Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rocket Jets and More, August 1969

I'm always extra glad to be able to share vintage Tomorrowland photos, and even more glad when they are nice images of the fabulous "New Tomorrowland".

Both of these were probably taken from the Peoplemover, which took guests up high enough to get a good elevated vantage point. The Rocket Jets and People Mover load area take center stage here; man, that rocket was big! Not as big as a real Saturn V, but still pretty large. The Anaheim Convention Center is playing peek-a-boo behind it! Notice the tilted-up roofs of the Peoplemover cars... they automatically lifted when entering the station to better allow guests to exit and enter. Genius! I'm not sure how this was accomplished, but, if I know Bob Gurr (and I don't), it was done in an elegantly simple and clever manner. 

Notice the "Flight to the Moon" building in the background, to our left.

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow over at General Electric's "Carousel of Progress". That round building housed the show that had been such a hit at the 1964/65 World's Fair... I only caught it a few times before it closed in September of 1973 (it's hard to believe that it was only in the park for seven years), and I loved everything about it; the music, the sheer "Disneyness" of it, the optimistic outlook, and of course, the giant model of "Progress City" that was on the upper level.


Nanook said...


Both images are playing peek-a-boo with structures outside the park. The first, as you pointed out, with the Anaheim Convention Center. And in the second image, the Grand Hotel; formerly Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Both of these images were taken from the Skyway. The views are too high for the PeopleMover. One of the clues is in the second image where the photographer's viewpoint is aligned with the blue Skyway cabin on the left.

The Carousel of Progress building was such a beauty with its original color palette and iconic GE sign. Ironically I only experienced "The Best Time of Your Life" version of Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom. And then there's that cool Tomorrowland ticket booth near Flight to the Moon. Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great photos today Major. I love the old (new) tomorrowland best of all.

The COP was one of my favs too. I could stare at the Progress City model for hours (but they wouldn't let me). When I was a kid I dreamed of taking the model home and setting it up in the garage (dad can park in the street). Too bad it moved to Florida and we were left with more singing birds.

K. Martinez said...

I was looking at the Carousel of Progress image again and I just noticed all the shades of blue in it. Blue Skyway cabin, blue GE sign, blue carousel building and clear blue sky. And of course lots of white. The photo really is a gem.

Chuck said...

Wow! Love today's images!

In that first one, I'm drawn to what isn't there - Space Mountain. Which means we can see stuff that used to be where it was (I realize that almost everything in these photos is gone now, but so many of them hung on long after Space Mountain's opening in 1977 that they don't seem quite as gone to me).

So, what can we see? Those awnings look like they mark the Tomorrowland Stage ( Immediately behind that, the long, dark, bewindowed structure - is that the old Administration Building built onto the backside of Primeval World? And to the right of that appears to be the back of the Opera House.

Any idea what the blocky tan building is? Is that part of "Flight to the Moon?"

Ken, you are so right about how right that second shot looks with all of the blue. Even the pavement is bluish. And I like that glimpse of planter in the lower right corner. Is that the top of the Tomorrowland Terrace stage or another similar planter?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the Grand Hotel doesn’t look very “grand”; if I ever own a hotel, I’m going to call it “Millionaire’s Paradise”, but it will be a dump. It can’t lose!

K. Martinez, D’OH! I feel especially dumb about not seeing the Skyway bucket in photo #2. Oh well. Since I was not really a fan of “America Sings” (heresy, I know), I have hardly been in the Carousel building in years, which is a bummer.

Alonozo, at one time (probably more than 10 years ago) I read something by an Imagineer that said that he had been asked to restore the Progressland model; but apparently it fell through. Maybe someday it will still happen. Of course I’d love it even more if it came back to Disneyland, but I am not holding my breath.

K. Martinez, even the “slurry” looks blue, though I don’t know if that’s just the film stock giving it a blue cast. It might have been cool gray?

Chuck said...

Found an aerial at "Stuff From the Park" that shows the area in 1967 just prior to opening ( It appears I guessed right on back of Primeval World and the Opera House. I guess the "blocky tan building" is part of "Flight to the Moon." Note all of the PeopleMover trains lined up in the backstage employee parking area, waiting to be added to the track.

Here's another aerial from 1971 I found at Daveland that shows the completed Tomorrowland Stage and its awnings: Note there are at least six PeopleMover trains backstage at ground level and another on an elevated spur track behind the "Adventure Thru Inner Space" building. The ground-level trains are lined up in such a way as to suggest that they, too, are on a track. Was this a maintenance or storage area for the trains?

For a final reference, here's a late-70's, post Space Mountain photo:

Tom said...

