Close Cover Before Striking: Walt Disney World Matchbooks From Days Gone By

On that fateful trip I often speak about in 1983, in addition to starting my obsession with Disney, I also began a new tradition of collecting matches. When I chose that particular item to collect, I never once thought a time would come when my collecting would become increasingly difficult to near impossible. Some of you reading this may remember, while others of you may have had your parents tell you – back in the 80’s times were very different. Non-smoking sections were just becoming an option and if you could find one, it was usually only separated by a single table. With two smokers for parents, we were always in the smoking section so often times a new set of matches would be waiting for us on the table inside the cleaned ashtray. If they weren’t, you simply had to ask the hostess, bartender, or server for a book and they would oblige without a second thought.

It wasn’t until the litigious era of suing bars because a book of matches was found in the car of a driver who had caused an accident, that times began to change. Some restaurants turned to plain matchbook covers so as to remove that element of liability for not cutting off a drinker before damage was done. At the same time, tobacco companies were under fire for cigarettes’ carcinogen effects as well as something new that was being studied – second-hand smoke. As the non-smoking section became a redundant request, soon it was a waste of money for most establishments to have matches printed and available. Now, almost 30 years later, it is almost impossible to find unique printed matches to collect.

Which is why I love my collection all the more. It is now a time capsule of sorts from both my childhood memories, and from a time gone by that can never be revisited again.  Of course the matches I collected on our many trips to Walt Disney World are what I’d like to share with you today. They offer glimpses of the way things used to be in the world – and the World. Matches from EPCOT with the original logo, Disney-MGM Studios, Pleasure Island, Fireworks Factory, and the original Chef Mickeys located in the Disney Village Marketplace. Tiny little treasure boxes almost as good as any E-ticket – to me anyway…

Disney Matchbooks
Can you identify them all? (There are a few non-Disney but now-defunct extras in there too)

Disney Matchbooks
The original Chef Mickey's Village Restaurant, Pleasure Island, and The Fireworks Factory - listed as "A signature of theLevy restaurants"

Disney Matchbooks
The back of The Fireworks Factory matches

Do you have any Disney matches or another collection that is now defunct? I’d love to hear about them!

  • tikitommy1960

    Hey Zanna , just curious are you a smoker ? I was for many years but its been a long while since I quit. I also grew up with one parent chain smoking everywhere we went for my entire time being raised by my parents. Cant tell you how many times I was burned by embers flicked from the window of our station wagon which flew back into the back seat from our open windows. Thank god “that time gone by can NEVER be revisited” I hope your parents both survived the what all those years of smoking could have done to them.

  • Nope, never been a smoker. My mom quit when I was in high school but my dad
    never did. It definitely was a different era.

  • TheAngelForever

    My parents did not smoke, but in the 70's, 80's and 90's they collected matchbooks from locations that they traveled. We went to Disney World almost every year when I was little. I have to check their big jar, but I know I have seen a lot of the ones your mentioned. May have to raid theirs to see what else I can find.

  • That's so cool! I'm so glad to hear someone else collected them. You'll have
    to let me know what goodies you find. 🙂

  • What a great collection, Zanna! Out of curiosity I did an eBay search for Walt Disney World matchbooks and only received one page of results. It looks like there are some available that you don't have, so it might be worth checking out.

  • Ooh, I was going to look that up too, I'll have to check it out! (I probably
    should've done that *before* I wrote the post huh?) 😉 Thanks!

  • Ooh, man now I'm kicking myself – I know we had some of those Lake Buena Vista ones…:P My dad probably used them all lol. I may have to invest in some auctions…

  • At least they're somewhat affordable collectibles. That way, you can't blame me if you buy them all :^D

  • Haha exactly! I could even sell my few vinyls to support it! 😉

    Sent from my iPod

  • My folks have been collecting matches since they met, they were a great inexpensive way to “scrapbook” all the places they visited. Some of your images bring back memories from my early trips there. Especially the Fireworks Factory. That used to be my favorite place to eat, I remember they used to give out fireballs after the meal!

  • kelly campbell

    Wow so many of those bring back memories! My brother and I collected matchbooks (and stirsticks) too although my parents were never smokers. Sadly, the majority got thrown out after we moved from NY. Is the Brown “Vista” matchbook from the Buena Vista Club?

  • Yes! I loved that place too and the fireballs at the end was such a cool treat. It's definitely one of the places I wish hadn't gone away.

    Very cool that your parents have a collection of matches too!

  • Aww, bummer! What's funny is looking on ebay after writing this, I saw many matchbooks that I *know* we had, but my Dad probably used them up without thinking! 😛

    I'm *pretty* sure that the Vista ones were from our visit to the restaurant at the top of the Buena Vista Palace back in the 80's. I'm not positive though. I know the Buena Vista Club had their own set of matches with the birds logo (which are on ebay too and one of the ones I know we had at one point!). Maybe someone else reading this can solve the Vista mystery for us??

  • Oh my gosh.. the “Village”. Ya know, I still struggle not to call Downtown Disney the “Shopping Village”, so very many things have been changed over the years. I remember going for Sunday Brunch on the Empress Lily in the Village, it was THE swanky spot in Disney, I always had to have a pressed dress and shiney shoes. *sigh* what great memories this post of your brought.

  • I try not to pimp myself out within my own comments, but I figured you'd
    appreciate this (if you haven't already seen it?)… and I absolutely love
    this series on 2719 Hyperion:
    the whole series so far:…) I could
    talk about the Village forever…but sadly my memory is not as good as some,
    I'm so glad other people are preserving the history online!

  • Great collection! I'm going to have to go through my “archives” to see what I can dig up 🙂 I vaguely remember having matches from the Swan and Dolphin.

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  • I think the Port Orleans book is my favorite. It looks so… elegant.

  • I'd love to see Swan and Dolphin matches, let me know what you find! 🙂

  • I agree…I love ones that were boxes vs. the books. They usually had different colored tips as well, although the Beach Club matchbook does have pink tips, which is cool too.

    Hey thanks for visiting btw! 🙂