Saturday, July 31, 2010

1964 New York World's Fair Mystery Photos

Who loves a mystery? I do, I do! Well, sometimes. Other times mysteries drive me koo-koo bananas. Today's post features four photos from the New York World's Fair that have left me completely baffled. Maybe you know something about 'em!

At first I thought that this was a photo from GM's "Futurama II", but on second thought it is too cartoony and stylized. Futurama was pretty realistic. Here we see lots of rivers, factories, and highways. There are also plenty of oil wells and some cattle... could this be a pavilion for Texas or Oklahoma?

These elves live in trees, but they aren't Keeblers. Some also live in 'shrooms. I can't even guess what this display was from.

Suddenly I have an urge to see a Paramount picture. Maybe this majestic papier-mâché mountain was part of the Alaska or Washington State exhibit.

And then there's this thingamajig. It looks like one of those astronomical gizmos that Galileo or Copernicus might have used to chart the cosmos. Only this one is floating in space. Or something.

Friday, July 30, 2010

More 1956 Fantasyland

Here are two more from a group of early Fantasyland photos!

Well, somethin's going on at the Peter Pan dark ride (to our right)... there's a sign out front, a mysterious workman is skulking around, and there's no line. Thanks to my incredible powers of deduction, I'd say the ride is down for maintenance. Notice the red "ribbon" over that doorway directly in the middle of the picture... it almost certainly was waiting for some lettering of some kind. I think that the little corner booth slightly to the left of it might have been a souvenir stand, or even the Fantasyland Art Corner. The green background with red/orange stripes reminds me of the book "Goodnight Moon" (which I finally finished!) for some reason. Hey, if you look way in the background to the left you can see the sign advertising the opening of Storybook Land.

More Fantasyland; I can't tell if it's just overcast, or early evening, or both.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Universal Studios Smorgasbord

I had a bunch of random, nothin' special slides from Universal Studios (from various years). Since the quality isn't that great, I decided to go with quantity to make up for it!

Before the shark from "Jaws" terrorized the glamour trams, before "King Kong" went bananas (get it?), guests were able to experience the miraculous "parting of the Red Sea" from "The Ten Commandments". This is a fun effect, though a bit too obviously mechanical to be amazing. It was brand-new in 1973, but was removed in 2006. I like the bit of backlot visible here, convincingly resembling a Civil War-era town (or at least it does to me).

I think this might be roughly the same area, only from 6 years earlier, so no Red Sea. The waterfront buildings are slightly different in style (perhaps a bit more "western"); perhaps this area represented a town on a river - there was a Steamboat near here at one time.

As part of the "New York Street" area, we get a look at the snowy steps (in July!) of the Mott Street Mission. Once again, the attention to detail is very convincing. Was this scene in any specific movie?

Foam-rubber boulders gave ordinary men the chance to feel like superheros! This is the first time I've seen lightweight logs added to the mix. I remember the rubber boulders from when I was a kid; at that time they were on a dirt area, and if you got one of those things thrown at your head, you got filthy - and yes, it hurt! Not that I would know from personal experience.

Here's another chariot, presumably from Ben Hur. It is not as fancy as Messala's chariot, so it might be the one that Charleton Heston drove in that legendary race.

I decided to include this photo in spite of the blur. You can still see how this tableau could make for a realistic farm in any TV show or movie.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last two from April 1966

Today is bittersweet for ol' Major Pepperidge; those of you who have been paying attention and not tweeting and chewing gum and listening to rock and roll may recall that I have been posting many fine photos from a single family lot. Over 30 posts! Snow White's Grotto and Skull Rock, the Penny Arcade and the Shoe Shine Stand (which includes the photographer), the Douglas Rocket and the Phantom of the Opera; to name but a few!

Well, today I am sharing the last two images from this bunch. It is odd, I actually feel a connection to these total strangers. Maybe I'm crazy! But there ya go. The photo below shows freckled "Chip" (thanks again, Chiana!) and his mom posing on some koo-koo futuristic benches (what's the story on those?) in Tomorrowland. I hope that Chip grew up to be happy, and that his folks lived long, rewarding lives.

