Thursday, April 24, 2014

Special Guest Photos!

Once again, I am happy to present some photos from Ken Martinez, who has contributed many fun photos from his personal collection in the past!  All of these are from a 1981 ("pre-Eisner"!) trip to Disneyland. 

He has also kindly written brief descriptions to accompany the photos, so I will let him do the talking. "Sub rehab - This was only one of two times I ever saw the submarine lagoon drained. The other time was in prep for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage." I never get tired of seeing the waterless lagoon!

"Space Mountain - I loved this view of the area with the open air Space Stage and Space Place restaurant integrated into the Space Mountain complex. Notice the blue shade strips providing shade over the seating area for the Space Stage? It was all so perfect IMO".

"Small World Plaza - Notice how empty it is? That's the old pre-Eisner off season for you". Yeesh, it really is empty. Wow.

"Rocket Jets - I like this one for the action and the Goodyear sign showing the shoe w/wings logo".
Love. This. Ride.

"Matterhorn Mountain - I like this one because it caught the bobsled coming around one of my favorite curves on the Fantasyland side. Notice the skyway is closed. If I remember correctly there were strong winds that day". Hmm, I never thought about the Skyway closing when it was windy, though it makes sense of course.

"Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - with a mine train coasting around the corner after release from 3rd and final lift. The ride was only 2 years old in this pic". I can almost hear the pressure-cooker chuffing sound!

THANKS to Ken Martinez for sharing these great photos from his personal collection with all of us here at GDB!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Pair From May 1973

This is an unusual photo taken from Tom Sawyer Island - the way we're looking through the foliage makes it feel more like "Peeping Tom Sawyer Island". Here comes a Davy Crockett Explorer Canoe, while the Mine Train passes beneath Big Thunder Falls. The Mine Train would only be around for another 4 years or so.

I love the busy clockwork façade of "It's a Small World"; the mechanical dolls are emerging for their once-every-15-minutes performance, the C.K. Holliday passes slowly by, and large crowds wait their turn to ride the Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed Around the World. Note the costume of the cast member in the lower right!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The 50th Anniversary of the New York World's Fair!

50 years ago today, one of the greatest World's Fairs EVER opened in Flushing Meadows, New York. My interest in this Fair started when I learned about the various exhibits produced by Walt Disney and his Imagineers. But the '64 World's Fair offered so many amazing experiences; General Motors' "Futurama"; Bell System's "The Ride of Communication"; Michelangelo's "Pieta"; Eastman Kodak's giant photo prints (the largest in the world); Sinclair Oil's "Dinoland"; the giant steel Unisphere; to name but a few!

What a place, what an incredible confluence of design, architecture, theater, and technology. It's predecessor in 1939, which came along at the end of a crushing Depression and the beginning of a World War, the 1964 Fair opened when world was in turmoil; the Cold War and the assassination of President Kennedy were just two of the crises that made the world feel hopeless and frightening. 

The Fair offered an optimistic view of the future that must have lifted visitor's spirits, even if they weren't completely conscious of it. For those of us who only get to experience the Fair through photos and ephemera all these years later, that optimism is still palpable, and (for some), powerful.

But enough of my blather! Let's look at some pictures, starting with this wonderful image taken from the observation deck of the Transportation and Travel pavilion (the one with the green moon dome). Just look at the multitude of visitors down below! Nearby is the Chrysler pavilion (in the much-more-colorful 1965 color scheme), with the skeletal Ford pavilion in the distance.  The crowds give this photo lots of energy. Considering the cold-weather clothing everyone is wearing, this image may have been taken during the last days of the Fair (it closed in October of 1965).

Now we're down near the very same "rocket" seen in the first image, but we're in 1964 (note that it is mostly white, without the later oranges and pinks). The Hall of Science is still under construction in the background. I love the use of water to simulate the exhaust of the rocket! And how about that Delta tote bag that woman is carrying? 

There is no shortage of photos of the U.S. Steel "Unisphere", but I never get tired of it. Weary visitors rest near the pool and fountains at the base of the globe; the people are half the fun of this picture! In the background is the Republic of China building, with the colorful Sky Ride strung like paper lanterns above it.

