Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Walt Disney Studios Fan Cards

Today's post is a fun one from Ken Martinez! He has a collection of something that I'd considered collecting at one time - fan cards from the Walt Disney Studio. But I always spent my money on other stuff (there's only so much moolah). Ken got some though!

Walt Disney Studio Cards

Today I wanted to share my small collection of Walt Disney Studio cards.  These cards were sent out to those who wrote the studio for whatever reason.  They were usually slightly larger than a continental sized postcard.  The 20,000 Leagues and 50th Anniversary studio cards shown here are close to legal size.  These were given to me by my sister in the early 1970’s as she lived in Los Angeles at the time and was able to get access to stuff like this for me.  They are originals.  Lots of these original cards go for high prices now, but there are reproductions out there that you can get for a mere $15.00.  I’m pretty sure when my sister got these for me in the early 1970’s they were much cheaper.  As you’ll see here, I’m a fan of the live-action films produced by Walt Disney back in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Here’s one of my favorite studio cards showing Peter Pan with Moonlit London and Neverland in the backdrop.  It’s interesting to note that the Moonlit London and Neverland scenes are the highlight of Disneyland’s “Peter Pan Flight” attraction itself.  It represents my favorite moments in the Disney animated classic.  Peter Pan along with Pinocchio, Dumbo and Lady and the Tramp are my favorite Disney animated features.  I do have two other studio cards for Pinocchio and Lady and the Tramp.


The live-action film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was released a couple of days before Christmas in 1954.  It is my single favorite live-action film that Walt Disney produced.  It was directed by Richard Fleischer, son of early Disney competitor and animation pioneer Max Fleischer.  It also has one of the best casts ever assembled for a Disney film.  Even though James Mason’s Captain Nemo is the star of the show, it seems that Kirk Douglas as Ned Land received top billing.  Also featured are Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax and Peter Lorre as Conseil.  Fleischer went on to direct two other sci-fi classics, “Fantastic Voyage” and “Soylent Green”.


The 1959 black-and-white live-action comedy, “The Shaggy Dog” was based on “The House of Florence” by Felix Salten, same author who wrote “Bambi”.  Disney regulars Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran “Moochie” played brothers in this Disney comedy as they did in ‘Old Yeller” and again in “Swiss Family Robinson”.  Pictured are Fred MacMurray, Annette Funicello, Roberta Shore, Kevin Corcoran and a shaggy “Bratislavian” sheepdog.  Paul Frees puts in a brief appearance as Narrator and J.W. Galvin, Psychiatrist.   This was also Annette Funicello’s feature film debut.  “The Shaggy Dog” ended up being the most profitable picture for Disney at the time of its release.  


1961’s Disney comedy “The Absent-Minded Professor” also filmed in black-and-white and is another favorite of mine.  Who could forget Professor Brainard flying his Model T over Washington D.C.  At the center of the gang riding in the Model T is none other than Alonzo P. Hawk played by Keenan Wynn, son of Ed Wynn.  Keenan Wynn would go on play Alonzo P. Hawk again in the 1963 sequel “Son of Flubber” and 1974’s Love Bug sequel ‘Herbie Rides Again”.  Also of note is Wally Boag, who appears briefly as a TV newsman.  Mr. Boag also made brief appearances in “Son of Flubber” as George, the father in a Flubber commercial and the flabbergasted driver in “The Love Bug”.


This is my favorite studio card from my small collection.   It’s for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney Productions.  It starts with Oswald and Steamboat Willie and features a few characters from all the major Disney animated features from Snow White to The Aristocats.  The characters I can’t find are for Sleeping Beauty.  But also featured, are Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle and the Contemporary Resort.  From the live-action films are Davy Crockett, Mary Poppins and Herbie from The Love Bug. 


This was the generic response to a fan writing a letter to the Walt Disney Studios.  It seems to have appeared on lots of cards.


This response was specific to those who wrote in about the “The Shaggy Dog” inquiring about the film.


In the 2023, the Walt Disney Company will be celebrating 100 Years.  That’s only six years away.  Hope you enjoyed this small collection of Walt Disney Studios studio cards.

THANK YOU, KEN MARTINEZ!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Burning Settler's Cabin, 1990's

Here are three more scans of snapshots graciously given to me by Irene and her brother!

While these are undated, I can only assume that these are from roughly the same time period as most of the other photos in this large lot - the mid to late 1990's, generally. As most of you know, the Burning Settler's Cabin on Tom Sawyer Island underwent a number of changes over the years; the dead guy with an arrow through his chest was replaced with a careless moonshiner. After deciding that even the suggestion of moonshine was too intense for some sensitive hearts, we got this scene:


In this iteration, there's no dead body to be seen at all. Instead, the settler went out hunting, completely forgetting that he had a pan of Jiffy Pop in the fireplace. And this was the result! "Hard facts", indeed. To add drama, the flames are threatening an eagle's nest. Look out!


