February 5, 2019 – “Moments of the Past: First-Hand Witness to the Early Days of Walt Disney World”

Hello, everyone!

The historic journey through Walt Disney World’s continued today as I continued to review Barron Richter’s footage. Among the highlights included the Opening of Space Mountain, several visits to Tomorrowland, and the bicentennial celebration of America’s independence at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. All represent moments in time that those present experienced it treasured, while those who succeeded them rely on their predecessors’ records for a glimpse of those special occasions. As part of the Special Collections and University Archives, the honor of watching these events from a bystander’s perspective is one I am pleased to be allowed this privilege.

After setting up the Home Movies Collection hard drive, I resumed the footage from yesterday and I noticed more and more of how Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom looked in its first years. The Skyway remained a constant interest by the Richter family as there happened to be just as much of it as the monorails. Since the attraction closed on November 10, 1999, the footage presents a sight for current Disney fans to appreciate. Another area heavily featured area in the footage includes Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland, one of Walt Disney’s treasured concepts, allowed visitors to catch a glimpse of what Disney thought the future’s projection headed for (remember: 1960s perspective, not 2010s perspective). At least that is the idea behind the presentation of the attractions, which is updated constantly to keep Tomorrowland fresh. In 1973, Barron Richter and his family filmed some key attractions, specifically the WEDWay PeopleMover (still in existence) and the Grand Prix Raceway (now known as Autopia).

The PeopleMover transit’s stations allowed visitors to travel from the various attractions in Tomorrowland. The Richters seemed to take advantage of the service, especially during the early years and understandably so (the attraction just opened). The design of the Grand Prix Raceway, sponsored by Goodyear, did not seem to fit the theme of Tomorrowland. Still, the attraction seemed to popular with younger audiences.

An important moment for the park occurred on January 15, 1975, as Space Mountain opened with much fanfare. As seen in the Richters’ film,  the fireworks,  performances by Lucie Arnaz and Tommy Tune,  appearances by astronaut Gordon Cooper, and parades were recorded and made into a TV Special. While the Richters did not record inside Space Mountain’s ride, they continually proved to be at the right place at the right time and that continued with holidays.

The Richters spent a few holidays at Walt Disney World, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas. The real gem amidst these holiday experiences was the Bicentennial Independence Day Celebration in 1976. While Thanksgivings and Christmas celebrations are important, an event like the Bicentennial only come once in a lifetime. Thankfully, the Richters managed to record the occasion. An impressive firework display followed by a light display of the flag of the United States made the event worth watching.

After watching the fireworks, I managed to move on to the next footage file. Among the memories depicted included a visit to Disneyland in California. Before I could finish, my shift came to an end. After returning all the materials related to the collection back to the stacks, I bade farewell to the staff and left for the day.

In review, I watched more key moments in Disney history recorded by the Richters. Tomorrow, I plan to finish the current film that contains a trip to the La Brea Tar Pits. Until then, enjoy the evening and stay safe! Bye!

Author: 57r3l574d

I am currently a Graduate Student at the University of Central Florida and simultaneously employed by the university library's Special Collections and University Archives as a Other Personnel Service (OPS) Student. Expected to graduate in 2019 with a History MA - Public History Track.

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