Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chalet & Mine Train, December 1965

It's hard to tell in this closeup view, but the Skyway Chalet in Fantasyland was a pretty huge building! It's quaint details and clever landscaping made it feel perfectly in place. Of course it's still there, apparently used as storage for dusty old equipment. I love the many coats of arms, colorful shields with medieval designs.

Looks like the Mine Train was closed on this day, so things feel kind of deserted. Some of you probably knew that each individual passenger car had its own name ("Cascade Mountain" and "Bear Country" can be seen here). But does anybody know all of the names?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Submarines, December 1960

Most of us will never have a chance to take a ride in a genuine navy submarine. Well, I will, because I have my own navy - - but I realize that the rest of you probably don't. Back in the 50's, the public was mighty impressed with nuclear powered subs, and the idea of sailing under the North Pole seemed like Jules Verne fiction come true. Only seven month before these photos were taken, the real USS Triton completed its historic submerged circumnavigation of the globe. These feats captured the public's imagination, and obviously Walt Disney's as well!

Here's a nice photo taken at dusk, just as the last rays of rosy sunlight warm the Monorail's support columns. As a kid, one of my favorite sights at the park was the Sub Lagoon at night; like the rest of Disneyland, the lagoon became even more beautiful and magical when it was lit up!

Earlier in the day, this picture was snapped from the Skyway. The Nautilus is threading the path between treacherous coral reefs before diving to inky depths. One part of the Sub's appeal is the way it starts out as if you are going to experience an "ordinary" ride on a sub (!), but you eventually see sunken treasure, mermaids, giant squid, Atlantis, undersea volcanos, and sea serpents. The fun fantasy elements that everybody with an imagination has always wanted to see!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tomorrowland, December 29 1956

Well, it's just one measley image for you today. But if you're only going to post one photo, what could be better than a picture of Tomorrowland, circa 1956? Especially on a bright, sunny day like December 29th was. Just visible to our extreme right is the show building for the 20,000 Leagues walk-thru. I believe that the Crane Bathroom of Tomorrow was just around the corner from that! And of course there's all the usual stuff that we've seen so many times. Look closely and you'll see the Autopia car that was on display, while the Flight Circle is just visible behind that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Souvenir Sunday, 1 Clock and 1 Corner

It's back to the vaults full of vintage souvenir slides today! I always enjoy a good night photo, and here's an excellent shot of the Clock of the World and the Hall of Chemistry. The color's a bit weird, but what can ya do. And the lighted interior of the Hall of Chemistry is a bit "blown out", but you can still get a tantalizing glimpse inside.

I like this view of the corner of Center Street, with the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor, taken from across the street (from the roof of the Swift Market House, I believe). It looks like Mayberry down there, only more crowded.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Random Stuff from July 1961

The photos from July 1961 just never end, do they? There will be more, I guarantee it. For today I pulled a couple of random slides from this bunch of scans.

I think that for a lot of people, Main Street U.S.A. is just a street that they have to walk through to get to the fun lands. But I love Main Street! I could just hang out there and people-watch, ride the Ominbus or Streetcar, or drink a bottle of Vodka and fall asleep in the gutter in Town Square. Good times...

The famous forced perspective is readily apparent here. I think its interesting how some stores, such as the Hallmark store to the right and the Kodak store, take up several wildly different storefronts. It keeps things interesting! Past Kodak, ya got yer Timex store, then the Silhouette Studio, and the China Closet.

Keelboats. An ironic name considering that the boats had a tendency to keel over. See how top heavy they would be when loaded up? If it had ever happened to me, I would be grateful for the cool story of having to swim to safety in Disneyland. But... no such luck.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tomorrowland, July 1961

Today's photos might look sort of familiar to you. If so, you are perspicacious! No no, that's a good thing. Because they are from the same bunch as the Astro Jet photos from a few days ago. Which is why the Jets are fairly prominent in two of today's images. This one shows the sleek blue Monorail waiting at the station... I dunno, it's just sort of cool.

Sorry about the blurriness, but that's what you get when your photos are taken by Percival L. McBlurry.

