Monday, October 08, 2012

Nature's Wonderland, August 1960

It's always a pleasure to spend a few moments revisiting Nature's Wonderland... especially when the photos are not the same old thing. Incidentally, Nature's Wonderland had only opened about three months before these photos were taken.

This first one is my favorite, a "you are there" scene as we ride in a bright yellow mine car through the Painted Desert, amidst strange rock formations shaped by wind and water. Some boulders are precariously balanced on top of those spires, and the rumbling of the train causes them to spin and tumble. Up above us, a bobcat looks down as if ready to pounce!

Over in Beaver Valley we see a flock of (what else?) beavers! These large, semi-aquatic rodents are renown for their industry, building dams and lodges and even a few motels. Sadly, beaver populations declined drastically when unicorns became more popular.


Nanook said...


I believe that would be a 'colony' of beavers. (But I do love the idea of a 'flock' of beavers-!)

And that's also a mighty fine lodge they built.

Rich T. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this Monday awesome -- I do love Mine Train photos! :)

K. Martinez said...

In the first pic I see two bobcats (I think).

Is that a wolf or a mountain lion in the upper-left background of the second pic?

Maybe it's late and I'm seeing things. Great images of Nature's Wonderland!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Thanks for the great pix. I can almost hear Dallas McKennon giving the spiel along the way. The musty smell and the cool spray when entering the caverns. The tame and lame factor that cost this attraction it's life is what I miss the most. Rollercoasters (even dressed up) are a dime a dozen.

Melissa said...

I'm sure the beavers in Walt's family park only built a darn instead of a dam.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, that was my attempt at being funny, which obviously flopped!

Rich T., I love 'em too.

K. Martinez, I didn't notice the critter in the second picture, but when I look carefully it sure looks like a wolf (albeit a *small* wolf). Good eye!

Alonzo, it's been so long that I don't remember the smell of Rainbow Caverns, though my brain can substitute the smell of Pirates of the Caribbean!

Melissa, I'm surprised he used the word beaver.

Mark said...

I still have fond memories of this ride. It was my grandfathers favorite and I loved riding it with him. I've been searching family archives for photos I took as a kid. Thank you for sparking memories

Anonymous said...

Orange Co Native

At least Disney brought the beavers back around Tom Sawyer Island in the the past couple of years. You can see them as you ride the boats around the island.

It is really too bad they have done away with nice calm attractions such as the Mine Train. The roller coaster rides are okay, but it is nice to have a variety for a change of pace every once in a while.

Tom said...

My favorite ride that I never got to go on. Great pics, not the usual angles! Now if we could just get a few good ones from inside the mine...

Orange Co Native said...

Nice pictures too. I always enjoy Mine Train pictures.

Anonymous said...

Tom, Photos in that kind of environment are very challenging. The longwave UV light that activates the dyes in the water also tends to overexpose the film because it is sensitive to UV as well as visible light. Hence, even if you had a meter on the camera, you'd likely get overexposed images instead of anything really useful.

Since there was no instant photography like we have with digital, you'd have to process the film, figure out what went wrong, and try again--on another visit to Disneyland.

To do it, you'd need to have a filter that would block the UV but let in the colors of the fluorescence. The same sorts of problems occur when trying to photograph fluorescent minerals.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you can see yourself in your computer's web camera, take an infrared TV remote and point it at the camera and push the button. You can actually "see" the LED on the screen because the sensor is also sensitive to Infrared (IR) light.


Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't make the Mark Twain a fast ride. Maybe it could speed around the rivers like a ski boat, and zoom and bounce down some rapids in front of the burning cabin. That slow, cool, ride around the river (especially at night) is too quiet and boring.


Major Pepperidge said...

Mark, I'm glad today's photos brought back some fond memories!

OC Native, I don't remember seeing the beavers the last time I rode the Twain, maybe I was looking in the wrong direction.

Tom, believe me, I would be THRILLED to find good shots of Rainbow Caverns…

CoxPilot, how about a pirate-themed roller coaster?

JG said...

This is a great picture of the bobcat, I loved this ride.

I remember how happy I was when the roller coaster opened, because it was new and different.

It took years to realize what I had lost.

My fear is that they will take out the Jungle Cruise, since it is the Adventureland counterpart to this lost masterpiece, but maybe Indiana Jones will fill that slot.

Thanks for the pictures and the memories, Major, and friends.


Nanook said...


I never doubted for a second using the term 'flock' to describe a grouping of beavers was in the comedic realm. But as the saying goes: Dying is easy; comedy is hard". But more importantly, these images clearly warm the hearts (me, of course) of GDB followers. Sometimes the wrong decisions get made for the 'right' reasons. And if this group is to be considered an accurate representation - Disney should have gone back to the head-scratching phase before summarily destroying their most-beloved attraction from the past.

Thanks again for these swell images-!

Snow White Archive said...

It's great to view photos from the actual ride. If you haven't seen it, check out the blog by Sam Towler who has been constructing a model of the attraction for the last 7 years!

Orange Co Native said...


The beavers are building a dam on the island side as you head back to dock. It is where the keel boat use to be half sunk a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

K. Martinez, great spot! I had forgotten there were two bobcats. The one on the rock and the one on the cactus surrounded by boars. I rode this countless times in my youth but my memory was fuzzy on this.

I have an original switch plate sign that references wiring for what I assumed was the bobcat and boars but now I'm wondering if it's for both bobcats or what. The plate (just scribbled in marker on a snapped off rectangle of wood) was rescued from inside one of the fake boulders next to a wiring board. (I was a teen explorer and the ride was closed for extinction.)

I realize this is a long shot but does anyone recall the movements of those bobcats and boars?

The plate has these markings:

3-head up
4-head up
5-head up
6-head up
7-head turn

Could this refer to the boars and one of the bobcats or both or...? Any theories? Interested to solve this mystery.