LIFE Magazine from Oct. 1971 – Disney World Opens

Before Walt Disney World opened in 1971 it was very much up in the air as to whether it would be a good thing for Florida. It seems strange now, but especially the residents of Kissimmee were of the opinion that Disney coming to their State was going to bring the End of Times in conjunction with the Zombie Apocalypse! Yup. They were freaked out. I have a copy of a vintage LOOK! magazine that describes the panic in vivid detail. But that is a post for another time.

This post will share a brighter view of the second coming of the Mouse:

Disneyland had been a great success for Walt Disney and so a second Park was planned. This one was to be bigger and arguably better, with all of the space needed for the dreams and imagination contained in the Disney company.

The contents of this LIFE magazine didn’t say much about the article within:

Table of Contents

27,400 acres is a lot of land. But to this day, it still hasn’t been completely filled up with Disney Magic! So we can only assume there is much more to come.

But let’s get into what the uncredited writer had to say about the newly opened Walt Disney World:

Pages 1 & 2

The opening 2-page spread compares Disneyland attractions to their counterparts in Walt Disney World. Verbiage like ‘hokey’ and ‘nonsense’ are used to describe the new Park. Some attention is also given to the size of the property and the reasoning behind such an acquisition of land.

Under the picture of Mickey leading the band, it is stated that an ‘undersized employee who specializes in the part’ of Mickey leads a gaggle of Disney characters. Undersized? I think they prefer diminutive.

Pages 3 & 4

The next 2-page spread shows a gorgeous aerial view of the Magic Kingdom. Some nice things are said about the amenities before the writer starts to share some of the negative buzz about the entertainment enterprise. Apparently, some worry that prices will rise, traffic jams will occur, unbridled development will forever change the landscape, and that relatives will come in out of nowhere to visit! Oh, the horror!

Next, the environment and water quality of the region have concern expressed for them.

I guess Kissimmee wasn’t the only community having conniptions!

Pages 5 & 6

The final 2-page spread has many wonderful images of characters and attractions, some now extinct, giving a nostalgic look back. The article also states that Disney had grossed a whopping 167 million dollars in 1970. They make ten times that with one movie release today!

Page 7

The last page of the article leads us out of the Park with the ever-gloomy but hilarious Crooner, Big Al. Other shows are mentioned with some sarcastic overtones, but apparently, the writer liked the Country Bear Jamboree!

And I hope you’ve liked this look back to a simpler time when Walt Disney World was smaller, more accessible, and definitely more affordable!

For more vintage Disney in print, check out my copy of The Windsor Star featuring the 50th Anniversary of Mickey Mouse, complete with merchandise. Or take a look at some of the covers from vintage issues of the Disney Magazine. Don’t forget that these old magazines used to have some of the best advertisements featuring some of your favorite Disney characters! I have a nice post featuring some of these pages ripped from old periodicals featuring Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp.

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