University (MVU) - where you too can graduate a farmer, err... agricultural engineer in a scant seven years time. Now you can show the world that in your spare time you have the authority and the geoponics know-how to grow Pinanas, Pepcumbers and Circuit Egg Ivy!
Because registration is limited, we're only accepting students for the next 7 days. If you miss this opportunity to become a part Mesa Verde University, you may have to wait for the next registration period - which may not happen if we don't get enough students registering. Click below to jump to the store and get your gear before they are gone!
About the University Store
We're excited about offering Mesa Verde University gear, and if we sell enough tees with this test run, we'll be opening up a "Mesa Verde University Store" where you'll be able to pick up all kinds of MVU gear for your college classes. So if ya dig the shirts, buy one. If ya can't tell others about it via social media. Sometimes getting the word out can be just a valuable as a purchase. And besides, who wouldn't want an MVU notebook for next semester or a nice throw to curl up under this fall?
What and Where is Mesa Verde University?
Totally made up dude! Seriously. :) In the desert farming scene in Horizons where the narrator says: "Isn't it something! Send a city kid to college for seven years and what happens? She becomes a farmer!". Then his wife responds, "Oh, I think agricultural engineer is a little more like it." We've designed what we think that daughter's college t-shirt might have looked like - complete with the Mesa Verde University motto written in Latin.