Thursday, May 31, 2007

Waiting for the Twain

This photo is in the neighborhood of 50 years old, but its vivid colors make it feel as if it were taken last week. The image illustrates just one of the experiences that was unique to Disneyland. Steamboats like the Mark Twain had all but disappeared from the rivers of America, and the chance to ride one must have seemed (to some) like a great way to relive a bit of history. Of course, the Western craze (zillions of TV westerns and movies, for instance) probably helped to fuel some interest.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mike Fink? July 1964

This slide was labeled "Sheriff"...he sure doesn't look like a good guy. I am guessing that it is supposed to be none other than Mike Fink himself! Check it out, he's actually smoking. Davy Crockett described Mike Fink as "half horse and half alligator". He was based on a real person, the "King of the Keelboaters", although in the Disneyland television show "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates", he was played mostly for laughs (by actor Jeff York).

If I am mistaken in thinking that this is supposed to be Mike Fink, please chime in! Maybe he is a later incarnation of "Black Bart"?? After making such a fuss over it being Mr. Fink, I'm expecting to be told that I'm wrong. That's the way these things tend to go!

Walking just to the right of Mr. Fink (or whoever he is) are two groovy girls looking very "Gidgety". To the left of him are two boys, one who is mighty amused by the horse poop.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tomorrowland, by golly

Here's a magnificent view of Tomorrowland, with the TWA Rocket to the Moon looking very impressive. Notice the wind sock next to the Flight says "Wenmac". Wenmac was a maker of gas-powered remote-controlled planes, cars, and boats. One site calls them "plastic, cheap, and fun", so perhaps they weren't the highest quality available! Anyway, I'd always wondered why the Flight Circle had the "Wenmac" name attached to it and finally looked it up on the internets!!

In this "world of Tomorrow", most people have been turned into soylent green. The lonely souls seen in this photo were rejected because their flesh was deemed to be too radioactive. So now they wander the avenues in search of a mate in order to repopulate the world with mutant offspring. The woman in the blue skirt has her eyes on us, head for ze hills!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Universal Studios, August 31, 1974

No Disneyland photos today...instead we'll go to Universal Studios. This was another favorite Southern California destination for my family, I have many fond memories of the place. Viewmaster packets are a wonderful way to see the Studio the way it looked back then as well, should you need more!

This first photo is a very nice look at one of the Studio tour "Glamortrams" as it travels through part of the backlot (perhaps part of "old New York"?). Even as a kid I could appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail that helped to make these phony fronts seem so real onscreen.

The Stunt Show! Complete with a guy falling onto a bunch of foam rubber and hay bales. Still looks pretty dangerous to me. But I suppose those guys executed the same stunts dozens of times each week, they could probably do them in their sleep. I know that Universal Studios has had many varations on the old stunt show, but have no idea if they still do this classic version.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Hodgepodge

It's Sunday, and that means that I have more random stuff for you!

First up, a nice little detail of Pat Casey's Last Chance Saloon. I'll have a redeye, and put it in a dirty glass! Note the little U.S. flags with 48 stars...the current 50-star version was introduced about a year before this photo was taken, so there were probably lots of the old ones left over. Upstairs, there's the dentist, with the large golden tooth hanging overhead in case you need a molar yanked.

Here's a nice early shot from the Skyway looking down on Storybook Land, with Casey Junior and a Canal Boat taking in the scenery. I always love the glimpse of the backstage areas that you can usually see from this angle.

Now it's 1964, and we're on the river looking back towards Frontierland/New Orleans Square. You can see those green construction walls to the right, where the New Orleans Square that we are all familiar with was planned (and maybe the early steel was in place for Pirates of the Caribbean?). Work at the park was slow at this point because so many resources were devoted to getting Disney's New York World's Fair exhibits completed. You can also see the reddish foliage of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse in the distance.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mine Train, July 1956

I love the way the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train looked with its dark-green paint scheme. Just see how this one gleams! It was brand new, the ride debuted around the time this photo was taken. I believe that the li'l locomotives that took guests through Nature's Wonderland operated via electric motors (or rubber-band power), but they sure look like steam-driven trains.

