Sunday, September 30, 2007

Expo '67

When it comes to World's Fairs and Expos, people readily recall the '64/'65 New York fair and the 1962 "Century 21" Expo in Seattle. But Montreal's "Expo '67" was considered the most successful World's Fair of the 20th Century, with over 50 million visitors. It also set a record for single-day attendance, with over 500,000 people showing up on the third day!

Originally this fair was supposed to be held in Moscow to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Those fun plans fell through (!), and the fair was given to Montreal. The big geodesic dome is the United States Pavilion, and to the right (the building with the multiple triangles) is the "Man and His Planet" and "Space Man and Life" pavilions.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Universal Studios, April 1972

Here are a bunch of slides from Universal Studios, courtesy of the Graziano family! I think my own family went there around this same time, maybe a year or two earlier. I particularly remember throwing foam-rubber boulders around, climbing on a giant telephone, seeing mummies from an "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode, and seeing H.R. Puff'nstuff in one of the displays.

I heard that the people who lived in this house had a relative who settled in a cabin on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. Nobody knows what happened to him! I get the feeling that forced perspective in being used here, what do you think? Something tells me that if you stood next to that surrey, you'd look like a giant. A nice giant, don't get me wrong!

From fire to a flash flood, you can see that there is a terrible downpour in this picturesque town (somewhere south of the border), and that a torrent of water is rushing down the street, straight at us! Many people remember the tree that slowly falls over, and every smarty-pants kid turned around to see it slowly right itself as the tram continued onward.

I like this old beat-up custodial truck, parked in front of a facade that looks like it belongs in a charming English village.

This fearsome gorilla applied for a job at the Jungle Cruise, but he lost out to another ape (a case of blatant nepotism, but that's another story). Fortunately, Universal was hiring. Here he is, hanging from a vine just like real gorillas do all the time. Please tell me he was not supposed to be King Kong! I don't remember him, though I think he might have shown up on a Viewmaster reel.

And finally, here's a stately plantation house that I have no doubt was used in many talkies. At first I thought it might be "Tara" from "Gone With the Wind", but then I realized that I was delirious and that it couldn't be. Wrong studio! Sets like these are so convincing, and yet the building itself was probably a hollow shell.

Thanks once again to the Grazianos for sharing these photos!

Friday, September 28, 2007

New York World's Fair, 1964

I never get tired of photos showing the fabulous New York World's Fair of 1964!

There's just something wonderful about this picture, with the huge T. Rex looming over unconcerned crowds. Behind him you can just see a sliver of the Brontosaurus as well (this was pre-Apatosaurus!), the mascot of Sinclair Oil. "Sinclair Dinoland" contained nine life-sized models of familiar dinos such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Ankylosaurus (as well as a few less-familiar thunder lizards).

To the right, two towers from the New York pavilion can be seen...these still stand today. Remember them from "Men in Black"?

U.S. Royal Tires giant tire/ferris wheel was one of the many icons of the Fair. "Visitors soar 80 feet in the air around a giant auto tire for a spectacular view of the Fair. Twenty-four gondolas seating four people each move around the circumference of the wheel. The tire, floodlighted at night, stands in a landscaped area."

Hey now! This tire still stands, although it is essentially just a road sign along a Detroit, Michigan Interstate highway, since the ferris wheel ride was removed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mystery Park, 1965

I found a group of slides from one family, they visited a lot of Southern California attractions including Disneyland and Knott's. But this little park is a mystery to me! It certainly looks like Southern California, in fact another photo (not posted) shows what looks like the ocean in the distance.

The rides are mostly "off the shelf" carnival rides, such as the tilt-a-whirl and little car and boat rides that go around in circles. This miniature train fascinated me due to its resemblance to Disneyland's "Viewliner". Does anybody know anything about the "South Shore Pacific" railroad?? In the first photo, that tunnel looks exactly like the antique papier-maché tunnels they used to make for little toy railroads.

I'm not sure that lavender would be my first choice of colors for a li'l train, but who am I to judge! This small amusement park probably didn't last very long, but I'm sure glad I have some photos of it. I'll share a few more sometime in the future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Knott's Berry Farm, 1960's

Time for more Knott's Berry Farm fun, this time from the 1960's. I love this busy street scene...this is one lively ghost town! The eucalyptus trees surrounding the park are probably the remains of old wind-breaks from the farms that used to be on this land. Next to the old wagon, an Indian chief appears to be waving to a small child. I like the sign informing the public that there was a "photo spot" set up just for them.

Next is an exterior of the Bird Cage Theater, circa 1963. Mom, pop, and Aunt Marge pose in front of the theater, which showed vaudeville-type performances for many years. I haven't been to Knott's for so many years, does the Bird Cage Theater still stand? The bulldozers have been busy.

I have no idea why they made such a creepy sign for the entrance, doesn't this top-hatted figure look like he should be working with Dr. Caligari? He probably represented the classic villain from melodramas like you'd see in the good old days.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm

It's been far too long since we've visited Knott's Berry Farm! I found a couple of very early "souvenir" slides that I thought were interesting enough to share. My guess is that these are from around 1950.

First we get a look at the saloon in the old ghost town. Don't worry, that's not a ghost tending the bar! He does kind of give me the willies, though. I'm not sure you could order anything stronger than boysenberry punch at this saloon...those liquor bottles in the back look pretty dusty. Apparently all of the signs over the bar were written by Spanky and the other members of "Our Gang" (except that nasty "no Injins" one).

Now let's take a look in the General Store. Anything you could possibly need is for sale in this cluttered little store! It sure looks authentic to me, and demonstrates the level of detail that was lavished on some of the environments at Knott's. You name it, they've got it. There's a pot-bellied stove, a coffee grinder, shovels, pails, pipes for smoking, a left-handed crumulator, and probably even a kitchen sink.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jungleland, Thousand Oaks California

Today kicks off a week away from Disneyland. For those of you only interested in Disneyland...well, I guess you should come back and visit next Monday. We'll visit a few familiar places, as well as some previously unexplored locations. Like Jungleland!

In the early 1900's Thousand Oaks consisted of chicken ranches, dairy farms, and apricot orchards, as well as acres of rolling, oak-covered hills. In 1926, a man named Louis Goebel opened his Lion Farm, which became a well-known tourist attraction in 1929. I believe that Leo the Lion (MGM's roaring mascot) lived in splendor at Goebel's Lion Farm! Hundreds of movies were filmed in Thousand Oaks back in those days, as well.

Here's a great photo showing one of the many fierce lions in action. Nice kitty! Jungleland gained a dash of infamy when Jayne Mansfield's son Zandor was mauled by a "tame" lion in 1966. Though critically injured, he eventually made a full recovery.

I visited Jungleland as a child, and have a few vague memories of the place, such as the drinking fountains that looked like lions and hippos with open mouths. I also recall sitting in these very same bleachers. Mom appears to have purchased a stuffed vinyl monkey toy for her little boy!

"Tamba" was the stage name for a chimp named Peggy. She starred with Johnny Weismuller in a number of "Jungle Jim" one review for an installment titled "Killer Ape", it was noted that "As usual, many of the film's best scenes go to Tamba the Chimp, who gets even more screen time than leading lady Carol Thurston"! Too bad we can't see this great star in this photo.

And lastly, here is an example of the kind of thrilling rides that you could experience at Jungleland! I have a vintage postcard showing a train ride (a rather large miniature railroad, akin to Disneyland's), and can find no other mention of it online. I guess there was some kind of small "sky ride" as well? Jungleland closed in 1969, supposedly it was the victim of too much competition from other tourist attractions.

My family moved back to California n 1976 (after a few years in Pennsylvania), and Thousand Oaks was where we made our new home. For many years you could look down from the 101 freeway and see the empty animal enclosures (not to mention a nearby camel farm!). Eventually the remains of Jungleland were torn down and replaced by the city's Civic Arts Plaza.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Snaps

Disneyland is not just for kids! In these photos from 1969, we see this nice lady with the flaming red hair (also seen in photo #1 from yesterday) enjoying her day at the park. She obviously enjoyed the costumed characters! To the left is a cute image of Pluto hugging a little girl.

Now our heroine is hangin' with two of Disneyland's original pirates, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.

And finally, here she is again at the entrance to Adventureland, surrounded by skulls, spears, fearce masks, and shields. I wonder what that large rectangular badge is that she is wearing? Cool late-60's shopping bag, too.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday Post

Things have been busy lately, so I kind of feel like today's post is a weak one. But it's better than nothing!

First up is this photo from 1969 showing the exterior entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room. I think I see the Barker Bird up there, although I thought he would have been gone by '69. Also note the travel posters in front, for United Airlines which still sponsored the attraction.

Here's a colorful view of a submarine as it emerges from the tunnels that contained Atlantis, the North Pole, and that crazy Sea Serpent. Presumably the photo was taken from the Peoplemover (?). The subs were 10 years old, and you can see that constant exposure to water has taken its toll.

Old Dobbin pulls a streetcar down Main Street in this 1964 image, past INA's "Carefree Corner". This ride never seems to attract many teenagers. Those darn kids are more interested in sex and violence! Have you heard those awful rock and roll bands that they listen to, like The Beatles?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Disneyland Helicopter Service

Here are a few more publicity stills from the 50's in glorious black and white.

I can't think of too many things that would be cooler than arriving at Disneyland via helicopter! Not only would you avoid those Southern California freeways, but you get to enjoy an aerial view of the park. I wonder if lucky guests were treated to a quick flyover to take it all in?

I'd love to know who these V.I.P's are...Walt himself is meeting them at the heliport (or rather, the parking lot). This is obviously an early photo, could this be from opening day? Perhaps these are just a few of the many specially invited guests.

This next one appears to have been taken at the dedication of the Columbia sailing ship, judging by the colonial costumes and striped-shirted sailors. Could that be Vesey Walker conducting the band? There's Art Linkletter at the lecturn, with Walt right behind him. They're surrounded by plenty of naval officers and their wives. At the moment everyone is listening to the music, my guess is that the band is playing, "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean", or maybe "Hail Columbia" (I know, those songs are not about the ship, but they still seem kind of appropriate).

Was this dedication ceremony televised? If so, has anybody seen it?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Alice In Wonderland

Dad wanted at least one nice portrait of mom during this 1962 trip to Disneyland. Well, he did take one next to some flowers, but that's kind of boring. Those oversized leaves in front of the Alice In Wonderland attraction will make a nice backdrop! Better yet, he timed it just right so that the kids are passing by in their snooty caterpillar...junior is flashing his Colgate smile, but big brother is at that awkward age when it's uncool to look like your enjoying yourself.

Here's an aerial view, cropped for your viewing enjoyment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Disneyland Entrance, July 1960

Please to enjoy with much smilings these photo for lookings at. Entrances to Disneyland are happy fluffy funs! You go in now to buy ticket? I too, with pleasureable sensation. May you enter upon amazing cheerfuls.

See you with many fantasy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Frontierland Viewmaster, 1956 (revisited)

As you can see from these vintage Viewmaster images, Frontierland used to feature a lot more guns than you might see today. Now that I think of it, I can't think of ANY guns in Frontierland. Can you?

If you hung around the front of the Golden Horseshoe for very long, you might be lucky enough to catch the sherrif (Sheriff Lucky?) blasting a bad guy full of lead. The low down, yellow bellied sidewinder deserved everything he got! Somebody better fetch the undertaker, 'cause that thievin' coyote is going to be in a narrow grave up on Boot Hill.

Hmm, where was the Sheriff's Office? Was this photo taken over at Rainbow Ridge? This desperado is sportin' a fancy rig, I reckon he was a gamblin' man. Or maybe he stole the payroll from the Stage Coach. Those kids are learnin' that crime don't pay!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Frontierland Stagecoach

A friend sent me copies of these two photo prints (new prints from vintage negatives). I believe that they are from 1955, and they feature the short-lived Stagecoach rattling its way through an early Frontierland.

In this first shot, the coach is crossing a treacherous pool of water left behind after one of the desert's deadly flash floods. The heat and dehydration play tricks on the mind, in this photo you can see a mirage that looks suspiciously like the back side of a Bavarian castle. That's just plain crazy! A friendly indian is there to reassure us that there will be no war parties today. A tupperware party will be later.

Whut the....there's that indian agin! He's everywhere at once, like Droopy the dog in Tex Avery's cartoons. Perhaps he is a helpful spirit guide. Or he has a twin brother. Whichever the case, he's freaking me out.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Assortment

It's become a time-worn Sunday tradition here at Gorilla Industries. No, not hot dogs for's the day we feature a random assortment of whatever tickles our fancy.

Like this view of Fantasyland taken from the Monorail in 1964. I know it looks kind of Tomorrowlandish, but the Motor Boat Cruise was a Fantasyland attraction, after all.

It's still 1964...November this time. This stereo slide shows the Columbia at drydock (as usual), as well as a raft and a Keelboat that appear to be out of commission. In the foreground there is a stage, perhaps a temporary platform for the many big bands that performed at Disneyland back in those days. Walt obviously loved the big bands, swing and Dixieland jazz, which says something about his personality.

