Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tomorrowland & Flower Mart

I know, this one isn't very exciting...once in a while you get photos of the plantings at Disneyland, and it looks as if the "Bird of Paradise" plant was more interesting to this photographer than the rockets, flying saucers, and other wonders of Tomorrowland circa 1962. Oh well, they can't all be winners I guess!!

This lady was probably very nice, but she looks like a stern schoolteacher...don't mess with her! I love the incongruous "cat's eye" shades with her "Gibson girl" attire.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gazebo and Indian Dance, August 13 1955

Here are two more slides from August 13, 1955! First we get a look at the gazebo in its original location (I think). There is a band concert going on, and folks have gathered to enjoy an experience that was already the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings and movies about the "good old days". I'm a bit discombobulated, is the castle to our right? The little "berm" or hillside is what's throwing me off. And that little bridge!!

I thought I'd add this photo from the same lot of slides, showing the dancers at the old Indian Village. I wonder how often those guys performed on a typical day? I still think it's pretty interesting to think that a movie studio would have no problem producing convincing "old west" props and artifacts...if you look at other amusement parks of the 50's, they didn't always do such a great job.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mine Train, October 1962

Here are two nice photos of the Mine Train in Rainbow Ridge! In the picture above, the train is returning from its journey through Nature's Wonderland. Behind it is the Mineral Hall, full of flourescent minerals.

And in this view we see a newly loaded train as it departs. I love the details in front of the general store and the El Dorado hotel. To the left you can see folks riding their Pack Mules...the more I see of this attraction, the more I wish I had taken the opportunity to see Nature's Wonderland using this slower means of transportation - you could really take in the scenery!

I provided this closeup because I had never known that the pack mules actually passed above the tunnel leading to Nature's Wonderland. If you look closely you can see folks up there!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Barbara, 1964

The inscription on this 1964 slide tells us that this tour guide's name is Barbara (I didn't just make it up!)...she's posing with little Timmy (I did make that up) in front of Lafitte's Anchor, and a fun signpost pointing the way towards all of our favorite Frontierland attractions.

Like the petrified tree, I am guessing that Lafitte's anchor was another one of Walt's unusual purchases. Jean Lafitte was a colorful character, and among other things, he is credited with defending New Orleans against the British in the War of 1812. Frontierland's proximity to the not-yet-constructed New Orleans Square makes this anchor make a little more sense in the themeing of the area. I'm sure that Walt was intrigued by the history behind this artifact, and he was certainly already planning the New Orleans addition to Disneyland.

In the background, lots of folks are lining up for the Golden Horseshoe Revue. The line just goes on and on!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tomorrowland, June 1963

I know, it feels as if 70 percent of the photos on this blog are taken from the Skyway. The actual number is only 65 percent, so there. Today we're getting a look at the classic Tomorrowland, with all kinds of neat stuff in view. Both the Space Bar and the Yacht Bar are visible (no booze at either place, naturally), the Douglas rocket, Astro Jets, the Monorail beamway, a tiny bit of the queue for the Submarine Voyage, and a smidgen of the Flying Saucers. I like that you can see the General Dynamics pylon as well.

The red interior of the Flight to the Moon attraction is interesting...I believe that it was painted that color when Douglas took over the place. Kind of looks like an open mouth. Chomp!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Yet More Knott's Berry Farm, June 1958

Sorry about the late post, Blogger wouldn't let me update for some reason. Today is the final day of my star-studded salute to Knott's Berry Farm. We'll return to Disneyland tomorrow!

This is one of the stranger vintage Knott's images I've ever seen! This nicely-dressed couple has decided to get a little fresh air, and brought along their baby doll in a peramulator. This reminds me of the stuffed granny that used to sit on a porch at Disneyland.

I couldn't find any information at all about this couple posing in front of a tepee. I have a postcard of a Native American couple named Blue Eagle and Sunbeam, but they were definitely different people.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Knott's Berry Farm

Welcome to day four of my Knott's Berry Farm tribute! Here are scans from three undated slides.

This couple happily poses with the least-imposing Sheriff of all time. The real sheriff must have been plugged full of lead by desperados, and this guy got the star-shaped badge by default.

Knott's had plenty of attractions suitable for small-fry, including "Old MacDonald's Farm". What city kid doesn't get a kick out of feeding and petting goats, sheep, and bunnies? Above the entrance, a bloodthirsty billy goat keeps a watchful eye on everything. Or is he eating the building?

