Friday, July 31, 2009

Astroworld Viewmaster

Today's detour takes us to Houston Texas, where we will visit "Astroworld", thanks to a somewhat scarce Viewmaster packet.

Astroworld opened in June of 1969, and was named as an homage to the manned space program (the Johnson Space Center opened in Houston in 1965), but it was not a space-themed park.

"ASTROWORLD bus arrives at Entrance Plaza". The park bears a strong resemblance to many "Six Flags" parks, and in fact it was sold to the Six Flags Corporation in 1975, but at this point it was the brainchild of Judge Roy Hofheinz. In case you were wondering.

"The Astrowheel in Mod Ville". This giant double Ferris Wheel resembles others that I have seen from roughly the same period; there was one at Hershey Park back when I lived in Pennsylvania. The Astroworld version was removed in 1981.

"Spin Out Cars thrill the mod set". This is absolutely nothing like the Autopia! There is no snow, but the landscape has a definite autumn or winter feel to it.

"Le Taxi antiques tunnel through Alpine Mountains". These gas powered autos were probably designed by Arrow Dynamics; Arrow designed many of the attractions in this park, and of course were responsible for more than a few Disneyland attractions. That mountain's resemblance to the Matterhorn is strictly coincidental!

"Alpine Sleighs glide around in the alpine scenery". According to one website, "The ride had elements of both a dark ride and a roller coaster. During the first part of the journey, the sleighs glided leisurely through a lush pine forest, past a towering waterfall, and into the mysterious "Der Hofheinzberg" mountain. The second half of the ride was an exciting high-speed adventure through dark tunnels and icy caverns with surprise drops and great special effects throughout. For a short time, the sleigh-riders even came face to face with the abominable snowman!". Hmmm!

"Aerial cars leave from Astroway Station, Alpine Valley". The resemblance to the Skyway is strictly coincidental!

If you'd like to go visit Astroworld... you are out of luck! The park was closed in October 2005, and was subsequently demolished. But I will post some more photos from this Viewmaster packet, so I'd like to think that Astroworld lives on.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two From Fantasyland 1960

Here are a couple of slides dated 1960, presumably from winter because you see lots of coats and long sleeves down below. But it's still a beautiful day! Both of these slides were taken from the Skyway.

We're heading towards the Matterhorn and will pass through it to Tomorrowland. Below us to the right is Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (with a considerable crowd in front of it), and in the center is a "tent" where you could get some grub. Hey quick, what's that to our left?

Oooo, it's a Pirate Ship! At this point it is still in the concrete swimming pool, but Skull Rock and the lagoon will be comin' along real soon. If we look closely at what's going on...

... you can see a group of folks talking to the Pirate, who appears to be mighty proud of his genuine wooden leg. Kids being kids, I'm sure he was asked how he lost his leg more than a few times. I say that it was bitten off by a great white shark. CHOMP!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monsanto Postcard

It's souvenir time again!

Today I want to share a neat oversized postcard showing the interior of Monsanto's wonderful plastic Home of the Future. I'd been collecting Disneyland postcards for a few years before I even knew this card existed. "You mean there's a jumbo card showing the inside of the Monsanto house??!". This card is a bit scarce, but they can be found on ebay occasionally for not too much.

I know that the house was periodically updated, and I am guessing that this is one of the later paint schemes. Ya gots yer avocado ovens and harvest gold carpet. That lavender room is pretty wild! Parts of the kitchen remind me of a trip to IKEA. This isn't the largest house in the world, but you know what? I think a lot of people would love to own a house that looked like this.

Here's the back!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New York World's Fair

Let's set the Time-O-Lator to 1964; destination - Flushing Meadows, New York!

Here's a "postcard worthy" photo taken on a beautiful day in August. In the foreground, a typical family (mom, dad, and 2.3 kids!) heads down the colorful Avenue of Flags towards the giant steel Unisphere, which looks particularly impressive here. The fountains help to give the globe the feeling that it is floating in front of the United States pavilion.

Here is DuPont's "Wonderful World of Chemistry" building. It contained two theaters that had two casts performing a show that included Chemical Comedy: "Live action is combined with tricks on film to trace the history of chemistry from ancient Greece to today. Du Pont fibers are displayed in clothes created by top designers." It also included Molecular Magic: " demonstrate the extraordinary properties of man-made materials, a performer holds a piece of red-hot metal wrapped in a thin chemical film, dips a piece of plain cloth into dye and pulls it out striped, and throws paint on a synthetic fabric without staining it." I'd go see that!