Finally, howsabout this lovely night shot of the Hall of Chemistry? Thanks to the addition of colored lights, Tomorrowland became a beautiful place after dark. Now if only Chip's dad had stepped inside the Hall of Chemistry and snapped a few pictures. But you can't have everything I suppose.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Chrysler at the World's Fair

The Chrysler pavilion had several BIG exhibits. When a structure towers over you, it can't help making an impression. Plus it is a proven fact that people enjoy feeling like ants.

Here's the "World's Biggest Automobile"! Interesting styling, with its two rows of triple headlights. Fair literature tells us that the car was 80 feet long and 50 feet wide. How tall? I'll have to guess. I say 35 feet. The tires were two stories tall, and if a man could sit in the driver's seat, he wouldn't be able to reach the steering wheel. When you walked beneath it, you could see "all the working elements of a real car".

Over on "Engineering Island" there was the "World's Biggest Engine". Here it is from the outside; the fan turned, as did the air filter. All of the best cars have spinning air filters.

In a touch of fantasy, the giant engine was powered by a "50-foot dragon", which you saw as you walked through the heart of the thing. The ... 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. If you use your imagination, you can just make out the anthropomorphic faces on the piston

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mickey Mouse Club at Disneyland!

Hello homies, I'm back from my mountain vacation, and am tanned and well-rested. Those fish are harder to catch than I thought. Thanks to everybody for continuing to "tune in", and for the comments and large wads of cash!


The original Mickey Mouse Club was a phenomenal hit during its original 1955 to 1958 run. And when the show was reintroduced to a new group of kids during its syndication starting in 1962, ratings were strong. From 1963 through 1964 the Main Street Opera House at Disneyland became the "Mickey Mouse Club Headquarters" where children could sign-up and get their own official membership cards in the club.

Here's a great picture from 1963, and none other than Mickey Mouse himself poses with two fans. I like some of the details, such as big sis's rainbow-striped dress and her ticket book, or the popcorn box in that other's girls hand

Check out this neat certificate that would have been issued to kids. It is signed by "Ginny" - Ginny Tyler, who went on to become a "Disney Legend" in 2006. From that official Disney Legends writeup: "When the original "Mickey Mouse Club" was re-edited and repackaged for syndication in 1962, Tyler was appointed Head Mouseketeer, live from Disneyland." She also provided the narration to some of the beloved Storyteller albums, including my well-worn "Peter Pan" record. I can still hear her saying, "I'm a codfish"! You had to be there.

Another neat souvenir is this metal button.

Here's an Official Membership Card. It's neat, but not as neat as Matterhorn1959's mint unused example!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Three From July 1961

The boys in the Sweatshirt Gang have just finished their trip down the icy slopes of the Matterhorn. This was before they stapled two bobsleds together to double the capacity of the ride. I think we can safely say that the kids enjoyed the trip! Most of you know that there is a "Tomorrowland track" and and "Fantasyland track", but I once got to ride the secret third track. It has a loop, and you get free ice cream at the end.

This is a familiar view, but fun; I like to imagine that I'm down there with the guests, feeling the heat of the pavement, hearing the sounds, and trying to decide which lines I am willing to wait in.

OK, what could possibly be so interesting about those flowers? Except maybe that they're fake.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alaska 67 Exposition

Today's photos were an interesting find! What the heck was the "Alaska '67 Exposition"? A mini-World's Fair? I'd never heard of it. Time to ask the internets.

In 1967, Alaska celebrated the 100th anniversary of its purchase by the United States ($7.2 million dollars, or about 2 cents an acre!). As part of the festivities, the '67 Expo was built in Fairbanks. According to Wikipedia, it features pioneer cabins, historic exhibits, and the steamer SS Nenana, one of the steamboats that traveled Interior Alaska rivers during the gold rush era. The summer exposition that opened the park in July 1967 was attended by U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey but was plagued by rain, financial problems, and low attendance. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful sky in this photo from the opening month!

Look at that neat old locomotive! Riding high on a berm too, where have we seen that before? I have no idea what those interesting, rusty metal objects are to the left. They must be of alien origin!

Looking back towards the entrance from inside the expo, we can see an old luxury Pullman car on display. Could this be one of the presidential cars used for various "whistle stop" tours? The rides were strictly of the "off the shelf" variety, the kind you might find at any carnival or county fair. Hey, I'd still ride 'em! I'd be full of corn dogs, funnel cakes, popcorn, cotton candy, dill pickles and lemonade. URP.

From the looks of things, there are not many takers for these spinning attractions.

