October 2011 Disney World Trip Report, Pt VIII

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the Retro-Day WDW meet. Conceptually, the meet centered around its attendees dressing in attire from 1971, when the Vacation Kingdom opened. I loved the idea, as Sarah and I enjoy dressing well, and 70s-era Walt Disney World saw Guests who were better dressed, in general. It also saw some eccentric attire, but I’d say in general the attire was men in slacks (and possibly coats and ties) and women in dresses.


Given the weather in Florida the prior days and the fact that we’d already be traveling with 2 Halloween costumes each during the trip, we opted against dressing up for the events. Still, we wanted to go, as there were some folks with whom I had interacted a lot on Twitter who’d be attending.

It turned out to not be a big deal that we didn’t dress up. Most people didn’t, or didn’t dress the way I would have expected to see a Guest in the 70s dress. To be sure, there were multiple ways to go with it: the retro-hipster look, the refined and proper look, or even the flower child look. Of the people who dressed up, I’d say most fell into the last category. For whatever reason, I don’t associate this with Walt Disney World Guests of the 70s, but obviously my knowledge isn’t first hand. I’m probably just not looking at the right photos. That, or even back then, Disney’s media team mandated that long-haired freaky people need not apply for its publicity shots.

The event was really popular. I’m not sure how many people showed up for it, but it had to have been around 50 or more. Not bad for an event that was organized only a few weeks before the actual anniversary and was advertised largely through social media. I guess that really shows where the Disney fan community is mobilizing now.

As we were chatting with other attendees, world famous podcaster and international celebrity (I’m pretty sure he even has his own brand of laundry detergent in Japan!) Lou Mongello stopped by. He was accompanied by his posse (presumably all armed to the teeth) and carrying a laptop in the midst of his 40-hour live show. Lou is some sort of crazy Disney social-media genius. I throw the “crazy” in there because his 40-hour live show was 40 consecutive hours. That’s “hardcore” as the kids would say.

Lou chatted with the organizer of the event, Travis Munson (world famous creator of DiscussionKingdom.com and @Exprcoofto on Twitter) and then came over to interview me. In circumstances when I’m interviewed, I usually like to have my publicist approve questions with at least 72 hours advance notice. I also typically like to have six bottles of Avian bottled water on hand chilled to exactly 39 degrees. I also like the key light source to be 2750 degrees. None of these accommodations had been made, but since it was Lou, I proceeded.

I don’t really remember about what we talked, but if you watched I’m sure I came across awkwardly. There’s a reason I don’t do live audio or video broadcasts…it’s because I’m awkward when I have to give impromptu or improvised responses. Behind the safe-haven of my keyboard, I can pause for a few moments as I think up witty replies or things to write. It’s much easier to come across as sharp or cheeky that way, I’ve found. Maybe you disagree, and find me quite awkward via text as well.

Now is as good of a time as any to mention it, but I’ve been working with Lou and Tim from Celebrations Magazine on a Walt Disney World Christmas book that should be coming out soon. Check it out at Celebrations Press. You might recognize a few of the photos on the preview cover and pages.

After Lou and his posse left, I noticed a few of the guys we had seen at Destination D in May. I had interacted with them some on Twitter prior to the trip, but it was really cool to actually meet them in person. I was quite surprised and flattered that some of them liked my photography. I’ve been a fan of the work for a while!

Mr. Mutton Chops actually is the one who inspired Sarah to use Instagram. It has been a great outlet for her creativity, but I didn’t know if I should thank him or shake my fist at him, as Sarah was really hooked on Instagram. Many times, I’d ask her to snap a quick photo of something, and instead of pulling out her wonderful DSLR, she pulled out her phone and brought up Instagram. As cool as I think Instagram is (and unlike many “real” photographers, I don’t hate it–I think it serves its purpose of dressing up photos on camera phones quite nicely and has a nice social media component, as well), I’d rather have our trip report photos be of a little higher quality.

We chatted with them as we headed into Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. It was odd that we had only done around 5 attractions that day, yet we had done the Tiki Room multiple times. We normally experienced it once per trip, at most. Having the original back made a big difference for us. Hopefully the rest of the vocal minority that was so excited to get it back (many of whom acted “enraged” by Under New Management) similarly support the restoration of the classic. While I don’t believe playing up to nostalgia is always the solution, as it encourages stagnation or even regression, I think it was the right solution here. Hopefully that is affirmed for Disney with positive numbers for the classic attraction.

I’ve made it my goal to photograph every bird in the Tiki Room, so please bear with me for a few photos. This quest is currently ongoing.

There are multiple pages in this Walt Disney World trip report installment. Navigate to the next page below!

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

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7 Responses to “October 2011 Disney World Trip Report, Pt VIII”

  1. Memory Lane says:

    Another thrilling post . . . suspense, pathos, opinions galore, and even a little bloodshed!

