Friday, November 13, 2015

View From an Airplane, July 9, 1979

A few months ago I bought a series of color negatives (eleven of them) from July 9th, 1979.  The photographs were taken by a fellow who flew his small plane around Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel; they were all snapped within the space of a few minutes, so they are variations of the same scene (in other words, they get a little bit repetitive). The photographer's attention was primarily focused on the hotel, though the park appears in the background in two or three photos.

The negatives were affixed to paper using some sort of adhesive, which resulted in discoloration that required a lot of Photoshop work (more than you might think), and they still look blotchy and weird. But... aerial photos are still fun, so I hope you enjoy these.

Well, there it is, visible through the nasty summer smog... Disneyland! And the Disneyland Hotel, of course. Look at the size of that parking lot! It's nearly twice the area of the amusement park. Housing tracts, small industrial parks, hotels, motels, and some empty parcels of land make up this chunk of Anaheim. The turquoise pool of the hotel stands out in this grungy image.

Since we will get plenty of better views of the hotel, I decided to zoom in on Disneyland itself. I wish the photo was sharper, but there's no point in crying about it (though I am thinking about taking another crack at scanning it again; I've been busy, so it will have to wait). We can see HoJo's, and the Global Van Lines headquarters, and all of the obvious landmarks inside the park that you don't need me to point out.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is mostly a russet blob, but I wanted to point out that the attraction would not open until about two months after this photo was taken. The park has changed a lot in the intervening years, with some major changes to come starting in January.

Stay tuned for more from this series, coming up!


Patrick Devlin said...

Mmm, chewy aerial goodness!

I can remember how I drooled back in pre-internet years over each and every aerial photo of the park. I think it's the magenta and purple guide book that had a few above-the-park shots in it. There's such a cool feeling of completeness and ability to see the real relationships that an overhead look gives you. I guess that's why we loved the Fun Maps, too.

Offhand query: was the walk-through from Fantasyland to Frontierland present right at the opening of Big Thunder? In this shot there's still two months before BTMRR opens, but it looks pretty rough back there.

TokyoMagic! said...

Yes, Patrick Devlin, the "Big Thunder Trail" was open as soon as Big Thunder opened to the public. It does look like it's mostly dirt back there in the photo. I know Big Thunder was supposed to open in June of that year, but it ended up being delayed until September. Since they were so behind schedule on the opening of the attraction, maybe the pathway to Fantasyland was the very last thing that they worked on?

Too bad they didn't use ALL of that parking lot for DCA. Actually, it's too bad they didn't build WESTCOT instead of DCA. Yeah, I won't let that go either, Major!

Chuck said...

Hey - check it out! You can see Cars Land in this photo.

K. Martinez said...

I see the Bear Country trestle, the shades over the still new Space Stage and the original facades and layout of Fantasyland too! The Mark Twain is coming in as the Columbia is about to start her voyage around the Rivers of America. Small World also looks interesting. I'm in aerial heaven!

Patrick Devlin, when I used to put away my belongings and purchases in the Global Van Lines locker building next to the Emporium, I would stop and stare at the beautiful giant aerial photo of Disneyland that hung on the wall behind the service counter. I'd study all the various details to try and retain it in my memory.

TokyoMagic!, with what has happened to EPCOT, I'm sort of glad we didn't get WESTCOT. Obsolete attractions and a bunch of expensive restaurants are not my thing. In my opinion, that park has developed an identify crisis.

Tom said...

Sadly... I can no longer enjoy these awesome pictures from my workplace due to restrictions imposed by the powers that be. Now I'll be allocating an extra half hour in the morning to visit from my restriction-free home. Keep them coming! These are the best!

Anonymous said...

great stuff, Major. Thanks!


K. Martinez said...

Oops! I meant identity crisis, not identify.

@Tom, That's a bummer.

Tom said...

@K. Martinez: you got that right. This was my very first stop every weekday morning, the thing that got my workday going on the right note.

Nanook said...


