Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Skull Rock and Mine Train, August 28, 1965

Here's a familiar (but nice) view looking down on Skull Rock over in Fantasyland; somehow I never really noticed that taller outcropping of stone behind and to the right of the skull. From the front I would imagine that forced perspective helped with the illusion that the skull was part of a small mountain range. And perhaps the faux peak also helped to isolate Storybook Land on the other side, making it feel more like a cozy little land unto itself. If you look up toward the top edge of the photo, you can see great piles of earth, presumably part of the construction of "It's a Small World" (which would open in about 9 months); and near the upper right corner you can see a row of candy-striped lights that were a part of the old Fantasyland Station - soon to be removed.

The unusual perspective on this photo, taken aboard the little Mine Train, is pretty neat. And since this is from a stereo slide, I had hoped to make a "wiggle-vision" version. But it turned out too jarring; the people in front of us leapt around, back and forth, making one's eyes fall out of their sockets. Anyway, look at how the forced perspective works here as well; if you could walk into that opera house, it would be the size of a small child's bedroom.


Chuck said...

Gorgeous shot of Skull Rock today!

I always liked to sit on the right side of the train on MTTNW to get a better view of Rainbow Ridge. I loved imagining what it would be like to be allowed to roam free on that hillside and explore the buildings.

I seem to remember a recording of an opera singer that played as you went past the Opera House. Anybody else able to confirm that? Have I asked that question before?

Nancy said...

Some nice sunshine going on at Disneyland! These are two things I so wish where still there.

I like the two Mickey balloons we can see on the tuna boat :-D

Rainbow Ridge...that name makes me smile!

Melissa said...

I want to walk down the track and push all those naughty elbows back into the cars!

Raimundo said...

Thanks Major, for pictures of two of the most missed areas in Disneyland!
Yes Chuck an opera singer was heard as you passed the building, probably "Lotta, the Miner's Darlin", whose bill is on the entrance posts(there is a close photo of Lotta in first editions of "The Art of Walt Disney", by Christopher Finch).

Anonymous said...

Actually, one heard Donald Duck and a female opera singer belting it out when it was the Opera House's turn in the Rainbow Ridge audio rotation. Great pictures, thanks for posting them!

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I also dreamed of being able to explore various attractions. Walk through the Haunted Mansion! Swim through the Submarine Voyage! As for hearing an opera singer, I don't recall it, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Nancy, hopefully you are getting some sunshine where you live after such a fierce winter.

Melissa, they should have had special "elbow pusher" cast members, armed with electric cattle prods.

Raimundo, I have heard a number of Rainbow Ridge tracks (the raw unedited tracks), but don't remember an opera singer. Maybe I've just forgotten it!

Major Pepperidge said...

Anonymous, I hope you are kidding!

Tom said...

Shots of long-lost attractions are always welcome; can never see enough of Skull Rock or the Mine Train. Too bad there wasn't low-light video technology back then so we could see what the inside of Rainbow Caverns looked like.

Chuck said...

Actually, I kind of remember the Donald Duck thing, although for some reason I've also got a chicken singing it stuck in there. Perhaps audio from "Mickey's Grand Opera?"

Anonymous said...

Absolutely not kidding. Donald and the female opera singer was one of our favorite things to listen to while waiting for the train or the mule pack to come back around. I have audio of it somewhere.

K. Martinez said...

I always assumed the faux peak was constructed to hold the water system that supplied the flow of water to the waterfalls for Skull Rock. The walkway to the Skull Cove dining area was underneath the rock structure as well, so the water had to travel over it. Also there's a higher waterfall coming out of that faux peak closer to Monstro the Whale. This faux peak along with the earlier "rockwork range" behind Monstro the Whale probably did help insulate Storybook Land from the rest of Fantasyland. Just my rambling two cents.

Major Pepperidge said...

Tom, my memories of Rainbow Caverns are pretty fuzzy; imagine being able to see a high-def video like we can do today!

Chuck, it *must* be the famous Clara Cluck/Donald Duck duet. What else could it be?!

Anon, wow, I am pretty amazed. Early on I think the sounds from Rainbow Ridge were more "authentic" (though still occasionally humorous). Later on they added more jokey stuff from the saloon and barber shop; maybe that's when they added the Donald Duck stuff.

K. Martinez, I am sure you are right; there were probably all kinds of pumps and water storage tanks hidden inside those rocks. As far as I know, the skull itself was empty except for a green light!

