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The “Project X” Files: 1967

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom site clearance, 1967

The history of Disney theme parks is littered with images of cleared terrain and construction sites, and they’re usually pretty dull. This one, though, caught my eye. It’s the Magic Kingdom, circa 1967. Note the lack of… well, pretty much anything. Obviously there’s no park or hotels, but you might also notice the conspicuous absence of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

The lake in the picture is Bay Lake, and the island is the former Discovery Island (the former former Treasure Island). Thus the photographer is positioned outside the future Frontierland, looking across the park towards Tomorrowland, with Bay Lake and then Fort Wilderness in the far background.

Over the course of the next few years, the Utilidor structure would be built on this cleared land, and then covered with fill dirt from the excavation of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

It’s not until you see a picture like this that you truly realize the impact the Seven Seas Lagoon has on the aesthetic of the resort; driving through the woods to park in front of the Magic Kingdom would be far less effective theatre than having to get there by boat or monorail. Even though they’d later reduce the effect by letting buses unload at the park itself instead of the TTC, the lagoon still helps to separate the Magic Kingdom as something special and provides a proscenium unparalleled in the Disney resorts.

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2 comments to The “Project X” Files: 1967

  • you’re right, that is a really interesting snapshot. so much to come… it’s nice to think about.

  • What’s crazy is that it really could be a picture of anywhere – just a clearing in the woods. There’s a new housing development going up near my house and it’s much larger than this clearing. It’s just… woods. Just think about this picture when you’re taking a launch across the Seven Seas Lagoon from the Polynesian – it’s really absolutely remarkable that any of it exists at all…

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