Saturday, December 20, 2014

Random Vintage Christmas!

I like Christmas, but when I was a kid, I looooved Christmas. I guess it was just that thing, your kid brain amps everything up and makes it more exciting and magical. My dad would dust off his favorite LP's of holiday music (Nat King Cole, "The Nutcracker Suite" by the Boston Pops, Bing Crosby), we'd salivate over the new Sears "Wish Book", and we would enjoy a variety of Christmas-themed arts and crafts in school (glitter, pipe cleaners, macaroni, and glue were key ingredients). 

Speaking of school, here's a photo from a classroom from sometime in the 1950's. They've got their tree all decorated; I wonder if the kids dressed up for this photo, or if this is just their regular school clothes?  The kid with the bow tie (lower left) is my hero. It sure looks like nighttime, so maybe this was some sort of Christmas party.

Meanwhile, in another classroom, children wear traditional diapers on their heads (now that's a party!) as Santa Claus and the Monsignor (Catholic school!) make surprise appearances. The Monsignor is there to make sure that things don't get too secular.  

Santa looks like he is wearing a blond wig as a beard. There's no way that bag holds enough presents for every child in the classroom. Unless they are tiny presents. 1961, they can't be "Hot Wheels". And all I want is Hot Wheels! Notice that there is snow outside - the only time I really miss snow is during Christmas.

Here's one from Balboa Park in San Diego, circa 1964. I like the brightly-lit Santa with his sleigh and eight reindeer - if that's Rudolph at the end (see his bright red nose?), shouldn't there be nine reindeer? The amazing thing is that I believe that this very same tableau can still be seen in Balboa Park today, a full 50 years later. Ho, ho, ho!


Friday, December 19, 2014


You know 'em, you love 'em, it's those nutty square-format photos from a Kodak Instamatic!

I like this unusual angle looking at Sleeping Beauty Castle, with several foot bridges (long gone, I believe) and the lovely moat, with the star-topped Matterhorn in the distance. This was another brutal SoCal winter! Seems there are rumors that the star might make a comeback; presumably it would be updated with energy-efficient LEDs. That would be cool!

Sticking with the Christmas theme, let's take a look at the big tree in Town Square. Look at all of the folding chairs, presumably set up for guests to view the upcoming holiday parade? I feel sorry for the cast members who had to put those out (and put them away). What are those things on top of the buildings across the way? Lighting rigs? Giant mutant ants? 

I'm out of Christmas Instamatics, so i'll finish up with this sunny, summery view of the castle; Goofy can be seen mingling (he's a people person), and he's drawing quite a crowd!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Special Guest Photos!

Today I am sharing part two of some photos shared with GDB by reader Scott Heinz (who fights crime at night under the name "Alonzo P. Hawk"). They show scenes from the Christmas Fantasy parade from the late 1990's.

There are those goofy reindeer… they've been marching in Disneyland parades since the 1960's; I remember seeing them in commercials when I was a kid.

There's that jolly old elf himself, St. Nick! That sleigh is sort of hovering up high, I wonder how he got into it? Probably by magic.

Yay, Pinocchio! The star of my favorite Disney feature. I'm always happy to see Little Wooden Head.

A toymaker is a natural addition to a Christmas parade, and Geppetto is one of the best. His right arm is perilously close to that bladed propeller thingy - it's giving me the yips.

Scary giant dolls rampage down the street, terrorizing those children! I wonder if those kids are in the parade every day, or if they were picked out of the crowd and allowed to participate?

Mrs. Claus seems to be sitting in front of a Burtonesque machine that separates the naughty kids from the nice ones. I used to always worry, would Santa think I was nice?

"A" is for Ariel, the Little Mermaid herself. She's got gadgets and gizmos aplenty!

This float features a music box, complete with a pretty wind-up dancer. I think she's doing the Shmoney Dance! At least she's not twerking.

Hey, she's looking more or less in my general direction! I think she likes me!

The marching wooden soldiers are another classic feature of Disney Christmas parades, and are a perfect way to wrap things up. 

A BIG thanks to Scott Heinz for generously sharing his personal photos with all of us here on GDB!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Arriving At the Park, July 1958

Today I am posting the first scans from an excellent bunch of around 60 slides from the summer of 1958. Whoever the photographer was, he or she knew what he or she was doing. Some of them are ordinary, but many are super nice! And since there are 60 of 'em, we're going to be enjoying them for quite a while.