Streetcar #2 is heading back towards Main Street Station. How many streetcars were there? At least 3, I would think. These would be much more popular if they were pirate-themed.

It seems that at least one gorilla does blog, this angry fella who terrorized folks on the Jungle Cruise! There's always a troublemaker.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ford's "Magic Skyway", 1964

The Ford exhibit was one of the highlights of the 1964/65 New York World's Fair, due in large part to Walt Disney's "Magic Skyway". "Seated in late-model Fords, visitors are carried along a track on the rotunda's exterior for a sweeping view of the Fair, then on to the spectacular scenes in the main exhibit hall."

Here's a quote from the VIP souvenir book: "Bringing the prehistoric world to "life" was achieved by Mr. Disney and his WED Enterprises staff by developing a remarkable technique called "Audio-Animatronics" -- animation powered by sound and controlled by electronics. Movements and sounds of the cavemen and animals are programmed onto magnetic tape. As the tape sends signals into a caveman's body, for example, each sound impulse triggers an air valve, shooting highly compressed air through plastic tubes connected to an intricate system of springs and levers that act like muscles, thereby controlling actual movements.

One final touch of realism. The chemically processed "skin" of the cavemen has the touch of human skin, "perspires" as a human and even "bruises!"

Back to me again! The plastic skin "perspires" and "bruises"? I'm sorry I never got to see these sweaty, contused cavemen in person.

This next scene is reminiscent of the one that you still view from the Disneyland Railroad as you pass through the "Primeval World" segment. The World's Fair version is tropical, while Disneyland's shows a land that has turned into a vast desert (much like the scenes from Fantasia's "Rite of Spring"). These dinos look pretty crude, even compared to the ones at Disneyland that barely move (or don't move at all, in my recent experience).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Disneyland Trip, June 1956

It's always fun to find vintage family snapshots of Disneyland, especially these great black and white images. Even though I have no connection to this little girl and her mom, the photos resemble the zillions of pictures recording my own family's history. I can't help thinking of rainy days when I would dig through the boxes and see pictures from long ago, of people I didn't know. These are from 1956, when the park was less than a year old.

The princess is standing next to a classic Tomorrowland icon, the Clock of the World. We can't see what time it is from this angle, but judging from the shadows, it must be around high noon!

Of course a ride on a flying elephant is mandatory when you have a kid this age. The lines for this simple attraction can still be surprisingly long on a crowded might be a 50 year old ride, but to the kids it is brand new! Behind them, the recently-added Skyway can be seen. It doesn't look like the buckets have any people in them yet, maybe it hadn't opened yet.

And no visit (or collection of photos) would be complete without at least one picture of the castle.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Burning Settler's Cabin

There's nothing like the spectacle of a good old fashioned frontier slaughter for sheer entertainment! It's definitely an example of the "hard facts" that Walt mentioned in his opening day speech. Here we see an early photo of this tableau...the settler is slumped over on his side, obviously he was trying to get away. He never had a prayer, the unlucky cuss.

Here we are six or seven years later. I always liked riding the Mark Twain at twilight (pre-Fantasmic)..the cabin really blazed as it got dark. Note the considerable growth of the trees and shrubs. I think I've read that, at one point, the fire effects were simulated in the same way they are in Pirates of the Caribbean. Does anybody know if that's true?

How's this for a almost-unnoticeable detail? The star that topped the Matterhorn during the Christmas season is just visible above the trees.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Living Desert, September 1971

Today's photos are shared courtesy of my friend Mike and the Graziano family. Mike's mom Alexadra took these pictures back in 1971.

Here are some great images of some of the critters from the Mine Train Through Nature's many accounts, one of the "most missed" extinct attractions. First up is this photo, which is full of fun details! A bunch of wild pigs have cornered a bobcat, who has taken refuge at the top of a saguaro cactus. ..."he's in kind of a sticky situation."

Next is a nice photo of a coyote howling (or yipping!)..."the voice of the desert". You'd see him just as you entered the "tumbling rocks" portion of the ride.

And lastly, here's a menacing mountain lion...he was visible above the entrance to Rainbow Caverns. "Yuh know, last trip a mountain lion showed up right over that tunnel... Oh... there's one now, so yuh better all be real quiet."

"Now to find the exit, folks, just head right fer the front of the train. And if yuh got a mountain lion sittin' next to yuh, don't feed him... just tell 'em to hop out, 'n hightail it back to his own stompin' ground! Heh, heh."

Thanks once again to the Graziano family for sharing these photos. Heh heh!