This third photo shows the same scene, taken on another day. Only small changes near the cabin's fence are evident. 

In 2007, the cabin was changed once again - this time to a tidy little homestead, without flames of any kind. The story I've heard is that during some renovations, it was discovered that the gas pipes were too corroded, and the decision was made to remove them entirely. Because there's nothing more expensive to replace than gas pipes. Come on guys, if you're going to make up a story, at least make it believable. Such as, "We didn't want to keep paying for all of that natural gas". That's believable. 


Sorry for the snark! Thanks as always to Irene and her brother.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Magic Kingdom, December 1971

Here are four more photos from Walt Disney World's first few months!

Presumably this group of musicians was in Adventureland, since steel drum music evokes a sun-drenched tropical vibe. Doing a little research (emphasis on "little"), I have found references to "J.P. and the Silver Stars", a pretty awesome name for a band! They continued to perform at the Magic Kingdom all the way into the mid-1990's - perhaps longer.


Listening to various podcasts, I get the impression that live music is not quite as easily found at Walt Disney World compared to Disneyland. Having never been there, I can't say, personally. You can find a few videos of J.P. and the Silver Stars on YouTube.


Meanwhile, over at the Swiss Family Treehouse... just look at the line! Those Swiss really know how to throw a party, and everyone knows it. My guess is that the surrounding jungle has become quite a bit more luxurious over the past 40+ years.


And here's a pretty shot of Cinderella Castle, taken on this awful, cold December day. This photo is 89% "postcard worthy", but it juuuust misses the mark!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Too Dark Park

Uh oh! I just noticed that there seemed to be NO NEW POST today. I screwed up and forgot to tell the little man in the computer to publish this post at 12:01 AM; instead it was going to publish at 4:30 in the afternoon. D'OH. Anyway, here is today's anticlimactic post.

It's always a bummer when a slide that would be a very cool view turns out to be way too dark. This first one, from October 1963, shows (or is supposed to show) Tiki's Tropical Imports in Adventureland. I don't have many photos of this souvenir stand, so I wish that this one hadn't turned the shadows to inky blacks. So much for seeing what goodies could be had.


This next one comes from 1957; while it is dark, it's not a total loss. I always like views of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship from the less-photographed side. And all the sails are unfurled. Presumably this photo was shot from a Casey Jr. Circus Train.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vintage New York City

I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Disney related, pop culture stuff (movies and TV), skepticism, and tech are some subjects that I enjoy. And I recently started listening to a podcast called "The Bowery Boys", devoted to the history of New York City. Nobody can deny that NYC has an incredible history full of amazing places and fascinating characters. Nobody, do you hear??

Anyway, listening to these shows made me want to dig out my very small box of vintage New York slides in order to scan some and see if there was anything interesting. In my opinion, there is! Like this 1958 photo taken at a train platform. It's full of vintage goodness! Unfortunately I have no specifics as to the exact location of this train station - if anybody recognizes it, please chime in!


Next is this undated (but 1950's?) shot taken from 5th Avenue looking west on 42nd Street. That's the wonderful New York Public Library to our left. The odd gothic structure in the distance is the 16-story Wurlitzer building, finished in 1919. I can find remarkably little info about this building (are you there, Chuck?), such as when exactly it was demolished, though I believe it was within the last few years. At some point the Cinematheque Theater opened in the building, and it showed some of Andy Warhol's movies back in the 60's. The Velvet Underground performed there as well.


Here's a screen grab from Google's "street view" as the scene looks today.



Friday, April 21, 2017

Fabulous Autopia, 1957

I love today's slide scans from 1957 - that old Kodachrome was hard to beat. You probably recognize these two brothers, aboard a sleek blue Autopia vehicle. Big brother gets to drive of course, it's just the way things go. Just on the other side of that fence is a white hard had, though I don't see any "Keppy Kap" markings on it. That "Richfield" billboard is always fun to see, with its futuristic space station.


Well what do you know! Look there, beneath the underpass; it's a rare view of a Phantom Boat, cruising the calm waters of Tomorrowland Lake. Pretty sweet.


