Friday, December 14, 2018

Matterhorn and Rocket

Happy Friday, everybody! I have two interesting scans for you today to help you cope with the strain of the holiday season. I didn't want to say anything, but you are looking a little frazzled. May I suggest a mug of hot cocoa (with mini-marshmallows) and some old TV shows? I recommend "The Invaders". A Quinn Martin production!

Let's start with this neat (but not 100% in-focus) image of the Matterhorn as it was under construction. Cool, daddy-o. Within the metal skeleton you can see at least one lift hill; I'm always surprised that the actual ride portion of the Matterhorn only consisted of the lower 2/3s of the structure, but I suppose it got too tight above that. The scaffolding up high mostly obscures the part that has already been "skinned" with faux rock and snow. Notice the Monorail support column to the right.


Next I have this interesting photo from the Hub, circa March of 1958. There is an odd roofless bandstand (right where the "Partners" statue is today, I believe), and the Disneyland Band is performing. Those white poles focused cosmic rays to improve their virtuosity. Does anybody know anything more about that bandstand - why it was there, and for how long?


Zooming in, we can also see that the distant Moonliner is surrounded by scaffolding for some reason. At first I thought that it was there so that the TWA logo could be removed (I can't see it!) after that company stopped their sponsorship, but that wouldn't happen until 1961. I suppose it is possible that the rocket just needed repainting after three years of SoCal weather; the extreme expansion and contraction from the alternating heat and cold of the day must have taken its toll on the paint.

For some reason I like vintage photos showing guests in coats and hats. Was it a Sunday, or was it just plain chilly?



Thursday, December 13, 2018

Two From August 1967

Today's pair of scans are pretty nice, being from the camera of Fun Dad, whose reputation has soared in recent months - his photographs now rival such legends as Yousuf Karsh, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Diane Arbus. Maybe even Weegee! 

We'll start with this nice shot of Main Street USA, standing at the point where streetcars can pass, looking south toward the train station. How many American flags can you count? With the exception of a few jaywalkers, guests pretty much stay on the sidewalks, because nothing would be more embarrassing than being run over by a horse-drawn surrey. 

Charles Bronson (I'd recognize him anywhere, even in that hat!) strides across the street like a man with a purpose. And a pretty young lady heads in the other direction, probably hoping to buy something nice in the Hallmark store. I recommend purchasing an entire set of Hallmark postcards featuring beautiful shots of the park.


Turning north, we now face Sleeping Beauty Castle. The man with the plaid shirt is wearing the very latest fashions, straight from Milan. Marcello Mastroianni wore the exact same thing! I'm guessing that none other than Ethel Merman is the lady in the pink crop-top. So many celebrities. The castle looks great, with the Disney family crest in place now (when was it added?), and the ivy thriving.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Christmas at the Disneyland Hotel

Here are four more snapshots from the Dream Team. Who is this fabled team? Irene, Bruce, and James, that's who. 

Today's photos are mostly a mystery to me... they are undated, but probably from the mid to late 1990's. And they are from the grounds of the Disneyland Hotel from the Christmas holiday.

Large plywood "fun photo" scenes were set up along various pathways, each painted with an elaborate backdrop featuring some of your favorite Disney characters standing in the snow, getting chilblains and frostbite. Just hop into the picture and have your picture taken. Instant Christmas card! I see only six dwarfs, it looks like Bashful is missing. Makes sense when you think about it.


I am normally not crazy about plywood flats ("Gummi Glen", anyone?) - I'm OK with them in the dark rides because it's traditional and gives some vintage charm. In later rides ("The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh"), it just feels like they cheaped out. However, given the very temporary nature of these backdrops, and the fact that that they seem to be well-crafted, I think they're a fun bonus for visitors.


It really surprised me that I could find no record of these photo setups online, or even a mention of them. This one has Donald, Mickey, and Goofy on separate levels (sort of a multiplane idea) so that you and your pals could stand right there with them, instead of merely in front of them.


The penguins from "Mary Poppins" are at the North Pole, for some reason. I call shenanigans! Perhaps they just jumped into a chalk painting of the North Pole for funsies?


