Monday, April 30, 2007

Construction, April 1962

Here's a neat view of Frontierland and the early New Orleans Square area as it undergoes major construction. The folks on that raft probably felt a bit let down...nothing to look at but piles of earth, some trees in boxes, and barely-framed structures. Where's the beautifully manicured Disneyland that I see on TV all the time? But if I could step into the picture, I would have taken photo after photo! To our right you can see Frontierland Station. Behind that is the framework for a taller structure, could this be for the Haunted Mansion? It seems kind of too far back, but I don't really know what else it could be.

The next photo was taken on the same day (sorry it's a bit blurry). I'm not sure where it was taken first I assumed it was from the Disneyland railroad, but I am pretty sure that the railroad was not operating at this point due to the Haunted Mansion construction. Who knows, I could be wrong. Let's hear it, experts!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Gallimaufry

It's clearance Sunday! Everything half price, no reasonable offer will be refused. Plenty of free parking, balloons for the kids.

Hidden somewhere in a corner of Disneyland is this delightful castle. It's one of the "lost secrets of Disneyland". I believe that it is called Sleeping Beauty's Krazy Kastle. Not sure if it's still there today. Forced perspective makes it appear larger than it really is (actual height, 11 feet tall).

It's winter time...the trees are bare, ladies are wearing overcoats and some smart men are wearing tinfoil-lined hats. But everyone still wants to ride the Mark Twain, you couldn't hardly squeeze another soul onto that upper deck, by the looks of things. They are up there because of the free churros.

And finally here's a mountain lion. He looks kinda angry, but trust me, he's just lonesome. Maybe if he bathed more often and learned a few "knock knock" jokes he would be more popular. It worked for me.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hotel Construction, May 1966

Some major construction is going on at the Disneyland Hotel in 1966. According to the book "Disneyland Hotel: The Early Years, 1954-1988" By Donald Ballard, the "Sierra Tower Annex" opened in June 1966, with 150 rooms (bringing the total amount of guest rooms to 616). There were also six new conference rooms. In November, the "Plaza Building" shopping complex opened. The sign to the right mentions a shopping center, so that's what we're looking at.

I like the use of whimsical cartoon figures to add interest to what could otherwise be a bland construction wall. If you look at the walls surrounding the Submarine lagoon at Disneyland, you can see how they took that concept to a whole new level.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Japanese Village & Deer Park, April 1970

I have lots of fond memories of the "Japanese Village and Deer Park" in Buena Park. It was a great way to spend a few ranked just above the Wax Museum, "Planes of Fame, Cars of Stars", and the Alligator Farm.

I can't find much information about this park on the internet. When did it open? I'm not sure, although it was perhaps the mid-1960's. When did it close? Apparently it was purchased by Six Flags in 1970's, and the name changed to "Enchanted Village" (with scary costumed characters called "Fuji Folk"). The park changed from a quiet place with petting zoos and koi ponds to more of a theme park. There was a tiger arena, "Tokyo Car Ride", shooting gallery, "pearl lagoon theatre", and according to one map there was even something called "adult gaming area" (your guess is as good as mine).

I have read that Steven Segal (one of America's greatest actors) got his start in his late teens performing daily karate demonstrations. I saw some of those shows as a kid (don't know if Mr. Segal was there), and still remember the loud "KRAK!" as one guy hit another one in the stomach repeatedly. Eventually even that couldn't lure tourists, and the lovely Japanese Gardens closed forever.

Do you think that this building shown below is a restaurant? There appears to be people sitting at tables.

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned seal show! They can toot horns and catch rings and balance stuff on their noses. Wait a minute, I can do all those things! Those seals aren't so smart after all. What most people don't know is that the first personal computer was designed by a seal in the 70's.

Now this is more like it! Seals, shmeals!! Guess this was a dolphin show as well. This lovely woman helped make the show more interesting for the gentlemen in the audience.