We'll start where so many Disneyland adventures began; the parking lot and the trams! Painted in sunny blue and yellow, the lovable li'l trams transport guests from the vast sea of cars right to the entrance. I'm not sure I previously noticed the decorative blue "grille" applied to the front of the tram's tractor. With the headlight "eyes", it looks like it's wearing a hockey mask. "Quid pro quo, Clarice". Notice the driver in his spiffy striped shirt and white cap (a little bit different from the outfit we saw here). 

Zooming in to the left, we see a dad and two kids (each kid wearing a "coolie hat") already leaving! How can they be done for the day? It can't be much later than noon. In the early years, some visitors would do Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm in the same day. CRAZY.

There's the beautiful train station, with the C.K. Holliday out front, pulling the freight cars. I love details like the red roses, there only to make the place prettier. First impressions are important! Notice the banner above the tunnel into Town Square, advertising the new Columbia sailing ship, the Alice in Wonderland ride, and the Grand Canyon diorama. Let's not forget the posters!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More Pins from the 1939 New York World's Fair

I know most of you come to GDB to see vintage photos of Disneyland, but I like to change things up once in a while! I've mentioned by fascination with the 1939 New York World's Fair on several occasions, and I've shown examples from my rather extensive collection of souvenir pins from that Fair.  Today I'm going to share some more of those.

I collect pins because they are small, generally not too expensive, and there is an astonishing variety to choose from. I'm always finding "new" designs, which is part of the fun. These first three are nice heavy brass; You'll be seeing the Trylon and Perisphere design a lot (the sphere and the tall triangular structure that were the theme buildings of the Fair). I have never seen other examples of the the first two pins. I know that there must be lots out there, but I sure haven't found them. I like the orange and blue art deco look of the third pin.

The pin on the left is really more of a badge… it was supposed to have a ribbon attached to the bottom (maybe it would say "V.I.P." or "Visitor", and the space at the top was for a name. The two other pins are the same design, only made of different metals.

It's always fun to try to find examples from sets of pins.. these four octagonal pins show the Administration Building, the Marine Building, the Music Building, and the Transportation Building. I recently added another one showing the Trylon and Perishpere, but never got around to photographing it.

In the upper right we have another neat deco design; the pin just to its right has a nice mother of pearl perisphere (the tip of the Trylon appears to be broken off, unfortunately). Beneath it is a large pin celebrating New York City as well as the Fair; I have never seen another one that is gold in color… it almost looks like this one was gold plated, but… WHY? 

To the right of those is a neat, dynamic sculptural design with the T&P atop a globe, dwarfing the skyscrapers of New York, and even an ocean liner. In the upper right we have a very heavy, thick pin that has a surprising heft. And lastly, a funny little pin with an orange plastic insert. I keep expecting to find a blue version, but so far haven't found one.

I hope you have enjoyed these pins from the 1939 New York World's Fair!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Walt Disney World, November 1972

Today I'm posting the remaining images from a lot of November 1972 Walt Disney World slides. Plus an extra! 

While I am woefully unfamiliar with the Florida park, I am guessing that this neat view was shot from the Walt Disney World Railroad; if I'm wrong, please correct me! It's cool that guest were able to get a much closer look at the friendly Indian Village - it almost feels like we could just saunter over and help that guy start the fire. "Need a match, bub?". People love being called "bub"!

Meanwhile, over in Adventureland, we are enjoying the pre-show for the Tropical Serenade. This isn't much of a picture, but notice that the torrent of water has (apparently) parted to reveal a tiki god, accompanied by two animatronic boids. At least I think those are boids. They're kind of hard to see.

It's time for the soothing steel drum sounds of "J.P. & [the] Silver Stars". Let's pretend we're on a white sandy beach in the Caribbean (sans pirates), sipping a rum drink of some kind. You know what would make this fantasy even better? No steel drum music! But hey, that's just me… the lady to the extreme right is having a blast.

And you may recall that I recently posted some snapshots from WDW, circa December 1971; somehow I missed this one. It is probably the greatest photo of the Magic Kingdom ever taken. (OK, second greatest).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Jungle Cruise, September 1976

It's the World Famous Jungle Cruise! The jungliest cruise on Earth.

There goes a naphtha launch, leaving the last dappled rays of sunlight behind as it vanishes into the eternal dusk under the canopy of the rain forest. Wave goodbye!

Say, what are these guys doing? Zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, all staring as if they are watching a football game.

Oh man, they're watching their pal getting devoured by some lions! That's entertainment, I guess. This scene is an update of an older scene that took place in a much less open tableau. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The North Pole, New York - 1950's

Christmas is so close I can taste it! (It is sort of pepperminty). It's the perfect time to visit the North Pole. Not the one in the Arctic, the one in Essex County, New York! That's about 60 miles north of Albany.

