The Looking Back series returns with a look at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World from 20 years ago, with these photos from April 1995. I was there as a chaperon on a high school band trip, enjoying the lighter crowds and slightly cooler weather. New Tomorrowland was still new, and lots of other things were happening all over the park. Let’s take a look!
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom, as we arrive by ferryboat across Seven Seas Lagoon. As nice as it is to be whisked in by Monorail, the view from the ferry can’t be beat! It might take just a little longer to get there, but sometimes it helps to start the day off with a slightly more relaxing place. That is, until the boat arrives at the dock and everyone else is rushing off trying to get in as quickly as they could. But back in these days, there weren’t any bag check stations to slow you down.
This nice fountain was found just inside Main Street USA, right after you passed under Main Street Station, near the Walt Disney Story. I enjoyed seeing that little garden, a peaceful corner of the always bustling Magic Kingdom. As you can see, the birds were enjoying the fountain, too. Is that fountain and the garden that surrounds it even still there? I’ll have to check that out sometime.
As we move through Town Square, the Walt Disney World Band is having a concert near the flag pole. I miss the days when they used to do formal sit-down concerts like that. And I miss the full band, too. They have since been replaced with a smaller ensemble, and while that group is talented, they just don’t have the same sound as the larger band.
The concert has now ended, and you can see that the band has left their seats, so let’s move on along down Main Street USA toward Cinderella Castle. Those large trees in front of the castle at the far end of the street are long gone now. And the statue of Roy O. Disney and Minnie Mouse is now in the foreground area of this photo. Lots has changed at both ends of the street, it seems. Not to mention all of the changes that have happened to the shops along the way.
The Dapper Dans are out singing along Main Street USA, and they even have their chimes with them. The Dapper Dans these days are still good, but I miss seeing what were to me the familiar faces of the “old guys” such as the lineup here of Bub, Joe, Neel, and Steve. Does it make me a geek if I can name the Dapper Dans?
Yes, every Magic Kingdom post has to have at least one photo of Cinderella Castle, doesn’t it? SO here you go. The castle was looking good back then, as it always does, of course. And this was before the days when they turned it into a large pink birthday cake, put a big “magic mirror” on the front of it, and started projecting things on it at night. In other words, it was just a nice, ordinary castle. Little did it know what was in store for its future.
Moving on to Adventureland, we see the Adventureland Veranda restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant had closed the summer before, so I was out of luck in my hunger for a delicious Teriyaki Burger for lunch. The building was empty, although in later years the veranda area was used for character greetings and such. And now, the space is being renovated for a new restaurant themed to the Jungle Cruise. Should be interesting to see how that turns out.
Let’s hop aboard the Walt Disney World Railroad here at Frontierland Station for a grand circle tour around the Magic Kingdom. Frontierland Station was still relatively new back then, even though you can’t tell by looking at it, thanks to its weathered appearance. No, they meant for it to look old like that. Really.
Hey wait, how did we take a photo of the railroad while we are riding the railroad? Well actually, this photo was taken at a different time, obviously. This is Engine No. 2, the Lilly Belle, seen from the walkway to the Monorail station outside of the Magic Kingdom. These days, there is a security fence that makes this view a little less attractive, too. That’s progress for you.
Okay, we are back in Frontierland now, and it is time for a visit to Splash Mountain. Of course, this probably would have made for a better photo if I had waited until the log was in the foreground instead of taking it when the log was just starting down the mountain. But this was still back in the days of film photography, so this was my one Splash Mountain photo. Oh well.
Next to Splash Mountain is Big Thunder Mountain. I don’t know how many photos I have that look pretty much exactly like this one, because I did manage to wait until the mine train was in the foreground for this photo. I thought I had this one hanging on my office wall, but in looking closer, the office photo is exactly the same except for the clouds in the sky being different. I wonder how many other very similar photos I have like this?
Across the Rivers of America is the Haunted Mansion, and if you look closely you can see that the Mansion is pulling in a large number of bodies. There also seem to be several people over on Tom Sawyer Island as well. A pretty busy day for the end of April, it seems.
Walking over to Fantasyland, we find the shiny new Dumbo ride, which replaced the shiny old Dumbo ride. Actually, this new version with six more Dumbos than the old version had been in place for a couple of years by this time, so it wasn’t exactly brand new any more. And look, what’s that up in the sky, flying even higher than a flying elephant? It’s a Skyway bucket! Yes, the Skyway was still in operation back then, giving a unique view of the Magic Kingdom from up above.
The Nautilus waits in the lagoon of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Fantasyland. And sadly, the Nautilus would be waiting for quite some time, because the ride had closed the previous year, as you can tell by the remarkably still water. The lagoon would sit there for quite some time before finally being removed. It was originally replaced by a Pooh-themed play area, and now the new Little Mermaid ride sits in its place. They even kept some of the old title by calling the new ride Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Although most people don’t realize that the attraction has a name besides “that Little Mermaid ride.”
Finally, we have arrived at New Tomorrowland! While some of the new stuff had been open the previous year, even more of it was open this year. That entrance arch thing is still cool to me, even after 20 years of being there. I don’t always understand what the big rocks at the entrance have to do with the future. I guess they are just there because the future rocks!
Walking under the entrance arch, we arrive at the Avenue of the Planets, apparently so named because of the planets on up ahead on the Astro Orbiter. And check out that futuristic speaker in the foreground, too, because I apparently didn’t notice how much it was in the frame when I took this photo.
One part of New Tomorrowland that hadn’t opened yet was Alien Encounter, as you can tell by the fact that there are no people waiting to get in. The attraction had soft-opened the previous winter, but it was decided by those in charge that it needed more work, so it wouldn’t actually open until sometime later on in the summer. And you probably know that after scaring kids for several years, it was eventually replaced by Stitch’s Great Escape, which also scares little kids.
There as quite a crowd at the Galaxy Palace Theater, as they were there to watch a show with Mickey Mouse and the gang. I thought it was cool to have a character show somewhere besides the stage in front of Cinderella Castle. And the show even included a live band, which I thought was a nice touch. But these days, the theater has been completely removed. You can often find Buzz Lightyear greeting guests in front of where the entrance used to be.
Hey, look - they are doing some television interviews at the Plaza Pavilion restaurant. And those aren’t just any people in matching Mickey Mouse shirts - those are Mouseketeers Bobby Burgess and Sharon Baird from the original Mickey Mouse Club! That ranks right up there with seeing Ed McMahon at the Disney-MGM Studios! I don’t have any idea now what the interviews were for, but it was nice to stand around and watch them talk for a few minutes.
That does it for this edition of Looking Back! Be sure to check back for more later on, and catch up with all of the past posts, too!