The Belgian Village was so much more than just waffles with whipped cream and strawberries - though I would have walked over there just for one of those. The village had crooked cobblestone streets, an arched stone bridge, a carousel, and shops full of souvenirs and handicrafts. It was the largest international exhibit at the Fair - over 4 acres.

Here's a lovely (postcard-worthy?) view of the Eastman Kodak building, with warm late-afternoon lighting imbuing everything with a golden touch. The curving organic shapes are futuristic and appealing in an abstract manner, and the trees and shrubs make everything feel more welcoming. 

And finally, a photo from the Pepsi Cola pavilion, where you could meet your friends and family beneath the Tower of the Four Winds, or ride Walt Disney's "It's a Small World". Thanks to the Disney connection, guests who'd never made it to Anaheim had a chance to meet a variety of costumed Disney characters, just like at Disneyland. Alice and the White Rabbit pose with two young visitors… I love the girl's cat's-eye glasses, and the boy looks as happy as can be. Hey kid, take lots of photos! (Notice the Eastman pavilion in the background). If you look closely at the girls shoulder….

…you can see that she has one of these "Preferred Entry" passes from another Disney-produced show, General Electric's "Progressland". I am very jealous of her.

Wait, wait! Here is a last-minute addition to today's post… a beautiful photo of the Tower of the Four Winds. Rolly Crump's 120-foot tall kinetic sculpture has become one of the most beloved icons of the Fair; just look at it! The colorful, whimsical tower is not only charming and fun, but it is a wonderful example of mid-century design.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the New York World's Fair!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Trio of Instamatics!

Happy Monday, everyone! To counteract "Monday malaise", I am sharing some fun vintage Instamatic pictures.

This first one is my favorite of the bunch, it's a very nice shot of the Frontierland Shooting Gallery. A Frontierland without guns is like a day without sunshine. Looks like most of the guns are in use, as far as I can tell it's all males. Women are much too civilized! I know that I always enjoyed the challenge of trying to hit those moving targets; and I especially loved the targets that triggered some sort of animation, such a skunks getting ready to spray.

This one was in bad shape, scratched and dirty; I spent a lot of time (too much, maybe) trying to get it into usable shape, and it looks OK, if a little weird. But I can't resist a mid-1960's view of the Autopia (can anybody tell if this is the Fantasyland Autopia or the Tomorrowland version?). Look at all of those cool little cars! It must have been a slow day, with so many miniature autos not in use.

And finally… nothing too exciting, though I am always happy to see Cascade Peak. The Mine Train was just passing by, and I'm sure Mr. X could feel the cool spray of mist on his face. Imagine the roar of the tumbling water, and you're practically there!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Train & Twain, October 3, 1956

I am trying to figure out exactly where the Mark Twain was in this first photo. Is it more along the western edge of the park, or the northern edge? I want you all to look at the man who is carelessly sitting on the railing. Sure, he looks cool, but wait until the Mark Twain has to slam on its brakes to avoid an out-of-control keelboat. He'll be sorry!

Aaaaaand just because I have to use it someday… here's the Twain as it returns home. Someday Cascade Peak will be right about where that Stagecoach is, but for now it is just hills and pine trees. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vintage Kids!

Today we're going to enjoy some vintage photos of kids. I love pictures like these… somehow, even if they are from way before I was born, or in a place that I never visited, I can tie them in to my own childhood. Because it's all about me!

Here's a fun one featuring three girls from somewhere in Indiana, circa 1950's. They look so nice, but I wouldn't be surprised if they caused their share of trouble. Especially that one in the middle! I like her vest: very "Annie Hall". The girls appear to be right outside the school entrance. Don't go in there, it's full of nerds who like to read! I wonder if the dress on the right was home made, it has some interesting details, like the red ribbon pocket loops (or whatever they are).

Here are some kids frolicking at Mission Beach (San Diego), circa July 1954. I'll bet it was hot! But you've got the ocean, calm and waveless because it is in an enclosed bay (yes, Mission Bay). The only thing one has to worry about is electric sharks and poisonous eels. And they won't attack if you happen to be on an inflatable orange thingamabob.

