Disney Stuff - Walt Disney World 25th Anniversary Vacation Planning Videoby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Sometimes being a Disney fan makes you an instant depository for everyone else's unwanted Disney stuff. Some people's Disney trash is certainly other people's Disney treasure, for example the item that I'm going to discuss today. Once upon a time some years ago, my sister-in-law was doing some spring cleaning and wisely decided it was time to throw away all of their old videotapes. The digital revolution had definitely made VHS tapes nothing more than clutter on most people's shelves. On her way to the trash bin, she did, however, put aside a few things for me, her Disney obsessed family member. One of them was this little piece of history that she had received for free almost 20 years ago.
The cover of the VHS tape box highlights the infamous Castle Cake. ©Disney Enterprises.
For years now Disney has been sending potential guests vacation planning videos. They're essentially a sales pitch to explain what all the fuss is about and show off whatever's new at the most magical place on Earth. For most people, it's a one-time view to help you make your decision on whether or not you want to make the pilgrimage to the most popular tourist destination on the planet. For others, like yours truly and I'm sure many of you out there, it's a priceless snapshot of a particular time period in Walt Disney World history. These videos are a professionally produced time capsule. If you were there at the time, they help you to reminisce. If you weren't there at the time, you can learn a lot about what your favorite place in the world was like 20 years ago and how dramatically it's changed.
This calendar of events from 1997 was included in the VHS box. ©Disney Enterprises.
A close up of the calendar shows the early 1997 events in more detail. ©Disney Enterprises.
In 1996, Walt Disney World began a nearly two year long 25th anniversary celebration with quite a bit of pomp and circumstance. While most people may remember their infamous decision to turn the most photographed icon in the world, Cinderella Castle, into a candy covered, Pepto Bismol pink birthday cake, there were many more new things to take notice of during this grand celebration. For example:
- Ellen's Energy Adventure at Epcot
- Mickey's Toontown Fair at the Magic Kingdom
- Disney's Boardwalk Resort
- World of Disney at the Disney Village Marketplace.
- Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure at Disney–MGM Studios.
- Illuminations 25 at Epcot
- Ariel's Grotto at the Magic Kingdom
That alone is a fairly impressive list of new attractions, redesigned lands and even a whole new resort, dining and shopping area on Crescent Lake adjacent to Epcot.
As you watch the video today—yes, I actually just watched it on an actual working VCR that I still have here in the basement—you're struck by what's featured that has since disappeared from Walt Disney World. For example:
- The Timekeeper in Tomorrowland
- ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter in Tomorrowland
- The Legend of the Lion King in Fantasyland
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon in Fantasyland
- The Hydrolators, Seacabs, and Seabase Alpha in the Living Seas
- The Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World
The Disney Studios (as it's referred to in the video)
- The Backlot Tour
- Superstar Television
- The Magic of Disney Animation
Let's not forget Pleasure Island, The Disney Institute, and River Country. So much has changed in 20 years. When you watch the video you not only realize what's been lost but what hadn't yet been added. For example:
- Disney's Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
- Test Track
- Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Disney Vacation Club
- Disney Dining Plan
So many of the these things that have become staples of even the casual Walt Disney World visitor weren't even a thought yet when this tape was being shipped home to families in 1996-97. It just goes to show you how much and how frequently things change.
I really enjoy looking at tapes like this, not too mention DVD's, brochures and travel magazines from Walt Disney World's storied history. It was fun to watch this tape with my 13-year-old boys. I realized how much of these things I got to see and experience that they never will and how many newer things that they just assume have always been there.
Seek out these tapes if you can find them. If you don't have a VCR anymore (and let's face it, you probably don't) there are plenty of them posted on YouTube nowadays, such as this one. Don't forget to check the bins at garage sales and flea markets. People can't wait to get rid of these old tapes and DVDs. Or maybe, you'll get lucky like I did and get a little piece of bona fide Disney history handed to you.
You begin to appreciate just how much of a living, breathing, and forever changing thing Walt Disney World really is. It truly drives home Walt's original thoughts on Disneyland: that it would never be completed and that, "It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."
Here's another link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GN5fArL-Xs
For more (1993 - Present), go to this playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...Nj4ohTuE6QYyea
Watching these videos is one of my favorite hobbies. It's so interesting and awesome to see how things have changed over the years...sometimes saddening too.
I have about 15 of these, some of them still on VHS. My favorite by far is the one with Erin, Dave, Stacey and Luke exploring the parks. Well produced, much higher production quality than the average promotional video.
I believe Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was also one of the notable rides still-in-existence in 1997 but no longer around.