Friday, October 1, 2021

"Disney World Is A New Disneyland" - My Weekly Reader (1971)

Today is the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World's grand opening.  I remember the very first time that I heard about the existence of a "second Disneyland."  It was when I was in the second grade and our teacher was passing out copies of My Weekly Reader to the class.  The cover story headline was, "Disney World Is A New Disneyland."  I was already a huge Disneyland fan, even at that age, so this was very exciting news.

For years, I thought the characters in the cover photo (below), were standing above the entrance to Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents attraction.  Only recently, did I realize that they were standing on the second level of the Liberty Square Boat Dock.

That was it for the story about WDW's opening....short and sweet!  Well, we were only second graders, so all of the stories were short.  Here is the rest of the issue.

It would be 12 more years before the children of Japan (and the adults, too!) would get their own Disneyland.

Astrofood!  This was a time when everyone was still fascinated with space travel/exploration, and it was reflected in the naming of certain places and products, such as AstroTurf, Astroburger restaurants, the Astrodome in Houston, Astro the dog (on The Jetsons), etc.

A test?  Nobody said there was going to be a test, later!  I'm breaking out in a cold sweat!

I believe that a "Peanut and Jocko" comic strip appeared in most, if not every issue of My Weekly Reader.  This one isn't all that funny.  Maybe as second graders, we thought it was hilarious?

If I'm remembering correctly, My Weekly Reader was usually only 4 pages long.  However, this issue had a special insert in the middle of it, with four pages of poetry.

While looking at the the artwork below, I realized I still have one childhood Halloween costume that I need to photograph and share.  That would be my Mickey Mouse costume.  It was the last "Ben Cooper-style" costume that I ever wore.  Last October, I posted photos of my brother and me, wearing a few of our childhood Halloween costumes.  For anyone who's interested, those pics can be seen here:  A Vintage Halloween Potpourri.

Happy 50th birthday, Walt Disney World!



Chuck said...

This is a neat way to celebrate the date, with an actual artifact from that time. I’m about five years younger than you, but I remember reading My Weekly Reader at the same age.

If I hadn’t just seen a photo of the riverboat landing at today’s Gorillas Don’t Blog, I would have thought that photo had been taken at the Hall of Presidents, too.

I was one of those kids they talk about in one of the articles who had four shorter vacations a year on what was called the “45/15 schedule.” You were in class for 9 weeks (45 school days) and then off for three weeks (15 school days). Our school was set up this way mostly to maximize limited classroom space. The school body was split up into four “tracks” that cut across all grades K-6. I think I was in “B” Track. One track was always on vacation, so you only needed enough classrooms to support three-quarters of the school population. Sometimes you’d leave on break with the teacher telling you to come back after vacation to a different classroom. Everyone got a common four weeks off during the summer and two weeks off at Christmas, and I remember that my 1976 winter vacation bumped up against Christmas break, so I ended up getting five weeks off. I remember at the time thinking it was funny that my Christmas break was longer than summer break.

One of the great things about that schedule was that you could vacation in the off season. You could go to places like Southern California or Big Sur or Yosemite without having to fight the heat and the crowds. That helps make the memories even better.

The Astrofood article makes me think of the Bill Cosby sketch “Chocolate Cake for Breakfast.”

Cool post today. Thanks, and happy 50th to the Vacation Kingdom!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I also have the issues of LIFE and LOOK magazines, which came out at the time WDW opened. They are "large" in size, so they would not fit on my scanner without a lot of partial scanning of pages and then a lot of "stitching" together of images. Instead, I decided to just keep my 50th birthday post simple. Maybe by the time of the 60th, I'll have a larger scanner.

At one point, I had a stack of My Weekly Reader issues that I had saved, but now, only two seem to have survived. The other issue is from 1976 and has WDW's America On Parade on the cover. I will eventually post that one, as well.

I wonder if I would have liked "year 'round" school? It sure was nice to have those 12 weeks off for summer. But then, it would have been nice to have additional weeks off in the middle of the school year. I'm sure most students just get used to whatever schedule they give you.

I'm glad you enjoyed this post!

Chuck said...

