Monday, March 31, 2008

Golden Horseshoe Interior, July 1963

This past weekend, there was a tribute to the legendary Golden Horseshoe Revue, with Wally Boag and Betty Taylor making a rare appearance. I wasn't able to go, but I can't wait to hear about it! (Hopefully Dave over at Daveland will fill us in).

Anyway, in honor of the original Golden Horseshoe Revue, here are a few unusual interior photos from 1963. The low-light conditions left them a bit on the dark side, but you get the idea! First up is this picture of a showgirl mingling with the audience, presumably before the big performance. Our photographer must have been smitten, since he took several photos of her. This was the only one that wasn't a blur!

One of the hard working waitresses is (what else?) waiting for the bartender to serve up a few paper cups of ice-cold Pepsi. Put mine in a dirty glass! There is something about this whole series that reminds me of the paintings of Degas and Latrec!

There he is now, as blurry as Bigfoot. The bartender himself! He serves up fizzy drinks and frontier wisdom (all bartenders did in those days).

This last photo gives us a good look at the bar area itself. There are lots of what appear to be liquor bottles. Even though they were props, they helped make the GH feel more "real" - - worried moms and dads might not approve today. I like the Pepsi signs and the tastefully non-nude painting.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Souvenir Sunday (Casey Junior)

It's time to bust out the vintage souvenir slides, yo! And today we've got two nice early views ("Tru Tone" slides) featuring Casey Jr. As you can see, construction is still going on, so these slides must date from 1955. Casey Jr. is one of the original Disneyland attractions, dating back to opening day.

It looks like the engineer is dressed as a Ringmaster. No, not one of those scary guys from "Lord of the Rings", but one of the scary guys who directs a circus performance.

I've always loved old Casey Jr., chugging like an oversized toy through the storybook landscape! It probably wasn't hard to convince Walt Disney to put another train ride in his theme park, and this one has oodles of charm.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Harold Warp Pioneer Village, 1967

I found these two slides among a bunch of California images, but it's not California at all. Harold Warp Pioneer Village is still located in Minden, Nebraska. It predated Disneyland by two years, I wonder if Walt or his researchers ever went there?

Harold was born in a sod house, but eventually became a plastics tycoon. Hey, me too! Now, I wonder where the heck the entrance is? Why do they make it so difficult to find? Oh for heaven's sake, I give up!

Wikipedia says thus: "The museum... is a complex of 28 buildings on 20 acres with a total collection of over 50,000 items. The museum has large collections of items from 1830 to the present, including frontier buildings, early cars and airplanes, tractors and other farm implements and an art collection." So now you know.

Next time you're passing through Minden, stop in at Pioneer Village and tell them ol' Major Pepperidge said "hello". They'll look at you like you are crazy, and might even call the cops!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Calico Mine Train, Knott's Berry Farm

I have a lot of fond memories of the wonderful Calico Mine Train at Knott's, a ride that never failed to fire my imagination. And take a look at this impressive facade! The stylized rockwork, multi-level train tracks, and roaring waterfall can't help but draw your eye and make you want to get a closer look.

You can see it a bit better in this 1969 photo. By then the ride was nine years old, and in its way it gives Disneyland's Mine Train a run for its money. Also, if you have seen vintage postcards of "scenic railways" from the early 1900's, there is a definite resemblance between those venerable rides and the Knott's version.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's a Tiny Planet, New York World's Fair

"It's a Small World" has been driving people insane at Disneyland since 1966. But as all of you know by now, it originally had a two-season run at the '64/'65 New York World's Fair. I love the attraction, however I realize that many of you have withered hearts of black coal and are immune to its colorful charms! Yes, even the song is A-OK with me.

Anywho, here is a late afternoon picture taken from the roof of the Kodak pavilion, giving us a great view of the Tower of the Four Winds. Behind the IASW building is the "Better Living Center", where you could take a ride in the Lifesaver's elevator to the top-floor restaurant. Check out the view! Oh sorry, you can't because you are stuck in time. Silly hu-mans.

I've zoomed in a bit because you can see the Small World boats sailing through their fiberglass trough of happiness.

Not another zoom, but a different photo altogether. There's Snow White, looking as cute as a bug up there. Somewhere I remember reading that Snow White and the Dwarves stood up on that platform (rather than mingling with the crowd the way they do at Disneyland) because hoodlums - - Sharks or Jets, I'll wager - - would occasionally stab the Dwarves. Or is that just a story playing on the rough New York reputation?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Town Square, 12/29/56

Town Square is actually more of a triangle shaped thingy. No parallelograms were harmed during its creation. But we love it anyway (and by we, I mean me and Elvis).

