Looking Back: Magic Kingdom in 1989

The Looking Back series returns with a look at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1989. Actually, these photos come from two different trips - one in April and one in July of 1989, in case you are wondering. Here is a look back at the old days:

Nothing like the view down Main Street USA! It hasn’t changed all that much. Or has it? These days, the trees in both Town Square and the Central Plaza (or Hub) are much smaller than they used to be. While this does give a better view down the street, I rather like look of the larger trees. Also in this photo, you can see the banners on the light poles for Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday, which was still being celebrated.

Taken from the same vantage point as above (which is the Main Street Railroad Station, if you hadn’t guessed) is this view of City Hall and the Fire Station. Once again, things don’t look all that different now than they did back then. Except that at this time, the Fire Station was still just a fire station. It hadn’t been converted to a gift shop yet, or later on as the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom headquarters.

Staying with Main Street USA just a little longer, here is a look at the Main Street Hotel building. Of course, there never actually was a hotel in that building, but that is what it was designed to resemble. These days, this is where you go to meet Mickey Mouse, and before that, it was the Town Square Exhibition Hall. But back in 1989, it looked much better without the large sign over the entrance that is there now.

Moving on to other areas of the Magic Kingdom, here is a view of the Richard F. Irvine riverboat in the Rivers of America. The riverboat is still there, of course, but it has been renamed the Liberty Belle. I wonder if the cast members got tired of answering questions about who Richard F. Irvine was (one of the executives at WED Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering). As you can see, the riverboat was decked out with its patriotic decorations.

Next up is a look at Fantasyland, particularly the area between it’s a small world and Peter Pan’s Flight. And look at the Skyway buckets overhead! Of course, the Skyway is now long gone, and the area near the center of the photo that used to house the Fantasyland Skyway Station is now home to the new Tangled restrooms.

As mentioned earlier, Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday celebration was in full swing, and it had started with the opening of Mickey’s Birthdayland in 1988. Many people arrived in this new land by way of the Walt Disney World Railroad, disembarking at the new Mickey’s Birthdayland Station pictured here. These days, the new Fantasyland Station stands in this exact same location, although it looks much different now.

The biggest attraction in Mickey’s Birthdayland was getting to walk through Mickey Mouse’s house, as seen here. When the change was made to Mickey’s Toontown Fair, the exterior of the house was changed quite a bit to make it look more cartoonish than the straight lines of the original house. Also seen here is one of the tents behind the house that housed…

Mickey’s Surprise Party. This stage show, set in Minnie Mouse’s kitchen, featured the rest of the gang surprising Mickey Mouse for his birthday. Didn’t they know that Mickey and Minnie share the same birthday? Still, the show was fun. And at the end, the crowd followed the characters into another tent, where everyone sang Happy Birthday to Mickey.

Meanwhile, out visiting the crowds in Mickey’s Birthdayland was Scrooge McDuck. These days, Scrooge is seldom seen except for the Christmas parade and a few special promotions. But back then, the Ducktales television show was quite popular, and in fact Mickey’s Birthdayland was set in the town of Duckburg from the television show. So it only made sense to have Duckburg’s other famous resident out and about. Also, this was long before every character had his own special greeting location. Yes, the characters actually used to just wander through the parks!

Speaking of characters, here is a look at the Rap & Roll character show at the Tomorrowland Theater. Roger Rabbit was one of the main stars of the show, as this was around a year after his movie was released. I always liked how this show included a live band instead of just using pre-recorded music. The theater was removed a few years ago, unfortunately.

And to wrap things up is a view of Cinderella Castle in the early evening. I always liked how this one turned out, and the sky was just right. And while the color-changing lights on the castle are cool these days, I do still like the simple lighting that they used back in the old days, too.

That’s it for this installment of Looking Back - be sure to check again for more!