The Disney Parks are full of retro memorabilia and attractions – you just need to know where to go to find them. On my recent trip to Walt Disney World, I set out on a mission to find the very best retro locations, photo opportunities, rides, souvenirs and places to eat throughout all four parks. Ready to step back into 1971? Here we go!
Retro Disney – Where to Find It!
Around 92 years ago, Walt Disney started with a dream. Over the years, his incredible dream has continued to grow and change shape, but what hasn’t changed is where it all started – with a mouse. That same iconic figure of the 1920s is still the welcoming face of Disney today, along with many other well-known characters who have since been added throughout the years. Taking a walk through parts of Disney is like taking a walk through memory lane. The best part? You can find a bit of retro Disney in all four parks.
Without a doubt, the most retro memorabilia and attractions can be found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. From the moment you walk up to the admission gates the feeling of the past surrounds you with 1950s-style awnings, an old Hollywood downtown area and a stroller rental booth featured as an old gas station and repair shop. Here are a few of my favorite stops to make within the Hollywood Studios park to experience the magic of the past.
The Great Movie Ride® (A)*
I loved this ride! This easy going strolling attraction took me back into the 1930s from the moment I walked in the doors with big marquee lights, vintage movies playing on a large drive in movie style screen and memories played out by real life actors and audio-animatronic replicas of legendary movie stars. This ride may not be suitable for some younger audiences because a few of the scenes depict gun fire and a few “scary” movie moments.
Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream (A)
For the true history buff, this is the place to go to see how it all started. This walk through museum hold artifacts from Disney’s early days including a replica of Walt’s office, his personal drawing and plans for the park, along with memorabilia from the early Disney days. Also, at the end of the self guided museum tour is a short movie depicting the beginning of the dream. Seating is first come, first served.
’50s Prime Time Cafe (D)
Step through the door of this retro Disney dining experience and immediately step into a 1950’s kitchen complete with checkered board floors, televisions playing black and white shows and motherly-like waitstaff dressed for the era. A true to the era menu includes fun options such as Mom’s Old Fashioned Pot Roast, Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie and for dessert how about a 1950’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake? This experience is one not to be missed, but be sure to make reservations ahead of time or you likely won’t be able to get a seat.
Hollywood Scoops (D)
After dinner for a fun sweet treat check out Hollywood Scoops, a retro-themed ice cream joint found on Sunset Boulevard.
Even though Animal Kingdom is mostly about the animals and nature, there are still fun retro style adventures to be found within this park.
Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama! (A) (PO)
This dinosaur decorated amusement park is full of vintage-style rides and games and is located in the Dino U.S.A. section of the Animal Kingdom park. This entire section is full of bright lights and buzzing carnival style attractions. Just don’t forget to look up and see a giant retro dinosaur replica overlooking the park – which also makes for a fun photo opportunity.
Dino Bite Snacks (D)
This little counter service food cart has some big retro appeal to it with a fun sign and a menu including an old fashioned hot fudge sundae!
This quick-service restaurant has some pretty funky diner style menu items such as a macaroni and cheese hot dog but what they also have is some really fun decor and a vintage Airstream trailer parked out front.
The British Revolution (E)
This captivating four person band can be found rocking out to music from the past in the United Kingdom section of Epcot. Be ready, this is some hip swinging music!
The United Kingdom (S) (PO)
The shops within the United Kingdom area were full of retro style souvenirs such as Beatles t-shirts, cups and lunch boxes. Also within this section of the park were retro style telephone booths which made a fun photo opportunity.
It’s always fun to go back to beginning, where it all started. The Magic Kingdom park was the first of the four parks to open it’s doors to the public in 1971 and many of the attractions that were available back then are still available to enjoy today. So while the Magic Kingdom doesn’t have many experiential “retro” themed attractions, almost the entire park is a look back into the past because this is where it all started. However, I did find one retro themed experience that you may want to check out to beat the Florida heat.
Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (D)
This diner style ice cream parlor can be found on Main Street, U.S.A and serves up floats, waffle bowl sundaes and other sweet treats.
Also, while you’re at any of the four Disney parks, be sure to look for Mickey & Minnie Mouse. A moment with them make a great photo opportunity because after all, it all started with a mouse.
* (A) = Attraction , (E) = Entertainment, (D) = Dining, (PO) = Photo Opportunity