Friday, August 31, 2007

Disneyland Railroad, July 1960

Locomotive #1, the "C.K.Holliday", awaits at Frontierland Station in this great vintage photo. For a time, the freight train only stopped at this station, while the passenger train stopped at Main Street Station. You can see the siding where one train could pass the other.

The C.K. Holliday and the E.P. Ripley (the Disneyland Railroad's first two locomotives) were built on the Disney Studio lot, looking 100 years old even though they were brand new. I like the fact that engines 1 and 2 have a direct link to Walt's original miniature railroad, the "Carolwood Pacific", which ran around his backyard.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Mad Hatter, August 1961

Wow, with a head that big, I can only imagine what the Mad Hatter's hat size is. Note the beat-up condition of his oversized chapeau...the poor cast members who wore this costume apparently fell down a lot. Hopefully they had handlers to help them back up (and to prevent hoards of bloodthirsty children from feasting).

One of the Hatter's cheeks also looks like it has seen its share of spackle. Do they still design the big-headed costumes with useless fake arms hanging at the sides? If you look closely at the "window" in the hatband and use a little imagination you can see the vague features of the unfortunate fellow inside.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Castle, 1950's

I don't often post photos of Sleeping Beauty's Castle...let's face it, we've all seen it a million times before (two million, for some of you). Anyway, it's easy to take the castle for granted; when I was rabidly collecting Disneyland postcards, it got to the point where I if I saw one more photo of SBC my eyes would bleed.

But I have to admit that this photo is especially nice. I love the color and composition...there are swags of Christmas greenery garnishing the castle (and one flocked tree). The sun is already setting on this short winter day, and its warm light makes the castle glow.

Just to the left of center you can see a red fire hydrant, not much effort has been made to hide it. Maybe that was due to fire codes? I don't look for hydrants at the park when I'm there, but presumably they are there - - only hidden.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flower Mart & Castle, September 1960

Remember these ladies? It's been a while, but we've seen them before.
I'm happy to visit them again!

Here's an ususual night photo of the Flower Mart. Considering the poor condition of most of the slides in this lot, I'm surprised at how nice this one turned out! At night, Disneyland turns into one giant dark ride...there's something about the way everything is either emphasized by light or completely lost in darkness that feels like a dream.

Earlier in the day, the women posed in front of the castle. I like the way the tunnel and the silhouetted portcullis looks like a mouth with pointy teeth. Don't go in there! I can almost hear the voice of Jiminy Cricket singing "When You Wish Upon a Star", the song I always associate with the castle.

The word of the day is "portcullis".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Yellowstone Coach, 1955

Here's a rare look at the Yellowstone Coach, which had a short life carrying passengers through Frontierland (apparently on the same route as the Stage Coach). I'm not sure why this was not a successful attraction; the Yellowstone Coach doesn't look like it would tip over like the Stage Coach was liable to do. And it was nice and open on the sides for better viewing. Seating looked more comfortable too. I wonder what ever happened to the it in storage? Or did they sell it to some lucky person?

In the background, one flock of pack mules is underway, while another (to the left) is just returning.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Punch

Sunday might be a day of rest for some of you, but we at Gorilla Industries never rest! Well, hardly ever.

Once in a while I will dig through a box of old slides, and find a Disneyland image. Like this one. AHA! I can't wait to find the others! No such luck, though.... this was the only one. I'll admit it, I cried.

I enjoy traveling by raft as much as the next guy. Maybe more! Across the way, to the right, you can see another raft loading up for the journey back to Tom Sawyer Island. To the extreme right you can see the new Haunted Mansion exterior, which would have its gates closed for six years before the attraction opened. To the left, nothing but construction walls where New Orleans Square was hatching.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Go Ask Alice, August 1961

Whoooeee, what was I drinking last night? I could swear that there is a giant white rabbit with pince-nez glasses standing in front of me. He's telling me to do things, awful things. Get out of my head, giant rabbit!

If I remember my English Lit correctly (and I think that I do), the red heart on his chest means that his fellow bunnies found him guilty of adultery.

Notice how everybody is avoiding him. You'd think he was begging for loose change or something. They're just gonna keep on walking and hope he goes away. The lady in the plaid dress is clutching her bag nervously, while the little girl seems mighty amused by the cotton tail sticking out of his britches.