Always love pictures of the "new" Tomorrowland, when it was in its glory; all sparkling fresh and optimistic.

And August, 1969 pics are my faves because it gives me a chance to see if my family is in any of the shots. I wish my mom had brought a camera then.

Melissa said...

I can never get enough of the "Flight to the Moon" building. I You rarely see a piece of architecture that's so solid and reassuring while at the same time so strongly suggesting movement and energy. It's a great, big, beautiful Tomorrow, indeed!

Melissa said...

Ken and Major P. - the blue-and-white color scheme is one of the things I miss most about the original Tomorrowland at WDW. With those colors and all the airy use of negative space, it made you feel like you were in a floating city in the clouds.

Chuck said...

Major, I personally don't remember blue slurry (our family photos from 1976 show a blueish gray, with more of an emphasis on gray), but I've found references this morning from other bloggers who remember it as blue at one time. The bluest photo I've found is, and even that's a little grayish.

As you suggest, I tend to think how blue it appeared may have been a function of how blue the sky was that particular day, and our photo records may emphasize the blue cast due to the film stock used. Regardless of how blue the slurry was in person, I think I can safely say that it went well with the rest of 1967 Tomorrowland.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, wonderful pictures, Major! As they say in North Korea, New Tomorrowland is Best Tomorrowland.

The PM roofs were activated by a vertical rod with a roller on the bottom. As the train rolled around onto the load platform, it encountered a little bump built into the deck beside the track. The roller rode up onto the bump, pushing the rod vertically upward and tilting the roof. Further around the circle, the bump in the structure tapered down and vanished, relieving the vertical rod and letting the lid drop slowly back into place. Very elegant, no motors or hydraulics to break or leak, all triggered by the shape of the track platform.

I agree with Ken, these are from the Skyway vantage due to their elevation, probably sequential shots in the order posted, since the skyway cab is inbound from Fantasyland.

Chuck, thank you for searching out and posting those other pics. Behind the scenes via aerial is the closest I'll ever get.

Nanook, we stayed at the Grand Hotel the first time we took our kids to the Park, I don't recall much about it except that it was older and in need of a refurb, but not awful. I think that's why we got a great rate. It certainly was a landmark.

I remember one conversation we had here about a year ago about Progress City. I did not realize that the DL COP model moved to FL. That's encouraging, I thought it was lost.

COP was such a fun exhibit, Major's schedule means that I must have only seen it less than 10 times since we only visited as a family once per year, but I got to go with my school for several years right in that zone. Yet what a set of memories that exposure made. I played the old soundtrack a few months ago and discovered that it's still almost memorized. I wish I could have used that neuron for something useful, like accumulating unlimited wealth or achieving total world domination.

Thanks Major and friends for listening.


Patrick Devlin said...

The tan building is part of the Primeval World/Administrative structure. The windows with awnings only cover about 70% of the building. The remainder is blank stucco. You can see the hipped roof that is centered on the SF&DRR track line.

The Rocket to the Moon building, on the other hand, goes back and to the left (...back and to the left...) from the facade.

K. Martinez said...

Major, Heresy? Nah! You like what you like. I like both COP and AS for different reasons. But I know you'd do just about anything to hear "Pop, goes the weasle!" one more time. Am I right? ;)

Melissa - You summed up perfectly the feeling of the original Tomorrowland at WDW. I don't think they'll ever top the Tomorrowlands of 1967 and 1971.

Chuck, Awesome research and reference links as usual. It's always appreciated. Thanks!

TokyoMagic! said...

JG, Only a small portion of the huge Progress City model was moved to Florida. I'm assuming the rest was scrapped. Major, I'm wondering if restoring the model was going to include rebuilding the sections that aren't there anymore? I so wish that had happened! Like you said, maybe there is hope for it, but I won't be holding my breath either. I remember hearing one Imagineer say that there has been more than one attempt to bring Carousel of Progress back to DL. We actually only had it for 6 years.....hard to believe!

I haven't seen the movie, "Tomorrowland" yet, but my brother says they used Rex Allen's version of "There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" in it. I know I saw photos on the internet of them filming scenes from the movie in front of Small World at DL and Carousel of Progress at WDW, but from what my brother said, there was no footage of Carousel of Progress, just the theme song was used. I wonder if the footage got cut from the final version?

Chuck said...

Patrick, thanks for the re-orientation on that tan stucco section. Now that I know that, it's obvious it's the same building. It being part of the "Flight to the Moon" building wasn't making any sense to me since from above it seemed to go back and to the left (just past that grassy knoll).

