Monday, October 10, 2011

Frontierland, June 1962

It's time for a little more Frontierland.

All aboard the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland! Here's an unusual POV shot as the little train passes one of Cascade Peak's waterfalls. You can almost feel the spray.

Here's Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer Island. The island used to have a number of rock features for climbing and playing (Merry-Go-Round Rock, Teeter-Totter Rock), but they were deemed to be dangerous and were removed. Thanks, lawyers! Pirates have invaded the island, but you can still walk the trails, cross swaying bridges, and explore mysterious caves.


TokyoMagic! said...

And I can almost hear the Kids of the Kingdom singing "This Land Is Your Land" (or The Carpenters singing "Please Mr. Postman").

Chiana_Chat said...

How fun, a ride on the train in a lovely Nature's Wonderland scene and the coolest playground ever. Talk about a guy who knew how to build fun fusing childhood and adulthood. I mean, look at the Castle Rock pic: it's a playground set (hill, tunnel, spiral stair, teeter totter, merry go round) but it's swarming with people and most are adults. :D

Connie Moreno said...

I wanted to jump into that Castle Rock picture!

Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, I hope you are not hearing voices again, even if they are the easy listenin' sounds of the Carpenters!

Chiana, I agree; Frontierland has so many features that kids (and former kids) enjoy. Train rides, forts, caves, rafts, swaying bridges... it really is like the realization of some childhood dream.

Connie, if you jump into that picture, you'll be all blurry!

JG said...

Oh, now I really miss the Mine Train, what a great photo.

The big DLRR is now a fallback favorite, since there are so few rides where you can just sit and enjoy the view.

TSI was definitely the dream playground, and you are right, I would far rather have pirates than attorneys.

The new pirate playground version isn't so bad, it is far ahead of those sterile "big toy" plastic playgrounds you now see at all the elementary schools.

All in all, for my part, the pirates can stay, especially since Tom Sawyer is practically censored out of existence.


Orange Co Native said...

Hopefully in the next 10 years when the pirate craze is over, Disney will restore Tom Sawyers Island and rebuild the fort again. You don't need a pirate theme to get kids over to the islands. Kids just like to explore.

Although I do like what they did to Injun Joe's Cave with the pirate skeletons. It made the cave more interesting. However, it does not have to be pirates.

Did you know that there use to be Indian tepees on Tom Sawyer Island ? Just north of the fort.

Nanook said...

Of all the Disneyland attractions long since gone, clearly the Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland is my hands-down fav. You've got water; mountains; early AA figures; a beautiful train; Old Unfaithful; desert; rocks; caves (air conditioned on those hot OC days) & blacklight - including blacklight water dyes-! all happening on an expanse of acreage rarely seen in most theme parks. Plus a ride duration that clearly gave guests' their money's worth. Pretty damn swell.

Major Pepperidge said...

OC Native, I would love to see Tom Sawyer back on his Island! And like you, I am fine with the spooky skeletons. However, with the last "Pirates" movie grossing over a billion dollars, something tells me that Tom will have to find something else to do. As for teepees, I think they were shown on souvenir maps, but I didn't know that there were any on the island for real!

Nanook, amen to that! I loved Nature's Wonderland, it is one of my two "most missed" attractions (the other being "Adventure Thru Inner Space"). I wish it would be possible to recreate the attraction virutally!

Chuck said...

I love the Nature's Wonderland POV shot. Reminded me of my childhood POV on this ride, which was always one of my favorites. We always seemed to ride in the late afternoon, as the crowds wound down (we always visited in the off-season thanks to our 45-15 school schedule), the temperatures cooled, and the light got all warm and Kodachromy.

This memory is particularly timely for me as I spent a good chunk of today enjoying our local zoo from the vantage point of the cab of one of the locomotives as an "Engineer for a Day." No Painted Desert and the animals were all real (what a rip-off) but it was still pretty cool. And I got to ring the bell and blow the whistle! Best Father's Day present yet!

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, were you at the St. Louis Zoo by any chance (famous for its "Zooliner")??

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I wish Disney would just recreate the real thing! I say, put it behind Big Thunder and let them duke it out for attendance. Better yet, put Western River Expedition back there and build the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland on top of it! I would never happen!

JG said...

Major, I remember the teepees on the north end of the island.

They were not visible from the play area north of the fort, but could be seen from the river boat rides.

The story was that these were the "unfriendly indians", which accounted for the burning cabin and the fence north of the fort to keep the visitors out of the "treaty area".

I think this story was part of the riverboat spiel, or the canoes, or the Gullywhumper, etc.


Anonymous said...

I can assure you that the POV on the Mine Train was pretty good from the operator's position!!! Oh to be able to do it all over again....

Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, not that it would happen, but I wonder if there is actually room if some miracle occurred?

JG, I believe you! I would love to see photos though, 'cause that's how I roll.

Anonymous, I can only imagine what it would have been like. Jealous!

Chuck said...

Major - why, yes, I was at the St Louis Zoo.

I wasn't aware of just how widely reknowned the train was. The trainsets are just standard Chance Rides-produced C.P. Huntingtons, but there are 4 passenger sets and 5 locomotives (hey - just like Disneyland!) and they are lovingly maintained. They also have more train tunnels per capita than any other zoo in America - one with a beautiful view of the backside of water.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I've seen photos of the old Zooliner, which looked like a miniature version of the General Motors "Aerotrain". It was so cool! But I guess they removed it and now the train is more of an old-timey locomotive.

Chuck said...

You're correct - all five locomotives today are clones of the Southern Pacific's 4-2-4T CP Huntington, same as you'd see at many a zoo or kiddie park. Aside from St Louis, I've encountered them at the Toledo, Jacksonville, Ft Wayne, and Springfield (IL) zoos as well as at Charlestown Landing State Park in Charleston, SC, a park that can't figure out whether it wants to be a zoo, botanical garden, or historic site (and, incidentally, was featured in the 1967 version of the Circlevision 360 production "America the Beautiful.")

The engineers' breakroom at the STL Zoo had a good display of historic photos of the railroad, including several of their miniature LWT12 Aerotrain. When the STL Zooline opened in 1962, there were two trains - the Zooliner and - you guessed it - a CP Huntington clone. At some point, management decided to go with a steam theme and let the Zooliner go. From a maintenance standpoint, it makes sense to have mechanically identical locomotives, and steam locomotives - and internal-combustion engines wrapped in housing designed to look like steam locomotives - are popular with kids. Still, I would love to have seen the Zooliner in its heyday.

Based on the photos, it seemed to me to be a pretty accurate copy of the locomotive at least. I've always liked Disneyland's Viewliner and have a special place in my heart for the old train at the Oakland Zoo, but those were more "artist's impressions" rather than models of the real thing. Incidentally, we have one of the two surviving Aetotrain locomotives here at the Museum of Transportation in STL.

There is at least one Zooliner still in operation at the Washington Park Zoo in Portland, OR. According to Wikipedia, this locomotive has been running since that zoo's railroad began operation in 1958, so it's not where the STL Zooliner went after it was retired, but I wonder if perhaps STL bought theirs from the same Portland manufacturer after seeing it in operation.