Retro Disney World

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Restored Films (58)

Today we bring you early holiday stock footage released by Disney on 16mm film, presumably for use by television stations promoting Christmas in the parks. The color on this film wasn't great to start with and had many tint issues and color fades.

A balloon release over a Walt Disney World’s Main Street USA filled with marching drums during a daytime parade is the first scene. Then we see beautifully a decorated lamppost and Dickensian Carolers on Main Street USA in Disneyland. A crew decorating a heavily flocked Christmas Tree which will appear a few scenes later at night brilliantly lit with General Electric lights. Note the cast members who latched the Christmas ball ornaments to a belt around their waist. The faux snow sprayer is pretty neat too.

Tinkerbell then lights the lanterns as Mickey begins a Very Mery Christmas Parade in Disneyland featuring Santa, marching Christmas trees, soldiers on horseback and a closing image of the Candlelight Processional in front of Main Street train station with a “Merry Christmas” scrawl across the screen..


One of our recent acquisitions was 6 different WDW souvenir films - each 3 minutes and each featuring a different attraction. Most WDW souvenir films had a longer run time and generally featured a whirlwind tour of the Magic Kingdom, but 6 these films are rare and unique in that they focus an entire 3 minutes on an attraction.

In the days of film no one would take a camera on a ride; the cost, size, weight and lack of low light sensitivity made doing so just awkward, expensive or downright dangerous. Disney wanted you to promote the resort for them in your living room,  so they would shoot high quality footage of the attractions with the proper lighting and cameras. Most were shot on 16mm film and then down converted to 8mm for the home market. These films were sold in the parks and were designed to be shown at home to their friends and family. A simple $3-$4 souvenir made them money and was free advertising.

Technically speaking, the majority of souvenir films were printed on inexpensive 8mm film. The quality of the dyes on the film is so poor that even after 40 some years of storage in a shrink-wrapped never-before-opened box, these films had faded. There is something to be said about Kodachrome and the longevity of the color and quality. Once transferred we did extensive color balancing on each of the scenes trying to get them as close as the original. We have not been able to find any other copies of these films in viewable condition anywhere.

This is the first of our 6 films and is one of the best. It features POV (Point of View) on ride footage of Big Thunder Mountain in the early years! We did edit the sequence of scenes as the original film was quite a bit of back and forth and was meant to give a taste of the ride - by putting the pieces back into their original order and adding some background music we're able to enjoy the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness!!


By Brian Miles

When I began acquiring discarded home movie films from people's visits to Walt Disney World in the 1970's and 80's I developed a list of "holy grail" things I hoped to see captured on film. The Florida Orange Bird was a character developed exclusively for WDW by Disney Imagineers on behalf of the Florida Citrus Growers (Adventureland's original sponsor). Not long after park opening the character began doing meet and greet appearances in Adventureland. These continued throughout the 1970's and ended with the Citrus Growers sponsorship deal in 1986.

While one or two very poor, brief, long distance clips of the Florida Orange Bird have circulated on YouTube, the OB never appeared in the many WDW TV specials or souvenir films. So high on the list of "holy grail" items was finding good footage of an Orange Bird meet and greet. When I purchased the Magic Kingdom October 1974 film you are about to see I was prepared to have my hopes dashed as I have with dozens of other films. This one, however, was different.

Our film opens with a homemade title screen shot on the door of the family's garage before they arrive at the Transportation and Ticket Center appropriately clad in vacation wear of the era. A nice shot of the Magic Kingdom's empty centrally located turnstiles (where we go through security now) are seen before we stop into Town Square and Main Street, USA catching a look at the Hospitality House (Tony's Town Square Restaurant) and then the hub and Crystal Palace restaurant from a distance.

As we moved into Adventureland and boarded the Jungle Cruise I was excited. Maybe we will finally strike Orange Bird gold! As our family steps off the Jungle Cruise they walk by Adventureland Verandah and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. We see a crowd off in the distance by the Enchanted Tiki Room and Sunshine Tree Terrace. Our family moves in closer to see what the commotion is all about.

EUREKA! The Florida Orange Bird, King Louie and Baloo spend the next 30 seconds dancing and entertaining the guests in Advenutreland. We see the Orange Bird sign an autograph book for some children before moving on to the Rivers of America.I will admit the first time these frames came into my view finder I got a little emotional. I had spent years searching for quality home movie footage of the Orange Bird. Now my mission was complete. It is worth noting that this is one of two variations of the Orange Bird character. This one had a solid plastic head. There is another version that had a fur/felt covered headpiece. We don't have footage of that one -- yet!

In our post-Orange Bird euphoria we sail by Tom Sawyer Island the Haunted Mansion and not much else, as the rest of Frontierland as we know it didn't exist until Big Thunder Mountain was built in 1980 and Splash Mountain in 1992. You do get a good glimpse of how much the scenes along the river took prominence then vs. how they often fade in the background of those two mountains in modern times.

