Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Universal Monsters, February 1967

BOO! (Sorry if I scared you). Happy Halloween, everybody!

Halloween has become such a big deal these days, almost as "commercial" as Charlie Brown's Christmas. So I get nostalgic for the the Halloween of my childhood, which seemed so simple and fun. Or maybe that was just part of being a kid, the only thing you had to worry about is which costume you were going to wear (one of those polyester things with the plastic masks held on with a piece of elastic). My greatest triumph was when I was Snoopy, with a light-up nose.

ANYWAY (anybody still there?), take a look at these two lucky kids on a trip to Universal Studios in 1967. Not only are they stylin' in those plaid coats (I had one like that!), but they got to meet the Phantom of the Opera. Here is the poor, deformed Erik, striking a pose....but the kids are having too much fun to be very concerned. They each have a souvenir guidebook, I think I have one from about that time.

Here are those rascals again, in Dr. Frankenstein's lab. "The Munsters" was probably still being shown in repeats in '67. {I don't get why Herman needed to be strapped to that board, he was as nice as can be). Their eyes are glowing red because they have evil demons inside them! The kid on the left has his pasted-on smile for the camera, while the other kid is beyond even trying.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


With Halloween only one day away, I thought I would post something that was at least a little spooky! There's no scary stuff from Disneyland in my collection, so today we'll head up north about an hour to Universal Studios.

Here's an undated slide showing the laboratory of some mad doctor. Maybe it's supposed to be Dr. Frankenstein's lab, but that is definitely Herman Munster strapped to the upright operating table. I doubt that this was the actual set that was used for the filming of "The Munsters"...instead it was a set piece built for the studio tour. Sorry about the weird color on this one!

According to Wikipedia, "The Munsters" was originally conceived by Bob Clampett (director of many classic Looney Tunes and creator of "Beany and Cecil")! The idea was shuffled around for years, and was even considered as an animated series. Who knew!

Next (courtesy of the Graziano family) we see a photo of the Munster house from April 1972. The series had ceased filming in 1966 (ratings dropped when the Batman TV show became a smash hit), but it still looks pretty "Munstery" here.

I was curious about what the house looked like today, and did a bit of searching on the internets. These aren't my photos, I stole them from various places, so my apologies to whoever they belong to! (Send me a cake when I'm in prison).

The top two pictures are neat color views showing the original series cast in front of the classic house. The first photo in the second row is from about 1994, and even here it could pass for a haunted house. To the right of that is a photo from around 2004, supposedly it was used in the series, "Murder, She Wrote". Finally, in the bottom photo, we see how it looks today as it appears on Wisteria Lane in "Desperate Housewives", a program that I am proud to say that I have never seen! Maybe it's great, I shouldn't judge without viewing it first. In any case, all traces of its classic past have been completely erased.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Barf Ride, August 1961

Sorry about that title, I know it is in poor taste for those of you who just ate your breakfast! But that's what we used to call this attraction when we were kids.

Back when the Teacups used to actually spin, it entertained lots of dizzy people. What could be more harmless? But more than a few walked off with a case of the "urps". It's never happened to me of course, I was the annoying person who tried to spin the thing as fast as possible.

Another view, same lot o' slides. Skull Rock looks like it's wearing an eye patch here...across the way a man is filming the scene for posterity. I like the way the teacups are blurred, giving a real sense of motion.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Two Pix from 1960

Happy Sunday! For no particular reason, let's go back to 1960 for two Disneyland photos.

There's the Mark Twain, I'll bet you've never seen a photo of that before. Our intrepid photographer is good at reading signs...they are standing at a Kodak picture spot. "MUST TAKE PICTURE". Cascade Peak is looking mighty nice here...I think you can see the bighorn sheep up at the top, too.

Here's part of the east side of Main Street. Let's go buy a padlock, and then go into the Butcher Shop and buy some pork chops (what did they sell there, anyway??), and carry them both around all day. The custodian is looking spiffy in his white uniform. He's just daring us to drop something! That paper parasol is completely useless as far as providing shade, but it looks adorable.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Frontierland Stuff

Sometimes I just want to be in a place where the buildings are made out of logs. I can't explain it. Thank goodness there's a Frontierland! Let's take a look at this magical land of men and moose.

Chief Friendly Eagle says "howdy" to everybody. When you think about it, many towns have a guy who stands on a street corner and waves, asking nothing in return, yet giving so much. Friendly Eagle is a lot like that. Notice that somebody is hiding behind that shrub up on the hillside, waiting for additional backup.

The sun has set...the lanterns have been lit, the ladies have put on their jackets and sweaters, and pretty soon the canoes will close down. It is much too dangerous to be out in the wilderness after dark! Through the gloom you can just make out the captive bison in his enclosure, that guy is trying to feed him french fries.

It's teepee time! I guess the photographer was interested in the paintings on the side of the teepee (tipi?). Or something. That antelope has a tremendous tapeworm, poor fella. The broken arrow and thunder bird signify that it's sloppy joes for dinner tonight.

Here's the old Trading Post, full of coonskin caps, rubber tomahawks, plastic powder horns, toy guns, and other treasures. I think that this building still stands, although it no longer has a sod roof. Last year my niece selected a tasteful white hat with little Mickey's for her souvenir. As usual, I rarely find merchandise at the park that I want to take home with me, except for a postcard or two.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Black and White Publicity Stills

Do not adjust your monitors or pluck out your eyeballs...these photos are in glorious sepia tone! It's time to visit "Publicityland" again.

First up is this wonderful photo of Walt and Mickey on the E.P. Ripley, perhaps mere days before Disneyland's opening. Carpenters are still busy sawing and hammering away to finish Frontierland Station, which looks little and cozy here.

Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Joe Harper are hoping to get a few catfish with their bamboo fishin' poles. Fowler's Harbor is out of frame to our left, with the impressive-looking Mark Twain splashing past.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Town Square, 1960

I don't know why, but I can't look at Town Square without thinking of "The Twilight Zone". There were a number of TZ episodes that took place in yesteryear. "Willoughby, next stop Willoughby...". I can almost imagine how eerie it would be to walk down a deserted Main Street U.S.A., feeling like the last man on earth!

But I digress. In this 1960 photo, a number of folks are taking advantage of the welcoming benches that surround the flagpole. Feets get tired! And so do little kids. I wish I had an annual pass so that I could feel like I had time to sit on one of those benches, eat some popcorn, and just enjoy the sights and sounds around me. There's a group of officers to the left, are they required to wear their hats and uniforms at all times? Relax, guys! The Opera House wasn't in use at this time, apparently. I spy "Grand Canyon Diorama" and "Alice in Wonderland" posters! To the far right, the Bank of America is doing brisk business.

Thank goodness for the Emporium shopping bag, because for all we know, the kid has taken off his pants by now. Talk about making yourself at home! Is that the Surrey visible over mom's shoulder?

That fire hydrant reminds me of a joke:

Q: If a fire hydrant has H2O inside, what does it have on the outside?

A: K9P!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Progressland, New York World's Fair

I have a number of slides showing the fabulous G.E. "Progressland" building at the New York World's Fair, and this is one of the better ones. It's full of fun details and activity that really help give a hint of what it was like to be there in person.

Most notable is the building itself, with its distinctive dome. I kind of wish that those two pylons in front weren't there, they detract in my opinion. But GE wanted to be sure that you knew who was sponsoring this exhibit! There's plenty of signage, wish it was legible. To the left is some sort of information stand, perhaps. To the right is a souvenir stand.

Here's a closer look...I think I see some large pinback buttons, felt banners, and a postcard rack. Check out the cool stroller, it looks like a Jaguar XKE. Even Dave of Daveland could probably stand that one! Behind the souvenir stand is a raised platform that appears to be a dining area.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

20,000 Leagues Attraction, Florida

From 1971 until 1994, an entire fleet of 14 super cool Nautilii (that's more than one Nautilus?) prowled the tropical lagoon at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. This second version of the Submarine Voyage was improved upon in many ways (at the time of its opening it was one of the most expensive attractions ever), and there's no denying that the vehicles themselves had more than a dash of style. Supposedly the subs at Disneyland were going to look like this, but sponsor General Dynamics insisted on contemporary nuclear subs.