    I went to WDW several times in the 1970s, including relatively soon after opening, and, regarding dress, here’s what I remember and what I see when I look at the family photos: t-shirts, polo shirts, short shorts (very short by today’s standards-at least for men), tube socks, tennis shoes, patterns on women’s clothing that I now think of as “psychedelic” or flowery, bell-bottom pants and jeans, longish sideburns on men, fabrics that come from no natural fiber, and lots of colors in that unique 70s spectrum (“burnt orange” and “avocado” both come to mind). On a side note: there were few really fat people, but there were also no really buff, work-out-at-the-gym people, either. Most people just looked normal, kind of average.

    You didn’t see many real countercultural types at Walt Disney World; there wasn’t a big native population of hippies in central Florida, and they were unlikely to make a long trip to go to Disney World, though, of course, there were probably exceptions. WDW, it will come as no surprise, was and is a playground of the bourgeoisie. You also didn’t often see anyone dressed up, as they are in the early publicity shots, picture books, etc. As I understand it, Disney had some difficulty in figuring out who the WDW target audience was. These were “resort hotels,” after all, and this was billed overall as a “resort.” That word, for most people, conjured a very upscale experience, and that idea is reflected in the early photography, where you see a lot of men in coats and ties, for example, something I never saw at WDW (though to read the remarks of some of the old codgers on various Disney blogs, apparently it was quite the thing at Disneyland in the early years). It’s also apparently true that, having not yet opened, many of the earliest publicity shots were populated with Disney executives and their families, who were dressed accordingly.

    You’re right that Space Mountain in WDW is superior. Though some aspects of Disneyland are unique and beautiful in a very special way, and though it holds a place in history and in the heart of our national experience that can never be rivaled, the truth is that a lot of things at WDW are better than Disneyland. That’s the way it was supposed to be. That’s why Walt Disney wanted to build a new and different park, to improve on what he had done, correct the errors, and expand the concept in new ways. If old Uncle Walt were alive today, one hand clutching a cigarette and the other a glass of Scotch whisky, and if he heard someone say that so-and-so is better at WDW than at Disneyland, I expect he would say, “Damn right it is!”

  2. Cait says:

    Great pictures of Wishes, but I have to agree on two points. First, I was a little disappointed too that essentially it was a regular showing of Wishes with some perimeter bursts. I wish they would have added some sort of audio commemorating the occasion. The other point I have to agree on was the lack of crowd control before and after Wishes. We approached the hub from Tomorrowland and attempted to get across to the opposite side of Main Street and it was literally impossible. We ended up crammed against a railing near the smoking area outside of the Ice Cream Parlor. But it was getting out that was the real problem. We were able to cross to the other side of Main Street, but it was still just as crazy with the amounts of people. I actually had to stop to help someone stand their stroller back up after another guest had toppled it without even realizing. Luckily there was no child in the stroller at the time. But it was really incredible to me that Disney did not anticipate needing any crowd control. Even if the crowd had been say, 2/3 of what it had been, it still would have been necessary. This is where safety becomes more of an issue than slow moving crowds. Hopefully next time there will be a little more presence and control by the Cast Members and security.

  3. Memory Lane Redux says:

    I’m back . . . My historical ramblings of earlier in the day carried me away, and I neglected to add a bit of information on lobster rolls (I’m in New England). It’s not uncommon to find them in quick-service restaurants, so it’s appropriate that they’ve appeared in the good ol’ Columbia Harbour House. You’re actually likely to find the best ones in the little local seafood shacks and shanties along the coast, the kind of places where you walk up to a window to place your order and then eat at an old wooden picnic table. The fact that lobster is a relatively pricey item is really the only thing that might cause them to be considered upscale. They’re basically a buttered, grilled hot dog bun with cold lobster salad inside. They are most deeeeeeeeelicious.

  4. Michelle Schaefer says:

    I too am rather disappointed by the lack of a ‘year long 40th Anniversary celebration’. I just assumed there would be one…we had originally planned for a trip to WDW in early December and I just figured the ’40th Anniversary Celebrations’ would still be going on. And the ‘lets wait for the 50th to have a big party’ doesn’t really fly with me…that’s 10 years away! I don’t think having a big 40th celebration would deter people from going again in 10 years for another big celebration…especially the ‘real’ Disney fans! And from a marketing standpoint, I would think it would only draw more guests if those thinking about a WDW vacation pulled up the Disney website and saw a big 40th Anniversary celebration banner. But hey, I guess you and I don’t make those decisions (lol!) so we just take what they give us & remain the the diehard Disney fans that we are:)

  5. BreaPhotog says:

    Beautiful Pictures and Story Tom. I have only been to the WDW Resort 3 times but after reading your reports I feel as though I know it as well as I know my very dear Disneyland. I live about 14 miles from the Disneyland Resort and have been going there since about 1958. I loved the fireworks shots. Great job. Would it be too much trouble for you to explain your infrared shots? Equipment?

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