Don't you wish that you could take one more ride through that tunnel? Bear country, Beaver Valley, the Living Desert, and especially Rainbow Caverns! I had originally hoped that I would be able to merge these two photos into a single large image, but the perspective was just too different and the tracks would never line up.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Golden Horseshoe Revue, July 1964

I never saw the original Golden Horseshoe Revue with Wally Boag, Betty Taylor, and the rest of that legendary company. Such a shame, because I could have. My family was all about the rides, I guess. Anyway, here are two vintage photos of the show, plus a little something extra. There's Betty Taylor (was she supposed to be Slue Foot Sue?) looking smashing in her red dress. She is flanked by two extremely cute dancers with 1000-watt smiles.

Just for fun, here's a photo of four cuties from the Revue (from the Fall 1965 issue of "Backstage Disneyland"), I suspect that the two blondes who are seated are the ones seen in the first image. From left to right their names are: Karen Le Mone, Gail Shamel, Joan Johnson, and Marita Valentine. Va-va-voom!

And lastly, here's Wally Boag in a not-very-clear photo. He's doing what he did best - - hamming it up. Hard to tell, but it looks like he's imitating Little Orphan Annie (with her blunked-out eyes).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Disneyland Entrance, 1950's

Don't worry, your eyes aren't getting worse...this slide really is kind of blurry. But it's a great view of the entrance, with the cool old cars (love those red-rimmed white walls!). Don't you dare bring a picnic lunch inside the park, it is strictly verboten. They were probably afraid that the picanic baskets would attract pesky old bears (with green neckties).

To our left we can see the back end of a parking lot tram. There is a platform on the back...what could this be for?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Matterhorn Bobsled, July 1964

Here's a great photo looking down at the mighty Matterhorn from a Skyway bucket. Dad, mom, and their two sons are enjoying a thrilling ride through the dark caves and past Alpine waterfalls. This was years before Harold the Abominable Snowman moved in. Back then, the Matterhorn was not themed with ice caverns and glowing crystals.

I love this attraction, but one of the things I used to feel (not as much now) is that those concrete walls seemed awfully close to my noggin (and forget about holding my arms up in the air!). I would have nightmares about getting bashed by "rocks" as I careened downhill. Wasn't somebody killed on the Matterhorn because they stood up? They deserved it, but even so....

Monday, May 21, 2007

Souvenir Views part 4

Today is the fourth and final look at the "Treasure Tone" souvenir slides circa 1955.

The Disneyland Stagecoach is about as full as it can be in this photo...just looking at those kids hanging off the back of the thing makes me nervous. Let's hope that it didn't tip over on that day. Say, look at those teeny tiny horses! Why I could just about put 'em in my pocket. Don't think I won't try, either. The scenery is minimal, some cacti and joshua trees, and a whole lotta nuthin. In those days just riding a stagecoach was enough to keep people happy.

Before the plants had a chance to grow lush, you would be able to see folks enjoying their lunch at the Pavilion Lanai as you sailed past on the Jungle Cruise. These diners probably listened to the soothing sounds of Hawaiian music. You can see some of the white "gingerbread" details on the other side of the building, which faced Main Street.

And finally, the Indian Dancers are bustin' some moves in Frontierland. Just over the earthen berm you can see the tropical plants from the Jungle Cruise.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Bricolage

(OK, some of you might have seen these already because I accidentally published a draft on Friday instead of saving it. I didn't catch the mistake for a few hours. D'oh!)

Sunday has become the day that I bring out the less-than-amazing slides that have been scanned. Gotta use 'em sometime...

This first image was taken from (say it with me) the Skyway as it passed over Snow Hill. Only now it should be called Dirt Hill, because there's lots of dirt to be seen. Down to our left is an area that I think is where the House of the Future is getting ready to sprout (like a giant mushroom). There is evidence of bulldozers all over the place. If the House of the Future isn't there yet, than the Matterhorn is still a few years off. Maybe the trails that are seen in this image are being carved out.

