If you’ve been following my restoration projects over the past year you may be familiar that my first restored film was one that my grandparents took in 1972. I complemented that with their return visit in ’75 a few weeks later and around the holiday season I posted my first trip to WDW in 1980. To be honest, I thought that was all Disney World film my family had stashed away; turns out I was wrong, really really wrong. A year before I came into this world my parents vacationed in the Bahamas and on their return back to New Jersey made a detour through Orlando. The Magic Kingdom was on their to-do list and my father, a cinematography major in college, took the opportunity to film a good portion of their day, nearly 14 minutes worth. This film is silent, but it contains some incredible gems…
My father never spared an expense when it came to home movies. He exclusively used Kodak film and processing, a decision that was a smart one – to this day his films are some of the best preserved I have ever seen. He also had pretty decent camera for the time…combine that with his knack for framing a scene, gentle pans/zooms and his eye for people and scenery and you get, well, some incredible shots. His footage captures things you aren’t going to see anywhere else – signage, unique angles and people (yes that is my dad eating the hot dog and my mother walking along a few times).
My parents day was well captured in the 14 minutes. The early morning monorail ride shows the topiaries along the way and soon we are inside Main Street USA. Notice that there is no full-on castle shot until a bit later, as if my father purposely delayed its entrance into the film.
The on-board footage of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a wonderful gateway to past memories. We’re treated to bits of the parade, the show at Fantasyland Faire and a few other rare sights before a sincere focus on Main Street USA. Aboard the rail road we see a unique site, the Admiral Joe Fowler riverboat tied up on the back dock. We then climb aboard the Richard F. Irvine for a tour through the Rivers of America. Step inside the Crystal Palace, wander through Adventureland and end your day with a monorail cab ride back to the car.
I hope you enjoy this look back at the Magic Kingdom through the lens of my fathers camera!