I only went to school there from Kindergarten to partway through October of my second grade year. The next school system had a “normal” schedule, although they had their own oddities like open schools (gigantic rooms with multiple grades like in a modern library or museum), “teams” instead of grades (you were grouped by age and ability but still tracked by grade), and no desks (we had these heavy Bakelite totes we carried from class to class), I didn’t hit a truly traditional school district until 7th grade. But moving around as a military family gave me an opportunity to see schools (and churches, and Scouting, and league sports, and other things) organized in different ways, and I think it broadened my horizons a lot. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, No desks???

Chuck said...

Not in the first school I went to in that district for the rest of second grade, and there was another one across town (they only had three grade schools) that was designed in a similar open style. There were a few desks here and there stuck in weird corners, and I remember they pulled a bunch together once for a standardized test, but we usually sat on the floor and used the top of our totes as a desk.

The restrooms were in these rounded cinder block “bastions” at one end of the giant rooms, and they had balconies on top of them with open spiral staircases to get up to them. We would occasionally get to go up there for special classes or breakout groups, and I remember taking the California Achievement Test (CAT) up there, although I can’t remember if we were at a table or with our totes. I also remember my Reading class was in the Art classroom, which was a partially-enclosed area at one end of the building with tables, stools, and a low ceiling. I’ll have to see if I can find any pictures online and send them to you.

Speaking of Reading class…I remember my first day at that school, which was in early November of 1976. Both my previous school in California and my new school in Illinois used the Lippincott Readers, which were lettered beginning with “A” book at the start of first grade and then worked their way on through the alphabet. I think there were three readers per grade.

So the three Team III teachers were gathered around, trying to figure out which Reading group I should be placed in. As I mentioned in my earlier comment, we were grouped by age and ability but still tracked by grade, so Team III consisted of 3rd graders at the young end of the spectrum and 2nd graders at the old end. I had been in an advanced Reading breakout group in California from Kindergarten, and by the time I left, my best friend Gary and I were actually walking over to the B track 3rd grade classroom at the other end of the school for Reading every day.

So they asked me if my old school had used Lippincott Readers, and I said “yes,” and they said that would make it easy to figure out what group to put me in. They then asked me what book I was in, and I told them “G.” The two older teachers, who I later learned taught the less advanced Reading students (and were also a lot crabbier and “old school”) looked surprised, and one said “Don’t you mean ‘D’?” My Spidey senses started tingling, and I realized that a) this was a teacher who tried to make the world fit into her preconceived notions and b) if I didn’t hold my ground, I was going to be set back a year in Reading achievement.

I said “No, I mean ‘G’.” I could tell that she did not like having a 2nd grader contradict her, and she said incredulously to the others “I can’t believe that.” The younger teacher, Miss Keseraskis, who was around 30, started to say something when the first teacher cut her off, picked up a copy of “G” book on top of the bookcase we were gathered around, thrust it into my face and asked me, almost accusingly, “Did your book look like this?”

I looked at it, and had to admit that no, my textbook hadn’t looked like that. Mrs. Inquisitor shot a triumphant glance at the others and said “See, I told you he couldn’t be in -“ when I interrupted her with “We had an older edition with a different cover.”

Mrs. Inquisitor looked flabbergasted and I saw Miss Keseraskis suppress a smile, and then before anybody else could speak Miss K chimed in with “Well, why don’t take him in my Home Room and Reading group and we’ll see how he does. Come on, Chuck, I’ll show you where to go.” She ended up being one of the best teachers I ever had, and a great advocate for all of her students. My mom later fought and won a battle to get my younger sister into her class when she transferred to the school closer to our house that I started attending in 3rd grade.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck,'s such a shame that there are teachers out there, who are like that. I had a 4th grade teacher who was always in a nasty/cranky mood. Fortunately (for us, anyway), she had to have knee surgery in the Spring, and we got to finish out our year with a "permanent substitute" who was just as nice as could be. Our regular teacher did show up on the very last day of school. I guess she thought that we would actually want to see her again. She was wrong.

K. Martinez said...

I remember My Weekly Reader. I used to look forward to receiving those in elementary school. I also remember getting Smokey the Bear and Reddy Kilowatt reader/comic handouts for free at school too.

I must've been lucky. All my teachers from kindergarten thru 6th grade were wonderful. It was in junior high and high school that I had some nasty teachers.

Thanks, TokyoMagic!


TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I kind of remember getting other free handouts at school. The Smokey the Bear one sounds familiar, but if I did get something like that, it did not get saved. I have a few issues of a children's magazines, which my mom had subscribed to for my brother and me. It was called "Wee Wisdom," and was similar to "Highlights" magazine for children. I might post some of those in the future.

Chuck said...

Ken, I remember getting Smokey Bear and Reddy Kilowatt comics at school, too when I was still living in California. I remember getting a Disney comic later that was sponsored by some oil company or trade association (it couldn’t have been the Exxon comic where Mickey and Goofy visit the Universe of Energy because it was before EPCOT opened, although the majority of the comic may have been the same material). Since my mother was opposed to “wasting” money on comic books, the days when we received those comics at school were a big deal for me (and might have a little to do with why I collected comics for a time as an adult). Wish I still had them.

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic! When I was a child, my parents gave me two magazine subscriptions. They were for "Golden Magazine" and "Jack and Jill". I loved those magazines when I was a kid. I remember in one issue of "Jack and Jill" there was an article on the brand new AstroWorld in Houston, Texas. My eyes popped open when I saw that. Now the theme park is an empty bulldozed lot.

Those magazines, weekly readers and handouts at the school made my childhood magic. I used to love it when We got to order books at school too from the Arrow Book Club and Scholastic Book Club. It's probably why I read so much today.

Chuck, I guess I was lucky, because when I was a kid, my mom would go to the drug store and while there she'd pick me up a stack of comic books. She didn't care what I read as long as I read (within limits of course). She'd bring home Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Walt Disney Comics, Gold Key Comics and Harvey Comics with Richie Rich and the gang. My mom would even pick up MAD Magazine for me as a kid. Of course my parents read MAD too and I used to hear them laughing out loud when reading it.

BTW, I do have that Exxon EPCOT Comic. It's a great early EPCOT collectible. My

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I forgot about "Jack and Jill" magazine! I think "Wee Wisdom" was also very similar to that.

My only other "My Weekly Reader" that seems to have survived, is from 1976. It has America on Parade on the cover, as I mentioned to Chuck. It also had a "supplement" inside, but instead of poetry, it is 4 pages of paperback books you can order. My mom always let us order books from those type of school sales. I guess I'm lucky that she also let me buy comic books. I still have my entire comic book collection from childhood, and I've posted some of those here on my blog. I would have to say that the majority of my comics are Gold Key brand (Disney, Flintstones, Bugs Bunny, Tweety and Sylvester, just to name a few.)

Major Pepperidge said...

Oh man, the WEEKLY READER! What a blast from the past. I used to love to get those. I swear I still remember an issue that told kids how a record was made, and it came with a flexi-disc with Aerosmith recording “Dream On”. I wonder how much those are worth today? Aerosmith was a new band at that time.

I honestly don’t remember when I became aware of Walt Disney World, but heck, I was nine when it opened, so I must have been aware of its debut. I DO remember that for a while all I seemed to hear about was all of the cool stuff being done in Florida, when it felt like Anaheim was being ignored.

“Astrofood” remjnds me of a Simpsons episode that was supposed to take place in the future; Lisa said she had to do her “astro chores”.

Gosh, I wonder what the last “Ben Cooper” type costume was that I wore? It might have been Snoopy, I had one that had a lightbulb in the nose, and I could make it light up by pressing a button in my hand. I was a true celebrity that night.

Thanks, TM!

Melissa said...

I had completely forgotten about My Weekly Reader! What great time capsules these old periodicals can be. Scanning them for posterity is a public service!

Chuck, I would have needed some kind of flowchart just to keep track of that school schedule! The parochial school I attended in the primary grades had two grades per classroom, and each two-grade class had a Bible name like the Joshuas, Elijahs, etc. You didn't get to be a Senior Disciple until Grade 11. And the school where I finished Grade 6 had been one of those open-plan schools, but they gave up on it at some point and hastily installed room dividers. And don't get me started on the sudden abandonment of the metric system. I still get confused about what temperature it is!

Melissa said...

"“Astrofood” remjnds me of a Simpsons episode that was supposed to take place in the future; Lisa said she had to do her “astro chores”.

I used to be in a play-by-email Star Trek RPG, and it became a running gag to randomly add "space" as a modifier to any noun. I think my favorite was when one character got mad at another and said, "You space-son of a space-&%$*#!"