I admit it, this is not the most inspiring photo. There's a popcorn vendor, looking lonely. Don't worry Charlie, there is a group nearby scrambling for change to buy a snack. Folks gotta have their salty snacks.

Next to our vendor is a mysterious red box. And inside that box there is a DEAD BODY. You know it's true.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Souvenir Views part 3

Today's the third day of our "Treasure Tone" marathon, I hope you aren't sick of them yet.

First up is this nice view of the Autopia. I never noticed that these cars had license plates on the back, presumably with numbers unique to each automobile. That way they could say, "Car number DL-1000-11 is in need of repair", I guess. I personally like that tomato-red car, though the icy blue in the foreground is nice as well.

What happened here? The beautiful plantings are nowhere to be seen. I wonder if this photo was actually taken shortly after the park opened, before the flowers and plants had a chance to mature? As you can see, there are two trains side by side, a sight that you won't see these days.

I think that this is the front of the Circarama building (?), with it's troublesome fountains (they got the building and passers-by wet). Anything with a neat retro atomic logo is automatically cool!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Souvenir Views part 2

It's day 2 of our look at "Treasure Tone" souvenir slides, from around 1955.

Check out this great bird's-eye view of Schweitzer Falls, as one jungle launch gets a look at the back side of water! Anybody have any idea why those roaring falls are a mere trickle these days? It makes no sense to me. You can see the head of a giraffe to the right, he nearly ate those passengers. Giraffes look cute and everything, but they are mean buggers.

What treasures were to be found within the exotic Adventureland Bazaar? Skulls and shrunken heads, Hawaiian shirts, tiki salt-and-pepper sets, hats, postcards, guidebooks...everything a person needs to lead a happy and productive life.

The noble Pack Mules are transporting these greenhorns through some of the most dangerous country in these here parts. Let's hope that those tipis belong to friendly indians! I think I see a Keppy Kap, so at least one person's scalp is safe.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Souvenir Views part 1

For the next few days I'm going to be cheating...I'll be posting views from a series of souvenir slides. They're from the early years though (possibly even from 1955, since one Tomorrowland slide has no Skyway), and in some cases the views are unique. I've seen some of the exact same images on other slides, by other manufacturers, only they have faded or turned magenta. The ones posted here are from the "Treasure Tone" series, and they have retained their vivid colors (they must be Kodachrome). I think that they're pretty neat, but for those of you that aren't interested in souvenir slides, come back in three or four days.

Slide #1 shows a rare view of the Yellowstone Coach as it makes its way through the desert. I don't know much about the Yellowstone doesn't seem to have lasted very long, and apparently took the same path as the Stagecoach and Conestoga Wagon. It looks like you got a better view and a bit more air in this contraption.

Slide #2 shows the C.K. Holliday, in the same general vicinity as the Yellowstone Coach. It's pulling the freight cars...I wonder if anybody was ever injured while standing in the "cattle cars".

Slide #3 is a nice look at the old exterior of the Peter Pan attraction. There wasn't enough money in those days to make Fantasyland look the way Walt wanted (I'm sure he'd approve of the 1983 refurbishment), but the flags, shields, and stylized tents worked surprisingly well...these facades make the whole land look festive and colorful.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lunchtime Concert, October 1962

The Disneyland Band is soothing hungry (and weary) guests at the Plaza Gardens. You might not be able to read the sign, but it says that Vesey Walker is the leader...obviously that's not him. Maybe it's his son, Tommy.

What would they play for a lunchtime concert? Disney classics, like "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" and "Some Day My Prince Will Come"? Or maybe some big band standards like "In the Mood" and "Pennsylvania 6-5000"? Or maybe even arrangements of some of Annette Funicello's hit songs? I've heard that the members of the Disneyland Band were some of the finest musicians in the country, they could do it all!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Disneyland Sign, October 1970

Here's a sign that brought a thrill to many people over the years! Yes, I'm talkin' about Denny's. Too bad that big "Disneyland" sign is in the way, what an eyesore.

