Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gardens of The World...Topiaries of the Kingdom.

Our Walt Disney World vacations of the 70's and 80's had a very different "feel" than they do nowadays. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

In the early days our family would head down for an 8 to 10 day trip to a Walt Disney World that consisted of ONE park and just TWO resorts.

By today's standards, there wasn't much to do, but at the time we were always entertained and were just as saddened by the last day of our vacation as we are now.

One of the up sides to the "One Park World" was that we had plenty of time to slow down and check out all that they had to offer. One thing that is often overlooked today, by the hoards to visitors who rush from attraction to attraction, is the landscaping and gardens.

Today's article will focus on one of my very favorite landscape attractions at Walt Disney World...the topiaries.

There are still a few topiaries to be found on a regular basis at The World.

The Sea Serpent of the Magic Kingdom is still patroling the lawns around the Hub in front of Cinderella's Castle.
There are also a few to be found around EPCOT, especially during The Flower and Garden Festival, when they all but take over the park.

But back in the day, if you wanted to see a fantastic collection of topiaries you would have traveled to the area between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. There you could find a wonderous collection of these fantastic "beasts" and even get up close and personal for a few photographs.

In these photos, taken around 1979, you can see my brothers and I, along with our Mom, standing with the Elephant Parade Topiaries.

These sculpures were along side the road, and I remember seeing people posing with them nearly every time we drove past.

Here is another photo from that very same "Photo Shoot" of my brothers and I posing with the stork and "obelisk" topiaries near the Transportation and Ticket Center. (Note the matching Mickey Shirts, complimented by the vintage Mickey Socks...I'd still wear those, if only I could find them!!!)

This photo, from the 1992 book, The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort, shows what appears to be those same elephant topiaries some years later, in a different location. Now surrounded by flower gardens, you could no longer walk up to them to pose for a photo op.

Here is another Elephant sculpture. (apparently, elephants are a hot property in the topiary world). As you can see in the photo, this handsome fella lives at the TTC as well.

There were also many other topiaries which lived right beside The Transportation and Ticket Center as well as any other number of floral creations which were scattered about the area.

I suppose my special memories of these topiaries are not so much about the plants themselves, but more about a time in The World's history where there was less offered but perhaps more to be discovered, simply because you had the time to do so.

Here are a few more vintage topiary photos which were sent in by our good friend Ryan Wilson of The Main Street Gazette.

Here we see Ryan's parents posing, very stylishly might I add, in front of a few of the topiaries which were found at the Transportation and ticket Center, circa 1980.

A special thank you to Ryan for allowing us to see these rare gems from his family collection.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lake Buena Vista Village: Before there was a Lego Store...

Today we are going to take a quick trip back in time to visit one of my old favorites, Lake Buena Vista Village.
Who doesn't love to take a stroll past The LEGO Store in The Marketplace? The huge sculptures, created with the Duplo or Lego bricks are awesome.

But back, long before that store existed, there were often displays of Lego creations strewn about the village, here and there.

As you would walk around, they would be mixed into the gardens and grassy areas, on display.

Often, they would have a placard which stated the number of bricks used as well as the time it took to build each sculpture.

I have not had much luck researching these displays, but I do have quite a few photos from one particular showing that was held there back in the fall of 1980.

Please excuse the quality of these photographs. They were taken by yours truly, with my very own 128 camera, at the tender age of 9 years old....perhaps that will add, just a bit, to the charm of this long lost attraction.