Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chemical Wagon, 1955

Disneyland was only a few weeks old when this great photo was taken. The gleaming Chemical Wagon is about to embark on a trip up Main Street, but it's not going anywhere until the two little boys get their picture taken. They're looking sharp in their Pendleton shirts!

Money was tight when Disneyland was being built, but it was well-spent on the Main Street vehicles...this fire wagon is a beauty.


Curse you, "No Admittance" sign! What are you trying to hide? Backstage seems so intriguing to mere mortals like me...surely there are dark secrets and wonderous mysteries at every turn! It's probably about as exciting as walking behind your local Sears, in reality.

6 comments:

Matterhorn1959 said...

Great fun picture. I always like the pictures with the posed family.

Merlinsguy said...

I remember that backstage area very well. Wooden steps led up to small offices, painted and trimmed in the same color as the gate in the photo. In the summer, there was a jar on a wall that dispensed salt tablets, supposedly to ward off heat stroke.

E-Ticket Tim said...

Is that the same wagon that sits inside now? I have never seen it in the sun light, I wonder if it still has that great deep red color? Great photo! Thanks!

Major Pepperidge said...

I think that the detail about the salt tablets is pretty interesting!

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment about the "No Admittance" sign. The corresponding location to this photo at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is diguised by a building facade labelled "Car Barn," with the streetcar tracks leading under large, barn-style doors that are always closed.

In July of 1997, I happened to be strolling past that point when the doors opened. I was able to see what I recall as something like a large, shallow garage with an open back and the track leading further offstage into an open-air area.

A couple of cast members in streetcar crew uniforms came out to marshall guests around the area and keep anyone from getting backstage, which is perfectly reasonable. What wasn't was the 18-20-year old cast member's reaction when I attempted to take a photo.

He stepped in front of my shot line with a sneer on his face and sarcastically asked "Something iteresting there?" I politely replied that, yes, there was. His response was "I can't let you take pictures of that" and continued to position himself close in front of me every time I tried to compose the shot, apparently enjoying the "power and authority" he seemed to think he had. I finally gave up and walked away, flabbergasted and frustrated.

Anonymous said...

Continuing my thoughts from my previous post, another backstage story...

I'm in the Air Force and used to be stationed in Southern California, so my wife and I had annual passes. Through a happy coincidence or Divine Providence, I happened to be promoted on July 17th, 1995, which was Disneyland's 40th birthday. We thought it would be perfect for me to "pin on" the new rank in front of the Town Square flagpole, so I wore my short-sleeved uniform (because it was hot) and "wheel cap" (to keep the sun off my face) to the park that day.

By coincidence, the Air Force short-sleeved uniform of light blue shurt and dark blue pants looks a lot like the then-current Security Host cast member uniform, although my hat was blue instead of white, and a lot of other guests confused me with a cast member. I was asked several times what to do about finding lost guests, a little kid came to me in tears after he'd lost his mom (she was about 40 feet away), and some folks asked me to apprehend some line jumpers while I was waiting in line for the Matterhorn. People became increasingly frustrated when I couldn't answer their questions (I remember one angry Australian in particular),so I finally went to Town Hall to get answers to the most commonly-asked questions.

Anyway, my wife and I were strolling across the NW corner of the Hub in the early afternoon and came across a young female cast member in one of those yellow and orange jumpsuits worn by ice cream and baloon vendors on Main Street and the Hub. The poor girl was struggling with an armload of ice cream bar boxes, clearly in danger of dropping some or all of them on the pavement.

She clearly needed assistance, so I politely asked if I could give her a hand. Her eyes lit up with relief and she handed me some of what she was carrying, then took off into Tomorrowland at a rather rapid pace, apparently assuming I'd follow.

I caught up to her and asked where she was heading. "Backstage" was her one-word answer. That could mean anywhere, so I pressed for a little more information. "Tomorrowland" was all I got.

We dodged crowds in silence until we reached an opening marked "Cast Members Only" behind where Mission To Mars and Flight to the Moon had been. I stopped and said "I don't think I'm allowed back there." She looked confused, so I explained "I'm not a cast member."

A look of absolute terror gripped her face. She looked around quickly, snatched the ice cream boxes from me, and ran backstage without even a word of thanks.

When I compare cast member reactions in this event as well as the one at WDW two years later, I can only conclude that young cast members in the 90s were threatened with being abandoned at midnight in the Jungle Cruise's hippo pool without a blank-firing pistol if any guest should ever be allowed to even glimpse a backstage area.