Richard Arsenault on November 10th, 2015

There are a lot of Walt Disney World construction photos, but many are from the air.  Unless Disney allows me to bring a quadcopter  into the park I’m going to have to stick to using ground photos, so when I found this one on I knew I had a great option on my hands to use for a Window To The Past.

Liberty Square Under Construction

We had trouble finding this building and I even asked a gentleman working in Liberty Square if he recognized it but he didn’t.  While walking around and comparing every building in sight to the photo, I finally noticed the building in the background on the right – it is the Riverboat Dock.  The tower and front of the building matched up – now we had something to go on.

More walking, and now with a proper direction to look in.  Finally I found it, but there were some discrepancies – the buildings were not an exact match and neither was the brick wall.  There seems to always be construction going on somewhere in the park, so I figured it was possible that the original buildings had been renovated.  It was the best option I found, so it was time to take the shot.

When it was time to line everything up on the computer I just wan’t happy with it.  The alignment and angles were  not close enough for this to be the correct location, but I knew I was close – it’s not like they moved the dock.  Unfortunate I live 1200 miles from Disney World, so what do I do now?

Google Maps to the rescue!

It only took a moment to see what I did wrong.  I was off by about 75 feet and in front of the completely wrong building.  Google’s satellite view shows the correct building behind the one in the photo above.  The outline of the building matches what we see in the original photo, including the location of the chimneys.  The brick wall is there and riverboat dock is even correctly in line – I found the right location:


LIberty Square Wrong Spot

Unfortunately the photos don’t always work out on the first attempt.  This just means I have to go back to Disney and shoot this one again.  I don’t see a problem with that.


Photo Credits:
Google Maps –
Imagineering Disney –

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I found these next two old photos on, which is an awesome blog with photos and articles about Disney’s history.  They cover a lot of behind the scenes details such as this article about the Hitchhiking Ghosts effect in the Haunted Mansion.  As one of my favorite rides at Magic Kingdom, I was psyched when I found these photos.  Here’s the first Window To The Past, showing construction of the Rivers of America during 1969-1970 with the Riverboat Dock and the Haunted Mansion, mixed with October 2015:

The best part of these photos it that the river is still empty and actually has 2 people walking on the bottom!  There was a closer photo available centered on the haunted mansion, so let’s look at that one too:

Click through to view the image larger, as well as a full-size version to see more details.

While editing this one I realized I could line up specific stones in the wall on the right.  Not too surprising, it is a stone wall after all so it’s not likely they would have replaced it, but why was it not lining up correctly on the top?  Upon closer inspection of the stones we can see that at some point in the past Disney added more layers to the wall.  Some of the former top layer are still there, but just have newer stones on top of them:


This is when I noticed that the top layers of the wall are even a lighter color since they have not been there as long.  We also see that the railing on the dock is different and was at some point replaced with a taller railing.  Of course the most obvious difference is the river is now filled with water and has a 105ft long riverboat floating in it.

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Richard Arsenault on October 21st, 2015

I was at Walt Disney World in October for the EPCOT Food & Wine festival (which you really need to go to if you like Disney, Food, Wine, or Beer!) and while there I photographed a batch of photos to make into Windows To The Past versions.  This will be the first in a series of 6 posts, all focused on showing today’s view on Disney’s history.

The first photo is from the opening of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  The ride opened November 15, 1980 and while I don’t know exactly when the old photo was taken, it’s obviously close to that time due to the Grand Opening sign above the building.  How long did they leave the sign up for?  If anyone has some inside history please let me know in a comment.

Here is the grand opening of Big Thunder Mountain from 1980 mixed with October 2015:

Here we have a Window To The Past of Big Thunder Mountain's opening day in November 1980 at Magic Kingdom, mixed with October 2015.

This was the first location we hunted down, and as it expected it was easy to find – the ride still being there helped a lot with that.  There were only a couple funny looks I noticed from bystanders – one being the guy in the light green shirt on the left.  Is he just looking randomly in my direction, or looking at the guy holding a piece of paper in front of his camera – I’ll never know.

While shooting, which usually involves flipping the old photo up and down in front of the camera while I try to line things up (which must look quite odd, hence the funny looks), a guy behinds me says “That’s cool!”  He saw the old photo over my shoulder and noticed the banner on the top, so we stopped for a moment to talk about what I was up to and that I had a variety of other spots to track down that day.  It’s always fun to meet someone who’s interested in these.

To see the original and a couple other early photos visit the Disney Parks Blog link below:

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Richard Arsenault on April 24th, 2014

Bus 242 to Hartford, a new photo in my Windows To The Past project.  Zooming in on the bus shows it’s with “The Short Line”, which some internet searching tells me was a bus line from New London to Hartford.

The old photo is from the 1940’s, was taken by Jack Delano, and is part of a collection in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.  The background is from April 2014 on Main Street in Colchester, amazingly directly in front of where the bust stop is today.  Small towns don’t change too much, do they?

Bus 242 to Hartford – 1940’s mixed with April 2014
Click for larger versions

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Richard Arsenault on December 3rd, 2013

It just wouldn’t be right to make a trip to Walt Disney World and not try some photos of their fireworks shows!  We used a Fastpass for EPCOT’s Illuminations show which brought us to a designated area near one of the gift shops in the Showcase Plaza.  We lined up at the entrance little early so I could get along a rope line without anyone in front.  It was my first time taking fireworks photos so a few were a bright mess, but others like this one I’m completely happy with.

The next time (there will be a next time!) I will go with a different location.  Maybe one along a fence so there’s nothing but water in front of me, or something along the back.  There are definitely some locations which could lead to interesting silhouettes.

I have a few more Illuminations photos I’ll add to this post soon.  If you’re interested in learning more about shooting fireworks check out this eBook – it’s not just about fireworks, but the samples are from Disney!

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