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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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WDW Before Opening Day 1971

Walt Disney World opened 40 years ago today. Here we bring you photos of some of the work that went on before Opening Day- October 1, 1971.

On the left (below) you see the foundation of Cinderella Castle taking shape and the utilidor tunnel being built under what would become the castle moat. Now on the right you see the same tunnel but covered in dirt. What looks like a trench next to the covered tunnel is not actully the tunnel. I imagine it was the last bit to be filled in or was used to access something. Notice the underground offices, shops, utility access, storage, etc. behind the castle foundation. This area exists today under Fantasyland.


Below you see the back end of the castle with views of restaurant construction and what is now the Castle Suite.

Looks like a fancy tool for inserting strands of hair into this Jungle Cruise lion. In more recent years I remember using a needle with half its eye cut off with the point inserted into a wooden handle.

Notice the maquette of the gorilla holding the rifle next to the full size figure of the same gorilla.

Check out the guy in back of the station wagon filming the elephant on its way to the Jungle Cruise.

Anyone know exactly where this yellow building is today? I always figured it was in downtown Orlando but really, I have no way of knowing.

UPDATE: Thanks to comments by World Famous Dave Ensign and Cousin Orville we have the location of the "yellow building". Seen here is the building in Plant City (as predicted by Dave) at the corner of Highways 39 and 92. The photo from Google Street View (as found by Cousin Orville) shows the building today almost exactly how it looked 40+ years ago. Mystery solved!

Speaking of where things are today... below we bring you a little bonus. A quick search on Bing Maps shows us an old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Nautilus submarine at backstage Epcot of all places. And right in front of it, an old Jungle Cruise boat. Yep, still hanging around. Used now and again for special events.

Before any of the above photos were taken, this model was built:

Click to enlarge and look closely. Clearly on the right you'll see the never-built Thunder Mesa. Look in the background. Behind John Hench on the right, is that a model of the Magic Kingdom Monorail Station? Towards the center it looks like a rather large model of the Contemporary. And to the far left, a tiki bird!

Happy b-day, Walt Disney World. You haven't changed a bit.

Thank you, The Story of Walt Disney World Commemorative Edition for the great pics. All photos ©Disney.

Related posts:

Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
THEN AND NOW: MK Adventureland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Liberty Square [Part 1]
Disneyland in 1955
EYE CANDY: National Geographic Aug '63


References (2)

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  • Response
    VRy interesting to study it
  • Response
    ... - אין ספק שבעולמנו, נכון להיום, למראה החיצוני ישנה השפעה עצומה על חיינו ועל ההתנהלות היום יומית שלנו. ההמלצה החשובה הגדלת חזה השוואת מחירים, שנותן מנתח היא, ניתוח החזה הנפוץ ביותר... WDW Before Opening Day 1971 - Imagineering Disney - ...

Reader Comments (25)

Thanks for sharing these photos! Great history there...

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

That's Court Goudy giving the Lion implants and Ken Forsey scaling up the big fish. Wathel Rodgers, Gary Younger and Yale Gracey not listening to the Bears directions. Bill Martin is pointing to Walt disney World model, as John Hench on right and Card Walker stand together. Dick Nunis may be in the back. Those were the days! Almost looks like the same people pointing over the EPCOT model a few years later. The Swiss Family Tree House reminds me of the scale of the Africa Pavillions Tree House. After shrinking it 3 times John Hench said it's just too big compaired to the other pavillions and needs it's own park. John was right and Animal kingdom was born with it's Tree of life. PD

October 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

Kim- Thanks for enjoying!

Professional Dreamer- You competed the post just how I was hoping to complete it. ButI didn't know all those names. I so wish I was around during these early day. PS- Keep the great insightful comments coming! Maybe we should invite you to write an old-school insider article for us. :)

October 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterAdmin

I love this post! I love every one but this one is special.

PD, thanks for filling in some names. Absolutely wonderful that you can give these wonderful people credit. THANK YOU:)

About the 20k pics. Folks always assume that the subs are traveling through downtown Orlando. That never would have happened unless the driver lost his way and forgot to exit at WDW. Remember, the subs were built at a Tampa shipyard (I have the location written down somewhere and I'll try to find it)
If you look at the first sub pic you'll see a road sign pointing to highway 39 on the western side of Florida. 39 runs North to South with an intersection at I-4 happening in Plant city.,-82.09259&spn=0.335313,0.672226&t=m&z=11&vpsrc=6

Because of the slow process of trucking them to WDW I imagine they were hauled, not on I-4, but on Highway 92 which runs from the heart of Old Tampa Bay and just so happens to graze WDW property. I'm willing to bet that this picture was taken very near Plant City Florida on Highway 92.

