Modern Living: Disney World: Pixie Dust Over Florida

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FIRST there was Disneyland, an elaborate $128.5 million, 70-acre playground that erupted 16 years ago in the Southern California flatlands outside Anaheim. Its stunning success spawned a host of imitators, including amusement extravaganzas called Six Flags in Dallas, St. Louis and Atlanta. Chicagoans were given the opportunity to celebrate Christmas year round at Santa's Village, Houstonites to take flights of fancy at the 100-ride Astroworld, and animal lovers to join Lion Country Safaris in Los Angeles and West Palm Beach.

It was left to the imagination of the late Walt Disney and to the ingenuity of his staff, however, to surpass Disneyland—and last week they did. In the swamps and scrublands of Central Florida 20 miles southwest of Orlando, a $400 million. 27,500-acre enclave called Walt Disney World was opened to the public. "World" is right. The latest Disney enterprise, four years in the building, includes a spotlessly clean amusement area, two enormous and elaborate hotels with marinas and beaches, two championship-caliber golf courses, lavishly landscaped lakes and a futuristic transportation network linking everything.

Unisex Uniforms. Because Founder Walt Disney was distressed by the sprawling, unsightly commercial ventures that sprang up around Disneyland to take advantage of the influx of tourists, the designers of Disney World were careful to guard against a similar blight: the land area is large enough to keep other entrepreneurs away from the amusement and recreational areas. Sleek thruways lead to turnpike-like toll gates, and from the 12,000-car parking lot a Space Age monorail, operated by youngsters in futuristic unisex jumpsuits and helmets, sweeps visitors off to hotels and amusement areas.

For their first inspection, visitors will rely on the 80-ft.-high Skyway gondola cars, or the narrow-gauge, coal-burning open-sided train that circles the area. The crowds head for the six theme areas of the Magic Kingdom amusement complex: Mam Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and the not-yet-opened Tomorrowland.

Thus far the most popular amusement attraction is the Mickey Mouse Review, in which an automated air-driven Mickey Mouse leads 86 mechanical Disney characters through all the Disney hits, including "Three Caballeros" and "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", and winds up with the Disney Anthem, the Mickey Mouse Club song. Running the review a close second is the Country Bear Jamboree: 18 cleverly animated bear robots, highlighted by a paunchy, off-key, gravel-voiced grizzly named Big Al, that grind out country music and rural humor. Like the robots in the Mickey Mouse Review, the bears are animated by the Disney-patented "auto-animatronic" system, run by computer tapes synchronized with the music. They move so realistically, in fact, that audiences find themselves actually applauding mechanical figures. Some other hits at Disney World:

> Cinderella Castle, a multi-turreted, multi-pennoned edifice intended to look like Everyman's Dream of Fairyland and featuring King Stefan's Banquet Hall (a roast beef dinner for $4.25).

> The Haunted Mansion, a Charles Addamsish house inhabited by an ear-shattering band of ghosts, ghouls, poltergeists and even a singing tombstone or two.

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