Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shades Of Gray

Today I have four black and white photos (Polaroids I think) for you... they're undated, but my guess is that they are from the mid-1960's. You like black and white, don't you?

Here's a look from our Mine Train, back at another locomotive that seems to be out of commission for the day. That's just about the size that I want for my extreme backyard railroad setup. After I win the lottery! It's basically going to be a recreation of Nature's Wonderland, only an animatronic Abe Lincoln will be terrorizing you along the way.

This is my favorite of the bunch, a view of the Monorail (I say it's the blue one!) from the ramp that took you up to the load platform. They have quite a crowd in the front compartment!

These last two are admittedly kind of dull... a look at the Mark Twain, much like many others that we have seen before...

... and a glance in the other direction (up river?). The Columbia is in dry dock over at Fowler's Harbor, and it even looks as if a Keel Boat and a raft are taking the day off.

Friday, January 30, 2009


It's time for the 4th installment of "Posterama", a salute to the fantastic silkscreened attraction posters from Disneyland.

"America the Beautiful" (in fabulous CIRCARAMA!) graced Tomorrowland from 1955 until its removal in 1992. The films changed and the sponsors changed, but you could always count on that dizzying sensation of being surrounded by motion. Hang on to those support bars, or you just might fall down. It happened right in front of me once, and the rest of the crowd could sense weakness... they pounced on him and skeletonized him in three minutes. True story! I would love to be able to see some of those earlier films, it would be fun to see the country as it was over 40 years ago. The attraction reflected Walt Disney's love of America, and his pride in the beauty of so many of its wonders.

Time for one of my favorites! The wonderful "Primeval World" poster was the second poster that I bought (for an embarrasingly low price, hooray). Who wouldn't love those eye-popping colors, and the combination of dinosaurs and the Disneyland Railroad. See that yellow bit near the corner of the T-Rex's mouth? That's where a small piece of tape fell on the screen before the blue color was pulled, leaving the yellow underneath. It doesn't bother me in the least, in fact I like the way it shows the hand-made nature of the posters. I've seen a number of examples with purplish streaks up the middle, and am glad that this one is nice and clean.

The "Art of Animation" exhibit was in Tomorrowland from 1960 to 1966. This isn't the most beautiful poster, but it is somewhat scarce. The design has always puzzled me; of all the great and memorable Disney characters that could have been used, Mickey is the only one that makes sense. The bunny looks to be from "Sleeping Beauty", an extremely minor character to say the least. And "Bongo" from 1947's "Fun and Fancy Free"?? Come on! Tinker Bell, Malificent, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Peter Pan... the list of better choices is endless.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Motorboats and Matterhorn, July 1977

Today's photos are from 1977, and feature a groovy couple enjoying themselves at Disneyland.

First up is this nice "POV" shot take from a Motor Boat, looking towards our pals. They aren't taking their boat-driving responsibilities very seriously. Good lord, they're heading right towards that Monorail support column! I guess that this was technically a Fantasyland ride, but the fact that the boats steered themselves was very futuristic. You get a little glimpse of the Autopia, and even the Peoplemover.

Here they are again, posing in front of the Matterhorn. They're at the end of the line, and it looks like they're going to have a pretty long wait. I was under the impression that the waterfall was a mere trickle these days, but I looked at some fairly recent photos on the web, and I guess it still roars at a good rate. Maybe I'm thinking of Schweitzer Falls!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A trio from Tomorrowland

I had a few orphan slides from Tomorrowland, so I thought that I would put them together for one glorious post before putting those orphans to work in a factory.

Here's a murky photo from November 1963. Any idea what that queue to our right is for? Seems kind of in the middle of things. Crowds are pretty big over at the Subs and the Monorail. Those Japanese men are probably wishing that they had their very own Disneyland. And lo! It came to pass.

Now we're movin' on up to April 1974, with this great shot of the Rocket Jets and the Peoplemover load level. As a kid I wished that the rockets revolved further up the Saturn V's column. Higher! Higher! You can even see a bit of one of Mary Blair's murals to the right, and a stage to the right. Is this where the Kids from the Kingdom performed?

