A monthly trip back in time to Walt Disney World - From pre-opening to 25 years ago; your four retro hosts discuss now closed, but not forgotten attractions, designs, architecture and more! Come experience the Vacation Kingdom of the World...the way it was...and the way it is in your memories!
77 - Wonders of Life - Part 1
Our main topic this month is all about Wonders of Life. With this being Part I, we are just going to scratch the surface about all this pavilion and attraction had to offer. This pavilion is actually still around, the golden dome that is next to Mission: Space, Guardians of the Galaxy, and it also served as a festival center from time to time over the years. How is leading us here in our journey through Wonder of Life, starting us off in 1976.
How actually reads to us some of the original sponsorship concepts presented for the EPCOT Project, which are quite fascinating. Rolly Crump was named the show lead on this project and along with Dr. Lewis, following the mindset “If it’s a ton of fun, and an ounce of information, we’ve reached the teachable moment”. The group settled on the eight health habits, which seem to have been lost to history. How gives us his best estimate based on what he found in his research. Using these habits, attractions and shows were developed.
As How goes through the early concept pieces for Wonders of Life, we connect the various concepts to the actual attractions that came about. Ideas never really went away and some actually made it to the final show as the years went by. The Tooth Follies is a comical idea that didn’t seem to make the final cut, but what a name and also imagine sitting inside the actual mouth. We also discuss the early versions of Body Wars and how they were developed. How gives us so much good info as we can easily compare the development of all these attractions to what really came to be. Part II and probably Part III will be covering all of the attractions you know and love, so please remember to subscribe and get ready for these upcoming episodes.
76 - The Spirit of America - 1988 July 4th Spectacular
This month, we take you through the glorious two-hour special that is The Walt Disney World Fourth of July Spectacular from 1988. This is a commentary on the entire special, which is on YouTube currently on many different channels. Here is the link we used: Click Here. As we go through this discussion, we look at each section, analyzing how things have changed and also how the special seems just a bit off.
The entire show is filled with celebrity appearances, song and dance numbers, testimonials, and even the Beach Boys. We notice many instances of synergy within the company and even some super early shots of Disney-MGM and the backlot/Streets of America in 1988. Todd leads us on this one as we get into who is who throughout the special. We hope you enjoy this Fourth of July special as we take you back to 1988 and a different era for the Walt Disney Company. Enjoy!
75.5 - A chat with Ray DeForest
On this episode, we are joined by Disney entertainer Ray DeForest. Ray spent many years in Walt Disney World entertainment and has a large number of stories and tales we are so excited to hear. Throughout this episode, we discuss how Ray got his start with the Walt Disney Company in Washington, DC, and then how he made his way to central Florida. As you will learn, Ray was a pioneer in WDW entertainment, working in everything from characters, dancing, performing in the two theme parks, and more. We also hear some great side stories about flying in ‘The Mouse’, where the entertainment offices are, and also how he was able to beat the heat performing in front of the castle.
Ray has two areas of performance that caught our attention though; The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and the opening day celebration at EPCOT Center. Ray talks with JT in detail about these two exciting but different opportunities he was given at Walt Disney World. If you have ever seen any of the guide books with photos of the opening of EPCOT Center, you have seen Ray on stage ushering in the 21st Century in 1982. The Hoop-Dee-Doo segment of this interview has Ray sharing some fond memories, giving a few secrets, and also paying tribute to some other amazing cast members.
Ray shared with us a number of great photos from his time at Walt Disney World. He really was part of something special back then and we are so lucky we were able to discuss all of this with him. To find Ray online, take a look at the following sites:
– Doris Dear: YouTube, Instagram, Website
– Ray’s Instagram
75 - Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure was one of the early attractions at the Disney-MGM Studios that opened in late 1990, following the success of the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids which opened in 1989. Before we start, let’s read a small blurb from a WDW press photo:
‘A Big Ride For Little Tykes: Kids who visit the ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure’ can climb on board an extra-large sized ant, just like in the hit movie! The gigantic scaled backyard play area is the newest addition to the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park and has made a ‘big’ impression on park visitors. With three-story-tall blades of grass, lifeboat-sized cereal bits, and a twenty-foot tall paper clip, the re-creation of the movie set allows guests to experience the special effects of movie-making firsthand (1991)’
In this episode we start with the film itself and the success of this movie. Back then, this movie was made way different and it lent perfectly to the Disney-MGM Studios and the reason for the park attractions. We dig into the ride from start to finish, including the location at MGM-Studios and how each little part of this attraction was presented. If you attended this as an adult or a child, you had different experiences. As a kid, it was an amazingly cool playground that made you really feel like you were in the movies. As an adult, it was a chance to take a minute to relax, and most times, the adults participated with their kids, which is awesome.