In this 1956 view, you can see that the buildings on Main Street are festooned (but not bedecked, never ever bedecked) with the very finest plastic evergreen decorations that money can buy. Because Christmas was only four days ago, see?

Curious (and bloodthirsty) crowds want to know just what the heck "International Street" is going to be. Apparently there were viewers with 3-D images (of conceptual models?) that folks could look at to whet their appetites. Kind of like kids looking through a knothole at an old timey baseball game. Why, I remember watching Joltin' Joe.... but that's another story. (Please see my "Joltin' Joe" blog, and while I'm at it, I might as well mention my "Knitting in Prison" blog too).

I will give anybody who possesses those 3-D images of International Street the princely sum of $11 if they will sell them to me. Oh alright, $15, jeez! The basic idea of that street was eventually expanded into the World Showcase at EPCOT.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

July 1958

Here are two lonely li'l slides, the sole Disneyland images from a box of assorted travel photos. But they're from 1958, so everything's OK. You won't get any tearful, screaming tantrums from me today! No promises about tomorrow, though...

Rainbow Ridge was a popular subject for shutterbugs, it was hard to resist its colorful faux storefronts. The buildings are crowded on top of each other, resembling Indian cliff dwellings. You can hear tinny piano (I prefer "pie-anny") music comin' from the Saloon, and other assorted sounds coming out of the barber shop. I rarely see an image showing long lines for the Mine Train. I'm guessing that it had a pretty high rider capacity...?

Overlooking the north edge of Fantasyland, we get a pretty nice look at the Fantasyland train station. To the right, you see the Motor Boat Cruise, with the Viewliner track still in place (though I'm not sure the ride was operating at that point).It wouldn't be long until this area was changed drastically with the expansion of Tomorrowland. Fantasyland Station would be removed when "It's a Small World" was built, and Monstro would eventually get a blue tattoo all over his body because tattoos are cool.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Knott's Mix

Today let's look at three vintage slides from everyone's favorite berry farm. Not Finkelberger's Berry Farm, that place is lame. I'm talking about Knott's Berry Farm!

As a kid I used to dream of seeing an actual erupting volcano, like Kilauea, with rivers of orange and red lava, acres of wrinkled black lava rock (still scorching hot), and of course crowds of people shrieking and running madly for their lives while the gooey inferno overtook them. SIZZLE! And thanks to this magnificent real volcano, that dream finally came true! It really makes you appreciate the power and majesty of nature. That prospector (or scout or whatever) looks a bit puzzled at finding a volcano in the middle of an amusement park. I love the whimsy of this feature, the willingness to be silly, allowing guests to use a little bit of imagination all in the name of fun.

A crowd is just starting to gather around the medicine show. Looks like Doctor Mal De Mer is playing drums to woo his potential victims - er, customers. His medicine was made of the purest oil squeezed from only the freshest snakes, and it cured what ailed you, be it baldness or gout, dyspepsia or nearsightedness. I tried it, and it completely eliminated the cold wobblies.

Great galloping geese! What do you get when you cross a schoolbus a train? You get the Galloping Goose, one of "...a series of seven railcars built in the 1930s by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) and operated until the end of service on the line in the early 1950s." According to Wikipedia, "the geese were painted in black and dark green. In 1935 they were all painted in a silver scheme which they retain to this day." Only the very first galloping goose no longer survives, many of the others are still operational. The Knott's version (their is #3) apparently is still used on occasion, typically during the off season when attendance is low. I've never seen it running, myself. But it's neat!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Souvenir Sunday, Moonliner at Night

Maybe the title of this post would more accurately be "Cheater Sunday", since I always feel a bit like I'm cheating when I share an old souvenir slide. And I already posted a souvenir slide two days ago. Somehow I still manage to sleep, though! Especially when the image is as nice as this night shot of the Moonliner... you don't see many of those. This picture bears a close resemblance to photos of Saturn V rockets from the Apollo space program. 5-4-3-2-1 BLAST OFF!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Canoe Landing and Rafts, July 1961

I didn't know that the canoes at Disneyland could fly, but this area is known as the landing, so it shows what I know. Boy howdy, I'd love to find a picture of one of them flyin' canoes!

Every one of the people in this photo is an "Audio Animatronic", which is Spanish for "Killer Robot". That is why I don't go to Disneyland anymore. It's also why I haven't left my place in 14 years. Unbeknownst to most, those teepees disguise the tips of atomic warheads aimed at Freedomland.

This picture is of nothing silly whatsoever. Except for the hat with the giant pink feather.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Intimate Apparel Shop

We're off to see the "Wizard"! Today's slide comes from a rare set of souvenir slides, circa 1955. I have six small white cardboard boxes, each with 10 slides. The color has been preserved, but unfortunately they are a bit soft when it comes to their focus. Some of them are downright blurry. Such a shame!