Thanks as always to Irene, Bruce, and James!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Views From the Mark Twain, October 1963

We've all seen 145,203 views of Disneyland's big river, but today's are a little different, and that makes them more fun.

Here's an interesting angle from the Mark Twain's top (or texas) deck. A few grown men eagerly lean from the rail like boys, trying to take in all of the wonders to behold. The Indian Village is nearby, with the canoes appearing to be covered up for the season (it's October, after all). The sails of the Columbia look amazingly high above the treetops. And in the distance, the shore of Frontierland, with the red foliage of the Swiss Family Treehouse clearly visible, along with a blue construction wall.


Tom Sawyer Island has a forest that one could get lost in by 1963. I think it's a little odd that they allowed some of the trees in the foreground to grow so large, partially blocking the key scene of the burning settler's cabin. The Gullywhumper has stopped in the tiny island portage, her crew probably wanted to make sure the settler was OK (he wasn't!). 

I like seeing some details on the Keelboat... the octagonal speaker on the mast, the red naugahyde cushions inside, and the controls for the motor on that pillar near the aft steps.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Columbia & Pirate Ship, April 1969

Disneyland's two big sailing ships are featured today! You know 'em, you love 'em, you can't live without 'em.

It's a gray cloudy day - like living in a light box. These are both from the month of April, so I guess it stands to reason that SoCal would have what passes for weather. The Columbia is the only one of the two ships that actually moved; and I suppose it is moving in this photo, although it is barely making a ripple in the fairly glassy water. Not to mention that I don't really see anybody aboard. Maybe it is a ghost ship? There was still a fire in the stove! The meals were on the tables, warm and uneaten! It's as if the entire crew and all of the passengers just vanished.


The Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship was immobile, but it feels considerably more lively. Five (or so) visible passengers hint at others, unseen. The cannons look like the mouths of old candlestick telephones. "Hello, central?". There's not much to say about the ship that hasn't already been said, except that it looks great as usual. 

Check out the fashions on the ladies! Colors and patterns ruled in 1969.


Sunday, December 09, 2018

Sunday Stuff

I'm using up three "ho hum" scans today, all from May of 1966. 

This is actually a decent photo of part of the "African Veldt" scene, I just think it's a little boring. That being said, I don't think the actual veldt was ever so lush and colorful as the Disneyland version (maybe it is after seasonal rains?). The animatronic lion figure is kind of far away; I'll bet Walt would have liked to have it closer to the River, except for the fact that the lions are chowing down on a dead zebra.


This one turned out way too dark and murky, for some reason. It's very hard to see here, but there is an elephant that seems to be lounging on the embankment, which I used to think was odd. I think I've read that this elephant used to be a mammoth killed by cave men in the 1964 New York World's Fair (as part of Ford's "Magic Skyway" ride).


Aaaaand... here's a pretty, but not entirely in-focus shot of Sleeping Beauty Castle. 


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Santa's Village, New Hampshire, October 1973

I think it is high time that I posted something with a holiday flavor, don't you? Luckily for me, I already had a small batch of slides from Jefferson, New Hampshire's "Santa's Village" all scanned and ready to go. They aren't beautiful, but... there are six of them.

If you didn't believe that Santa lived here, you can rest easy now that you've seen this impressive sign in the parking lot. That poor woman has risked "frost bite butt", but it was worth it for this photo. On the other side of the snow bank, shiny reindeer stand still as only woodland creatures can.


Don't ask me what happened to the color on this one; I was watching cartoons the whole time. Santa's good friend the Easter Bunny has come to visit! Who knew he was so large? 

Santa's Village debuted on Father's Day in 1953, thanks to a brainstorm by Norman and Cecile Dubois. Initially there were pony rides, "elves", and reindeer and other critters, and it was only open from June to October.


A life-sized manger scene is there to pacify any visitors who might be upset at the idea of a Christmas-themed park with no religious iconography. And who doesn't like a good crèche? I know I do. The angels up in the trees are a nice touch.


