Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Fantasyland, August 1969

Here are two sort of oddball photos from Fantasyland, circa 1969. The 70's were almost here!

While I like this shot of the crowds milling about on a summer day (in between the Carrousel and the Snow White attraction), the photographer seemed to be mighty interested in those cloth banners that provided a tiny bit of shade in that mostly-treeless part of Fantasyland. I'm sure that a typical summer day could easily be in the high 80's or 90's. Or maybe the photographer was interested in the various flags and pennants. Who knows.

Hugh Hefner and Snow White have something in common: they both have grottos! Why can't I have one too? Hef has yet to invite me to one of his parties, so I am going to have to give the "win" to Snow White… but I can always be persuaded to change my mind.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ringling Bros, Sarasota - March 17, 1956

Today I thought I'd share a few fun photos from Sarasota, Florida, where the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus had their winter headquarters (established in 1927). It makes sense, since so much of the USA gets hit with harsh winters; why not find a sunny, warm place to relax? The circus folk didn't just sit around eating bonbons and watching soap operas though - they still performed for crowds of fellow snowbirds.

This first photo is neat, I love the group of people on the back of that elephant - you can almost imagine the swaying, slightly bumpy ride that they are experiencing. The word "Gajasala" is Hindi, and means "elephant stable". 

In another area, folks gather around to watch all kinds of performers doing their thing. Before I zoom in for a closer look, I am noticing some horses out in that field, grazing happily; presumably these are the same horses that pull the wagons or prance in parades during shows.

Well, looks like just about everybody is here! The strong man, beautiful showgirls, clowns, the lion tamer, an acrobat, and (since there is a low tightrope), even an incognito tightrope walker or two. 

Go ahead, reach into the cage and pet the lions! What's the worst that could happen?

Considering that March 17th was a Saturday, crowds are pretty sparse - but then again, there are plenty of jackets, sweaters, and babushkas, so maybe it was chilly by Florida standards. The elephants don't seem to mind. I wish I had scanned the photo of the baby elephant who could fly (I think I can see a little mouse in his cap), but I forgot to.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey winter headquarters!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beautiful Tomorrowland, 1956

Oh boy, more vintage Tomorrowland! My favorite. And the "Clock of the World" is also my favorite.  I can have lots of favorites! I love the way the Clock is trying so hard to look futuristic, and yet, to 2014 brains, it is about as retro as can be. The blue tiled base, the gold spiky sun (and moon, on the other side), even the font used for the numbers, it all screams "mid-century". Which is awesome. In the distance is a certain moon rocket...

…. and here's a closer look. I'm not sure if the camera's exposure was just set differently, but things look much lighter and brighter. The rocket is SO COOL! I never grow weary of it. In the background, the vertical sign still says "Space Bar" rather than "Skyway" - the Skyway would not open until June of '56. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Greatest Hits - Fantasyland

Here's another selection of "greatest hits" from the past - this time we'll concentrate on Fantasyland.

This first image is from a badly damaged slide (originally posted in 2007) - it took some considerable effort in Photoshop to get it back to a presentable state. And it was worth it, as it is one of my favorite images (reminding me of guide book pictures). The sense of motion is nice, and the lady's smile is really what sells it for me!

A family de-caterpillars from the Alice in Wonderland dark ride in this 1966 photo. I love those vehicles SO much - but would really like to know what other concepts (if any) were considered before they settled on the snooty larvae. Maybe a Cheshire Cat vehicle? That would have been pretty cool too.

This 1962 photo appeared in my 900th post at the end of 2008; it features the lovable li'l Midget Autopia. A single car winds its way through a beautiful flowered landscape that reminds me of some of Mary Blair's artwork for "Alice in Wonderland", for some reason. It really does feel as if we're in a dream.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sleeping Beauty Castle, March 13 1958

I love these two photos of a mother and daughter posing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at different times of the day! 

What's with all the "suits"?! And where are all the other children? I think the castle looks wonderful with its soft shades of blue and gray (with only a hint of pink above the archway). The daughter is cute in her blue coat and babushka. All of those semi-circular seating areas were recently removed thanks to Cal OSHA and the Disney lawyers. I feel safer already!  

Later in the day dad took another photo, this time from an oblique angle that is very pretty in the late-afternoon sunlight. There's not another soul to be seen! I guess people wanted to be home in time for dinner. If you look carefully you can just see part of the Skyway tower on Holiday Hill over to our right.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fantasyland & Carrousel, 1956

Here are two slides from Fantasyland - both from 1956, though from different days.