Nevertheless, here we see an rare shot of Main Street's legendary "Intimate Apparel" shop (also sometimes called the Main Street Corseteria and the "Wizard of Bras" - - was that a castmember nickname?). Main Street had its share of oddball shops! Cole's of California (bathing suits?!), and the Wurlitzer store (wanna buy an organ?), to name two. But the idea of a shop that sold lacy underthings - - at Disneyland - - boggles the mind. On the Disney website, there is a quote in regards to Imagineer Bill Martin: "One of our first ideas for Main Street was a corset shop called 'The Wizard of Bras.' For some reason, Walt didn't like it." And yet, there it is. Somebody convinced him!

You can see the stuffed lady sitting on the porch (to the left). I can imagine Walt thinking "What if we could make that stuffed lady move and talk? Maybe even interact with the guests?". But that would have to wait a few years...

The Intimate Apparel shop closed in 1956 (replaced by the China Closet), while Grandma's Baby Shop didn't even last that long, closing in 1955 and having the honor of being the first Main Street business to go away. It was replaced by the Silhouette studio.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tiki Room Exterior (1970's?)

Here are a few photos of the Enchanted Tiki Room's outdoor pre-show area! I believe that they date from the early 70's, although they might be from the late 60's as well.

"My name is Maui. Natives call me "The Mighty One." I tamed the playful sun and gave my people time. Now they set their clocks by mine, for I am tropic standard time."

"I am Tangaroa, father of all gods and goddesses. Here in this land of enchantment, I appear before you as a mighty tree. Stand back! [gong] Oh, mystic powers, hear my call. From my limbs, let new life fall!"

Who wouldn't love to have one of those little figures that drop from Tangaroa's flowers?

And finally, an interior photo; Let's all sing like the birdies sing!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Date Festival, 1950's

Since 1957, the Southern California town of Indio has hosted it's annual Date Festival every February. Located 125 miles east of Los Angeles (not far from Palm Springs), it has been a popular tourist destination, and today still produces 35 million pounds of dates per year! Dat's a lot o' dates.

In this photo (late 50's, I'm guessing) we see a young boy who should be familiar to longtime viewers of this blog, in full cowboy regalia. He's waiting next to a miniature diesel locomotive full of squirming kids who are hungry for the taste of human flesh. Notice that he's holding an old "Travelodge" souvenir postcard. You can see some of the faux "Arabian" architecture in the background.

Here's a better look at a similar postcard:

Here's our buckaroo riding a pony. The tents, ferris wheel and merry-go-round all look like they will provide an afternoon of clean-cut Americana. The kid with the fez is great!

EXTRA! EXTRA! There's a new blog that I am sure will be worth checking out in the near future (the thing is so new that it might be a few days before it's ready for prime time). It's called Disneyland Nomenclature, with Jason Schultz (aka "Progressland") serving as the host, and he knows tons of stuff!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Knott's Birdcage Theater, 1967

Knott's Berry Farm's Birdcage Theater might be known to some folks as one of the early venues during Steve Martin's formative years as a performer. This photo is from a few years after Mr. Martin left Knott's, but it's still a great view of the theater and some of the signage.

Looks like they finally corrected the sign to read "Live Entertainment" rather than "Live Entertaiment". The show, "Satan's Sawmill", sounds like a lot of fun! I can just see a "Snidely Whiplash" type character tying pure-of-heart Gwendolyn to the terrifying saw table. I've lightened up the shadows in this closeup so that we can see a little bit of the inside; a painted officer cautions latecomers to be quiet, because nothing's more annoying than noisy latecomers!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Flying Saucers, July 1961

The Flying Saucers were much-loved during their relatively brief time at Disneyland. They've been gone for over 40 years, but a similar ride will be making its debut in Disney's California Adventure sometime in the next year or two. But instead of a Flying Saucer, you'll be in a flying tire. Ooooookay! Luigi's Roamin' Tires (remember Luigi from "Cars"?) will be the name of the attraction.

I wonder how they'll address the problem of relatively low rider capacity? Not to mention the issue of heavier guests, which has already proven problematic on a few of the boat rides. I'm sure that today's computers can readily handle all of the old mechanical problems that used to plague the original ride. Because nothing ever goes wrong with computers! Anyway, I'm looking forward to this new take on the classic attraction, and can't wait to float on a cushion of air.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tomorrowland, July 1961

This is kind of a fun point of view, you can really imagine yourself sitting inside the Monrail, having just boarded at the Tomorrowland station. This is our first Monorail ride ever, so we're curious to see what it's like. Smooth and quiet, I'll bet! Look over there, when we come back we can take the Skyway to Fantasyland. But first, maybe we can grab a bite to eat at the Space Bar. Anybody know what that backstage building was for? Is that where the diorama was housed?

