Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Casey Jr. 1956

Casey Junior was a bit player in "Dumbo", but he made the most of his scenes! That 1941 movie is one of my favorite animated classics. Every element was perfect, from the music to the sweet, simple story, to the beautiful animation and memorable characters.

ANYWAY... I digress. Here's a great early (1956) photo of Casey on a sunny day under a glorious blue sky. Casey's colors really "pop"! He is crossing over a trestle that would eventually be filled in, all that bare timber would be hidden. You can see some of the fierce wild animals behind bars... I'd hate to see them running loose!

From a different lot of photos from 1956 comes this blurry view of Casey about to pass beneath us, apparently. I'm not sure what vantage point this was taken from... it's way too low to be the Skyway, and it seems too close to be from the other Casey Jr. train. But that has to be the answer, I guess.

Monday, September 29, 2008

3 From Frontierland, August 1957

Here's a fun group of images featuring Frontierland. It's the biggest of all the "lands", over ten million acres! I have to admit that I never thought much about Fort Wilderness until it was gone. Up until then it was always just there, who would have dreamed that it would go away? But now I miss its rustic charms, and a chance to dust off that part of my brain that enjoyed simpler pleasures. This view is nice because you get a sense of what it was like to approach the large wooden gates. Or pretend you're King Kong, and that's the giant wall!

Here's a pretty standard view, but nice nonetheless. Ya got yer "Twain", two rafts, folks fishin', and the old riverfront bandstand to the right.

In '57 there was only one treehouse in Disneyland, and it belonged to Tom Sawyer. He didn't seem to mind all the looky-loos! As you can see, it was built from the remains of old wooden crates, which were plentiful by the wharf. I love the way it was designed to look suitably rickety, but in fact it was able to withstand a constant stream of visitors for many years. Notice the lady holding her souvenir map of the island!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jungle Folk, August 1960

Here's a matched pair of pictures from the Jungle Cruise loading dock. "How about you take one of me, and then I'll take one of you!". "Swell idea, honey!". Mother poses in front of the Amazon Belle, removing her shades even though she has to squint a bit in the late-afternoon sun. Her plastic pith helmet goes quite nicely with her ensemble!

Dad has the Congo Queen behind him. "Can you take two or three steps backward, dear? I want to make sure I get ALL of you in the picture".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Main Street 1955

From sometime in August 1955, here is a look at the Upjohn Pharmacy. The fancy stained-glass mortar and pestle lamp is not in place yet, but hopefully the jar full of delicious, squirming, slimy leeches were inside! They make great pets. Not an amazing photo, but I love it for because of its antiquity.

Now, for a sad one, marred by significant light leaks (and you're seeing after I spent a lot of time trying to make it tolerable) is this shot taken from the steps of Main Street Station, overlooking Town Square. It's fun to imagine that mere weeks before this photo was snapped, opening day ceremonies had taken place!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mine Train & More, 1972

We've got three more Mine Train related images today, all from 1972. First up is the view taken (apparently) from somewhere on Tom Sawyer Island (at first I thought it was from the Mark Twain, but the trees in the foreground make that unlikely). The li'l Mine Train has only just started its journed through Nature's Wonderland, having just passed Big Thunder Falls as it 'rounds Cascade Peak and prepares to go through a tunnel. When you emerged from the tunnel you would see...

...this view! I find it fascinating to compare this to a view from when it was all brand-new. It sure looks different! What's with that one brown bear, is he supposed to be a young 'un? He seems a bit out of place. I think it's Smokey the Bear, and those other bears have stolen his pants and hat. Notice the way the other bears can't look at him because they will burst out laughing. Joke's on you, Smokey!

Near the end of your trip through the Living Desert, you would have seen "the sun-bleached bones of an ancient animal"; in this case, a T. rex! Which is much cooler than seeing the sun-bleached bones of an ancient moose. For some reason you don't find many photos of these dino bones, so I was happy to have this one. Notice that this T. rex was a girl, see her nest of eggs? Also check out the huge rattlesnake making its home in the skull.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

3 From August 1960

Today we'll look at a few more images from August 1960. This aerial view of the Sub Lagoon shows an extremely crowded Fantasyland (or is it still Tomorrowland at that point?), everybody wants to be the first kid on their block to ride the still-relatively-new Matterhorn, and maybe the Fantasyland Autopia as well (which was also new). It doesn't look like the line for the subs is quite so long! There seems to be something swimming in the lagoon...

Mermaid alert! This one is swimming, too. It must have been fun to be aboard a sub, looking out your individual porthole, only to see a mermaid passing by! I assume that they were only allowed to swim in certain areas for their safety. She left all of her stuff on her rock... the only thing I can make out for sure is a lyre, although it looks like there is a conch too.