Who cares?! ...............................I do. Just for kicks let's find that yellow building:)

October 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWorld Famous Dave Ensign


Thanks to your great guess of this being in Plant City, FL -- coupled with the fact that I have too much time on my hands tonight -- I have found it! To be fair, you were dead on... it's literally at the intersection of the 92 and 39.


October 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCousin Orville

Dave, Cousin Orville- Geniuses! I didn't even notice that Highway 39 sign. I will have to update the post now with your findings.

October 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterAdmin


October 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterAdmin

That guy putting hair in the lion's mane is rocking some seriously groovy circa 1969 pants. I know because I had the exact same pair. And I went out in public like that.

And now I feel old............

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEduardo

Thanks, Cousin Orville and! That's absolutely incredible!

This pic has been mislabeled for years both on the web and printed publications. I'm pretty sure it's labeled "Orlando" in "Since the World Began". Sell your copy at your next garage sale.

It's also been misidentified as downtown Cleveland by the manager of the Magic Kingdom Art P trailer. She was so close!

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWorld Famous Dave Ensign

Glad the great submarine mystery has finally been solved! Gotta love modern technology. Walt would be proud... :)

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCousin Orville

I like the Magic Kingdom Monorail station model in the last picture. Right behind John Hench's ass.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWorld Famous Dave Ensign

Of all the strange and wonderful things in these pictures, the thing that gave me a real double-take was the guy smoking his pipe as he programmed the Country bear Jamboree!

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I am not sure how old that Bing map picture is, but the Nautilus behind The Land pavilion has been gone since before Dec 09. In Aug of 08 while taking the 'Behind the Seeds' tour of The Land pavilion while walking backstage I caught a glimpse of this:
and was just in awwww that one was still around.

Then in Sept 08 I took the tour again and got a better view of it:
When I asked about it and the JC boat, the tour guide let me know they were back there for the BIG tour that they offer of all of the parks and the bus would actually take you to that are and they would give you some of the info about the 'bone yard'.

But when I took the tour in Dec of 09 all the items were gone. They might have relocated them to a different are but I have not been able to find anymore info about them since then. While they might have moved everything back sometime after Dec 09, when I saw it they had removed that whole area.

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeremiah Good

Thanks for these great photos! With respect to the 20k's still around and still used for special events at Epcot. It's not from the MK ride however. It was part of the original fleet at the special effects water tank on the backlot tour at the Studios. While it retains more of the detail from the film than the ride vehicles, it is unfortunately just an empty half-shell, as it was desgined to sit partially "submerged" in very shallow water. Wow. I can't belive I just wrote all that.

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEDak

I can't believe you wrote that either, EDak, because you are completely wrong.

It's a genuine boat from the attraction, pulled from the fleet, cut-off at the waterline and aft of the dorsal, and with the interior fixtures ripped out. The hatches were sealed shut, but the definition is still there. Similarly, you can still see the twin-stops for the bottom of the load ramp on the bow and the flap on the Sail (port-side) for dock-to-helmsman communication. She's the Real McCoy.

Putting it in the 'Harbor Attack' tank at MGM was an afterthought; it wasn't 'designed' to sit as a prop. It was designed to carry forty wide-eyed kids around a big glorified swimming pool for ten minutes, giving them the ride of their lives, and it should still be doing that today.

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterManEatingSharks

I would drink to that

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphilphoggs

The looks behind the scenes, especially the history that you guys are able to complile, is phenomenal. Thanks for your research and the effort you put into writing and posting it all for us.

October 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPee Dee Foodie

I just looked at Google Maps on the satellite tab and the submarine shows in it also! It looks like it has been moved some though. I am not sure when the Google photo was taken.

October 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

Outstanding. I've always been a huge fan of old WDW pics, especially those with Imagineers. I'd love to see one of the area before they even broke ground.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWDWFanBoyBrett

LOL! "You haven't changed a bit!" Care to explain the removal of "Snow Whites Scary Adventures" for "The Disney Princesses to Some Crap that Has Nothing to Do With Their Movies"?

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Oriotis

Somewhere in my teen years stash, I have the original souvenir book that these photos came from. I started looking through this post and remembered them from the "making of" book. Love it.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMyra

My name is Jim La Foe and i was one of the first to work at WDW. I have often wondered if they ever have a reunion for the originals. anybody knows ,let me know.I was on grounds maintenance for the summer I was a young man then I am 69 now. But have many fond memories to look back on. Jim La Foe(

November 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames M. LaFoe

Edak is right.

That's not a sub from the 20k ride. The scale is quite different as is the construction. I have worked on, around, and inside that shell many times. It's not a ride vehicle. Never was.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScoop Brady

Looking for video or pics of a 1932 Cadilliac Lasalle that was in the opening day parade. I located the car it has been in storage since that day and has not seen the light of day since the parade. Please contact me

May 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

looking for diagram of it's a small world to build a model of it. Want to build all of Disneyland but think that will take forever :)

October 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGary Hunley

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