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I wish I still had the stack of My Weekly Reader issues that I had saved over the years. I don't remember throwing them out, but there are some things that I got rid of over the years, which I later regretted. That stack might have been one of those things.

Wow, a free record! I wonder if I had that at one time and just forgot about it? I looked up when the song came out and it was 1973, so I would have been in the third grade. Maybe I was sick and stayed home that day.

I remember those years of it seeming like WDW kept getting cool additions, while Disneyland wasn't getting anything special.

Your Ben Cooper "Snoopy" costume does sound extra special. I just did a search for it on ebay and nothing came up, but the funny thing is, my Ben Cooper Mickey Mouse costume came up as a "similar" item. The seller is saying that it's not dated, but that they "think" it's from circa 1959. I wore mine in 1972. I suppose mine could have been a "reissue" of an older costume design, but I think some sellers just pick a date or an "era" out of the air. It's almost as common as labeling an item as "SUPER RARE!"

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, I remember being in elementary school and we kept hearing over and over, that the metric system was coming. I even remember a pencil case that my mom bought me when I was going into the 4th had a ruler with "inches" on one side and "meters" on the other side. That was the first time I ever saw a ruler like that. Well, here we are almost 50 years later, and the metric system never arrived here in the U.S. I think as Americans, we are just too dumb and too stubborn to make the conversion, even though the rest of the world did it many, many years ago. And yes, I always had to do a calculation for the temperature, whenever I traveled outside of the U.S., but I forget now what that calculation is.

I like the idea of adding the word, "space" as a modifier to any noun! Heck, Disney did it by adding it to the word, "Mountain." And I always loved the name, "Space Mist" for the pink punch they used to serve in Tomorrowland.

By the way, when I was scanning the pages with the poetry on it, I was thinking of you! But you are a far better poet! :-)

Melissa said...

I also enjoyed the poetry pages, especially the poem about the Chewy Child!

For a while there was a Federal office of metric conversion, but it was dissolved in the 1980s. And the other day I heard about some people in the UK who want to go back to the Imperial system. It's a madhouse, I tell you! A madhouse!

(It didn't help growing up on the US/Canada border, where half the TV and radio stations gave the temperature and snowfall in one scale and the other half used another.)

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, "It's a madhouse!" Ha, ha! I hope you weren't being hosed down while yelling that! ;-)

JG said...

Wow, Weekly Reader, I used to love those. Pretty sure I tossed them all before the next one came, but yes indeed, a highlight of school, along with Scholastic Book Club.

I had a much simpler school schedule than Chuck's and I am glad of that. Summers off meant working from about 9 y.o. onward. Many summers I never saw my school friends until school started again. But we went camping a lot, and Disneyland trips too. But no friends, so I read a lot.

My Dad used to buy me comic books in Spanish on his trips to Mexico, I got pretty good at reading them, but it is all lost now. I wish I still had my other DC and Gold Key comics, but they are gone as well, along with my Spanish language skills, but I was always a strong reader and went on to Tom Swift, Robert Heinlein juveniles and detective stories very early.

I had a couple of bad apple teachers like that, but not many. Most of the teachers that everybody hated were hard on students because the students were jerks. I got along well with several teachers who were disliked, because I was polite and worked hard. I outgrew all of that later, as you all know.

I did have one bright spot in high school from being a good reader and writer, in sophomore year, the English teacher told me there was nothing more she could teach me, and sent me to the newspaper class for the rest of my high school years, where I goofed off mercilessly.

All this comic book and writing background fitted me perfectly for my job as a technical writer, so I guess even journalism wasn't a complete waste.

Thanks for the fun post, Tokyo. Keen that you still have all those ephemerae. Thanks everyone for the fun comments.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, wow...working starting at the age of nine? That makes me feel like a slack-off, since I didn't get my first job until I was seventeen.

I was lucky that I only had that one grumpy teacher. I loved all of my other elementary school teachers. It's sad now, to think that most, if not all of them, have probably passed away.

Looking back now, being on the school's newspaper or annual staff sounds like it would have been a lot of fun. But at the time, I had no interest, whatsoever.

My mom was a teacher, so fortunately, she always let my brother and me order multiple books, whenever there was a book sale at school!