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Restored Films (59)

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

And now, lets go back to River Country in 1978...

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It has been awhile since we posted a film restoration and I guess for good reason. I  was away on vacation and the entire podcast crew has been busy researching the show and designing our t-shirts and merchandise (If you haven't seen our exclusive original retro designs, check out But there is another reason, and it's a good one...I've been hard at work restoring a pristine 16mm home movie of the early days of EPCOT Center. I took a bit more time to restore this film as anything with EPCOT on film is a rarity, but 16mm with sound puts this to a level of super rare and its over 17 minutes long.

Ok so what is in this film? First you'll notice that the entire film is narrated by the individual who filmed it. While I thought this was boring at first, he brings a unique aspect to the film and if you pay attention to his commentary you'll find some very interesting comments that demonstrate how EPCOT was viewed by its guests in the early 1980s. The film starts right in the front of EPCOT and we see the amazing acrylic fountain and Spaceship Earth. Our visit to Future World is brief but fantastic. Horizons under construction, the marquee signs on Communicore and other wonderful sights. We then dive into World Showcase in a very detailed fashion starting with Canada. I love how the photographer zooms in on "TV personality Michael Young...he used to be on Kids are People Too"...From there every World Showcase pavilion is discussed in great detail before coming around to Future World again for some wonderful footage inside Imageworks at the Journey into Imagination Pavilion.

This did not come cheap, I spent quite a bit of money to obtain the films and then the cost to restore them. I've opened up the Tip Jar on this film in case you'd like to help support future endeavors. A film like this cost nearly $400 to procure, transfer, restore and distribute. You can also donate via Paypal:

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First and foremost, don't get too exited here...this film was a disaster of epic proportions. Normally I wouldn't release something that is this poorly filmed and developed. What prompted me to attempt some bit of restoration and subsequently release it is due to the fact that the film has over 3 minutes of the 20k ride soundtrack. So this film may be best enjoyed with your screen turned off and your imagination taking you into the cramped quarters of the subs so many years ago.

Happy Memorial Day and Enjoy!

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If you've been following my restoration projects over the past year you may be familiar that my first restored film was one that my grandparents took in 1972. I complemented that with their return visit in '75 a few weeks later and around the holiday season I posted my first trip to WDW in 1980. To be honest, I thought that was all Disney World film my family had stashed away; turns out I was wrong, really really wrong. A year before I came into this world my parents vacationed in the Bahamas and on their return back to New Jersey made a detour through Orlando. The Magic Kingdom was on their to-do list and my father, a cinematography major in college, took the opportunity to film a good portion of their day, nearly 14 minutes worth. This film is silent, but it contains some incredible gems...

My father never spared an expense when it came to home movies. He exclusively used Kodak film and processing, a decision that was a smart one - to this day his films are some of the best preserved I have ever seen. He also had pretty decent camera for the time...combine that with his knack for framing a scene, gentle pans/zooms and his eye for people and scenery and you get, well, some incredible shots. His footage captures things you aren't going to see anywhere else - signage, unique angles and people (yes that is my dad eating the hot dog and my mother walking along a few times).

My parents day was well captured in the 14 minutes. The early morning monorail ride shows the topiaries along the way and soon we are inside Main Street USA. Notice that there is no full-on castle shot until a bit later, as if my father purposely delayed its entrance into the film.

The on-board footage of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a wonderful gateway to past memories. We're treated to bits of the parade, the show at Fantasyland Faire and a few other rare sights before a sincere focus on Main Street USA. Aboard the rail road we see a unique site, the Admiral Joe Fowler riverboat tied up on the back dock. We then climb aboard the Richard F. Irvine for a tour through the Rivers of America. Step inside the Crystal Palace, wander through Adventureland and end your day with a monorail cab ride back to the car.

I hope you enjoy this look back at the Magic Kingdom through the lens of my fathers camera!

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We've been quiet here at RetroDisneyWorld - focusing in the background on our next podcast episode and special music video that we hope to release in late 2015 (or sooner if we get more footage!). With that said, we wanted to release a film for our followers to watch...while the snow still falls here in New England on the first official day of spring we present to you a 16mm press film. Why is 16mm so interesting? The size of the film is twice that of the 8mm film we often restore, this provides a more detailed and sharper image.

It's very rare to find any 16mm films of Disney World, but when you come across one that the Disney Company produced you put your cards on the table and make a move to secure it. We stumbled upon this one on eBay and it was worth the purchase and digital transfer.

Think back 40 years ago, these press films would be distributed to newspapers for in-house screening or television studios for use in newsreels and such. When done, they were often discarded with no appreciation for the content within. That content has some incredible finds however! Despite the film using stock footage of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean you'll find the Fort Wilderness Railroad in operation, amazing helicopter shots and the original Tomorrowland in all of its white glory!

While the color was nothing short of horrid we've done our best to gently balance the color as best as possible across the entire film. Sit back and enjoy this 6 minute film, let it take you back to the Vacation Kingdom of the World! (If you are interested, we have posted a short article on the restoration process as well as a complete side-by-side comparison of the film, before & after restoration:

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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."

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