... in the 1980’s

WDW Magazine - - Content - BY CARL TRENT

I can al­most hear the mu­sic…

“There’s a great big beau­ti­ful to­mor­row…”

Oh, hi again. Wel­come to the 1980’s. It’s a big time here it the good old US of A. It’s a big elec­tion year. The Cold War is rag­ing and our pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter is mak­ing noise about boy­cotting the Olympics. If he keeps talk­ing like that that silly ac­tor from Bed­time with Bonzo just might beat him in Novem­ber.


Here in Florida, Walt Dis­ney’s “Va­ca­tion Kingdom” is start­ing its sec­ond decade. Big things are hap­pen­ing. Big Thun­der Moun­tain is about to open and the big ground break­ing for the new Ex­per­i­men­tal Pro­to­type Com­mu­nity of To­mor­row was a smash hit. Walt’s dream of EP­COT is just a few months away.

The 80’s are an in­ter­est­ing time for Dis­ney. Walt’s death has left the com­pany floun­der­ing. Michael Eis­ner came over from Para­mount Pic­tures to take over as CEO and boy did things start cook­ing.

In one decade Walt Dis­ney World ex­panded from 1 to 3 theme parks as a movie park opens up. Oh that’s go­ing to be fun.

A lot of changes are hap­pen­ing in the Magic Kingdom. If You Had Wings will change a cou­ple of times and end up as Delta Dream­flight and across the way, Mis­sion to Mars gets taken over by a scary alien. I just hope they don’t turn out the li… Yikes.

With that I guess it’s time to move along be­fore they turn out the lights on me. Let’s see what’s com­ing up in the Decade of Dis­ney. Come on, sing with me…

“There’s a great big…”


June 7, 1980 was the first time I en­tered the hal­lowed grounds of Walt Dis­ney World. It was a much dif­fer­ent place back then.

The Magic Kingdom was not quite 9 years old yet. The trees were still pretty small. The park was still a one-day park. Oh, and it was the only park. Ep­cot was still 2 years away.

For only $9 you could get into the Magic Kingdom and ride 8 rides, and for just $3 more you could get a 12 ride ticket book. E-tick­ets were still in use and the full day Passports were just get­ting started.

In 1980, only the Con­tem­po­rary Re­sort, the Poly­ne­sian Vil­lage Re­sort and Fort Wilder­ness Camp­grounds were avail­able on­site for guests to stay at. Even the Walt Dis­ney World Vil­lage (now Dis­ney Springs) didn’t have ho­tels yet.


The decade of the 80’s was prob­a­bly the golden years when it comes to Walt Dis­ney World ex­pan­sion. This is when the con­struc­tion boom started. It was kind of like the gold rush of the 1800’s.

Ep­cot opened in 1982. Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios opened in 1989. The Grand Florid­ian and Caribbean Beach Re­sorts opened along with Plea­sure Is­land and Typhoon La­goon. Plans were made for a whole slew of new re­sorts to come on­line in the 1990’s. With 2 new theme parks open­ing the 80’s it was a time where a lot of “Gone But Not For­got­ten” at­trac­tions got their start.

Here they are by park/lo­ca­tion


• Coun­try Bear Jam­boree Christ­mas Show

• If You Could Fly and it’s suc­ces­sor Delta Dream­flight

• Mickey’s Birth­day­land

• Amer­i­can Jour­neys (a Cir­cle­vi­sion 360 show)

I loved that Coun­try Bear Jam­boree Christ­mas Show. It was bet­ter than the reg­u­lar show. I don’t know why they don’t bring it back to­day. It was one of our fa­vorites at Christ­mas.

The oth­ers, I don’t re­ally miss. Buzz Lightyear is way bet­ter than If You Could Fly or Delta Dream­flight.

A few year ago, Sto­ry­book Cir­cus area took the place of Mickey’s Toon­town Fair which took the place of Mickey’s Birth­day­land. Sto­ry­book Cir­cus is in­cred­i­ble. Big up­grade there.

