Vintage Disneyworld: 1999 edition

Hey remember all my posts of photos from when my family went to Disneyworld in 1996? Well we went in 1999 as well (I was a spoiled kid) and only recently have I uncovered photos from that. There’s not nearly as many (I figure the rest will show up eventually) and they’re pretty small images but, wanna see?

Animal Kingdom would have just opened at this point I think. It was about a year old when this photo was taken!

I imagine I was probably pretty fascinated by the dinosaurs scattered around Animal Kingdom. I seem to remember the movie Dinosaur was being advertised in the park a lot and there was at least one “Dinosaur” themed ride? Alas, I fear it didn’t stand the test of time.

On the cable cars again! Those things must’ve been popular. So I guess the body of water on the right is the submarine lake with the submarines long gone.

Tomorrowland as viewed from the cable cars. I remember the racing car ride there but couldn’t say with any certainity what it was called.

The castle, presumably also viewed from the cable cars since there’s no crowds getting in the way.

Space Mountain, ditto. Is now a good time to point out I find the Disneyworld Space Mountain design so terribly dull? Feast your eyes instead on the Disneyland Paris one. It’s a WORK OF ART.

Oh but this is Spectromagic and that was also a work of art!

Right here is a blurry dolphin and my 13-year-old self wrote on the photo that this was at Epcot, they had dolphins at Epcot? Oh wait they did! And still do! I also gather animal rights activists aren’t happy about it and well, fair enough.

Elsewhere in Epcot, who’s this guy? This would have been at Innoventions, which was closed for good and reduced to rubble just last year, aww man. Oh here’s a video of him! I think his name is Starnac. Wonder where he is now.

Ah here is The Electric Umbrella! That name stuck in my mind for ages for some reason.

This is IllumiNations which took place over the Epcot lake! Also hooray, 90s cameras had evolved to be able to take pictures of fireworks at that point.

Minnie Mouse! Oh my GOD you can see my training bra under my shirt in this picture.

An AT-AT! That must be the building Star Tours was in?

Curiously the only Disneyworld ’99 snaps I do have in high definition are ones from Typhoon Lagoon. Here’s the Typhoon Lagoon boat!

In fact WAIT I have a picture of that boat from ’96 as well! So here’s the two side-by-side.

And that’s about it! (I really hope I find the rest some day though.)

The Buzzy Saga

Pssst. Bored while on lockdown? Why not take to the wonderful world of Disneyparks vlogging and treat yourself to the fascinatingly ridiculous saga of Buzzy, the dearly departed Epcot animatronic?

It’s like watching a murder mystery unfold in real life, except with far fewer stakes because the victim is a puppet. Enjoy:

It’s the ’10s and Buzzy has been out of a job for quite some time. Disney being Disney, once they decomissioned the ride he was part of (Cranium Command in Epcot) they just… left him there. Obviously the area he was in was inaccessible to all but staff, but Buzzy was still there, just sitting around smiling with childlike innocence in the dark.

He was quite beloved to Epcot fans I gather, but whatever. It’s Disney. Then in late 2018 it all suddenly kicks off! Buzzy’s clothes have been stolen. Or has Buzzy himself been stolen?!

A Twitter account called DreamfinderGuy, who says he’s spoken to someone else known as BackDoorDisney, claims that Buzzy was ripped outta the old attraction wires and all.

Inside job? Very possibly! But either way, somebody’s hands are RED hydraulic-fluid-coloured I guess a sort of yellowish-orange? with the BLOOD of Buzzy.

Offhand Disney lays out the basics in January 2019, making fabulously silly use of film noir tropes. They interview BackdoorDisney, who claims to have seen a police report regarding Buzzy. This will be important for later!

Everyone wants to know WHO TOOK BUZZY?!?! Some people in the comments of that video appear to point the finger at the guy who did this urban exploration trip into the unused bits of Epcot in 2017 (getting what was probably the last known footage of poor Buzzy:)

It was not him. (He did get banned from Disney though.)

NOW apparently at around the time that stealthy video was taken Buzzy had a “do not destroy” tag on him put there by Disney! So Disney was apparently planning to move him somewhere, just don’t ask me how or where because MAN Disney is wasteful as hell when it comes to the cool stuff they own, those beautiful submarines from the 20000 Leagues ride ended up rotting in a junkyard even!

See?!?! (Picture from this amazing archive here.)

But anyway…

THEN May 2019 rolls around and THIS HAPPENS:

That’s… that’s Buzzy’s FACE!

Unsuprisingly BackDoorDisney, who is actually a man called Patrick Spikes, was arrested. PATRICK SPIKES? Okay, that… sounds like a too-on-the-nose name Disney would make up for a movie about a baddie who goes around murdering innocent robots. The situation gets weirder!

