Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fantasyland, June 1969

We've been spending a lot of time in the 1950's on this blog. But today we jump to June, 1969, for a couple of views of Fantasyland.

The Skyway's buckets are now rectangular and more roomy (although perhaps a little lacking in the charm?). I've often wondered if there was any consideration to making the flat, industrial roof of the castle something a bit more interesting? They probably figured (correctly) that if one side was more interesting than the other, the guests would'nt waste their time looking at the lesser view. Behind the Pirate Ship you can just make out the sandy shore that had some treasure chests and other

Now our feet are back on terra firma, and we get yet another nice shot of that darn tuna boat. You'd think that there was a law saying that you HAD to take a picture of it!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two from '57

Boy howdy, I'll bet you all are sick of my photos from 1956. Sick, I say! So here's a radical and outrageous change... two from 1957! In 1957, Wham-o produced the first Frisbee, "The Cat in the Hat" was published, and John Lennon met Paul McCartney. So it was a pretty good year!

As we look at this view of the Jungle Cruise's loading dock, I am mostly impressed with the castmember costumes! The Jungle Cruise must have set some kind of record with the number and frequency of changes in costumes. These guys look more like surfers who've come into town for some Mexican food than brave and trustworthy river pilots! Or maybe they look like they are going to start singing folks songs. All I know is that they won't be of much help when an angry rhinoceros starts chewing on your leg.

A flying herd of Dumbi are under the angry control of Timothy and his cruel whip. What happened to you Timothy? You used to be cool, but now your just one of them. YOU know who I mean. In spite of the animal abuse, this is a fun snapshot of a classic ride. And where's the line??

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1956 Part Two

Yes, it's day two of our visit to Disneyland, 1956 style! Here's a lovely shot of the Surrey, looking stylish with its black-as-a-bat carriage and two vanilla-white horses. Let's give them names, shall we? How about "Snowball" and "Honky"? I dare you to come up with better names! Meanwhile, I believe that the building seen to the right is where you would go for a guided tour.

If this isn't a classic Disneyland image, then my name is Stanky McGee. Like you, I've seen endless photos of Sleeping Beauty Castle, but this one is as nice as they come. Can't wait to be able to walk through it again and see the recreated dioramas; from what little I've seen, the Imagineers in charge of this project are going to be doing an awesome job.

Whoa! You're not getting me to cross that thing! It looks unsafe. Plus I've seen enough movies to know that there is always some jerk who appears at the other end with a knife, prepared to cut the cables. What, you say there's candy on the other side? Here I go! (I'll do just about anything for candy). This is a great POV shot, and another look at the sparse growth of foliage on Tom Sawyer Island.

Monday, July 28, 2008

1956 Part One

Today and tomorrow I will be featuring some nice Disneyland images, circa 1956. Like most other park images from those early years, these capture some of the relative charm and innocence of the "fitties", the qualities that make people look back on that era with so much fondness.

Like this first photo of a band concert in Town Square! The Disneyland Band performs for an appreciative crowd. A classic image that makes me smile.

Posters! Posters! I love those posters. Didn't you get the memo? There's a rare "Art Corner" example, I've only seen one in person. The 20K poster with the giant squid might not be the rarest poster, but it is definitely one of my favorites; what a great piece of graphic art! And the pink Main Street Station poster is another rarity that I have not had the pleasure to own.

I also love the old yellow passenger cars... the "Grand Canyon" car is visible at the end.

The burning settler's cabin is up there among the "most photographed" sights at Disneyland (says me!). In this early view the trees are spindly and small, affording us a nice clear shot of the cabin - - look at that thing burn! Those are some fierce flames. But it wasn't a flaming arrow that caused it; that lazy cuss was smoking in bed. The arrow in his back was just an early form of piercing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Riverfront, '56 & '58

Sorry about today's late post... I'm away from home, so computer access if "iffy".

Anyway, I thought that it might be at least a tiny bit interesting to compare two images taken from almost the same spot on the shore of the Rivers of America, only two years apart. Won't this be fun, kids? ;-) I know, not that fun.

So here's the first view (1956), familiar to say the least. There's that rarely-photographed Mark Twain! There's something about this photo that makes me imagine what it must have been like to live near the Mississippi in the mid-19th century; how exciting it must have been to see a steam boat arrive, gleaming in the sunlight. Only in the 1800's you didn't have a distant Skyway to watch. Or DID you??

Now we jump to 1958, easy to do because we eat our leafy green vegetables. The river looks a lot busier here, with the brand new Columbia, the Keel Boat, the Canoe, and a Raft loading to our right. Tom Sawyer Island looks a little bit greener too!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Living Desert

After scanning a bunch of slides, I noticed that these two views from the "Living Desert" portion of the Mine Train ride (and by the second photo, "Nature's Wonderland") showed evidence of a major re-do of these buttes (heh heh, "buttes"), stone minarets, natural arches and tubmling rock formations.

