Laura and I took a trip to Walt Disney World in June 1996. We actually visited the Magic Kingdom on two separate days during our trip (Remember back when there were only 3 parks? Or even further back when there were only 2 parks? Or only one park? Okay, so the one park days were before my time.). During our visits, we had some sun and some rain, just what you would expect from Central Florida weather. Here are some photos from our visit!
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World! It is always good to start with a look down Main Street USA, isn’t it? And it looks like we were not alone in the park on this day. But that is how summer days usually go.
Before we head off deeper into the Magic Kingdom, how about a little shopping? I thought this detail at one of the entrances to the Emporium was cool, so I took a photo of it. Looking back now, I still think it was pretty cool.
Laura has always been a fan of the horses that pull the trolleys down Main Street, because Laura has always been a fan of horses. We would often stop to see the horses on our way up and down Main Street. In the background, check out that old Tomorrowland entrance arch, which was still rather new at the time but has since been replaced.
The Partners Statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse was still relatively new back in 1996. And for many years, I was always trying to get a good photo of it. This was one of my attempts during this trip. At the time I took this photo, there was a show happening on the Cinderella Castle stage, so if you look between Walt and Mickey, you can see Mickey and Minnie on stage! And all those tree branches coming into the frame on both sides would soon be removed for the sake of allowing more people to see the stage shows and the fireworks. Pesky trees, blocking people’s views!
Speaking of things that were still relatively new, Splash Mountain fits into that category, too, as it had opened in the fall of 1992. And I include it here because it is now becoming a new Princess and the Frog attraction. That’s a bit disappointing to me, because Splash Mountain has always been one of my favorites since the time that it opened.
Here is another view of Splash Mountain, this time seen from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Again, I am including this because things are already starting to look different in that area.
Along with Splash Mountain, Frontierland Station of the Walt Disney World Railroad was also new, since Splash Mountain sits on the site of the old station. To me, this photo has always looked like it could be from the actual Old West and not just a theme park. The station had a nice rustic design, fitting in well between Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.
One more photo of Splash Mountain before we move along. This time both Splash Mountain and Frontierland Station are in the photo. This was once again taken from the Big Thunder Mountain area. Speaking of which…
Here is the mountain of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and one of the Mike Fink Keelboats passing in front of it as the keelboat cruises along the Rivers of America. This keelboat is the Gullywhumper, not to be confused with its sister keelboat, the Bertha Mae. The keelboats disappeared a few years after this, making this scene something from history.
Across the Rivers of America from Big Thunder Mountain and Frontierland is Harper’s Mill on Tom Sawyer Island. We would visit Tom Sawyer Island from time to time, but it was not someplace that we went to all that often. This time around, we just looked at it from across the river.
These Old West buildings are at the far western end of Frontierland, and they are the home to the restaurant that was at that time known as the Pecos Bill Cafe, and is now the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn. Same place, different name. I liked the architecture of these buildings, and I took photos of them on more than one occasion. This one was my favorite.
The Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland used to be a general souvenir store before it got overtaken by the pin trading craze some years after this photo. We always liked to wander through there to see what we could find. And I always liked how the sign read “Frontier Trading Post - “Texas” John Slaughter, Trail Boss”. If you did not know, Texas John Slaughter was a character in several episodes of the old Disney television show, although he was not quite as popular as Davy Crockett. Also, you can see someone coming out of the Trading Post wearing one of the yellow ponchos that took over the parks whenever rain came. Which must mean that it had started raining by this time.
Passing back through the middle of the Magic Kingdom during the rain, here is a rainy view of Main Street USA. At the left is the Kodak Camera Center. Remember when Kodak sponsored things in the Disney parks? Remember when people used cameras instead of phones to take photos? You could actually buy cameras, film, and other camera-related things in the store. Also, during the summer of 1996, there was a “Character Mascot Election” every day, and the candidates were Winnie the Pooh and Captain Hook. Spoiler alert: Pooh came from behind to win at the end. Every day. I think it might have been rigged. Anyway, the Camera Center was the Campaign Headquarters for Captain Hook, while Pooh’s headquarters were across the street. I guess this was some way to encourage people to vote in the presidential election that fall, maybe? Or maybe it was just to give people a break from all the serious debates and campaign stuff going on in the real world.
Keeping with the rain theme, here is a photo of the fire station of Engine Company 71, always a favorite photo subject of mine. By this time, the fire station was already being used as a gift shop instead of just a place to go inside and see an old-fashioned fire station. Evidently, the push to monetize everything possible happened before 1996. And all the patriotic decorations all over Main Street USA were again for the election thing.
What would the Magic Kingdom be without an afternoon parade? And the parade this year was, in the opinion of Laura and me, the greatest parade ever, the Mickey Mania parade. Mickey designs and shapes were everywhere, and there was a cool hip-hop soundtrack. I wish now that I had taken more photos of it. Also, Mickey usually rode on top of one of the floats, except when there was rain in the area, which was the case on this day. The parade would actually run in the opposite direction from most parades at that time, starting in Frontierland and ending on Main Street. My thought at the time was that this was due to the hill going up to the Frontierland end of the parade route and several of the performers being on roller skates. Can you imagine trying to skate up a hill after performing in a parade?
I have always liked this view of Fantasyland from the walkway leading to Liberty Square. The blue tile roofs on the building complemented the similar tile roofs on Cinderella Castle perfectly. And how are there no people in this photo? The rain must have driven them all away.
The rain had also stopped the Magic Kingdom Skyway from running. Yes, it was still there, as it did not close until 1999. The Tomorrowland Light and Power Company, which is the building in front of Space Mountain and was actually a video game arcade, was part of the new Tomorrowland which had opened the year before. And this photo was taken from the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, although us old-timers were still calling it the WEDway PeopleMover.
As evening comes, things begin to light up. I always liked this photo of Laura with Cinderella Castle in the early evening hours behind her. Evidently, we had done some shopping!
This photo makes it look like we were leaving the Magic Kingdom in the early evening. But in fact we were not. This was from a separate day, and we had not been to the Magic Kingdom at all, but rather we were just riding the Monorail from place to place. And thanks to the railroad engineer for waving when he saw that I was taking a photo! Pretty cool!
Check out some of the other Looking Back posts, and watch for more soon!