I think that "Dolphin Skiing" should be an Olympic event! Or throw a few man-eating sharks into the pool as well, and put this in the X Games.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tinker Bell Toy Shop, October 1969

Here are a few nice views of the Tinker Bell (not Tinkerbell!) Toy Shop in Fantasyland, from the last few months of the 1960's. Unlike some parts of Fantasyland, this area had a number of nice storefronts (like Merlin's Magic Shop). Check out the architectural details.

Look at the beautiful painted "carved" columns and beams, the "bullseyes" on the leaded glass windows, and even the shingles over the doorway. Fantasyland would finally get the full treatment in 1983, when we saw the flat painted "medieval fair" facades removed and replaced with similarly rich details throughout the entire land. Incidentally, does anyone know if the "wood" that we see in the photo is actually wood? Or is it fiberglass cleverly painted with faux wood grain?

The window is full of Winnie the Pooh stuff...plush versions of Kanga and Eeyore and a somewhat off-model Tigger (actually he just looks like a generic toy tiger). You can also see what appears to be a matted Winnie the Pooh cel.

I zoomed in on the interior and lightened it up a bit for a tantalizing glimpse inside. Who wouldn't want to stroll in and explore the shelves and racks full of books, toys, and other goodies!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pack Mules, August 1970

I sure love Frontierland. I can close my eyes and imagine I'm there...there's the indian dancers over there, they've attracted quite a crowd. Look at the Mark Twain, sparkling white in the sun! And I can hear the distinctive crack! of the shooting gallery. But most of all, there's the smell of mule. No city folk can resist it! Let's go for a ride, I'm going to call my mule "Penelope".

Wow, what happened to clothing in the 1970's? I guess comfort won over style. Of course, these people did just return from a trip through Nature's Wonderland, and they are lucky to have survived. I guess that expecting them to look fresh as daisies is unrealistic. Meanwhile, you can see that the lanterns are lit, so even though it looks like broad daylight, night must have been approaching. Can you imagine seeing Nature's Wonderland at night? Sherman, set the wayback machine...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Land o' Tomorrow

It's time to go back to the future! Tomorrowland circa 1956, that is. The late afternoon sun is getting lower, and the shadows are getting longer. Soon the park will be overrun with vampires.

Now let's jump to the 1960's. You need new sneakers to jump that far, but it is possible. The Douglas rocket points toward the sky, like rocket. The checkerboard shades are pretty distinctive, they even used square checked umbrellas around the pool at the Disneyland hotel.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

300th Post!

What's significant about April 22nd?

In 1509, Henry the eighth ascended the throne of England.

In 1876, the Boston Red Stockings defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 6-5 in the first National League Baseball game.

At high noon, thousands rush to claim land in the "Land Run of 1889".

In 1912, Pravda, the "voice" of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publications in Saint Petersburg.

In 1964, the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair opens for its first season.

In 1970, the First Earth Day is celebrated.

And now in 2007, we at Gorilla Industries are honored to celebrate the 300th post of "Gorillas Don't Blog", bringing joy and happiness to at least eleven people each day. Thanks for your support!

On today's post, I have a group of 4 images from September 1958. First up is a nice shot of Tomorrowland, taken from the Skyway load. There's no Matterhorn yet, but in a mere nine months it would be open for business.

Here we are much closer to Snow Hill. At some point, trails were added to this feature. Just in case your visit to Disneyland didn't involve enough walking! You can see a number of people on the guess is that they climbed it "because it's there". Or maybe for the view.

I love this view of the Jungle Cruise's boats with their colorful striped awnings.

In this closeup, you can see that there is a band hiding behind some broad-leafed plants. Is it the Disneyland Band? If so I've never seen them hanging out around the Jungle Cruise before. Look like they are just about to board a boat. Hmmmm...

This slide was extremely dark, so it looks kind of grainy and odd. But I figured I may as well include it with its siblings.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Horseless Carriage Club, 1955

Bob Gurr designed the Horseless Carriages (and other Main Street Vehicles) that have been at Disneyland since opening day. But for many years, Disneyland hosted an event that involved a group that was known as the Horseless Carriage Club (previously, the club met at a General Motors Plant in South Gate). According to one flyer from 1958, your vehicle had to be from 1915 or older, "costumes at all times", and no advertising allowed. Here are two participants, looking mighty pleased. The note on the slide says, "Cop Doc Shafer". Does that mean that the guy who was dressed as a cop was Doc Shafer? Or did they mean that the photo showed a cop, and the other fellow was Doc Shafer? Who knows.

The entrants also participated in "Ye Old Time Carcathalon" ("shake - rattle and roll in your horseless joustabout"), a circuitous course in which you would be able to demonstrate the "ability, skill, and patience of yourself and your family".

In this second shot, you can see many folks in their old-tyme duds. Ladies looked like Gibson Girls, men wore dusters and goggles, top hats and boaters. I would imagine that at some point, everyone got to parade up Main Street, accompanied by the Disneyland Band.

Here's one more shot of Town Square from a couple of years later. There's no horseless carriages to be seen (unless you count the Omnibus).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tomorrowland in Transition, 1967

The first "New Tomorrowland" opened on July 18th, 1967. Most of the original Tomorrowland had been removed, including the Flying Saucers, the Moonliner, the Rocket Jets, the Flight Circle, and the 20,000 Leagues walk thru. But the Monsanto House of the Future remained until that December.

In this photo it already looks like nobody's home...the windows are dark and uninviting. They should have turned it into a futuristic haunted house! Nobody's done that before.

Most of us have heard about how difficult it was to remove the plastic house once it was decided to remove it...demoltion crews eventually had to resort to witchcraft.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rainbow Ridge, March 1958

Welcome back to Rainbow Ridge, folks! Today we'll get two nice detailed views of the little minin' town circa 1958. I love all of the decorative signage, props, and architectural styles that made this such a vivid memory for so many people. Of course there was the intricate soundtrack as well, with sounds coming from the saloon and the barber shop.

Looks like a miner or homesteader could find just about anything they needed in Rainbow Ridge. Potbellied stoves, tailored clothing, six-shooters, a shave and a haircut, and even some entertainment at the Opera House or the Palace.

In a way the Rainbow Ridge is like a scaled-up example of a miniature model railroad, with the kind of details that a particularly obsessed hobbyist would these photos is still has a toy-like effect.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Disneyland Railroad, 1956

Here comes the E.P. Ripley, pulling five bright yellow passenger cars! I'm guessing that the train just left the Main Street Station and is heading towards Frontierland Station (I think the parking lot is just beyond the berm).

In this 1956 shot, you can see that there are two parallel tracks. In the early days, the E.P. Ripley only loaded at Main Street Station, while the C.K. Holliday only loaded at Frontierland Station. The trains could pass each other at sidings around the two stations.

I am puzzled by the roadway that is running directly towards us. It almost looks like a backstage service road, but it seems that the public could walk along it if they wanted to.

I just read that the E.P. Ripley's firebox was converted to burn biodiesel in January of this year. Also, in March 2006 the Ripley was displayed at the annual "Fullerton Railroad Days" in Fullerton, California. This was the first time any of the locomotives has been displayed at a public event off-site.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Alligator Farm, June 1960

There once was a time when people got a hankerin' to see some big scary reptiles. But they were few and far between in Orange County. Unless, that is, you went to the fabulous Alligator Farm in Buena Park! It was across the street from Knott's Berry Farm, and I am happy to be able to say that I went there several times as a kid. Check out this awesome sign at the entrance. "Drop In", ha ha!

The Buena Park location opened in 1953 (after having been in Lincoln Park since 1907).

Nope, it wasn't glamorous, but it was good for a few hours of fun. I remember that it smelled, but maybe no worse than your average zoo. I also remember how many of the alligators were missing toes...were they bitten off by other gators? There was one HUGE fella in his very own pen. As scary as he was, I couldn't help thinking that he must have been lonely. You could also thrill to snakes (such as queen snakes and cobras), tortoises and lizards. I remember a large monitor lizard, its tongue flicking out ickily.

