Monday, February 02, 2015

Tomorrowland 1963

Months ago, I received an email from GDB reader/commenter Nanook; he had attached a jpeg… an aerial view of Disneyland taken in 1963 (from Wikipedia). Nanook's eagle eye spied a large awning  that spanned a portion of Tomorrowland (see it below, circled in pink), and he wondered if I had ever seen any other photos in which that sunshade could be seen. Well, it just so happens that I'd just received some 35mm negatives, and one of them showed a ground view that included that very feature.

The awning doesn't look like much when viewed from straight on, but it's definitely there! It's quite a coincidence that I received this photo only a day or so before Nanook asked his question. 

Meanwhile, I confess that this photo has been retouched to a somewhat extreme degree; the negatives in this batch were almost all in horrible shape… the plastic looked as if it had been eaten away by some caustic substance. I've never seen anything like it before! So, to make the picture look better, I quickly painted in a gradient to replace the sky, where the damage was most obvious. It actually looks pretty OK now, though if you examine it closely, you'll see all kinds of weird edges. I was too lazy to spend any more time on it!

Here's the "before" image…  ay-yi-yi! What the heck happened?

I only managed to salvage two other photos from the batch, and you'll see those in a future post.

GDB reader Nanook has helpfully reminded me of some photos that I posted long ago (2007!) that give a nice view of the awning. Hey, I can't remember all 8000+ photos, can I??

He has also pointed out that my "1963" date is certainly wrong (I think that the damaged negative was sold to me as being from 1963). Nanook thought it might be from 1965, but reader TokyoMagic's comment below… he thinks it might be from even later than that!


TokyoMagic! said...

I'm not seeing the Fantasyland train station in that aerial pic, or any train tracks for that matter, so I'm assuming this was taken when the train route was being bumped out further to the north for the addition of It's A Small World.

Great job on the photo retouching, Major!

Anonymous said...

It must be an illusion, but it appears that two of the monorail beams (where it first goes over the sub lagoon) are missing.

Anonymous said...

Major, I have another aerial shot that shows those sunshades in place, but never a ground point of view until this one.

Amazing stuff.

I'll search for that aerial and send it if I can find it.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, you make a good point! As for the photo retouching, it was "quick and dirty", but it came out OK if you don't look too closely.

Anonymous, it DOES look like parts of the beam are missing! It has to be an illusion, doesn't it?

JG, I would like to see any other aerial shots of the awning. Meanwhile, see my addendum to the post!

Nanook said...

@ Tokyo Magic & Major-

Tokyo Magic makes a good point but I don't think other images bear that out. A Daveland image, dated 2/22/66, showing rather well-defined New Orleans Square buildings and the exteriors of both POTC show buildings looking pretty much finished. So if anything, that would indicate the original image being older than 1966.

(I'm thinking the train tracks are hidden in there somewhere). However - according to Mouse Planet, construction for IASW began on June 9, 1965. So - does that mean the date when "ground was broken" - with the tracks previously moved - or the date when the first construction activity began for IASW-?

Of course at the end of the day we still don't know the exact dates when the canopy hung proudly across the Tomorrowland "midway".

Nanook said...

And for the thrill of dragging this out further.... Here's an image from 1962 showing the route of the railroad tracks as they snake their way through (the then) upper reaches of Fantasyland. If the entire area of the original posted image was viewable, we could just barely see the tracks as they cross over the service road - seen here with the white vehicle.

Nanook said...

Try this link instead, for the exact image...

Chuck said...

Not the topic of discussion, but I noticed another detail in the aerial shot I don't think I'd ever noticed before - the backside of Cinderella's castle and the Casey Junior tunnel underneath it. Interesting how close the service road runs behind it, yet it's so well hidden by the landscaping that the only indication we've ever gotten something is back that way is the old "Never-Never Land" gag the canal boat girls used to tell when you went past the curtained tunnel that marked the entrance to the maintenance area. I think the last time I visited it had been enhanced with a waterfall curtain and a miniature version of King Triton's kingdom.

Patrick Devlin said...

Great stuff, Major...

There is a host of things to see in that aerial, for sure...

The Red Wagon Inn is in the process of becoming the Plaza Inn, so that puts the shot at Spring, maybe, of 1965.

It doesn't really look like very early morning but the park is virtually empty. Could this be a Monday and the park is closed to the public?

All four NWRR trains are parked with two of them sticking their tails out from the shed covering that is their storage spot. Every other vehicle is parked (Autopia, Mark Twain, Subs, Motor Boat Cruise and anything else I could pick out.

I really enjoy playing Disney-chronology with shots, (as I'd guess we all do) but that's a choice shot for this sort of thing.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, I see what you are talking about. The train tracks would be on the other side of the berm where we can't see them. For some reason the dirt patch visible in the lower left hand corner threw me off and I thought that the area was already being cleared for It's A Small World.

Chuck said...

Great observations, Patrick. The Park does look closed.

Seeing this brings up a NWRR question. If the out-of-service trains were stored on the siding in front of Rainbow Ridge and inside that shed on the side of the Rainbow Caverns show building, where did the spur track that led into a tunnel across from the Devil's Paintpots go?

Chuck said...

I think I have an answer to my own question.

The mine portal I'm referring to was actually directly across from the geysers, on the right (east) side of the tracks after passing the Devil's Paintpots.

Looking at this aerial photo from Daveland (, it appears that this portal provided access to the backstage maintenance road that ran along the north and western borders of Fantasyland. It makes sense - the way the attraction is laid out would make it difficult to get maintenance vehicles or carts into the Living desert any other way.

I haven't been able to find any close-up pictures (this is the only picture I could find of it, from a 2006 GDB: and my memories of the ride are approaching 40, so maybe there was no "spur track" that went into the portal. That would make it much easier to bring maintenance vehicles into the area.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I was wondering the same thing about that mine entrance/portal. I don't ever remember seeing it in person, but I think that was because our attention was always directed away from it and towards the geysers. I do have a postcard booklet that has a pic showing the opening and I believe there were spur tracks leading into it. I will try to find that and scan it. But yes, if the trains were stored under a maintenance shed outside of the rainbow caverns building, then what was the purpose of that tunnel and spur track? Do you suppose that maybe all of the trains couldn't fit under that shed and they were stored in two different locations? We need someone that worked the attraction to tell us what was what!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I found that picture showing the mine entrance and spur track. I've come out of my blog posting hibernation and posted it here: Nature's Wonderland - Living Desert

Anonymous said...

Major, the aerial I have showing the shades deployed in Tomorrowland is dated 1965, NOS is under construction and there is no sign of construction at IASW. The Fantasyland train station is visible. No demolition or other activity up there at all, so before June 1965.

From (I think) Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog. He had a lot of aerials.

I'll mail it to you.


Major Pepperidge said...

Boy oh boy, I only put in that aerial photo (which isn't mine) to show where the awning used to be! I had no idea it would spark so much conversation. I wish I could give credit to whoever own the original image. I wonder if it was from "The E-Ticket" magazine?

I have received comments from a MTTNW cast member in the past, I wish he would chime in to help out with all of these questions! It would be super cool.

JG, thank you for the link… I happily saved VDT's high-res scans of these neat photos.

Thanks for the great discussion, everybody!