Walt Disney World
A History in Postcards
pre-opening cards, so few ... or so many?
The construction of WDW was a massive undertaking these artists conceptions were some of the first images for many people of what was being built on the site. According to David Hooper, 2These cards were also sold in the park in its early days based on the fact that he has some postmarked after opening, and mentioning the park. There is also some question of how many varieties of these cards there were , and that number can vary greatly depending on how you count them for example look at these two cards...
FL-027 the Steamer Osceola No flag logo The Steamer Osceola with florida Flag logo
Pretty Much Identical right? Well... yes and no; the images are the same, the captions, and the card numbers on the back of the card are the same on each card, but the logo for Walt Disney World (both the ones you can see in these images and the ones on the back of the card) vary from card to card. The difference in the logo is simply that on the lower pictured card there is a flag with the word Florida on it attached to the Walt Disney World logo.
WDW logo before Florida pennant was added WDW logo with Florida pennant
The standard explanation, among the few WDW postcard collectors I've asked, for why these appear on the first few years of chromes with photos on them is that this was to help distinguish what was being built in Florida from Disneyland so folks wouldn't get postcards of the new park and go "isn't that in California?". For the photo post cards this explanation holds up. I think the "Florida" logo was used early on to aid in the public awareness of their location, especially since the postmarks on the used cards I have back it up. All of the 1971 and 1972 post marked photo chrome cards have the Flag logo, and most of the 73 and 74 postmarked cards do also. By 1975 the transition was clearly underway. I think that the one card I have from 1973 without a flag logo may have been a new view that year (it is 01110213 FUN ON BAY LAKE) and they may have already figured out at that point the WDW had been promoted enough so most people already knew it was in Florida. That would explain why the Florida flag logo was phased out after a few years, after all, by that time the folks who were the target audience for WDW would have known the difference. But that hardly explains why the pre opening cards came in both varieties.

(I) ask(ed) Dave Smith

A few months back I had the chance to ask the Disney company archivist Dave Smith about this. This opportunity was provided by the all ears newsletter. http://www.allearsnet.com He answered several peoples questions including mine, and they appeared in the email newsletter. I had written a very long question using a lot of examples and they shortened it quite a bit. When I wrote it out that long I figured it would never get picked so it seemed a reasonable trade off, here is what appeared.
Brian M., Charlotte, North Carolina: On some of the early postcards of WDW, both of the pre-opening art variety and the early photo cards of the park, the Walt Disney World logo on the back (and in the case of the pre-opening cards also the logo on the front) includes a flag (pennant-shaped) with the word "FLORIDA" on it, presumably to promote awareness of the location of the new park and make sure folks didn't just think, "Oh, a Disney postcard... that's way out in California right?" I have two theories about why some have it and some don't:
Theory 1: The first pre-opening cards did not include the Florida flag and it was added later to promote awareness. Accordingly, the same logo was used on the first photo cards once construction was completed, but was phased out on later printings of these card.
Theory 2: Both logos were developed early on. The logo used on the cards depended on what was handy when preparing the image to go to the printer, so the Florida flag and non-flag card would have been issued at about the same time.

DAVE: I would guess it is your Theory 2. Of our pre-opening post cards (featuring artwork), three of the eight have the flag logo on the picture side. None have it on the address side. I do not find it on any of our later photo post cards. If you have later cards with the flag, it is possible that there were different licensees who handled the printing.
Now I actually think Dave might be mistaken about one thing here, but if he's right I would love to see his cards!. He said none of his pre opening cards have the flag logo on the reverse side. On all of the cards I have the same logo is on both sides, if it is flag logo on the front it is flag logo on the back. If it is non-flag on the front, again it is the same on the back. In my original even longer question to him I gave examples of things I thought argued both ways for which logo came first on the pre opening cards. in my original letter two him I argued for and against using two pieces of evidence only:
1. The Tempo Bay Resort Cards )
2. The "High-rise" version of the Polynesian resort.
since then I have decided a few other pieces of evidence that (in my mind) tip the scales.
3. The Mickeyglobe
4. Postmarks
there is more about all of these items below:

Which came first?

