Walt Disney World Preview Center 1971
On my latest trip to Walt Disney World I saw a video of abandoned Disney stuff and one of them was the old Walt Disney World preview center. It was so close to our hotel and the Disney parks I had to go, so check out a little history and some of the photos I took of myself at the Preview Center below! Now it’s called the Amateur Athletic Union but it still looks like the preview center and even has a huge Mickey on the inside.
Here’s a little history about it below:
In mid-January, 1970, the Walt Disney World Preview Center became the first building on WDW property to be opened to the public. Near the intersection of Interstate 4 and State Road 535, the thoroughly modern glass, concrete and steel structure was situated on the southern shoreline of Lake Buena Vista along the then-quiet Preview Boulevard. This roadway would later become Hotel Plaza Boulevard, a main artery serving traffic to the WDW Village and a gathering of hotels. Hit Read More to see my full gallery
Inside the building, a small army of “lovely young hostesses” treated guests to a glimpse of what they could expect to see in the fall of 1971, when the $300 million Phase One of the “Vacation Kingdom of the World” debuted. The Preview Center was open daily from 9am to 5pm, and offered visitors a leisurely tour of artists’ renderings, an aerial view of Phase One in the form of a huge model and a motion-picture presentation that forecast what the first five years of the project would entail. Visitors could also make reservations for a stay at one of WDW’s first two hotels, the Contemporary and the Polynesian Village, or purchase souvenirs at WDW’s first gift counter.
Fourteen women were selected as the original representatives of Walt Disney World. They came from a pool of 400 applicants who were evaluated by two Disneyland hostesses, Valerie Watson and Holly Hoelscher, and chosen largely on the basis of appearance. “We looked for that fresh, natural appearance that our organization tries to reflect,” Watson told Orlando-Land editor Edward L. Prizer in 1970.
The Preview Center officially opened on January 16, but spent the week prior hosting state and local government and business figures by invitation only. When it opened to the public, it hosted 12,000 visitors in three days – twice as many as Disney had expected. Every fifteen minutes, visitors were escorted into a theater to see the film and 625-square foot model, portions of which would be lit from overhead in synchronization with the film’s dialogue.
1971’s Project Florida, a 21-minute film that aired as part of The Wonderful World of Disney TV program, featured the Preview Center along with footage of construction progress and attractions in development. A portion of that video is embedded below.
Check out my photos I took below of the Walt Disney World Preview Center, which was totally historic and cool.
If you missed yesterdays blog entry check it out below: