Friday, November 30, 2007

Souvenir Slide

I found a group of older souvenir slides, apparently dating from around 1961 or '62 (this was before the ubiquitous Pana-Vue slides). They had turned to a distracting magenta, but I decided to roll up my sleeves, rev up Photoshop, and try to restore this spectacular shot of the Flying Saucers. The results were better than I had hoped for!

This is a pretty exciting scene, but soon the TWA Rocket would be repainted with the Douglas design. It's not very common to see the Saucers and the TWA rocket together in one photo (by 1967, the rocket was entirely -and sadly- removed and the attraction it once fronted would be known as "Flight to the Moon").

Here's what it looked like before any restoration. Amazingly, there was still the remnants of some of the original color information hidden inside all of that redness. I'll have to try working on some of the other ones when I have a little spare time (whatever that is).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parking Lot, 1957

After looking at a few zillion Disneyland images, anything different is more than welcome. That applies to this photo, circa 1957. Our intrepid photographer is on board the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad (apparently in one of the old open-roofed freight cars - - see this image)

Below us we can see the backs of the many attraction posters that graced the entranceway. To the left, a kid with a Keppy Kap is with his family, heading towards the exit. To the extreme right you can just make out a sliver of a souvenir stand. On the other side of the fence there would be some bike racks, unfortunately not visible here. In the distance, beyond the sea of awesome autos, you can see the old sign welcoming guests to the park, as well as the Disneyland Hotel.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Knott's Autos, 1950's

Well, I sure learned a lot about Knott's Berry Farm's three different car rides in a post from a few weeks ago! This photo is perhaps less exciting, but is still a nice record of a long-gone attraction.

These scaled-down flivvers once sat on the outskirts of the Knott's property, and were strictly aimed at the younger guests. As you can see, these were not too different from the colorful fiberglass cars that rock back and forth in front of grocery stores and K-Marts. It probably cost a nickel for a minute or two of low-key fun. I wonder if these cars made an annoying sound like the modern versions do?

Details, I love the details! In the background you can see a fence. If we zoom in, it is clear that we are seeing the border of the old California Alligator Farm. I'll bet they didn't have many problems with people climbing their fence to avoid paying!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pirate Ship Ahoy!

Do not attempt to adjust your monitors! This photo was taken by a person wearing one platfrom shoe and one fuzzy slipper, as was the fad of the time. The three guests are standing in line at regular intervals. Please do not invade their 3-foot comfort zone! That bubble of protection is the difference between order and anarchy.

They are all facing a souvenir stand, just out of frame to the right. The lad in the middle already has a bag (from the Emporium?), what rare treasure did he buy? (Just so you know, the color looks odd because this is from a slide that has turned a vivid shade of magenta, and this was the best I could do.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not Disneyland, September 1960

I was going to try to fool some of you so that you'd think that this was Disneyland. But then I realized that it wouldn't work! You are all way too savvy and good looking to be tricked by the likes of me.

Yes, that's Freedomland's choo-choo presumably taking on a new load of passengers at the "San Francisco" station. It still weirds me out to see that the locomotive bears the name Ernest S. Marsh, as well as the Santa Fe logo...that is just too much like Disneyland. Wasn't there any other old-time Santa Fe notable they could have named their engine after? Simon P. Terwilliger? Horace Haversham? Jonas Underwood? (I admit, I just made them up). Still, it's a beautiful old train. Wonder what happened to it when the park closed four years later? It's interesting to consider that, without amusement parks, many of the old steam trains that survive today would be rusting away on the scrap heap.

If this was Disneyland in September, the guests would be wearing warm-weather duds. These folks are sensibly wearing jackets, sweaters and windbreakers. Welcome to The Bronx!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Today is a quickie post....hopefully that is better than no post at all! First up is this nice photo of Fort Wilderness (possibly 1956 or '57). Man-oh-man, who woulda thought that this would be gone someday? Love the dramatic sky. You can see a few friendly folks peeking over the fort's walls; they're safe inside, while we are at risk of getting an arrow through the throat. Gaaaaaaa! In fact, some very early photos show the fort stuck full of arrows, but that look didn't last very long.

