I just returned from visiting my dad. He found a bunch of documents from our Walt Disney World vacation in 1977. I spent the weekend scanning those documents into my computer and now it’s time to share them with you.
A couple things of note in this document. First, Chatlins Department Store no longer exists. Could not compete against the bigger name department stores in the late 70’s and early 80’s. That said, it still was big enough to house a travel agency. Second, we had our choice of two tour packages. We selected the four-day package which got us two general admission tickets to the Magic Kingdom and an eighteen (18) admissions to Magic Kingdom attractions.
In 1977, the general admission ticket cost $6 for adults, $5 for juniors (12-17) and $4 for children (3-11). An 18-ticket book cost, I believe, $18.25 for adults, $16.75 for juniors, and $15.25 for children.
Guests had their choice of staying at either Walt Disney World resort: The Contemporary or The Polynesian.
We chose The Contemporary Resort and got a first-floor garden wing room. This card was our transportation card. We needed to show this card before we could use Walt Disney World transportation (bus, boat, or monorail).
Above is the total cost of the vacation. For our four-day/three-night package, it cost $204 per person. For our three person family, the vacation was a very affordable $612 total. This included everything: room, park admission, airport transfers, and most importantly, airfare. In 1977, the airlines and their fares were still regulated (deregulation didn’t come until 1978). I don’t know what the regulated fare from Philadelphia to Orlando cost. But $612 for three people which included room, tickets, and airfare sounds like a great deal.
Continuing the theme of companies that no longer exist. We flew on an airline, Eastern Airlines, which no longer exists. Big plane too if we were seated back in row 40.
Our package also got us a dinner or a show during our stay. We had our choice of either the Polynesian Lulu or The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. Neither my dad or I remember which one which chose. My mom, probably, would have pushed for the Polynesian Lulu while my dad would have pushed for the Hoop-Dee-Doo revue.
We happened to be at Walt Disney World while they were have one of their limited engagement hard ticket events. This event gave guests access to the Walt Disney World Transportation system, scheduled entertainment – music from The Spinners, William Bell, and The Starland Vocal Band, but most importantly, unlimited use of all Magic Kingdom attractions. No need to buy ticket books. Admission was $7.95. At the time, an 8-adventure ticket book cost $8.00. A guest could easily go on eight attractions in 4.5 hours. Since this was a hard ticket item, it could be assumed that fewer people went which would reduce wait times for attractions.
Plus, we were still four years away from unlimited attractions included with the price of admission. Maybe these events, the Mad Hatters Ball only had a four-day run in September 1977, were Disney’s way of testing to see how receptive guests would be of unlimited attraction admission included in the price of the ticket.
All good vacations must come to an end. As you can see, a garden wing room cost an affordable $48/night. In the end, we owed $13.19 which was paid by Travelers Check – the preferred method at the time. Going back to figure out the cost of the airfare – room cost ($144 – $48*3), two general park admissions and ticket books costs $65, airport transfers, I’m estimating, cost $50. That adds up to $260. Airfare would cost $612 minus $260. Airfare would be $352 and for three airline tickets that’s $117.33/per ticket round trip. All told, this was a very affordable vacation even during the tough economic times of the late 1970s.
For fun, I priced out a similar vacation for 2016. Before airfare, three nights in the garden wing of The Contemporary, park admission for two adults and one child, and the standard dining plan cost a little over $3,000.
That’s all from 1977. As always, Thanks for Reading!