This first one looks very wintery (by SoCal standards), with overcast skies and guests bundled up in coats and sweaters. One lady is even prepared for rain! In spite of  the gloom, Fantasyland is bustling with a pretty good crowd. I would love to head over to the Mickey Mouse Theater to see the 3-D movie that played there, starring Jimmy Dodd and the Mouseketeers; I am very curious to know if this film survives. 

Next, it's a sunnier day, and we get a nice look at King Arthur's Carrousel back when there were horses of a different color. I think it was in 1983 when somebody had the theory that everyone wanted to ride a white horse; nobody consulted me!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Moody and Murky, 1965

Continuing a series of oddly dark and moody slides, I have to admit that I wish I had posted this first one closer to Halloween. We're aboard the Mark Twain, on the starboard side; note the stage on the shore of Tom Sawyer Island, presumably for "Dixieland at Disneyland" performances. Maybe Louis Armstrong would be playing later that evening! In the distance, we see the Haunted Mansion (still years from opening), looking like a ghostly apparition. It's just schmutz on the lens - OR IS IT??

This one looks much like an old, age-darkened landscape by George Innes - except that he never painted any burning settler's cabins. The spirit of the dead settler only had to cross the river to find a grand home for all eternity.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Mark Twain, March 1958

If you have to look at more photos of the Mark Twain, they might as well be pretty pictures. And these two qualify nicely. 

It's not hard to pretend that this photo was actually taken at a small landing along the Mississippi river. Just squinch up your eyes a little bit! The sternwheeler will stop to pick up passengers and goods. Bales of cotton add to the veracity of the scene. Note the name "Fred Peltzer" on that crate… I Googled the name, and checked IMDB, but had no luck; but he has to have been a real person of some significance, don't you think?

This one is as pretty as a postcard. All riverboat gamblers, be sure your aces are securely hidden in your sleeves before boarding.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Two Towns, Then and Now!

I always like comparing vintage photos of random towns with contemporary views (often gleaned from Google's "street view"). Today I have two examples for you.

At least this one didn't take much detective work, since that is the U.S. Capitol building way down there. I like the juxtaposition of the gleaming neoclassical structure against the other buildings on the street (which happens to be Pennsylvania Avenue NW, at about 13th Street). The clock tower to our right is part of the "Old Post Office Pavilion" (now called the Nancy Hanks Center), completed in 1899. 

Here's the closest I could get to replicating the view on Google. I think they must have moved the Capitol building an extra quarter of a mile away!! Trees make the other buildings hard to see, which is why I am proposing to outlaw all trees by 2016. Think of the children.

This one, from the late 1940's, was a "mystery town" for about two minutes. Looking up the "Placer Inn" (to our right) yielded instant results… this is Idaho Springs, Colorado (about 30 miles west of Denver), looking east down Miner Street. Idaho Springs was founded during the gold rush of 1859, and it looks it! I love the old cars in this photo.

Here's Google's view; the Placer Inn started out as a nice place to eat and sleep; it became a bowling alley at one point, abut has since been restored, and is now the Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub. It's remarkable how many of the buildings seem to have remained intact over the years. Even the hillside looks the same.

Just for yucks I thought I'd include this postcard view. It's undated, but I swear some of the cars in my photo also appear in this one!

And lastly, I found this neat image from 1889; everyone's looking at the camera, so this must have been some sort of big occasion. The Placer Inn's distinctive roof line can be seen to the right. Dirt roads, horse-drawn ore carts, this place really evokes the "old West". I love the detail of the little boys in their finest late-19th century duds!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Skyway and Matterhorn, April 1967

One of the things I miss the most at Disneyland is the wonderful old Skyway. After being launched from the station (in Fantasyland or Tomorrowland), your bucket would sway for a brief moment before settling into a sensation that was almost like flying. You were fairly isolated from other buckets, as well as from the hubbub below, and everything felt so peaceful. And then there was the view! There was nothing like it.

This first shows the view as we leave the Tomorrowland terminal to glide above the Monorail track and the Submarine lagoon, and on into the Matterhorn.

After passing through the mountain, our photographer turned around and took this beautiful shot, as his bucket moved away from the Matterhorn and toward the Fantasyland Skyway chalet behind us. The afternoon sunlight really makes the colors pop, and the photo is so nice and clear. I really love this picture!