Notice that the park was only open Wednesday thru Sunday, that gave them two whole days each week to keep things renovated, taking care of things such as fresh paint, new lightbulbs, manicured plantings, and c.h.u.d. removal. That place was as clean as a whistle!

You can see why Walt wished he'd been able to buy more land, in order to keep the unsightly sprawl of gas stations, restaurants, and motels away from the park that he'd worked so hard to create.

I seem to remember that, at one time, this sign was blank on the back (or was there another sign?). Now you can see that it had the famous lettering on both sides.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Matterhorn Load Area, August 1960

Imagine how exciting it must have been to see and ride the mighty Matterhorn back in 1960. It was still brand new, the world's first tubular steel rollercoaster! And in the form of a famous mountain...who would've thunk it? Walt Disney conceived the idea for the attraction when visiting Switzerland during the shooting of his film, "Third Man on the Mountain".

Here's a nice detail of the chalet...I love all of the shields painted in colorful heraldic crests. And that sign with the Matterhorn and a guy tooting an alphorn...who wouldn't love to have that in their collection!

This castmember is just DARING us to not keep our arms inside the vehicle at all times. She looks like one tough cookie, I have NO interest in making her day. Nice outfit, though. We're seated right behind grandma, how much trouble can we cause?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday Mélange

Ya gots three images today for your viewing pleasure...come one, come all!

First up, a nice vintage shot of the good ol' Pirate Ship. I don't know about you, but I'm not tired of looking at it yet. It appears very fresh and shiny here...check out the attention to detail! Hard to believe that someday it would fall victim to the wrecking ball.

Here's Cascade Peak, with the little Mine Train about to pass beneath Big Thunder guests another view of the "back side of water"! I can just make out the pointy tips of the big horn sheep on top of the peak, not to mention the pointy tips of the Mark Twain's stacks in the distance.

And last but not least, it's the Clock of the World in front of CirCARama (supposedly the emphasis was on "car"). Looks like a case of "June gloom" in this 1956 image. You can see that American Motors sponsored "America The Beautiful" back then...Bell Systems took over in June, 1960. I seem to recall seeing part of one of the old "America the Beautiful" films on "Vault Disney" years ago (just the forward-facing camera, of course) sure would be great if someday we could get the different films that appeared over the years on a DVD, restored and pristine. Unlikely, but great.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fantasyland, September 1969

Arg, sorry today's post is kind of a "dud" was a choice between not posting at all or posting something less-than-wondrous. I'll do better tomorrow, I promise!

Here's a photo from Fantasyland, the old Skyway buckets (that really did look like buckets) have been replaced with the newer, more comfy rectangular vehicles. I once took a girl to Disneyland and she wouldn't let me kiss her when we were on the Skyway...embarrassing.

What's with the nautical flags right next to the castle?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tomorrowland, August 1962

These three ladies have had enough of the world of tomorrow. Rockets to the moon, honestly! The woman in the patterned dress looks so much like my grandma it's scary. And the lady in the middle looks like a mean school teacher. "Are you chewing gum, Major Pepperidge? Do you have enough to share with the whole class?". Behind them is (I believe) the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walk-thru building. I wish I could make out that sign affixed to the light poles, but zooming in just makes a big blur.

(Note: I now know that the building behind the women is not the 20K building, it's the "Art of Animation building")

Anybody who has spent a summer day at Disneyland knows that it can get hot. REALLY hot. They could have built a transparent dome over all of Disneyland (like in "Logan's Run"!) for perfect climate control, but due to budgetary issues they used colorful cloth shades stretched across some of the walkways. You'll see them in vintage photos of Fantasyland as well.