Anonymous said...

Very nice pictures this time, love my Skull Rock.

On my last visit, I spent a lot of time studying the rocks now at the end of Monstro, it appears now that the curved ridge of rock visible just above the umbrella might still be in place, but the color and texture of the rock to the left today is now slightly different from the Monstro rock.

You can see in the photo that Monstro's prison rock was brownish, and the Skull rock was more gray-blue. Today, the rock that backs up Monstro is more reddish brown along the "seam" where the Skull was removed.

In the photo, you can see how the color change works to make the whole ensemble seem bigger.

A similar effect now occurs on the avenue between Fantasyland and Big Thunder. The Big Thunder red rock colors continue on into the plaster materials of the Village Haus and are very subtly faded out into the more conventional creamy stucco and brown tones of the "Black Forest" style. I think the reddish tone of the rock behind Dumbo today is part of this gesture.

Very careful attention to detail by the Imagineering team.

I do so miss the Mine Train.


Dan said...

Thanks for posting the Skull Rock photo, Major: a perfect angle. You can just fall into the details (such as the balloons Nancy spotted on the Crow's Nest.) Pirate Ship/Skull Rock were gone by my first visit in '87, making this type of pic all the more appetizing.

The piped-in Donald Duck audio is news to me as well: I wonder if that was a special recording for the park or pulled from a vintage short? Either way, good stuff!

Anonymous said...

As a former MT operator, I can't recall the Donald Duck comment. But I remember occasional music from the Saloon and the cries out of the Dentist office. As for walking around the buildings, there wasn't much room for that. There was a trail to the top of Rainbow Ridge. An idyllic place for taking a break or a lunch during the day. A picnic table/bench was up there at the time.

Raimundo said...

Could there have been multple Rainbow Ridge sound tracks, played on different days? The Queen/Witch in "Snow White's Adventures" seems to have 2 or 3 seperate lines in a few places. I know and love Clara Cluck,but after 36 years I recall a wistful song in a melodious female voice at the Opera House, AND a male chorus joining in at times; also raucous noises at the saloon,the dentist office howling, snoring from the hotel, a telegraph clacking etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Raimundo. Yes, now all those sounds are coming back to me. Though I wonder if the telegraph was that you heard at the Frontierland Train Station.

Graffer said...

The 1941 film The Reluctant Dragon featuring comedian Robert Benchley on a tour of the Disney Studio.
One segment features Benchley running into Clarence Nash (Donald) & Florence Gill (Clara Cluck) performing their opera routine at a recording session.

Here is the segment on Youtube:

Chuck said...

I just watched both "Mickey's Grand Opera" and the "Reluctant Dragon" sequence on YouTube. I'm positive I heard a variant of that rolling past the Opera House in 1976.

I'm guessing everyone's memories are probably valid as soundtracks change over time.

K. Martinez said...

@JG - Interesting observation about the Big Thunder/Village Haus color transition. I love stuff like that. I'll definitely have to check that out next visit.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I need to be more observant, like you! It would be cool to notice details like the ones you did in those rocks. Of course we've seen Monstro himself changing color, so it is no surprise that the rocks around him are different. And I keep trying to think of Big Thunder's rocks merging into Fantasyland at any point, but I'm sure you are right!

Dan, I'm glad you liked that one… I loved Skull Rock, but admit that I have become jaded from seeing so many photos! So knowing that others like a picture helps me to see it through their eyes.

Anon, I have recordings of the saloon and dentist sounds, but don't have any from the Opera House. I think those sounds must have been added much later.

Raimundo, I wouldn't be surprised if there were different tracks. Now I have to dig for my Mine Train and Rainbow Ridge tracks to see if there is anything that might be opera related!!

Anon, oh man, now I am wondering if there was a telegraph sound effect from Rainbow Ridge as well! It kind of makes sense, though you could be right, it might just be from the train station.

Graffer, I have The Reluctant Dragon on DVD, now I want to watch it the whole thing!

Chuck, I choose to believe your memory!

K. Martinez, if I remembered to check out all the things that commenters point out, I'd never have time to ride the rides! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm certain that there was either: a telegraph sound effect, or a typewriter coming from the Rainbow Ridge Clarion, or both.

Both might have been played elsewhere, I.e. not exclusive to RR.

..somewhere in those effects. I thought I had all the tracks, but I ant find te raw audio, just the albums. Il keep trying.

@KM & Major, glad you enjoy, it just jumped out at me.