In favor of the non-flag logo being first is first the logical point that it may have been added after the initial printings, that when the preview center first opened in Jan. of 1970 they had not considered any possibility of confusion among the general public while trying to get the first cards out. Also the flag logo cards have the Mickeyglobe in the "D" of Disney that makes them more similar to the later, photo cards, whereas with the non flag logo card the Mickeyglobe is in the logo on the front ...but not the one on the back. In fact, even the way the phrase "the vacation kingdom of the world" is printed on the flag versions (in less bold print) is more similar to the later cards . There is even evidence from the images on the front of the cards that supports this as well card FL-028 the card that shows the unbuilt "High-rise" version of the Polynesian resort hotel. I have only seen this card in a non flag version. The one thing that throws a monkey wrench in that whole theory is the Tempo Bay Resort Hotel.....some of you may be asking what Tempo Bay Resort Hotel, well it turns out that was a working title for the Contemporary Resort hotel but the only cards I have with the Tempo Bay title in the caption are "Florida flag" versions of the logo. Also, I have both flag and non-flag versions of these same cards (FL-024 and FL-025) that refer to it as the Contemporary. So for my theory of the non flag logo being first the hotel would have first started with the title of the Contemporary Resort, hotel then changed over to Tempo Bay and then once again changed back....this is not impossible though. I have very few postally used pre-opening cards of those some have illegible postmarks. One of the few that is legible is a Tempo Bay printing of FL-025 postmarked March 26, 1971 being that late it makes sense that it would be after the logos had changed. The only 1970 postmark I have is on a pre-flag card. I have three 1971 weakly postmarked non-Flag cards that look like February (on two of them), and March (on the other). I only have two Florida Flag pre opening cards with postmarks, and they are both later than these. One of my postmarked "Florida flag" cards is marked March 26, 1971 it is a Tempo Bay card, the other is an Oct. 28 1971 postmark. Apparently these "pre-opening" cards were also sold in the opening weeks of the park.

In my mind the evidence I have weighs heavily in favor of the Florida flag only being on the later printings. The combination of the fact that the few postmarked cards I have seem to support it, along with that lack of the Mickeyglobe version of the "D" in the Walt Disney world logo that was so ubiquitous on WDW merchandise for so many years after, outweighs the conflicting "Tempo Bay" information. Perhaps they wanted to change the name of the Contemporary to the Tempo Bay (after they had already issued the flag less Contemporary Resort Hotel post cards) but decided it was too late in the process and too many items had already been ordered with the "Contemporary" name on it, or perhaps someone decided Tempo Bay sounded too similar to Tampa Bay, maybe it even had something to do with the transfer during the course of the project from the idea that U.S. steel (who built the Contemporary and the Polynesian) was going to have a stake in the hotel and run it to the idea that Disney was going to wholly own them from day one. This last change was made possible in part from the fact that Disney had retired much of their debt on this project early by the sale of debentures with which, if I understand the process properly, once the stock value rose to a certain point, became regular shares of stock, basically being paid off then. Anyway, any of these things could be reasons why the Tempo Bay name was just used for a short period in the middle of the construction process. I just don't know for sure.
description paragraph from a Tempo Bay Card description paragraph from a Tempo Bay Card
There is even a card number that has a different view on later printings than the early ones. Card FL-029 On the early version of the card the image is an overview of the resort area as originally planned that includes some resorts that were to be built in later phases and never ended up getting built. here's a link to a large image of that card that I have added text to pointing out some of the interesting features on it. On the later versions of the card is an overview image of the Polynesian Village Resort in the form that we know it today (sort of a replacement for the high- rise card I mentioned previously). To get a better look at the resorts that were never built take a look at the side bar article on Pre-Opening Cards that never were.
So here's a list of how many cards there may be with links to the images of the ones I know exist. Or if you prefer to view slightly smaller versions of the cards all on one page ( that you can click on to still see the large versions) then you may click here.

FL-024 no Flag (I doubt this version exists)
FL-024 FL Flag

FL-024 NO Flag
FL-024 FL Flag

FL-025 No Flag(I doubt this version exists)
FL-025 FL Flag

FL-025 No Flag
FL-025 FL Flag

FL-026 No Flag
FL-026 FL Flag

FL-027 No Flag
FL-027 FL Flag

FL-028 No Flag
FL-028 FL flag (I doubt this version exists)

FL-029 No Flag
FL-029 FL Flag

FL-029 No Flag (I doubt this version exists)
FL-029 FL Flag

MAGIC KINGDOM THEME PARK (Castle image on card)
FL-030 No Flag
FL-030 FL Flag

MAGIC KINGDOM THEME PARK (Image of never built Western River Expedition)
FL-031 No Flag
FL-031 FL Flag

MAGIC KINGDOM THEME PARK (Image of Liberty Square)
FL-032 No Flag
FL-032 FL Flag

So there it is 24 listings I have of 10 different images on cards of 9 different numbers, There may be as few as 20 since the four I have marked with question marks (????) may well not exist.

