Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Skull Rock & Geppetto's Village, September 1963

Skull Rock is still one of my all-time favorite features at Disneyland. Just look at this first photo, and I won't even have to explain why (but I'm going to anyway). The Imagineers did a brilliant job of adding a tiny bit of Never-Never Land to the park, imitating the rock formations and lush vegetation shown in the film. This small tropical paradise fit right in amid Fantasyland's flat medieval faire façades, spinning rides, and other charming features. 

As I've mentioned before, one detail that always surprises me nowadays is how small the skull was... in my foggy recollections I would have sworn it was two or three times larger - big enough to have been the world's coolest secret hideaway. It certainly made a large impression!

Happily, Storybook Land, with its canal boats and the Casey Jr. Circus Train, is still there to enchant people of all ages. This photo was taken from one of the circus trains, looking down upon Geppetto's Village. It's his village because he rules with a wooden fist. His nickname is "The Toymaker".

Zooming in, we can appreciate the level of detail; cobblestone streets, tiny gardens with miniature plants, stone walls and bridges, fingerposts, and a variety of "old" cottages and buildings - all backed by the jagged peaks of snowy mountains. 


Nanook said...


I think it can be arguably stated that The Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and Skull Rock & Pirate's Cove are the two most-missed former attractions. (Okay... The Carousel of Progress). But you get the idea. And this image of Skull Rock, along with so many others, prove just why it is so missed. And at night, it took-on yet another wonderful persona.

In this image of Storybook Land it appears the Richfield Eagle is flying overhead keeping would be evil-doers in-line, should one of them get 'any ideas'.

Thanks, Major.

Medley said...

The little details of Storybookland sometimes blow me away. Disney may be known for catching every tiny detail, but this beautiful little attraction is in a league of its own. When you float along you feel like you could really walk the streets and live in the little towns.

Chuck said...

I have a (not very spectacular) photo somewhere that I took of Geppetto's Village with the Matterhorn in the background, rising up behind the miniature snow-capped mountains. The effect was to make the Matterhorn appear to be gigantic, sort of like the Murderhorn in the Simpsons episode "King of the Hill."

Your commentary on Skull Rock is spot-on.

DrGoat said...

I was and still am enamored with Toad Hall. Always wanted to jump out of the boat and take up residence.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, perhaps they can combine all of those “most-missed” attractions into one MEGA attraction? By golly, it could work! That Richfield Eagle is kind of the stern cop of the park.

Medley, I agree with you! At a certain age I thought that the ride was for little kids, and then I learned to appreciate it all over again.

Chuck, I have seen photos like that, and maybe have even posted one or two here on GDB. I’m still not 100% sure whether that juxtaposition was intentional, or just a happy accident, but it is neat either way.

DrGoat, it is true, Mr. Toad did pretty well for himself!

Tom said...

That tears it. I'm building a rockwork skull with a waterfall in my backyard this weekend. If I get really ambitious I'll outfit it with an eerie green light for nighttime charm.

Great pictures today! A very welcome ray of sunshine in this grey, rainy gloom here in Oregon.

Matthew said...

Beautiful photos today. One item caught my attention... I never worked Storybook Land but that little road and bridge that connect Geppetto's Village to the island where the Three Pigs live... is that still there? I don't recall it in any of my visits. Does a reader know? If it is gone I'm going to blame it on a skiff accident that wiped it out. We almost lost a few hippos that way.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

PS @Nanook is right... bring back all those things mentioned.

Major Pepperidge said...

Tom, oh man, I would LOVE to have my very own Skull Rock w/waterfall (and pond) in my backyard! I hope you have an understanding wife. Reminds me of when Walt wanted to build his train through Lillian's gardens.

Matthew, looking at Google Maps and using the satellite view, it appears that the little bridge is still there, happily!

Nancy said...

Spectacular as always, Major! The wonderful view of Skull Rock is perfection. The lighting gives it the diorama effect for me, which is always so neat.

The Storybook Land Canal Boats is the one attraction (aside from Rainbow Ridge, which sadly is not there anymore) that I really enjoyed and could not wait to ride that is not found at Magic Kingdom. :-D

Melissa said...

I always imagine gargling noises emanating from Skull Rock.

Chuck said...

Melissa, Skull Rock was actually drooling over all of the vintage Disneyland awesomeness that none of us quite understood we'd miss.

Melissa said...

I love that thought!

Snow White Archive said...

A Skull Rock with waterfall would be an awesome backyard feature!

Anonymous said...

After I sell my vintage 1960's Avon cologne bottle collection for a billion dollars, I am going to build a life-size replica of Story Book Land and the Pirate Ship, including Skull Rock in my back yard.

My office will be in the back of the Pirate Ship with the windows looking out on the lagoon and I will ride Casey Jr. and the canal boats at least twice a day, and I will get to change the light bulbs in all the little buildings.

FWIW, I have always suspected that the Matterhorn was planned out to be a background for Fantasyland since it is so appropriate behind the facades of the dark rides and the forced perspectives of Pinocchio's Alps. It's probably too much to be true, but if not, still one of the best serendipitous combinations in the Park.

Thank you, Major for some treasured vistas brought to life.