Hmmm, the crystal on my palm is red and blinking...I'm sure it's nothing to worry about.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Matterhorn, August 1962

Everything in Tomorrowland sure looks bright and clean in this great photo from 1962! It must still be morning-ish, crowds look light for an August day. But it's never too early to go grab a burger at the Yacht Bar. Hamburgers are "nature's candy", as I'm sure you know. Just don't go ride the Matterhorn right after eating, or the person behind you will be sorry. This is one of those pictures that I'd love to be able to step into (don't trip on the bench).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Big River

Here are two views of the Rivers of America. The first one is from an unusual vantage point...I have many pictures looking at Fowler's Harbor, but this might be the only one taken from it. We're looking over at Tom Sawyer Island, and the proud Columbia (packed with people) can be seen in the distance.

Incidentally, a friend of mine thinks this slide is backwards. Looks right to me, but I've been wrong before! Let me know, and I'll flip it around!

Here we are, a few years later, with a raft ferrying folks to the island. Who would have imaged that Tom Sawyer Island would ever be the site of so much new construction?

WELL OK...most folks seem to agree (and some don't!) that the first slide is backwards, so here is the image, flopped. Me not know, me confused! I'll have to dig up a map and see how the Columbia could look like it's heading counter-clockwise...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tomorrowland, June 1968

These pictures bring back lots of fond memories of hot summer days at Disneyland. Looking back, I never cared that it was hot because I was at Disneyland, darnit! My parents might have felt some point they started taking us later in the day, and we'd stay until midnight. Back then, even being allowed to stay up that late was a rare treat.

The Tomorrowland Terrace Stage is looking like a baby cousin to "It's a Small World". Just think, any minute now the guests could be rockin' out to "Sunshine Balloon" or "The New Establishment". Remember how hippies hated the establishment? The jury is still out as to how they felt about the NEW establishment. Anyway, I love the fact that the stage would rise out of the ground...think how much money they could have saved if it just sat there. But they went the extra mile, boy I'll tell ya. I'm curious, are there many features hidden underground in Tomorrowland?

Here's a view looking at the same area from a different angle. Like I needed to tell you. There's the Carousel of Progress building...although the CoP was a hit at the 1964 New York World's Fair, the attraction did not open at Disneyland until the opening of the "new Tomorrowland" in 1967 (only about a year before this photo was taken).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Snow White Attraction, 1950's

Happy, Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Dopey, Skinny, and Skinnier...

Here's a fun shot of two grown men (brothers?) riding the old Snow White ride! If they are brothers, their mama needs to fatten them up!

I love the old dark fact I love the newer ones too (Pinocchio's Daring Adventure, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin). There's something almost dreamlike about the experience of moving through the dark (your vehicle moving beyond your control), while glowing scenes and figures surround you.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Casey Jr. Circus Train, 1955

Here are two nice images of the Casey Jr. Circus Train...they are undated, but are probably from August, 1955. Casey did not open on July 17th...he wasn't "ready for his closeup" until July 31. In another slide in this lot, the Pirate Ship is still under construction, it didn't until August 29th. So this photo is from sometime between those dates. I'm a regular Sherlock Holmes!

As you can see, there wasn't much to look at back then. Lots of dirt mostly (you can see piles of it in the distance). The miniature buildings and landscaping that represented settings from various Disney classic films would not be built for another year or so.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Boarding the Jungle Cruise

I have a few photos of this couple enjoying their trip to Disneyland. The gentleman looks pretty dapper with that fedora (tilted at a rakish angle for effect). His wife bears a resemblance to president Truman's wife Bess. Come to think of it, the man could play Harry Truman on Broadway. Did you know that Harry Truman worked in a haberdashery as a young man? I just wanted to write the word "haberdashery". Anyway, these two are having fun, and therefore I am having fun.

There sure have been a lot of variations in the costumes that Jungle Cruise castmembers wore over the years. From standard safari duds to Hawaiian shirts and huaraches. I guess that in colder weather they wore these turtlenecks, looking more like fraternity boys than world-weary explorers.