Unfortunately, just weeks after these photos were taken, Fairbanks suffered a massive flood, the worst disaster in Fairbanks history. By mid-August, rising waters had inundated the Expo. Damage to the city was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, you can still visit the site today; the park became "Alaskaland", and now is known as "Pioneer Park". There's lots of fun stuff to do there, including the northernmost 36-hole miniature golf course in America. Let's go!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Frontierland Fitty Six!

Ol' Major Pepperidge is still in the mountains; yessir, the streams are full of gold nuggets, and the trout jump into our boats when I sing trouty songs.

I'm not sure why these vintage Kodachrome images are so dark greenish and odd-looking. Maybe they were exposed to radiation during one of those atom bomb tests in the 50's. It's really the only logical explanation.

Anyway, here's an unusual view of Chief Wavy, probably taken from the Disneyland Railroad. For all of his skills as an outdoorsman, we managed to sneak up on him - in a train! He's really lost his mojo.

In the early years there was evidence of another small Indian encampment along the Rivers of America. That cluster of teepees did not stay there very long - - many plains Indians were nomadic after all. Two petrified elk pause to take a sip from the magical butterscotch river.

There's the Indian Village that guests could visit. Watch some dancin', check out the teepees, paddle a canoe - it's better than Vegas.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mickey Mouse Theater, March 1956

Setting our wayback machine to March 1956, we can head on over to Fantasyland for a peek at the Mickey Mouse Theater. What I wouldn't give for that shield over the entrance! Wonder if some lucky collector has it hanging on his wall (I'm looking at you, Matterhorn1959!). The famous 3-D Jamboree would not debut here until June, and the place was renamed the "Fantasyland Theater" in 1964. For now it looks like you could relax in air conditioned splendor and watch some classic Disney cartoons.

This dark and murky photo shows the old Pavilion Lanai. It looks like the "Haunted Lanai" here. "Aloha, foolish Haoles...". There, I did it again! A haunted Adventureland attraction. It'll be big I tell ya, BIG!

Hey, you know what sucks about spending a week in the mountains? NOTHING!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Store Windows, January 1966

Greetings from June Lake! Here are some interesting photos while I am away:

One of our intrepid photographers took some unusual pictures of some Christmas-themed Main Street store windows in January 1966 (or maybe December of 1965). There are no notes as to which shops we are looking at, but it's kind of fun to guess.

This first example has some porcelain and ceramic items in the window, including those creepy dolls that come to life at night and terrorize people (the victims always wind up in a straight jacket, because who would believe those loonies?). There appears to be some colorful glassware in the background, so I am going to say that this is from Ruggles China and Glass Shop. Who among you dares to defy me??

I can't attribute this window to any specific store. It is interesting that Winnie the Pooh is featured here (little did we realize how his popularity would soar); Disney's first "Pooh" featurette was "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree", which was released in February of 1966. I think we all remember that one, especially the Russian Roulette scene.

Rolls of Hallmark wrapping paper probably mean that this is a window from the Hallmark store. I figured that out all by myself! You can see the Sunkist store's sign reflected in the window. A tall glass of ice-cold orange juice sounds mighty tasty right about now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mom & Kids, July 1961

I love this photo of a mom and her 3 boys. Of course you've got those posters in the background, so that's always a plus. But the fact that the kids are wearing nearly identical outfits cracks me up! Sure, one rebel is wearing a red sweatshirt rather than blue (obviously he's a commie!), but they've all got their plaid shorts, white sneakers and white sweat socks. Even mom has the same shoes and socks. There must have been a sale at JC Penney.

The warm July sun has forced the trio to shed their sweatshirts and celebrate their individuality. Wait a minute, that sounds like hippie talk! What's worse, hippies or commies? Anyway, I'll forgive them because they are having such a good time on Tom Sawyer Island.

Just a reminder that I am up in the mountains hunting grizzly bears with my bare hands... I look forward to responding to everybody's comments when I return on July 25!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Knott's! September 1969

You know, if I wasn't catching world-record trout today on my mountain vacation, I'd probably be at Knott's.

Here are two nice photos from Knott's, circa 1969. I believe that the striped awning to our right was where you could wait for a genuine San Francisco cable car. See the tracks in the blacktop? The shiny, shiny tracks. So shiny. I'm happy just to look at them, but for those of you hankerin' for a chicken dinner, there's a helpful sign directing you thusly. And if you are a ghost and are looking for a town just for you, there's another sign for that too. They've thought of everything!