Alligators are cold-blooded of course, so they don't tend to do much unnecessary moving around. If you were lucky you got to witness a feeding or two. They'd dangle chickens (not live) from a line so that the gators would have to snap and stretch and compete to get a piece. According to what I've read, you could have your photo taken sitting on a gator wearing a bridle of some sort (although I don't remember this). Some people say he was alive, others claim he was stuffed. Let's just say he stayed mighty still.

Below you can see one fellow going up a ramp...

...and he'd slide down the other side. Just like in nature! If you see a big slide in Louisiana, look out! There are gators about. They are drawn to slides like moths to a flame.

Below you can get a feel for the premises. I believe that the Alligator Farm lasted until 1983, when it closed due to low attendance (I blame MTV!). The critters were moved to a private estate in Florida where (as far as I know) they still live happily today.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hall of Chemistry

I love this early view of the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry. The slide is undated, but I believe that it is from 1956. The image had turned very magenta, and it's always a challenge to try to bring one of those back to life. Imagine hours of sweating and cursing (and OK, maybe some weeping) in front of a hot computer, with little machines that beep and test tubes filled with colored water and dry ice, and you get the idea. In this case it turned out pretty good!

Lots of people are heading inside to view a variety of displays showing how chemicals and chemistry affect their daily lives. One display was the "Chemitron": a series of eight large test tubes. Each was topped with a statue representing the eight natural materials all chemicals are made from. Do you know what those eight natural materials are? Neither do I, but I am guessing that one of them is maple syrup.

I provided this detail because I was curious what that sign was that you can see in the entrance. It seems to be printed in reverse. Whaddaya know, it's a reflection of the Circarama sign across the way. Life, she is funny, no?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dixieland in Disneyland

There is nothing like the sound of real live Dixieland music as you walk through the streets of New Orleans Square. Here's a nice photo of the Royal Street Bachelors, they all buy their glasses from the same place! Check out the Goofy sticker on the banjo. As far as I know, the Bachelors are no longer at Disneyland. Did the lineup change over the years like Menudo (the Latin pop sensation)? A friend of mine often complains about the absence of real Dixieland jazz in NOS these days.

Next is shot of the good old Disneyland Band, circa 1956. They're all gathered around the flagpole, and it looks like it's late afternoon (judging by the long shadows)...I wonder if the flag is being lowered already? In the background we see the Opera House and the Bank of America.

If you put your ear against the monitor of your computer, you will be able to hear both of these bands playing. It works for me anyway!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

L.A. County Fair Monorail, September 1962

It might surprise folks who live outside of Southern California to know that Los Angeles actually has its very own County Fair. It began in 1921 as a "merchant's exposition" held along the Southern Pacific Railway in downtown Pomona, which was a big success. October 1922 was the date of the first offical L.A. County Fair, where (among other things) you could see chariot races and a thrilling display of "wing walking". Nowadays you'll see all of the things that you'd expect to find at a county fair!

The monorail seen here debuted the year that this photo was taken. It consisted of 14 electronically operated passenger cars, seating 24 people. The track circled the fairgrounds for a total distance of about a mile.

In 1990, ten new 40-seat monorail cars and a boarding station were added as the monorail system was renovated, only to be torn down and removed in 1996.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Carousel and Country Bears, September 1972

You don't see many interior photos from Disneyland attractions...kind of a "no brainer" since it was usually so dark. But here are a few images from two classic attractions!

The Carousel of Progress opened in Disneyland in July 1967, and remained there for only six years before being moved to Florida's Magic Kingdom. This photo was taken about a year before it closed. You can see a few subtle differences in this picture compared to the top photo from a past link. Mostly it's his poofier hairdo.

The Country Bear Jamboree debuted only six months before these photos were taken (it opened in March 1972). They would stay in Bear Country for almost 30 years before they were replaced by a bear named Pooh.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Skyride, Seattle World's Fair 1962

Where were you in '62? Maybe you went to the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle. You can still see remnants of that Expo, including the famous Space Needle and the Alweg Monorail. This fair seems to be overshadowed by the 1964 World's Fair, even though the New York fair was not "official" (it was not sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions). Still, from what photos I've seen, it would have been a lot of fun!