I don't remember the White Rabbit being particularly loveable in "Alice in Wonderland"...but he was memorable, and maybe that's all that matters.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Entering Disneyland, July 1963

We've all been there, waiting in line to go through those turnstyles! This looks like a typical July day...I can almost smell the diesel fumes, hot asphalt, and other odors best left unidentified. Some folks have given up before even entering the park, and have resigned themselves to sitting on the nearest bench. In minutes, a cheerful and polite Disneyland custodian will load them into a big bin, and they will be processed into soylent green. Survival of the fittest, baby.

Like great paintings, photographs can be "made" by seemingly insignificant details. In this case, the kid with the red shirt, red cap, and red socks is the focal point, all other elements lead to him. He is my hero. Eat your heart out, Rembrandt!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Motor Boats, April 1964

Here's a nice series of photos featuring the Motor Boat Cruise, starring the little girl and boy from a few days ago (along with their big brother?). The Monorail is passing overhead in this first picture. To the right, a cast member is (perhaps) bringing another boat on line. Since the boats ran on a track, I wonder how they added more as the day got increasingly crowded...

You can see a sign on one of the columns, something about "2 passengers". Our family is breakin' the law! My theory is that it was OK to have more than 2 passengers as long as you planned on throwing somebody out of the boat during the ride.

Where's the look of joy and happiness? Sorry kids, this is a good as it gets! They are quickly realizing that they have no control whatsoever. This ride taught a valuable lesson: Life is full of disappointment.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Golden Horseshoe Revue, September 1971

Here are three more amazing vintage photos of the Golden Horseshoe Revue, courtesy of my friend Mike and his mom Alexandra (she's the photographer).

First up is this great portrait of Fulton Burley, the Irish tenor who performed at the Golden Horseshoe for 25 years. In 1962, Wally Boag asked him to replace Donald Novis (who was in poor health). Fulton stayed with the show until his retirement in 1987. Although he passed away on May 7th of this year, you can still hear his voice as Michael the parrot in the Enchanted Tiki Room.

I have no idea who this juggler is. Let's hear from the experts, I know you're out there. Note the bowler hat skewered on the horn! It's funny how the period costumes of this show still manage to reflect the fashions of the early 70's...this "old west" outfit looks suspiciously mod. Apparently they were designed by Jack Muhs, who did costumes for the TV show "The Wild Wild West".

And last but not least, another shot of those leggy dancers.

Thanks again to the Grazianos for sharing these wonderful photos!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Golden Horseshoe Revue, September 1971

Today's images were generously donated by my friend Mike and his mom Alexandra (who took these photos back in 1971). Lucky them, they have a nice bunch of pictures of the family at Disneyland. Apparently nobody ever brought a camera when my family went.

Among their slides are some of the nicest images of the Golden Horseshoe Revue that I've seen. This is a fantastic, lively portrait of Betty Taylor as "Slue Foot Sue". Betty took over the role of Sue in 1956 (replacing Judy Marsh), and she stayed with the show for over 31 years, retiring in 1987.

Here's Betty again, holding a heart-shaped mirror. From what I've read she used it to search through the audience for...something. Vampires maybe? I have no idea! If anybody remembers this part of the show, please let us know what's going on.

Since good photos of the Golden Horseshoe Revue are scarce, I'm including this view of some of the dancers....

...and the band that accompanied all of the performers. Don't be eyeballin' me, piano man!

Many thanks to the Grazianos for sharing these great vintage photos! Look for more Golden Horseshoe stuff tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Merlin's Magic Shop, October 1969

Odds bodkins! The man who took this series of slides was obviously impressed with the old-world craftsmanship on display at Merlin's Magic Shop. He must have taken at least 6 photos of it. Gadzooks! Before 1983, it was one of the few places in Fantasyland that did not rely on flat, brightly colored and patterned facades meant to resemble tents at a medieval faire.

I'm sure that Walt would have built everything with this attention to detail back in 1955 - - if he'd had enough moolah. It's pretty spectacular nowadays, even though we lost the pirate ship.

Here's a side view showing more details....carved wood, half-timbered framing, leaded glass bullseyes in the windows, etc. In the window to the left, you can see some sort of display showing stacks of playing cards. What would a magic shop be without playing cards?? My main memories of the Magic Shop involve the displays of rubber monster masks, which my older brother and I had to look at every time. There was no way my parents would spend good money on one of those!

I thought I'd zoom in and lighten things up, for a closer look at the window display. Notice the magical paper cup on the window ledge!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Mix

Here's something you don't see everyday! Four men on a bicycle, sounds like sitcom GOLD. Not many people know that Nostradamus predicted a time in the near future when rock & roll and hip hop music will no longer be popular - - all of the kids will be standing on street corners singing songs in 4 part harmony (wearing straw boaters, naturally). Barbershop quartets will rule the charts, and songs like "Wait Til The Sun Shines Nellie" and "By The Light of the Silvery Moon" will blast from cars on Sunset Boulevard. Just you wait and see.

If you like grainy photographs, than this one is for YOU! We're on board the Disneyland railroad, and we've just passed the Autopia, and there's the Skyway load building to our left. A few people are headed to our right, presumably going to the Tomorrowland train station.

This one is just plain ugly, I know. I scanned it, and it looked terrible...but I didn't have the heart to throw the file away. Let's just pretend we never saw it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Caboose and Fort Wilderness, April 1962

I have a series of slides documenting one family's trip to Disneyland in 1962. Many of them feature this pair of perfect 50's kids, the boy with the crew cut and the girl with curls, pink dress, and white sweater. I'll be posting more from time to time.

Cheer up, sonny! These lucky kids are about to ride the Disneyland Railroad from the caboose. Is there still a caboose that you can ride in? I seem to remember hearing that the interior is a pretty spartan affair, and perhaps that the recorded spiel could not be heard in there. Experts?

Now our little princess is looking a bit glum, maybe she's worried about being scalped. I love this great interior of Fort Wilderness, which was recently torn down after years of being closed. Such a shame, this simple structure added so much to the atmosphere of Frontierland. Check out the tree stump trash cans. I also like the "secret escape tunnel to the river"!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mark Twain, July 1958

Yep, there goes the old Mark Twain, churning up the water. Willy Wonka should have mixed his chocolate with a sternwheeler. Most of you will be surprised to learn that the Mark Twain is actually a clever special effect. The imagineers used an old magician's illusion known as "Sergeant Pepper's Ghost", which relied on a candle, an extra-shiny mirror, lemon juice, baking soda, and three pieces of aluminum foil. I'd explain it to you in more detail, but it's very scientific. It works so well that, to this day, most people actually believe that they are riding on a real boat.*

The Plantation House is just visible to the left, and the striped tent from Holidayland is just poking above the trees. I think that the bright yellow sign directs guests to the Indian Village.

I thought I'd throw in this image, taken the same day as the other one. It's not that thrilling, but once again you can see the Holidayland tent. Near the front of the castle is a smaller striped tent, is this the Plaza Gardens? I didn't know it was there in I am a bit puzzled. And dizzy, so very dizzy.

*It would be cool if this wound up printed in a book someday!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

1950's Tomorrowland

Hmmmm, what to say about this photo? It's a nice picture, love that 50's era Tomorrowland.

You rarely see vintage photos of Disneyland with crowds like you will find today...even in this picture it doesn't seem that crowded. To the right of the Rocket to the Moon building is what could be a construction wall. Could this be where the Flying Saucer attraction would be soon? In the distance, the roof of the Dominguez ranch house is just visible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Town Square & Main Street, 1955

It's a hazy gray morning in Town Square, but the Disneyland Band helps to cut through the gloom. The Disneyland Band has gathered around the flagpole (sometimes it's just fun to stand near a pole, I guess). Crowds look pretty light, supposedly there was a time not long after Disneyland's opening when attendance took a fairly severe dip. Obviously that was temporary! Note the screaming-red trash can, about as un-themed as you can get.

"Disneyland Welcomes Van Nuys"? That's mighty neighborly of them to welcome a whole town. It just so happens that I live in that fabled city...for those of you who have never been here, it's pretty much like living in Paris.