The Preview center

These cards were available at preview center that Disney built located, according to D.M. Miller, 1on Buena Vista Boulevard, just off state road 535, The boulevard has been renamed Hotel Plaza and is now lined with big Hotels. He also noted that "The preview center included a small post office for the residents and businesses of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake." On our honeymoon trip in October of 2002 I hoped to find it , if it still existed, and take a photo. In addition to Mr Millers description I had an aerial photo of the center that was in the "preview edition" of the Walt Disney World soft cover souvenir guide.
preview center

the preview center as it appeared in the preview edition of the Walt Disney World souvenir soft cover

With this in mind we got off the interstate at State Route 535 and turned left onto the wide divided road that runs through the Lake Buena Vista hotels I figured it would not be all that far in, and also that even if it did not still exist the lake behind it would help me find the site. I started looking for somewhere to turn in as I was afraid I would pass the area, as I found a spot and turned in I suddenly realized...I was there!
preview center preview center
The lot I chose to pull into was the one next to the Amateur Athletic Union headquarters and it was immediately obvious that it was indeed the building pictured I took a few pictures .
preview center

Me, holding the pre-opening book

Carlene said to me that she thought she could reproduce the aerial shot in the book. How? I asked. she pointed out to me that the high rise hotel across the street had the same view onto the site as that in the book. We were wanting to get checked in so we resolved to come back later on in the trip and try this. I have to admit I had my doubts as I figured we would have to get permission to go into one of the rooms on the upper floors and take the picture from their balcony. When we did come back I found out what Carlene had already noticed, that the elevator to the upper floors was one of those glass sided models that let you look out across the property. What a view!
there is a great picture of the preview center as it appeared in it's heyday on the Widen Your World web site. at:
preview center preview center
Dave Ensign sent me the following front and back scans of what was probably the first WDW related postcard of all. The promotional postcard promoting the preview center!
preview center preview center
If you check out the large scan of the postal (Addressee) side of the card , (by clicking on the image shown , just as with most other images on this site you will get the larger image) you will see copyright Walt Disney Productions 1/70, this ties in nicely with the information in Disney A to Z 3 , which notes that the Preview center was "open from January 10,1970 to September 30, 1971." and that it had "displays of models and drawings, there was a short filmed presentation, along with a snack bar and merchandise shop. " David Hooper,2 sent me a list of some of the things he knows were sold there:
  • Postcards of course
  • Pre-opening Guide book
  • Bumper sticker that says "Opening October 1"
  • License plate frame similar to above
  • License plate

    another contributor listed these other items:
  • a decal sheet
  • a set of slides.yup!! pre-opening slides..... I have one sealed pack listed as set 4 and they consist of models and renderings...sadly faded. Walt Disney World set four F1-004 Five slides $1.00
    • D-1 cruising by excursion steamer (same as postcard image)
    • D-2 Exotic Adventureland (exterior concept of Tiki Long House)
    • D-3 Western River Expedition (model of plains thunder clouds and mesas, buffalo, and calfs)
    • D-4 Main Street Victorian restaurant (Concept Crystal Palace and band stand)
    • D-5 Golf on Championship Courses ( man swinging .early "pyramid" Polynesian hotel in background.

This set of slides listed as set four with a merchandise number of FL-004 solves another question about the pre-opening postcards of Walt Disney World mainly why they started with number FL-024 , obviously the lower numbers were taken up by other types of merchandise like these slides.

Since these are labeled as set four I would assume that FL-001 through FL-003 are the first three sets of slides. The postcards are labeled FL-024 through FL-032 , which leaves both the numbers from FL-005 to FL-023 as currently still being a mystery to me and also numbers from FL-033 up open to possibly being merchandise numbers.
Rhett Wickham listed the following items:

  • a preview book which is white with a dye-cut center revealing the rendering of Epcot on the inside front page. It includes a map It's a fold-out stapled to the center It measures about 18 x 22 and has no copy write date. With a schematic or pseudo topographic layout and includes the footprint of the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT as it was conceived originally, the lakes, and hotels - including The Venetian and the Persian which were never built. Each "footprint" i s in a color, the surrounding areas are bright green, the monorail path is white, each hotel is a color, the Lake is blue, Epcot is various pale blue, green, yellow and white and black and areas like the hub, the hotel, the industrial park, etc. are identified in type.
  • a pen
  • a ring
  • a Mickey posable figure
  • and a key ring

Gary A. Kecskes sent me the following information about the preview center building " After Disney used it as the Preview Center it became the WDW Reservation Center and was used for about two decades for that purpose. This is where Disney accepted hotel reservations for all of the on-property hotels (that they owned and operated). It was what is now known as a "call center". It served that purpose for 20+ years, until call center operations were moved (I believe to Tampa).The call center moved just a few years back, and that's when the AAU moved in. You may also have noted that the alignment of Hotel Plaza Drive has changed as it moves toward Downtown Disney. I'm sure that was done to provide a more intuitive exit for Disney drivers wanting to leave the property via Hotel Plaza Drive. It also helps to keep the number of people who mistakenly drive east into the back-lot area of WDW where operations and warehouses are located east of the old Disney Institute. "


E-mail Me martsolf@mindspring.com

Chapter 1 Pre-opening cards page 2 : The Card Scans

Post Cards Section : Table of Contents

Back to bigBrians Disney page

Last modified by Brian K Martsolf at 08-Mar-2005 05:46 PM