Next up is this strangely grainy photo of the Bertha Mae (it was really dark, lightening it up made it funky). On board the Keelboat, most folks like to sit on top and get the open's kind of an Omnibus on the water. This was also responsible for the occasional capsizing of a Keelboat, much like the old Stagecoach used to tip over. The pilot appears to be blowing some kind of horn, any idea what that's about? Or maybe he gave his spiel into an old fashioned megaphone?? In the background is the recently-constructed Haunted Mansion facade

Friday, November 23, 2007

One Little Piggy, July 1961

Arg, not much time to post today folks! The Practical Pig is hangin' around the exit of Skull Rock Cove, waiting for somebody to pay attention to him. When he get's ring around the collar, he really gets ring around the collar. You can get a good look at the nice rockwork, somehow appearing realistic and stylized at the same time.

I hope that person inside the suit has one of those pine-tree shaped air fresheners with him on this sunny July day!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ford at the World's Fair

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The Ford exhibit at the 1964 World's Fair had it's share of wonders, the "Magic Skyway" being the most famous. After you saw all of that kooky stuff, you were funneled into the "Product Salon"'s what the VIP guidebook said about it:

"IN THE QUIET elegance of the Product Salon, handsomely sleek Ford-Built motor cars of 1964 are positioned tastefully throughout the spacious area, while others revolve like mannequins on turntable islands, thus enabling guests to study them from every angle.

Extending along an entire wall of the Salon is the Product Parade where guests may watch a stream of Company cars, trucks and tractors moving against a background of scenery that dramatically changes from peaceful countryside to bustling city and from day to night.

For racing buffs, there are also total performance-tested Ford competition cars to be seen from time to time -- the low-slung, Ford-powered Lotus, popular hero at Indianapolis, the Ford-powered Cobra, winningest sports car in years, and the burly Ford-built stock cars that have made a habit of providing only rear views to the competition."

Obviously this is one of the stock cars, surrounded by plenty of crunchy, delicious trophies. Not the most exciting image perhaps, but an unusual interior view of a legendary attraction.

I'll have some more images from this area at a future date. Stay tuned!

Main Street, March 1958

Main Street, U.S.A. has seen its share of changes over the years, but they have mostly been subtle. Stores have come and gone, color schemes have evolved; but overall, this "land" looks very much like it did 50 years ago. And yet, this picture has a 50's must be the people in their vintage duds. And maybe those scraggly young trees!

I've always wondered why the Carnation building has that fenced in area on the roof. Is it purely decorative, or was that in place to prevent the occasional TV camera operator from plummeting to his death? That would be a primo place to sit and enjoy a parade!

Sorry for this slightly blurry image! As you can see, a hatless Vesey Walker is standing in front of the Gibson Greeting Cards shop in a candid moment, talking to a fellow in a kilt. (Insert man-in-kilt jokes here!). This picture was taken two months after the first one, and you can see a sign is now up for the Grand Canyon Diorama.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alice In Wonderland, September 1959

The Alice in Wonderland attraction opened in March 1958, so it was still pretty new when this photo was taken. Even today this ride has one of the more fanciful exteriors, with its giant garden of colorful leaves and what look like dandelion stalks with the fluff blown away.

For some reason I get the impression that this is sort of considered a "second class" dark ride, even though I love it. There is even talk on some blogs and podcasts about its removal. Unthinkable, if you ask me...Alice in Wonderland is one of the attractions that truly defines what Disneyland is all about, bringing the characters and worlds of the animated films to life in a fun (and trippy!) manner for folks of all ages. Maybe a lot of people disagree?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2 Views from 1960

Today we've set the wayback machine to 1960. Actually the dial is stuck, sorry. But at least we get to see this great view of Town Square and Main Street's easy to imagine that this is the 4th of July in a real not-so-small town (with all of the red, white and blue bunting). That train station is too grand to be in a small town!

The Rivers of America brings history to life once again. There's nothing like watching a Mississippi riverboat comin' around the bend, followed ocean-going sailing ship from the 1830's? I guess it's not too crazy, since Samuel Clemens was a riverboat pilot only 30 years after the real Columbia circumnavigated the globe. And Disneyland is full of crazy juxtapositions that somehow work in spite of their kookiness!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Old MacDonald's Farm, Knott's Berry Farm

How do you have a farm within a farm? Well, I have no idea. Oh wait, yes I do! Knott's Berry Farm once had its own version of a petting zoo, with plenty of small animals for youngsters to enjoy. Well, goats anyway. Lots and lots of hungry goats. The setting sun lends this photo a warm Thomas Kinkade feeling.

To our left, just out of frame, is a seal enclosure, complete with a lovely blue pool. Buy some seal food at the counter in the background, and just for fun, eat it yourself. It will drive those seals crazy!

To the right, a workman is spoiling the bucolic scene with his electric power tool...I can't tell if he is busting up some cement, or if he is sawing some wood. Either way, it can't be sounding good.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dance Circle, November 1964

Here's a great, busy view (look at that crowd!) of the Indian Dance Circle (as taken from the Mark Twain, more than likely)! Obviously the popularity of the dance performances warranted the construction of this large theater-like addition - - no more standing around at ground level like a shnook. And if nothing else, you could take a load off of your feet and sit in the shade. Little kids are sitting on the logs placed around the some point during the show they were all invited to enter the sacred circle and join in on the fun!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Frontierland, July 1961

Things come and go at's one that's gone, the fabulous Cascade Peak. I don't have a real list of "most missed" stuff, but this would be on that list if I did! It wasn't a ride, rather it was eye-candy on the river and a brief part of the Mine Train (see it there?). For those of us who were used to seeing it, it's still kind of a shock that it's gone.

On busy summer days you'll still see the Canoes plying the river...yet another attraction that I have never been on! It's impressive to see a canoe that holds 18 people at once. This ride does look like fun, especially if you got to come anywhere near the Mark Twain...that extra-low persepective would be interesting. I believe that this canoe is passing the old fishin' pier, where you could catch real trout.

Friday, November 16, 2007

500th Post!

The entire nation is celebrating the 500th post on "Gorillas Don't Blog"! A formation of F-15's will be flying over my apartment later today, and there will be a moment of silence on Capitol Hill. But don't call me a hero! I'm just a regular joe like anybody else.

OK, on to the images for today. First up is one I saved for this special occasion, a fantastic view of the old "Christmas Bowl" area in May, 1958. The sign tells us that it is "World Trade Week", whatever that was. Once again, the idea of showcasing the children of the world in their colorful native costumes crops up. You'll also see this in the early Christmas parades (see my posts from last December), and most famously in "It's a Small World" of course. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a theme that Walt personally championed. Anyway, this photo has great color and fantastic 50's flavor. Go ahead, lick your monitor and I think you'll agree!

The second image is of part of Town Square circa 1956 (love that 50's look). There are Christmas decorations on City Hall, no Disney characters to be seen. The Bekins sign is at a crazy angle, maybe it's windier than it appears.

And last but not least is this nice shot of Rainbow Ridge as the Mine Train returns to the loading area. The cars are newly painted a cheerful yellow for the opening of Nature's Wonderland, which opened in May of 1960 (only two months before this picture was taken). The sun on its way down, giving this scene a warm nostalgic glow.

Many thanks to all of you who read this blog regularly, and a special thanks to those of you who take the time to comment. That's half the fun, and it keeps me going when I feel a case of "The Burnouts" coming on! I can't guarantee 500 more posts, but I will keep this blog going for as long as I can.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Indian Village Panorama, 1958

It's time for some Photoshop phun today. I had two rather "blah" slides taken from the Mark Twain, looking towards that familiar old Indian Village. Hmmm, I wonder if I could knit them together into one hopefully-more-visually-impressive panorama?

And lo! It came to pass. It turned out pretty good! The split is almost where the white rock is. There's a bit of weirdness in the water, but somehow I can still sleep at night.

I like the fact that you can see a bit of the Twain to the left, this picture reminds me of the wonderful set of 13 panorama postcards that were sold at the park around 1956. You can see nearly the entire village, from the kid and his dog on the canoe at the left, to the two soggy mooses at the right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sleeping Beauty Castle, 1958

Here's an especially nice photo of Sleeping Beauty Castle in 1958. Great color, and lots of activity on this busy day. Check out the guy (with his back to us) with upturned collar and "DA" haircut. Aaaaaaay! Not to mention the happy 50's familys headed towards the tunnel through the castle. The banners out front tell us to go see the new Alice In Wonderland dark ride in Fantasyland. Partially obscured to the right is the ice cream vendor, who was worthy of his own postcard in the early days.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Teacups, July 1960

From a stereo slide, here's a classic scene...a great look at the Teacups, Carousel, and other bits of Fantasyland circa 1960. One of the teacups is out of commission (covered in a blue tarp), some nudnik spun it too fast! The swirly turntable is looking a bit dirty, but that is the inevitable effect of millions of sneakers. Still, it goes against the so-clean-you-can-eat-off-it image that Disneyland had, particularly back then.

Holy mackeral, look at the crowd in front of the Peter Pan was as crazy then as it is nowadays. It's one of my favorite Disneyland rides, but I can't bring myself to wait in the line if its over 30 minutes, and it is often much longer than that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Treehouse

There are three treehouses at Disneyland (don't forget the one in Toontown), but none are as spectacular as the Swiss Family Treehouse used to be. Even kids who weren't familiar with the Robinson family's adventures could take one look at this fanciful home and dream of what it would be like to have one of their own. I know I used to marvel at the intricate water system and think that it was the coolest thing ever.

This attraction opened in November, 1962 (a couple of years after the movie's release), and the treehouse was a wonderful addition to Adventureland. The clever use of pieces salvaged from a shipwreck was fantastic. And many people still remember the "Swisskapolka" that played constantly! In 1999, Tarzan moved into the refurbished treehouse. While it is still a fun diversion, it doesn't capture my imagination the way the original it not as good, or is it just because I saw the other one when I was a kid, and nostalgia is in the mix?

Here's an image from the same lot as yesterday's pictures (even though the date is different - maybe they waited a month before developing one of their rolls of film). I love this fantastic bird's-eye view of the Rivers of America.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fantasyland, October 1969

Today we're hangin' out in Fantasyland, 1969. But we're not going to get very far away from the castle! I have issues.

You say you are thinking about heading over to be shrunk by the Mighty Microscope? Well, you can take a shortcut through this tunnel. I sure would love to have one of those trash cans!

Or maybe you'd rather go and watch the "Golden Horseshoe Revue". Lucky you, there's a shortcut to Frontierland as well! I'll meet you back here in an hour.

And lastly, just because I had it scanned, here's a look at the upper facade of Merlin's Magic Shop. With its hand-hewn timbers, leaded glass windows, rough plaster, and wood shingles, it looks like it's right out of fairy-tale France.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Another Mystery Slide! September 1966

Here's another slide from an amusement park that I can't identify. There's not a lot to go on, just an "Autopia"-type ride with old-timey Fords (and two steering wheels so there's no bickering over who gets to drive).

I have pictures of this red-headed kid at Disneyland, Knott's, and the South Shore Center in Alameda (thanks to "Progressland" for that i.d.). I think I used to have pictures of his family at a place called "Big Trees and Roaring Camp" in Felton CA, as well. So they got around, and loved their California amusement parks!

Somebody told me that Knott's used to have a car ride of some sort, but I have only seen pictures of stationary vehicles that I assume rocked back and forth like the ones you see in front of K-Mart. So I am ruling out the Berry Farm! Any help in identifying this park would be appreciated.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tomorrowland, September 1959

1959 was a big year at Disneyland, particularly in Tomorrowland. Ya got yer Subs, Monorail and the Matterhorn all making their debuts. The Autopia had been there since the park opened, but underwent plenty of rejiggering and landscaping, providing rolling hills, overpasses, and other features to make your driving experience as fun as possible. In the background we see the beautiful 3-car blue Monorail waiting at the station. In the foreground, lines were short for the Autopia, maybe all the kids were back in school at this point. Look at all the oil and mess those cars made on the otherwise clean and shiny landscape!

I know, this one's blurry, but it's from the same bunch, so I included it anyway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Matterhorn Queue, July 1961

If you're ever nostalgic about waiting in line at Disneyland, then this post is for you!

Standing in line is a fact of life at Disneyland, but it is true that your anticipation builds as you wind back and forth, getting closer and closer to your ultimate goal. In this case, the Matterhorn Bobsleds!

Those queues are famously deceptive, often you'll think that you're "almost there", only to find that you are nowhere near the front of the line. That's when I start weeping. It's embarrassing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Subs and the Plaza

Can your earth brains handle two entirely unrelated Disneyland images today?

Love this July 1961 view of the loading platform for the Subs and the Monorail. There's plenty of red, white and blue bunting in honor of Independence Day. Crowds look relatively heavy...check out that bitchin' yellow Monorail! Below that, the Ethan Allen is ready for duty. It is not generally known that each sub carried a live nuclear missile. You can see a couple of those wonderful "General Dynamics" posters, designed by famed graphic artist Erik Nitsche.

Okay, I lied, today there are three images. I decided to try to find a clear image of at least one of those posters, and had success! Feast your eyes upon this baby:

About 10 years ago I saw a group of 4 Nitsche posters at auction, the lot sold for about $500. Since then I've seen his posters fetch up to $1500 each! Live and learn.

This next slide was a bit messed up - - like I needed to tell you. Light leak in the camera or something. Anyway, I think that this is the Plaza Gardens, although it might also be the dining area of the Hills Bros. Coffee House? Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong, I can take it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Special Edition!

EXTRA! EXTRA! It's a "Gorillas Don't Blog" special edition!

It's pretty common knowledge these days that actor/comedian/playwright/author Steve Martin worked at Disneyland early in his career. He's been honored as a "Disney Legend", and he hosted the film that was shown in the Lincoln theater celebrating the park's 50th anniverary.

Now he has written a book, a memoir of his life and his development as a performer and comedian, titled "Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life". I was fortunate to be able to read a preview edition, and found the book to be funny and touching as Mr. Martin recounts his family life and his years of effort and experimentation, embarrassments and successes, in order to develop the unique comic style that so many GDB readers remember. I sure do! (In high school, one kid gained his own weird kind of fame by performing Steve Martin's routines verbatim at pep-rallies - - complete with white suit).

Of course, readers of this blog will especially enjoy the story of his years working at Disneyland (starting at the age of 10!) and his later experiences working at Knott's Berry Farm's "Bird Cage Theater". There are some wonderful personal anecdotes (I don't want to spoil them here), and they give a unique insider's view of the park. I would have been happy with another 11 chapters about that stuff, but admit that maybe the general public wouldn't be as enthralled!

Check out this amazing photo of Mr. Martin working in Merlin's Magic Shop! It's a pretty large jpeg, so I apologize if the download takes a while.

The rest of the book is fascinating and entertaining as well, from his days as a teenage magician performing for Kiwanis Clubs, to his early breaks writing for the Smothers Brothers and Sonny & Cher; his first experiences with Johnny Carson and "The Tonight Show", "Saturday Night Live", and on to the kind of success and fame that was exhilarating and weird. Equally as interesting is his account of why he walked away from live stand-up comedy.

The official release date for "Born Standing Up" is November 20th (you can pre-order it here), and I highly recommend it to everyone!

(Keep scrolling down to see today's regularly scheduled post)

Skyway and Stagecoach, circa 1957

Today's offering consists of two undated slides, which I estimate to be from 1957 (or possibly '58).

The first image was taken from the Skyway...our bucket is headed towards the Swiss Chalet, while the other folks are on their way to Tomorrowland. There's no Matterhorn for them to pass through yet! It must be about noon, the sun is almost directly overhead, and all of the lunch tables are full. People are crawling all over the Pirate Ship, it sure looks great with its sails unfurled and the Jolly Roger flying!

And, because I feel that all of you are close personal friends, I have included this additional photo showing the Stagecoach as it rounds the bend on the shore of the river. With all of those people sitting on top, it is bound to tip over. The Disney people should have just incorporated that feature into the ride. It's the "old West" equivalent of a loop!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Disneyland, September 1971

I might not give you 12 slides a day to look at like Daveland does, but today you get the Jumbo Family Pack, 4 images for the price The first three are from September 1971, and the last one might be as well. All are courtesy of my friend Mike and the Graziano family.

Alice and the Mad Hatter are hanging out near the Hills Bros. Coffee House, with its cheerful yellow umbrellas. Alice is a cute as a bug's ear (as my grandma used to say), she has obviously visited the beach a few times since leaving rainy old England.

I dream of a world where everyone has their own submarine lagoon....

A view taken from the train, there's those topiaries made from real topioca. The giraffe is looking a little mangy! There are construction walls a ways back, are they surrounding part of the Motor Boat Cruise waterway?

The round Skyway buckets are gone by this time, replaced with their rectangular fiberglass successors. Drop a penny for good luck!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Casey Jr., 1955?

From a murky snapshot (not a slide) comes this early view of the Casey Junior Circus Train, hauling a full load of monkeys and wild animals. I've always loved the fanciful, "Disney-rococo" embellishments on the "rolling stock". These little electric powered trains have been running since the park opened, and still charm many thousands of people every year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Disneyland Railroad, September 1955

Here's a beautiful shot of old #2 (it was brand new, really), The E.P. Ripley, looking bright and shiny. The park had only been open for a couple of months.

Our intrepid photographer is aboard the Freight Train, which is on the siding that was present in the early years (was there more than one?) so that one locomotive could pass the other when necessary. The Freight Train only stopped at Frontierland Station, and the Passenger Train only stopped at Main Street Station. I'm not sure when this arrangement ceased to be, any help from the readers? Maybe it had something to do with the addition of the Grand Canyon Diorama in 1958.

I am always amazed at the sight of passengers standing on the Freight Train. Falling down had to be a regular occurance (and probably an injury or was all part of the fun!). This was before lawyers were invented, I'm assuming! It might be an optical illusion, but it sure looks as if you had a considerably higher vantage point when you were in the freight cars. The passenger cars look little by comparison.