Wikipedia sez: By 1969, the park also had playgrounds, restaurants, and a "Jingle Jamboree". The Dubois family added a dancing chicken and rabbit performance to the park's activities.[4] By 1974, the Dubois' son-in-law, Michael Gaynor, took over the park's management after the couple retired. The admission for people over four years old in 1974 was $3.[3] Peggy Newland of The Nashua Telegraph wrote in 2010 that "[b]y the 1980s, the park had grown to a 'real' amusement park".[4] The park was further expanded, with a "Yule Log Flume" that glided down a Christmas-themed river, carrying people around the park. Macaws performed in the park, roller-skating around the stage and balancing bikes on a tightrope.


Oh boy, after I have my picture taken in that sleigh, I'm going to open every one of those presents under the tree! After all, I called "dibs" before anyone else. I see a wishing well, maybe I'll toss in a nickel and wish for MORE presents.


Since this view is from the parking lot, the igloos must be the entrance and exit for the park - initially I thought that the building might be where Santa lived. Like Mr. Freeze, he needs snow and ice to live (after being bitten by a radioactive reindeer). 


Happily, Santa's Village is still with us today!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Midget Autopia, 1959

I'm always happy to find photos of the old Midget Autopia - I don't have many, considering that the attraction was there from 1957 until 1966. It was an off-the-shelf kiddie car ride, not designed by Bob Gurr... it came from our pals at Arrow Development.

The cars were for children only, had two steering wheels to prevent unnecessary competition, and I believe that they moved whether someone stomped on the gas pedal or not (like the Motor Boats). As a certified nerd, I am glad to know that the headlights actually worked! The track was surrounded by beautiful landscaping, and had plenty of shrunk-down traffic signs to add veracity.


There's Mom, Vern, and Scout, getting ready to explore the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. Say, what's in that striped treasure chest? It's not locked, how am I supposed to resist peeking? Maybe it's full of Walt Disney autographs. Yeah, that's probably it. Hopefully the family enjoyed a nice tuna burger or tuna pot pie while they were there.


Thursday, December 06, 2018

Fantasyland From Above, November 1958

It's time for two familiar views... photos taken from the Skyway; I wonder what percentage of my collection falls into that category?? We're above Fantasyland, perhaps a mere 30 feet above the ground.

One of the first things I noticed in this series of photos (there are others that will be seen in future posts) is just how blue and smoggy the air is! In those heady days of leaded gas and no catalytic converters, SoCal's atmosphere could be pretty chunky. Anyway, there's the Dumbo ride, along with the "Fan 1" snack bar beneath that striped tent. The seating areas have been covered with makeshift cloth shades, which I am sure were appreciated by the diners (not that there seem to be many of those).

Look at that steep berm separating Fantasyland from Frontierland!


And here's a look at those spinning teacups. The ride operator is chillin' in the shade of his control booth - I can't tell if I can see his employee badge, or if he has something in his shirt pocket. 


Stay tuned for more smoggy views, comin' up!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Christmas at the Disneyland Hotel, 1995

I have three snapshots, courtesy of Irene, Bruce, and James! I have very few Disneyland Hotel photos, so it's nice to see the way it looked 20+ years ago during the holiday season.

First up is this view with the Sierra Tower looming over a jolly Christmas tree. My knowledge of the history of the Hotel and its grounds is minimal at best, and my copy of Don Ballard's excellent history is not handy, so I'm probably going to be vague (or just plain wrong). The ground in the foreground appears to be sand, and I know that at one time there was a sandy beach for frolicking, though I believe it was much further away from the Sierra Tower. 


I believe that the next two photos are from 1995, and they show what might be the very same area as seen in the first photo, only a genuine ice skating rink has been installed. That guy on the mini-Zamboni knows that he has the best job ever, and he can't help being a little bit smug about it. "No autographs!", he'll growl if you approach him.


The novelty of actual outdoor ice skating obviously was a real attraction for Californians. Look at 'em all! Not a single one of them on their butts, either (I would be). I'm sure there were a few showoffs who skated backwards, or did graceful spins. How I despise them!

I believe that octagonal building in the background is the Pavilion, which extended out into the Marina pool. Now the Marina has been replaced with the Never Land Pool. 


Thanks to Irene, Bruce, and James!