Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Riding the Disneyland Railroad



This is an unusual image taken by a passenger on board one of the old freight cars being pulled by the C.K. Holliday. The "cattle cars" were not in use for long, and the open-topped cars seem mighty unsafe. It looks like everyone is standing, what happens when the brakes are applied?

I've had this slide for several years, but when I gave it another look this morning, I noticed the tent in the distance. The Mickey Mouse Club Circus tent! Now there's something you don't see in many photos. I am pretty sure that by the time this photo was taken, the Circus had closed (it opened Thanksgiving Day 1955, closed January 8th 1956), replaced by Professor Keller and his "Feline Fantastics".

Anyway, it's a pretty neat bit of obscure Disneyland history, I'm glad to have a photo of it!

10 comments:

Matterhorn1959 said...

Great view, I like how the photographer got the engine into the shot. And the gentleman with the checkerboard cap is quite stylish.

Tangaroa said...

Unusual - and not just for the Mickey Mouse tent... It really feels like you are there!

Squalls Ahead said...

Hi! The tent in the background is part of Holidayland, not Mickey's Circus. There are 2 clues that give this away. First: The tent is on the outside of the berm. Mickey's Circus was on the inside of the berm. Second: The Sun is high in the sky in the summer months, and in the southern portion of the sky during the rest of the year. That said, if this was Mickey's Circus, the shadows would indicate the Sun as being in the northern part of sky -- which (at least in Southern California) it never is. The shadows here indicate that the photograph was taken during the later part of the day, as the sun is getting close to setting in the west. As of this writing, there's a really cool Holidayland postcard being auctioned on eBay. You can go to eBay and search for it there, or check out this link. I've posted the image of the postcard on my website: http://www.zoocrew.us/images/holidayland.jpg

--Jim

Matterhorn1959 said...

Hey Squalls- I think you are correct in that it is the Holidayland tents. I did not have time this morning to look at the image closely, but it was in my mind about how the train was curving and where the tent was located did make sense with the location of the Mickey Mouse Club/Professor Keller tent.

And by the way, the postcard image you are showing from E-Bay is my auction.

Major Pepperidge said...

Well, I guess I was mistaken...I certainly didn't take the angle of the sun into consideration! I only ruled out Holidayland because I was fairly sure that the tent had bright red stripes on a white tent. Just look at the Holidayland postcard! Whereas the MMC Circus tent was more subdued. But I will concede to squallsahead who sure seems to have done his research.

Matterhorn1959 said...

Just re read my post and it should read "...how the train was curving and where the tent was located did NOT make sense with the location of the Mickey Mouse Club/Professor Keller tent."

Squalls Ahead said...

Major Pepperidge, Happy to help out!

Matterhorn, I was the guy who posted the comment about your Universal Studios backlot photo being reversed on your August 28 blog (I just didn't have a blog account at the time). Also, that's very funny that the postcard that I found on eBay is from your auction. As they say... 'It's a Small World after all!'

moochie said...

Cool. So if that's the Holidayland tent, then where about do we think this picture was taken? I'm guessing somewhere between Main St. and what's now New Orleans Sq. station. Thoughts?

Tangaroa said...

Good eye! Major - I too thought they were the Mickey Mouse Circus tents... shows what I know!

Squalls Ahead said...

Regarding where the picture was taken, there's a crossing sign ahead of the train, and there's just one single train track. Take a look at the lower left-hand corner this 1956 aerial photo: http://www.zoocrew.us/images/disneyland_aerial_1956.jpg -- I've circled the location of the road that's crossing the track (and also circled the circus tent in Fantasyland). Past the crossing, the track splits into 2 tracks. The single track in Major's photo is curved. This places the train in Major's photo in the curved section approaching the crossing.

Also, for those who thought the tent was from the Mickey Mouse Club Circus, well, you were right! From the Internet: "June 16 (or 17), 1957: Holidayland, a picnic and tent area located to the left of Disneyland's main gate, opens. (It had been originally built for the now closed Mickey Mouse Club Circus.)" ...and... "Attendance at the circus had never matched expectations. While the tent held 2,500 patrons, it was rarely filled to half capacity and typically fell far short of even that. In January of 1956, the decision was made to close the Mickey Mouse Club Circus thus ending a well-intentioned if unsuccessful episode in the history of Disneyland. The tent itself was re-used for the Holidayland picnic area located on the western edge of the park."

On a side note. I worked at the park from 1976-89. In the Summer of '80, I was a guest band coordinator. Our trailer office and line-up area was located behind the Haunted Mansion building. Next to the trailer were the original restrooms for Holidayland. Although they were just restrooms, I always felt like I was stepping back in time everything I used them. LOL!

One last thing: Here's photo of a 1958 park map: http://www.zoocrew.us/images/disneyland_map_1958.jpg -- Some people have placed the tent directly behind the Haunted Mansion building, and others behind the Pirate's building. If the placement of the tent on this map is correct, the exact location was probably in the space between both buildings (where the park's West Chiller Plant is currently located). Another hint, look at the cropping of trees behind and to the left of the tent in the postcard that Matterhorn is selling on eBay: http://www.zoocrew.us/images/disneyland_holidayland_postcard.jpg -- I tried to track down an aerial photo of the park and Holidayland but could not find one.

Gosh, this has been fun figuring this out! Cheers!