Compare the two, and this earlier photo (1958) shows some not-very-convincing rockwork. That "natural arch" looks more like those wonderfully phony-baloney landscapes seen in the classic "Star Trek". Like that portal that sent them back in time to the 1930's... you know the one I mean!

By 1960, the ride had been transormed into "Nature's Wonderland", and the rocks received a makeover. They now appear considerably more natural! The tiny Indian pueblos are no longer on top of the mesas, and it looks like the coyote that peeked out of that cave has moved out (or maybe he's just hidden behind brush?). Anyway, I thought it was an interesting comparison!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chrysler Exhibit, New York World's Fair

Howdy folks! Today will be another excursion into my favorite digression: The 1964 New York World's Fair! I found a small group of excellent photos showing the Chrysler exhibit... it was overshadowed by GM's "Futurama", but it looks like it was a very fun place to visit.

As you can see in this first photo, Chrysler's "Autofare" had a distinctive graphic "look". The souvenir guide refers to the Autofare as a "fair within a fair". Among the exhibits were "Chysler's experimental turbine car", a ten-story rocket, the world's biggest car, something called the "Giant Zookeeper", the Production Line Ride, the Sho-Go-Round Theater, and as they say on TV, much much more.

The designers of the pavilion acknowledge that weary visitors might want to relax, so plenty of "canopy-covered bucket seats", fountains, ponds, and (naturally) plenty of quality Chrysler products were provided for everyone's enjoyment. You can see the distinctive Ford Pavilion in the background.

There's the gigantic "million horsepower engine" that one could walk through, complete with spinning fan and rotating air filter. According to the guide book, "Inside, fantasy reigns. The writhing, twisting, squirming dragon (he's enormous!) drives three 8-foot pistons. They're animated, too. Giant hands operate the engine valves. A monstrous "spider" descends upon a hapless fly. Two huge paddles toss a ping-pong ball endlessly between them. These are just a few of the delightfully imaginative goings-on."

You might think that this is just a big car. But it was actually the world's LARGEST car! "The huge wheels tower upwards nearly two stories (that gives you some indication of its size.) A six-foot man seated in the driver's position could not even reach the steering wheel!

The underside of the car body sits eight feet off the ground.

Get set for a surprise when you walk beneath it. You've never seen a more imaginative car interior than this one, yet it has all the working elements of an actual car."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two From Frontierland

It's time for more high-contrast hijinks with this photo of the Mark Twain as taken from Tom Sawyer Island. The steamboat is glowing white-hot, instantly vaporizing any passengers. It was all part of the fun! In the foreground is the Tom Sawyer's Shack, where guests could catch marlin and great white sharks on a cane pole. That guy sitting on the fence is just happy to rest his weary feet and have a smoke (and something tells me has a flask too). At the top left of the shack's roof you can see a crane in the distance (no, it's not a fishin' pole!).

Here's a rather murky photo of the Plantation House, which looks mighty inviting. Back in those days, that shore of Frontierland felt a little less citified. Now of course it's all part of the bustling city of New Orleans. Notice the riverfront bandstand that is long-gone, and a full raft heading to Tom Sawyer Island. Not to mention that unsteady-looking Keelboat!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1956 Adventureland Entrance

It's a quickie post today folks, apologies for the rush job!

Here's a crisp colorful photo of the entrance to Adventureland in 1956. I like all of the little details that are visible here, like the shields, skulls and spears that line the fence to our right. Those two huge oars appear to be Oceanic in design, while the buildings in the background look to be African. Right in the middle of the sidewalk, a tree (jacaranda?) is surrounded by a crude fence (yes, even it is appropriately themed!).

If we zoom in a little, we see an alley that leads back to a exotic phone booth (and secret elevator to the massive sub-level nerve center that only I know about), and (apparently) the men's room. Ladies go to the right!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Alice In Wonderland, July 1958

Here are three fun photos overlooking the Alice in Wonderland attraction, which had opened only a month or so earlier (on June 14). Our photographer was standing on Snow Hill, and he was obviously mighty taken with this colorful panorama. This perspective was only possible for a few months, since Snow Hill would soon be replaced with the Matterhorn. They all have a nice chocolatey flavor, I think you'll agree.

This first view has a nice dynamic composition, with the Skyway passing diagonally overhead towards the distant chalet, while two caterpillar vehicles wind their way down the ramp...

...and this one is good too..., which one is your favorite?!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gazebo and Main Street USA, 1955

Here are two more photos from a small lot of 1955 slides... today's offerings are mercifully unaffected by the light leaks that mar so many of the others.