The Skyride building is one of the most colorful and playful designs. I've always loved the big orange spheres that were used by Union 76 (which seem to be getting phased out in favor of boring flat plastic signs) appears that the scalloped roof of this building was made of a transluscent "Union 76 orange" plastic too. There were obviously two stations, does anybody know if they were identical?

Also, notice that these Skyride buckets are completely enclosed. Seattle is famous for its rain! I can't help wondering if Disneyland couldn't have put windows in their vehicles? If it's true that the danger of people dropping things on guests was one reason to get rid of the ride, than plexiglass might have been a solution. I'd miss the open-air experience, but at least they'd still be there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Christopher Fair, Court Jester (part 2)

Today we get to see a dozen color photos from Christopher Fair's days as a Court Jester at Disneyland! As you can see in the images below, he often attracted some sizable crowds. I particularly like the first photo as he performed in front of the Midget Autopia.

I asked Christopher if he ever saw or performed for Walt Disney. He said that he did see somebody who he thought was Walt, and even spoke to him. But it's been many years since then, and he said that he can't be 100 percent certain!

He worked 40 minute shifts, with mandatory 20 minute breaks. That sounds like it could be tough on a scorching hot summer day! At one point he did an impromptu performance with the Tyrolean Band that played polkas around the Matterhorn. It was not part of his "official" act, but it was such a success that it became a regular event. It was only about 3 minutes long, but obviously people must have loved it!

Christopher's stint as a Court Jester lasted about 4 years, from late 1959 through around the end of 1963 (his younger brother assumed his duties as Court Jester after he left!). As a college student he studied ballet, and in 1964 he went to Utah to perform with their ballet company.

One of his most vivid memories of Disneyland actually occurred when he was there as a paying customer, years after his stint as a jester. He was there for the opening of the Haunted Mansion on August 9th, 1969! I can only imagine the crazy crowds on that day.

Today, Christopher still lives in Utah with his wife. He retired from ballet, knowing that, due to the physical demands, "it couldn't last forever", he returned to performing magic, which he still does today. He fondly remembers his years at Disneyland as "the experience of a lifetime".

Once again, I would like to thank Merlinsguy and Christopher Fair! I hope you enjoyed these photos and personal recollections as much as I did.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Christopher Fair, Court Jester (part 1)

If you visited Fantasyland in the 1950's and 1960's, you might have been lucky enough to see a Court Jester, juggling and performing magic on his unicycle. Christopher Fair was that jester! These photos were sent to me by Merlinsguy, who used to work at the park and knew Christopher personally. The scrapbook pictured above was put together by Christopher's mother, who also created the wonderful hand-painted cover. The photo beside it is one of Christopher's personal favorites! Merlinsguy was able to get me in touch directly with Mr. Fair, and I had the opportunity to talk to him on the phone. It was great to hear his recollections about his years with Disneyland!

Christopher appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club for several "Talent Roundups", where he performed magic tricks. He was voted the "Juvenile Magician Champion"of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in 1958. Around 1959 (when he was a senior in high school) he received a call from the Disney Studio. They said that they needed a jester for Disneyland, and asked him if he would be interested in auditioning. The answer was yes!

The audition was at the studio in Burbank, and at the time Christopher did not specialize in "close up" magic, but he learned some illusions for the role. It was his idea to use the unicycle...the people at the park were reluctant about it, thinking that it might be dangerous in a crowded situation. But he demonstrated that it was very safe, and got the "O.K.".

His act consisted of simple magic tricks and juggling. It must have been fun to watch him interacting with surprised Disneyland guests, and even more fun if you were the participant!

The two photos below are neat "backstage" shots. In the first picture, I believe that the people posing with him are two members of the Gonzalez Trio, who performed in Frontierland for many years. Snow White dropped by to say "hello" in the second photo! These were almost certainly taken behind the castle.

Many thanks to Merlinsguy and Christopher Fair for sharing these photos and great memories. Look for Part Two tomorrow, with color photos!