Building Disney’s Magic Kingdom: Incredible Construction Photos from a Master Craftsman

Magic Kingdom construction original photos

It’s funny the places you wind up on the Internet, and sometimes what you find can be just fascinating. Cruising through Facebook one afternoon, I ran across a set of photos of Magic Kingdom being built from the ground up. If you’ve ever spent any time around true Disney fanatics, you know they love to discuss all things historical about their beloved Walt Disney World.

These photos, pictures I had never seen anywhere on any Disney-themed site before, were simply incredible. So I contacted the poster, Kelly Wise Valdes from Largo, Fl., for permission to share both the pictures and the story behind these incredible images. We’ll let Kelly tell us all about these photos.

Are You Crazy Enough to Go to Walt Disney World at Christmas?

antique Disney World photos, old Magic Kingdom photos, Disney World history, building Swiss Family Robinson treehouse

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse being built. Grandpa once told me that each leaf had to be hand-wired on the tree.

Disney World Crystal Palace Construction photos

Maybe the inside of the Crystal Palace…

My grandfather, Mr. Chet Wise, was a master craftsman/woodworker. I believe he specifically took these pictures at Disney World because these were some of the things he personally worked on. We remember him telling us he crafted the detailed and intricate woodwork around the windows in the train station at the front of the park. He also did all the woodworking around the windows on Main Street, Cinderella’s Castle and Pinnochio’s Village. My cousin remembers him saying he crafted the amazing door at the Liberty Tavern.  Although I have no picture of it, I have often seen it in person.

Cinderella Castle, building Walt Disney World, old Disney World photos

Cinderella Castle water issues…

Fantasy Land? Maybe the Pinochio Village area?

Fantasy Land? Maybe the Pinochio Village area?

Apparently Walt Disney had been very particular in the details of everything in the original Disneyland Park in California, and although he had already passed away prior to the Magic Kingdom opening, the legacy continued.

Today, most visitors don’t realize the amazing craftsmanship that went into the smallest of touches in each building. The details of the exterior of  just the windows and doors throughout the park are actually intricate pieces of art.

I THINK this may be from scaffolding on the castle. You can see the monorail being built on the far left.

I THINK this may be from scaffolding on the castle. You can see the monorail being built on the far left.

Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A.

My grandfather passed away several years ago, and I just recently found a small box of pictures among his possessions after my grandmother has passed. No one in my family had seen these pictures before now.

He obviously didn’t know what a treasure they would be.

Main Street Magic Kingdom, Disney World Main Street construction

Main Street being built.

More Main Street...

Main Street…

Main Street original construction photos

More Main Street…

My grandfather worked for Disney until he retired. He was an active Disney retiree, belonging to the “Golden Ears Club.”  My grandmother, Mrs. Betty Wise, also worked at the Magic Kingdom since before it opened and was one of the executive secretaries who helped set up the executive offices.

Contemporary Hotel in the backdrop. I think this is the train station at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

Contemporary Hotel in the backdrop. I think this is the train station at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom construction picturs

Not sure what my grandfather was on top of for this shot, however, look how RURAL it is in the distance!

My grandparents were one of 10 families that actually lived on Disney property, as they had to have some residents in order to incorporate Lake Buena Vista. There were literally 10 of them! I recently Googled this again just to see if that’s changed, and it’s still true. In order to be part of this small group, they were handpicked, and they lived there on property until they both passed away. It was so close to the Magic Kingdom that I could see fireworks from their front yard every night.

I think this is the Crystal Palace, taken from scaffolding on Cinderella castle

I think this is the Crystal Palace, taken from scaffolding on Cinderella Castle.

Tiki Room under construction.

Tiki Room under construction.

I had no idea when I posted the pictures that so many people would love to see them. Thank you for sharing! 

Kelly Wise Valdes


We would really like to thank Kelly for sharing her grandfather’s Magic Kingdom construction photos, and we know our readers appreciate the time she took to share the story of Mr. and Mrs. Wise. How incredible to look back on the very beginning of Disney World from the viewpoint of a master craftsman who added many of the fine detailing to some of our most beloved and iconic Magic Kingdom  buildings.

Thank you for stopping by. Now go and share these pictures with your best Disney friend… 


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Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

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