Here's a dramatic perspective of the Skyway, the buckets almost pop out at you in 3-D.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A boring post!

I admit it, today's photos are not going to make anybody jump up and down with excitement. Except for me, because I'm a total spazz!

But the photos are just a little bit unusual, which makes them OK in my book. They both picture the area right next to the House of the Future - - more specifically, the pool and gardens. In this first photo, the house itself would be to our right (I think). It's surprising how much valuable real estate is used for making things look pretty!

By 1975, the plastic house was long-gone, but the pond and gardens remained. The area was called "Alpine Gardens" due to its proximity to that Swiss mountain we all know and love.

Whew, I'm exhausted, it was hard work trying to make these pictures interesting! I'm not sure I succeeded, either.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Canoe and Keelboat, July 1963

Here's bunch of happy kids, members of the YMCA in Crenshaw (that's South Los Angeles for you out-of-towners). Frontierland is quite a place for any child, but it must have been particularly fun for kids from the "inner city". The photo was taken 45 years ago, but I'll bet that a lot of them still remember this day - and this canoe trip - fondly!

From the lower deck of the Mark Twain, we get a nice view of a Keelboat as it circles the river. There's just something about being on a boat! Like the Omnibus on Main Street, the top seats filled up quickly. Who wouldn't want to be up there! Even from this distance I'm sure you could hear Big Thunder Falls splashing from Cascade Peak.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Astro Jets are Go! July 1961

No amusement park would be complete without at least a few rides that spin you around and maybe, just maybe, make you barf. Tomorrowland's Astro Jets fit the bill back in the 50's and 60's.

The design of this simple ride had a lot of 50's charm. Those stubby little rockets with the stabelizer fins, bright red and blue paint scheme (and that checkerboard center column), and the single headlight all helped to make it look like an oversized toy. In this photo you can see the Skyway, and TWO Monorails as well.

The photographer panned just a bit to the left, and the view isn't that different. But we can see the little ticket booth, with some poor guy being slowly broiled in his greenhouse. I can only assume that these booths weren't air conditioned, and on a July day they must have been uncomfortable to say the least!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mermaids, July 1960

There are legends of Mermaids once inhabiting Disneyland's Submarine lagoon. But I've never been the superstitious sort, so I chalk those stories up to a kind of mass hysteria. Those are clearly common manatees out there, waving their flippers. Country bumpkins interpreted those waving motions as enticements to join them, where the "mermaids" would drag them to their watery doom.

A second photo from the same lot with those same manatees with their nice tans and long golden hair and... and...see ya, fellas, I'm going for a swim!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

3 From September 1975

In 1975 my family was living in Pennsylvania, and Disneyland could hardly seem further away. But I continued to look at my souvenir wall maps and guide books, and carefully kept track of our leftover tickets (even a few "E" tickets!) in an envelope in my parent's writing desk. It was very sad!

Anyway, here are some slides from that year that I really enjoy, even if they don't show any amazing attractions. It's more the overall feeling that these pictures evoke. Like this busy scene near the hub, with the Matterhorn towering above everything.

Donald Duck loved attention, and here he greets his fans outside the Hills Bros. Coffee House! I have one of those deflated balloons in a box somewhere, saved from around 1976 (when we moved back to Southern California!), I remember carefully preserving it for posterity. The beginning of my collecting bug!!

Here's a nostalgic scene, exiting the park (What? It's still broad daylight!), with the train overhead, and the late afternoon sun imbuing everything with a golden tint.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Double Fun

The shoreline of the Rivers of America has changed quite a bit over the years, especially with the advent of "Fantasmic!". Here's a picture of part of the New Orleans Square area in the years before that; the Keelboat has been painted an antique blue/green color, sort of the color of copper patina. I wonder why, after so many years of unpainted service? The Columbia is (surprise!) in drydock while one of the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island loads up to head back to the mainland. I love the way Harper's Mill looks, covered in greenery as if it has been there 100 years! And the Haunted Mansion appears right at home behind the tress.