This impressive fellow went by the name of Chief Red Feather. He apparently worked at Knott's for many years, since I have seen postcards featuring his photo when he looked considerably older. Here he resembles the noble Native Americans that N.C. Wyeth depicted in his many western illustrations. Here he is on a vintage postcard:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm 1950's

Day three of my Knott's Berry Farm memories...!

I love this great photo of the Medicine Show! The sign tells us that Dr. Mal De Mere is selling a product that will cure all and restore youth. According to one website, "...the 'snake-oil salesman' would pull a bald(ing) guy out of the audience to ply his trade (he'd close a curtain,put a gorilla mask on the guy,then open the curtain back up)". Sounds kind of funny, actually! The audience looks great in their early 50's fashions.

As the sun sets, the Stagecoach rattles past us. Like the train, the stagecoach was held up regularly. The Sheriff in the next photo was too busy having his picture taken with pretty ladies! Disneyland's Stagecoach only lasted a few years, a victim of either low capacity or safety issues. Did the Knott's version last longer? I don't remember seeing it as a kid.

There were no scary, big-headed, costumed characters to pose with at Knott's. Instead you could have your picture taken with a real Indian brave, the Sheriff, or one of several bearded propectors. The Sheriff looks to be around seven feet tall! Meanwhile, the Indian chief waits to pose with a mother and her two daughters...just in case, he carries a spare war bonnet as a gesture of peace and friendship (I know, it's a "war bonnet", but it's cool!). In the background are some adobe ruins, made even more picturesque by blooming bouganvilla vines.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm, June 1958

More Knott's Berry Farm, we'll take a look at 3 photos from June, 1958.

This gentleman appears to be an old circus "strong man"...maybe he performed for crowds at certain times of the day, much like the snake-oil salesman at the Medicine Wagon. Are those mysterious items behind him some sort of weights? I'd love to know the history behind some of the wagons and vehicles that were displayed at Knott's. It's well-known that Walter Knott loved to buy things like that...but I have no idea if this was an old movie prop, a genuine antique, or something that was built especially for the park. It looks like Doc Skinem's World Famous Indian Medicine did the trick for this guy, at least. Unless he is only 30 years old.

Here are two happy visitors in a covered the background there is a circle of conestoga wagons. Since I don't know what else to say about this photo, here's what Wikipedia has to say about conestogas:

"...the Conestoga was...most distinctive, with graceful, curved lines that made it recognizable from a distance. The design was practical. A floor sloped toward the center prevented barrels and grain from falling out on hills. The wheels on were made of hardwood with fat iron rims. Broad wheels resisted mud. The smaller front wheels reduced the turning radius and large rear wheels softened the ride. They were created to go through mud and travel during foul weather. The wheels could be removed to float across rivers if a raft was carried along."

So now you know!

Business looks slow for the "Lightning Delivery" company. I wonder if visitors could ride on this wagon, or was it used for something else (like trash collection)?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm Railroad

I will be devoting the next five days to Knott's Berry Farm. For those of you only interested in Disneyland, please bear with me. I do intend to mix things up a bit more this year, with occasional trips to World's Fairs or different amusement parks which will hopefully interest you as much as they interest me.

My descriptions will be brief, since my knowledge of Knott's history is sparse. As a kid, my family lived in Huntington Beach. We visited KBF on a regular basis, while Disneyland was a once-a-year event. So I have a tremendous amount of nostalgia for those carefree days, exploring the "Ghost Town" and all of it's wonders.

Today I have four images of the trains that ran through Knott's Berry Farm. As far as I can tell, there were 2 different locomotives on the Knott's property. This one is the #40 "Gold Nugget". The vintage narrow gauge engines are huge compared to Disneyland's scaled-down trains!

Here's the #41, the "Red Cliff", which was built at the Baldwin locomotive works in 1881 (!) was sold to Knott's in November 1951 after operating for the Denver and Rio Grand for 70 years. According to one website, this was one of largest narrow gauge trains built for that railroad. The yellow cars definitely remind me of the old passenger cars that were used at Disneyland.

I wonder what vantage point was used to take this photo of the train at the depot? We're looking at old #40 again. I believe that the area that is the parking lot in this picture became the site of the Calico Mine Train ride. Experts (and you know who you are!)? I need to ride that wonderful mine train again, it's been many years since I last visited Knott's. I like the old autos and the eucalyptus trees that had probably been there for many years before the park came to be.

