Looking Back: Magic Kingdom in 1991

Welcome to another post in the Looking Back series of old photos from Walt Disney World. This time around, we take a look back at the Magic Kingdom from 1991. Most of these photos are from April of that year, although a few of them are from another trip in June.

Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

The view down Main Street USA has welcomed people to the Magic Kingdom for many years now. In many ways, this view hasn’t changed that much over the years, although there are some definite differences if you start to look closely. For example, back in 1991 the Camera Center presented by Kodak was still there at the right of the photo. And look at those trees down toward Cinderella Castle! More about those later on.

Main Street Hotel building in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

On the right side of Town Square is the Main Street Hotel building, which at this time was the home of the Disneyana store. This was long before the building was changed to the Town Square Exposition Hall. That Disneyana sign was rather tastefully done compared to the much larger sign that is there now.

Harry Holt in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Moving inside the Disneyana store, you could find an actual Disney animator drawing Disney sketches. The animator was Harry Holt, who had worked on such Disney classics as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Pinocchio,” and then he later worked at WED Enterprises. Starting in the late 1980s, he worked in the Disneyana store – when it was the preview center for the new Disney-MGM Studios, drawing sketches for guests. The sketches were free, although frames were sold over at the counter across the way. I still have a sketch from him somewhere – I need to go look for it! You can read more about Harry Holt in this newspaper article from 1988.

Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Before we move on down Main Street USA, here is one more photo from the Town Square area. This overview was photographed from the upper level of the Walt Disney World Railroad’s Main Street Station. Some people sometimes complain that the flag and pole block the view of Main Street, but I think they help to add to the Americana feel of the area.

Cinderella Castle stage show in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Check out this view of Cinderella Castle and the show on the castle stage! And there is Mickey Mouse in the show! What’s that? You are having trouble seeing the castle because of those large trees in the Central Plaza? While I enjoyed those trees being there, apparently others did not, and now they are gone. The removal of the trees does open up the area for viewing the fireworks and stage shows, but I liked the park-like feel that they gave to the plaza. Oh well, they didn’t ask my opinion before they removed them, did they?

Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Moving on, we come to Adventureland, long before Aladdin and his Magic Carpets arrived on the scene. Back in these days, the area had one unified theme instead of the mishmash that they created when they dropped Agrabah right in the middle of the jungle. And the area wasn’t nearly as congested, either. Thanks for nothing, Aladdin! Although I did really like your movie.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Up next is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, seen across the Rivers of America as a raft coming from Tom Sawyer Island passes by. Back then, Big Thunder Mountain was the only mountain on the west side of the Magic Kingdom, but that was all about to change…

Splash Mountain construction in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Construction was underway on Splash Mountain during our visits in 1991. It didn’t look much like a mountain back then, but they were just getting started. Interested to compare a few steel beams with how it looks now.

Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Continuing our little tour, we arrive in Fantasyland, considered by many people (mostly those with small children) to be the heart and soul of the Magic Kingdom. You can see lots of those people in this photo here. Although it apparently wasn’t running when I took this photo, you can see the cables for the Skyway overhead, as it was still in operation back then. To the left, Magic Journeys, the 3D movie, had arrived in Fantasyland after it was displaced from its original home at EPCOT Center’s Journey into Imagination by Captain EO. And you can’t see it here, but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures were all still there, too. Ah, the good old days. Even for those of us who didn’t have small children.

Fantasy Faire stage in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Hey, what’s that music? It’s a high school band performing as part of Magic Music Days at the Fantasy Faire stage. And that wasn’t just any high school band, that was my high school band! Actually, i had already graduated by this time, but my future wife (that would be Laura) and my sister are on stage in this photo, as well as several other friends. Which is why I was there in April. Yes, I missed a few days of college classes for this trip. And yes, I still got all A’s for that semester, so it all worked out okay. And obviously, some of those people eating their food from Pinocchio’s Village House and not paying attention to the band don’t have good taste in music.

Laura and Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Speaking of my then future wife, here she is in front of Cinderella Castle. This brings back lots of memories, as do all of our photos of us that have been taken at Walt Disney World over the years. Good memories, too, which are the best kind, of course.

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Taken from the same vantage point as the photo of Laura above is this “classic” view of Cinderella Castle. It was classic in that it was an often-photographed view, used in guide books, newspaper articles, and television promo shots. But it is now also a classic view because of the changes that are underway. That section of the “moat” around the central plaza is being filled in, and the old Swan Boat dock seen here has been removed. You can’t stop progress, I guess.

Minnie Moo in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

Remember Minnie Moo? This cow with a Mickey Mouse head on her side used to live in Mickey’s Birthdayland/Starland back in those days. She was probably the happiest cow on earth for getting live at Walt Disney World, although I don’t know if they let her out to ride any of the rides or not. And yes, that is Laura behind her, along with some unknown stranger who wandered into our photo.

Cinderella Castle in the evening in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1991

And to close things out, here is an evening view of Cinderella Castle as the sun was starting to go down. Apparently, I took several photos of Cinderella Castle back in those days, as you can see that it shows up in several of these photos here. Not all that much has changed, actually, except that now because I don’t have to worry about the costs of film and developing, I can take even more photos of Cinderella Castle, and everything else, too.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the Magic Kingdom from over 20 years ago! Be sure to check back in the future for more Looking Back posts!

About Steve Burns

Husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography and stories through Burnsland.com. Steve cohosts the Burnsland Podcast with his lovely wife, Laura.


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5 thoughts on “Looking Back: Magic Kingdom in 1991”

  1. Loved this post. I took my last trip as a “kid” with my family around this time period, too. I get a little sad at the changes sometimes… but as you said, they didn’t *ask* us, and you can’t stop progress. 😉

    1. Thanks, Tami! The June trip that some of these photos come from was the next to last time I went with my parents, too. And while you can’t stop progress, at least you can go back and look at pre-progress photos! 🙂

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