This is unrelated except for the fact that it is from the same lot. Ol' Rainbow Ridge and its surroundings are pretty busy on this summer day. I wanna ride the mules (visible up on the hillside). No, the Mine Train! By the way, anybody remember a rumor of a "Mine Car Drop" (this was long ago), sort of a "Tower of Terror", except it went down into the ground? That one had possibilities!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Seattle World's Fair Amusement Zone?

Mixed in with a bunch of boring slides of snowy mountains (lots and lots of snowy mountains) were a few pictures showing Seattle, taken from Puget Sound during the 1962 "Century 21" Expo (you can see the Space Needle, anyway, and they're dated September 1962). The following images were in the same batch, and so in the interest of full disclosure, I am only assuming that they are from that Expo's "Amusement Zone". If anybody can tell me otherwise, I would appreciate it!

In any case, here is a great shot of the exterior of some sort of funhouse/roller coaster. It appears to have a "Sinbad" or "Arabian Nights" theme, with a blue djinn and what might be the fearsome giant Roc, not to mention a serpent-thingy. The kids look like they enjoyed their journey through the dark carny ride! I have to admit that I would love to know what it was like, however cheesy and cheap.

I'm not sure if this is a different angle showing the same ride, or a completely different ride. The car looks a bit different, at any rate, but maybe the kids rode it twice.

This photo makes me think that we really are at the Fair... telephone exhibits were de rigeur at those things (those darn picture phones, ya know). I think I can make out the blurred words "Mother and Dad" on the panel above the boy's arm.

This ferris wheel looks just like the one at the Seattle Fair, it's the only attraction that I can find detailed photos of. There's dad and junior at the bottom, dad's taking a picture of us, and we're taking a picture of him.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Phun Photo! December 29, 1959

Not long after the invention of photography, savvy entrepeneurs realized that the public hungered for goofy novelty photos. Somebody hatched the idea of painting a life-sized scene, with one or more people engaged in a silly activity, leaving an oval hole cutout for people to stick their own noggins through. Voila! Instant hilarity. Even my grandparents joined in the fun in a photo I found (from somewhere in San Francisco, I seem to recall): grandpa's head is posed on the body of a lusty fellow who is eyeballing the too-short skirt of my dear old grandmother (complete with painted stockings and garters). It dates from the 1940's, and no, I'm not making this up. If I could find it right now I would have scanned it!

This old-fashioned fun could also be had (oddly) in Tomorrowland. There was a series of scenes from various "lands", including the caboose of the Disneyland RR, the front seat of the Monorail, and this one showing a family on the brink of almost-certain death atop the brand new, minty-fresh Matterhorn. I'm sure that the Disney folks frowned on guests taking their own (free!) photos, but I'm mighty glad that this family broke the rules.

Here's one of the finished souvenirs from another family (this time from 1963) so that you can see how it supposed to look. It looks pretty slick in its paper folder (address it, stamp it, and send it to some poor shnook who has been shoveling snow all day in Wisconsin).

I'll bet they made a pretty penny from this stapled Polaroid photo!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Random Monday

There's no theme for today, just a few leftover (but nice!) images for you all to enjoy.

Starting with: this 1955 photo from Frontierland. Scrawny plants and plenty of bare dirt? Check! Folks looking like extras from "The Andy Griffith Show"? Check! (Except for that lady with the surpisingly short hair for 1955, obviously an alien visitor. I'm on to you!). A general air of mid-50's wonderfulness? Check! Slightly blurry? Check!

Now, from July 1960, we bring you the crunchy and delicious Monorail. Or the front of it, anyhow. Complete with matching blue Skyway bucket (optional - - talk to your dealer when purchasing your monorail!). Note the chrome detail on the side that appears to have a dent. Don't worry, junior has been grounded for two weeks. It's strict, but he has to learn.

Also from 1960 (August, this time) is the view of... oh, you know what it is!

And the Columbia, from the same date as the last photo. It's heading right for us! You can get a good look at the lovely figurehead, for those of you that care about things like that. You can see the two small cannons, ready to fire grape shot at those pesky Keel Boats that keep getting in the way. I don't think I have ever noticed the lanterns hanging from the ends of each yard, which I'm sure looked lovely at night even if it might not have been 100 percent authentic. Or was it?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Subs! July 1960

Comin' atcha! from July 1960, here's a beauty of a photo featuring the early, 3-car red Monorail as it swooshes over the Sub Lagoon. Love that 3-car Monorail! It wouldn't be long before it would another car would be added; this was a popular ride. Eventually it would go up to 5 cars, of course. Hey look, there's a lone mermaid sunning herself in the lagoon! She makes that seashell bikini-top look good, I think you'll all agree. I can see why guys would occasionally jump into the water, although I doubt they managed to get dates.