And finally, here's a general view with the Fountain of the Planets to our right, and General Electric's "Progressland" pavilion to the left. It all looks pretty fantastic, if you ask me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dismal Land!

Today's three slides were all taken on different days (not to mention different years), but they all have one thing in common; the photos were taken on gray, overcast days.

I had to lighten this 1965 image considerably, so it looks weird; but I liked it because it was taken from aboard the Mine Train. How would you like to have been stuck behind the person who decided they needed their umbrella up? The rocks are a-tumblin' and the train is just about to pass the saguaro cactus "forest".

This one is from 1962, and the Horseless Carriage awaits us. The driver is in shadow, and looks pretty sinister. "Room for one more, honey! Ha ha ha ha!!"

From 1963, here are the bears from the original Bear Country in Nature's Wonderland. They're playin' and scratchin' and climbin' that tree hoping to get some hunny. This scene seems to have been changed in subtle ways many times over the years. Bears came and went (I don't recall seeing the two cubs in the lower middle before), I guess Walt wanted to keep things as fresh as possible for repeat riders.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Those Dancin' Indians, August 1964

As much as I love Disneyland, going to the park in August just seems like a bad idea. The last time I did it, I was there all day and managed to get on 4 attractions. I think that half that time was waiting in line for the Rocket Rods, but even so. Oh, and did I mention that it was freakin' hot?

Anyway, these people have the right idea. Let's go to Frontierland; we can sit in the relatively new outdoor amphitheater (I believe that it was built in 1962) where it's shady and we can give our feet a break. And hey, there's a show, too! There's the Chief, who was the "master of ceremonies". You can't tell here, but his shirt was a vibrant Las Vegas magenta (sometimes he wore ultra purple too). The consummate showman! I'm guessing he warmed the crowd up with a few choice knock-knock jokes.

Looks like these dancers got new eagle costumes... if I recall correctly, the costume originally consisted of a head and the wings, but these guys are wearing full body suits that look more like penguins. As dumb as it sounds, maybe somebody complained about the amount of bare skin that used to be on display!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Ships

It's official! Today's "Gorillas don't blog" post is officially the "least exciting" in the history of blogdom. I'm both honored and humbled, and would like to thank the Academy.

Here's that Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. You know it, you love it! Or maybe you're just good friends, it's all OK with me. I still buy Chicken of the Sea tuna just because of this ship, believe it or not. Notice how all of the gun hatches are open, ready to fire upon hungry hoards of guests!

Here's that other ship, the Columbia. The figurehead is nowhere near as fun as the one on the tuna boat, but I like her anyway. See that small cannon up front? Occasionally the Columbia would be allowed to sink a Keelboat. Good times!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Christmas in July

Man oh man, it has been hot lately! As an antidote to the heat, let's look at some rainy Christmas parade photos from 1964.

There's the '64 tree, strangely placed in front of City Hall instead of right in the middle of Town Square. At least that's how it looks in this photo! Any idea what that wooden scaffolding might be for?

Yep, it's a Christmas parade. Folks sure liked taking pictures of the parades! In this case, we are in Frontierland, and you can see large bleachers have been constructed in the background. I admit that I would have climbed to the top and then looked at the construction for New Orleans Square (camera in hand, of course). This float has been "repurposed" from the 1959 parade involving the dedication of the Matterhorn, Monorail, and Subs.

Here's a jpeg that I scrounged from somewhere a while ago; it's the original concept art for this float. The final version was pretty faithful!

There are the famous wooden soldiers. Ha ha, I can see their underwear!

And it wouldn't be a parade at Disneyland without colorful costumes from people around the world. I think these lovely ladies represent Italy.

And last, but not least, my favorite of the bunch. To our right, in the shiny hat, is Saint Nicholas himself. Perhaps this parade didn't have the more familiar Haddon Sundblom Santa that we all know from those old Coca Cola ads. But who is that menacing, devilish figure to the left? It's Krampus, who "acts as an anti-Saint Nicholas where instead of giving gifts to good children, he gives warnings and punishments to the bad children." He is often portrayed with a long red tongue, as seen here. Is that cool or what?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vintage Disneyland RR Passes, 1961-62

From my meager collection of Disneyland paper, here are two passes for the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad. The trains belonged to Walt Disney, and he handed these passes out to friends, fellow train buffs, lucky employees, and so on. You could find his signature where it says "President" - - man, do I wish I had a signed one! In this 1961 pass, the Monorail is mentioned on the back as part of the agreement with Santa Fe, which was that their name would appear on all trains in the park.

