There is no place on earth that comes without its downfalls, and for a place like Disneyworld, that can be tough to believe. Contrary to popular belief, the theme park didn't always seem as innocent and cheerful as it does now and we can attribute vintage costumes, masks, and unregulated rides for that. From the 1930s on, the world was a very different place and it's truly fascinating to see that reflected in photos from these decades. We've gone through the archives and found some lesser-known depictions that capture what it was like to have visited this park in an earlier time.
Some of these photos are amusing while others will likely make parents wince in disbelief. Life certainly was different back then, Fans of Disney might even be able to spot these vintage places and attractions and trust us, it'll definitely give you an appreciation for the modern comforts of today's safety standards.
Not everything is peachy-keen when you're face to face with a Disney character that looks like something out of your most unpleasant dreams. All we can say is that costuming wasn't exactly up to par, and makeup skills have definitely improved since. If we've piqued your interest enough, go ahead and scroll through the many things Disney was once known for.
22 Mickey's Clubhouse Took It A Bit Too Far
What we have here is a room full of Mickeys. Just kidding, there's no denying that this black and white photo is anything but uncomfortable to look at but when you're in Mickey's club, you become Mickey. Evidently, all of these masks happen to be exactly the same which adds to the odd nature of this visual recounting of a club meeting, making it more cliquey than clubbish. This used to be something the club did for fun back in the day and when you think about it, gathering in a giant movie theater isn't really that weird. The masks are a bit strange, but it was really all harmless Disney fun.
All of these kids genuinely look super happy...unless that's just the masks, who can really tell?
21 That's Not How They Looked In The Cartoon
Yikes, if this doesn't make you shudder a bit, then we're not sure what will. Both Mickey and Minnie Mouse are represented rather differently than they were in the cartoons and this is a stretch even for the old-school series. This is purely the fault of early costume designs in an effort to bring an animated character to life. While kids may have been used to this, it's definitely not something we'd feel totally comfortable around today. We can guarantee that many parents would be mildly unhappy walking into Disney World and witnessing these characters rather than the more realistic versions we have today.
20 Dumbo: Cute But Not So Safe
It's difficult to tell by these pictures whether or not this ride that's meant for serious thrills is actually safe. Cameras back then weren't as quick to freeze a frame as they are now, so for all we know, this ride could be much slower than it seems. Regardless, it looks fairly minimal and drastically different from the Disney rides we're familiar with today. It also doesn't look like many of those kids would pass a height requirement, let alone know to fasten their belts all the way, leaving one to question the early phases of theme park rides.
What do you think, is this something you'd feel comfortable with your child riding in the 1950s?
19 Jousting Is Quite The Unusual Sport For Kids
Understandably, knights should accompany every castle -- After all, someone needs to protect its walls, right? However, jousting is an interesting choice for a sport to display for children. The opening of Disney World was a massive event, complete with parades, ride openings, and plenty of actors, including trained horsemen. What we can't figure out is where the actual jousting took place, if that is what this was a photo of in the first place. Chances are, no one would let a group of kids run around a horse like that nowadays. If nothing else, this is a really neat photo of Disney before it was all we know it to be today.
18 Tomorrowland Was A Bit Of A Letdown
Any parent who was familiar with Disney World when it first opened would have known about the infamous Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, this ride was somewhat of a dud after it got going. It wasn't really enjoyed by kids and developed somewhat of a reputation for being underwhelming and unrelatable, perhaps pushing the futuristic envelope a tad too far for the time it was designed. This attraction eventually would have fallen out of popularity regardless, since each decade brought with it new technology that would render several aspects of this attraction obsolete.
Sorry, Tomorrowland, you just didn't have what it takes to stick around.
17 Save The Lifts For The Ski Slope
That's a rather high lift for such a ground-level theme park, don't you think? The first attractions at Disney World were hard-to-believe in the sense that they seemingly defied when anyone had seen up until that point. This is an example of one of them, featuring a ski lift-type design that enabled young riders to get a bird's eye view of much of the theme park. However, those cords look way too thin, while the cars look heavy, so we're not really sure if we'd be 100% comfortable with this one ourselves.
