Monday, September 30, 2013

Fantasyland, 1956

Today I am sharing the first of about 20 vintage glass slides featuring Disneyland circa 1956. They have all turned pink to some degree, so I had to do a bit of restoration in an attempt to bring them back to life.

First up is this nice child's-eye view of Sleeping Beauty Castle; considering how colorful the castle has become, it might be surprising to see it looking like it was made from granite and slate instead of candy. The people add great 50's quality to the scene.

Even with the Teacups at a standstill, the photographer couldn't manage a clear shot! I've always been fond of those loopy decorations on some of the cups.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two From Main Street, 1957

Two boys pose with their grandma at the Hub - the point around which all of Disneyland rotates. You knew that the park rotated, didn't you? The kid with his belt up around his belly button is my hero - he reminds me of Vern from the movie "Stand By Me". I always like views of the castle with the old ice cream vendors out front. Over to the right is a small hill that would eventually become the location of the Snow White Grotto and the wishing well.

Everybody is bundled up (California style), so it must be Wintertime. The Disneyland Band surrounds the flagpole - not sure if they played there at noon, or when the flag was raised in the morning, or what.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Electronics Trade Show, April 1958

Today's "Anything Goes Saturday" images are from a small group from 1958; they are from what appears to be some sort of electronics trade show, though I have no idea where this show took place. Anyway, I enjoyed the groups of salesmen and nerds (i.e. "People a lot smarter than me") and the presence of vacuum tubes. There was something elegant and beautiful about those tubes... I still remember the soft orange glow from the cabinet of my parent's old "hi-fi" when I was a kid. Somehow it was comforting.

Look at these crazy guys; you know they were up to no good once the trade show ended. Machlett Laboratories specialized in transmitting tubes (particularly triodes, according to Wikipedia) and x-ray tubes.

This lady was no mere "booth babe", she could sell Westinghouse products with the best of them. If only we knew what she was saying. More tubes. Thyratrons! What is it about Jurassic technology that is so awesome? 

The view from above; how fun would it be to hop into our time machine so that we could walk the aisles and see what wonders were to behold! I wouldn't understand any of it, but it would still be cool. Looming above everyone is a giant microwave antenna, or radio transmitter or whatever it was - it would make Kenneth Strickfaden proud, that's all I know.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two From October 4, 1957

Today's images come from a group of only four slides. Four! Who goes to Disneyland and only takes four pictures? Of course, I go to Disneyland and take NO pictures, but I am normal. Very very normal. Anyway, the slides were hand-dated "October 4, 1957", and I always love it when I can look up the gory details of a specific day (thanks to Jason's Disneyland Almanac). 

October 4 was a Friday. It was a Date Nite; the park opened at 10 am and closed at midnight; the high temperature was a pleasant 75 degrees, but bring your overcoats, because the low was 53. And - my favorite bit of data - the attendance was a mere 6,738. Amazing. And hard to imagine.

Presumably all the kids were in school during the day, so we see a lot of old-timers exploring the park. This is a lovely view of the entrance to Adventureland in its pre-Tiki Room incarnation.

From the poop deck (hee hee!) of the Pirate Ship we get this view of Fantasyland. I like that huge, ornate stern - wonder who wound up with that when the ship was reduced to toothpicks? Skyway buckets glide above the Teacups, with Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Peter Pan's Flight in the background.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jungleland USA - August 1963

Good old Jungleland USA; it probably doesn't mean a thing to 99% of GDB's readers, but I have a soft spot in my heart for this charming little animal park (formerly located in beautiful Thousand Oaks, California).

I didn't remember that there were giraffes at Jungleland. Did you know that giraffes were originally called "cameleopards"? It's true! Ostriches were called "turkeysauruses". (I made that up). I like the detail of the waterfall cascading down the hillside.

This bear just loves to play in water. And on a hot day, I'm sure more than a few people wished they could jump in and join him. Don't do it, people from the past!

A variety of birds enjoy another pond - ducks, geese, flamingos, secretary birds (I think), all living together in peace and harmony. It's beautiful, man! I love the rustic look of Jungleland.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More Instamatics

Oh yaz, oh yaz, it's time for some more vintage Instamatics!

We'll start with this pretty awesome picture of the old Aunt Jemima restaurant over in Frontierland. I could eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so this would still be a favorite of mine if it was around today; judging by the number of people, it was pretty popular back then, too. Does anybody know if guests could eat in the upstairs area visible in this photo? 

