Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Triad from 1957

Here are three photos from a 1957 bunch.

Check out this nice overview of the edge of Tomorrowland, with the Autopia and passenger train. As is always the case in these early views, it astounds me to see the lack of development just over the berm. Trees! In Anaheim! I guess the stories were true.

Monstro's prodigious appetite cannot be appeased! His insides sure are dark. And scary. Love the finely painted details on the canal boat...

The gentleman in front will be surprised to see that his hair has turned white with terror after surviving Storybook Land. Will he ever be the same? Please, no loud noises or sudden movements.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tomorrowland, 1960

Just a couple of Skyway images today, kids. I didn't eat my Wheaties, so this is all I could manage.

Matterhorn. Skyway. Nitro burning funny cars. Which of those three doesn't apply?

Oooo-weee! I know we've seen similar view, but this one is still pretty nice. You emerge from the dark cave of the mountain, and get an eyeful. There are many familiar landmarks, such as that thingamajig, and that other one too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Log Ride, August 1973

"Log Ride"... it doesn't really sound like fun, does it? But it IS fun, by gum. In fact, after all these years it is still one of the best rides at Knott's Berry Farm. Here are two photos of that thrilling final plunge, past that lovably crazy rock work.

Now, from another angle... I wish I was there right now!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arriving at Disneyland, February 1960

Sit back, relax (unless you're on a unicycle) and try to remember the excitement you used to feel as you headed towards Disneyland. Can't do it? Lucky for you I have pictures; 4 of 'em, from 1960, to help.

Here we are on the Santa Ana Freeway, the happiest freeway on earth. I'm sure glad that our car isn't conked out like that one to the right. Let's honk our horn and wave sympathetically (but for god's sake, don't stop to help). The offramp up ahead is for "Concord Street". Since I am not of this Earth, I'm not so sure how close we are to the park.

Look, we're almost in! That sign says "exit", but it has nothing to do with us. Dad is pointing out the shiny new Matterhorn to his girls. They might be too runty to ride it, though.

Oh boy! Through the turnstyles we go...

... and we're there. Take lots of pictures, lady.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pirate Ship and Faux Pirate Ship, August 1958

Here's a terrific photo of the Weasel of the Sea Pirate Ship under blue skies and on glassy waters. The red and white striped sails add some serious graphic pizazz to an already pizazzified place. A big group of sporty-looking people are coming and going out on the crooked pier (it would have been a lot cheaper and less interesting to make that pier a straight shot to the door).

You'll often see photos of the Columbia labeled "Pirate Ship", but we know the truth (even though it has played the part of a pirate ship on rare occasions).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Griffith Park Miniature Train, circa 1956

Griffith Park is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles; it's a sprawling, rugged and hilly park that includes the beautiful art deco observatory, the Greek Theater, and the Los Angeles Zoo. And the Hollywood sign! It also has the merry-go-round that was a favorite place for Walt Disney to bring his daughters; he recounted that as he sat there eating peanuts, he envisioned a place where kids and adults could have fun together. Which makes it sound like Griffith Park is a big snooze. But I love it!

Besides the merry-go-round, another feature is the Los Angeles Live Steamer's Railroad, founded in 1956 by railroad enthusiasts "...for the purpose of educating people in railroad history and lore and to further the avocation of live steam, gas-mechanical and electronic scale model railroad technology."

Here are three photos, that probably date from 1956 or '57, showing the miniature railroad. Walt Disney shared a love of miniature trains, although this example is a more modern diesel-style locomotive.

As you can see, the park really is a kind of oasis in the middle of L.A. You can still ride miniature trains in Griffith Park, but when I looked at the website, it appears that this specific locomotive has been retired. There are now three different trains: a steam train, a diesel train, and an electric train.

The Live Steamers Railroad also obtained the barn that housed the control center for Walt Disney's miniature train layout at his home in Holmby Hills (it was saved by Diane Disney Miller, and reopened in Griffith Park in July of 1999). The barn is open to the public on the third sunday of every month, with guided tours from 11 am to 3 pm. Be there or be a dodecahedron.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two From June 1959

I can't explain why exactly, but I love these photos. I see this elderly lady with her cane, and can imagine her as a rosy-cheeked young woman, full of laughter and mischief. Even though she appears stern as she poses on the bridge into Frontierland, I'll bet she was a lot of fun. Some of the coolest people are old people! And I'll bet she was a good cook too.

