Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy 40th Anniversary!!

I originally wrote this post for DisTherapy's 40 Days to 40 Years where they have people writing about different years. For some reason when it posted on DisTherapy I did not put any pictures with the post so it appears here complete with 38 year old pictures!
Disney Dad remembers Walt Disney World in 1973
December 24, 1973 I took my new bride to Walt Disney World for the first time. This was my 3rd or 4th trip, depending on whether you count going to the Preview Center before WDW opened and her first. We had been married a just a few days before, and had traveled to Central Florida to introduce my new bride to my sister’s family who were unable to come to our wedding.

We drove over to WDW to be there early on Christmas Eve. We rode the tram to the Main Entrance Complex and purchased our tickets. Admission to the Magic Kingdom was $6.75 for a 12 Adventure Ticket Book, which included Admission to the Magic Kingdom. (This was a lot of money for 19 year old newlyweds.) We took the ferry over to the Magic Kingdom to be there for the now famous “rope drop”. Except in 1973 we were about the only people on Main Street. It was the two of us on Main Street along with a few cast members. There were no crowds like you see today at the park. The park was decorated for Christmas with a large tree in Town Square at the start of Main Street USA and had garland strung across the street at intervals. While beautiful then, the decorations appear rather sparse when compared to the Christmas decorations used on Main Street today.

As you entered under the Train Station, to your right was The Walt Disney Story. We had walked around on Main Street for a while and decided to go in and watch the movie. We went in and while it was still early in the day, we had a private showing in the theater. Yes, it was just the two of us watching the movie about Walt’s life in the large theater all alone. It seemed strange then and would be impossible today to have any attraction all to yourself but there we sat all alone.

Strolling down Main Street early in the morning, we felt like we had the park all to ourselves. About half-way down on the left just passed the Emporium was a side street called West Center Street that had carts with artificial flowers setup like a street vendor. I have a picture of my wife among the flowers, again all alone. The street itself is no longer there as it has long since been filled in with more retail space. Back then, the Penny Arcade was an arcade that had turn of the century hand crank flip card “movies”. The Main Street Cinema was actually a cinema with movies playing on several small screens. Both are now shops.

In 1973 you had to carefully plan what you wanted to see and do. Our 12 Adventure Ticket book would have had 1-A, 1-B, 2-C, 4-D, and 4-E tickets. I don’t remember all what we did that day but several attractions have become favorites.

I know we would have used one of our D-tickets to see my favorite, The Mickey Mouse Review. Growing up on The Mickey Mouse Club on TV, I loved all the animatronics figures and songs. This one has long since been replaced, but I still remember it fondly anyway.

One of our E-Tickets would have gone to what has become my wife’s favorite attraction, The Haunted Mansion. This is one of the enduring attractions we still rarely miss. Another enduring attraction that had just opened was Pirates of the Caribbean. We probably were one of the first to go where “dead men tell no tales” as it officially opened in December 1973. Another E-ticket ride we did go on was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. There were animatronics divers, fish, and that monstrous squid. Other E-Ticket attractions we would have had to choose from were the Jungle Cruise, The Hall of Presidents, and It’s a Small World. Decisions, decisions, decisions. You wanted to see it all but it required more tickets and time (and money) than we had.

You had to choose what to do carefully. You’d end up at a ticket booth to buy one more E-ticket for that “other” ride you had to get on. Ticket booths in the park are a thing of the past, and today’s younger visitors probably wouldn’t understand why they can’t get on the same ride over and over, but E-Ticket lives on. “E-Ticket” has become part of our vocabulary for “one great ride”. Astronaut Sally Ride described her first trip into space on the Shuttle as “Definitely an E Ticket”.
As my wife and I approach our 38th anniversary and Walt Disney World approaches its 40th I can agree with Sally Ride they are “Definitely an E Ticket”.

Happy 40th Anniversary to the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World!

--Disney Dad for


  1. Wow, what an amazing post! I love hearing about what it was like from someone who was there in the 70's. Great pictures!

  2. Great post. I loves hearing it as if you were still there walking down main street.

  3. Great post! My in-laws came down for their honeymoon in '72!tHough they've been back many times since, we are so excited to help them celebrate their 40th next year with some special surprises! :)

  4. OK- I'm tearing up, AGAIN! I feel connected to any Disney photo that has that lovely "worn" quality. Unlike my pix from that year, yours are actually in focus!! Thank you so much again for this personal Disney love story; now complete with pictures...xo


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