I was pointed towards this video by Foxx at Passport to Dreams Old & New; it shows a still-pristine Walt Disney World in the flower of its first decade, and also features an unexpected surprise. According to whoever posted the video, it’s from 1977; I have no idea what this could have been for, as it’s obviously a part of a larger presentation, but doesn’t appear to be from a Disney production. That being said, it shows a lot of “behind the scenes” things that must have come direct from Disney.
Take a look and we’ll discuss; please try and ignore the incredibly irritating watermark and timecodes that the poster has embedded. The real craziness kicks in around the three minute mark:
What’s funny is that while the narration talks about “World Showcase”, that model we see as the camera pans down is actually EPCOT Center. The sign even says so! This is the first version of EPCOT Center to bear that name, after the Future World Theme Center and World Showcase concepts were merged into a single location at some point in 1976. What you can’t tell from the film is that the park’s layout was flipped from its final orientation; the north-facing entrance would have led guests through World Showcase before they crossed a bridge into Future World. This World Showcase, as you can see in the film, retained the idea from an earlier concept of keeping all the international pavilions in a large, “modern”, semi-circular building.
At around 3:20 in the film, you can even make out the load area for the Japanese omnimover attraction, which files off over a hill into the distance.
One wonders why the entire EPCOT concept isn’t mentioned; it’s amusing to think that the concept for the attraction changed so much between the time the narration was written and recorded and the film was shot, that the narration was totally outdated. But such was the nature of EPCOT development in the 1970s.
Other things of note in the film: First, how incredibly nice and pristine the entire resort looks. White sand beaches on every beach, and around every island. Discovery Island and River Country in perfect condition, neither of them overgrown, moldy and desolate. At the 25 second mark we even get a great shot of the lovely Fort Wilderness Railroad in action. Osceola-class steamers ply the lagoon, and down at the Village everything is immaculate, unified in design, and inviting. Even the Contemporary is sleek and iconic, unburdened by the circus tent convention center or the unfortunate DVC tower.
In the parks we see a number of lost treasures, from the Skyway to the spotless and streamlined Tomorrowland to the always-impressive 20,000 Leagues lagoon. We even get a shot of Center Street, before it was assimilated by the Main Street Mall. Behind the scenes we get a rare shot of the character zoo, some great “making of” footage (no one could paint a fish like WED Enterprises!) and some really cool shots of a Nautilus being assembled. Too bad there couldn’t have been more insight into the fantastic laser beam holographs.
The concrete bunker used for “CASTING” really cracked me up; I guess with Walt Disney World’s ties to the Nixon administration they had to be prepared for first-strike capability. There’s also a rare shot of the building where all the trash sent rocketing through the AVAC wound up.
Now, to go get in line for that Japan omnimover…