Now for a view of the Monorail and Sub loading area from across the lagoon. It is amazing how many people were convinced that the lagoon was filled with real water. In fact it was an illusion created with lights, mylar, and dry ice. I would explain how it was done, but it's very technical. Besides, I don't want to spoil the magic!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Four from Frontierland, July 1961

Wow, this series of slides from July 1961 just seems to go on forever, doesn't it? There's plenty more to see, too. Today I thought I'd concentrate on Frontierland because... well, just because.

The Fort. Forbidding. Impenetrable. If those logs could only speak. Hey, audio animatronic logs. Brilliant! They sing, they dance, they tell corny jokes and then teach us about the importance of fire safety. How can it fail? Get Tony Baxter on the phone, Mabel!

That Indian Canoe is passing the Fort, but it's too close for comfort. Those brave soldiers have no choice but to shoot. Self defense, you understand.

Well, they got away this time, thanks to some fancy paddling.

I like to drop by the friendly Indian Village to buy some pemmican. And donuts.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Autopia, July 1961

Who knew that driving around a miniature highway in a tiny car would be so popular? Well, Walt Disney, for one. There have been several Autopias at Disneyland over the years, some coexisting to meet the demand of folks who probably drove at least an hour on a real freeway to get to the park. Let's face it, American's are just plain car crazy!

As you can see, both of these photos were taken in the glorious days before the dreaded center rail was installed. It's kind of strange that there were two photos so nearly alike, but obviously taken at different times (since the cars behind us differ). Maybe they rode it twice in a row. The overpasses and criss-crossing Monorail track remind me of "the stack", a monster of an interchange in which four freeways branch off from each other, stacked four levels high.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Banner in the Sky, July 1961

For some reason, I vividly remember watching Disney's "Wonderful World of Color" as a kid... well, I did that a lot, but I'm talking about one particular episode. They were showing "Third Man on the Mountain", but on TV it was called, "Banner In The Sky" (I know, that was the name of the original book). I can still recall the announcer's voice as if I just heard it yesterday.

Anyway, seeing these photos of the Matterhorn brought back the memories of that entertaining show, and a powerful urge to get the DVD of the movie. Hope it holds up after all these years! There's something about this first picture that I just love. Besides the clarity and composition (making the mountain seem particularly impressive), the touches of color evoke a festive mood. The flags, blue sky, Skyway buckets, checkerboard shades, and the rakish angle of the Yacht Bar all add to the fun.

Here's another view from the same lot... a classic Disneyland image.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Entrance, 1956

It was late in the day, and late in the year (only two more days until 1957) when this picture was taken. Still, it was a beautiful December day, and a fine time to go to the park! There are ticket booths just out of frame to our left, and another one strangely located just in front of us. What's with the little table? Whoever was sitting there has gone home since the sun is setting. I have no idea why it was there, but I like the fact that the it was fashioned out of two home-made sawhorses and a hunk of plywood.

The Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad is at the station, with cattle cars full of standing guests. The station itself is still bedecked with Christmas decorations.

For those of you interested in Disneyland tickets, here is a closeup of the sign showing the outrageous price of 90 cents for an adult admission. A 1956 family of five is going to get in for around $4. Little did anyone realize that by 2008, it would cost a family of five several hundred dollars! A day of casual fun is now an expensive luxury; somehow I don't think Walt foresaw that when he was eating peanuts and watching his daughters riding the carousel, and wondering why there couldn't be a park for everyone to enjoy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Plastic Fantastic, 1957

So you say you want to buy a house. Don't tell me you want one of those old -fashioned wooden houses with stucco or aluminum siding. Strictly squaresville, daddy-o. And Buckminster Fuller's dymaxion monstrosities... don't make me laugh! Today all the with it cats want a house made of plastic. It's not as crazy as it sounds, just take a look at this gleaming example, its geometric perfection softened by lovely trees and shrubs and the gentle murmur of a decorative waterfall.

Acting like a giant tupperware container, the plastic house of the future kept people fresher, longer. You'd live to be 100, and still be tender and juicy.

Hey lady, whatcha got there? She's been spending some money on souvenirs... there's a guidebook in its original mailing envelope, some lucky kid (grandchild?) was probably going to get that. And that striped tube is intriguing. Did it contain some rolled-up paper goodie? Maybe it's from the Art Corner (a pastel portrait?). It's too small for an attraction poster, and too large for most other paper items that I can think of. If anybody has a good guess, let's hear it!