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That Was the Year That Was at Walt Disney World

During a rare moment of creative organization, I found a group of bygone Walt Disney World images. There are images of attractions, parades, streetmosphere, and special events — some you may recall and some that may have faded into your Disney memory archives. What does a photographer do with these photographic memories? Share them! I hope that they bring back happy memories of your past trips to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Let me start with 2006. It was the year Pluto (not the pup) became a dwarf planet, Italy won the World Cup, and Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion U.S. dollars. Are you ready? The stage is set — let’s take a Walt Disney World photo walk down memory lane!

alt="A young guest has fun with the water fountains at the extinct Pooh's Playful Spot."

Pooh’s Playful Spot
Located directly across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the Magic Kingdom, this playground was a popular spot for kids and parents to share a time out. The centerpiece of the Spot was Pooh’s honey tree, which had tree trunk tunnels and a small house to explore. The area was also sprinkled with benches, spouting fountains of water, and a place for character meet-and-greets. When Pooh’s Playful Spot closed in 2010 to make way for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a crane relocated the 120-ton tree. It now is part of the interactive décor at the redesigned entrance queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  

The water features at Walt Disney World are an endless source of fun and fascination for young guests. Unfortunately, this young chap at Pooh’s Playful Spot got more than he bargained for. But he took it in stride, laughed at his discovery, and leaned into the fountain for another round.

alt="The Beauty and the Beast stained glass window that was once inside La Signature shop at Disney's Epcot."

Beauty and the Beast Window
This fantastical, three-panel stained glass window was once inside the France Pavilion‘s La Signature shop at Disney’s Epcot. The location of the window was Belle’s Library, which was a popular backdrop for many family photos and character meet-and-greets. Alas, during a streetscape update, the window was removed in 2010 to make way for Parfums Givenchy. There has been much speculation about the whereabouts of the window, but it remains a mystery. Isn’t it a shame? It would make an impressive backdrop for a selfie.

alt="The author's view from the back of the Main Street Fire Engine before the Family Fun Day Parade."

Family Fun Day Parade
This patriotic-themed event may have been one of the first in the Magic Kingdom to include Guests in a Disney parade (Parade Marshalls precede the actual parade). And that’s correct — one of those randomly selected Guests was me! The parade kicked off at the Castle Hub moved down Main Street U.S.A. and ended at Town Square. There was dancing, hula hoops, streamers, pom-poms, and lots of red, white, and blue. What was I doing? Waving at Guests and taking photos of Cast Members and spectators from my parade perch on the Main Street Fire Engine!

alt="Cast Member dances during the Family Fun Day Parade."
alt="Lightning McQueen drives down the main drag at Disney's Hollywood Studios during the Stars and Motor Cars Parade."

The Disney Stars and Motorcars Parade
This parade was one of my favorites! It premiered in 2001 in conjunction with the 100 Years of Magic Celebration at Walt Disney World and wrapped up in 2008. The parade featured Disney Characters riding in open-topped themed cars — Miss Piggie and Kermit the Frog; Mulan; Mary Poppins and Bert; Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker; and many others. In 2006, Lightning McQueen and Mater joined the parade to promote the release of the film Cars.

alt="The gilt decorated Cinderella's Castle during the 2006 Happiest Celebration on Earth."

The Happiest Celebration on Earth
Everyone remembers the 25th Anniversary Cinderella Castle Birthday Cake. But do you remember when Cinderella’s Castle was gilt-edged for the Happiest Celebration on Earth? In honor of Disneyland‘s 50th anniversary, the Castle at Walt Disney World was festooned with gold trim, swags, tapestries, and other decorations. Disney Characters in gold “floated” around the Castle spires and a magic mirror (think, Snow White) hung over the archway. The mirror rotated images of each Disney Castle and the date each park opened.

In the next, That Was the Year That Was at Walt Disney World we will either travel back to 2007, 2005 or earlier. And I feel a song coming on — something by the Sherman Brothers — Making memories. Making memories. Taking pictures is making memories.

To learn more about Kathy and read her other posts on WDW Radio, visit her author page.

(All photos from the personal collection of Kathy Wicks.)