Onward! To July 1977, with a classic shot of the Submarine Voyage. The lagoon shimmers like a massive aquamarine gemstone. I like the gray paint scheme, even if it is un-PC. And I always thought that it was a stroke of genius to hide the "dark ride" portion of the Submarine ride beneath the Autopia and the landscaped areas.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Swiss Family Treehouse, June 1963

In November 1962, the wonderful Swiss Family Treehouse made its debut. It was a welcome addition to Adventureland, which only had two attractions at that point (and I'm including the Safari Shooting Gallery, which also opened in 1962). I always looked forward to climbing those stairs and looking in at the various furnished rooms (it was as if the family had just stepped out for Chinese food), watching the network of pulleys, wheels, and troughs that carried water to the upper levels of the tree, and enjoying the elevated perspective.

Here's a murky late-afternoon shot of the Treehouse...

And here's a nice interior of one of the rooms. That photogenic little girl is watching water stream into the wooden cask, where it could be dispensed into the giant clam/washbasin. I can only assume that the hairbrush and comb must have been nailed down, because monkeys have a habit of pilfering things that don't belong to them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Two From Tomorrowland, January 5 1957

The sky is filled with stormy looking clouds, and the setting sun lends this picture of the Autopia a rose-hued beauty. It's amazing to me that there are still remnants of that distinctive fencing around Tomorrowland (See a photo from the Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog here). The next time you go the park, be sure to visit that piece of original fence. No one will arrest you if you decide to fondle it, either. Easy does it though!

In keeping with Tomorrowland's fascination with all things atomic, I choose to believe that these fountains contained "heavy water" (water in which the hydrogen atoms have been replaced with deuterium, but you knew that already). The colored lights make the smaller fountains look like pink flames.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Two from December 1960

Today's photos show two of the most-photographed features in Disneyland; but they are pretty darn nice photos! I hope you agree.

Back in 1960 the Rivers of America was (um, were?) filled with Welch's grape juice. It was a bold experiment! Sure, it was delicious, but it gummed up the Mark Twain's stern wheel, and all of the ducks turned purple. It didn't take long until the grape juice was removed and they went back to plain old bourbon.

This is a pretty picture, but some of those small trees have got to go. They are blocking the view of the castle, which makes me weep uncontrollably. But then again, everything makes me weep uncontrollably. It's just a phase. HEY! What's that thing that looks like some sort of bandstand to the extreme left? That isn't part of the Christmas Bowl, is it? No, I didn't think so. I know that somebody out there has the answer!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Saturday

Christmas is only 11 months away, so it's not too early to start celebrating. That's why I'm posting this great picture from 1956, with Vesey Walker leading the Disneyland Band down Main Street. I've seen photos of real towns from the 1950's, and they used decorations just like these at Christmas time. All of these buildings stayed pretty much the same over the years, but somehow Disneyland looks smaller in the early years. Maybe it's the trees!

This one is from August 1955, and shows the building that would hold Circarama. The door is open, and it looks like anyone could just walk in... but it doesn't appear to be ready yet. There's no sign from American Motors (sponsor of the first film, "A Tour of the West"), and "America the Beautiful" wouldn't debut until June of 1960. Compare today's photo to this one from about a year later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Choo Choo, 1957

I found a few nice Disneyland slides in a group marked "Trip to Mexico, 1957". I guess somebody made a detour or two before they headed south of the border!

I love this shot of the C.K. Holliday as it approaches Main Street Station, with the warm late-afternoon sunlight casting long shadows.

It's too bad this one is so dark, because it would be a great photo of the old yellow passenger cars. The craftsmanship on these is top-notch, it's easy to believe that they are 100 years old, instead of 2 years old (and 5/8 scale).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Three From July 25 1961

Today's post was thrown together in a hurry (sorry!), so please forgive the less-than-wonderful results.

I'm presenting three photos from July 1961, starting with this nice look at the lovely Columbia. I love the color combo of black and sienna-orange, along with that beautiful gold filigree on the bow. I propose that the figurehead be replaced with a likeness of some B-list celebrity, preferably one from a Disney movie or TV show. Who's with me!

Here's an example of why Disneyland is unlike other amusement parks... plenty of trees, grass, flowering oleander, and benches. Obviously a lot of care was taken to make this place pleasant and inviting.

Allergies don't have a prayer at the Flower Mart, because all of the flowers are plastic. It's part of the Monsanto conspiracy to take over the world!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Buccaneer Boat, July 1959

The Pirate Ship was without a doubt one of the most photographed objects in Disneyland. In later photos the red and white striped sails were often furled, I get the feeling that they had to be replaced occasionally (must have been expensive). If you compare different photos, the sails will have narrower stripes, or broader stripes, or even different colored stripes (yes, it's true).

You can even see a patched area in the lower left corner of one of the larger sails. That's where a cannon ball went through, no doubt. See that "pirate chest" to the right (with "Chicken of the Sea" written on it)? I wonder what it contained? Seems like an odd thing to have just sitting there.

And finally, the less-photographed back side of the ship, along with its crew of bloodthirsty scalawags.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Glorious Black and White

Here are three more black and white photos, from a small batch of larger-format negatives (undated, possibly from around 1958).

These two nice ladies pose in front of the Rocket to the Moon. Well, actually they are posing in front of the Space Bar, which is mostly out of frame to our left. Even from here I can see that the lady to the left is holding one of the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad flyers. I eats me spinach!

These guys are grown men, but you can see the little boys that they used to be. Somehow. Maybe it's just Disneyland!

Time for a cigarette break (cigars for the guy to our left)! Everyone's looking weary, I'm glad they've found a shady spot to rest their aching feet. There's the entrance to the 20K walk-through, full of crunchy steampunk goodness. And let's not forget the giant squiddly! I'm fascinated by the artwork that was on display... repros of pre-production paintings? Copies of Peter Ellenshaw's matte paintings? I want a better look, durnit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stukas Over Disneyland

Here's an interesting one, in spite of it's numerous defects! It is undated, but I am giving it a tentative guestimate of 1960. I can only presume that this photo was taken from one of the helicopters that ferried lucky or wealthy (same thing) passengers between LAX and Disneyland. Magical Disney smog lends an azure hue to the scenery. The horizontal scratches were either the result of a faulty camera or a careless developer. In any case, I thought about trying to clone them away, but then I told myself to ignore them, just like I ignore the voices inside my head.

The foreground "finger of doom" seems to be pointing at the Plantation House ("Let's eat there again, pop!"). Holidayland and the "world's largest candy-striped circus tent" are outside the berm, but not for long. Beyond that.... farmland!!

You can see the Mark Twain, the Columbia, Tom Sawyer Island, the Friendly Indian Village, and other parts of Frontierland. I always enjoy getting a sneak peek at the backstage areas of Fantasyland, full of service vehicles. You can see the Skyway Chalet and even a few buckets if you look closely.

But my favorite thing of all is the aerial look at Nature's Wonderland! There's Cascade Peak, and the trestle through Bear Country. And we get a great view of the Living Desert, the saguaros and colorful paint pots and geysers and rock formations. Follow the loop of track around and you'll see a tiny Mine Train entering the tunnel that led to Rainbow Caverns.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Skyway O'er Fantasyland, June 1958

The Skyway. "Satan's Buckets" is what I called them! That's why I (and my minions) demanded that the Disney Company have them removed forever. Now you know the real story.

Of all the rides in which you travel through the digestive system of a whale, Storybook Land is my favorite.

Why didn't we go on those dark rides earlier?? Now look at the lines. If "Snow White" looks like that, just imagine the line for "Peter Pan" or "Mr. Toad"!

The pink arch of the Fantasyland Viewliner station can just be seen to the left, and "Snow Mountain" is to the right. This land is full of so much color and movement, even without Satan's Buckets!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Random Saturday

Today I've got a trio of miscellaneous photos for you!

Ah, little plastic House of the Future, I never grow weary of your spaceage whimsy. You look like an ice cream cake with all four corners already eaten. (Hey, a cake that looks like the House of the Future.... genius!). By 1964 the plantings around the house had matured, making it all look much more homey and inviting, and also hiding the central "core" that held the thing up. Notice the mom and her little girl with the flouncy dress and red sneakers!

And now let's take a look at a Mine Train with a pre-Nature's Wonderland dark-green paint scheme. OK, there's not really much to see. I admit it! Doc Sutter's Barber Shop would be the place to go if you needed a haircut or a tooth pulled. This is something that the Auto Club won't tell you about.

"Say hon, take a picture of me by the putting green so I can show it to the fellas back home.". Al is pointing towards heaven, because that's where he feels he's died and gone to. Soft lighting has come on, you could practice your putting at night instead of wasting time with your family. In the background, fabulous mid-century hotel design at its finest!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frontierland, January 5 1957

Today's slides are a bit dark, having been taken as the sun was nearly below the horizon. But I like 'em anyhow, so now you have to suffer! Mwa-ha-ha!

Fort Wilderness looks like it was dipped in gold (or maybe sprinkled with pixie dust), while part of the Indian Village is mostly in silhouette. Love the scalps hanging from the topmost poles of the teepee!

Rainbow Ridge glows in the last rays of the afternoon. Soon the lights will all come on inside the little buildings, and the music and chatter will continue as usual. The thought of riding that dark-green Mine Train at night is just too cool to even contemplate!

Here's a look at a birch bark lodge (see the sign description here); Wait until you see the finished basement, with full bar and pool table!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tomorrowland, August 1958

It's time to spend a few moments in the Tomorrow of yesterday. A tomorrow in which the American flag has 48 stars (count 'em... I'll wait!). 1958, to be precise!

If I was standing in the hub, it would be pretty difficult for me to resist heading straight into Tomorrowland. Just look at it! As much as I love the rest of Disneyland, vintage Tomorrowland is the place I'd most want to see. Besides the Rocket to the Moon, the Autopia, the 20,000 Leagues attraction, and America the Beautiful, I would like to see all of those obscure sponsored exhibits in person. Wouldn't you??

From the same lot comes this very nice portait of the TWA rocket, while down below a crowd is gathered around the futuristic chain-link fence to watch model airplanes and boats being put through their paces.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tram & Main Street USA, July 25 1961

Here is a small selection of slides from a family's trip to Disneyland waaaay back in 1961. I should post them in order the way Dave over at Daveland does. I really really should. But I've been drinking heavily, so it seems like an awful lot of trouble!

Anyway, I will give the old college try... for today. The first ride of your visit used to be the parking lot trams. Junior is armed with his instamatic and his Ray Bans. His shirt proclaims that he is "Proud to be an American". Nice try, commie, I can see right through your little ruse! That "woman" next to him is obviously a male KGB agent in disguise.

Town Square; we all stop and look around before deciding whether we want to ride the train first, or explore the charms of Main Street U.S.A. There's a crowd over by the Emporium, what the heck is going on there? Traffic accident? Drive-by?

No self-respecting American boy would wear floods like that kid is wearing. You look ridiculous, comrade!

I know that this car may look like the latest sports car in Russia, but in America it is quaint and antique! Considering how Walt Disney was strapped for cash when building his park, the "Gurr-mobiles" always looked great. Check out the detailed fabrication on this one! The Carnation restaurant is in the background (I think that Tony Baxter worked there, once upon a time) complete with a menu in the window.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a Small World, July 1977

Pretend you are sailing in your quiet, comfortable boat, riding through "It's a Small World". You can smell the chlorinated water, feel the smooth rush of current beneath you, and hear the infernal music drilling its way into your brain, where it will lay thousands of parisitic eggs.

In no particular order (because I'm lazy), here are some excerpts from the Disneyland Storyteller album: "The sky is filled with magic flying carpets gliding over the Middle East's brightly colored towers and festive market places, while down below dancers with tambourines entertain us." You get two countries in one with this slide.... Winston Hibler says: " India's mystery and beauty are represented by the lovely veiled girls dancing by the Taj Mahal. Across a cool pond, a youthful snake charmer takes up the song with his pipe."

I stupidly labeled this slide "india", when it is in fact from the Bali portion of the ride. Once again quoting the storyteller record: "A many-armed golden goddess silhouetted in a temple door reigns over the beautiful land of Bali. Looking a bit like delicious birthday cakes, Balinese umbrellas shelter a variety of dancers and musicians - and one grinning Bengal tiger". They look like wedding cakes to me, so I must sue the Walt Disney Company. Pain and suffering, you know.

Our storyteller album fails us here, I could find no mention of the cheerful girls dancing in their grass skirts. Is this Hawaii? Tahiti? Does it just fall under the green leafy umbrellas known as "Polynesia"?

"Friendly llamas climb the peaks of the Andes mountains as we start up the South American continent. We hear a little Chilean boy playing on his reed flute. Gauchos and senoritas, balancing jars and fruit on their heads, add their Latin American rhythm to the theme".

And here's another one I'm not entirely sure about. It looks like Africa, but I couldn't find a track that described this exact scene. That giant totem in the back bears a striking resemblance to H.R. Pufnstuf!

I used to listen to that storyteller album over and over as a child. It was fun to revisit it after so many years!