Thursday, July 16, 2020

Disneyland Hotel Snapshots, 1958

Today's photos come from Lou and Sue! Sue B. has sent me many MANY scans recently... so many that I would have probably turned these 9 images into two posts, but I feel like I can be extravagant and share them all at once.

First up is Lou's receipt for his April 16th thru 20th, 1958 stay at the Disneyland Hotel. Ten bucks a day? Who am I, Mike Moneybags? Adjusted for inflation that's about $90 a day, still a bargain. I've heard that rooms at the Grand Californian can easily top $500 a night.

In case it wasn't already obvious, all of today's photos feature the Disneyland Hotel. This first one is oddly interesting, with a sea of empty asphalt between us and that oasis of comfort and convenience.

Hooray for the old Hotel trams, pulled by a small tractor! Who needs a Monorail? Trams will get you where you want to go, with fresh air blowing through your wig.

I love this photo of a friendly herd of vintage cars resting peacefully in front of the Hotel's restaurant, "Le Gourmet". I told Walt they should name it, "Le Glutton", but he ignored my brilliant idea.

Listen, you guys go have fun at Disneyland, I'm going to spend the day in the Olympic-size swimming pool. In fact, I'm not going to go to the park for the whole five days. I REALLY LIKE POOLS! The stumpy palms are adorable. In the distance are the garden rooms

The last three all feature the aforementioned Garden rooms. Business was booming, even in April. Maybe it was Spring Break? Maybe I'm crazy, but I seem to detect the influence of Japanese architecture here. Perhaps the walls were made of rice paper.

The Hotel is completely upstaged by those tailfins!

It is clear that much effort was expended in creating a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere, with trees and flowers to add color and beauty. The tree to the right is covered in fruit, perhaps it is one of the original orange trees.

MANY THANKS to Lou and Sue, there's so much more to come from them!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

More From 1937Fan!

It's time for another selection of scans graciously donated by "1937Fan". These are a bit more recent than the other slides we've seen, dated "1970" (don't worry, there are more of the 1964 photos coming up). In case you've forgotten, the photos are from a stash that 1937Fan's Aunt gave to her.

So, first up is this photo of a mysterious woman (not the fabled Aunt, or at least I don't think so) standing in front of the exit of The Enchanted Tiki Room. There's bamboo aplenty, but they really missed a chance to use more coconuts (a tip I learned from Gilligan's Island). Love those carved wooden shields, I need several of them for my grotto with its tiki bar. It's Martin Denny and Les Baxter music 24/7!

They sure could save a lot of time and money if they replaced these topiaries in front of "It's a Small World" with plywood cutouts. 

And, as the sun sets, it bathes the Rocket Jets in a warm pink glow. You can see that the lights on the nose cones (simulating the extreme friction of reentry?) are lit up, while the Peoplemover is practically lost in the darkness.

Thank you, 1937Fan!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Disneyland Paris - Part 2

Today I'm continuing to share some of Huck Caton's June 2016 photos of Disneyland Paris; all of today's images are from that park's version of Storybook Land ("Les Pays de Contes de Fées"). 

Right out in the middle of the canal are two small, unusual islands; one features Mount Olympus, while the other has a small temple, perhaps to Dionysys (or Bacchus), inspired by a scene from "Fantasia". I like the idea of recreating that beautiful artwork as a miniature tableau, but frankly this just looks odd.

Here's one views of Mt. Olympus from the "Pastoral Symphony" segment of "Fantasia" (the mountain was pictured transitioning from day to sunset to night).

Peter and the Wolf! I always loved that cartoon segment from the 1946 film, "Make Mine Music", though nowadays I would prefer it without the Sterling Holloway narration. But it is what it is.

There's "Pierre" and the "Loup"; the decision to include the characters from some of these scenes seems a little odd; one of the charms of the original Storybook Land in Anaheim is that guests would use their imagination. You know, that thing that Disney loves to mention! Maybe Peter and his grandfather were inside the charming cottage sitting by the fire. But no, there are teensy characters, right in front of us. It's not the end of the world, admittedly.