Wowzers, look at all of the people on the Columbia. That must have been on one of the days where they gave away free cigarettes or something (that happened, right?). Old Glory waves inspiringly from the stern, while the Swiss Family Treehouse (with its red leaves) is right behind us. And hey, there's Aunt Jemima's restaurant, with the turquoise umbrellas.

Guess what I've never done? Well sure, I've never done that, but I've also never been inside Disneyland's City Hall. Not even to get one of those "It's My Birthday" pins, or to complain, or to demand the return of the Haunted Shack over at Knott's. Maybe if I had an annual pass I would take the time, but I'm always in too much of a hurry.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New York World's Fair, 1964

I have finally scanned a large batch of slides from the '64 World's Fair, so there will be some more interesting images to come. But for now we have three from my earlier scan-fest. 

I like this shot of the Maryland pavilion; it is almost worthy of a souvenir guide book. Maryland was famous for it's sailing ships, only they built them too small to be useful, as you can see here. Hamsters loved them, though. Inside, you could have watched an 11-minute film about the battle of Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote the words to "The Star Spangled Banner". And you could get crab cakes! Yum. 

7-Up became a popular soft drink when vast supplies of un-cola nuts were found in the Amazon rain forests. There was not really a pavilion at the Fair - instead there was this 107-foot clock tower (yet another place where visitors were encouraged to meet), and the "International Sandwich Gardens", where sammiches grew on trees. I'll have a ham and cheese on rye. Stay away from the tuna tree.

Here's a colorful shot of the Mexico pavilion. From the souvenir guidebook: Exhibits of Mexican art and history dot a plaza with a fountain pool, where concerts, dance recitals, and other events are held. Below, ceremonial dancers circle a 114-foot pole where aerialists would ascend and then swing from ropes, which is just crazy. Cool to watch though! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Frontierland '57 (And a Trip Report)

Hello GDB readers; I am putting my half-assed trip report at the end of this post so that you can easily skip it if you want to.

Walt Disney hated it when employees left a 1950's pickup truck parked in his 1870's Frontierland, but he didn't seem to mind it when an aluminum boat with an outboard motor was in plain sight. Because they show up in a surprising number of old photos! Maybe those rocks did a better job of hiding it than it seems. A workman in white coveralls is on his way to do something. BUT WHAT? The Indian Village looks pretty sleepy here, even the taxidermied buffalo is drowsy.

There used to be a few bears living along the river, fishing and scrounging for pic-a-nic baskets. They would usually be spooked by passing watercraft, and ran away, yowling like a whiny teenager who doesn't want to mow the lawn.

Awwww, isn't he adorable?

AND NOW, the moment that two of you have been waiting for... a trip report!

September 20th was the last day of Summer, and somehow that seemed like an appropriate time to visit Disneyland. It's been a while! A number of things that were new to me are old news to the annual passholders out there. This was strictly a DIsneyland trip, we did not venture into DCA; hopefully we will manage to go there and dedicate an entire day to the park early next year.

The weather was nice as far as I was concerned…. overcast all day, but never cold; we arrived shortly after the park opened - we would have gotten there earlier, but traffic was heavy-ish and for some reason we were routed to the Simba lot instead of the main parking structure.

Cast members told us that they often close the parking structure in the morning on days that they expect to be busy, and then reopen it for later visitors. We felt as if we were being punished for showing up in the morning, but whatever. It worked out OK, since we already had our tickets; we were able to hop onto the Monorail near the hotel and arrive at Disneyland in futuristic comfort and style! 

The park was busy, but for the most part it wasn't a problem. We rode everything that we wanted to ride, and in most cases did our favorites multiple times with lines moving quickly. Probably one of the longest waits was for Casey Jr., because they were only running one train.

Here are some random impressions from that day:

Space Mountain's "Ghost Galaxy" is such a fun Halloween overlay, I love that ride! The nighttime projections on the exterior are cool as well. Early in the day the queue wasn't too bad. In general, the lines continued to get longer and longer as the day progressed, which is typical - all the O.C. locals come over for the fireworks, Fantasmic!, and a churro.

The exterior of the "Alice in Wonderland" attraction is a mess, I hardly recognized it with all of the tarps, railings, and the leafy shapes that were supposed to be half decoration, half camouflage. It looked more like a temporary ride at a cheap carnival; hopefully somebody is working on a way to improve this embarrassment.

While riding "It's a Small World", it seemed to me that there have been many MANY significant changes to the various scenes over the years (and I don't just mean the additions of the Disney characters or the new "America" scene. I wish I could somehow compare the ride from the 1960's to the way it looks now, scene by scene. The façade of IASW was surprisingly grimy due to the soot from the stacks of the Disneyland locomotives; perhaps it will get cleaned up when the attraction closes for its Christmas makeover? 

Speaking of the Railroad, I always love taking a ride or two on the Grand Circle Tour. The trains looked beautiful, and we had a fun conversation with a pair of little boys who enthusiastically told us about all of the rides that they had been on so far. They were having a swell day!

SO…. I rode the new, much-maligned Matterhorn Bobsleds. And you know what? They were FINE. I am over six feet tall, but I had no problems; yes it was a snug fit, but my knees were unscathed at the end of several rides. I was relieved, and a little bit puzzled about all of the very negative comments. Maybe we have a lot of VERY tall Disneyland fans out there? 

The voice of Mara in "Indy" seemed to be the same as it always was, so I guess the change (to a female voice?) was not well received.

The Haunted Mansion was busy busy busy all day, I don't recall waiting in such long lines before. It is the 13th anniversary for the holiday overlay featuring Jack Skellington, and I loved the new fun effects that were added this year. I won't spoil them for you, because I was glad that I hadn't been spoiled.

I finally saw the "Soundsational" parade, which was lots of fun. The fireworks were nice, but as far as I could tell, they haven't changed for a while. 

After the fireworks, the crowds became absolutely insane. Amy and I looked from the castle down toward the Train Station, and I don't believe I have ever seen it so crowded. It probably wasn't even that unusual by today's standards, but even so, it was at that point that we started thinking that it might be time to leave. We thought we'd try one final ride on the Mansion, but Frontierland and New Orleans Square were completely jammed because of the upcoming showing of "Fantasmic!".  Instead we bought churros at the hub and relaxed as the teeming masses swarmed around us, and then shopped on Main Street (I didn't find anything I needed). 

After that, we hopped back onto the Monorail for the trip back to the Simba lot, and on our way back home. It was a great day, but my feet were glad it was over!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Church of Reflections, Knott's Berry Farm

I doubt that there are many other amusement parks with real churches (actually used for Sunday services) on their grounds. But that was how Water Knott rolled! Chris Merritt's "Knott's Preserved" tells us that Walter originally wanted to relocate the building that had been the First Baptist church of Downy (built in about 1879), but building codes forced him to recreate the structure, saving the original steeple.

The photo below is circa 1955, when the church was brand-new to the park. It almost looks like a very convincing movie set; the little family passing by is the perfect touch.

Here's another photo, taken in 1967. The church itself hasn't changed, though the landscaping around it has. Some shrubs have been added, and simple wooden benches so that guests can contemplate the mysteries of the universe in comfort. 

And (also from '67) here is a rare shot showing the interior with its stained-glass window. I assume that the window was designed by Paul Van Klieben, who also worked on the portrait seen in the Little Chapel by the Lake. That's right, Knott's had a church and a chapel! Both are gone now.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Around the USA

(Oops, I forgot to set today's post to automatically publish at 12:01! Sorry this one is a bit late).

How did I choose today's images? I shook my computer vigorously until these pictures fell out.

This first one was a bit of a mystery, but the "Dry Gulch R.R." helped to determine that these four boys were at Hershey Park (circa 1964), in lovely Hershey Pennsylvania. Everything is made of chocolate! They are wearing matching t-shirts from Lake Wales, Florida - hopefully they visited Spook Hill while they were there.

I liked this photo of a sign for Dinosaur Caverns, with its grinning T-Rex; today the caverns are known as the Grand Canyon Caverns. Discovered in 1927, they were first called Yampai Caverns, then Coconino Caverns, and from 1957 to 1962 it had the "Dinosaur Caverns" moniker (no dinosaurs were found there, though). Red smoke flares helped to determine that the caverns - now thought to be among the largest network of dry caverns in the world (over 60 miles) - actually extended all the way to the northern part of the Grand Canyon.

From 1955 comes this photo from "Castle Rock", a nearly 200-foot high geological limestone stack found in Michigan's upper peninsula (near St. Ignace). The stack was formed when glaciers receded, wearing away much of the surrounding rock, but leaving this feature behind. In 1928, a man named C.C. Eby bought the stack, built a souvenir stand and offered visitors a chance to climb the staircase to the top of the lookout.  