His Twitter account, which amassed more than 17,000 followers before going dark last week, promised to give fans an inside view of Disney World. In its seven months of operation, the account uploaded pictures of Disney control rooms, secret maps, and Disney cast members pretending to have sex while dressed as characters from Toy Story.

Value your childhood? Don’t click that link.

The people who are in charge of putting out these things released a PDF of the details. Turns out Spikes was ACTUALLY arrested back in December 2018, before he spoke Offhand Disney and made out he didn’t know what was going on. He’d altered a search warrant and stuck it up on YouTube to make it look like he was innocent. Oh and he had ALSO stolen a bunch of other expensive Disney stuff from the Haunted Mansion and thereabouts.

Now at around this point the NBA comes in. (Yep) Spikes sold some of his ill-gotten gains to NBA player Robin Lopez, apparently specifically telling him they weren’t stolen. Some of these things were Buzzy’s aforementioned clothes and his headset it seems. Poor Buzzy was probably dismantled at around that point. Awww man.

Here’s Offhand Disney discussing their interview with Spikes:

And from The Daily Beast:

In July, police alleged, Spikes printed a fake Disney employee card for his cousin and snuck him into the park. The pair allegedly snuck into the Haunted Mansion, a popular ride, and stole a collection of wigs and outfits from backstage. The clothes, which were designed for the ride’s animatronic ghosts, cost between $40 (a tiara) and $1,746 (a robot’s jacket), adding up to more than $7,000.

Spikes and his cousin allegedly took pictures throughout the heist, and posed in the wigs at a nearby 7-Eleven. A video from shortly after the theft allegedly shows Spikes’ cousin’s girlfriend wearing a robot’s stolen dress.

(Wouldn’t “Robot’s Stolen Dress” be a great name for a band?)

Anyway, there’s even a video of Spikes being questioned by the police and it is… weird.

Oh, and according to the police report, Spike and his magnificently named cousin Blaytin (also in on things) whipped up a fake employee ID with the name “Jack D Marrow” on it. Jack Marrow… like… Jack Sparrow? Geez it’s like they wanted to be caught. Anyway

A former Walt Disney World employee has been sentenced to a decade of probation and 250 hours of community service after pleading guilty to stealing costumes and props from Magic Kingdom, some of which he allegedly sold online.

On Tuesday, Patrick Spikes was served 10 years of probation, hundreds of community service hours and restitution, plus orders to stay away from Disney parks, WESH reports. The Winter Garden, Fla. man and his cousin Blaytin Taunton, also a former Disney World employee, were arrested in May 2019 for allegedly using their Disney IDs to sneak into the theme park and steal memorabilia.


“I’m going to Disney World,” WESH reports that he declared, apparently referencing the famous phrase often shouted by Super Bowl champs after victory on the field.

He, ur, he did not go to Disney World.

And that’s the whole Buzzy Saga, for now! Poor thing probably ended up faceless in a dump somewhere, but on the other hand Disney does that to a lot of their stuff anyway

…Words cannot describe how much I love this stupid wacky robot-theft story, and I want it turned into a dumb heist movie like, now. (Just not one made by Disney.)

Vintage Disneyworld ’96: MGM Studios

…For back in the day, the park was actually named MGM Studios! Now, I believe it’s called Hollywood Studios. Let’s just settle for calling it “the Studios” from this point.

I look remarkably unimpressed here. God knows why, it’s not like there was a shortage of interesting stuff.

It seems like I was there just on time to see the Toy Story Parade! I kinda remember Buzz on the float repeating his stock phrases as he went by.

I have one better photo from the parade, too. Looks like a camera flash was caught in the metal thingy there.

There was more Toy Story stuff inside. I think this might have been the Art of Animation exhibit… or what became the Art of Animation exhibit?

In the same building, or possibly another building, who knows:

Back outside again we have a rather comical-looking old dinosaur:

What or who is this large green dino? Lemme google around to try and identify it. I think it’s an earlier version (?) of Gertie, who is the first result for “disney mgm studios green dinosaur.”

Ahhh, here’s some shots of the Honey I Shrunk The Kids play area, which was my FAVOURITE bit of the park.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I took like, two outfits to Disneyworld. I still have that Minnie Mouse hat somewhere! It’s turned grey now.

I loved this play area so much, I think I must’ve spent at least a couple hours here. I wonder if it’s still there?… nope, Galaxy’s Edge ate it. Oh well.

Well, that’s most of the good photos and this post is long enough!

Vintage Disneyworld ’96: Epcot

So a while back I started posting some vintage Disneyworld photos, all the way from 1996, on here. And then I forgot all about it. But now I have remembered again! So seeing as I still have the photographs lying around on my disk drive, shall we take a look at ’90s Epcot?

Terrible quality photo but you get the idea.

Ah, Spaceship Earth. I remember… going inside it and there was a dark ride in there? Lemme check on Google. Aha! There WAS a ride in there! And I have almost entirely no memory of it.