Ah, those picturesque storefronts in Ghost Town, I love them more than I love rocky road ice cream. Let's play a game, shall we? Find the trash can that doesn't seem to belong. Time's up! I know, that was a tough one. I wonder what is on display in the window of the Town Hall? Can't quite make it out. Probably communist propaganda!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Matterhorn at Dusk, September 1967

Dusk... that fleeting time when the day has ended, but night hasn't quite begun. I can think of at least 4 words that rhyme with "dusk". But that's another story.

One of the Matterhorn bobsleds is mere moments away from an exciting splashdown into icy water (runoff from the mountain's glaciers!). I'm kind of surprised that the splash has not been made bigger over the years (some folks - not me - apparently love to get wet), but perhaps it's just not practical. Oatmeal would slow the bobsleds down even more. You can see some of the ride operators in the upper level of the chalet.

This slide was über dark, but I wanted to include it because I like how it captured a Skyway bucket and a bobsled at the same time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Autopia & Monorail, July 1961

Well, homies, I may be relaxing by a beautiful lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains, but that doesn't mean that I have forgotten about you. Here are two nice Tomorrowland views...

The Autopia is a favorite attraction for kids who don't have their driver's licenses yet; at the end of a long day at Disneyland, my nephew said that the best ride was "the little cars". But that doesn't mean that adults can't enjoy them too, y'know. Mom is looking forward to her turn behind the wheel (which I only just noticed is on the right, whuzza??) and a chance to navigate those miniature turnpikes, overpasses and clover leafs without dad's interference.

This shot is blurry, but it's still worth a look. That line for the Subs is already long, and the blue Monorail is about to get underway. You can just see the red and yellow checked awning of Fantasyland Station in the distance.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fantasyland at Night, April 1966

I've got two lovely night photos for you today (courtesy of Chip's dad)!

How about this neat view of Fantasyland? The long exposure has turned most of the moving guests into phantoms, but we didn't really want to look at them anyway. Here's something that puzzles the bejeesus out of me: take a look just past that yellow Fantasyland ticket sign, and it appears that there are some people in an area that is 3 feet (or so) below the normal "street level" of the rest of Fantasyland. What the heck?

This is about as nice a photo of Sleeping Beauty's Castle as you could hope for. Classy. In fact it's got class up the whazoo! The rooms in the turrets got free HBO, which explains the eerie blue light emanating from within.


I will be heading up to the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains for just over a week (returning July 25), so I will be unable to respond to your comments (and of course won't be able to comment on my favorite blogs!) until I return. But I hope you'll still tune in, I have new posts ready to go for the whole time I'll be away. See ya!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Along the River, 1956

Truly early photos of Disneyland (taken in the first year or so) often hold a lot of appeal because they manage to convey the "rough around the edges" quality of the park. Particularly in Frontierland!

I love this picture looking across the Rivers of America, past the Old Mill, with the Mark Twain at rest. I believe that this was taken from the Disneyland RR (?). You can just see a sliver of the yellow banner indicating the path to the Indian Village, Canoes, and Keel Boats. This hardly even feels like a photo from an amusement park!

There used to be a river-front bandstand in those days (you can see it along the shore here), but when it wasn't being used for music, it provided a shady spot to relax. This is a great picture, with the nearly-silhouetted figures in the foreground, and the picturesque buildings of Frontierland (the original Casa de Fritos among them) in the distance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Main Street Transportation, August 1958

I love the various Main Street vehicles that add color and motion (and the occasional startling *HONK*). Some of them are either gone or merely static displays, but at least they are there as a snack for the eyes.

First up is this Surrey, with a pair of snow-white horses pulling the thing. For some reason I always think that it looks like a miniature hearse. It's that glossy raven-black that does it. Hey, what's that vehicle behind it?

It's the fabulous firetruck with the itty-bitty horses. I don't know how efficient this contraption would be at actually putting out a blaze, but at least it would look good doing it. And isn't that all that matters?

Why walk around Main Street when you can just stand in one spot? I ask that question about 30 times a day and have never gotten a satisfactory answer. Looky here, we kept facing in the same direction with our camera glued to our faces, and captured yet another vehicle, this one powered by alfalfa and sugar cubes.