Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunset at Knott's, 1950's

Today's undated Knott's Berry Farm images are certainly from the mid-1950's. I'd like to imagine that I just drove through miles and miles of farmland (with the occasional housing development) to have try one of those chicken dinners I've heard about. Might as well get there early so that we can explore the ghost town that Mr. Knott built to give restaurant patrons something to do while they wait. Sometimes the wait was two or three hours!

This picturesque road ("School Road") is pretty impressive in its weatherbeaten fashion. You can't have too many carriages - or can you? Mr. Knott says "No way!". Like all of today's photos, everything is glowing with the warm late-afternoon sun under a vivid blue sky. And boy, do I love those eucalyptus trees!

If you walked down to the end of School Road, you'd find the water tower, the train depot, and of course, the train! No Calico Mine Train or Log Ride yet though. I think that the tall lights are for the horse arena.

Here's an old wreck of a vehicle that probably spent many years out in the desert, exposed to the elements and rusting away. I assume that it is some sort of mining vehicle, perhaps hauling heavy chunks of gold or silver ore from the mine to the refinery. A little paint and the thing will be as good as new.

And finally, for those of you who haven't already heard, Imagineer and author Chris Merritt (who was so instrumental in the return of the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through) will be signing copies of his sure-to-be-amazing book, "Knott's Preserved" at Knott's Berry Farm on April 18. But it's much more than a book signing, it will be an all day event! Werner Weiss has already done a great writeup (including a pdf of the form to order tickets) on his wonderful "" website, read all about it HERE. Seating is very limited, but I understand that there are still some tickets available. Want a chance to see Rolly Crump (legendary Imagineer, and designer of "Knott's Berry Tales") and Bud Hurlbut (largely responsible for the Calico Mine Train and the Log Ride)? I do! How about a guided tour of the historic Ghost Town? And much more. I know it's going to be great!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ford Pavilion, New York World's Fair

I have a nice group of photos featuring the 1964 New York World's Fair's largest pavilion (equal to three football fields, or 10,000 Foozball games). Yes, that's bigger than General Motors' "Futurama"! I'm talking about the Ford pavilion. Anyway, I'll share four of the photos today...

You can get some sense of the sheer huge-osity of the thing. See those tiny pipple? I hope that they are all wearing comfy shoes, because they have a long wait ahead of them. The "Magic Skyway" was a "people eater", and yet, according to, "....the number one complaint against Ford, as illustrated in the Gallup studies, was waiting in line". Well boo-freakin' hoo! Babies. Good things are worth waiting for, right?

I love the late-model Fords moving through the see-through habitrail tubes!

For those of you who love signs, please seek professional help. A sign will never return your love. Meanwhile, here's a nice photo of a sign to torture you!

Once you finally stepped inside the rotunda, your waiting-in-line time got a lot more interesting. Walt and his pals provided cool stuff to look at, like the "International Village". I always enjoy unfathomable statistics, so here are some for you:

This delightful Lilliputian world is proportioned on a scale of one-half inch to the foot, and required the combined artistry of twenty craftsmen working twenty-eight thousand hours to create the exquisitely detailed reproductions of the twelve countries represented. In the process they laid half a million "bricks," attached three hundred thousand shingles, and spread thousands of square feet of simulated grass.

Each of the scenes managed to contain at least a couple of Ford automobiles as well - even in this tropical paradise of thatched shacks and dugout canoes.

What do you think, is this supposed to be "somewhere in France"? If I was just going by the architecture, I might have guessed Germany. But the details show scenes that are associated with France, like the people relaxing at the café, the kids watching the puppet show in the park, and the artists painting next to the cathedral. Oh, and those non-flying nuns.

Stay tuned for more of the Ford pavilion!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Arrrrr! April 1966

Today we're in Fantasyland with Chip and his family. Thanks to Chiana for naming him "Chip"!

I don't know why this photo cracks me up. Oh wait, yes I do! Is it just me, or does Captain Hook look jealous? His expression says, "What the...? Not again!". He's on the outside lookin' in. Smee doesn't need glasses, but likes them as an accoutrement. As you can see, they're really just little magnifying glasses for his cheeks.

From the pleased-as-punch expression on mom's face, Chip is now riding his very own flying elephant. You often see folks casually leaning on the Disneyland trash cans or in this case, resting an article of clothing on one. I realize that Disneyland trash cans are special, but still, it's a trash can!

