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A Dream Called Walt Disney World

Restored Video: A Dream Called Walt Disney World

A Dream Called Walt Disney World (USA PAL VHS 1981)

This 1981 souvenir VHS video showcases what a guest could expect when visiting the Walt Disney World resort just a decade into its operation. The video starts with a brief history lesson from Walt Disney himself and then proceeds with a tour of the Magic Kingdom. Next there is an overview of how transportation works in the vacation kingdom, and then a tour of Fort Wilderness, the Contemporary, and the Polynesian Resorts. Finally, other activities like Discovery Island, golf, and the Walt Disney World village shopping area are previewed.

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A Dream Called Walt Disney World

10.21.2020byDan Heaton //

If youve ever had a dream, and had that dream come true, then you know a little something about the magic of Walt Disney World. Narrator

Walt Disney World opened 49 years ago, and its changed a lot over the years. During its first decade, the resort only had one theme park and a small group of hotels. The foundation was in place for something larger, but Disney took its time. The 70s economy wasnt great, and planned expansions like Thunder Mesa were put on hold or shelved. Families visited The Magic Kingdom for a few days, enjoyed some recreation, and then went to the beach.

Disneys marketing also sold a much different experience than constant magic. Instead of focusing on princesses and one-of-a-kind experiences, Disney sold the relaxation of the entire grounds. They were a place to escape from the cares of work and enjoy laid-back fun. Water skiing and dinner shows felt as important as Mickey Mouse, pirates, and adventures to space and worlds of fantasy. My parents took us to Walt Disney World regularly as kids, but I visited in the 80s and early 90s. Even my memories contain a different type of resort than the early days.

A Resort For Everyone

A Dream Called Walt Disney World (1981)

The presentation begins with the shot of a little girl strolling towards Cinderella Castle in an empty Magic Kingdom. With a slight resemblance to Alice, shes ready to enter a place where dreams become a reality. Even back in 1981, Disney was selling magic. The difference then is how they defined that term.

Despite the intro with the young girl, this video is really about showing adults what Walt Disney World offers them. I doubt that many kids believed fishing and dinner theater were prime reasons to visit. Theres almost as much time spent on shopping, dining, and other activities as The Magic Kingdom.

The story begins with Disneyland and brief footage of the park during the 50s and 60s. We see Walt give his dedication on opening day, and the narrator provides the basic details. Walt Disney World becomes the real dream because of its blessing of size, and theres a short clip from the EPCOT film. The theme park of EPCOT Center wasnt open yet, though. Its just a quick reminder of Walts original plans.

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A Different Kind Of Park

The first main segment covers The Magic Kingdom and gives a quick look at each land. The narrator tries to sell the dangers of The Jungle Cruise . Theres also a significant chunk of time spent at The Diamond Horseshoe with up-close shots of the dancing girls. Its yet another example of where Disney wasnt targeting the young audience.

They also present The Haunted Mansion as a scary place. The park looks so new and less busy than the frenetic place we see today. Of course, its missing Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and good restaurants. I dont want to sell the idea that everything was better in 1981.

The Magic Kingdom still has many of its early rides, but Walt Disney Worlds other areas have changed. We visit Discovery Island, River Country, the Empress Lilly, and the once-grand lobby of The Polynesian. All of these areas have been altered or abandoned. The dining portion focuses on entertainment and not high-end exclusivity. Part of that change is the way that restaurants have evolved over the years. But it also shows how Disney shifted the business model toward high-end guests.

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