In this last photo, a lady is talking on her invisible cel phone while standing next to #40. This locomotive was also built in 1881, and it was sold to Knott's on March 12, 1952. From what I can tell, it was originally named the "Green River", I guess the "Gold Nugget" seemed more appropriate for the amusement park. And I believe that it's original boiler number was #340...based on much more recent photos, it looks like it has since been restored to that number in an effort to make it as authentic as possible. As always, if there are any errors in my info, please let me know!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mine Train, July 1961

Sorry about the brief post today! Here's a nice detail of one of the Mine Trains coming around Cascade Peak, passing a waterfall. Was this "Big Thunder Falls"? Or perhaps the "Twin Sisters" (because they are always babblin')?

The demise of Cascade Peak was a sad chapter in Disneyland's history...from all accounts, the peak was dilapidated to the point of danger, and it was torn down in the name of safety (and economy, of course).

In a way, the whole episode reminds me of the burning settler's cabin...why spend the money to keep the cabin burning when it's cheaper to turn it off forever? Why keep those powerful pumps going for the waterfalls when it would probably save a lot of money to turn them off? But I am merely guessing...California Adventure has an enormous waterfall that is one of the more impressive bits of eye-candy (I believe it crashes down the side of Grizzly Peak),

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Suspension Bridge, August 1956

Tom Sawyer's Island did not open in wasn't ready for guests until roughly a year later. When this photo was taken, the island had been open for two months. Sorry about the crazy color, this was one of those slides that had turned a deep magenta!

Folks riding the Mark Twain now had something fun to look at, as guests explored the caves and peaks, the treehouse, barrel bridge and suspension bridge. And the fort, of course.

Friday, January 19, 2007

New Orleans Square, April 1967

New Orleans Square looks like it hasn't had time to open for business in this 1967 photo. While it doesn't appear to be especially early, the park might not have opened until 10 o'clock. The Blue Bayou is shuttered, and there is nobody manning the shoe shine stand. A couple of ladies are checking out the winding streets and shop windows.

Pirates of the Caribbean had opened only weeks before this photo was taken (the ride debuted on March 18), I would imagine that it wouldn't be long until this part of the park was teeming with curious guests waiting to see one of the most talked-about attractions of all time.

This second image comes from the same lot of slides, showing a couple of gentlemen walking past the Swiss Family Treehouse. I didn't remember that it was "in bloom", although the attraction poster shows it that way. This was definitely the ultimate treehouse! If I recall correctly (and it's been a while since I read the book!), the family doesn't live in their treehouse for long. Among other things, they are frequently harrassed by hoards of monkeys. I believe that they eventually move into a dry, comfortable cave. (Please correct me if I'm mistaken, folks!)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Walt Home?

Disneyland had been open for less than a month when this photo was taken. It looks as if the Horse Drawn Trolley is beginning its first circuit of the day, probably having just emerged from the backstage area next to the fire station. Meanwhile, patient early-bird guests watch as the Chemical Wagon is made ready for a day of old-fashioned fun.

It's no secret that Walt Disney had an apartment above the fire station. I think that this might be the only photo I own in which you can clearly see that two windows are open (although the drapes are closed for privacy). It's impossible to say for sure, but maybe Walt was up in his room when this photo was taken. He was very "hands on" when it came to his brand-new dream park, and it isn't too much of a stretch to think that he spent the night, and was getting ready to wander the premises. It's also no secret that he liked to see how guests responded to all aspects of Disneyland, looking for ways to improve the experience.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Matterhorn and Fantasyland Construction

It's April 1962, and there is a lot of construction going on in Fantasyland. I sure wish I knew what it was for...we seem to be back behind Storybookland. For some reason there is a lone Matterhorn bobsled next to the fence in the lower right. Maybe the Fantasyland Autopia was being worked on? That doesn't make much sense, since the Fantasyland Autopia opened in 1959. Please let me know if you have any ideas!

I thought I'd offer a closer look at the mountain, with two daring climbers making their way towards the top! One's almost there....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tiki Room Entrance, January 1965

Before guests entered the Enchanted Tiki Room, they first waited in an outdoor garden area and enjoyed a pre-show introduction. Various tikis (Kor, Maui, Pele, Rongo, Tangaroa, and Tangaroa-Ru) would introduce themselves to guests. To the right is Tangaroa, "Father of all Gods and Goddesses. Here in this land of enchantment, I appear before you as a mighty tree! Stand back! Oh mystic powers, hear my call. From my limbs, let new life fall."

