Thursday, July 20, 2017

Along the Shore of the River...

Today I have two nice photos from 1957, taken along the Rivers of America. I'll start with this example, which is interesting to me because the very barren shore reveals those deer, peacefully grazing, unaware that a hungry mountain lion is watching them from atop the nearby rock formation. But I guarantee that they all had a case of the heebie-jeebies! 

It looks like the railroad track runs left to right at about 1/3 of the way from the top of the image. I'm so used to this area looking very lush and verdant....

... like this photo. I can't help wondering if the deer were removed (or at least moved), because they sure wouldn't be visible behind those shrubs. I always thought that the mountain lion was oddly placed up there, and now I know that there originally was a reason (beyond the fact that he would be more visible).

Next is this great early view of the Friendly Indian Village, also looking strange due to a lack of plants. In almost every other photo I've seen, that canoe is upside-down - to keep it from floating away? I kind of like it right side up.

Hello, telephone poles!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Legend City

Ken Martinez is back - with a vengeance! Also with some more vintage postcards from Legend City, in Phoenix (pronounced pu-ho-enix) Arizona (don't forget Winona). Let's hear it from Ken:

More Fabulous Legend City!

Here are the last of my Legend City postcards.  Conceived in the late 1950’s by Louis Crandall, the park which serviced the Phoenix area opened in 1963 and closed forever in 1983.  It consisted of a lot of old west atmosphere and cool themed rides.

Here we have the familiar “teacup” ride which at Legend City was called “Krazy Kups”.  Strangely this ride looks like it has interlocking circles which might make it more similar to “Maters Junkyard Jamboree” than the “Mad Tea Party”.

Who doesn’t love a Sky Ride.  This one goes way up high.  Notice the rider with his camera is getting ready for some serious aerial photography.

In the description it says residence of the fort are required to help defend against occasional Indian attacks but I think these folks are fending off door to door solicitors.  Or is that fort to fort solicitors?

Now here’s what makes Legend City fabulous!  Shooting and killing people.  They’re supposed to be bad people, but sometimes you make an honest mistake.  Two more bite the dust with a third going down.

Here we have a bank robber digging his own grave on Boot Hill.  Holding a gun on him and a rope around his neck should motivate him.  I love the nice touches like the skeleton horse, the hearse and vulture.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to the fabulous and parched Legend City. 

Information Source material: 
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko

As always, MANY thanks to Ken for sharing his collection of vintage amusement park postcards!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Some Rescans

Say, howsabout some more rescans?

We'll start with this one, originally posted waaaay back in 2006. It's an interesting angle (circa October 1962) looking down on the Bertha Mae Keelboat as it slowly cruises past the southeastern bend of the Rivers of America. The scan looks pretty murky, with yellowish grays and dark shadows. Yuck.

The original slide had some problems, but this rescan helped a lot, restoring some of the color, and lightening up some of the darker areas. A group of sailors (on leave from the Naval base in Long Beach?) lounges on the top of the Keelboat. Over in Frontierland, major construction is underway; the Plantation House has been removed, for one thing. The earliest work on what would become New Orleans Square has begun! 

Zooming in a little, you can see the yellow passenger cars of the DL&SFRR in the upper right. Along the construction wall you can just make out the "Chicken Shack" eatery. And a pickup truck appears to be parked on a level much higher than the foreground walkways. To the right is a bandstand, which was moved to various locations throughout the park, including the area near the Mine Train queue (see a shot of it in this post).

Next is this fairly horrible-looking scan from August of 1955. The slide had turned red, and I was ill-equipped (mentally!) to deal with that issue in 2007 when it originally appeared on GDB. I don't need to point out the many problems, you can see them for yourself.

The rescan is a considerable improvement, if still not as good as I'd like! However, any photos from 1955 is welcome, in my opinion. At least we can see that the Indian dancers were not wearing mostly black. Behind the trees we can see part of a yellow banner showing guests the way to the Indian Village.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Nice Snapshots, 1971

Here are three more snapshots, graciously given to me by my friend "Mr. X"! He is pretty critical of his photography, but I think he did a great job, often capturing some unusual subjects.