The North Pole was founded in 1949, and it claims to be America's first theme park. Well, OK! I love this shot of the entrance… it is surrounded by that beautiful Adirondack forest.

The park was the brainchild of Julien Reiss, a local businessman. Reiss' daughter wanted to visit Santa Claus' summer home, and he decided to build a place for children of all ages.

You can see that what it lacked in thrills it made up for in charm.

When the park opened on July 1, 1949, only 212 people showed up, and by people I mean "elves". However, two years later, the park had a single-day record of over 14,000 visitors. Aye, chihuaha! 

Like many (presumably later) Santa-themed parks, there is an actual North Pole, eternally covered in ice. Which seems like a good idea until it has been touched by hundreds of grubby little hands. Elves can sit on it all day with nary a chilblain! 

Wikipedia attributes some pretty big claims to The North Pole. It was the first park to have its own petting zoo (really?). It had its own zip code. And it "…launched tourism in America". That's right, up until 1949, nobody ever left their homes to go anywhere.

Here's Santa's summer home, by the way...

Did somebody say PETTING ZOO?! I appreciate that somebody knew that penguins are found at the South Pole. They get an A plus with a smiley face.

There's Santa himself! You can still visit the North Pole today; if you're lucky you might catch the daily parade, led by Frosty the Snowman; or you can eat dinner at Mother Hubbard's Kitchen. Or you can see a Nativity pageant. 

I am very glad that the North Pole is still around!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tom Sawyer Island and The River, March 13 1958

Here are a few beautiful photographs of Frontierland's "Rivers of America"!

As has been the case with many of the photos from this lot, the color and clarity are wonderful. It's the next best thing to being there! The day's attendance was minuscule, so only a few guests are ready to head back to the mainland.

A little bit further around the bend we see another landing for rafts… I think there were at least three different landings back in those days, and on extra busy days they were all used.

Zooming in a bit, we get a nice look at the bridge connecting the eastern side of Frontierland with the western side. The waterway that flowed beneath the bridge filled the Jungle Cruise river. It has long since been paved over. The Plantation House is to our extreme right.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Special Guest Photos!

It's time to get a little of that Christmas spirit here on GDB, thanks to reader Scott Heinz. Those of you who read the comments will know him as "Alonzo P. Hawk"! He sent me scans of a bunch of his personal photos, from various years - mostly Disneyland, but some Knott's Berry Farm as well. With Christmas less than two weeks away, I wanted to start sharing his pictures of a parade from sometime in the late 1990's - I believe that this was the "Christmas Fantasy Parade". If only I could figure out a way to make Disneyland parade Christmas music automatically play along with a blog post!

Tigger and Eeyore are in their jammies, complete with pink fuzzy slippers. Hey, is that a smile I see on Eeyore's face? I like him best when he's glum. Tigger seems to be accompanied by a tiny child in a striped robe, but we can't see too much of him/her.

Pretty girls dressed as snowflakes skate down the street; I hope they don't get stuck in the streetcar tracks. I noticed that both of these snowflakes are different, which is a nice detail.

Wheeeeeeee! If only they pelted small children with real snowballs.

Is it getting warmer in here, or is it just me?

I think that's Dale (of "Chip and…" fame)… I'm wondering if that fence isn't surrounding a genuine ice rink on wheels. Or is he wearing "wheelie" shoes? I've learned from cartoons that chipmunks wreak havoc on Christmas trees.

Jasmin, Prince Ali, and the Genie were surely a popular sight, since "Aladdin" was a huge hit only a few years before this parade took place.

Mmmmm, iced gingerbread cookies! One of them should have a bit out of its head. That's how I roll.

Daisy Duck and Clarabelle Cow appear to be cooking up something delicious. I love that Clarabelle was used… the early Disney short cartoons are among my favorites, as are the characters. Let's have Pegleg Pete! Or Clara Cluck!

There's Belle and the Beast… isn't Belle pretty? They are accompanied by two footman who probably used to be kitchen utensils.

Mickey and Minnie are in a horse-drawn carriage; I think they are in their "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983) costumes.

Speaking of Mickey's Christmas Carol, here's Scrooge McDuck. He hates Christmas and sentimentality and poor people. He probably doesn't even like Tom Hanks movies, that's how shriveled his heart is.

That was a lot of pictures, but there's a Part Two on its way! Many thanks to Scott Heinz for sharing these photos with us.