On a completely unrelated note, here's a scan of a very faded slide that had turned a vivid magenta. I was tempted to just make it black and white and be done with it, since this was the best I could do with the restoration. It's an early view, as evidenced by the barely-legible sign to the right, advertising Prof. Geo. J.Keller's Jungle Killers IN ACTION!

As requested, here is a closeup of the sign for Prof. Keller. I decided to remove the color and darken as much as possible, since it was very faded. It's ugly, but somewhat legible! From what I can read, it says: "ADDED ATTRACTION! Prof. Geo. J. Keller's Jungle Killers In Action!" Then it lists showtimes, apparently 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, and so on up to 5 o'clock. "(obscured) Coupon in Ticket book or 25 cents".

Friday, April 18, 2008

Roy! Roy! He's Our Boy!

The Mickey Mouse Club and the Mouseketeers were a highly visible part of early Disneyland history. The Mouseketeers were in parades and the MMC Circus, and there was the "3-D Jamboree" movie in the Mickey Mouse Club Theater. So it was fun to find this photo of Roy Williams (aka "The Big Mooseketeer") in a lot of otherwise boring slides! Roy was a "gag man" for Disney for years, and I can only imagine how much he enjoyed being beloved by millions of kids. Did you know that the iconic Mouse Ears (still sold at the park over 50 years later) were his idea? Here are two of his fans, receiving quick sketches of Disney characters. The boy's sketch is Mickey, and it looks like the girl might have Pluto (or Goofy!). That's some stack of paper, Roy's going to be there for a while! Notice the rejected sketch crumpled on the ground.

This was taken in Frontierland, you can see the water tower to the right. Seems like an out-of-the-way place for such a big celebrity!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ford Pavilion, 1964 New York World's Fair

The Ford Pavilion was home to Walt Disney's "Magic Skyway" at the 1964 New York World's Fair. The building itself was pretty cool... nearly three football fields long, seven stories high, and made entirely of papier maché. The impressive rotunda partially seen in this photo below seems to echo the famous Ford Rotunda that was in Dearborn Michigan, built for the 1933 Chicago fair. It burned down in 1962, so I wonder if the similarity was an intentional tribute? Anyway, notice the brand new, shiny red Mustand convertible on display outside, while late-model Fords move through the transparent tubes overhead, looking like a giant habitrail.

Lines were long for this attraction, and the Disney folks provided some fun stuff to keep people entertained once they were inside the building. Known as the "International Gardens", you could view "Scenes from 11 nations - past and present... reproduced in tiny scale models. Among them: Colonial America, Merrie England, Aztec Mexico, and medieval Europe." There's "Merrie England" and "Medieval Europe" below.

I wouldn't be surprised if this entire feature was Walt Disney's idea, given his love of miniatures. There are also echoes of EPCOT and even "It's a Small World". Any idea what part of the world is on display in this next photo? The buildings look kind of Dutch to me, but maybe they are from colonial USA too!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Matterhorn & Jungle Cruise, December 1965

The Matterhorn. Icy. Forbidding. Crunchy. When the space aliens visited me, I tried to explain the concept of Disneyland's mini-mountain to them. "See, it's a replica of a real mountain, only it's hollow, and you ride a bobsled through it, only it's not really a bobsled, it's a roller coaster". But how do you explain "fun" to little naked gray beings? So they hip-mo-tized me and I got probed with extra cold instruments. It's true, so help me Bob!

The Jungle Cruise isn't icy or forbidding, but it sure is enjoyable, entertaining, amusing, diverting, pleasurable, pleasing, agreeable, and interesting. Today is "fun with adjectives" day! Or didn't you get the memo? Please leave your email address, social security number and PIN in the comments and I'll be sure that you get future memos! Anyway, those barrels are full of rubber snakes and plastic leis, shipped directly from the exotic locations in which they were made.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fantasyland, June 1960

Here are two nice Fantasyland photos from the summer of 1960, taken by a Disneyland guest who was able to jump really high to achieve these bird's-eye views (what other explanation makes sense??).