First up is this nice picture of the Gazebo in its original location just west of Sleeping Beauty Castle (see this photo if you really need to know where it was - - and if you can spot it!). I love this scene because it evokes so much nostalgia for bygone days of the early 1900's (idealized, of course), which is exactly what Walt Disney was trying to do. Looking at these photos today, the distinction between the 1900's and the 1950's has blurred into one big Norman Rockwell fantasy.

Once in a while I try to imagine what it would have been like to see some of Disneyland's famous sights - - the ones that we have become so used to that they barely register anymore - - for the first time, particularly in the 50's when it really truly was a brand new concept. Folks are living their typical 1950's lives, and now they are walking down a pretty convincing recreation of a street from their grandparent's day, only there is a fairy tale castle at the end!

Something about this photo, but the castle looks like it's a quarter of a mile away. Surely that's one reason why it wasn't built larger... the smaller size is a forced-perspective device to give the illusion of distance. Sounds reasonable! Meanwhile, some lucky guests are riding on the horse-drawn fire wagon (with the surrey just in front of it).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tom Sawyer Island, January 1960

I didn't have a lot of time to spend on today's post, and I'm sure it will feel that way when you are all done(which will be in about 15 seconds). Sorry!

Anyway, today we'll take a look at this photo of Tom Sawyer Island from 1960. A raft is loading up for the return trip (I assume, since so many people are facing towards us), and some other folks are on the dock to the right, trying to catch a trout (it looks like somebody might have a bite!). Waaaay to the right and in the distance, folks are headed through the tunnel to the Indian Village (passing through a tunnel is always a cool idea). But what's going on in the distance to the right?

There are cranes and trucks and maybe a generator, presumably on the shore and not on TSI. What could be going on? I think that this is all part of the construction at Rainbow Ridge and the rest of Nature's Wonderland (see this post for another shot from the same series). I love any kind of construction shot!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Columbia, August 1958

OK, here's my theory: This photo of the brand-new "Columbia" was taken from inside a Keel Boat. Crazy? Like a fox! I could be wrong, but it would be kind of cool it true. Please don't make me explain why. I am impressed by the crewmember who is way up in the shrouds (maybe 40 feet above the deck?). All of those nautical flags were stolen from the tops of the buildings in Tomorrowland.

This is somewhat murky, but still a nice picture of a friendly group of folks preparing to set sail. Grandma, to the right, looks a bit green around the gills already, if she is a real lady she will ralph into her handbag rather than over the side.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Don't Kill That Bar! 1956

OK, I feel like a dope, I forgot that yesterday was Disneyland's birthday. So, happy belated birthday, Disneyland!!

Here are two scarce vintage photos of the mechanical bear that used to grace the shores of Frontierland. In this first shot (taken from the bow of the Mark Twain), you can see that he is preparing to leap down upon the Stagecoach for a bite to eat. No, he doesn't want to eat the people, silly! He's looking for a pic-a-nic basket. The door has been removed from the Stagecoach, improving the view but increasing your odds of tumbling out and being crushed by those cheerful yellow wheels. Some fun! Nobody's riding shotgun in this photo, but that is because this particular driver's nickname was "Stinky".

From slightly further away, we catch one last glimpse of the bear as he oinks at us angrily. Or maybe he's just trying to be friendly, who can tell with a bear?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sinclair Dinoland, 1964

Sinclair Oil had used a cheerful green Brontosaurus as their mascot for years, so it only made sense that their World's Fair attraction would feature dinosaurs. You DO know that oil is made from the juice of smooshed dinos, don't you?? It appears that all of the critters featured in this exhibit used to roam North America, and that was probably less due to patriotism than the fact that the amazing critters from South America, China, and the rest of the world hadn't been unearthed yet.

I love this photo of the 20 foot high (but 50 feet long according to the souvenir guide!) T. Rex towering over the crowds. And speaking of the crowd, what's with the black knee-socks and shorts? Anyway, the Tyrannosaur's tiny hands look poised to play the piano. Were his arms animated? They look jointed, perhaps they waved about spastically the way mine do.

The Corythosaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur of the so-called "duck billed" variety. They lived in North America, were good parents, and their fossils were often found near giant tires.

At some point the theory emerged that dinosaurs might have been mottled or striped or otherwise wildly patterned instead gray/green or earthen brown. This Trachodon is sporting both stripes and giraffe-like mottling, which makes him a fashion disaster. He had 1500 teeth, which were mostly used for grinding up waffles and Slim Jims.

The Triceratops was one of my favorite dinos when I was a kid. "Old Pointy" here is non-plussed by the (French?) sailors passing by. I don't care what Michael Crichton (author of "Jurassic Park") says, I want my pet dinosaur!

