Before there was "Hotel Plaza boulevard" there was "Motor Inn Plaza"
40 plus years into the operation of WDW a lot of things have changed, but more than in most places many things have stayed the same for over 40 years. If you go back in time and think about the various amusement parks that existed many of them didn't even last 40 years, other theme parks that opened in the early 1970's around the same time as WDW might be almost unrecognizable to guests entering them today (an example of this that is somewhat local to me would be Carrowinds), any big city has seen great changes in the last 40 years, most likely their downtown decayed for a while, and if the city is lucky, eventually the downtown center has seen a redevelopment, or at least shows signs of one. One area at WDW that is has seen change continually over the last 40 years is the area around the actual "Lake Buena Vista" and "Village Lake" this would be Hotel Plaza Boulevard and the Downtown Disney area Downtown Disney did not exist in 1971 The The Lake Buena Vista Village Marketplace opened in 1975, expanded to include the Empress Lilly Restaurants (now Fultons crab House) as it evolved into the Walt Disney Disney Village Marketplace in 1979, and in the late 80's and early 90's expanded out to become the Downtown Disney I knew on my first visits to WDW. Still, even before the shopping Village there were a few things on the road that enter Walt Disney World from FL535, after all, he first building to open on property was the WDW preview Center on what is now Hotel Plaza Boulevard, but that some early materials refer to as the Motor inn Plaza. Still, back than there were not quite as many hotel towers of these partner properties where the land is owned by Walt Disney World, but leased to these various hotels, there war just four in the early years. These four buildings would look familiar to todays visitors to this end of WDW, though with different hotel chains running them than we see today. There was the TraveLodge (now a Best Western), the Dutch inn (now the Wyndham), the Royal inn (still the hotel Royal Plaza), and there was a Howard Johnsons which is now a Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn and Howard Johnsons both were motel Chains that were huge in the 1970's and declined in the number of rooms out there for many years, both have reinvented themselves over the years and still exist today (though in the case of Holiday Inn they seem to have made a point of removing anything that could be classified as as Motel rather than a hotel). Anyhow a kind reader of the WDW A History in Postcards Site by the name of Jerry Klatt sent me these grab scans of a postcard from back when this Hotel was still a Howard Johnsons, Jerry is a LONG time visitor of WDW having first visited WDW in 1972 when he and his wife went on thier Honeymoon, and has been a regular visitor for many years!
As such he has some great memories of WDW making over 30 trips between 1972 and 2002 when his kids started reaching college age when he took an 11 year hiatus (Jerry, I know how that is, I went from August 1981 to August 1996 with no visits to a Disney theme park. - Brian ). Jerry has shared some nice audio and photo's from the park that he has shared on Mike Lees Widen Your World web site. I'm so glad he sent this too me, doubly so as it took me a couple of MONTHS before getting around to sharing this simple but fun post (and if you send me anything more Jerry I feel certain that I will get it up MUCH quicker!)