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What they looked like then: Summer 1990 photos from DL and the MK

Written by
Published: August 24, 2007 at 10:42 AM

We're cleaning out the junk closet here at Theme Park Insider World Headquarters, which lead me to uncover some old photos of Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

As long-time TPI readers might know, I worked as a cast member at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom from 1987-1991. I worked the first summer in merchandise in Tomorrowland, then transferred to Magic Kingdom West attractions for the following summer. I worked full-time in 1989-1990 as I took a year between undergraduate and graduate work.

In August 1990, I set aside a week and a half to make my way from Orlando up to Bloomington, Indiana for graduate journalism school. And I spent that time doing what every Disney World cast member who'd been born in L.A. but not been back for 15 years would do: I drove across the country to Disneyland.

It took me two and a half days to get from Orlando to Anaheim. Before I left, I photographed several of my favorite sites in the MK, so I could make a DL/WDW photo montage of those attractions for my dorm room wall. Many of those locations look the same today, but a few have changed. So, for your Friday afternoon entertainment, here are some of my old photos:

Sleeping Beauty's Castle, from the Skyway

Sleeping Beauty's Castle hasn't changed much on the outside over the past 17 years, but it's the angle of this shot that I love, one that you can't get anymore. Why? I took it from the long-shuttered Fantasyland Skyway.

The Sailing Ship Columbia

I worked most of my shifts driving Tom Sawyer's Island rafts at the MK, so I was excited to see something different on Disneyland's Rivers of America - the sailing ship Columbia, here shown on a packed day in 1990.

The Enchanted Tiki Room, with 1990 hostess costume

When I wanted to pick up some easy extra cash, I often extended my workday by pulling overtime at the Enchanted Tiki Room. At the MK in 1990, we wore horrid puke-yellow polyster guayaberas, which I could not bring myself to photograph. But I did not hesitate to grab a shot of this Disneyland Tiki Room hostess, in her tropical red gown, which I'm sure they hated as much as we hated our Tiki costumes.

The Country Bear Playhouse at Disneyland

I'd seen the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown at the MK least 1,000 times (no exaggeration, I did the math one time when I was stuck in the theater for *nine* shows in a row). But the CM at greeter told me that Disneyland was still showing the original Country Bear Jamboree, which I'd not seen since I was a child. So I rushed into the theater to catch a show while I waited for the queue at the newly-opened Splash Mountain to wind down.

I'm still proud of myself for not screaming out loud when the Vacation Hoedown show came on instead. Today, the Country Bear Playhouse at Disneyland is gone, replaced by the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Country Bear Vacation Hoedown at Disney World

Here is my old home, the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland. August 1990. Let's pause for a moment to regret late '80s fashion, shall we?

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World

The last attraction I trained on at the MK was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, where I worked most of my shifts in the summer of 1990. Here's what it looked like then, from the upper deck of the (then-named) Richard F. Irvine riverboat. Note the abundance of trees -- and lack of Splash Mountain -- to the left. The TSI raft dock stands in the foreground.

Finally, I leave you with one of the few pictures of me as a Walt Disney World cast member. That's your editor, rolling out the parade route rope one afternoon while working Thunder Mountain.

Have a great weekend. And I'll see you at Disneyland, Disney World, or somewhere on the road in between!

Readers' Opinions

From Lee Mak on August 24, 2007 at 1:44 PM
C'mon...wheres the horrid puke-yellow polyster guayabera photo?
From Iris Hernandez on August 24, 2007 at 2:04 PM
Great pictures Robert. The 80's fashion comment was hilarious!
From Anthony Murphy on August 24, 2007 at 2:46 PM
Love the shades!
From Greg Shilton on August 24, 2007 at 6:54 PM
Ahh yes, that was my first summer at Disneyland ever!
From Scott Verble on August 24, 2007 at 8:00 PM
I am going to Blizzard Beach tomorrow, on to WDW
From Matthew Baker on August 25, 2007 at 5:24 AM
*thumbs up* A look into the past at Disney parks is always a treat.

FWIW, me shall be @ DL on 8-31, and I'll be taking oodles of pictures for the first time. See someone there maybe. The only time I've ever brought a camera to DL was an old instamatic that I promptly lost on Peoplemover before taking a single picture (they found and mailed it BTW--wasn't that nice :) ), and this was in the late 80's. Oh, what could have been...

From Lena Messana on August 26, 2007 at 7:17 AM
very very cool!!! i love pictures... i love disney...so disney + pictures =(especially older ones...) woooooo hoooooo!!! lol... i have a bunch myself from the 90's! (i also have few from my very first trip at like 5 years old!) the others are from 93 and 97 (birthday cake year!)...if anyone wants to see them... i could probably upload em somewhere and link it or something!
From Lena Messana on August 26, 2007 at 7:39 AM
ok..here are a few from my past...

MK - 1979
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

ME AND GOOFY - 1979 the 80's wasnt the only era with horrid clothing! lol
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


1997 - from the no longer existing skyway...also a sight that is no longer there!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


birthday cake...mmmmm
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

i didnt bother putting any 1993 pics in.... i didnt know what i was doing back then...there is like no scenery. :( i got much better thru the years... 2000 and 2005 were MUCH better!

I have really enjoyed the trip down photo memory lane!

From Adrienne McDonald on August 27, 2007 at 10:15 AM
Uh huh, so THAT's what you look like, lol. Yeah, I don't blame you for not photoging the yellow outfits but don't you wish you did you you'd have something to show your buddies? (namely us? lol). Thanx though for the photos, it was really nice. Especially pointing out what's changed, although I've never been to either park, at least if I do get to go, I can remember these pix in reference to what I see now at the parks.

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