Oh, I know, this one kinda sucks, but I had it all scanned and ready.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Three More from 1972

Where were you in '72?! I was living in Huntington Beach, about 10 miles (as the crow flies) from Disneyland. On summer nights we would ride our bikes over to Edison High School, and you could see the teeny tiny fireworks in the distance. It was a kind of torture! Because it made me wish I was right there.

Anyhoo, these photos are from that year. Pictures of the "It's a Small World" entrance from around that time startle me because there is so much wide-open space. To be honest it's kind of ugly, all that pavement. But I prefer it to the merchandise shop that now blocks your view. You can really see the intricate and whimsical facade in all of its glory. We can be grateful that the pastel colors of a few years ago have been replaced with its classic white and gold again. Now if only they don't mess up the inside during the current rehab...

Here's a nice upshot of the Skyway buckets passing over the Pirate Ship. The complimentary colors of orange and blue enhance each other. I want my Skyway!

Tom Sawyer Island looks busy on this winter day. You can tell it's winter because of the coats and sweaters on everyone! Other photos in the lot show Christmas decorations aplenty, but those aren't evident here. The pontoon bridge is certainly popular. You know what would be cool? If it was a flaming pontoon bridge!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Matterhorn Bobsleds, 1962

Here's a fun group of slides featuring the mighty Matterhorn! My favorite is the first one, mom (or dad) managed to capture the kids as they sped past, and the look of joy on their faces is great! You can't really tell because she's facing away from us, but the girl with the pony tail in the middle is the same girl we met in this photo. We'll see her again soon!

The next two are just general shots of bobsleds in action. Here's one about to splash down (Pirate Ship peeking up in the distance)...

... while this one tries to capture a speeding sled, not very successfully (Moonliner in the background!).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Casey Jr., 1955

Let's return to 1955! Workmen are still scrambling to finish the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, which is sort of behind us. The shores of the Storybook Land canal are still nothing more than dirt and weeds (weeds watered with the tears of disappointed children!), although the colorful Casey Jr. Circus Train brightens things up considerably. And, since Casey didn't debut until July 31, we know that this photo was taken sometime after that, but (obviously) before the Pirate Ship opened its galley on the 29th of August. I would imagine that guests saw Monstro, toothy jaws agape, swallowing boats one by one, and couldn't wait to see what other wonders were in store. Suckers!

If we zoom in, we can see that there are quite a few bits and pieces of the Pirate Ship still laying around. Planks of wood bent in a nautical fashion, a mast (or is it a "yard"?) complete with striped sails, a table saw and sawhorses... if you link back to this picture from the same lot, you'll see how far they still have to go!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Keel Boat & Canoe, August 1957

"Frontierland water craft" is the theme for today! First up is this great photo taken from the upper level of one of the Keel Boats; an unusual view for sure. The kids each have their souvenir hats on... sis chose a sort of "coolie" hat (from Adventureland, of course!), while little brother has his engineer's cap on. On the spar above them is an octagonal "squawk box"... from the few recordings I've heard of the Keel Boat spiel, squawking is a very accurate description. In the background, Fowler's Harbor. I love the painted detail at the rear of the boat, looking like early American folk art!

The kids haven't had their fill of the Rivers of America, so now they will embark on a trip aboard an Indian War Canoe. If they don't get a few more customers, somebody is going to have to work double-time to make it all the way around!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ocho Cientos! OCHO CIENTOS!

Eight hundred posts, zowie! I never thought I'd see the day.

Here's a beauty, a shot from December 29th, 1956 showing the fabulous Autopia. I love the bright sunshine and vivid color on this one, not to mention the glimpse of a relatively undeveloped Anaheim just over the berm. What are all those green leafy things? Perhaps they are what you hu-mans call trees. Meanwhile, kids are navigating the harrowing half clover-leaf (Easy does it! Hands at 10 and 2!) while others are coming to the end of their mini-adventure. Personally I would want that two-tone red and white car, it's a beauty. Is the girl who's driving it wearing mouse ears?

Now for a mystery photo! I don't know if this next one is a Disneyland slide, but it was in a small batch of park images (from 1957), so I am crossing my fingers that it is a rare view of something. The slide has turned a lurid magenta* , so please forgive the strange appearance. Could it be the interior of the Kodak shop on Main Street? I asked someone who might possibly remember this from the 50's, and he said he didn't recognize it. Could it be from Knott's? I really have no idea. Anyway, as you can see, there is a tableau featuring a mother and her sissy-boy son posing for an old-timey photo for an old-timey photographer. Watch the birdie! Nice lace collar, Percy. I think those mannequins were seen in a classic "Twilight Zone" episode. Marsha! If anybody out there has a clue about this photo, please chime in!