Ships at sea often mistook the Nautilus for a sea monster, and it's clear why they did in this first photo. Notice the green "alligator eyes", complete with furrowed brows. Did these light up? The saw-toothed prow was perfectly suited for smashing through the wooden hulls of sailing ships. The waterfall that should be concealing the cave has been turned off for some reason.

Now we can see the entrance marquee, looking appropriately Victorian (or something!), like it had been designed by Gustave Eiffel. The 70' clothing is groovy, plaid pants go with everything, don't they?

This amazing attraction was"temporarily" closed in 1994, and stayed closed until the official announcement of its removal in 1996 (surely due to high operating and maintenance costs). I can only imagine how disappointed many 20K fans were (and continue to be), especially since it was replaced with "Pooh's Playful Spot". Ugh! And it makes me appreciate Disneyland's submarines all the more.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Plaza Gardens, July 1961

Disneyland has lots of places to catch a nice lunch, and here's one of them. The Plaza Gardens is right at the end of Main Street, and as you can see, it has plenty of old-fashioned ambiance. I love the cheerful candy-cane red and white striped decor. If only you could order something appropriately "yesteryear", like a Moxie, or a grape Nehi, or maybe even a cherry phosphate. You're in luck if you want a burger or a Coke, though!

The family walking towards us is weighing their options. Meanwhile, each of their three little girls received identical souvenir hats so that nobody feels left out. You can also see four custodians (can you say "summer job"?) in crisp white uniforms, making sure that the restaurant is spic and span. I wonder if this was a full-service eatery, with waiters and tableware, or was it a "counter service" place?

Here's a second view (from the same day), even the trash cans look spiffy. If you were lucky, you might hear the Disneyland Band playing nearby during the day, and in the evenings various Swing and Jazz bands livened things up. And don't forget the dancing, for those folks who hadn't spent enough time on their feet!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Grab Bag

This is a great, busy view of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, as seen in 1955. Some of you may recognize the kids posing out front (with mom nearby so they don't wander off) from past photos, such as this one. There's lots of activity...and no other children in sight!

Eleven years later, Vesey Walker is still doing his thing, conducting the Disneyland Band in their spiffy white uniforms. The Opera House is in the background, showing "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" (still relatively new in 1966). Surprisingly, Vesey Walker did not retire until 1970, 15 years after his initial two-week engagement!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tomorrowland & Jungle Cruise, 1963

Here are two photos from July, 1963. First up is a nice view of the Submarine Lagoon, complete with one sub returning from the "dark ride" portion of the attraction, headed back towards the loading dock. I love the use of waterfalls as a sort of "curtain" to hide the interior of the cavern, as well as churning up water around the sub itself so that it looks cool whether you are just watching the subs or if you are actually in one. Overhead, the 4-car red Monrail passes by.

I am a sucker for these shots of the Jungle Cruise launches, looking back towards the dock! It's hard to believe that Main Street's hub is only a few steps away from this scene (OK, more than a few, but you know what I mean).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Clock of the World

Good old Kodachrome, I love the way that legendary film stock preserved rich, saturated colors so that photos look like they could have been taken yesterday (only better). Like this picture, for instance. Transforming it to a jpeg causes some of the color information to be lost, the actual slide looks even better.

There's the familiar Clock of the World, surrounded by 50 flagpoles (sans flags), one for each state of the union. In the old days, the flags were in a different location, and formed a star when seen from above...obviously a signal to the space aliens who observe us and probe those unlucky few.

The Plastic House of the Future is there, too. In the background are several spectacular attraction posters, including the super-rare Red Wagon Inn poster and the Frontierland "tri-level" poster featuring the Stage Coach, the Mine Train, and the "Mule Pack Ride". I want that one!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dance Circle, November 1969

The Indian Dance Circle is deserted at this time of day...maybe the performers were on a well-deserved vacation, since this was the "off season". Here we get a view from the stands, looking down at the circle itself. It's kind of nice to get to see it without a crown. A curious boy is taking a peek inside the large tipi...let's hope that if somebody is home, that they are "decent".

Now a young woman tries to summon the flames by beseeching the fire gods. Or something. The boy from the first photo is nowhere to be seen...maybe he's inside the teepee!

Is it possible to do a square dance in a dance circle?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Autoparts Harmonic, New York World's Fair

Here's one of those "what the heck is it" photos. If you don't know, it would be hard to guess. Of course there is that helpful sign, informing us that this is none other than the Autoparts Harmonic Orchestra.

According to the VIP guidebook, "...guests are serenaded by the Parts Harmonic Orchestra -- the likes of which they are unlikely to see or hear again. It's immediately apparent there are no musicians, yet the twelve instruments bob and weave as they play. Not so apparent is that all instruments are made from actual Ford automobile parts. Brake cables stretched between a drive shaft and part of a Galaxie frame become a harp; trumpets are fashioned from sections of an axle. A xylophone is created from rear spring leaves, and a banjo is shaped from a differential housing."

Also, "...guests may also note the absence of an orchestra leader. The beat of the music is kept by electric windshield wipers which move in unison on each music rack."

I believe that Rolly Crump had a lot to do with the design of this display, and if you look at the bass violin, it has a "face" that certainly looks like his work.

The music that was played by the Autoparts Harmonic was a version of their theme song, "Get the feel of the wheel of a Ford", it sounded like it was played with various antique auto horns (the kind with the rubber bulb)...not something you'd want to hear very often!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Viewmaster 20,000 Leagues Walk-through

Here are some scans of some amazing photos from a vintage Tomorrowland Viewmaster packet, showing the rarely-photographed "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" walk-through in color (and 3-D, if you have the reel!). The first Tomorrowland packet devotes an entire reel to this extinct attraction.

Check out this amazing model of the beautiful Nautilus, Captain Nemo's submarine. Harper Goff hatched a brilliant design that is believable and uber-cool. Steampunk! I believe that this model was quite large. Behind it is Peter Ellenshaw's lovely matte-painting of Vulcania, the flooded volcanic crater where Nemo had his hideout.

The designs for the diving suits were also cool, especially the helmets (not pictured here) that resembled seashells. You could almost imagine that in a few moments, some of the sub's crew will come down those steps and "suit up" for a dive.

Here is the bridge of the Nautilus. For some reason it looks like a toy miniature in this photo. Once again, there is plenty of believable detail, including brass gauges and dials, riveted pipes, levers, and other props that recall early ocean liners...and yet it all looks so much cooler here!

I hope you all enjoy these Viewmaster scans...sometimes I feel like these are "cheats", but you can't deny that they are great vintage images. And isn't it nice to see them so big?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Black and White Publicity Stuff....

Here are a few more examples of vintage publicity stills. First up is this great shot of the Mark Twain, still under construction. Piles of lumber are nearby, and there are a few craftsmen on board. Wonder what that thing is on the bow that resembles an upright piano?

In the distance you can see one of the towers that had a time-lapse camera place at the top...this footage was used in many Disney TV specials. A little bit to the left of that is...Main Street Station? I think I can see it poking above the brush.

Walt is trying his hand at trout fishing on Tom Sawyer Island. Can anybody identify the two gentlemen with him? Walt better catch something, or those guys are gonna get it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Adventureland, September 1971

I don't spend nearly enough time blogging about Adventureland! So today is an attempt to make up for the neglect.

Among the many exotic sights that you'll see during the Jungle Cruise is this mysterious Monkey God. His temple is in ruins, nearly devoured by the jungle growth. I'd like to believe that he is guarding some incredible treasure! But to get it you have to pass that icky spiderweb, and spiderwebs are gross. So I guess the treasure is safe for now!

Further down the river, we pass yet another ruined statue. This giant head is covered by the vines of the strangler fig...the expression on the stone face seems benificent, and yet meloncholy as well. What happened to the civilization that was capable of such artistry? (See, I get carried away)!

And finally, we leave the jungle and head inside the Enchanted Tiki Room. Is that Jose overhead? Even though he's an animatronic parrot, I can't help but wish I had a hat on.

Thanks once again to the Graziano family for sharing these great slides!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Disneyland, August 1960

Happy Friday, everybody!

Sometimes these slides remind me of all the things I've never done at Disneyland, despite my many visits. Like riding on the Columbia. I'll tell myself that it was always at drydock, though I don't really recall. This is an identical recreation of the original Columbia, which was the first U.S. ship to sail around the world with a robot crew.

This next photo brings several thoughts to my mind. Look at that magnificent steamboat, and the Disneyland band with its bright costumes and shining brass instruments. Let's hope that the boat doesn't hit a Keel Boat or something, or Vesey Walker is going to fall backwards right into the river!

And finally, we get a look at the Living Desert in Nature's Wonderland. Not much to say about this one! Watch out for them tumblin' rocks, though.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monorail & Tram, November 1969

I'm guessing that our photographer just disembarked from the Monorail, since the station is off screen to our left. The yellow Monorail is on its way back to Tomorrowland, but first passengers will enjoy a look at the vast parking lot. According to a rigorous study that I just made up, every person on board the Monorail spent at least a few seconds searching for their own car. In the history of the park, not one guest could actually see it from the highway in the sky. Note the candy-striped roof of the Anaheim jitney down below. ("Jitney" is the word of the day).

After an arduous walk downstairs, we are at eye-level with the tram. You can see many of the same folks that were visible from up above. It's very strange that there is not a woman to be seen. Maybe this was taken during a "He-man Woman-hater's Club" meeting (as immortalized in "The Little Rascals).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Indian Village & Entrance

Here are two undated slides, probably from around 1956/57. They were taken on a cloudy day, with dramatic stormy skies. There's the peaceful Indian looks like their tipis are brand new...there are no pictograms painted on them yet, and they are as white as can be. If you look at later photos, they are distinctly brown. The Indians themselves are busy with all kinds of activities, from grinding corn to preparing hides to painting their toenails. To the left we can see the mountain lion on top of the rock...I never knew that there was an innocent, unsuspecting deer below him, eternally waiting to be pounced upon.

Earlier in the day, the whole family posed in front of the Train Station and the flower portrait of Mickey. The park looks bright and clean, as does the family! You can see Walt's hand car parked out front, as far as I know it is still there today. Population ten that was a long time ago.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Progressland At Night

I would imagine that, like Disneyland, the New York World's Fair was a beautiful place at night. It only makes sense that General Electric's Progressland pavilion would take full advantage of the lighting possiblilties. The graceful dome covering the pavilion lit up a night in a dazzling display: "If you come at night, Progressland's spectacular outdoor lighting will add to your enjoyment. The building's dome, lighted in multiple colors, will appear to revolve. Watch it for up to 14 minutes -- you won't see the same pattern appear twice." Look at those crowds!

Just for kicks, here's a look at the Unisphere at night. Silhouetted in front of it is the sculpture known as "Rocket Thrower", which I believe is still in place. You can see the Sky Ride in the distance. The Bell Pavilion would be behind us.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Matterhorn Bobsleds, August 1961

The Matterhorn is still one of the most amazing concepts for a roller coaster, even though it is nearly 50 years old. The idea of building a mountain so that you can bobsled down the icy slopes, through caverns and alpine meadows, careening past waterfalls and splashing through's just cool!

In this first photo we see one bobsled coming down a rushing stream (I honestly didn't remember this part - - then again I think I always wind up in the back because I'm tall) towards one of the ponds that will absorb some of the momentum and allow them to come to a safe stop. To the right, I think the forground bobsled is unloading. Look at the back end, it looks pretty beat up! Whiplash for everybody.

Here's a look at another bobsled (or possibly even the same one seen in the first picture?), hurtling past us. Yee-haw! Wish I could ride it right now.