It's always a pleasure to see the figure of the goddess Uti in her outrigger canoe - all the better to protect those who brave the oceans in search of fish. Until now I was not aware that one of Uti's hands held a torch. As you can see, United Air Lines was still a sponsor.

Next is this portrait of the old Penny Arcade, taken in the dazzling early morning sunlight. The orchestrion is right next to the entrance, while Esmeralda the fortune teller is front and center in her glass box.  You can even see a Mutoscope or two. I'd love to be able to walk into the Arcade circa 1971!

In the decades before "Fantasmic!", the Mark Twain continued to ply the Rivers of America after the sun set. It was the absolute best time to enjoy that attraction! The cool air, the lights and shadows that made everything beautiful and/or mysterious, the fierce blaze of the Settler's Cabin, the sound of soft Dixieland music wafting from New Orleans Square - so wonderful. And it must have been extra amazing if one happened to be on board once the fireworks started!

This next one really puzzled the hell out of me. "Main Street Confectionery"?? What happened to the Tobacco Shop or Magic Shop that would normally be next to the Main Street Cinema? I looked at my 1971 INA gate handout - no mention of a Confectionery. And it looked like the Emporium way down at the end of the street, on the left, which made no sense at all. At about the time my brain started to dribble out of my ears, Mr. X informed me that this photo is from the Magic Kingdom.


Stay tuned for more snapshots.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Burning Settler's Cabin

How many burning buildings are beloved by thousands? Not too many! But the old Burning Settler's Cabin on Tom Sawyer Island was special, and I had sort of hoped (against all logic) that a new version of it would be added to the island when the Rivers of America reopened. No such luck. Anyway, here are two photos from different lots.

We're kind of far away in this first view (circa 1958), but that gives us more of a sense of the cabin being located in the midst of a vast and lonely wilderness. Even from here, the settler's broken body can be seen.

Zooming in, it is evident that the settler is draped over some kind of bench, as if he really was caught completely by surprised when he ran out of the blazing cabin. To the left is a split-rail fence protecting his meagre corn crop from pesky deer.

Here is the same scene in 1962. The bench is gone.  The front yard is full of tree stumps, evidence of the hard work needed to clear even a small patch of land. The flames look even more fierce here. Did the settler have a wife and a child? I know it's just a mannequin, but that's the power of storytelling for you. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Freedomland, U.S.A.

Here are three more scans of vintage slides featuring Freedomland U.S.A., located (for four short years) in the Bronx (New York, of course). I am endlessly fascinated by this park, conceived by C.V. Wood - a valuable aid to Walt Disney in the early planning of Disneyland, though they had a major falling out. You can read about it in Todd James Pierce's "Three Years in Wonderland"!

This first photo shows the next exterior to the "Civil War", "...a horse-drawn wagon adventure ride through recreations of American Civil War battle ground, camps, derailed trains and burning houses, which ends in the middle of a mock battle". As historians know, the Civil War was perhaps the most fun war ever.

There is something very evocative about these faux ruins, as if they were all that was left of a building after General Sherman's "scorched earth" march to the sea.

Freedomland had its own Santa Fe-sponsored railroad (with two locomotives), and it looks like it was a beauty. This particular locomotive appears to be the "Ernest S. Marsh" - yes, the same name as Disneyland's #4 engine (which debuted in 1959, while Freedomland didn't open until 1960). Notice the couple consulting the handy park map - as you can see, the park was in the shape of a prehistoric chicken.

I don't mean to be unkind, but come on - that HAS to be a man in that dress and golden pigtails, right? He's looking extra glum because this is "Bring Your Son To Work" day, and in about 20 minutes, 10 year-old Mikey will find out what his dad does for a living. Hey, it's honest work! For the last year the old man has been telling his kid that he "works with cattle". 

Elsie the Cow was a featured (and popular!) resident of Freedomland (you could see her in her "boudoir"), but Elsie was a brown Jersey heifer. I can sense your disappointment. 

I have only a few Freedomland images left!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wonderful Tomorrowland, September 1958

Today I have two beautiful photos from Tomorrowland, circa 1958!