*FYI, "Lurid Magenta" is the name of my rock band, we cover Led Zeppelin songs at Mr. Grouchy's every Wednesday.

The year: 1955! The thingamabob: A genuine, bona-fide, electrified, six-car Stagecoach! I love this photo, with the little boy riding shotgun and waving at us, smiling his goofy smile. He's got his souvenir banner too! The driver is looking off towards the horizon, wondering if those thunderheads will cause a flash flood, and could that dust cloud be a massive heard of buffalo? Sometimes they take days to pass. If anybody can get these folks to the fort before nightfall, he can.

Thanks to all of the readers of "Gorillas Don't Blog", and to those of you who take the time to comment! It's been lots of fun (when I'm not going insane trying to write something about the Mark Twain for the 400th time). For now my goal is to reach 1000 posts; after that, who knows. But I'll feel like I've achieved something!

Monday, September 15, 2008

More Mine Train, 1972

I'm posting a few more Mine Train images from my 1972 batch. The photographer took lots of photos of Rainbow Ridge... more than was the norm. He was plum loco about that little frontier town!

Here we get a nice look at one of the miniature locomotives, while some cool customer relaxes on the fence and watches the other trains load up and vanish through the tunnel to our left. I'm guessing that this guy normally wore a conservative suit and tie at work; but when he let his hair down, he wore his windbreaker and moccasins (yep, it's the 70's alright!).

Now for a slightly unusual vantage point, aboard a train and looking at the poor shnooks still waiting in line. The engineer is wearing what looks like a heavy coat, but it doesn't appear to be cold (although these were taken around Christmas time). Maybe he is prepared for the sun's setting, since (as far as I know) you could ride the Mine Train after dusk. Now THAT'S something I never experienced!

And finally, a real "you are there" shot as the train rounds a bend past Cascade Peak and Big Thunder Falls. You can tell that the kid in the blurry foreground is thinking about reaching out to touch the waterfall... I can't say that I blame him. How often do you get to do that?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Stuff, April 1966

Ugh, I ran out of time today, so bear with this quickie post!

I chose today's two photos because they show the Matterhorn with its plastic neighbor, the Monsanto House of the Future. The gleaming white house had been there since June, 1957, but it wouldn't be there for very much longer!

The house is just to the right, but the walkways into it have been roped off. I think it didn't officially close until December of 1967, but it sure looks closed here! I'm guessing that the house of the future had already been marked for removal, and that Walt Disney had approved it. Monsanto, of course, went on to sponsor the legendary "Adventure Through Inner Space".

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stormy Weather, April 1957

Sometimes it seems as if it is always sunny at Disneyland, but of course that isn't always the case. One of my most fun visits was during a cold rainy day in November!

These next three photos were taken during a gray day in April, 1957. Just look at those dark skies!

I guess that the film stock imparted a greenish cast to everything... it reminds me of how the sky looks during the calm before a storm! Crowds are certainly light...

Somehow the moody sky suits the Pirate Ship! It appears that some of the lights on board have been lit. In spite of the gloom, remember that April showers would bring May flowers!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Three From 1956

Yay, a triad of photos from Disneyland's second year of operation!

Numero uno: This nice shot of the entrance to the park, with the ticket booths, the Disneyland Railroad, and Main Street Station of course. In spite of the blue, sunny skies, it must have been a bit chilly judging from the dress of the guests.

In this closeup view, we can see that the Carrousel was closed, that the park was open from 10 to 7, and that you could purchase "Special Guest Cards", whatever those were. Any idea, Tim (aka Mr. Vintage Disneyland Tickets)??

Here's a familiar view looking over the rail of the Pirate Ship towards Cinderella's dream castle. Casey Junior is about to pass beneath that castle, while Storybook Land boats (again with guys as the hosts!) cross hither and yon. You can get a nice look at Toad Hall. Thaddeus J. Toad's estate had ancient woods full of pheasants, a formal garden, and an orchard.

And last but certainly not least is one of my favorite Town Square images, with a nice dynamic composition. The horse is wearing a stylish chapeau, and City Hall looks appropriately grand. Wonder why Walt Disney didn't have his apartment above that building? It certainly looks roomy, and you didn't have kids ringing the bell like they did in the Firehouse. That foreground branch makes me think of the photos on Viewmaster reels, it would have made a great 3-D element!