One of the greatest things that happened during Widen Your World's
newsletter days (greatness has many definitions in my world) was a series
of research accidents that pinpointed Walt Disney World's first extinct
attraction. It was called the Safari Club - an
Adventureland game room that briefly resided in the space that
would soon be home to Colonel Hathi's Safari Club, a
shop, for many years. That shop has since become the Island
Supply Co (above image).
- An article in the April 1971 issue of "Orlando-Land"
magazine discussing the upcoming arcade as a "shooting
gallery" where guests would bag simulated animals with
air-pellet guns. The intent was probably to
replicate Disneyland's Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery,
which opened in 1962.
Opened: October 1, 1971
Ticket Required: None
was all pretty exciting stuff, but the problem was that I was too young to
remember anything prior to 1973 firsthand and couldn't find anyone
else who recalled seeing the arcade up and running - someone who was certain
confusing it with any number of other game rooms they'd been in since the 1960s.
Short of an eyewitness account or photographs, there was no way to demonstrate
that it was a real place vs. a plan that was not realized. The first person I asked was Dave Smith of the Walt Disney Archives, who had
been very helpful in confirming other information and operating dates. He
admitted that he could not remember this or find anything to definitively
support it - although a friend of his did believe that it was real. Then I
asked everyone I knew who would have been at least ten years old in 1971 -
including some old WDW employees; none of them could say for sure.
That went on for ten years and I had pretty much given up on getting a
a background track from the Wild Kingdom shooting game
Nesler believed the reason for the Safari Club's brief life span as a game room was the Merchandise department's desire to position a shop directly adjacent to the Swiss Family Treehouse exit. The timing makes sense, as by early 1972 management must have already realized that closing Frontierland's Westward Ho shop , which sat not so far from the Safari Club, would be one way to help control the Country Bear Jamboree's unexpectedly long queue. And with Main Street's Penny Arcade and the Frontierland Shooting Gallery both a short hop away, there were still enough gaming diversions to fulfill guests' needs. Another possible factor in this was that - even in the increasingly hedonistic 1970s - the appeal of shooting endangered animals for sport was on the decline. It was another 20 years before Jungle Cruise skippers abandoned the practice of capping hippos square in the teeth, but sympathy for exotic species may be what took root just down the street - summarily denying a generation of trigger-happy East Coast kids their opportunity to kill a tiger before settling down to a sweet and sour hot dog at the Adventureland Veranda .