First we get a look at the eastern side of Fantasyland. The Matterhorn is sort of behind us. To the left, the Alice ride and the rarely-photographed Pirate Ship (ha ha), and then there's Storybook Land and Casey Jr., Fantasyland Station, and part of the Midget Autopia with its familiar yellow garage. At the bottom right we see that the line for the Matterhorn is long... I'm sure there were lots of folks who could hardly wait to experience this still-new attraction, since there had never been anything like it before!

Now we've headed west a bit, overlooking the Mad Tea Party, with the facades for "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" and the Peter Pan attractions also visible. Check out the lines, this was a crowded day!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two Beauties From 1956!

Zowie! Just when you thought you didn't ever want to see another photo of the Mark Twain (oh, I'm only kidding)... well, feast your eyes on this baby. There's just something about it! The vivid color, the clarity, the unusual angle, and the great look at Fowler's Harbor all add up to one special photo. As is often the case in these early photographs, there is a guy messing about with a very un-frontierish motorboat in the harbor.

From the same lot comes this picture of the Fort on Tom Sawyer Island. Who would have ever thought that it would vanish? Near the shore you can just make out the two headstones that were there for only a short while. Yet another example of the "hard facts" mentioned in Walt Disney's opening day speech, evidence of which has been mostly removed these days.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Souvenir Sunday, More Night Views

Here are two more examples of early souvenir images. No Panavues, thank you very much! The Carousel is quite a sight when the sun goes down and all of those kajillions of lights go on. Notice that most of the riders appear to be adults who should be ashamed of themselves. Fun is for children, everybody knows that. Oh, and it wouldn't be a GDB Carousel post if I didn't, for the millionth time, point out that I liked it better when there was a rainbow coalition of horses rather than the albino review (revue?) that's there now. But that's just me.

The Plantation House was a Frontierland icon for many years. I guess people didn't get hungry after dark back in the 50's, 'cause there's nobody there but ghosts waiting for somebody to build a mansion. I like to imagine what it would have been like to sit out on the upstairs balcony on a balmy evening. Frontierland was a lot darker and quieter in those days! Would you be able to see the burning settler's cabin from up there? If you were lucky, the Mark Twain might pass by with Dixieland music. Sounds like heaven to me!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Monorail (again), July 1961

Consider the word Monorail. By examining its Latin roots, we can learn a lot; Mono means "armored dinosaur", Rail means "a small pancake made from barley". I never thought that all those years studying Latin would ever come in handy!

Anyway, here are two very nice photos of the armored dinosaur pancake that I'm sure you'll all enjoy. While we're at it, there's the back of the old Disneyland sign too.

Zoooooom! There she goes! In the distance you can see the striped tent in Holidayland, isn't that cool?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Parking Lot, December 29 1959

After nearly two years of blogging vintage Disneyland photos, I am grateful when I find an image that is different in any way. So I love this photo! It was taken from the Skyway (or perhaps from the Skyway station?) overlooking a sliver of a backstage road, the railroad tracks, and the glorious parking lot full of cool cars. There's a gap in the berm to let giant mice in.

Anyway, I think it's interesting!

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of Einstein revealing his theory of relativity, so here is a bonus photo that has nothing to do with Einstein at all. Because that's the way we roll here at Gorilla's Don't Blog!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Frontierland Print Shop

This neat photo is from the collection of Jim Kurz. That's him in the picture! You can also see him in Matterhorn 1959's amazing collection of photos from Esther, namely this one. I was lucky enough to be able to "talk" to Mr. Kurz via email, and he was nice enough to pass along some fun info! He wrote:

"I first started printing at Knotts Berry Farm Print Shop when I was 13 years old. In 1955 two gentlemen came to me and ask if I would open a print shop for them, in this place to be built called Disneyland. I was only 20 yrs. at that time and it sounded good to me!

These brothers... had secured a 5 year lease for baby strollers and wheel chairs for rentals for guests. Also a print shop and a concession for souvenirs (where Steve [Martin] sold guide books) plus rental lockers located next to City Hall and fire station.