As a kid I found the "Night On Bald Mountain" sequence from "Fantasia" to be one of the most amazing things, so it's very cool that they included the crooked little German Expressionist village, with the huge winged demon, "Chernabog" recoiling from the sound of church bells.

A number of years ago I learned about F.W. Murnau's 1926 film, "Faust", obviously a direct inspiration for the Fantasia scene. That's Mephisto "sewing the seeds of plague".

Now our boats approach the imposing entrance to Aladdin's "Cave of Wonders". If you stand up and touch the carved uvula, you will get 20 years of good luck. I just noticed that the colossal stone tiger is wearing a golden earring.

This ride has some impressive rock work; I suppose the rocky cliffs help to separate scenes from one another, plus they just look cool.

The final image for today is this diorama from "The Sword In The Stone". There it is, under that archway, with fiber-optic sparkles to let us know that something magical is about to happen! Even the miniature Excalibur would be impossible to pull from the stone unless one is worthy, even though it looks like it could be used as a toothpick.

THANKS to Huck Caton for sharing his personal photos! There are many more to come.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Nice Snapshots, August 1968

As much as I love a good 35mm color slide, there is still something nostalgic and appealing about old  photo prints, like today's snapshots from August of 1968. 

This is a neat one featuring a steel band performing in the partial shade of a large tree. Those ringing, percussive sounds make me feel like I'm relaxing on a sandy beach with a cool beverage in a coconut! In the distance we can see the Tahitian Terrace - I thought it still had the sign indicating the Stouffer's sponsorship, but now I think the sign just says "Adventureland". 

Now we're in nearby New Orleans Square, and the Strawhatters (I believe) are serenading guests from the second floor balcony of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" building. How cool! Do performers ever appear up there anymore? 

And lastly, let's all enjoy this photo of the original Swiss Family Treehouse! I feel like I say the same things about it over and over (red leaves, Rube Goldberg waterworks), so this time I'll let the picture do the talking.

I hope you have enjoyed today's vintage snapshots!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Using Up Some Twain Pix

I've decided to use up a few rather generic Mark Twain photos on this "Snoozer Sunday", so that you won't have to see them on a "normal" day.

To be honest, I think this first one (circa 1965) is pretty nice, even though it is a scan of a photo print and not a slide. I like the crowd in the foreground, as well as the busy lower deck of the Twain. Curiously, the top deck is fairly empty, it seems to me that most people run to the top these days.

There's nothing wrong with this July 1969 picture except that we've all seen 1000 others just like it.

Like photo #2... this one isn't bad, per se; it's just not anything to get very excited about.

Come back tomorrow, there will be something more interesting, I promise!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Old Chicago, 1975

A while ago, Sue B. sent me some slides to scan - photos that were taken by her Dad, Lou Perry, back in July in 1975. The box of slides was labeled "Old Chicago", and I assumed that it was going to contain pictures of various old buildings around the Chicago area. But I was so wrong! "Old Chicago" was a short-lived amusement park & mall (in Bolingbrooke, a suburb southwest of Chicago) housed in a giant 345,000 square-foot building so that it could be open all year 'round. Fascinating!

In this first photo, Lou pulled over to capture this long-distance view, with Old Chicago's large dome visible beyond the oncoming traffic.

Closer....! The outside of the place was a bit featureless, but that way they could control the lights indoors. Besides, would you want to wash all those windows?

From the very beginning, Old Chicago ran into problems with construction delays, but the grand opening on June 17, 1975 attracted over 10,000 people and caused massive traffic backups. An 18 year-old girl (Michelle Mauthe) tap-danced on top of the dome in high winds that day! Apparently construction was not actually complete though, with exposed wiring - always a good thing to have around people.

Man, that place is big! I can hardly stand the anticipation. Last-minute fixes to the wiring and other issues resulted in the actual opening being delayed, but when it did open, it attracted even bigger crowds than before.

