Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Darth Vader's Very First Visit to Walt Disney World - 1977

By Keith Mahne

Long before the Walt Disney Company owned Star Wars or there were Star Wars weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Dark Lord of the Sith was visiting Disney property. In October of 1977, Darth Vader took time out from his busy schedule to visit the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village (Downtown Disney today) during the height of the original Star Wars mania. Continue after the page break for a rare look into Darth Vader's first appearance at the Walt Disney World Resort in 1977...

The day Darth Vader first visited the Walt Disney World Resort, a guest was lucky enough to be there and recalls that autographed posters were given out, which you can see in the background of the pictures above. Similar posters were once shown on the Antiques Roadshow in 2009 and are valued at over $2,000(!) today. The lines were very long at the signing and other stars from the movie were present, although everyone wanted to meet Darth Vader of course. Mark Hamill was also in attendance, but reports indicate his line was very small and that he left shortly after the event began. The signing took place at a location called the Captain's Tower at the time and went on into the evening hours.

The structure pictured above on the right is the Captain's Tower, an open air pavilion with a tall central spire that served as the central landmark of the Shopping Village. The tower use to host special events such as art displays, celebrity appearances, craft fairs and so on and is where the 1977 Darth Vader, Mark Hamill appearance took place. The pavilion has since been enclosed to become Disney's Pin Traders in 2000 and much of the original structure actually still survives.

I guess we could say that this was the first "unofficial" start to Disney's Star Wars weekends, don't you think?!?


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. 

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

Keith Mahne and Bob Gurr

You can find all of Keith's articles here.

No comments:

Post a Comment