Friday, October 28, 2016

Carnation Plaza Gardens, 1959

Well! This has been an easy week for me. Monday was Chuck Hansen's "Pooh for President" post. Tuesday, Knott's Berry Farm from the Devlins. Wednesday, Steve Stuart's photos. Thursday, Ken Martinez's vintage postcards. Why, I've been laying around eating bonbons and watching my stories on TV, with nary a care in the world! But today I finally had to do a little work and share some of my own photos.

The old Carnation Plaza Gardens was a place where a lot of music and dancing took place over the 50+ years of its existence. Many notable Big Bands played there on warm summer nights - like Count Basie, and Woody Herman. During the day, things were generally quieter, though guests could grab a lunch or have some delicious Carnation Ice Cream. I love this first photo, mostly because it is unlike any other photo in my collection! Notice the row of attraction posters against the distant wall. I call dibs on the Rocket to the Moon!

The design looks like a kind of olde-timey fantasy version of a beachside pavilion in Victorian times. Ladies in long white dresses carrying parasols would not look terribly out of place in this image.

Meanwhile, over at the larger tent, the Disneyland Band entertains a light crowd on a sunny day. There's Vesey Walker, the second hardest working man in show business.


Nanook said...


The first image does have a Victorian feel to it. If so, that lady we can see wearing those shorts simply won't do. Also - only 10¢ for a Carnation ice cream cone-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Okay, I'll bite. Who was THE hardest working man in show business?

I always liked this area. I'm not crazy about what is there now, however, I like it better than Pixie Hollow....but not by much. Maybe they should keep Fantasyland inside of Fantasyland and out of the Plaza, thank you very much.

DrGoat said...

Sammy Davis Jr.?

Chuck said...

Did they keep posters on display along the back wall of the vending and seating area the whole time it was the Carnation Gardens? I remember them being there in '95, but they weren't printed on paper - they were on some sort of solid, durable material and screwed directly to the wall (I have a picture of the Skyway poster somewhere). Since the poster was of the original, round bucket design, I had assumed it was some sort of throwback for the 40th Anniversary year.

Also interesting to see how small the screen backdrop for the bands was initially. I wonder when they expanded it to what we see here.

TM!, why would they want to do that? The castle walls were designed to Defend Fantasyland from the influences of the outside world, not the other way around. Besides, there's historical precedent: witness the 1996-98 occupation of Big Thunder Ranch by Fantasyland-leaning rebels who declared the short-lived "People's Republic of Notre Dame." Bunch of hunch-backed freaks...

Unknown said...

For whatever reason that first picture just reminds me of Mary Poppins. I know that story is set in London and the Pavilion is more evocative of maybe a seaside setting, but I still picture Mary and Bert in their fantasy Summer outfits. The new proximity of the It's-a-Jolly-Holiday-with-You-Bert sandwich shop bears not on the picture.

Unknown said...

Love the first picture! I don't believe I've ever seen a 50s photo of that area that includes attraction posters. The bandstand portion of Carnation gets all the attention, and many people forget that they ever served food here at all. Thanks again for a great find as always!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, thanks to my inflation calculator, I can tell you that the 10 cent cone would now cost you $4000.

TokyoMagic!, why, it was James Brown, of course! I agree with you, it seems very weird to have Fantasyland creeping out into the border between Main Street and Frontierland.

Dr. Goat, Sammy worked hard, but not as hard as James Brown.

Chuck, I can’t tell you much about the later years of the Carnation Gardens - it was yet another feature that I walked quickly past in order to get to the rides. D’oh. I’ve seen posters mounted to masonite, but have no idea if that’s what you saw; maybe by 1995 they did have some that were printed directly on a more durable material.

Patrick Devlin, it’s those stripes! You’re right, it is very “Poppins”. On another note, I went to the first D-23 expo, and was taking a break on an upstairs, outdoor area, when a cast member dressed as Mary Poppins (in her “Jolly Holiday” outfit) walked out. Guess she needed a break too. We talked a bit, she was not in character at all. MAN was she pretty!

