What they looked like then: Summer 1990 photos from DL and the MK
Written by Robert Niles
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.Tweet
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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