When Walt and Roy Disney held a press conference in the now-demolished Downtown Orlando Cherry Plaza Hotel in November 1965 to announce plans for what would eventually become Walt Disney World, the entire world took notice. From when construction began in mid-1967 until the park opened in October, 1971, getting any sort of information or update was a special treat, especially in that mid-20th-century era before there were television recording devices in the home, never mind the internet where you could share something with the world with the touch of a button!
Fortunately, some of those broadcasted shows, home movies and lots and LOTS of still photographs were saved, and thanks to modern-day technology (all hail YouTube!), we can still see them today. One of my favorites is a TV show that wasn’t from the United States but, of all places, the United Kingdom. It was broadcast a few months before WDW opened, showed lots of construction and had very interesting interviews with cast Members and Central Florida locals.
Alan Whicker was a British journalist and television presenter and broadcaster. His career spanned nearly 60 years, 30 of which included his documentary-style TV show called Whicker’s World.
The Whicker’s World show broadcast on July 19, 1971 was about the building of Walt Disney World and the anticipation of how the theme park empire, then the largest privately owned construction project ever, would change the lives of, not only those who visited it, but those who lived nearby. Entitled Pixie Dust on Goody-Goody Land, it shows Whicker as a bit cynical about the whole “Disney magic and pixie dust” idea, but the construction footage and Cast Member interviews, as well as the thoughts of the locals in the small, sleepy towns of Kissimmee (which would soon have quite an awakening!) and Windermere (population 312 registered voters) totally make it worth the 27-minute viewing.
(all hail YouTube!)
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary