Friday, October 02, 2020

Two Beauties From 1969

I recently scanned a batch of slides from 1969, and some of them are very nice - colorful photos full of color and activity, during a particularly vital time in the park's existence. 

We'll start out with this unusual angle, taken along the walkway that paralleled the western bank of the Rivers of America (see the Keelboat, loaded with passengers, to our right?). The Haunted Mansion is out of frame to our left, with only a month to go before it opened. Notice the tunnel to the Indian Village, too.

It's fun to do a little people-watching; that lady nearest us is enjoying her ice cream bar, while the two young men are trying to figure out the best use of their remaining tickets.  

Looking to the left, I noticed this neat sign announcing the imminent debut of the Haunted Mansion. I'd never seen it before, and got so excited! Maybe this was something new for Mansion fans!

I sent a jpeg to HBG2 (from the wonderful "Long Forgotten" blog), and he was very happy to see it, but mentioned that there was a nice photo of the same sign in the book, "Marc Davis: In His Own Words" by Pete Docter and Chris Merritt. So much for my fame and glory! Here's a look at that much clearer image.

I mentioned the tunnel to the Indian Village in that first photo, and here's a rather unusual view from inside as our photographer neared the far end. Plenty has been written about the use of tunnels and portals as the physical equivalent of a dissolve (or "star wipe", if you will - the classiest editing gimmick in all of history) to a new scene.

As far as I can recall, I never went to the Indian Village - it was removed just two years after these photos, and I was still pretty young. It looks very inviting here, and I love the cool totem poles, added in 1962.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Love that Haunted Mansion sign!

In the last picture, is that lady, on the left, exhausted or just trying to imitate that totem pole??

Thanks, Major!

Melissa said...

The Mansion sign with the tombstone art is pretty neato! I also love the picture of the tired kid on the tunnel bench.

TokyoMagic! said...

Wow! Two really great (and unusual) photos, today!

Major, I always get confused about the entrance into the Indian Village. Were there two tunnels, side by side. It doesn't look like it in that first pic, but I thought there were.

Sue, that lady is grabbing her head, because she just now realized that she left the baby on the train!

Nanook said...

Some most-unusual (and sharp) images today. The Mansion sign is a real honey.

@ Sue-
That lady is merely applying pressure to her forehead attempting to affect a mini-facelift following a tiring day in The Park.

Thanks, Major.


That Haunted Mansion pre-opening sign is well known by Mansion and DL sign collectors....but the amazing thing about today’s picture is showing it’s location!! I think people always assumed it was in the location of the larger earlier pre-opening sign “ notice all ghosts and restless spirits” ...... in the lawn/planter space to the left of the Mansion’s entry gate.

I wonder if maybe there were more than one of these second version signs located in multiple locations. The fabrication drawings however say “number required : 1” however. But you never know.

Still a very unique image MAJOR!!

Andrew said...

Wow, the banks and terraces along the Rivers of America really did look a lot better (and greener) before Fantasmic and the cold retaining walls. It took me a while before I knew about that Indian Village tunnel; I guess it just wasn't something begging to be photographed. Thanks, Major!

Stu29573 said...

I agree that spotting the HM sign "in the wild" is the true gem of these shots! I had, in fact, always had it in my mind that it was in the same place as the casting call advert sign. Great atmosphere on all of these today, Major! Kudos!

Tom said...

Awesome! The tunnel! I've never seen a photo of it from this angle, emerging through to the other side. I seem to remember our family going through a dark tunnel into a forest-like area on our visit in 1969, so it was very likely this one. Wish we had gotten some photos; never could figure out why my parents skimped on the picture taking. Great shots today!

zach said...

Tunnels! I love 'em so why don't I remember that one? I spent plenty of time in Injun Joe's tunnel on TSI becoming expert on not bumping my head.

Is that a mostly consumed Mickey Bar in the hand of the lady in the yellow shirt?

Great pics of an area we seldom see.

Thanks, Major


DrGoat said...

I agree with everyone. Great pics. I do have a vague remembrance of the totem pole. We used to visit the Indian village back then, but coming from Tucson, and hanging around our uncle, we met quite a few of the Native Americans he used to work with. They were great people plus the rest of the park was much more inviting than a simulated Indian village. The dancers were very cool though.
That sign is really cool. I've never seen it either. Wish I could warp back to late summer of '69 and have the daylights scared out of me!
Nice pis for a Friday Major. Everyone have as good a weekend as you can. I'm going to try.
Thank you Major.

DrGoat said...

I do think that person holding her head is just realizing she came to the park too soon and missed the opening of the Haunted House. I just noticed one of the guys on the other side of the NPC totem pole has a cowboy hat on.

JC Shannon said...

The woman in the orange blouse looks like she is eating something. It looks like a rosebud. Weird. Look at those tiny strollers. You can't fit 3 days worth of diapers or a small suitcase in em, While most things get smaller, prams just keep getting bigger. I knew a guy named Bryan, he got his first real six string, he bought it at the five and dime, he played it till his fingers bled, I think it was the summer of 69 as well. Thanks to Major!

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

Rather hilarious how they advertised the Mansion as a retirement home for ghosts. It certainly explains why there are so many spirits from so many time periods and places outside of New Orleans. Also explains why the ghosts are more interested in having a good time rather than scaring people. (Except for the ghosts popping out from behind gravestones, but hey, every party has their drunken pranksters!)

Also interesting that Disneyland had an Indian Village. On the one hand, it was nice that Disney was exposing their mostly WASP-y guests to other cultures. On the other hand, I'm rather concerned about how authentic the Native American culture was presented in the village. I would hope they at least had the decency to use real Native Americans. But then this is the same park that has several racial caricatures spread throughout in places like the Jungle Cruise.

JG said...

@Tokyo, the pedestrian tunnel to the indian village was a single bore, but since the train tunnel was immediately next to it, maybe that accounts for your thinking there were two. There were two, but only one for walking.

Major, these are really great!

As neat as the tunnel shot is, I think I prefer the view of the walkway, which captures the green, uncrowded feeling of the old Park which is gone forever.

I have a nice picture of my Dad and I, taken right at the entrance of the Keelboat pier which is visible to the right, taken a few years before. See it here, along with some more thoughts about keelboats >>

The tired kid on the bench reminds of my son on one visit, he was just wiped out. I sat on one of the NOS brick planters, maybe the very one in the first photo, and he fell asleep on my lap for about half hour. One of the better family memories.

I haven't been back since the new rules on strollers, but it sounded like they are cracking down on the SUV models (I've even seen two-story models, with kids stacked in layers), as well as the folks pulling wagons full of junk. As I recall, in the old days, the only strollers were like the ones in the picture, all Disney rentals, no outside equipment, and all parked neatly in designated spaces.

Thanks Major, this is a bright spot in the day.


Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, that lady definitely looks like she has “SUCH a headache”!

Melissa, yeah, I really like that HM sign, I guess I am late to the party and all the real “Mansion heads” know all about it.

TokyoMagic!, I believe there was only one pedestrian tunnel to (and from) the Indian Village, but the Disneyland Railroad had a tunnel that was just to the left of that - I guess it is just hidden by plants and shrubs here, you can usually see it in other photos.

Nanook, A mini-facelift? As Walt said, “Anything is possible at Disneyland”!

Mike Cozart, I had only seen artwork of this particular Mansion sign (on the “Long Forgotten” blog) until HBG2 told me about the nice photo in Chris Merritt’s book. It is possible that the sign moved around, we’ve seen that with other signs. I’d love to know if there was more than one of these signs!

Andrew, I don’t think many people would argue with you… the current riverbank, modified for “Fantasmic!”, is pretty ugly, though it serves a purpose. It’s kind of a shame that they created something that is only in use for a few hours out of the day, but looks bad ALL day.

Stu29573, good grief, everybody knew about that sign but me, it seems! Glad you liked these pics.

Tom, I think I might have one or two other photos taken from inside the tunnel, but you are right, such views are scarce. I can’t think of any other place in the park where guests would go through a tunnel into a forested area, so your visit in 1969 must have brought you to the Indian Village!

zach, as far as I know, my family never once visited the Indian Village. WHY? No idea. Maybe they just didn’t want to walk that far? I don’t think they had Mickey-shaped ice cream bars in 1969, but can’t say for sure!

DrGoat, those totem poles were moved to WDW after the Disneyland Indian Village was removed, you can find photos of them - repainted as far as I can tell, they look less colorful in most photos of them in Florida. I am not at Native American so I can’t say for sure, but it does feel like Disneyland tried to show a snapshot of Indian culture, with crafts and music, dancing and carving. I also wish I could have visited the Mansion in those opening weeks, especially to see the original Hatbox Ghost!

DrGoat, ha ha, I think we all agree that she looks upset about something.

Jonathan, it’s an ice cream bar! You’ve had those, I’m sure! I once went to the park with a woman who had a young boy, he dropped his brand-new ice cream bar. So (to stop him from crying), I immediately bought him another, and he dropped that one after about three bites. KIDS! I wonder what ever happened to your friend Bryan? ;-)

The Magic Ears Dudebro, I always thought that the “retirement home” idea was pretty clever, especially the fact that so many old places in Europe had been destroyed during WWII, and there were ghosts wandering around without a place to haunt. Come to Anaheim! Reminds me a little of a movie called “The Ghost Goes West”. I think that Disneyland always hired authentic Native Americans from many tribes, not white guys with “brownface” makeup. It feels like they made a genuine attempt at being respectful. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but for the 1950s/‘60s, it seems pretty progressive when TV showed Indians as bloodthirsty savages for the most part.