Dig those crazy trash cans! I haven't visited the Tiki Room for a long time, does anybody know if those are still there? The next time I am at Disneyland, I am going to make a point to check it out. It was great to hear that the attraction got a beautiful upgrade for the 50th celebration, since it represents an important step in audio-animatronics technology, and was such a personal point of pride for Walt Disney. Hopefully folks will be able to hear the "birds sing words and the flowers croon" for many more years to come.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Tomorrowland Spaceman

The Tomorrowland Spaceman waves a friendly "hello" to us in this undated photo. I love his classic sci-fi spacesuit (much like those seen in many a B-movie), silver lamé with padded rolls and some sort of communications device on his belt, not to mention the clear bubble helmet with the antenna. In some photos (earlier ones, I presume), the spaceman has a Kaiser Aluminum logo on his costume. Here's a rare Viewmaster view (which I showed you last September) that gives us a nice look at this version:

Pretty snazzy! As Tomorrowland evolved, the spaceman became outdated, and eventually he returned to his home planet with the Spacegirl. Don't worry, they were married, it's all on the "up and up"!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dwarf, August 1964

One of my favorite things to see at Disneyland is a costumed character meeting with children (and giddy adults). In this 1964 image, some of Snow White's Dwarfs are marching through Fantasyland. Along the way, somebody apparently whacked Happy with a nine-iron. Right in the head! It's nice to see that he can still smile in spite of this indignity.

These characters aren't quite as primitive as the Mickey and Minnie costumes from a few days ago, but they're still rather crude. I've always wondered why they had useless, dangling arms. Did the performer need the hands inside the costume in order to manipulate the slightly (and I do mean slightly) flexible faces? Or did they partially hold the costume up from the inside? Inquiring minds want to know. If one of them fell down, they were as helpless as a turtle on its back.

My most recent character encounter was with Buzz Lightyear, he's much shorter in person than you might imagine. But he was nice enough to pose for a picture with me!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Two Disneyland Bands

How many times did Vesey Walker (leader of the Disneyland Band) make the trek up Main Street U.S.A.? He was no spring chicken, but I somehow get the feeling that there was nowhere else he'd rather be. According to a 1957 guide book, the Disneyland Band performed 1,460 concerts annually. The following is a quote from Vesey's Disneyland engagement started as a two-week run for the Park's opening in 1955, but he was "held over" by popular demand for 15 years. Reminiscing about his achievements, Vesey considered coming to Disneyland the high point in his career.

This love of his band helped Vesey defeat an attack of a rare spinal virus that nearly took his life and left him paralyzed for months. Doctors told him he would never walk again, but he would not accept it. "I wouldn't give up," he recalled. "I had to get back to my band." Gradually, after months of painful effort, he regained control of everything except his legs. The great bandsman spurned crutches "because I was afraid I would begin to rely on them too much."

Just a year after he was stricken (and reluctantly using a cane), Vesey proudly led his band down Main Street, U.S.A., once again. A few weeks later he threw away the cane.

Next is a photo of the "Tyrolean Band" playing at the base of the Matterhorn (the slide was mysteriously labeled "Dutch Band at Disneland"). I can almost hear the oompah-pah music right now. If only they had a yodeler!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fantasyland, 1962 & 1964

Today is a quickie post! First up is a nice look at a boatload of unsuspecting Storybook Land guests, about to enter Monstro's gaping maw. This is quite a menacing beginning to what is otherwise such a peaceful and charming many small kids are actually frightened by those big teeth? But that is the beauty of Storybook Land ... you are swallowed by a whale, and enter a land of pure fantasy and fairy tale.

Yeah, I know you've seen plenty of photos of this ship. But this one is nice enough, in my opinion! The Chicken of the Sea pirate ship is much-missed, even if it didn't do anything or go anywhere. It was essentially a bit of beautiful ornament for people to enjoy as they walked around Fantasyland (or as they ate their tuna sandwiches).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mickey and Minnie, January 1959

Yikes! Mickey and Minnie are looking pretty primitive in this 1959 image. Just gaze into those wide, unblinking eyes. He's staring right at us...and I think he's hungry!! It's odd, these designs look more like the 1930's characters than the middle-class, suburban Mickey and Minnie of the 50's. I kind of like them for their simple, slightly scary appearance! And for whatever it's worth, I like the Mickey cartoons of the 20's and early 30's a lot too. Back when he could be a rascal, and visit cannibal islands or haunted laboratories. But I digress!

