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How much do you think you would like WDW in 1971 today and where would you rank it?

Big Phil

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Okay, just imagine we go back in time. How enjoyable would the 1971 version be for you knowing what you know about the present time. In other words, there is no Splash, Space or Thunder Mountain in 1971 among other things but you know about them.

Now, I know we all loved the parks when we first went, including those from 1971. My father first went in 1973 and loved it. I went in 1991. Magic Kingdom has changed a bit since then, but not a whole lot. Splash Mountain has been added and basically expanded Fantasyland replaced Mickey's Toontown. So if the park goes back to the 1991 version, I still like it a lot and I did that time too.

But there is no Epcot in 1971, or Animal Kingdom or DHS. Just MK, Fort Wilderness and the surrounding hotels like Contemporary and Polynesian. No Disney Springs, that comes in 1975, no Boardwalk, that comes in the 1980s.

How much do you enjoy Magic Kingdom in 1971 by today's standards? Think of what is there at the time. Snow White, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Small World, Dumbo, Tomorrowland Speedway, Flight to the Moon, Liberty Square Riverboat (but no Tom Sawyer Island yet), Hall of President, Country Bears, Tiki Birds, Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Treehouse, Frontierland Shootin' Arcade, etc.

Where would it rank in your eyes?
 

FettFan

Well-Known Member
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The pros:
- Almost zero crowds
- Swan Boats
- I could finally glimpse the fabled Spider Web Man in the Haunted Mansion.

The cons:
- Frontierland would be a shadow if its current self.
- Limited to just the Magic Kingdom. And nothing else.
Even ancillary attractions weren't there.... Fort Wilderness Railroad opened in 1974, Buena Vista Shopping Village (now Disney Springs) not until 1975, River Country not until 1976.
- Princess Jasmine didn't exist yet. (We kind of got a thing going on.)



Overall....I wouldn't have been able to justify a trip all the way to Florida for just that one park. I'd have to make it a cross-Florida trip.....start at Cape Canaveral, cross over to the Magic Kingdom, then Busch Gardens Tampa....and then swing far south to the Keys for offshore fishing and margaritas. ;)
 

RobWDW1971

Well-Known Member
Okay, just imagine we go back in time. How enjoyable would the 1971 version be for you knowing what you know about the present time. In other words, there is no Splash, Space or Thunder Mountain in 1971 among other things but you know about them.

Where would it rank in your eyes?
It was just an entirely different experience - it was much more of a "vacation kingdom" vs. today's theme park experience. Things like the Hoop De Doo Revue, Polynesian Luau, boating, golf, getting dressed up for dinner at the top of the Contemporary, water parades, etc. were all unique and fun things to do in a Disney setting. There wasn't the insane planning and pace of getting your Fastpasses two months ahead and running from ride to ride.

And as the other poster said, back then you'd also go to Kennedy Space Center, Cypress Gardens, etc. as there wasn't a week's worth of activities "on site".

Hard to rank something so completely different, but I will say it was absolutely amazing and game-changing at the time.
 
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Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
I'd be happy that it was cheap, but, very disappointed because of what was or was not available to do. I'm glad I waited until 1983 before I went there. By then it was fluffed out a little bit more. From my memory it is a whole lot nicer looking and fun when I went then when it first opened and even since then it is much more colorful and pleasant then back then. Contrary to popular beliefs it is a whole lot better now then it was back even 10 years after it opened.

I don't know anything about any "Spider Web Man". There was a giant spider in a web in the room that has the weird stairs in it now in the Haunted Mansion. Kids have a phenomenal ability of suspension of disbelief and focus on only the bright, shiny things. I wish adulthood didn't suppress that ability to some degree, because I would love to have that again.

I remember a small theme park area in the town I grew up in. It had castles and forts and buildings that you could actually go into and pretend that you were part of the story. It was incredible. I loved it and all my mother had to say was we might go there and I would start to get hyper. It didn't really last very long and when I was in my late teens I had the opportunity to go back in there. Everything that was there, was still there, just abandoned. I looked around and thought what the hell did I find so appealing about this. It was awful, cheap and didn't even look realistic. It sure did when I was a kid though. It looked perfect back then. Moral of the story... we cannot rely on our childhood memories to be based on reality.
 
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eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
Well my family disliked wdw the one and only time we went. Most of my siblings never went back and I didn't go back until I had kids. Lol so I can safely say we thought 1978 wdw was a collossal waste of time and money
 

Nottamus

Well-Known Member
I went in 1998 and had way less crowds than today....WITH AK, HS, MK, and Epcot. We walked on to all rides we tried..and characters were more easily accessible.

No need to go back further as I Really liked EP and HS!
 

Beacon Joe

Well-Known Member
Did they have the penny arcade on Main Street?

And Mr. Toad's?

And the real Country Bear Jamboree? Not the dumbed-down ADD version?

And Snow White?

And the Diamond Horsehoe Revue?

And a Jungle Cruise where they'd shoot at the hippos?

And the Mickey Mouse Revue?

And the Skyway?