By 1962, the design changed a bit. The train artwork was now in sepia (for that "olde tyme" look). But on the back they added a fantastic illustration of the Monorail, which is reminiscent of the attraction poster and at least one vintage flyer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fantasyland, October 1967

I've been digging through some old boxes of slides to scan some stuff that didn't make the cut before. Now I'm not so picky! Let's visit Fantasyland with a certain red-headed family that you might recall (or not...).

Dumbo is among the five attractions partially visible in this shot. Dad is accompanying two kids, and he looks like he's having a pretty good time going around and around.

Hello Snow, what do you know? She's got three of the Dwarfs with her, and they are pretty scary. If I saw Sneezy (that IS Sneezy to the right, isn't it?) in a dark alley, I would head for ze hills.

And lastly, everyone's having fun on Casey Jr. as he comes back to the station. Mom was clearly the shutterbug in this family, I have many photos of Dad, but none of her that I know of!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dance Circle (with no dancing), September 1961

Hola, amigos! I'm back from my trip to the mountains, and had a swell time. Wowee, is it ever pretty up there. Anyway, I'd like to thank those of you who were nice enough to leave comments while I was away, especially on post #1100.

I just can't seem to keep up with the sheer number of photos of the Indian Dance Circle in Frontierland. It was a popular subject for shutterbugs of all types. Don't worry, you'll be seeing them soon enough. At least today's photos are a little bit different...

... our photographer was probably just trying to get a good shot of the teepees (tipis?), and a rather large crowd has already gathered to watch the show. That guy in the foreground is finishing off his popcorn with gusto, while that other fellow is wearing a hat made out of a living child. These were all the rage in the early 60's.

On the other side of the Circle, the performance is just about to start. Or maybe it's already started! There's Chiefy Weefy (A "Gilligan's Island" reference that nobody will get but me), gettin' ready to get his groove thing on. I wonder if anybody ever made a sound recording of one of these shows? If so, it sure would be fascinating to hear today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Town Square, 1957

This lovely lady is the epitome of the ideal 50's woman. Just look at her! She's about to board the Omnibus, but there's always time for another picture to show to the folks back home. To the right, and mom accents her attire with a souvenir straw skimmer, and has a bag full of goodies. I think (but can't be sure) that her little girl is wearing a pair of mouse ears, too. Notice the sign for Liberty Street; I can't help wondering what it would have been like!

If we turn our noggins to the left, we can see the Disneyland band making an entrance. Vesey Walker is in the lead, and it's safe to assume that they are all heading to the flagpole for the evening flag retreat ceremony. Nothing much else to say about it except that Town Square looks pretty swell!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventureland, June 1964

Today we'll spend a minute or so in Adventureland. Why the heck not?

I think that if you are going to bother to put up spears and shields, and cap them off with scary human skulls, then maybe you don't want to brighten things up with the bright pink flowers of a bougainvillaea. But that's just me! Maybe it's a feng shui thing. Look carefully, you can see the red version of the Tiki Room Barker Bird to the left.

And there's my favorite gorilla, huffing and puffing on the side of the Jungle Cruise river. Years ago my brother said that he was pretty sure that the old gorillas were reincarnated as the Abominable Snowman (aka "Harold") in the Matterhorn. He didn't read it anywhere, just thought of it. And I have since heard that in fact, that is really what happened! Who knew he was so smart.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

1100th Post

Yes, it's "hooray for me" day (again) here on Gorillas Don't Blog. Welcome to post one thousand one hundred, a number I never expected to get to (since I planned on quitting at 1000). But Major P loves his readers, and so he soldiers on (in the third person, no less). I have a few random beauties for you in honor of this historical occasion!

It's 2:31 in Tomorrowland (thanks, Clock o' the World!) on a bright sunny day. The park is busy (but not too busy), and it looks shiny and clean. Dig that dude's fedora, he looks like a member of the press. There's a stroller behind him with a little girl, leg in a cast, poor thing. I try to imagine being able to visit the 1956 Tomorrowland knowing what I know now, and armed with a good camera and plenty of Kodachrome film...