Let's start with this unusual angle looking northwest-ish; I believe that our photographer was standing in front of the Space Bar, more or less. The Astro Jets are readying for takeoff, and a colorful string of Skyway buckets heads into the distance, with no Matterhorn to be seen yet.

Zooming in and looking carefully, we can juuuuust see the Viewliner station, and what might be just a sliver of the blue (Fantasyland) Viewliner train.

Next is this lovely image, with the impressive Moonliner, flanked by giant bird of paradise plants, which add an interesting Venusian to the mid-century futuristic land. How do I know what it's like on Venus? Don't ask!

There's Walt's customized Autopia vehicle - I wonder if there was a sign telling guests exactly what it was? At the base of the rocket you can see a banner bearing the words "Thimble Drome", where the Flight Circle was. The fingerboard to the right lists such enticing exhibits as "The World Beneath Us", "20,000 Leagues Show", "American Dairy Association Dairy Bar" and... the public telephone.

FYI... I'm heading out of town starting today, and I'll be gone the whole weekend. I won't necessarily have great Internet access, but I'll try to check in at least once a day to respond to comments. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tomorrowland Snapshots

Here are three more snapshots from Disneyland, from GDB reader Irene, and her brother! These are all from Tomorrowland, though they are not all from the same date (as far as I know).

First up is this shot of a deep-sea diving bell named "Nemo". I can only read the bold type on the sign, which says that this vehicle was first launched in 1970. Despite my superhuman efforts (!) I was unable to find exactly when this was on display - as you can see it is located near the start of the Submarine Voyage queue, and even though there is hardly anybody in line, there are a few people waiting for a Journey Through Liquid Space. SO... this is pre-1998 (when the subs closed). It might even pre-date the  Tomorrowland renovations that began in 1995 - if anybody knows, please chime in.

Here's an interesting snap from out in front of the "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" attraction, which opened on May 22, 1998 (replacing "Captain EO"). As you can see, the queue is blocked off by barriers, as well as a whole lotta potted plants.  I liked this attraction for what it was - what do you think, the equivalent of a "D" ticket? Maybe even a "C" ticket? The problem was that it didn't bear too many repeat visits, and it wore out its welcome rather quickly - though it survived for 12 years.

Without wanting to be too negative, the graphics on that marquee are not my favorites, to put it mildly.

Next is this nice photo of the façade of the "Circle-vision" attraction. As you can see, it was on its last legs; "America the Beautiful" had originally closed in 1984, replaced by "Wonders of China" (which I never saw!), which ran in conjunction with "American Journeys" (um, not sure I saw that one either). By 1996, both of those films were removed, and the classic "America the Beautiful" came back in a "Special Return Showing". In 1997, the ride closed completely, and the area became part of the "Rocket Rods" queue.

THANK YOU, Irene and her brother!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Knott's Golden Spike Ceremony, January 12 1952

Digging through my main box of miscellaneous ephemera, I found this nice program from the dedication of the railroad at Knott's Berry Farm, on January 12, 1952. All these years later, the big trains are still one of my favorite things at Knott's! 

So... here's the cover. I wonder who was able to attend this event? Were people invited? Were visitors to the park allowed to enjoy the festivites? My guess is "yes" to both. Since the community of die-hard train fans was relatively small, I'm also wondering if any notable Disney people were there that day (although Disneyland would not come along for years)?

The program provides a brief history of the Denver Rio Grande locomotive, and the usual list of music and speakers that one might see at an event like this. It looks like a mercifully short ceremony! I wonder if there is any surviving record of Water Knott's' remarks?

I scrounged some photos of the event from the interwebs, and they are kind of fun. Look at that crowd gathered in front of the Calico Saloon! It's like Disneyland on a slow day in 2017. Being January, there are lots of coats, hats, and babushkas. The stand of eucalyptus trees looks so great! 

Looks like there was even some drizzle, but that didn't seem to bother most people. Notice the TV camera on that makeshift wooden support. Arthur Fonzarelli was there! Also notice the sign for the short-lived "Mark Smith Horse Show". 