And 20,000 Leagues?

And benches?

And a pretty hub?

And walkaround characters?

And the cinema on Main Street?

And nothing destroyed by @#$@#$ing Bob Chapek?

And everything wasn't re-oriented to 10 year old girls?

I'd love that park WAY MORE than the current hollow shell that it is.
 

John park hopper

Well-Known Member
Did they have the penny arcade on Main Street?

And Mr. Toad's?

And the real Country Bear Jamboree? Not the dumbed-down ADD version?

And Snow White?

And the Diamond Horsehoe Revue?

And a Jungle Cruise where they'd shoot at the hippos?

And the Mickey Mouse Revue?

And the Skyway?

And 20,000 Leagues?

And benches?

And a pretty hub?

And walkaround characters?

And the cinema on Main Street?

And nothing destroyed by @#$@#$ing Bob Chapek?

And everything wasn't re-oriented to 10 year old girls?

I'd love that park WAY MORE than the current hollow shell that it is.
Yep-- they had all you listed and no Character Meal Restaurants(I hate)-- I can remember walking up to the Crystal Palace for breakfast walked right in it was great no planning 6 months in advance what and where I wanted to eat.
 

Goofyque'

Well-Known Member
We loved it then, love it now. Pros all listed above, but time has erased the memory that there were long lines for the E tickets, oh yes, and E tickets. Ticket books that required additional purchases if you wanted to ride everything, or reride. Stayed in the campground on our honeymoon because it was the only place we could afford. Lots more dining, entertainment, and hotel options now. We enjoy seeing the changes, some are better than others, but each trip is special and always new.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
I would have enjoyed going at that time just to experience the park in its beginning and in my youth, but considering how much more has been added throughout the years, I'm happier with the improvements in place. My ranking (10 being best) I would put it at a 10 for crowds, 10 for cleanliness, 6 for entertainment, 5 for attractions.
 

Jim S

Well-Known Member
Took our oldest in 1975 -enjoyed it so much returned in 1976. We though it was an amazing place and the experience and memories are special. Still have some of the tickets from the books left. In fact Disney even said we could redeem them but we are keeping them for the memories.

We take our kids and grandkids now and the experience is still awesome. Just don't like the early closings.
 

Daddyoh

Active Member
The ONLY thing that I didn't get a chance to do was the Railroad at Fort Wilderness. I would have "LOVED" that and would have just keep riding it until I was thrown off or allow me to be the engineer.
 

Hank Hill

New Member
I sometimes think about a video game I played when I was a kid, pong, or something on the Atari 2600, or even PS1, heck I used to go to the arcade and play pac-man or asteroids for hours at a time. I remember those games so fondly and will find a way to play them again online or download. And almost always, I am done with it after maybe a few hours. They were great then, but things have changed so much, it is hard to go back to those games and really enjoy them like you did the first time.

I think that nostalgic feeling is true with many things, and Disney would be one of them. It might be interesting, and great for a short time, but it wouldn't be the same vacation I know today. If I only had that old version of MK to return to, sure I would like it, but I wouldn't think of going back nearly as often as I do the current version.
 

BoarderPhreak

Well-Known Member
Some interesting things about those ol' days...

- No planning in advance other than what you wanted to ride. Roll up, enjoy.
- Tickets were sold in a book; an E-ticket ride was just that!
- No security. Like, at all. Buy a ticket book and walk right in.
- Nightly maintenance was very real (pressure washing walkways, replacing bulbs)
- Lines were long. You want to ride? Get in line - and wait.
- On-property resort pickings were slim and still fairly expensive, comparatively.
- The hub had plentiful "old growth" trees providing shade with benches everywhere.
- Everything was NEW. No dings, no repaints.
- While it got crowded... It wasn't CROWDED.
- Attendance seasons were a real thing.
 

SSH

Well-Known Member
Keys for offshore fishing and margaritas
Oh man...what I wouldn't give to experience the 1971 key west - or go back to 1971 Fort Lauderdale or 1971 Miami. You get the picture. I love and miss Florida the way it used to be. :inlove:

As for WDW - I admit it wouldn't be the same without the other parks and the additions since '71, but I'd sure love to go back to the Poly the way it was, all the shade and benches in MK, the decent manners and social behavior of the people, compared to the rudeness and nastiness I see today and the genuine caring and commitment of the original Disney family around the quality and reputation of the park, compared to now.

But there was one negative for me- there were NEVER enough e-tickets - you always had to find the little Kodak film and ticket booths to buy more...but you always ended up with a bunch of extra "A's :hilarious:
 
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Jon81uk

Well-Known Member
Took our oldest in 1975 -enjoyed it so much returned in 1976. We though it was an amazing place and the experience and memories are special. Still have some of the tickets from the books left. In fact Disney even said we could redeem them but we are keeping them for the memories.

We take our kids and grandkids now and the experience is still awesome. Just don't like the early closings.
I think the parks closed early back in the 70s too didn't they? It was set up much more so you went back to the hotel for dinner at night rather than eating inside the parks.
 
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