Next is another view, looking from the hub back towards Main Street Station. There are the Plaza Apartments to the left...that sign would soon be covered by the sign for the Carefree Corner in August of 1956. It's strange, down at this end they have perfectly nice trash cans that never hurt anybody.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Disneyland Hotel, July 1963

Here's a great vintage view of the Disneyland hotel, taken from the Monorail. Since its opening, the hotel continued to grow and grow, as is evidenced by the 11 story Tower Building (later called the Sierra Tower). It made its debut less than a year before this photo was taken (opening in September, 1962). At the time it was Orange County's tallest building (although the Matterhorn is a taller structure). Due to the placement of the elevator, the sign at the top of the building eventually read "Hotel Disneyland" instead of "Disneyland Hotel".

In 1966 the Sierra Tower Annex was added, basically doubling the size of the original tower (it would extend to the left of the elevator).

If you are interested in the Disneyland Hotel's history, you have to read this book by Donald Ballard. It'll tell you everything you need to know! That's where I got all of the info for this post.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Matterhorn Bobsleds, August 1961

Here's a look at the old Matterhorn Bobsleds when it was just one bobsled at a time rather than two hitched together. I wonder if it was faster? The sleds are racing along the last stretches of the circuitous journey down the mountain, and are about to splash through an alpine pond (formed from melted glacial ice, naturally), which looks cool and helps to absorb some of the momentum. I'll bet that a pond filled with oatmeal would work even better. I got ideas!

This attraction is still as much fun as ever. I'm not wild about the tandem seating (depending on who I'm with, of course), but it's a minor quibble! The fact that it had two tracks for two slightly different rides seems like a fairly major innovation for 1959. I even like the later additions of the ice caverns and Harold, the abominabobble snowman.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Assortment

There are three images today, triple your fun for one low, low price!

It's 1964, and Cascade Peak is just out of the frame to our left. The pack mules are earning their alfalfa by carrying folks on a journey through Nature's Wonderland (for the 20th time that day). Below them is the tunnel that the Mine Train passes was verboten to blow the train whistle at this point, because the mules would get spooked. Yee-haw!

Even though the Matterhorn had only been open for about a month when this photo was taken, the photographer seemed more interested in the Skyway, I guess. This almost qualifies as a "picture of nothing". The giant leaves of the Alice in Wonderland attraction can be seen in the distance.

And lastly, here's an unlovely view of the tram as it drives parallel to the Monorail beamway, one what appears to be a dreary, gray day. Note the seats facing sideways, as opposed to the forward-facing seats used later.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Main Street Cinema, July 1960

Even though this slide is strangely washed-out, I still love the early view of Main Street and the Cinema. Back in those days you might see any number of silent classics, from the Keystone Cops to Rudolph Valentino's "The Sheik" to Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last", to name but a few. Check out the cloth banner advertising Lon Chaney's "Phantom of the Opera"! Not to mention the sign on the sidewalk. The Marquee has the name "Charlie Murray" on it...from what I can gather, he was one of the original Keystone Cops, and was a friend of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. I'll bet you think he only made 130 films, but in fact he made 132 movies from 1912 to 1938.

Note the signs on the lamp posts (the ones I can see are advertising the new Nature's Wonderland)...some of these recently sold at auction for big bucks.

Apparently at around the time this photo was taken, there was a person dressed as the Phantom of the Opera who would loiter outside the theater. You know the routine...he'd stand still for a while until people assumed he was a dummy. When he suddenly moved....HEART ATTACK TIME!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Plastic House Article, 1956

Today's post is a followup to yesterday's photo!

In April, 1956, Popular Science published an article about a new kind of futuristic house. Obviously it is the very same house that wound up in Disneyland, making its debut in June 1957. I wonder if Walt saw this article and decided that this concept belonged in Tomorrowland? Or did the Monsanto folks sell him on the idea? It isn't hard to see a direct connection from this attraction to Progress City and EPCOT.

I've scanned the pages of the article, hopefully you'll find it to be as interesting as I did!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

House of the Future, 1957

Here's a nice early photo of Monsanto's plastic House of the Future. If you look to the extreme left, you'll see part of Snow Hill, where the Matterhorn would be in two years. What's with the curb springing up in the middle of the street, making a second lane?

I am fascinated with this fanciful view of life in the future. This plastic house might not be the perfect home for everybody, but it's pretty darn cool! I'll bet it even had a snow cone machine. If everybody had a snow cone, there would be no wars.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more on the House of the Future.

COOL LINK ALERT!! Check out this film on youtube, showing Disneyland from Christmas 1955. We get a super rare look at the Mickey Mouse Club Circus show. In color! Check it out HERE.