Here's another look at the area, just because. For you fans of telephone poles... you're welcome.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Final Voyage of the Queen Mary

Here's something a little bit different - a real piece of SoCal history! Many of you have visited the grand old ocean liner, the Queen Mary - it's a tourist attraction, for those of you who don't know; today's photos, courtesy of Steve Stuart, were taken as the QM arrived in Long Beach on December 9th, 1967. I think these are really great. Steve has done an awesome job writing up a nice account for us - here it is:

On Saturday, December 9, 1967, the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, California to begin another chapter in her storied life – now as a tourist attraction, hotel, etc., and I was there to welcome her to [what has so far been] her final resting place.  Here are some quotes from the L.A. Times marking the event:  


The Queen Mary arrives in Long Beach following a 39-day voyage from England.  The city of Long Beach purchased the 31-year old vessel, which was slated for the scrap heap, for $3.45 million to serve as its waterfront centerpiece.”  The copy went on to describe the event as:  the arrival “… at her permanent residence in exile amid a tumultuous welcome that was bigger than any celebration in Southern California since the day World War II ended 22 years ago.”  Who knew-? 


"Tens of thousands – perhaps a million or more – on land, sea and in the air greeted the Queen as she glided along the coast and past the Long Beach Harbor breakwater at 10 a.m. on the last mile or so of the 39-day voyage from England, the home she will never see again”.  Oh, how sad.


About 1,200 passengers…  (let’s hope the ship’s manifest contained numbers more accurately representing the actual count, rather than “about”; otherwise I’m thinking someone could have attempted the ‘perfect murder-at-sea’-!) “…paying $8,000.00 each, [$58,428 in today’s dollars-!] took the final voyage.  Being too wide for the Panama Canal, the Queen Mary sailed around the tip of South America to reach Long Beach”.


Major Pepperidge here... I just love the masses of boats that came out to greet the Queen Mary as she arrived in Long Beach harbor, ranging from small sailboats to fancy pleasure boats, to what might be a Coast Guard escort!


Wow! What a great shot. It is definitely bittersweet to think that that magnificent ship with the distinctive 3 funnel profile was mere minutes from its final resting place.

Steve continues: You would have thought with all this hoopla and record-breaking numbers I would have stronger memories of the event.


Nope – nothing, nada, zip, bubkas-!  I have no doubt I was in attendance, in spite of the fact the only identifiable person seen in these images is that of my mom in the final photo – wearing, appropriately-enough:  A babushka-!  We did own a sailboat, but we certainly did not sail it down from Marina del Rey for the event.  Evidently whoever invited use along on his boat to witness the festivities up close and personal, was also lost to the ages along with other memories from that day.  Undoubtedly my mind was elsewhere – such as The Happiest Place On Earth – where any true Disneyland fan would rather be, wanting to take-in the still [almost new] New Tomorrowland, and even Pirates of the Caribbean.  (How did the commentary move that direction-?  I couldn’t possibly fathom a guess).


If anyone can ID any vessels or other mechanical contrivances seen in these images, please sing-out.  Thanks to The Major’s ‘eagle eye’, careful perusal of photo #5 reveals the Goodyear Blimp floating around overhead, capturing many images documenting the glorious day.

MANY THANKS to Steve for sharing these awesome photos. I thought that this was going to be the final post of his images, but he has since sent me a few more, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Some nice rescans!

I'm still out of town, kind of unexpectedly, but I hope you will enjoy today's beautiful rescans!

I'm on my third scanner since starting GDB, and have learned a lot about both scanning and color correction. Today's rescans turned out especially good!

Let's start with this image from August, 1958 (originally posted in 2008). The whole thing has a sort of greenish-gray cast, as if it was taken through a pair of Foster Grants.


Here's the 2017 version - lighter, brighter, sharper, richer colors - all in all I am very happy with the way this one turned out. It's stroller-iffic! 


Next is this scan from an August, 1955 slide, originally posted in 2007. My super computer (with lots of spinning tape reels and blinky lights) calculates that 2007 was 10 years ago. Thanks, Uniblab™! Anyway, it's neat to see a photo from just after the park debuted, but it is strangely cyan in places, reddish in others, and grainy too.


That's much better! The colors are cleaner, there's less grain, and everything is generally crisper and crunchier. You can see that the Disneyland Band is performing in the Gazebo, which is (I believe) roughly where the Carnation Plaza Gardens would eventually go.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

1982 EPCOT guide

EPCOT Center? Say, I've heard of that place! Never been there though. Ken Martinez has been, however! And he has the guidebook to prove it. Here's Ken:

Eastman Kodak EPCOT Center Guide 1982

My first visit to EPCOT Center was on March 22 1983 when the park was less than six months old.  I went with the realization that this was not Walt’s final dream, but still wanted to see it anyway because all things Disney theme park related interested me.  On the first visit, I was really taken back by the scope and sheer size of the place.  Back then it was brand new and the landscape was yet to fill out.  I think what impressed me more than the educational aspect of the park was the sheer spectacle of the place.  All the various conveyance systems, from the traveling theater seats in Universe of Energy to the various styles of Omni-mover systems in several of the Future World pavilions fascinated me.   One of the things I love about Disneyland is the mechanical aspects of the ride systems and Audio-Animatronic figures.  There’s one thing for sure, EPCOT Center was loaded with Audio-Animatronics back then.  With the removal of World of Motion and Horizons, I think it lessened.

