A new video featuring very rare footage of the original Walt Disney World Preview Center and construction of the Magic Kingdom and Resort Hotels has just found its way onto YouTube.
This appears to be raw news footage, or, as they say in the biz, b-roll, created to run behind a story or while an anchor narrated during a broadcast.
Round about the 5:05 minute mark, there’s an interview with Admiral Joe Fowler, who led the construction effort for the Walt Disney Company.
Pay special attention to the map on the wall behind Fowler. You’ll see the one time home of the Venetian Resort. You see it on a lot of early maps and concept art for Walt Disney World, but it was never built.
Did you see the truck bringing in one of the modular rooms that would be added into the Contemporary Resort by crane. That was meant to be revolutionary technology, but in the end turned out to be more trouble than it was worth (and hard to repair).
The Walt Disney World Preview center was open from mid-January through September 30, 1971, just before the Magic Kingdom officially opened to the public.
The building was built near Lake Buena Vista, which would soon also host the WDW Village a little further along Preview Boulevard, what we know as Hotel Plaza Boulevard today.
If you were lucky enough to visit, not only could you see a 652-square foot model and concept art for the “Vacation Kingdom of the World,” you could make a reservation at WDW’s first two hotels, the Contemporary and the Polynesian Village.
This being Disney, there was also a small gift shop.
After the Magic Kingdom opened its gates, the building at one time was a reception center and a post office.
Since 1994 the original Walt Disney World Preview Center has played host to the headquarters to the Amateur Athletic Union.
The original 30 year lease given to AAU to stay in the former preview building expires in 2024. There is a rumor that the property will then be razed to make way for a new Disney Springs resort.
This makes sense to me as that’s pretty valuable territory along Hotel Plaza Boulevard. With a new off-ramp from I-4 directing cars directly on to Hotel Plaza Boulevard from the freeway, that’s going to drive even more guests to want to stay in that part of the resort.