Jeff Looks Back on 50 Years of Visiting Walt Disney World: Vintage Article #9

Hi everyone!

Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary is just a few days away now, and we’ve been posting vintage articles (mostly with Jeff’s photos). Jeff’s family visited Walt Disney World starting in 1971 and Jeff has been visiting the parks each year since that time. His father had never had a vacation growing up, so chose to do things differently. While I visited the parks starting in 1977, I tended to go off on my own apart from my family so there aren’t many photos of my childhood.

Here are photos from Jeff – mostly including Jeff – through the years, especially early on (and it includes a Bob-A-Round Boat, Michael Eisner and some fun character pictures). And truly this is just a fraction of his incredible collection, which probably includes 20,000 or so photos pre-digital with some very rare pictures. My main Disney photo archive started in 2007 and I estimate includes 750k+ photos now.

Jeff and his family pose with Minnie, with the Mickey Mouse Revue in the background. Back then, Jeff’s dad used an audio recorder on the attractions – it inspired Jeff to eventually use video to do the same and he’s documented the parks for 30 or so years.

Most of the characters look a little different now from the 1970s and 1980s, including Goofy.

Jeff and his brother wear America on Parade shirts. This would have probably been in 1976 at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.

Pluto covers Jeff’s face.

Cinderella was not in her ball gown here, but in her house dress.

The family posed with Thumper.

His mom sported her fashionable Coca-Cola pants in this photo with Eeyore.

Back in the day, swimming was allowed in Seven Seas Lagoon. I have a photo in this water as well from the 1970s although I didn’t swim in it.

Jeff spent much of his time at the pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Both of us grew up staying at the resort in the 70s and early 80s. This particular slide is long gone.

He poses with tikis here.

River Country was Walt Disney World’s first water park and there wouldn’t have been many in the country upon opening. Jeff enjoyed it a lot, including the slides.

He goes down the slide.

Jeff is in Bay Cove at River Country.

Slippery Slide Falls featured two slides. Jeff’s father is on the left, Jeff on the right.

Jeff, his brother and sister pose in front of a short-lived Bob-A-Round boat. Their family did ride in one and what he remembers about it is the engine cutting out while riding.

Disney’s Fort Wilderness has been a big part of their lives also and they camped there on occasion.

Jeff poses with a friend at the former Discovery Island.

Br’er Fox made a visit to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which is now has a new lobby theme (as of September 26th, 2021) – partly in the style of Mary Blair, who created the iconic mural behind them.

Jeff and his sister pose in front of Spaceship Earth.

Jeff steps out of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage at the Magic Kingdom.

The Epcot shirt he is wearing here was also reproduced for the 25th anniversary, I posted a photo on Instagram where I had worn the same shirt back then (probably 1983) as well.

Jeff poses with Dreamfinder and Figment.

And at another time as well.

Many of us still look back fondly on the Rainbow Tunnel in ImageWorks at Journey Into Imagination.

In a subsequent year, Jeff posed with the large Figment walk-around.

Jeff has rarely been without his video camera.

Jeff poses with Goofy at Epcot in a futuristic outfit.

World of Motion was one of my favorite attractions at Epcot. Test Track replaced it in the late 1990s. 

Jeff poses with Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor, who voiced Mickey and Minnie Mouse. This was at Walt Disney World’s 20th Anniversary in 1991. They were married and both have since passed. They became Disney Legends in 2008.

Jeff did go to media events back in this time frame, but he just happened to be passing Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort and found an opening type event going on in February 1991. He said they let guests in the area watch it. Do you see Roger Rabbit?

He posed with Michael Eisner.

There was a Bill Justice talk at an NFFC event at a different point and Jeff talks on a Michael Eisner phone that was part of that.

Jeff with Roy E. Disney in 2005.

Jeff wears a hard hat during the 25th Anniversary media event. He loved this media event and can’t believe it is 25 years ago (he will be covering the 50th at the event this week and we’ll both be in the parks on October 1st).

And here he is with our friend Martin Smith, still recording to this day. You can find nearly daily videos on our YouTube channel, where we have over 900,000 subscribers.

I expect we will have vintage articles for a few more weeks as we enter into Walt Disney World’s 50th year – and of course, articles about the festivities and videos.