Friday, October 13, 2017

Moonliner, May 1958

I have two swell photos of Tomorrowland for you today! Admittedly, they would be even "sweller" if it hadn't been a gray, overcast day, but don't worry... I've filed a lawsuit against the Earth's atmosphere for "pain and suffering". I expect a settlement in the neighborhood of $100,000,000. 

When I was a kid I was "Apollo crazy", constantly drawing floating astronauts, space capsules, and Saturn V rockets on my notebook paper. As cool as that Saturn V was (as of today it is still the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status), I might have to give the edge to the TWA Moonliner. Come on, just look at it! Those retractable legs, the red graphics, the little cockpit high up near the nose... Chesley Bonestell would be proud. And don't forget that the Disneyland incarnation of this rocket was built at a mere 1/3 of what its true size was supposed to be.

Notice Tinker Bell's hand holding her magic wand in the lower right corner!

Here's a very pretty photo of the Monsanto House of the Future. I just realized that a large part of its appeal (for me) is the fact that it is raised up on that pedestal, so that the house itself is a good 8 or 10 feet above the ground. How I hate the ground! I've always wondered if the pond and small waterfalls were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater". Notice the chimney on top - not a feature that one might expect to see on such a modern house. Don't worry, they Family of the Future would put uranium fuel rods in their fireplace, not dirty old logs. 


Nanook said...


Who cares if the skies are gray - they can't detract from the wonderful Moonliner-! (Although I wish to learn more about where I can get 'my cut' of the lawsuit's winning's). And I thought everyone knew that TIinkerbell's Magic Wand® is the official device to signal the astronauts for take-off.

I believe the 'chimney' atop the House of the Future is actually a scaled-down version of the Tower of Light. (What - your house doesn't have one-??!!)

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

The two most iconic attractions of the original Tomorrowland are futuristic perfection! I love overcast gray skies over Disneyland in photos. Especially if they are of Tomorrowland. It brings out a certain color quality to the structures. These two photos are gems. Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

For some odd reason, the HoF looks smaller to me than normal in this photo. It might be the diffuse lighting, compressed focal length and the lack of foreground people. Or, this being 1958, it may be that it was still growing and hadn't yet reached its full, adult size. Come to think of it, that may have been why it was ultimately removed - plastic is notoriously difficult to prune and they were worried about it growing too much and ruining the scale of the Matterhorn and castle.

I've often wondered about a Fallingwater inspiration, too.

Although I'm a few years younger than you guys, I still have vivid memories of the Apollo program. That sort of pure awesomeness sticks with you. My first ViewMaster reels were of the Apollo 11 mission, and I still have an astronaut figure from a launching Saturn V set my grandmother bought me in 1971 or 72. She also sent me a stack of Apollo 17 stickers before that final launch, and there was still one on the old fridge in their basement when it when to the junkyard a couple of years ago.

Would you be willing to let us join you in a class-action suit against the atmosphere?

Chuck said...

Sorry about the Pinterest link. Here's a better one to just the image:

And another few to let you see what the astronauts looked like (mine is red):$_57.JPG?set_id=8800005007

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it is true that sometimes an overcast sky results in better details (less harsh shadows), but in general I still do prefer a Disneyland photo taken on a bright sunny day with a deep blue sky! My place has a Tower of Light - I call it a lamp.

K. Martinez, luckily these are very nice photos - somebody knew what they were doing, which is not always the case. Nice composition and such. I still like these, though, in case I gave the wrong impression!

Chuck, the Monsanto house wasn’t very large, for sure; I’ve always thought that if I won the lottery (I guess I have to PLAY the lottery to win it, yes?) and wanted to build my own plastic house of the future, I would scale it up by at least 50% - assuming that the design could support the extra weight. I love that “launching Saturn V” - space toys from that era were pretty awesome. I had a battery-powered “moon buggy” that could climb tracks that went vertical or even upside down. Yes, you can absolutely get in on the class action suit! If you could show up to the courtroom in tears, that would be very helpful.

Chuck II, now I find myself wanting one of those toys. I’m sure that they are not cheap these days!

K. Martinez said...

Major, You didn't give the wrong impression. I figured you liked them. I should disclose that most of my experiences at Disneyland when I was young were during the June gloom months of Memorial Day weekend/early Summer, so I associate overcast skies as part of the Disneyland experience of my youth.

Melissa said...

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
Went to Disneyland
On a winter's day
Thought I’d be more warm Since I was near L.A.
On such a winter's day
*jazz flute solo*

Of course there's a chimney on the House of the Future; how else is Monsanta Claus supposed to get in?

TokyoMagic! said...

Monsanta Claus! Oh Melissa, you are too clever! And I'm assuming his Santa suit is made entirely of Dacron® nylon?

Dean Finder said...

I don't think I've ever noticed that the windows had different arrangements on different sides of the HoF.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-

That's too much-!

@ TM!-

Other than their acquisition of the American Viscose Corporation (primarily noted for Rayon), Monsanto really specialized more in chemicals. Dacron, a thermoplastic polymer resin, (polyester) although developed in England, but based on polymer research done by Dr. Carothers [of DuPont], and Nylon, the first successful synthetic thermoplastic long chain polymer - a direct result of Dr. Carothers research at DuPont, were both essentially DuPont fabrics. I'm not certain how happy Monsanto would be to have fabric 'interlopers' invade their House of the Future - in spite of the "space age-i-ness" of those fabrics.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, thanks for the correction. I knew that Dacron was connected to either a Disneyland sponsor or a 1964/65 New York World's Fair sponsor. Oh well! I guess I should have asked Melissa if Monsanta Claus' suit was treated with DDT or Agent Orange.

Anonymous said...

@Chuck and Major, the HOF is a sort-of melange of Fallingwater by Wright, but with some elements of Corbusier's Villa Savoye mixed in it.

I'm sure the waterfalls are inspired by the Wright house, which was built over a real waterfall (try getting away with that today...).

But Corbusier was probably the first "modern" architect to proclaim that houses should be lifted up on stilts or supports. This isn't that odd when you consider that many townhouses in Europe and the East coast have elevated first floors to get above the noise and smells of the streets, to say nothing of high water. Main difference is that the basement or first floor was enclosed and used for utilitarian occupancies like the kitchen and storage.

Ville Savoye used the grade level as a parking area for the newfangled horseless carriage. Of course, in the HOF, we would arrive by People Mover and so the grade level can be occupied by lovely gardens.

The romantic name conjured up by Corbusier for this house and similarly inspired buildings that came later was "The Machine in the Garden". Corbusier coined the slogan "A House is a Machine for Living In." Fortunately, most people thought this was a stupid idea, and the notion never took off in the mass market.

Ironically, the HOF design is more true to the Machine in the Garden than the Corbu original.

Years ago, I worked on an update of a house that seemed clearly inspired by the HOF. The single story was a concrete platform on heavy legs, but the walls were cedar or redwood siding, not plastic. It was located deep in a canyon at the northerly end of Santa Monica or Palisades and was reputed to have belonged to one of the Beach Boys at one time. I remember thinking then how similar the two houses were, except for the warm wood paneling exterior. The living spaces were all up in the tree branches, relaxing views from the interior, from which the exterior oddness couldn't be seen.

Thank you for these pics. Brightening my week.