Look who it is! Yep, at some point during that day we met Mickey. The thing that takes me aback about this photo is the lack of crowding around him.

Tigger was also there…

But it looks like I enjoyed meeting Winnie the Pooh most, if these photos are anything to go by.

I deemed meeting Pooh worthy of inclusion in my holiday scrapbook, even though I couldn’t quiiiite spell his name right.


Now this photo… this I think might have been taken inside a restaurant called The Electric Umbrella. I remember it was technology-themed.

…But, looking up pictures of The Electric Umbrella, it looks a bit different (and lighter) so maybe it wasn’t in there? Perhaps it was on the Spaceship Earth ride? If anyone knows I would love to hear from you!

Let’s move onto the World Showcase!

Heeeere we are! I wonder what was in that bag I was holding? I think it was a plushie of Nala from The Lion King, but I’m not 100% sure.

Some landmarks:

Now I definitely remember IllumiNations being held on the lake here, but sadly I don’t have any photos of it as far as I know. (I imagine some of that is due to ’90s-era cameras being really bad at taking photos at night.)

Hey, person all in pink, d’ya mind not photobombing?

Here’s some shots of me and my family posing all round the World Showcase. Selfies hadn’t been invented yet so I guess the last one must’ve been taken by a kindly stranger.

And lastly, a lovely water feature.

Alas, I don’t know what part of Epcot that’s in, either.

Geez, this brought back memories. I can remember Epcot a bit more clearly than the other Disney parks for some reason. It must have left quite an impression on eight-year-old me.

Vintage Disneyworld ’96: Discovery Island

DISCOVERY ISLAND! It has long been a source of fascination for me. That sweet little zoo I visited as a child in 1996 is now apparently an overgrown, decaying, delightful house of mild horrors. There are vultures! There are dead snakes in jars!


Anyway. Many brave souls have ventured their way into Discovery Island over the years. Some also have been sued by Disney I believe. I would definitely jump at the chance to explore the still-very much abandoned Island, but instead, hey, let’s see what it was like as a fully-functioning, snakesinjars-less part of the park.

It’s a croc! Is it just me or does he not look all that happy to be behind fencing?

I can’t read these signs but I think they’re telling you to please not feed the animals or presumably the Mouse will get you.

These adorable Roseate Spoonbills all got relocated to Animal Kingdom when it opened, I think.

I don’t think my family spent too long at Discovery Island during ye olde Disney holiday. From what I remember it wasn’t really appealing to children because there were no rides or costumed characters around.

My brother it seems REALLY REALLY liked the sand though.

Vintage Disneyworld ’96: Magic Kingdom

So I stumbled across a treasure trove of photos in my parents’ house, hooray. I was DELIGHTED.

Ya see, my love affair/general bizarre fascination with theme parks probably started when I was 8 or so and got taken to Disneyworld in Florida. I have very few actual memories of the experience, but thank god, my parents were early adopters of state-of-the-art camera technology!

…Sadly I am not, and all of these pictures are photos of photos because I have no access to a scanner. But for my fellow lovers of the Disney parks and spectacular theme parks in general, here’s a reasonably clear look of what Disneyworld looked like circa 1996 (yep, pre-Animal Kingdom). Part one! I’ll cover Epcot, the Studios, Typhoon Lagoon and poor, forgotten, abandoned Discovery Island later.

The ferry to the Magic Kingdom. Whether this ferry still exists, and where one would get on it, I have no idea. Hey, there’s the castle in the background!

The cable cars! I have vague memories of us riding in either a red or yellow one. Apparently the cable cars are gone now? Aw man. One of the memories I do have from Disneyworld is going over a lake (I think that’s the black blob to the left) in the cable car and my dad telling me that the submarines used to be under there. That would have been the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride, which shut down a mere two years before my family visited. I was so close.

The castle as seen from the cable cars.

Now this is from a parade I gather was a surreal celebration of all things Mickey. According to my husband, the picture on the left “looks like a Mickey Mouse head stuck on something’s crotch.”

Still, at least the ‘real’ Mickey was less unnerving, right?

Okay nevermind.

A couple of other, much better photos from the Mickey Parade (Why does the name ‘Mickey and Friends Parade’ keep coming back to me? Maybe that was its actual name?)

Here’s Splash Mountain, which I never rode:

According to my eight-year-old self, encouraged by my parents to label the Disney photos in the family photo album, this is a ‘indien village’. What it actually is and where it was, if it’s even actually in the Magic Kingdom, I have no idea. Anyone recognise this?

Here’s Cogsworth. Why he has a tiny Mickey inside him I have no idea.

Here’s It’s A Small World, which I gather has not in fact changed much in the past couple decades:

I’m guessing this is Discoveryland, with its funky retro rockets:

And that’s 1996 Magic Kingdom! I have a few more disconnected memories. I remember we nearly set the holiday villa on fire. Ah, good times.