If you look at the Primeval World/Admin building in the 1967 aerial I linked above, you can just make out the color change along the top of the front edge of the building, just above the large air handler unit on the right side of the roof.

Debbie V. said...

I think the white spires around the round flower planter in the lower right of the 2nd picture is the top of the Tomorowland Stage that comes up from the group (is that still there?) It was always one of those places I gravitated to especially at night in Disneyland.
I think I mentioned earlier that I had the fun of visiting the COP at WDW last month. I love the way the side rooms come into view and then fade on either side of dad in the rocking chair. The colors were bright, the music was clear, the voices and story were true, it was all good.

Anonymous said...

August 1969...just one month after man landed on the moon. Tomorrowland seemed all so real back then. A great big beautiful tomorrow indeed.


Melissa said...

The CoP is a must-do on every WDW trip. I always leave it feeling wonderful.

Anonymous said...

@Tokyo Magic, I only want the model rebuilt if it will be powered by a GE Nuclear Power Plant. None of this new-fangled solar electrons for me, only good old-fashioned neutrons, like Mother used to make.

Seriously, this attraction could be reworked slightly for a major new impact, for all the bad news in the headlines, there are still some amazing advances whose stories would fit right into this theme.

I cracked up laughing at the old soundtrack; in the first three acts, Dad just bulldozes Mom, whose only line is "yes, Dear" while she cooks and cleans; in the final act, the dialog is dominated by Mom while Dad can't get a word edgewise because all the new appliances run themselves. Reworking that kind of humor alone would make it a whole new show, but still a Bright Beautiful Tomorrow.

It seems so obvious, but will instead be replaced with some kind of comic book Marvel Universe attraction instead.


Anonymous said...

I too had the pleasure of re-living COP at WDW late last year. Oddly, the rotation of the building stopped while were we in the last section (modern era) of the presentation. My family watched the sequence three times before the building rotated again so we could exit. Considering I hadn't seen the show in decades, I found it quite entertaining. The audience had a good laugh during the 3rd repeat.


Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I am so used to looking at vintage photos that it is almost stranger for me to see Space Mountain, even though it is there every time I go. That is the old Administration Building (CoxPilot used to chime in about that - RIP). I’m not sure what that blocky tan building is, it almost looks like a sound stage; perhaps it’s just a warehouse for construction and storage?

Chuck #2, it’s so weird, I was just using that very same aerial shot (which is on a postcard) for ID purposes. It’s on my blog, as well. It is cool to see all of the Peoplemover vehicles backstage. It makes sense to have the awnings near the Tomorrowland stage, as I’m sure that the crowds needed some relief on summer days. In the Daveland photo, it appears as if there is a ramp (?) where the Peoplemover trains are loaded on to the track, though I could very well be wrong.

Tom, my mom was a shutterbug, but for some reason the camera stayed in the cupboard when we went to Disneyland. It’s a bummer!

Melissa, the swooping façade of the Flight to the Moon building really does evoke soaring and blast-offs! And I’m sure John Hench put a lot of thought into the blue and white color scheme, unlike whoever is in charge today; those old guys really knew what they were doing.

Chuck, after I complete GDB, I will do a new blog dedicated exclusively to slurry and slurry-related products. I’m guessing that it was grayish, but took on the blue of the sky; when you take landscape painting classes, you learn how much the sky influences the colors of things on the ground. The photo that you shared from “Imagineeringdisney” has weird hues that resulted from the not-great lithography found in magazines of the day - and I sometimes suspect some artist’s airbrushing (or whatever) to make things “pop” more.

JG, North Koreans say the best stuff! Thanks for the info on how the Peoplemover roofs worked… it sounds as elegant and simple as I had imagined. That Bob Gurr, what a guy. What would Disneyland have been like without him? As I pointed out to Ken, I am embarrassed to have missed the Skyway vehicle in photo #2. The Grand Hotel sounds like a typical hotel of the time, though I’ll bet you have good memories of it. Yes, the Progress City model (or part of it) was moved to WDW. You got to see the original Carousel of Progress way more than I did, lucky you!

Patrick Devlin, thank you for the info about the tan building! I was looking for a helpful aerial shot, but then I got busy with other stuff. I never knew that the Administration Building had that stucco part.

K. Martinez, I only said that because I know a LOT of Disneyland fans who absolutely loved (and miss) “America Sings”. I still remember my dad laughing at that annoying weasel!

TokyoMagic!, the fact that the model was chopped down kills me, though I am sure it could be reproduced easily if anybody wanted to do it. I keep hearing about how much bigger the Magic Kingdom is, and yet they didn’t have room for the whole model? I’m sure they could have FOUND room, but they cheaped out. Reviews for “Tomorrowland” have been very mixed, but I am still super curious about it. Hopefully I’ll see it next weekend (or the weekend after that, perhaps).

