... in the 1980’s
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.
THE 80’ S AND THE DISNEY COMPANY
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…”
FAST FORWARD TO 1980
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 GOLDEN YEARS OF EXPANSION
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
• 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.
DISNEY- MGM STUDIOS
• 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.
WALT DISNEY WORLD VILLAGE
• 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.
AROUND THE WORLD
• 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.