One of our recent acquisitions was 6 different WDW souvenir films – each 3 minutes and each featuring a different attraction. Most WDW souvenir films had a longer run time and generally featured a whirlwind tour of the Magic Kingdom, but 6 these films are rare and unique in that they focus an entire 3 minutes on an attraction.
In the days of film no one would take a camera on a ride; the cost, size, weight and lack of low light sensitivity made doing so just awkward, expensive or downright dangerous. Disney wanted you to promote the resort for them in your living room, so they would shoot high quality footage of the attractions with the proper lighting and cameras. Most were shot on 16mm film and then down converted to 8mm for the home market. These films were sold in the parks and were designed to be shown at home to their friends and family. A simple $3-$4 souvenir made them money and was free advertising.
Technically speaking, the majority of souvenir films were printed on inexpensive 8mm film. The quality of the dyes on the film is so poor that even after 40 some years of storage in a shrink-wrapped never-before-opened box, these films had faded. There is something to be said about Kodachrome and the longevity of the color and quality. Once transferred we did extensive color balancing on each of the scenes trying to get them as close as the original. We have not been able to find any other copies of these films in viewable condition anywhere. Be sure to check out both versions of the film!
1. Final Restored Footage With Added Soundtrack
Our visit to River Country begins looking across Bay Lake at the Contemporary Resort Hotel from the top of the Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole’s slide. As the camera pans back you get a good glimpse of River Country’s swimming pool, barrel bridge and filtered Bay Lake water fed swimming hole just beyond the chlorine swimming pool in the foreground. It give you a nice glimpse of what the place was all about.
We see guests hopping and sliding into the chlorine pool. Check out the size of those drops from the slide into the water! Then the zip line, inner tube slide and wading pool of the lake-fed pool is featured. We also get to ride along with guests going down the biggest and fastest slide in River Country (the one WDW President Dick Nunis is alleged to have careened over the side of once). What a wild way to close out this short souvenir film!
2. Original vs Restored Footage Comparison
There isn’t much footage out there of River Country and to find this film uncovered some of the best footage we’ve ever seen of the now shuttered park. It even features POV (Point of View) on ride footage of Whoop ‘n Holler Hollow slides! Before watching the film with the additional soundtrack added, take a look at this comparison film showing the original and restored film compared. This film was a mess, but we were able to bring back as much color as we could with out making it look artificial.
My family and I had some great times here before it had to be closed . We all treasure the memories and photos. Loved seeing both the old and new footage.
I was lucky enough to get to go to this water parks back in the later 70’s with my family. The simpler times for sure.