It's one of those ideas that's neat in theory but rather daunting when it comes to executing it in real life.
16 Sounds Like A Family-Friendly Attraction
Anything with the word such as the one that precedes "Adventures" in this case isn't usually reserved for children and it's certainly the last thing you'd expect to see at Disney World. While those who have watched Snow White are likely familiar with the few minutes she's lost in the enchanted forest, that doesn't mean we want it to come to life. While this ride probably wasn't all that alarming, it's understandable that parents nowadays would have concerns. In all likelihood, this was before the days of age recommendations as well.
15 An Interesting Take On Ducks
Once again, we can take note of the lack of costume skills in the early 1900s. This choir of ducks was likely intended to be a fun and interactive experience but comes off looking a bit like a kindergarten project gone wrong. Not only are these actors wearing the exact same duck face, costume, and hat, but even the conductor has donned a weird-looking duck mask, complete with a top hat and glasses. This may have been something that kids would be overjoyed to watch in the olden days, but today? It's quite unusual and rather alarming. Not to mention, none of them have instruments.
14 Not A Lifeguard In Sight
Not all Disney attractions made it into the 2000s and anything that lacked a lifeguard on duty definitely fell into that category. Here, we see a water ride that's clearly very primal in nature, with a giant slide leading into a lake. While the photo is too old to tell the age of these children, it's not likely that there are any adults watching them and no visible lifeguard on duty. This is very telling of how different things were back then, as kids were likely to be much more adventurous and independent in how they viewed theme park rides. There are also no life vests to be seen, yet another thing that we'd have access to today.
13 The Clowns Did It
It's unclear whether this is intended to be a nod to Dumbo or just a strange attraction. These actors are covered from head to toe in fairly traditional, yet weird, clown costumes, which only adds to the feelings many people experience about them. Kids especially like to shy away from clowns such as this and it doesn't matter which decade you're in... Giant clown masks are not a pretty sight no matter which way you look at them. There's also not a shred of reassurance in these clown suits to let kids know that there's a normal human being underneath.
12 You'll Be Humming This Song For Years
Possibly one of the most annoying attractions of all is the Small World ride. There are plenty of stories about this attraction, from its annoying music to its slightly weird mannequin characters. The ride was largely popular when Disney World first opened and has continued to be a well-visited attraction since. However, many a parent will become riddled with anxiety when it comes to bringing their child into this one because they know, inevitably, the theme song will never leave their heads.
Let's also not forget your child will be singing it for much longer than you'll be remembering it.
11 Not Everyone Is Happy At Disney
One thing that's always a surefire way to make parents nervous is seeing photos of unhappy kids at Disney World. We're not sure what was responsible for making these kids' day less-than-ideal but it's quite obvious that he's not feeling the Disney magic in any way, shape, or form. As far as fun goes, this child just isn't having it. It remains to be seen whether he's just anticipating the day being over or whether he's starving and in need of food to soothe his hanger, but either way, it's not the happiest image.
10 All The Kids Want To Ride The Floatmobile
Floating cars aren't normal nor are they exactly safe, but Disney World broke all the rules with this one. As a nod to the 1940s and 1950s, these futuristic cars were intended to be a fun and unusual attraction; something you wouldn't likely find anywhere else. The problem was that they weren't really open to the public and while you could watch them, you couldn't line up for rides in one. They also weren't practical, as water would eventually cause significant issues to a classic car such as this one. This photo leaves us scratching our heads in confusion, for sure.
9 That Looks A Tad Crowded
Safety concerns weren't as huge of a deal back then as they are now and a crowded attraction was just to be expected. Before any laws had been applied to things such as this, it wasn't unusual to find a boat that was completely packed out. This ride was well-loved and unique but also carried the risk of being very overcrowded, which would cause a bit of anxiety for parents nowadays. It's one thing to send your kid on a ride alone, it's another to send them off on a boat ride with 40 other people, without life vests, as they lean over the edge to look down below.