Among the invited guests was actor Sterling Hayden, who was starring in a 1952 movie called "Denver and Rio Grande". That's him, pounding in the golden spike - perhaps you will remember him from his role as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, in Stanley Kubrick's "Doctor Strangelove".  The lovely lady is Kasey Rogers, also in "Denver and the Rio Grande" - she had a long and successful career, appearing in many movies and television programs. She played Larry Tate's wife Louise in "Bewitched", and was memorably strangled by Robert Walker in Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers On a Train". Criss cross!

Was there really a ceremonial golden spike? Does it exist in a collection somewhere? Can I have it for free?

First of all, the guy's name is "Sterling", and yet he is driving in a golden spike. Who's idea was that? They should have asked 7 year-old Goldie Hawn to do the honors. I hope Mr. Hayden didn't hit Kasey Rogers' fingers.

And finally, here's perhaps my favorite photo, with Walter and Cordelia Knott posing next to their newest toy, dressed in period costumes. Or maybe that's just how they dressed on an average day, who's to say. They had some lean years in their early days - I'll bet they never imagined that they would have the success that came to them through hard work and good ideas.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Main Street Neat Repeats!

Here are a couple of blasts from the past (i.e. repeats)! Who knows, if you weren't looking at this blog in 2008, maybe these are new to you. And in the end, isn't that more important than things like family, happiness, or health? You bet it is!

1956. The Beatles hadn't done a thing yet. Apple introduced the Macintosh computer many years later. "Jaws" were just things you chewed gum with. Gosh, what a year it was! One great thing that happened is that somebody took this swell photo in Town Square, just oozing with 50's goodness. I love that we can see the little police station to the extreme left... it made it into very few photos thanks to its location. City Hall looks splendid, as does the horse-drawn streetcar (and the horse, wearing a chapeau). 

Here's another fantastic shot, looking north on Main Street (Instagram is calling, it wants its filter back). Patriotic bunting makes me wonder if this was taken around the 4th of July - or perhaps it was always the 4th of July on Main Street USA, if you know what I mean.

Let's go watch Rudolph Valentino in the Main Street Cinema! We missed our chance to ride the Streetcar and the Surrey, but we can cross the street and pet the leeches in the Upjohn Pharmacy. I always liked to put two of them on my upper lip to make a hilarious old-timey mustache.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Adventureland Panoramas

It's time for more photos from GDB reader Irene, and her brother (who took these photos)! I think that today's examples were taken around the time that "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye" debuted, or (more likely) just before it actually oopened in 1995. 

Irene's brother took zillions of snapshots, but a few were taken using special disposable cameras that took extra wide panoramas. They're pretty striking! It's like watching lots of old 3:4 aspect ratio movies, and then suddenly watching something in Panavision. 

This first image is a nice overview of how things looked as you entered the queue from Adventureland. The level of detail in Indy's queue is one of the most impressive things about the ride, and that's saying something. Even at this early point, one feels drawn toward that mysterious temple in the distance.

Not only can we see evidence of an archeological dig in progress, but those fearsome cobra statues hint at some of the surprises that wait inside.

When I originally composed today's post (weeks ago, believe it or not), Adventureland's "Tropical Imports" shop was one of those features that managed to survive relatively unchanged over the past 20 years. Then it was announced that the old location would close a few weeks ago to be converted to stroller parking, and a new Tropical Imports shop would open next to the expanded Bengal Barbeque, all in an effort to reduce congestion that has plagued the area. So... that makes this photo extra cool!

Many thanks to Irene and her brother!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Swinging on the Columbia, June 1958

Today's photos were taken in June of 1958, when the Columbia sailing ship was brand new (having debuted that very month). Walt Disney knew that another big boat was just the thing for the Rivers of America, and a duplicate of the first U.S. vessel to circumnavigate the globe was selected. It has been a popular attraction for nearly 60 years!

In the early days, crew members were apparently encouraged to climb the rigging (ratlines?) and hang from the spars, probably eliciting gasps from the crowds below. "I think it's a monkey dressed like a sailor!". "I think that guy has had too much grog!". "If he falls, he's going to land right on me". "I wonder where he bought those shoes?". These are just a few of the thoughts that probably occurred to guests.