Hey, is that an Art Corner poster? Those things were great for making kites, I used to have a bunch of 'em.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Orleans Square, June 1963

Here is a view taken from the Mark Twain looking towards part of the New Orleans Square additions that were fairly new at this point. I believe that the Haunted Mansion exterior building was completed only a few months bfore this photo was taken...considering that this is all brand new, the transformation is pretty remarkable! I wonder if any of the 999 happy haunts had moved into the mansion yet, or if the Mark Twain's spiel made any reference to it: "Next to the water tower is an old mansion that hasn't been occupied for many years. They claim it's haunted now...sometimes when the river's quiet, we hear strange and eerie sounds from over that way".

The Columbia is drydocked (again) in Fowler's Harbor, while a Keel Boat (the Bertha Mae) rests nearby. You can see a motorboat sitting in plain sight...granted, most people would never give it a second look, but it does seem strange that it wasn't covered with a tarp at least .

If you were ever kept awake at night, tossing and turning because you needed to know what Fantasyland looked like in September 1958, then toss and turn no more! This great view is similar to another photo that I posted on October was likely taken from the steps up to the Skyway Chalet. It has great color, and it's fun to consider that in less than a year, a certain Swiss mountain would be dominating the scenery.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tomorrowland, October 1974

This might be the first photo from the 70's that I have posted on this blog... I think you'll agree that it's a good one! Here's the Tomorrowland that I remember from childhood, looking very similar to some of those John Hench renderings that we've seen. The Peoplemover loading platform and the Rocket Jets were icons of the post-67 Tomorrowland, and they both added so much life to the area with their constant movement.

OK, here's a question I'm almost embarrassed to ask...did the Peoplemover's roof lift up, maybe just as you got in? If you look at the red cars to the upper left, it looks like they are angled...and I've noticed that in other photos as well. But I honestly don't remember. The answer is probably, "No, dummy!". Oh well, I can take it!

I like the two kids running towards us with excited smiles on their faces, I wonder where they are headed to next?

Monday, January 08, 2007

200th Post!

That's right, today marks the 200th post for Gorillas Don't Blog (why-oh-why did I give it that name??). I believe that includes about 250 images, and oodles of yawn-inducing commentary. I wasn't sure it would go on this long, but I owe it all to the inspiration I get while viewing Stuff From The Park, Davelandblog, and The Pickle Barrel blog, among others. Thanks guys! Thanks to those who comment as well, I really do appreciate it. And now, let's look at some pictures!

All of todays photos are from a lot of oversized slides, undated but probably from around 1958. The color is a bit funky (trust me, what you are seeing is a big improvement!), but the images themselves are really wonderful. First we get a nice look at early Tomorrowland. Junior is covering his face because dad insists on taking photos with the sun behind him. We can see from the Clock of the World that it is almost 6:30 in the evening...where is everyone? The land looks surprisingly quiet.

Next we see Junior and Dad crossing the Barrel Bridge on Tom Sawyer Island. The lady behind them looks mighty amused. I wonder how many people managed to fall through the open ropes on the sides? Today there is netting to prevent inevitable mishaps. Dad's body language tells us that he is taking no chances, and he's keeping a protective hand on the kid. (Thanks to "Squalls Ahead" for letting me know that the slide was first posted backwards!)

I labelled the next photo "Teeter Totter Rock", but I'm actually not exactly sure if that is accurate. Is it "Merry-Go-Round Rock"? Either way, it is surely long-gone in the name of safety.

And lastly, we can all pretend that we are sitting in the audience watching the fascinating and strange (to our eyes) dances performed in the Dance Circle. Take a look at all of the souvenir hats! When Gorillaland opens, I am definitely selling chapeaus of all shapes and sizes. It's like printing money!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tomorrowland 1968

What's with the walls and cranes? There is some construction going on in this 1968 photo of Tomorrowland! During that year, the Autopia was remodelled, the Mark III Monorails debuted, and the Peoplemover was given "major improvements" (according to one website). What exactly these improvements were, I don't know. Perhaps that's when they added the loop? ;-)

I threw in this 1957 photo today...because I didn't know what else to do with it. I believe that the Plaza Gardens are to the left...does the little bridge still exist? I am wondering if this photo could have been taken from near the House of the Future.