Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tomorrowland Lake, 1956

One of the things that is so interesting about 1956 photos of Tomorrowland is that nothing has survived the intervening years. Yes, I know that the Autopia exists, but it was completely reconfigured in 1967, and again in 1999. 

Anyway, this first photo was taken from the Skyway as it passed over Tomorrowland Lake - former home of the Tomorrowland (or "Phantom") Boats, which by this time had already been retired (although they did come back briefly during the Summer if 1956, so perhaps that is why you can still see the loading dock to the extreme right). I'm sure the ducks were much happier not having to deal with those smelly boats.

Just look at those acres and acres of undeveloped orchards and farmland!

Just for yucks I wanted to zoom in on the Autopia.

Here's another angle looking in a westerly direction, right above the Phantom Boats dock. When construction began for the 1959 additions to Tomorrowland, this lake was boxed up and shipped to Minnesota where it was soon accepted by the other lakes and lived happily ever after.


Nanook said...


I love seeing images from the old lake - especially when they also reveal a fairly undeveloped Harbor Boulevard - and points beyond.

And as far as 'lakes on the move' are concerned, in spite of the many lakes in Minnesota, they haven't yet one called Phantom Lake...

Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I love these old shots and what looks like a bit of So. Cal "june gloom" (I miss it, 111 today in Phx). If I could only hop in doc brown's Delorean, go back and tell my pops to buy some of that vacant land. I'd be a rich hotel tycoon bout' now. Oh well. Thanks for posting.

Unknown said...

neat views! I dont remember knowing that there were little islands in this lagoon. i love all the ducks enjoying the water all to themselves.

the blue car way over to the left in the first view looks like he is on a separate part of the track and racing to get back up to the rest!!

nice post today, Major! :-D

try to stay cool, Alonzo. here in Pgh we have had 90s for most of the past 2 weeks, VERY unusual for us.

Nancy said...

lol. dont know why it signed me in as Unknown up above! It never posted before without asking me to sign in. Okay, it must be weird Wednesday!

K. Martinez said...

I love these early images of Tomorrowland. Truly a land of the future of things yet to come. Of course the telephones poles and power lines add to the scene. Also the undeveloped land along Harbor and beyond to the horizon is cool. On the day the photo was taken, who would've thought that Disneyland would be surrounded by a vast urban environment.

There's something extra wonderful about today's images! Thanks, Major.

Scott Lane said...

Hundreds (thousands?) of views of the castle, Mark Twain, Matterhorn, etc but we rarely get pictures like this of the lake. It certainly doesn't look very deep, does it?
Now if only those Phantom boats were running. (I've heard they were a menace)

Tom said...

This is beautiful! I love those early, uncluttered views. In the first picture you can almost see where the canal cuts into the upper left, where it would snake around the north edge of the park. By the order of the photos I'm guessing we're heading into the Tomorrowland skyway station?

DrGoat said...

Wow. I agree with K.M, something really special about these pics. Nice hazy day as Alonzo pointed out. I'm with you Alonzo...down here in Tucson sharing the heat with ya. Had a nice rain last night though. Really needed it.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, like most adopted things, the name has been changed. But if you ever take a boat on it to catch a nice walleye or crappie and your motor stalls, you’ll know that you are on Phantom Lake!

Alonzo, it might be June gloom, or it might be morning fog (yes, it’s true!), or even smog. Oy, 111 degrees - it was 115 here a month ago and it was brutal.

Uknown, because those islands were separated from the mainland, they developed their own unique flora and fauna, including a 4” tall species of mammoth. The 90’s in Pittsburgh - oof! I remember how hot and muggy it would get when I lived in Pennsylvania, along with the clouds of gnats that would torture us when we had to mow the lawn.

Nancy, I knew it was you because of the Pittsburgh connection!

K. Martinez, you really get a sense of how Disneyland was kind of in the middle of nowhere when it opened; it’s pretty astonishing to realize how fast the entire region changed - and how drastically. You’re welcome!

Scott Lane, it is true, these are unusual; I’m not sure I’ve posted thousands of photos of any one subject yet, but the Twain and castle surely are in the many hundreds. I’m sure that lake wasn’t more than about 4 feet deep at the most.

Tom, yeah, I really do love being able to see the surrounding farmlands. The park really was carved out of old orchards! It’s hard to tell, but I think the first photo might have been taken from the other Skyway cable, in which case they were headed backwards toward Fantasyland.

DrGoat, I only wish I found more neat photos like this one! Wow, I’m jealous of your rain, sometimes if feels like we’re never going to get rain again.

Patrick Devlin said...

Lovely stuff. I think that might be the "Dark Water" outlet in the last picture up there in the corner, but Tom has the question covered. For what it's worth, I think the dark birds are coots (insert old guy joke here).

I can remember watching the banks of eucalyptus wind breaks and rows of farmland South of the Park stream by on the trips we took. When the rows were at right angles to the freeway they sort of strobed past in a "walking" fashion. We called it "Daddy Long Legs". Really precious memories, those.

David Zacher said...

Wow! I do not remember Phantom Lake but I do remember the Autopia without the center rail. I was NOT one of those kids who would bang the car from side to side. Nope. Until today I did not know there was a Phantom Lake in Disneyland. That is how Phantom it was and probably why Nanook can't find it in MN.

I love learning more about early DL!


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful set, the undeveloped country beyond.

Would anyone have imagined then what it looks like now...

@Patrick Devlin, I have similar memories, only for the rows of grapevines in the Central Valley...


Melissa said...

Befuddled Cartographer: "Hey, did the Finger Lakes always have two thumbs?"

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, I think you might be right; as for coots, I was thinking the same thing. A golf course nearby is knee-deep in coots. They need to hire a falconer or a dog to scare them away, there’s poop everywhere! I don’t remember the eucalyptus trees near Disneyland, unfortunately, though I do have fond memories of the ones at nearby Knott’s Berry Farm. “Daddy Long Legs”, cool!

David Zacher, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it called Phantom Lake, but that doesn’t mean much. Maybe people called it that.

JG, Anaheim is like many SoCal towns of that era; practically cow towns at the time, and in just 10 or 15 years they would be covered in suburban sprawl.

Melissa, it is not often that one hears a cartographer joke! ;-)