Hey, I think I just spotted my car-! Aerial views of the park are the best. Keep 'em comin'-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, I am trying to think of a guide book with magenta and purple. Is it the square-ish one with Walt on the cover? That’s a good one! I haven’t looked at my guide books in so long, they sit in a big ziploc bag, unloved. As for your question about the pathway from Fantasyland to Frontierland, I see that TokyoMagic! has already answered it.

TokyoMagic!, it’s a good thing you chimed in, because I had no idea. I need to look at Google’s satellite view to see how much of that land was used for Downtown Disney, not to mention the giant parking structure (that is now inadequate). The way Eisner was pinching pennies in those days, my guess is that WESTCOT would have been lame in the same way that DCA was.

Chuck, I definitely see Tow Mater.

K. Martinez, I would be in aerial heaven if this wasn’t so grainy. Granted, I am zoomed in quite a lot, you can only expect so much from an old piece of film. Here’s a weird thing to notice… it appears that light is reflecting off of the ticket booths out front, making a pattern on the red cement. Also, notice the yellow Monorail, heading toward the Hotel. In almost all of my other photos, that same Monorail is sitting at the Hotel’s station. I agree with your feelings about WESTCOT… back when EPCOT first opened I thought it sounded really neat. Now you almost never hear about the attractions there, but you do hear about the restaurants, as well as the Food and Wine festival, and similar things. Snore.

Tom, arg, I hate it when employers do that. On the other hand, I have worked with people who seemed to goof off the whole day! Oh well, the blog posts will be there later in the day too…

JG, stay tuned for more, though they will mostly be different angles of the Disneyland Hotel.

K. Martinez, I didn’t even notice the typo!

Tom, can you look at it on your phone?

Nanook, it always made me laugh when I used to listen to old Monorail spiels... they called the parking lot a "freeway retreat". Well, OK!

K. Martinez said...

@Nanook, speaking of cars, since you're the car expert can you please identify the make, year and model of the vehicles in the Disneyland parking lot in today's photo? I know you can do it!

Steve DeGaetano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I know you and Ken are right about what WESTCOT would have been if we had gotten it....and what it probably would have become as well. I'm sure theme would have eventually been thrown out the window like it is everywhere else. I also know that if we had gotten Port Disney in Long Beach that there is no way they would have spent as much money on it as the Japanese were willing to spend on DisneySea and we would have ended up with a "DCA" but on the water.

I don't even know if Downtown Disney bothers me as much with the amount of land it takes's not a whole lot really, but I hate how much of the old parking lot the Grand Californian Hotel takes up. It makes the layout of DCA weird and lopsided.

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

Yes, I'll get right on it-!

Nanook said...

Hey Ken-

I think I can make out a 1932 Hupp Cyclefender and a 1948 Tucker.

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic!, I loved EPCOT Center when first opened. I visited in in 1983 and 1985. When there, I suspected it would be an extremely expensive place to maintain its relevance. It's almost like it's obsolete right out of the box. I think that's why world's fairs only stay open a couple of years to begin with.

I read somewhere that out of WDW's four theme parks, EPCOT will have the lowest annual attendance by 2020. It is predicted that Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom will surpass EPCOT. They already are pretty even with EPCOT in annual attendance already.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, I knew you'd do it! I'm impressed.

K. Martinez said...

Major & TokyoMagic!, Here's the article on EPCOT I was referring to.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, Interesting article...thanks for the link! I love EPCOT and if it were up to me, I would have left World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination and Horizons alone! But that probably wouldn't have increased attendance either. I get the whole "sticking a Frozen attraction somewhere" thing, but why in the Norway Pavilion? And the ride that it is replacing was a pretty short one, so I'm curious as to whether or not they extended the length of it (unlikely) or if is is just going to be the exact same boat ride, but with different scenery. I am also kind of surprised that they haven't built a clone of DL Paris' Ratatouille ride in the France Pavilion. Now THAT, I wouldn't mind seeing.....even though I normally prefer "Edutainment" type attractions over those with movie characters stuck in them.