Major Pepperidge said...

Brad Abbott, that's kind of why I posted these photos today - I try to put something extra nice on Fridays, and that first one is so unusual. Probably most people won't love it so much, but oh well.

Anonymous said...

Well, I love it. Like many of us, I just ran past this spot to get to the rides.

I do seem to remember something about Count Basie in my high school years. I don't think he was playing when I was there, but maybe on a poster or something.

I remember it was a name that I recognized, and I was surprised because I thought all jazz musicians were long past in the grave. Hm, kids back then. It was all rock and roll, which I didn't like. I would have liked jazz, even then, if I had a chance to hear any, and I walked right by it.

Now I'm still hearing Fleetwood Mac on the muzak in the grocery store and I want to scream.

I think the Hub has been a sort-of halfway "land", after all, the House of Tomorrow encroached in it for a while, and to me, the restaurant buildings are clear extensions of the Main Street 1890 theme. I don't mind the princess thing, but it's a little sad that the historic music venue had to go. The Gardens felt like part of the animation sequence in Mary Poppins, influenced by Mary Blair, too good to be true, a white and gold paradise in our dreams, which is the same imagery of Its A Small World, (designed by Mary Blair).

Anyway, thats my two cents, thanks Major.


Melissa said...

Look at all that empty seating - and everything as clean and white as Carnation milk. I've always heard Sammy Davis, Jr. described as the hardest-working man in show business,but I can't deny James Brown put in a lot of effort, too.

K. Martinez said...

When I was a teenager, I used to go to the Carnation Plaza Gardens for a burger and shake from time to time. I also remember being really disappointed when they closed the restaurant portion of the area. When I ate there which was usually in the afternoon, there would be some sort of local school talent or local entertainment club performing there.

I guess I was one of those weirdo kids in that I also enjoyed stopping by the non-ride stuff as well as the rides. Disneyland wasn't just about the rides for me. It was about the whole enchilada; attractions, shops and restaurants and the entertainment.

The first photo brings back lots of memories. In fact I usually ordered from that very window featured in the first photo. Thanks, Major.

Patrick Devlin, It definitely reminds me of the "Jolly Holiday" sequence from Mary Poppins.

Chuck said...

Ken, why did burgers give you the shakes? Do you have a beef allergy?

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, It was neurological disorder. Sometimes when I ate the French fries I'd twist and shout. If they happened to be playing 1950's music at the Plaza Gardens and I was eating my burger and fries, I'd shake, twist and shout.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it’s totally OK to not like the rock music that played at Disneyland, but sometimes I am truly amazed at the acts that performed there. Stevie Wonder, Linda Ronstadt (with the Eagles as her backup), Kool and the Gang - some good stuff. You are right that the Monsanto House was basically right in the hub, but it felt like part of Tomorrowland, which was right there. I always thought of Fantasyland as the Castle, and whatever one saw after passing through the draw bridge.

Melissa, I think that the empty seating was a large reason why that area was changed to its current incarnation. Growing up it seemed like it James Brown’s unofficial title was “The hardest working man…” (etc), but there’s no reason why Sammy couldn’t claim that as well. Personally, I always called myself the King of Pop.

K. Martinez, you were wiser than I was! Even now I feel like I need to do as much as possible during my visit. Less rides = a less successful trip. I need to get rid of that “kid mentality”!

Chuck, the burgers were made from tainted heffalump meat.

K. Martinez, all that twisting and shouting… I’m surprised you didn’t storm Tom Sawyer Island with the Yippies!

Melissa said...

I always thought of you as the Earl of Olay.

walterworld said...

Beautiful images.

I hardly visited the Carnation Gardens area when I was a kid, just mostly 'passing through', but when I returned as an adult with family in the 90's I remember it was an awesome stop in the late afternoons when things got hectic.

Glad we ate there in '95 & '96 before it all got ruined (the first time).

Thank You Major

DrGoat said...

How could I have forgotten.