There she is again; who knows, maybe her mother came out west on a covered wagon, passing through plains and deserts and Indian country. Maybe not; I'd still like to hear her life story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Astroworld Viewmaster, part 2

Here are some more vintage Viewmaster views of Houston's ASTROWORLD! See the first part here, along with a little bit of history for those of you who missed it.

"Astroway passing Skyrama and crossing over the Lagoon". Those buckets sure do go waaay up there!

"The 610 Limited puffs into Western Junction Station". I don't know anything about Astroworld's railroad, but it looks quite nice here. I can only assume that the locomotive lives on someplace else?

"Dr. Featherflowers Show and Crystal Palace". Like Knott's, Astroworld had it's own medicine show, which was popular (based on this photo!).

"Aerial view of Alpine Valley". It's amazing to me how the flat landscape creates a relatively uninteresting panorama. Compare this to many old Skyway images, with Disneyland's many hills and berms.

"Animal characters greet kiddies at Children's World Entrance". Those generic/odd animals are very appealing to me, particularly the lion or dog or whatever the hell that thing is.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Indians. Dancing. 1957

Sometimes collecting Disneyland slides can drive you crazy. I have a bunch from 1957, and they are generally pretty nice. But the photographer took six pictures of the Indian dancers in Frontierland, while only snapping ONE measly photo in Tomorrowland.

Anyway, I figured I might as well post them all of those dancing Indians at once and get them out of my system. I'm not saying they lack charm; I just have too darn many photos of this Disneyland attraction. I can't even think of what else to say about them! So without further ado:

Did the two young women with the same striped shirts and black skirts know each other?

Here endeth this installment!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Progressland and More! August 1964

Four from the Fair!

Let's begin with this swell photo of General Electric's beautiful "Progressland" pavilion, constructed with "... a unique lamella pipe dome springing from a compression ring girder at the third level." But you can tell that just from looking, can't you? And in case you didn't already know, at night the dome performed an ever-changing light show that made it appear to rotate. Whoo-ee boy, I tell ya! And of course it also contained Walt Disney's "Carousel of Progress", among other wonders to behold.

The photo is dark and moody, but you can still make out the "Autoparts Harmonic Orchestra". Made up of various bits of automobiles, this "orchestra" performed (sans musicians) a tune that only its mother could love. There is something so wonderfully goofy and unexpected about this idea, and very "Disney" somehow.

Taken from the "Better Living Center", we can see much of the Fair, including Pepsi Cola and Unicef's "It's a Small World" in the foreground. There's the Tower of the Four Winds. Beyond that is the Eastman Kodak pavilion with it's undulating "moon roof" and gigantic photo prints (changed regularly to keep things interesting).

This is another dark one, showing the exterior of General Motors' "Futurama". The curving, concave facade looms over the guests; it actually feels a bit ominous, though maybe it's just the lighting.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Along the Rivers of America, 1957

If you are like me and live in a van down by the river, than today's photos will make you feel right at home!

This first image takes a look at the relatively new Tom Sawyer Island, with the fantastic Castle Rock. Kids love forts, treehouses and caves (even if they've never seen real examples of those), and they love to explore and climb. Just looking at this picture makes me want to see and do all of those things.

Even though this photo is blurtastic, you can make out the Stagecoach trundling along the dirt path. It carries a full load of passengers, including the usual herd of kids hanging off of the top of the thing. Can I sign your cast after the Stagecoach falls over?

Hey, there's that treehouse I was talking about before. Tom Sawyer built a doozy, you could walk up a staircase to get to the top instead of climbing a ladder made of chunks of two-by-fours nailed to the tree (or yegads! climbing a rope). I can't think of a better place to plan picaresque adventures*.

*Picaresque is the word of the day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two from Knott's

Today's photos are not extraordinary, I just like 'em.

You don't even get a very good look at Knott's here, but there's still something about this view that I enjoy. The crowd (and it IS pretty crowded) adds a lot of energy to this "ghost town". The lady with the bouffant spent an hour on her hair that morning, teasing it and yelling at it.

I wish I had a pool like that one! And what a nice setting, with all of the trees surrounding it. There aren't many people who remember the rare giant sea monkeys on display at Knott's. They ate bananas just like regular monkeys.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pirate Ship and Castle, 1956

Here are two nice views from 1956 Fantasyland!