This is my favorite Disney World theme park guide which was handed out at the admission gates.  I like the styling and that it was made of firm paper cardboard.  I also like the original fonts used on this guide like the “Walt Disney World” with its mouse-eared globe inside the big ‘D’ and the all-caps “EPCOT CENTER”.  Also featured on the cover are the centerpiece attraction for Future World “Spaceship Earth” and the centerpiece attraction for World Showcase “The American Adventure”. 


Featured on the first open foldout is the map of EPCOT Center and a dial page in which you could select the pavilion name to view its description and location in the park.  This was probably the most expensive free guides to produce that Disney ever handed out at the entrance gate.  I don’t know any other guides that used firm paper cardboard and contained a dial guide.  It’s one of my favorite Walt Disney World pieces of ephemera and I actually got it on my first visit to EPCOT Center in the spring of 1983, not from eBay.


One of the things I loved about early EPCOT Center was the use of simple graphic icons for each of the Future World Pavilions.  From what I’ve read these are no longer in use at the park or in publications.  On my first visit to EPCOT Center there were only six pavilions and one of them was closed during both visits it went.  In addition Horizons was under construction on my first visit.  Unfortunately the pavilion that was closed each visit was Spaceship Earth, so I still haven’t been on it to this day.  The two pavilions that impressed me the most were ‘The Land” and “Horizons”.  I enjoyed “The Land” pavilion because it actually was a functional experimental lab and I loved Horizons because it was like the ultimate tribute to Disney futurism.  


I remember World Showcase feeling pretty massive with its large lagoon and spread out pavilions.  I really loved the American Adventure and El Rio del Tiempo, but didn’t see any of the Circle-Vision films or Impressions de France.  While I thought World Showcase was an impressive undertaking, I just couldn’t imagine it as really being anything like the countries each pavilion represented.  Also, any restaurant I wanted to see was either too expensive or a hassle to make reservations.  Being on budget I only ate at the fast food style places. 


Featured here is a map showing what the Florida property consisted of as far as attractions and lodging available. 


Here’s a continuation of the Information page with services available at EPCOT Center.


Of course since the EPCOT Center guide booklet was from Eastman Kodak Company there was information on the back related to its product.  This was also the back part of the dial guide so the dial could still be used to view various Kodak product descriptions.


We’ll I hope you enjoyed the guide booklet and my recollections of EPCOT Center.  It’s been over thirty years since I last visited Walt Disney World and since then two more theme parks and two water parks have been opened and quite a few more hotels have been built.  I’m sure the nature of the place is totally different than when I visited the place during its early years.

Thanks once again to Ken Martinez for all of his hard work (slaving over a red hot scanner, typing until his fingers bled) and the generous sharing of his collection!

NOTE: Hey guys, I am leaving this morning on a sort of not-very-planned trip for about three days - I probably won't be checking in on the computer for most of that time, but one never knows. I'll be anxious to read everybody's comments when I return!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hills Bros. Coffee House Menus

Old Disneyland menus are popular collectibles among those who love paper ephemera. Some of them can get very pricey too! But menus from the Hills Bros. Coffee House on Town Square tend to be relatively affordable.

Here's a neat image scanned from a 1959 multipage newspaper insert.


I have several variations of these menus, though they all have  the same cover. Here it is!


And here's the interior of the first version that I am aware of. Everything sounds pretty good, except for that chopped egg sandwich. The egg sandwich with bacon is barely an improvement.


I love Disneyland maps, and this menu has a wonderful example. The artwork also helps date the menu because it has the Columbia and the Grand Canyon Diorama, both of which debuted in 1958 - but it doesn't have the Matterhorn, which (as you know) opened in 1959. One fun detail is the Viewliner, in the upper right corner, just below the steam locomotive.


Here's the interior spread of the next version - sorry for the crummy condition. At the time I scanned these, I could not find my example that is much mintier. Please memorize the names of each Hills brother so that you can impress everyone with your deep trivia knowledge.


Once again, the menu is undated, though this more-rendered map now includes the Matterhorn, Monorail, and Subs. Since the Monorail exited the park to the Disneyland Hotel, I consider this to be a 1961 menu, though it is just a guess.


Next is the inner spread for a 1966 version; they finally got rid of that chopped egg sandwich! Our long national nightmare was over.


And here's the back of the '66 version. I only learned of this one's existence while at the home of a fellow collector, and found one to buy a few months later on eBay. Hopefully I can upgrade someday. My friend said he's seen yet another version with nothing on the back at all. Something to look for.


I hope you have enjoyed these vintage Hills Bros. menus!