Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Balloon Vendor, September 1971

To me, those mouse-ear balloons are a huge part of my memories of Disneyland. Even when I wasn't carrying one (what were you supposed to do with them while you were on the Matterhorn?), they were  everywhere. A part of me wished that I could hold 50 of them at once (like this fellow) just to see what it felt like. If you jumped up in the air, could you tell that you returned to earth just a bit slower? 

It looks like this guy is near the Snow White Grotto and Wishing Well. Why is he holding that pink balloon under one arm? Is that his favorite? The one he won't sell no matter what?

It is hard to play "hide and seek" when you are holding a giant bouquet of balloons.


Nanook said...


Whenever I park my car in a large parking lot, I always tie at lest 50 balloons to its antenna. There's no missing that baby-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I wonder if the balloon vendor could've been letting the helium out of that balloon because the ears had shrunk (as they tend to do), and he wanted to remove it from the bunch. Just a theory.

I was at the park last week and I saw a cast member take two balloons from some guests that were getting in line to ride Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, and tie them to the railing next to the entrance (the balloons, not the guests). That is the first time I've ever seen that done. I wonder if this is a new policy.

Chuck said...

If they were reflective Mylar balloons, I can see that not only being nice to the guests, but possibly a safety precaution to prevent laser beams from the guns accidentally being reflected into another guest's eyes.

My research indicates that the dye used in DL's pink balloons from 1962 until 1976 was also effective as an underarm deodorant, although that use was officially discouraged amongst CMs on duty. Another possibility is that the balloon vendor was getting tired of holding up the balloons and placed one under his arm for support.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I vote with @TokyoMagic and say that pinky is a gross mutation (like the baby in Eraserhead) and had to be cut out of the herd.

On the other hand BO remover and armrest are both plausible options that would not shock me in the least if proven true.

K. Martinez said...

The images of balloons today reminds me of that sight gag from "Holiday Time at Disneyland" where a parade character gives a little boy on a mother's lap a bunch of tied balloons together and it carries the kid (fake) off up into the atmosphere. Anyone remember that one?

That second image is cool. I love the dimensional layering (multiplane?) of foliage with the walkway tucked in between and the castle in the back. Nice set today. Thanks, Major.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

K. Martinez: I remember that boy with the balloons gag. It was SO freaky, and such a nonlinearity. It SO takes you off guard, and just sticks in your head.

Anonymous said...

I recall a time when the Mickey balloons were inside a larger, clear balloon. Anyone else remember that?

TokyoMagic! said...

Anonymous, they've actually started selling those again, but the clear outer balloon is made of a tougher material now.

Patrick Devlin said...

I suppose it still happens these days but I can remember seeing a renegade balloon or two drifting away in the sky on its way to do high altitude research over the park.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

@Patrick Devlin.

The difference is back in the day a 50 cent balloon went AWOL and the kid was crying. Nowadays the $7.00 balloon gets away and the parent starts crying before the kid.

K. Martinez said...

Monkey Cage Kurt - I agree. First time I saw the gag it was startling.

Patrick Devlin - I definitely remember seeing many a renegade balloon at Disneyland drifting away to high altitude.

Anonymous said...

Mom and Dad used to buy me a balloon on the way out of the Park, usually the last vendor by the West tunnel.

That way, we didn't worry about all day, and I could enjoy it in the car on the way home all day the next day.

Once, though, the balloon made it back to the room at the Magic Lamp motel, tied to my wrist, and I untied it to go to bed. It jumped up to the ceiling and bumped against the "popcorn" texture and burst. At that point, I fell out of love with balloons, and never wanted another one.


Thanks for these remarkable pictures, Major. Very excellent.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, these days I feel like I need to do that; there are too many cars that look like mine!

TokyoMagic!, now that you mention it, several of the balloons in his "bouquet" have deformed ears, so your theory might be right. That's interesting about the cast member tying the balloons to a railing… if they sell the darn things all day, they have to have a way to let guests ride the rides!

Chuck, do those "Astro Blasters" use lasers? I thought it might be infra-red or something. I have no idea though. You have brought up an interesting point that not many people know about… balloons were used as deodorant for centuries.

Alonzo, look at that green balloon, it is next in line for culling! Hmmm, armrest, that's not a bad idea.

K. Martinez, yes I do remember that scene. I wish Disney had done more playful, surreal things like that in their old specials. On one level I love to watch the episodes in which Disneyland is featured, but there is a lot of repetition (they must have used footage of a trip down the Matterhorn in at least three different shows), and then there are the big dance numbers (a dancing birthday cake!) that are pretty snooze-worthy today.

Monkey Cage Kurt, I always assume that weird gags like that are from Wally Boag.

Anonymous, those were my favorite balloons! The weird thing is, I have a slide from 1960 showing the Rose Parade in Pasadena and kids are holding balloons like that. Whaaaaat?

TokyoMagic!, I'm glad to hear that those balloons are back!

Patrick Devlin, yes, and I always imagine there must be a crying child somewhere in the park, though it could just be a balloon that got away from the vendor.

Alonzo, wow, are they really $7? For a bit of plastic (or rubber), string, and helium? Yeesh.

K. Martinez, I didn't lose my balloon until I stepped out of the car in my parent's driveway.

JG, we had those popcorn ceilings, but somehow our balloons never got popped by them. We would just see the balloons hovering lower and lower (after a day or so) until they no longer floated. We should have just inhaled the helium, at least we would have had a few laughs!

Steve DeGaetano said...

"I didn't lose my balloon until I stepped out of the car in my parent's driveway."

That's exactly what happened to me.

Chuck said...

At least you guys got balloons. I only got one, on my first visit when I was two. It survived several days, too, before shriveling up and becoming a rubber raisin.

After that trip, balloons were always "a waste of money." Of course, I'm sure the fact that my parents had no idea where to put the balloons in the travel trailer may have had something to do with it, too.

TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, sounds like a lot of you had some good quality balloons if they lasted more than a day. I'm guessing that they changed the quality over the years, because the balloons that I got from Disneyland were always either on the ground, or hovering just above the ground when I woke up the next morning.

An interesting fact.....okay, maybe not THAT interesting, but still a fact. The balloon vendors used to have to account for every balloon. If one shrunk or popped on them, they had to keep the "stem" and count it as "waste" on their inventory sheet. When I was a teenager and hanging out with friends in the park, we got to know quite a few cast members. One of the balloon vendors told us that if a guest's balloon popped or "shriveled up", they could turn it in at any time for a new one. We used to pick up the stems of popped balloons that were laying on the ground (seems like there were more of them laying around back then) and trade them in for fresh balloons on our way out of the park. Of course, we didn't tell them that we had picked them up off the ground.

Melissa said...

Slap a logo on those balloons and they're identical to the one I got at WDW in 1982. I saved it for several years.