I like the humorous touch of including these bronze lions flanking the entrance, presumably they are copies of the famous pair of lions at the entrance to the Chicago Art Institute.

The decor inside was supposed to evoke "early 20th century". It mostly just looked like a mall. There were no large, familiar stores (such as Marshall Field's) to anchor the mall, a choice that turned out to be a problem later. Still, wouldn't you love to check out Kei-Tiki Village?

At first I wondered why some of the interiors appeared to be so dark, but these streetlights tell me it was supposed to be nighttime, even in the middle of the day. Notice the shop to the right, still unfinished, while to our left, several empty storefronts. 

The General Store only sold merchandise to Generals, and that just seems like a bad idea. Old Chicago continued to experience problems such as a faulty sprinkler system, and later a small fire (no surprise) that forced an evacuation. Then an acrobat performing in the circus trapeze act fell to his death.

A small group of folks have gathered to listen to a trio of musicians; keyboards, acoustic guitar, and... jazz flute? Can't tell for sure. 

According to Wikipedia, Old Chicago was on the verge of bankruptcy only six months after opening. Stores began closing, and locals did not visit regularly, even though the place was generally popular. The opening of Marriott's (later Six Flags) Great America in 1976 drew even more people away from Old Chicago, and it continued to fade in popularity.

Here's a shot where you can see the indoor roller coaster; I'm not entirely certain what other sorts of amusement park rides were available, but they weren't enough to save the place; by 1980 the amusement area was closed and the rides were sold off. The remaining shops closed shortly afterwards. There were a number of plans to use the enormous building for some other enterprise, including a casino, but none of those came to fruition, and Old Chicago was razed in the spring of 1986. Amazon paid over $50 million for the site in January of this year.

It was a sad end to Old Chicago, but I am very grateful to Lou and Sue for introducing me to this very interesting piece of Chicago history! There are more photos from Lou and Sue's collection, I may post some of those at a future date.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Monorail! November 1964

First up, because I happen to know about it, Happy Birthday to our friend Andrew who turns 16 today! Ah, to be 16 again...

Today's first photo is unusual and fun, taken out in the immense parking lot. A Piper Cherokee airplane was on display - would the Disneyland Hotel have been behind us? I think I've seen boats on display in other pix from around the same era. The photographer either waited patiently for the Monorail to pass by (offering a nice juxtaposition), or he just got lucky. The couple checking the plane out think that it is just the thing they need to impress the neighbors, especially when they rev it up at 6:30 in the morning and taxi down their suburban street.

The "standard" version of the Cherokee was $8,500, which is the equivalent of  around $72,000 today. The "super custom '52'" at $10,820 would cost almost $92,000. I'll take two!

It's too bad this one is so dark, because it's a neat photo as it is, but would be even better if it didn't look like some kind of armored sea monster. Love those "erector set" metal beams pierced with hexagonal holes. 

Thursday, July 09, 2020

More From 1937Fan

Here are three more photos from 1937Fan! The first two pix were shot by her Aunt in November of 1964.

What a scene! I've always wondered if the Imagineers built scale models of the lagoon, and the curving Monorail track, etc, so that they could get an idea of the wonderful views that would be possible in this area. Of course the lovely calm water of the lagoon, the blue sky, the bright sunlight... all of those things just added to the beauty.

From above we get a tantalizing hint of the abundance of life in the sea. Corals of many kinds, seaweed and kelp, anemones, sea stars, turtles, and various fish such as the red and black fellow that I believe is supposed to be a California Sheephead. Or not. Who am I, Jacques Cousteau? 

This next one is from a group taken sometime in the 1970's, and shows a late-afternoon look at a Matterhorn bobsled (before the sleds were doubled up) right around "splashdown". Love it!

THANK YOU, 1937Fan!

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

More Pitchur Gallery!

It's time for another selection of souvenir photos from Knott's Berry Farm's "Pitchur Gallery". While I generally like to find examples from the 1940's and 50's, these are much newer.

Here's the front of the protective paper envelope that held each souvenir photo. I think this dates from sometime in the 1970's.