Oh, and there’s no con­test - Mon­sters Inc. Laugh Floor wins to­day against the 1980’s Cir­cle­vi­sion 360 film (those things make me sick).


• Kitchen Cabaret

• Odyssey Restau­rant

• Com­mu­ni­core East and West

• Hori­zons

• World of Mo­tion

• Won­ders of Life Pav­il­ion

• Broccoli and Co.

• Ep­cot Poll

• A New World Fan­tasy in World Show­case La­goon

• Laser­phonic Fan­tasy World Show­case La­goon

• Cap­tain EO

It’s hard to be­lieve how much of Ep­cot has changed since open­ing day. A lot of great changes have come, but I do wish the Won­ders of Life Pav­il­ion would open back up. I loved Body Wars and Cra­nium Com­mand. The kids could spend hours in the Won­ders of Life. Ep­cot needs more stuff for kids.

Hori­zons chang­ing to Mis­sion Space is kind of a tossup, but Test Track is LOTS bet­ter than the World of Mo­tion. I re­ally miss Kitchen Cabaret (and its suc­ces­sor Food Rocks.) I don’t know why Dis­ney put Soarin’ in the Land Pav­il­ion. Soarin’ is way cooler at Dis­ney­land where it has a fly­ing theme and its own build­ing. An avi­a­tion tech­nol­ogy pav­il­ion would have been cool.

I don’t think Dis­ney has ever quite fig­ured out what to do with the Com­mu­ni­core area. Hope­fully the new up­date will be good.

One of the things that re­ally puz­zles me is why Ep­cot doesn’t have an af­ter­noon show. That New World Fan­tasy show in the 1980’s was re­ally fun. There were day­time fire­works, hang glid­ers and - if I re­mem­ber right - even water skiers. I will say Il­lu­mi­na­tions: Re­flec­tions of Earth is bet­ter than the Laser­phonic Fan­tasy show.


• The Back­stage Studio Tour

• The Magic of Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion

• Mon­ster Sound Show

• New York Street

• Su­per­star Tele­vi­sion

You know it to­day as Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios and a lot of us are re­ally ex­cited about the changes com­ing to the third park. It’s amaz­ing how long the open­ing day shows ac­tu­ally lasted. Most of the clo­sures just hap­pened a few months ago in 2016. The Mon­ster Sound show has been gone for a while and Su­per­star Tele­vi­sion for a cou­ple of years, but over­all en­ter­tain­ment at this park has been very sta­ble.


• Plea­sure Is­land

To­day this area has mor­phed into Dis­ney Springs and I have to ad­mit, I never vis­ited Plea­sure Is­land when it was around. I didn’t even see the Ad­ven­ture’s Club un­til it was long closed. Sad for me, but it was never a pri­or­ity.

Dis­ney Springs, I have to say, is amaz­ing. What they have done with the old Plea­sure Is­land area is pretty cool. The Boathouse, Jock Lindsay’s Hanger Bar, and Mo­ri­moto Asia are all in­cred­i­ble. Keep­ing past suc­cesses like Raglan Road does keep some nos­tal­gia go­ing.

Yes, the clubs are gone, but the re­place­ments are pretty spe­cial.


• Dis­ney Dol­lars

The one thing I never thought Dis­ney would get rid of is Dis­ney Dol­lars. They lit­er­ally had a li­cense to print money. I don’t know how many mil­lions of Dis­ney Dol­lars each year went home as sou­venirs. Why would you do away with that? Crazy but true.

The 1980’s re­ally were a spe­cial time for Walt Dis­ney World. It re­ally be­came a world-class va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion. To­day’s WDW is a whole lot dif­fer­ent from the sleepy lit­tle re­sort I vis­ited in 1980. But for the most part, it’s lots bet­ter.

Photo by Kath­leen Lo­gan Wolfe

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