Walt Disney World (WDW) is gearing up for its 50th anniversary that will occur later this year, and lots of people are looking forward to everything the park has in store to celebrate that monumental occasion.
Other people are using the birthday to look back on the past five decades in terms of how WDW has changed. Or maybe you’re like me and are simply more into the retro stuff.
If you’re in the latter group, you may be in luck. I recently found a website that has tons and tons of vintage WDW photos, audio, video and general info. Take a look…
If it’s pre-1990s, this amazing website probably has it available on video. Or at least pictures. Here’s how it came about, from the owner of RetroWDW.com himself:
Over the past few years there has a been a resurgence in the interest in retro and vintage Disney World. There are many blogs and discussions around the internet that are exploring the history, back-stories, mysteries and joy that many of us felt so many years ago. I read these blogs and I salute and give a hearty thank you to all those authors out there…The more I read, the more I realized that the blogs were only the tip of the iceberg. There were threads sharing photos of times gone by and people discussing now defunct attractions. I saw one major problem, all this information is nestled amongst news of DVC construction and the latest Next-Gen Fast Pass… If anyone was to try to find something they’d be searching for years…The design of this website is a bit different than most out there, it takes its cue from the growing social trend an has its roots in software that create a community based website. Most websites rely on discussion forums and news feeds for content. While we have forums, this site will put more emphasis on our users posting memories, photos, home movies & videos, all of which are displayed on the front page.
Some may ask why are we only focusing on pre-opening to 1990? That’s a great question and there are a few reasons. For one, anything in that twenty-some year span are now distant memories in our minds. Re-kindling those older thoughts will bring back a more prominent feeling of the way it used to be. Besides, the fashion and decor alone from this time period warrants a few hours of discussion! On another note, Disney has finally taken notice that retro is in high demand. Just last year we saw the Peoplemover name return and a short time ago a little bird flew back into Adventureland…Orange Bird had returned.
So the question remains, why is retro/vintage Walt Disney World becoming popular? I think I have the answer and I have experienced it first hand…That first visit in 1980 and subsequent trips gave my parents and grandparents great joy in watching me and my siblings experience the magic. We were the first generation to experience Walt Disney World first hand. And now, 40 years after it all started, we are returning and watching our own children have a first time encounter with Mickey. My son provided me with that inspiration as I walked through the parks with him, I realized that change is what a generation is about, but Walt Disney World, although changed over time, has kept a constant level of magic in our lives. Yet we always want to be a child again and relive those memories of the past.
So, to quote Walt Disney himself, “…I felt that there should be something built, some kind of family park website”…and thus, our journey back in time begins…
Yeah, it’s the perfect website for so much of the old and to get a perspective of how things have changed, but also how much they’ve stayed the same. Here are some of the goodies you can find on their site:
They have thousands of photos, slides and concept art of pre-opening and construction, parks & resorts, fining, shopping, entertainment & transportation, ephemera, cast members, “abandonedland,” aeriel photos, personal collections, and lots more.
Films & Video
This section of RetroWDW includes restored films from peoples’ home movies from the 1970s and 1980s (16mm, Super8, you name it!), official WDW (and some DL) films, and restored 8mm souvenir film that you used to be able to purchase at the parks. The info they give on the restoration process, as well as the “before and after” examples are pretty cool, too.
From slides to exclusive photos to audio of background music and attractions that you haven’t heard in more than 20 years. There are even some blog posts from Hoot Gibson – he was the guy who, with his friend Chief, snuck out of their ride vehicles in Horizons for a few years and videotaped/documented the entire attraction before it was demolished in the late 1990’s (click here to see the video – it’s amazeballs).
RetroWDW also has a podcast that is produced once or twice a month. Topics generally focus on little known facts about now-defunct attractions, lands and events in WDW’s history. So you may get to hear about Snow White’s Scary Adventure, the Skyway, the Swan Boats, Mickey’s Birthdayland, the Fort Wilderness Railroad, Christmas Around The World, Dreamflight, retro food & menus, or the wave machine in the lagoon outside the Polynesian Resort Hotel (and what that eventually spawned into).
I found this website to be a virtual rabbit hole of old-timey WDW goodness. If you’re into retro or vintage WDW, or just want to know more about the history of the resort, I strongly recommend RetroWDW.com.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary