Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fantasyland, March 1958

Due to my late-night crime fighting duties, today's post will be an abbreviated version.

Here's a vintage shot of Fantasyland, taken from the steps leading up to the Skyway Chalet. Even though it is March (1958) and the weather is cool (judging from the clothing on the guests), there are still oranges on the tree. That's SoCal for ya! I love the 50's colors of the Skyway buckets, not to mention early views with no Matterhorn.

And now for a look at the "Twirl and Hurl". Hey I just made that up! What do I win? The Teacups appear to have been caught in mid-spin, you can see a number of hands furiously turning the center wheel. The Pop Art swirl on the Teacups turntable secretly hypnotized guests to SPEND MORE MONEY!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Knott's Locomotive, 1968

Greetings and salutations! After a couple of days off, I'm back. Let's mix it up (already?!) with some pictures from Knott's Berry Farm.

Today you get to see these two nice photos of the old Number 40, the "Green River". Maybe they mean the Chicago river on Saint Patrick's Day? Besides the fact that Knott's locomotives were authentic and full-sized (no 5/8 scale for Walter Knott!), they ran right through the park with nary a barrier, allowing you to get remarkably close to those powerful machines.

What a beauty she is, and I love having the Calico Mine Train in the background!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Contemporary Resort

Today I have a couple of special construction images from Walt Disney World, taken in May of 1971. The park wasn't due to open until October 1st, a full five months later. The slides were labeled "shareholder's preview", so make of that what you will!

There it is, the iconic Contemporary Resort. Or its skeleton, anyway! The distinctive A-frame design was mighty cool in 1971 (and is still pretty cool today). Pre-constructed modular hotel rooms were placed into the steel framework. Also cool is the fact that the Monorail can pick you up right there, or bring you home at night. Notice the Skyway towers (since removed, of course). Look at all the work that they still needed to do it's pretty rough!

Here's a second shot from a slightly different angle. I am just not familiar enough with the Magic Kingdom to guess what the buildings to the right would eventually become. Are those deep ditches where part of the famous Utilidor would go? It's also interesting to see the many temporary shacks in the distance, presumably to hold supplies, lumber, and pixie dust.

Here it is, nice and shiny and new! This is from December 1971, only a few months after opening. We must be standing somewhere in Tomorrowland, since the Autopia is visible just in front of us.

I'll have a few more photos from this bunch in upcoming weeks! Meanwhile, I haven't missed a day of blogging since August 24th - - that's four months ago. So I will be taking the next few days off, and will see you again on Tuesday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Two From Tomorrowland, January 1964

Merry Christmas everybody!

I have two fabulous photos from Tomorrowland for ya. First up is this very nice look at the Matterhorn as it catches the late afternoon sun... in another hour or so it should be getting dark. Even at this time of day you can see that the lights on the star have been lit. Incidentally, I think we have established that the star did NOT turn. But it did give off a pine-tree scent that could be enjoyed all over the park!

I love this picture of the blue Monorail waiting at the station! Not only is it a great look at the Monorail itself, but I always enjoy getting to observe the guests from over 40 years ago. Look at their strange, primitive clothing! Nothing like the silver lamé jumpsuits that we all wear today.

I hope that every one of you is enjoying the holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

900th Freakin' Post!!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, today marks the 900th post on "Gorilla's Don't Blog". Something tells me that not many people are reading this right now, since it's the day before Christmas. Folks are on the road or in the air, or out doing some last-minute shopping. Or maybe they're just partying! It's almost as if your families are more important to you than I am. That's OK, I like you anyway. And to prove it here are three very nice images to celebrate.

Feast your weary, sunken eyebones upon this photo, from January 5th, 1957! If there is a prettier picture of the Mark Twain, I'm not sure I've seen it. The setting winter sun casts a golden glow over everything, and the dramatic stormy sky is particularly beautiful. Folks on Tom Sawyer Island are taking a last look around before being evicted for the evening, while a canoe skims towards us. In the distance, you can see the Skyway heading through Fantasyland. Bellisimo!

And how about this wonderful picture of the bright yellow Monorial from February 1962? The only flaw is that this was not a stereo photo, because the Monorail already looks like it's about to leap out of the frame. The deep blue sky (with plenty of fluffy clouds) really compliments the golden yellow! You can just see the General Dynamics logo on the sign for the Submarine Voyage.

And finally, here's a lovely picture from the Midget Autopia, circa 1962. A diminutive driver (looking like silent screen star Colleen Moore) leans into the hairpin curves. I love the way that these small automobiles had a steering wheel on each side! The rolling hills are covered in tiny purple flowers; they resemble the background paintings of Disney animated features from the 50's (such as Alice in Wonderland). There's something about the composition of this photo that is nostalgic and dreamlike.

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who continues to read this blog on a regular basis after having to sit through endless pictures of the Pirate Ship and Sleeping Beauty Castle and snoozing through my "prose" (ha ha). And a special thanks, as always, to those of you who take the time to comment. I'm still sticking to my plan of reaching 1000 posts. Then what? Who knows.

Also, I will be out of town for the next few days, though I have some new posts ready to go, they will be published like magic. Happy Holidays, everyone!

*Editor's note! For some reason, blogger's "edit post" function lists this as my 900th post. But the blog itself says that this is my 898th. I don't get it! Who do I believe?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Tis a Small World, April 1974

Today I'm featuring "It's a Small World", beloved (and reviled) by millions the world over. I'm in the "beloved" category, a fact which receives a sad head-shake from most people I talk to. Where's the love!

Anyway, here's a nice shot take from the Skyway, giving us a fairly complete view of the facade (gleaming white in the sunshine). Hey look! There's a snow-capped mountain in the distance, and it ain't the Matterhorn. At the extreme lower right you can see that Monstro the whale is apparently receiving a bit of a makeover.

The topiaries in front of IASW are almost as iconic as the building itself. If you look really carefully in the first photo, you can clearly see the acrobatic elephant!

And finally, here is Aunt Lucy, Uncle Irv (workin' that bolo tie), and a lady who is wearing a necklace that looks suspiciously like love beads. Get her, she's a hippie! The sheer amount of empty space in front of IASW is pretty amazing, considering Disneyland's paucity of real estate. You almost need shades to look at this photo, the facade of the attraction looks incandescent.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Frontierland, June 1958

Today I've got two very nice Frontierland images for you! Starting with this nice vertically formatted view of the Columbia, looking majestic as always; we also get an unusual look at the loading area for the Canoes, including one of the Indian guides who knew the wilderness like teenage girls know the mall.

And here's a nice "you are there" photo from the old Indian Village. If you're going to live in a teepee, you might as well paint it up with colorful pictograms. A few strategically placed sun-bleached animal skulls add charm and variety to any front yard! I certainly get looks from my neighbors. Jealous much? The teepee in the center has something hanging way up high... something that may or may not be a human scalp. Gruesome!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mark Twain, June 1958

It's time for yet another half-baked post. Things have been busy busy busy lately!

Here's the Mark Twain (you knew that already), with a fully-loaded raft in the foreground. To the left is a sliver of the Plantation House, and Fowler's Harbor. Just visible over the top of the steamboat is Tom's Treehouse.

Every time I see the Mark Twain leaving the dock, I wish I was on board!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Random Trilogy

Three pictures, seemingly unrelated. OR ARE THEY?? Ok, they are from Disneyland, I guess I forgot that one.

Here is a pleasant view of the castle:

And here's a nice big closeup of Big Thunder Falls splashing down Cascade Peak. You can almost feel the spray on your face!

And a view from the topmost railing on the Mark Twain, looking down on the Indian Village and the Dance Circle. There are dance afficianados aplenty!

Can you tell that I was in a hurry today?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Posterama III

Yo yo yo, homies! If you like Disneyland attraction posters, than today's post is for you. If you don't, then a baby angel will die. And none of us wants that, do we?

A few weeks ago somebody (I forget who it was) requested a look at the poster for Tom Sawyer Island. Here it is! This one is somewhat rare. Even with its limited palette of six colors (not counting the white of the paper) manages to capture the feel of a bright sunny day. The first version of this poster mentions that Tom's Treehouse was the highest point in Disneyland, but the Matterhorn eventually trumped the treehouse.

This "Golden Horseshoe Revue" poster is probably familiar to most of you. Pepsi gets a prominent mention as the attraction's sponsor. This is one of two posters that I am aware of that use metallic ink (the silver Monorail being the other), which is why that gold background is so difficult to photograph evenly. I once saw a variant of this poster that said "Frontierland" instead of the more common "Disneyland U.S.A.".

And finally, a relatively common (and inexpensive) poster, for "It's a Small World". The design is a bit lackluster for such a colorful, whimsical attraction. If only they had used some of Mary Blair's wonderful combinations of hues, this one could have been a knockout! Still... I can't help but love the poster anyway. I'm a hopeless case!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tomorrowland, February 1962

You don't need a Delorean to go back to the future, just take a look at these photos from Tomorrowland, circa 1962!

This first one is a real beauty. The old Tomorrowland managed to radiate an optimism and excitement about the future, and even made you think that the present was pretty neat too. Some trick! How'd they do that? The yellow bubble-domed Monorail looks streamlined and striking as it rounds the bend (it looks like the turns were slightly banked...?), with a lovely winter sky overhead. The rippled surface of the Submarine Lagoon reveals a breeze (cold, I'll wager!), I can almost feel it. This is one of those photos that I wish I could step into - - preferably onto dry land.

From the same lot is this nice shot of the Autopia. The original cars had been replaced with a new version (the "Mark V" cars), with the "eyebrow" headlights and the hint of tail fins. They're cute, apparently they were very heavy. Whoever thought that they should be made out of solid gold was just plain dumb. Notice the predominance of aqua and orange cars - - the "Howard Johnson effect"!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Matterhorn, July 1959

In spite of the gray overcast weather, folks came out in droves to see (and taste!) the new attractions at Disneyland. YOU know the ones I'm talking about. No, not the spiffy new trash cans over by the Autopia.

Just look at that crowd down below, jammed together until they actually began to think as one. A hive consciousness! But we are the lucky ones, gliding peacefully above the fray, and feeling mighty superior.

1959 was apparently a year with little snowfall, the mountain only has a few patches in the deepest crevices. As the years went by, more and more snow built up until a terrible avalanche covered hundreds of guests. It's the story that "they" don't want you to know about! That, and the fact that I married bigfoot. Who knew that bigfoot was a "she"??

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas on Main Street, 1972

With only 9 more days until Christmas, I thought I would try to get into the spirit of things with these three images from 1972.

How many people can say that they were killed by a horse-drawn streetcar? Not many, but it looks like our photographer is about to be one of those lucky few. But it was all worth it for this nice picture looking back towards Main Street Station and the gigantic Christmas tree. Main Street has a way of pulling out all the stops when it comes to the holidays, that tree must be at least 60 feet tall. And made entirely of marshmallow peeps. I can dream, can't I?

I know, I probably should have shown this picture first, since this is the angle you would see as you first entered Town Square from the western tunnel. It's fun to look at the fashions of the day... probably a lot of clothing from Sears and Montogomery Wards.

Looking north towards the castle, we can see more fabulous winter fashions... there was definitely a nip in the air that day! Garlands and wreaths and plenty of bells deck the halls, making for a mighty pretty scene.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Knott's Stagecoach, 1968

Here are three nice afternoon photos of the Stagecoach from Knott's Berry Farm, circa 1968. This first one is from a bit earlier in the day, notice the two cowpokes driving the coach are in their shirtsleeves. Those huge eucalyptus trees add a great "old California" feel to this image!

Now the drivers (did they really need two?) are wearing heavy coats. See that lady in between them? She was the photographer's pretty wife. Full discolsure!

The third picture shows the coach going over the underpass, which as you can see is the way to Old McDonald's Farm, the Indian Trading Post, and the Merry-Go-Round. The train is just visible to the left too. One last thing: what is going on with the back of that kid's head in the lower right? Is he wearing a hat made out of a rat skin, with the tail still attached? If so, I need one of those. Now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Fun

It's Sunday again! Same time every week. When I was a kid, Sunday meant: mom and dad took us to church, then we took a trip to the news stand to buy one comic book (or MAD magazine), and then Dunkin' Donuts. I really looked forward to the comic book and the donut! ;-)

Now Sunday is the day that I often post less-than-great images. Because a lot less people read this blog, see? Today, however, I have three photos for you that are actually pretty nice!

Like this great 1968 photo of the Matterhorn, with the Swiss Chalet at its base. You have to spend some time at the chalet in order to get acclimated to the high altitude. It's all very complicated. In the foreground, the lovely pink flowers of the oleander, which just happens to be extremely toxic. Bon appetite, kids!

Here's what you might have seen if you walked through the west tunnel entrance to Town Square in August 1958. I can almost hear the sounds and smell the popcorn! In the distance you can see a banner touting the Alice in Wonderland attraction and the Grand Canyon Diorama.

Here's a lovely oblique view of the Castle. That little bridge to the left is long gone. Notice the steel bars underneath the bridge, which kept the sharks (with laser beams on their heads!) contained until then needed to be released.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rivers of America, August 1959

I wonder why Walt Disney didn't just call the river in Frontierland "The Mississippi"? After all, Mark Twain and riverboats and New Orleans are all associated with the Big River. Instead it is "The Rivers of America". That's right, it's more than just one. Neat trick, I say! It's also the Ohio, the Missouri, and the Crimea. Get it, "Cry me a" river?

Anywhoo, the fishing dock looks kind of lonesome, all of those cane poles are just sitting there. And check out that empty shore across from us, there's nothing really there except for Frontierland Station.

If we glance to our left, there's the Swift Plantation House. How can it be swift when it just sits there? At any rate, after tearing around on Tom Sawyer Island for 20 minutes, I've worked up a powerful appetite for some chicken! How nice that the raft is going to drop me off right in front of a restaurant. Coincidence?? One of the old yellow passenger cars from the Disneyland Railroad can just be seen through the trees.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nighttime at Disneyland

Here are a couple of nice night shots from Disneyland! This first one is from July 1967, featuring a certain mountain. There was only one back then! The long exposure makes the waterfall look especially powerful here! I am not exactly sure what the vantage point was... you can just make out the Tinker Bell flight wire going from the tip of the Matterhorn, heading to our left. Maybe this is from the hub, over near the Plaza Inn?

Now we move up one year to July 1968. The slide was thoughtfully labeled "Adventureland Steel Band". Actually, I believe that the band was made up of regular flesh and blood hu-mans, not steel ones. Again, I am not entirely sure where this photo was taken. At the Tahitian Terrace? The woman's dress looks very "Tiki Room-ish" to me!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Frontierland, August 1959

Here are three photographs from the summer of 1959, all featuring Frontierland.

First up is this oddly-compsed shot of the Mine Train and Rainbow Ridge. There's a grown-up wearing a plastic Keppy Kap! His name must be Melvin. Notice that his sons aren't wearing their own souvenir hats. The dad to our left has a 1958 gate handout sticking out of his shirt pocket.

Here's a look at Castle Rock, it looks like a miniature version of Wyoming's "Devil's Tower". I think I see a yippie - - a young one, but he's a yippie alright! He'll be back on the island soon.

And finally, the obligatory photo of the friendly indian village (or F.I.V. as nobody likes to call it). Not sure I ever noticed the two Indian babies leaning against that teepee. I hope they are wearing sunblock, or they will turn into delicious baby jerky.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Omnibus and Keelboat, June 1958

Here's a nice photo of the good old Omnibus as it circles the hub (Tomorrowland is to our right, see the flagpoles?), and doing a good job of blocking the House of the Future. But that's OK, because we get a pretty good look at the banner that adorns the side, touting the opening of the brand-new "Alice In Wonderland" attraction. It's nice that the Omnibus could accommodate mothers with strollers, see that one on the back platform?

And just for the heck of it, howsabout this nice shot of the Gullywhumper? I've never seen a craft more suited to whumping gullys, and I'll wager that you haven't either. Sure do wish that the Keelboats were still there for a relaxing trip around the river.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Two From July 1959

Here are two slides dated July 1959, though of course that means they were developed in July, and could very well be from June. I only mention that because this photo of Main Street Station shows the station and the poster displays covered in flags and bunting that was almost certainly in place for the big party celebrating the opening of the Monorail, Matterhorn, and Submarines.

As if often the case, the gloom has burned off later in the day to reveal a glorious blue sky. Mom and sis pose on the corner... trust me, sis looks glum in every photo! There is something in a fancy frame in the window to the left... I can't tell what it is, but I get the feeling that it would be worth a lot of money today.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Matterhorn Christmas, 1972

Ah, the good old days, when a giant star sprouted from the peak of the Matterhorn each holiday season! From what I could glean on the interweb, the star was 24 feet high, and made its debut in December 1961. And it was made of marzipan. Look at that thing, it's just plain big. And since this photo is from nineteen sebenty foo, everyone in the picture is groovy. Groovy, do you hear??

Here's a closer look at the star from the Submarine Voyage queue. Notice the rectangular Skyway buckets, gliding rectangularly. Disneyland stopped using the star sometime in the 70's (I couldn't find the exact year, but I'll bet somebody else knows!) due to the "energy crisis". My guess is 1973 or '74. I can only imagine that with today's technology (fiber optics, LEDs), another star could be produced that would be even more spectacular, yet use much less energy.