Soooo, I was asked to manage the place and set up the print shop! As soon as the lease was up, it was terminated, (Disneyland to take over). However, the presses I used for the posters and Disneyland News WERE LIKE HEN'S TEETH TO FIND AS THEY WERE VERY OLD!! A one-line press manufactured for a short time in the early 1900's".

Out of a job, I sold new cars for 6 mos. and received a call from the owners of Main Street Magic Store and was ask to open a print shop again. This is where I got lucky and met Steve (Martin) and John McUen , plus alot of nice people!! When they were not working for the magic store, they could work with me!

Stayed on Main St. for 4 years (again) got a call from Disneyland to open print shop in Frontierland. There I lasted 9 more years. In 1973, moved on outside the Disneyland stratosphere

Yes I did meet Walt more than several times as he would bring his own guest to the park and have their names printed on the Disneyland News Paper.

My best years were the first few years. Everything was so new to everyone. ( I started 2 weeks before the gates opened. It was like they wouldn't finish on time, but they did! Great times, we had!!)

My worst day was the day the "hippies came to liberate Minnie Mouse!" To see the riot squad on both sides of Main St. in the most beautiful place on earth, was very hard on the eyes! Don't know why I didn't have my camera with me then!?

Really, the best thing about those Disney years were all the great friends I met".

Thanks VERY MUCH to Jim Kurz for taking the time to share some of his wonderful memories, and thanks also to one of my readers who so generously put me in touch with him. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Indian Performers, July 1961

We're back at the Dance Circle again, but mercifully these are not the same old images that we've seen so many times. Instead, our photographer took these neat full-length portraits of two of the performers. I really like them!

First is this lovely woman with long braids. You can really get a good look at her outfit; the colorful calico dress, silver jewelry, beaded leather boots, and those interesting earrings (or whatever they are). Hanging along side her braids are those pieces of leather that resemble Pluto's ears, any idea what those were?

I've seen other photos of this man, he was apparently the host of the Dance Circle, presumably telling the visitors about the various dances that they saw. Feathered headdress, fringed buckskins, beaded moccasins, and a satin shirt?? Well, that's showbiz for you... in most vintage slides he is wearing extremely bright colors, purples and pinks, that must have drawn the eye even if they didn't feel very much like the kind of thing you might see on the plains in the 19th century.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


The Columbia was a beautiful addition to Frontierland back in 1958, and I'm glad that it is still there (even if it hasn't been operating the last few times I went to Disneyland). Like a Ferrari, the Columbia looks great even when it is standing still.

In this 1960 photo, it is late afternoon as the ship heads towards the friendly Indian Chief. You can see some of his fellow tribesmen up on the distant rise. The Chief is no dummy, sending the message that "We're friendly, but don't mess with us!".

Why-oh-why does this picture have to be blurry? Oh well, it's getting its 15 minutes of fame anyway. For a while, Disney films were chimpanzee (or "monkey") crazy. "Monkeys Go Home", "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" (wasn't there a chimp in that one?), "The Monkey's Uncle", and I'm sure there are more (is there a chimp in "Swiss Family Robinson"?). But I never knew that there was a chimp on the loose aboard the Columbia. He's even dressed in appropriate sailor garb (no hat though). Did he have a name? Did he have hopes and dreams and fears? Enquiring minds want to know.

Please submit your best "monkey with scurvy" jokes!

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Pirate's Is A Wonderful Life...

I'm discombobulated, I admit it. Here is a nice early photo, with the stern of the Chicken of the Sea pirate ship. In the background are piles of earth as Storybookland undergoes construction to turn it into the charming ride with miniature tableaus that we know today. But shouldn't we be seeing the bow of the boat? The only thing I can figure is that this was taken from the back side, looking east (or southeast). Like I said, discombobulated.

Might as well keep on going with this theme! Here's the back of the ship, in 1960, with that impressive sculpted detail. When Chicken of the Sea stopped their sponsorship, a similar (but less amazing) relief replaced this one.

And back to 1956!

Apologies to those of you who are sick of the Pirate Ship! I know you're out there.