We see the Big Bad Wolf and Three Little Pigs meeting outside Liberty Tree Tavern before our family AGAIN boards the riverboat. They must have liked the ride. They hop on the Skyway, glide to Tomorrowland, meet grumpy (because dwarfs are futuristic) and head back out to the hub to take in some more scenes of the castle before ending their visit with the daily parade.

So thank you Matty & Ruth, Alex & Josephine for taking us along on your trip to Walt Disney World and fulfilling a dream decades later.


We continue with our series of EPCOT Center B-Roll footage

EPCOT Center B-Roll Restoration Series

Future World

World Showcase

Our series of 1980s and 90s era EPCOT Center B-Roll footage continues with Future World East.

Before Ellen it was Exxon who reigned at the Universe of Energy. We visit this much loved pavilion with plenty of dinosaur footage to please your prehistoric palette. For those of you who never experienced the original you get a glimpse of what it was like before Alex Trebek and Jeopardy were the backdrop.

The spanking new Wonders of Life pavilion is up next. See it in all it's glorious, active and crowded 1989 aesthetic. A fair amount of time is spent on the exhibits under the dome. Be sure to check out Goofy teaching golf and Chris Evert teaching tennis tips on video screens!
And how about that pedal bike looping around the hub at Disneyland!

A visit to Body Wars and Cranium Command attractions was a must in the Wonders of Life and our footage gives you a glimpse at both attractions. A healthy dose of 90's jeans are omnipresent in this visit.

The glorious Horizons presented by General Electric is the next stop.
This EPCOT sequel to the Carousel of Progress is well documented in this footage. We see the majestic exterior and ride along through many of the most famous scenes from the ride. The legendary "choose your own ending" segment features the space landing.

No trip to Future World East would be complete without visiting the World of Motion presented by General Motors. A fine selection of key scenes featuring the record setting number of animatronics in this ride are on our ride-along as well as a post-trip visit to the TransCenter, GM's post-show area.


We visit the Magic Kingdom during 1981's Tencennial celebration, marking the resort's first decade in business.

Our film opens with traffic along World Drive before we pass the Polynesian en route to the Contemporary Resort where a monorail glides seamlessly into the Grand Canyon Concourse. Our guests head into the Magic Kingdom where they meet Mickey and Pooh in Town Square before boarding the Tomorrowland Skyway for a bird's eye preview of a fun day ahead.

We glide over the Speedway and 20K lagoon, looking out over Fantasyland
and taking shots of Seven Seas Lagoon using a zoom lens.  More Main
Street USA character greetings and Cinderella Castle looking regal at 10 years old. We board our Speedway cars, race each other, meet MORE characters and then it's time to look at everyone lining up for the Tencennial parade before a riverboat cruise and a spin on It's A Small World before catching the parade!

All of our favorite Disney characters appear in the parade including a mustachioed Pluto! The film captures the entirety of the parade before heading to the Flower Market on Center Street (no longer there). Our visit ends with another Skyway ride before ending with a final glimpse of the riverboat.

We continue with our series of EPCOT Center B-Roll footage

EPCOT Center B-Roll Restoration Series

Future World

World Showcase


Our next installment of EPCOT B-Roll footage from the 80's and 90's focuses on Future World West and takes us first to the Living Seas.

The Living Seas opens with beautiful exteriors showing the LOUD United Technologies sign before we board the hydrolators for our Sea Cab journey to Seabase Alpha. Terrific interior depictions of The Living Seas with the scuba tank (note how much the interior resembles the color scheme used on the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation - they were designed around the same time). Beautiful views of the sea life on display and guests enjoying the antics of a baby manatee, among others.

The Land, presented by Nestle, is up next. We get panoramic views of the Sunshine Seasons food court, the much beloved and missed fountain that sat in the center of the dining area before heading to the Food Rocks show that replaced Kitchen Kabaret. Thankfully our visit to Food Rocks is brief as we board Living With The Land, EPCOT's marvelous boat ride through its greenhouse facilities. Note the presence of the live narrator, which was a staple of the ride for it's first 20 years of existence until a recorded narration replaced them. Terrific footage of scientists working in The Land's laboratory facility closes out our visit to The Land.

No visit to Future World West would be complete without EPCOT Center's flagship attraction: Journey Into Imagination. Our visit showcases the original Kodak entrance sign (note the flowers in the bed are Kodak's corporate colors) and also note the plants and flowers along the buildings first level. They add a decorative touch that's missing on today's Imagination building. A glipse of the "upside down" fountains with the original DNA-strand style fountain artwork is seen before we head into The Image Works on the second floor of the pavilion. Many fondly remembered activities and attractions are in the footage including - yes - the famous rainbow tunnel. This video really captures just how much there was to do up there and the kinds of attractions available.

No visit to Imagination is complete without seeing the leaping fountains and footage of the Dreamfinder and Figment doing their much missed live meet and greets!


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