This entire attraction lasted until 2016, which is insane if you think about it. We also get into some rehabs that occurred, which saw some new add-ons put into the play area due to sponsorships and partnerships. Some items were needed while others were very specifically placed for a reason. Overall, this was super close to an opening day attraction for MGM-Studios and everyone treats it as one of the originals from that park, which it felt like. Nowadays, this is currently Galaxy’s Edge and there really is nothing left of it. We hope you enjoy this look back on this classic attraction that took the concept of a playground and ramped it up to an eleven.
74.5 - RetroMagic50 Recap
After months of planning and organizing, RetroMagic 50 has come and gone. Over the long weekend, all of us had an amazing time putting on this event and we hope everyone that attended enjoyed themselves. When an event like this starts to take shape, we have a rough idea as to how we want the day to go. We also have learned from our past events, trying to include what people like, enjoy, and even request. Throughout all the planning though, we try to create an event that we would want to attend.
In this short episode, we recap the entire weekend from start to finish: the behind-the-scenes stories, our reactions to how things went, and so much more. If you were able to attend RetroMagic 50, this episode will be a great follow-up to the whirlwind day we all experienced back in April. If you did not make it to RetroMagic this time around, we will be posting up our event videos on our YouTube channel soon. Please make sure you are subscribed and ready to enjoy these amazingly edited videos.
Finally, we want to thank all of our volunteers who made this event possible. The list is massive and without you: hotel bookings, transportation, set-up, cleaning, organizing, folding, building, welcoming, passing out, and more would not have happened. Thank you so much for your help during the event and also leading up to RetroMagic 50. We hope everyone enjoys this mini-episode recap and be sure to check back for normal episodes soon; we have so many great topics coming your way.
72 - Maelstrom
In this episode, we are taking you back to EPCOT Center and more specifically, the Norway pavilion and Maelstrom. How has been hard at work researching and also editing this episode together for your listening enjoyment. We hit on the 1988 television special, starring Willard Scott. If you have never seen this, take a minute after you listen to the episode to enjoy this: Grand Opening of Maelstrom
The high seas Viking adventure was billed as a stormy boat ride with tons of excitement, danger, and thrills. Many articles were written to describe how amazing this ride was going to be and the hype machine was up and running at full speed. This really was the first thrill ride at EPCOT Center, so they played that angle as much as possible. How guides us through so many neat aspects about how this ride came to be, including the items the sponsors wanted to see on the ride. You have to remember how these early EPCOT Center rides came to be and how they were funded. This was a very different era at Walt Disney World that we all know and love, but things came to be in an entirely different way.
Throughout this episode, we hit on everything from the woodwork colors, how the queue changed a bit, which imagineers actually worked on this project, and so much more. One fun fact, this ride was designed entirely on computers through CAD and no hand-drawn items were used to help create the track layout.
As we get through this episode, we spend a good amount of time discussing the closure of this ride. This is one of the more recent closures of a classic attraction that can be debated for hours. Were you one of the fans that did not want to see this go? Are you happy with the replacement? We get into all of this at length, as we feel it is an important part of the history of Maelstrom. This ride truly had that 80s EPCOT Center feel that lasted into the 2000s and beyond, until Frozen was a hit. We appreciate you taking the time to listen to the history of Maelstrom and we hope you enjoyed this super detailed look at the classic EPCOT attraction.
By far my favorite Disney podcast! So much nostalgia!!
Simply put, the best, most engaging Disney podcast.
Have They Given Up?
Excellent podcast about Retro Disney World that often gets in the weeds. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t done a true show since September. If you are looking for regular content about the Disney Parks this is not the place to go.