Here's a neat vintage postcard showing how it looked back then.

Over in the historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado, you can still find the Bent Elbow saloon & restaurant. The original Bent Elbow was built in 1907, and started out as a 14-room bordello. Later owners changed it to a more respectable business, but it burnt down in 1968. It was rebuilt, but this photo (from about 1960) shows the original structure, complete with a giant gunslinger on top. 

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the USA in your Chevrolet!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tomorrowland X 2

Today we will stand at the entrance to Tomorrowland. But we won't go in! It's OK, these pictures make me happy anyway.

First up is this crisp shot from 1958. The little ice cream stand to our right is doing boffo biz; even grandma and grandpa (center) enjoy their frozen treats. Grandma is traditional and likes her ice cream on a stick, while gramps prefers his in sammich form. Meanwhile, the original Tomorrowland (pre-Submarines and Monorail) beckons me.... but all I do is bump my forehead on my monitor. Frowny face. 

Now it's September, 1959. The focus is a bit soft, but you can still see some changes from the previoius year. The decorative flags add a festive air to the world of tomorrow, and that's because of all those new attractions that were built in a stunningly short time span. And of course the new attractions are advertised with some fabulous posters - the first two on the left are for the Submarine Voyage and the Matterhorn. To the right, I can juuuust make out another Sub poster, as well as a silvery Monorail poster.

NOTE: I will be at Disneyland today! It's been a while. So please forgive me for not responding to comments. I will read and reply to all of them tomorrow! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Disneyland Band, November 1972

Here they come, walkin' down the street. They get the funniest looks from, everyone they meet! Hey hey, they're The Monkees! OK, I lied, these aren't The Monkees, but wouldn't that be cool? What you didn't know is that, like the Pre-fab Four, the Disneyland Band lived together and had all sorts of wacky adventures. They slept in one long bed (like hillbillies), had crazy parties, and played pranks on each other. But when one band member was in trouble, they all rallied together, put on their leather jackets, and beat the stuffings out of the offending party. It was hilarious.

Over in the Carnation Plaza Gardens (sigh), the band performs a mid-day concert, with President Pooh making a surprise appearance. He knew how important it was to mingle with regular folks. Meanwhile, Joe just can't wait for his turn to bang on the kettle drums.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vintage Mickey Mouse Pinbacks

My horoscope said that I can expect some changes today, and that I should call a friend who I haven't talked to in a long time, and that travel is in my future, AND that I should do a blog post featuring more vintage Mickey Mouse pinback buttons. Wow, how do those astrologers do it? 

The pin on the left and the one in the middle are from a set featuring various popular comic characters of the day; Popeye, Snuffy Smith, Babe Bunting (who?), Smitty, Felix the Cat, Dan Dunn, and the always lovable Hairbreadth Harry, for example. These are among the most colorful and best-designed pins of the 1930's... the Mickey and Minnie pins are no exceptions. To the right is a pin advertising the Mickey Mouse Club, airing on KVOS-TV in Bellingham, Washington. 

Now for some little guys (all of these are less than an inch in diameter); To the left is one of my favorites, another unusually colorful example. These tin-litho pins can get pretty dinged up, but this one isn't too bad. Next, how about some Mickey Mouse Hose (hoses?), or some MIckey Mouse Undies? You should buy them at Penny's during their big "Back to School" sale.  

At the height of Mickey's popularity, individual theaters produced pinback buttons for kids who belonged to the early versions of the Mickey Mouse Club. In this case, it was the Fox Hollywood Theater. Next is a somewhat generic Mickey pin, though hard to find in this small size. The third pin is an odd one, supposedly associated with the Mickey Mouse Magazine and other Kay Kaymen enterprises. "Spingle-Bell-Chicko" was some sort of cockamamie secret password. And the fourth pin is one that I can find nothing about! J.C. Penny, we already know that you could buy your back to school supplies there. But what the heck was the "Publix-Princess" Mickey Mouse Club?!

Oh yes, there are more vintage Mickey pinbacks to come, if you are interested!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Town Square & Rooftop, 1966

Here's a nice shot of Town Square, looking toward City Hall. You can see some red, white and blue bunting on the light poles, so I am going to guess that these were from around the 4th of July. It's pretty empty for a summer day. Water fountain alert! There seems to be something going on to our left...

... why, it's a tour guide and her minions. "Walt Disney totally said that Disneyland would never be finished or something, and he once said that Disneyland was my land. He also said some other stuff that I will never forget. Any questions?". That's how I would do it. They are huddled beneath the shade of a tree, another clue that it was summer.