This is a very weird scene! Sonny Bono is about to hang Anne Bancroft for an unknown crime; I'll bet she plugged an evil varmint full of lead, but he was the son of ol' Jeb Pritchett, who owned the largest ranch in the territories. Poor Anne is going to pay the ultimate price, even though she's a hero to the townfolk.

The conestoga wagon scene was still popular after 30 (or more) years!

And last, but certainly not least - here a photo, courtesy of GDB pal Mike Cozart! It features Mike and his friends, from around 2015 or 2016. Mike's friend Peter is the cowboy in the middle, while the other four pose as some of the most "interesting" looking saloon girls ever. Whatever they're doing, it's working - they have a pile of cash, maybe from the local stagecoach, or a trail carrying the payroll. Mike is to the right of Peter, with the curl placed fetchingly over his forehead. I've seen some silly Pitchur Gallery photos, but this one might win the grand prize!

A BIG THANK YOU to Mike Cozart for sharing his personal photo with us!

Tuesday, July 07, 2020


As part of my community service, I promised to rescan a bunch of old slides. Think of the benefits to society! And I really tried. I tried, you guys! I poured my heart and soul into the project. No half-assing it for ol' Major P. 

Example numero uno: this scan, which first appeared on GDB way back in 2008 (the slide is dated "December, 1960"). What was I thinking? It looks like they had one of those food-warmer heat lamps just out of frame, keeping the guests hot and crispy. I'd chalk it up to drugs, but I'm just not that cool.

Here's the rescan, and it looks a lot more normal! In fact I could see this photo appearing in a vintage guidebook. Maybe it's even POSTCARD WORTHY now? I redid this scan weeks ago, and looking at it now, I feel like I could have retained a little more of that rosy glow seen in the first example, since the picture was clearly taken just as the sun was setting. But I'm not going to lose any sleep, don't you fret none!

Numero dos is this pretty nice view of the Rocket Jets and Peoplemover, circa 1974; I wound up cropping off some of the sky, for better or worse. It has an overall warm cast, which I don't really mind, but the bottom third of the photo went really dark.

Here's the rescan, and it just looks sharper and nicer in my opinion. Should I have cropped it again? Either way, what a wonderful scene of Tomorrowland! 

Monday, July 06, 2020

Pendleton Shop, June 1978

It's time for another installment of photos, graciously contributed by the Mysterious Benefactor! Today we'll be loitering around the Pendleton store, circa 1978.

The Davy Crockett Arcade and Fun Time Pizza Parlor was a good place to play genuine frontier video games such as "Racoons" (like "Space Invaders", only with trash pandas), and "Mike Fink Kong", which was just like Donkey Kong only with more keelboats. The machines only operated if you fed them coins from the early 19th century. Say, what's that handsome green building next door? Why, it's the Pendelton store! Buy a nice, itchy wool blanket why don't you.

This family is looking pretty pooped; you'd think one of the grown men could let the little girl have a seat! She looks exhausted, but I'm sure there's a twinkle in her eye and a Disney song in her heart.

Was it something I said? Notice the sign for a "Pendleton Exhibit", I wonder what that was. I'll bet you 10 Canadian quarters that there was a photo of the Beach Boys wearing Pendleton plaids.

Maybe this nice lady will talk to me, I feel comforted by the mysterious light that surrounds her. Sometimes people feel awkward speaking to a person they've never met before, so I always break the ice by asking them for money. 

The woman to our left (almost out of frame) is carrying a 3-ring binder, which seems odd. Maybe she was a CM?

For Zach, this might be the pinback button that is on the purse of twin #1.

Technically these kids are outside of Davy Crockett's Arcade, but Major Pepperidge apologizes to nobody! This is a sweet scene, big sister is taking good care of her baby sis, who has had about enough of Disneyland for one day. I once went to the park with a friend and her two young kids, and by the time it got dark, they were so tired that they spontaneously began crying. Time to go!

A big THANK YOU as always to the Mysterious Benefactor.