JG, thank you for confirming my theory about the two tunnels. I like the view of the walkway a little more (which is why I featured it first!), just because I don’t have anything else quite like it in my thousands of slides. Thanks for the link to the Daveland pic, it’s awesome! I’ve seen plenty of kids at the park who are just completely out of gas. Too bad there wasn’t a nice hotel room nearby for them to take a nap. And yes, they have supposedly cracked down on the largest of the strollers, but they still allow version that are plenty big. How did mothers survive with those bare-bones, little strollers from those days?

Nanook said...

@ The Magic Ears Dudebro-

To quote from the always informative Daveland Blog... Tribal performers were invited for a periodic contract with housing for the duration of their run at the park. Within six months, another tribe would be represented with slightly different performances of their tribal customs. Kids were invited to participate during these performances. The village moved in 1956 to what is now Critter Country. Representing many tribes, Disney used tribal consultants to create displays and practice rituals that were passed down through individual tribal customs. The Indian Village presented the culture, customs, and arts of Native America including teepees, totem poles, and a burial ground. Guests could meet a full-blooded Indian Chief, buy authentic Native American crafts at the Indian Trading Post, or paddle an Indian War Canoe (which opened on July 4, 1956).

By the late 1960’s, a series of labor problems had begun between the Indians and Disneyland. By 1971, continued animosity between the two and lack of interest by the guests caused the final demise of the village. Bear Country moved in and the Indians were no more. The Indian War Canoes were renamed Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, which operated until October 3, 1998. After that, the Canoes became more of a seasonal attraction that were opened during the summer and or busier times. The Indian Trading Post remained the Indian Trading Post until 1989, when it became the Briar Patch for Splash Mountain.

As always - thank you Dave-!

Kathy! said...

Ooh, one of my favorite DL spots, so familiar, and yet so different. I expect to see Splash Mountain over there ;) I consider myself a "Mansion head" and I didn't know about that sign either, Major. I want to buy the Marc Davis book, but it's so expensive (but worth it, I'm sure).


The first time I heard about the Indian Clubs and their labor problems with Disneyland was in imagineer Randy Bright’s book DISNEYLAND THE INSIDE STORY. But by 1970 it was becoming difficult to find such cultural groups wishing to perform at places like Disneyland. Also the interest of the Disneyland audience was waning as park attractions became more elaborate.

In WED - Disneyland documents discussing the addition of a new Walt Disney World attraction at Disneyland 5 contenders include Western River Expedition, Bear Band , Mickey Mouse Revue , Hall of Presidents, and Runaway Railroad.In the #1 spot is a Liberty Square with Hall of start construction in 1972 . but it is advised to switch priorities to BEAR BAND due to its extreme popularity in Florida and to solve “the Indian Village problem” and that it can be constructed and opened faster.

Omnispace said...

I'm glad you shared these photos of the tunnel to the Indian Village. I distinctly remember it, and what a great journey it made for a kid to walk through. Now it seems almost like a dream since it was removed so long ago with the construction of Bear Country. I also remember a "giant" stuffed bear in the Indian Village, a foreshadowing of the "Country Bears"?

My entire family thought the Haunted Mansion was the best attraction in the park when it opened. We'd even use a sacred second "E" ticket to visit it twice.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, while there are certainly problematic films and TV shows in Disney’s history, it is clear that they really did try to do the right thing by Native Americans when it came to the Indian Village. I’ve had photos of Indians demonstrating sand painting, weaving, and carving, right where guests could observe. Definitely better than the TV shows with scalping and killing.

Kathy!, I agree, that part of Frontierland looks so busy today, it’s almost weird to see so much open space in older photos. The Marc Davis book has gone down a lot, but I know it’s still a chunk of dough (last I looked it was around $90, about half of what it used to be).

Mike Cozart, it’s not really that much of a surprise that the Indian Village aged out of relevance. I’m sure that younger Native Americans probably found performing for tourists to be somewhat demeaning, and as you pointed out, audiences had also lost interest. Strange really, the late ‘60s and early ‘70s seemed to be when there was a lot of counter-culture ties to the Indian struggle (think of revisionist Westerns such as “Little Big Man”). Interesting about the switching to the “Bear Band” due to the “Indian Village proglem”, a real sign of the times.

Omnispace, I’m glad you liked these! Gosh, I don’t remember a giant stuffed bear in the Indian Village, and have never even seen a photo of it! That’s an interesting fact, and new to me. I remember the first time I ever went to “Bear Country”, thinking that it seemed so big and kind of sterile. They were expecting huge crowds I guess.

HBG2 said...

Very late to the party, guys, but yeah, thanks for the shout out, and yeah, that HM sign is great. Best thing about it, IMHO, is that it gives you an idea how big it was, which the better-known photo did not. It's actually much smaller than I would have guessed. Anyway, a great find.