OK, the Stegosaurus was one of my favorites too! Those bony plates and the spiky tail, and that tiny noggin all added up to one interesting animal. Stegos apparently had the misfortune of having to battle Tyrannosaurs all the time, it really got tiresome, especially when you were killed and eaten.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Frontierland 1960

Atom bombs were always going off in the old days, and this photographer managed to take two pictures just as bombs were going off behind him. What are the odds? I'm guessing that there are more than a few readers of this blog who never had a chance to see Fort Wilderness. There were no thrilling rides or animatronic figures, no interactive holograms or genetically engineered dinosaurs. And yet it still managed to give one's imagination a kick in the butt... for people who had, by that time, digested a zillion hours of movie and TV westerns, this place felt real. My favorite feature is the SECRET ESCAPE (complete with a big sign informing you that it is a secret) that took you to the river, just in case the Indians managed to set fire to the place with their flaming arrows. Next to that doorway was a large triangle ("Come and git it!") for kids to beat upon endlessly, I think I see two little boys making a racket.

Wow, there are a whole lot of people watching the friendly Indians dancing. Just look at that crowd! In fact, the crowd is the best part of this photo (I say that after viewing endless Indian Dance pictures), I get a kick out seeing the crew cuts on the little boys, and Betty Crocker hair-dos on the women (except for the girl with the long auburn tresses in the lower right), and the stripes and plaids and baseball caps (not to mention at least two Keppy Kaps). If you look closely, there is not a bored face in the bunch!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Frontierland 1956

Today we've got two classic images from 1956 Frontierland! First is the great shot of the Mark Twain. The Disneyland Band is disembarking, they just played an entire set of Pink Floyd classics, and it didn't go over too well. Those kids with the buzz-cuts are thinking about what it will be like to be hippies some day, and it ain't pretty.

Tom Sawyer Island had only just opened this year, it was not an opening-day attraction. It's strange that it took pirates 50 years to discover the island considering that it is less than 100 feet from the mainland! Most of Frontierland looks like a whole lotta nothin', unless you happen to like scrubby little trees and bushes. Which I do, what's it to ya? I never noticed the large oar used to steer, these days they just use sheer engine power to move those babies around. Maybe it just looked good but had no real function?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Three from 1955

I have a small batch of slides from 1955, probably from the first few weeks of Disneyland's opening (I am almost certain they are from July). They're great, but unfortunately the photographer's camera had a light leak that marred many of the pictures with yellow/orange "flames". I tried to compensate those strange washed-out areas to the best of my abilities, hopefully you'll still find them worth a look.

Plenty of people are milling around the castle... it is at the apex of the famous hub after all. The castle doesn't look so small here, I'm sure that the growth of the trees over the years helped to undo some of the forced perspective at work. Anyway, the Florida version is very nice, but bigger is not necessarily better. (No smart remarks, you wiseguys!!)

Here are the ticket booths at the entrance, apparently lacking any kind of signs with prices. It might have cost around a buck to get in back then! The ticket takers are in white shirts and ties, something I don't think you see these days. The trees are newly-planted saplings, and from the look of those flags, it was a breezy day!

This popcorn vendor is dressed like one of the sanitation crew, which is an odd choice indeed. He is spotlessly white though, so don't even think about horse poop getting near your popcorn. I said don't think about it! To the right is the sign announcing "International Street", and you can see folks peering through the little viewing holes. It still seems kind of amazing that Walt had so many plans for that area east of Main Street, and none of them came to fruition.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Junk

Today we've got three nice (but not very exciting) slides for you!

Here's that crazy Matterhorn again. It's 147 feet tall, but it looks taller due to witchcraft. I am amused by the occasional write-up that claims that Disneyland's version of the Matterhorn is an "exact" replica (scaled down, of course). Um, OK! I think it's safe to say that artistic liberties were taken.

This li'l yellow Horseless Carriage is loading up for its 11-hour trip up Main Street. Those crowded sidewalks! People just don't want to get out of the way no matter how much the driver beeps his beepolator.

Indian. Village. I don't know what else to say!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Subs, August 1960

Disneyland definitely needs more places with hot babes lounging around. Talk about eye candy! I wonder how long these lovely mermaids were required to bake in the hot August sun? Supposedy the heavily chlorinated water turned blond hair green, but a mermaid with green hair sounds about right.

Sometimes a submarine just needs to be aired out. I mean, come on, everybody knows that! Otherwise they start to smell like stale french fries inside. I told them to buy those little cardboard pine tree air-fresheners, but nobody listens to me. You'd think that in a peak summer month like August, they would need every single sub to be working so that the ride was at full capacity. Guess that would be wrong!