8 Is That A Real Dog?
Winnie the Pooh and his best pal Tigger, are well-loved by children everywhere, no matter the decade. These characters are fairly well-represented as far as costumes go and aren't weird like the other ones. The strange thing is the fact that they're walking a dog, which doesn't make much sense and can make kids a bit anxious, especially since it seems like this one has a Pooh Bear issue. It's also strange to think of a talking bear and a talking tiger having a pet of their own... It's like a brain-bender for the masses, leaving both kids and adults equally confused.
7 One Too Many Mickeys
Walt Disney was a wonderful person with a huge heart and an even bigger knack for creativity. Disney is his legacy and will live on infinitely, but that doesn't mean everything he did was without its oddities. This photo doesn't exactly make us excited about skipping around Disney World and even the most devoted of Mickey fans would likely agree that this is a bit much. There's a difference between loving Mickey and being surrounded by mini-versions of the loveable mouse, and this is definitely one photo that demonstrates the latter. Can you spot the one that doesn't quite seem to fit in?
6 Real Horses Are A Real Mess
Disney World held nothing back upon their opening and that included recruiting live animals for many of their events. Horses were popular in those days but in today's day and age, it would likely be frowned upon. Having an actor dressed like a Goofy riding atop a real horse would definitely be frowned upon out of the worry that said horse might get spooked. While it's a neat concept, in theory, it's one that becomes a bit strange when carried out in real life. Also, the fact that Goofy is seemingly riding this horse while turned sideways is a bit nerve-wracking in itself... Eyes forward while on horseback!
5 Is This A Bad Dream?
It took a minute to stop laughing at this photo because it's just such a classic example of something you shouldn't find in Disney World. We're not sure who these actors are meant to be, but what we do know is that Greenie has her eyes out for the actress sitting in the center. If you were to crop this green monster out of the picture, it would look like a perfectly average day in the park. However, the addition of a looming mask and slightly alien-like costume really has us rethinking the charm of this whole vintage Disney thing.
4 Welcome To Disney, Here's A Mask For Your Face
We're not saying that Disney World was perfect when it first opened. What we are saying is that there were definitely a few issues to work through and some things that needed perfecting, such as costumes. Once again, we see an odd choice for a well-loved movie, Cinderella. While Cinderella and Prince Charming hold up the back of the photo, her stepmother and stepsisters are hanging off to the side but look a bit strange. That's because, as opposed to the others, they're actually wearing masks. They were portrayed as humans in the movie, yet Disney chose to implement masks, assumedly to make them more realistic... We're glad they did away with these.
3 What's With The Enormous Penguin, Mary Poppins?
Yet another blunder is mismatched proportions, which was actually quite common when it came to actors in full body suits. This photo of Mary Poppins and friends is a classic case of an adult attempting to portray a character who was much smaller in reality. While everyone seems to be their normal height, the penguin in the back is standing at an uncanny height, towering above poor Miss Poppins. She can barely manage to hold her parasol over his head and we're stuck wondering how many times it took to get this photo just right, without her clocking him in the beak.
2 Just Asking For Trouble
Understandably, the opening of Disney World was an exciting time. What isn't so exciting is having a mass ground of children running across a bridge out of sheer excitement for its opening. Nowadays, you'd likely never catch kids running around like this without their parents nearby but, once again, things were different in those days. Kids were free to run around at will without their parents stressing out. Nowadays, just looking at this picture is enough to give some parents a headache, and we can almost hear the excited screaming that went on in this photo.
1 Chipmunks Drove Cars Once, You Know
We're just going to assume that underneath those massive chipmunk masks is a licensed driver, otherwise, Disney World would have been breaking some hefty rules here. Granted, these mini cars probably don't need a full license to be operated, but you still have an actor whose eye holes are covered with thick fabric. The barrier between the parade and the crowd isn't that great either, leaving nothing but a thin wire line to protect the crowd from the incoming traffic. Rodents or no rodents, these chipmunks are kooky. We're pretty sure they'd have been one step away from being required by law to practice walking in a straight line in today's day and age.