This guy's got the cool 50's shirt, the greasy 50's 'do, shades (in hand), and cigarette (don't smoke, kids!). The back of the Pirate Ship looks fine; there was no lagoon yet, but they did put in a strip of sand to give that "tropical island" feeling. It didn't really work though, did it. In the background, plenty of people are waiting to ride Casey Jr.

Nothin' much to say about this one. Mr. Cool (!) is annoyed at having to remove his shades again. The park must have opened recently judging by the herd of people crossing the moat. I have to comment on those useless little fences that surround the grassy areas... what good is a fence that you can step over without breaking stride? I think even Walt Disney thought that people would respect the fences, but he was in for a surprise.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Thursday

Odds 'n ends, from the vault!

Tomorrowland at twilight is a wonderful thing, especially in 1962. The lights are on back at the Rocket to the Moon attraction. If that family with the little girls takes a right past the tropical plants, they can check out the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walk-thru. Do it!

This one is a heart breaker! I found a group of terribly damaged slides from Disneyland (and a few from Knott's), and couldn't bear to get rid of them in spite of their rough condition. Like this one, taken inside an anonymous store. Any guesses as to which one? I have no idea. You can see some of the merchandise offered, such as "Slinky Eyes", "Klik-Klak_Blox", Frontierland keychains, too-large lollipops (honestly, who can finish one of those things?) and other ghostly items that require a bit of imagination. Nice outfit on the kid, but just look at those black, dead eyes; he's coming to get you!

And finally, from July 1965, it's nearly 10:30 in the morning. The park opened at 10 o'clock, so we haven't missed much; there's plenty of time to do all of our favorite stuff!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

POSTERAMA 10 (special black light edition)

At last, it's the event that nobody has been waiting for!

I am a Disneyland attraction poster enthusiast, no doubt about it. Way back in June, I shared a photo of my "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" poster; in the comments, Tim of Vintage Disneyland Tickets wondered how it might look under a black light. SO... I dusted off my old black light, and set up several posters to see what kind of results I could get. It was tricky, and due to the long exposure times (about 25 seconds!), a tripod was an absolute necessity. But it was a fun experiment, and the outcome was interesting.

First off, let's see that 20K Leagues poster! As you can see, only the pink lettering fluoresces. Something tells me that the poster was never displayed under a black light; the hot-pink ink was probably used because it "pops" nearly as much in daylight. (Chris, when you return we need to check your poster again!).

Now this is more like it! The rare "Space Station X-1" poster looks pretty amazing thanks to the magic of ultraviolet light! Due to the black background, it looks fairly "glowy" even under regular illumination... but there is something wonderful about the little "city lights" on Earth's surface glowing like tiny embers. I would not be surprised if this one was displayed under a black light, perhaps inside the attraction itself. We may never know for sure...

I'll have more black light fun for you coming up in a future post!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Subs and Monorail, December 1964

At a recent garage sale, I purchased a box of slides that yielded only two Disneyland photos, but they are swell!

Here's a beautiful picture of the sub lagoon as darkness approaches; the glowing lamps reflect in the water, looking like rocket flames. Everything else looks cool and blue-violet. Since this is December, it's probably only about 5 o'clock in the evening!

Monorail Yellow swooshes into the station at the Disneyland Hotel. Bubble dome, bubble dome! Yes, I get excited. What could be cooler than stepping out of your hotel room to take a sleek, futuristic Monorail to Tomorrowland? Nothing, that's what.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Three from June 1959

Hey lady, you don't need to wear your little black cocktail dress and pearls to Disneyland! But it's nice that you did, and you get a gold star in your permanent record. Nearby, two cast members in identical outfits saunter beneath the rustic entrance to Adventureland... they are discussing hippo repellant. My favorite tiki can also be seen nearby, looking friendly rather than menacing. Overhead, we can get a pretty good look at what exactly is hanging from those crossed tusks.

Is it supposed to be a severed head? There are certainly plenty of skulls nearby. Or maybe it is just a carved mask. Either way it is cool, and every living room needs one.

Here's a nice shot of the castle...

... and a rather "ho hum" look at Rainbow Ridge. No line for the Mine Train - again! Notice that the train's cars are the "pre-Nature's Wonderland" dark green.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Patrick (aka "Matterhorn1959"), Tim (aka "Vintage Disneyland Tickets"), John Delmont (creator of the "Secret Tour of Disneyland" DVD), Matt (aka "Amazon Belle"), and Patrick's friend Michael for the swell time at the D-23 Expo yesterday.