When riding the Skyway, not many people were inspired enough by this view to snap a photo. But it has some interesting details, like the Disneyland Hotel in the distance, and the sail of the Columbia peeking up over the trees. Or the series of missile tubes on the roof in case the Russkies get any ideas. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Parking Lot, early 70's

The Happiest Cars on Earth could once be found in the old parking lot (pre-California Adventure). "Darn it, Joan, I could swear that the front bumper of our car is curved upward at the outer edges". Their car is a Volkswagen named Herbie, for what it's worth. Hey, where do we catch one of those trams? This is going to be a helluva walk to the front gate from here. Maybe a good half mile. But even way out in the boonies we can see the futuristic Mark III Monorail zipping toward the Disneyland Hotel. We can also see the thrilling high-tension power line attraction. What a view you get from the top of those towers!

Ah, there's a tram. Good, my feet are already sore and I've only been walking for two minutes. One of the members of The Buffalo Springfield is putting on his hat so that people will recognize him - he loves the attention. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Skate, August 1982

The Skate was one of eight diesel-powered submarines that plied the Tomorrowland lagoon. And let's face it, it was the coolest, because it encouraged everyone to skate. How many other subs did that? None, that's how many. Tony Hawk saw this submarine and now he's a millionaire. I saw the one that said "George Washington" and now I have wooden teeth. Coincidence?

If only the photographer had captured the Skate doing a "900" (two and a half revolutions through the air).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

South of the Border!

South of the border, down Mexico way... but not very far into Mexico! In fact, Nogales (in the Mexican state of Señora) is right on the border to the US (it is adjacent to Nogales, Arizona). Which makes is a convenient and popular destination for American tourists. Bars, restaurants, strip clubs, curio stores, fireworks (I added that last one myself), Nogales has it all! It's where I go to have my annual face lifts.

I like this first shot, from March 1955, looking down Aveninda Obregon. you can see some of the clubs, restaurants, etc, that I told you about in the first paragraph. And you thought I was lying! It looks very vibrant and fun. Check out the cars! I couldn't help noticing a sign to the extreme left, featuring a certain famous cartoon mouse.

In this postcard from roughly the same era, we get a better view of "Mickey Mouse Curios". I'm sure Walt Disney spent lots of time here when he wasn't making cartoons or building Disneyland.

On a later postcard, the sign has been updated, and so has the store... The NEW Mickey Mouse Curios store. From what I can glean from the interwebs, the store sold cowboy boots and other clothing items.

Now back to 1955! This savvy couple has discovered the store where they could get the best liquor deals in all of Nogales. I'd like a big bottle of pulque (to pour on my Cap'n Crunch). Is the lady's purse made of bamboo?! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Matterhorn, August 1963

I'm not sure why I like today's first photo so much; it's not a spectacular composition or an ultra-rare subject; You do get a good sense of the massive scale of the Matterhorn, and I love the waterfalls, the little stone bridge, and the old Skyway buckets passing through the nasal cavity. And I can picture myself walking with the crowd toward Fantasyland (what should I ride over there?), Sub Lagoon to my right, hearing the happy screams of bobsled riders.

What a great shot of the old single-sled bobsleds (in fact, you get three sleds for the price of one!); the riders have survived their harrowing journey through the mountain, thank goodness mom didn't lose her glasses.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Random Pix

I have three unrelated random images for you today!

First up is this nice shot of one of the park exits, circa January 1960. I love that a train is waiting at Main Street Station (beneath a vivid blue sky), and that we can see many wonderful attraction posters lining the wall in front of the Mickey Mouse portrait (which is hidden by those trees). Speaking of Mickey, the mouse himself makes a cameo appearance! 

From March 1959 we get a glimpse right up the center of Main Street USA - in the middle of the "wishbone" between the tracks of the Horse Drawn Streetcar. A Surrey and the Fire Truck are headed in our direction, I hope they don't run over the officer walking to the left. Main Street looks so gloriously uncrowded!

This last one is relatively recent - July 1986. Does 27 years ago count as recent? This nice lady's name is Rosemary, and she was at the park as part of a KRLA (channel 5 in Los Angeles) private party. Rosemary is excited to meet one of the original Country Bears - I think this one is Liver Lips McGrowl. I'm trying to ID the location, but there's not much to go on... it's probably somewhere over in Critter Country.