I don't know where this photo was taken, but I do know when… 1953. This girl is loving her Radio Flyer wagon. Radio Steel and Manufacturing has been making wagons in 'Merica (Chicago) since 1917, and they are darn near indestructible! Take one up to the top of the steepest hill you can find, hop in, and careen out of control, "Calvin and Hobbes"-style! You didn't need those baby teeth anymore, did you?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Saxophone Quartet & Main Street, 1956/57

Today I have two nice Main Street photos (plus one zoom) to share with you. 1950's Main Street was the best! 

Well, the old Intimate Apparel Shop had gone bust (see what I did there?), and the China Closet moved in for what was to be a long stay. The Saxophone Quartet (dressed as Keystone Cops) has stopped by to play a tune or three. On this particular day they were experimenting with an all-sax version of Wagner's "Ring Cycle". (It's nice to see the Silhouette Studio next door).

That dad is checking out his son's reaction; the kid seems to be digging it! He will grow up to be… Kenny G!

Here's an unusual angle (from the Plaza Pavillion?) toward the INA "Carefree Corner", and to our right, we can see that Harry Truman just left the Coke Corner.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Knott's Ghost Town

Hey. I love vintage Knott's photos as much as the next guy. Maybe even more. But aye caramba! These dark, gray, murky photos of the Ghost Town, while OK, feel kind of oppressive. Like a layer of volcanic ash has settled over everything. I hate when that happens! Somebody needs to use a light meter (hint: it's not me). 

That guy to the left has a brightly patterned (Hawaiian?) shirt, but it does little to cut through the gloom.  The blacksmith's shop is to our right, when I was a kid there used to be an actual blacksmith in there banging away on white hot iron rods, making horseshoes. Goldie's can be seen, along with the kicking leg in the side window. 

"Mommy, why do we need a flashlight during the day?"
"Well, honey, I think it might be The Rapture. I hope you've been good."

I love the way the two kids are checking out the wooden Indian!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Special Guest Photos

Yo yo yo! Today I have four more photos, generously shared with us by Chuck Hansen. These are from a 1995 trip to Disneyland (see some previous images from that day HERE and HERE).

As usual, I will be using Chuck's own words to accompany the photos, since he did a better job than I ever could: "The first two are of that big steel-and-concrete structure built to protect Holiday Hill from further erosion. The first is a bit overexposed and slightly soft. I've included it for the view of the climbers on top but won't be disappointed if it doesn't make the cut". It made the cut, Chuck!

"The second one is a much better exposure, but I shot it about a half second too late - you can just see a climber rappelling behind an obscuring tree".

"The next two are of BTMRR, taken about a second apart. The first picture appears to present a quiet, almost pastoral scene with only a hint of the screaming mayhem that's about to occur. Interesting how pictures can convey a mode completely different from what the photographer experienced when there's no sound".

"The second image shows more action, although I wish I'd caught it a half second later. I am pleased to report I did not get any vomit on my while taking these pictures". Yes, that is something to always be grateful for!

Many thanks as always to Chuck for sharing these with the GDB community. There is more to come!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Skyway revisited

It's that time again… time for some more repeats! Today I wanted to feature the Skyway in some form or other. At first I thought I would shoot a video of my interpretive Skyway dance, but realized that it would take too much bandwidth. So you'll have to make do with these photos. 

This one was originally posted way back in 2008 (though the photo is from 1962), and is a beautiful view of the Fantasyland Skyway Chalet. The fanciful Swiss cuckoo clock architecture is so appealing, it seems a real shame that this couldn't have been repurposed; at the very least it could have been a nice place to meet princesses. We'll miss you, li'l Skyway station! 

This next one was also posted in 2008 (the photo is circa 1960), and is a pretty spectacular shot of Fantasyland as seen from a Skyway bucket that has just left the Chalet for its trip to Tomorrowland. There's a lot to see! It's one of my favorites, and I'm happy to be able to re-share it.