Look at that show-off, climbing up to the crow's nest like he owns the place! Why in my day it just wasn't done.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Puppet Show, England

Today's "Anything Goes Saturday" images are undated, though my guess would be from around 1960, give or take a year or two - but they were labeled "Castle fete, England". England! Cheerio, guvna. Pip pip. What's all this then? Man, I talk good English. 

Anyway, both of these photos are fun, with crowds of entranced children (and a few adults) crowded around what appears to be a particularly large mattress. What could it be? 

I love the clothing and haircuts in this photo. One lad holds a toy bow and arrow - even kids in England loved Westerns at that time. 

Aha! A puppet show! Would today's phone-obsessed children even look at a puppet show? This one looks to be of the "Punch and Judy" type - plenty of beatings with a stick. Let's face it, there's nothing funnier than that. 

Pretty soon, they would all become entranced by rock and roll, especially when four lovable mop-tops came along. I'm talkin' Herman's Hermits. Things would never be the same!

I know this is not an original thought, but it is kind of sobering to think that all of these fresh-faced children are now in their 60's and 70's.  

Friday, July 07, 2017

The River, July 1963

Today's photos are date-stamped "July 63", but they have a very "June gloom-y" look about them. Make of that what you will! Both photos were taken from the Mark Twain (since the Columbia is having work done in Fowler's Harbor).

This first one is my favorite, showing the always-placid Rivers of America, with a months-old Haunted Mansion exterior, looming in the distance. We get two rafts (for one low low price) - one nearly at the landing on Tom Sawyer Island, while the other is nearly ready for its 5 hour journey across the river. The one in the distance might head toward another landing on the west side of the island, while the foreground raft is on its way to the one near the mill.

I love zooming in on the people; it's fun to look at their clothing and hairstyles, or to observe their expressions of excitement (or boredom), or even trying to see if they are carrying any souvenirs - I see a hat or two, and a couple of balloons, but that's about it. 

It seems to me that in almost every photo of the rafts, the cast members are in a "head down" posture, for some reason. Are they looking out for snags? Or man-eating snapping turtles? If we have any former cast members out there who know, please chime in!

Notice the Bertha Mae, apparently out of service in the distance. There are still construction walls around the Mansion.

Here's another photo, taken a little further to the east. There's the southernmost dock for the rafts to the left, with the infamous fishing dock to our right. That one guy is using two bamboo poles, he must be really hungry!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Six Flags Over Texas

Ken Martinez has shared many vintage postcards from Six Flags Over Texas, and they have been very popular. Apparently a lot of readers managed to make their way to Arlington, TX! Take it away, Ken:

More Six Flags Over Texas

Today is a return visit to Six Flags Over Texas.  Instead of focusing on a single theme area, this time we'll hop around the park. 

Pictured here is an aerial view provided while riding the Astrolift.  The Astrolift traveled between the Modern section and Texas section of the park.  Below is the La Salle River Adventure.  Both attractions pictured here are long gone.

The Southern Palace Theatre was where the main musical shows would play featuring local talent.  It’s still operating to this day.

Gone long ago, the Fiesta Train ran from 1961-1978.  By 1968 the ride was remodeled with new style trains and new scenes designed by the team of Sid & Marty Kroft which included a trip through the center of a volcano, traveling through a little Mexican town complete with shoot out and a runaway bus.

Here’s an unusual shot of the Runaway Mine Train coasting through a rockwork tunnel and behind a blue waterfall.  I’m not sure if this waterfall even functions anymore or if the rockwork still exists.  Perhaps a reader can chime in with the answer.

Of course Six Flags over Texas became a huge success and the company added two more of its own theme parks before expanding by acquisition of existing theme parks. Hope you enjoyed the return visit to Six Flags over Texas.

Information Source material: 
The Great American Amusement Parks copyright 1976 by Gary Kyriazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
The History of Six Flags Over Texas –

As always, MANY THANKS to Ken Martinez for scanning his cards and providing his text!