Let's completely change gears and go to Frontierland, August 1957. Here's one of the short-lived Conestoga Wagons in a very nice photo. Are those Clydesdale horses? They're certainly not miniature, at any rate. Passengers are unloading, they should head on over to the Pack Mules in the background and take another bumpy trip through Rainbow Desert! I know I would. Incidentally, I've always like the detail of that elevated set of tracks, as if carts full of ore (or tailings) would move back and forth when we weren't looking.

Now it's April of 1960. We're still in Frontierland though, aboard either the Columbia or the Mark Twain, and looking toward the familiar burning settler's cabin. But the interesting part is that we can also see Cascade Peak under construction to the right, it's just being framed in. Pretty cool! If only they had used more steel and less wood, this peak might still be standing. Nobody came to Disneyland because of Cascade Peak, but it sure was a fantastic addition to the shores of the river.

Many thanks to the readers of this blog, and a special thanks as always goes out to those who take the time to comment!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jungle Cruise, 1960

"It's a Small World" was "The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed 'Round The World", and you had the Motor Boat Cruise, but the Jungle Cruise was the grandaddy of all cruises. For years it was pretty much all there was to do in Adventureland, unless you count the shooting gallery.

Today's photos must be from autumn or winter (yes, SoCal has seasons, they are just very subtle). Some men are wearing long sleeves, ladies are wearing sweaters (women are always cold!), and that tree in the background is bare. The custodial staff must be on a break, just look at that litter (a vintage popcorn box). Walt wouldn't be pleased!

Those natives are dancing, but they sure don't look happy... maybe it is an emo thing. Much of the Jungle Cruise still reflects a kind of a 1940's Hollywood outlook towards native people. It's all in fun of course, and adds to the period feel of the whole endeavor.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Autopia, September 1964

Here's a nice lady, gettin' all strapped in for her exciting ride on the Autopia! She's in a fabulous turquoise Mark VI vehicle, grateful to be able to drive, since her husband usually insists on taking the wheel.

I've probably commented on this before, but I've always wondered; could that employee who is helping her buckle up afford to own a little house and support a family on what he was paid in those days? My guess is yes.

There she goes!

I'll be heading up to June Lake (in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains) for a few days, starting today. But I have some new posts lined up, so keep checking in, even if I won't be able to!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Today's poster selection is a rare one! It's for the "Mickey Mouse Club 3-D Jamboree", which capitalized on the popularity of the Mouseketeers and the 3-D craze. The film debuted in the Mickey Mouse Club Theater (naturally) in the summer of 1956. According to imdb, it continued to run until 1964, which seems hard to believe, but then again, the MMC Theater was renamed the Fantasyland Theater in '64, so it might be true.

It sounds like it would be an amazing blast to the past to see Jimmy Dodd, Roy Williams, and the Mouseketeers in color AND 3-D! I wish this was included on one of the "Treasures" DVDs. Apparently part of the program included the 3-D animated shorts "Working for Peanuts" and "Melody" ("Oh the bird and the cricket and the willow tree....")...

As for the poster itself, the design attempts to simulate the 3-D experience with those mouse-eared kids and the lettering popping out beyond the proscenium and theater curtains. Notice the union "bug" in the lower right corner, you only see these on some of the early posters.

On an additional note, I did a test on my 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea poster, and am happy to report that the pink lettering glows brilliantly under a black light. Cool! When I have more spare time, I might try to take a photo of it under UV light (better get my tripod!) and see what kind of results I get.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What is it? September 1963

Here's a fairly mundane (and blurry!) 1963 photo overlooking part of the Sub lagoon and part of the Fantasyland Autopia. My questions is... what is that building that is under construction to the right? I'm not even entirely sure if it is on Disney property.

Take a look at this photo from 1966; "It's a Small World" is in place now, but behind it is that same building, now gleaming white. The roundhouse is to the extreme right. I looked on Google Maps to see if I could figure out where the building was, but just wasn't sure.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two From August 28, 1965

Here's a beauty of a photo showing the Moonliner towering above the Flight Circle. I actually kind of like the Douglas paint scheme, with the exception of their own blocky name on the side. Surely a better design solution could have been found. Nothing is going on inside the chain link fence, but there is a helpful sign to tell you when the next show would be.

Anaheim orange groves were transformed into a rather convincing faux desert, somehow my brain manages to edit out the stand of conifers in the background. Those tiny antelope are loitering near the watering hole, which looks more like a tar pit in this photo!