Chuck, yeah, it didn’t seem to jibe with the Flight to the Moon building, but hey, I didn’t have any better ideas!

KS, wow, I have never heard of that happening on the Carousel of Progress! How odd. I wonder what the heck happened? I probably would have enjoyed it, but as the third showing started, I would wonder if I was going to be stuck there all day!!

TokyoMagic! said...

KS, The last time I saw COP at Disneyland was the summer of 1973. I didn't get to see it at WDW until 2002......29 years later! Having been one of my favorite attractions as a kid (I know, odd kid!) it was kind of an emotional experience for me to get to see it again almost 30 years later. There was just such a rush of all sorts of feelings as I sat there and the theater rotated into Act 1. Well, when the theater tried to rotate into Act 2, the theater got stuck! Most of the audience could only see Act 1 as it began to repeat. Then about two minutes later, the theater turned the rest of the way into Act 2 which was already in progress (no pun intended). It was so disappointing. I was worried at first that they would make us exit before seeing the rest of the show and that they would then close it for the rest of the day. I remember thinking that it took me 29 years to get to WDW to see it again and I was going to come THAT close, but it wasn't going to happen. Well, they did keep it open after that, and I did revisit it several more times during that trip and everything worked perfectly each time. I hope they never take it out of WDW, and if they do, I hope they return it to Disneyland rather than scrap the whole thing. It's a piece of history! And yes, I think Disneyland should be a museum!

Nancy said...

wow, so many comments! I am going to have to come back to this one on my day off and read all of them.

I love this Tomorrowland, even tho I really never got to see it. Set that time machine for 1969!!! :-)

Dean Finder said...

Once again, we see "shiny" pavement in Tomorrowland.

The Progress City model is not on the second floor of the CoP building at WDW, like it was at DL. The section that remains is behind glass along the Peoplemover track (oh, to have the ride stop in front of it so I can fill a camera with pictures).

I doubt they'll ever destroy CoP. I'd bet that if it's ever removed from WDW, it would be reassembled at the Walt Disney Museum in SF. Much as I'm a fan of Jean Shepherd, I'd hope that they'd restore the 1964 Rex Allen narration and final scene so there isn't an odd 60 year jump between scenes 3 and 4.

For true trivia buffs, Rex Allen voices Grandpa in the current final scene

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I would think it would have been weird to see the show minus “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, one of my favorite Disney songs ever. And as much as I like Jean Shepherd, I would have missed Rex Allen’s voice terribly. I guess KS’s experience with the Carousel misbehaving was not as unique as I thought, since you experienced a glitch as well. I can’t feel too confident that the Carousel will remain at WDW; who would have ever thought that they would remove such classic attractions as 20,000 Leagues, Mr. Toad, or Snow White?

Nancy, yes, I am surprised (pleasantly) that these photos have inspired so many memories and stories!

Dean Finder, I knew that the model was viewed from the Peoplemover, but did not know that it was not above the CoP. IF (and that’s a big “if”) they ever remove CoP from the Magic Kingdom, it would be INCREDIBLE to see it restored to its former glory at the Walt Disney Family Museum! And yes, Rex Allen is the voice I need to hear when I see the Carousel in action.

Nanook said...

@ JG-

I stayed at (the then) almost brand new Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel, which I'm betting was around March 22 thru 27th, 1966 - as I also saw Don Adams perform a stand-up routine at the Melodyland Theater -in the round- at that time. (And who was the opening act, I hear you ask-? Liza Minnelli, who among other songs performed I'm Liza with a 'Z', Not Lisa with an 'S').

The rooms then were far from "worn down'. On the contrary, the family who invited me to go to Disneyland and the Melodyland Theater allowed my friend and me to stay in the Suite, and his folks took the adjoining standard room. Good times.

TokyoMagic! said...

Dean Finder and Major, Jean Shepard may have had a good speaking voice, but he was obviously not a singer. For me, his rendition of "There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" is like fingernails on a chalkboard in comparison to Rex Allen's version. I would hope that if the Carousel of Progress ever did get moved or "updated" that they would restore it to it's 1964 or 1967 version. If not, maybe they could get his son (who sounds a lot like his father) to record a new soundtrack.

Sunday Night said...

Loved COP as a kid. No matter what time of day or weather inside COP was always comfortable and cut off from the rest of the world. One of my favorite parts was the colored light show at the very beginning. When they did "the sound of a rocket" everything went red. So great.