Here's a swell photo of the lagoon and Skull Rock as the sun finally starts to peek through the funk. It won't last though, you'll see. Don't worry, our friends go to the park for two days, and the second day is bright and sunny. Whoa, check out the décolletage on the Chicken of the Sea mermaid. Scandalous! Meanwhile, we get a pretty good look at the actual dining area, shady and cool, with the relaxing sound of waterfalls. It helps you to digest before your spin on the Teacups.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Three Views From The Twain, April 1966

There is no Skyway in Frontierland, but if you decide to go for a ride on the Mark Twain and head up to the top deck, you'll get a uniquely elevated view of everything.

We haven't left the dock yet, so we can see things like the Casa de Fritos restaurant in the distance, and that little bandstand where the Gonzalez Trio and the Straw Hatters would perform. There's plenty of shaded seating, covered by those thatched roofs - a rustic version of the checkerboard shades found in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Fowler's Harbor sure looks different with all of the foliage (see an much earlier view here); the landscapers have done a brilliant job transforming Anaheim orange groves into this Mississippi scene.

We're passing the Indian Village; the addition of the totem poles and other artifacts from the Indians of the Northwest really changed the atmosphere of this particular spot. Previously, it looked like the kind of village that you might see in your typical 1950's horse opera. This gray weather helps to make it feel more like you are on the Columbia River( or even further north!). Notice the container full of canoe paddles at the bottom of the image.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jungle Cruise, January 6 1957

I sure love this swell photo of the Jungle Cruise loading dock. It's crisp and clear, colorful and crunchy. It might be January, but the Skipper is feeling fine in his short sleeves. He needs those shades to protect his eyes from arrows and the venom of spitting cobras.

Ordinarily I would not show you a photo of a back side, unless it is a rare look at the back side of water.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hotel & More, 1960

I never got to stay at the Disneyland Hotel back in its heyday - not sure I'd do it now. $$$! In any case, I wasn't around in 1960 when this photo was taken. I love the mid-century modernist architecture, with its clean lines and use of steel, concrete and glass. Those beams with hexagonal piercings remind me of erector sets. Gramps (to our right) is pretty excited by it all and wants to take a few photos before heading into the coffee shop for a milk shake.

Well, the Matterhorn has only been open for about a year, but you can see that it is receiving a bit of work over there on the left. You can just see the 3-car red Monorail through the trees. To our right is some sort of service building, with the brightly-colored wall hiding some Canal Boats. The candy-striped pole in the extreme foreground is one that you would have seen at the Fantasyland Station.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Main Street USA, July 1 1959

Here's a "postcard worthy" photo of Main Street USA, circa 1959. The park looks spic-and-span, and radiant (I saw the word "radiant" in a spider web yesterday). A whole lotta attractions opened just weeks before, and some of the festive bunting - including that "Disneyland '59" banner - can still be seen. Up in the sky you can see the helicopter that ferried lucky guests from the airport to Disneyland and back.

Vesey Walker's shadow is getting pretty long in this photo, but I don't think it's time to lower the Flag just yet. Instead it's time for a good old-fashioned band concert on a summer afternoon. Check out that guy's Hawaiian shirt with the artistic rendering of Diamond Head on the back!

This one's not so great, but I figured I might as well include it. Yep, that's what I figured.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Totally Boss Monorail! April 1962

Today I have two great photos guaranteed to make your day better.

See, I told you! Look at that beautiful blue Monorail, returning from the Disneyland Hotel. It's the exact same blue as our Buick station wagon from the late 60's! Beneath it, the cheerful tram sits - driverless. Maybe the driver made sure that everyone exited the tram with all of their belongings (unless it was something really good!). I'm not sure I was aware that ticket booths extended this far from the entrance.

Well now, I'd say this sunshiny yellow Monorail is pretty great too. Please don't make me pick a favorite! Poster alert. Also, please direct your eyeballs to the heaps of dirt in the background, all part of some major construction going on in Frontierland, including the removal of the Plantation House and additions to the Indian Village. It might also be partially due to the addition of the Elephant Bathing Pool and the Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Main Street USA, April 1966

Today's post is a continuation of yesterday's!

After spending a few minutes of quality time with Mickey Mouse, we finally enter Disneyland proper. Town Square, it somehow feels like a real small town from yesteryear, not that I ever lived in one. But I do watch a lot of TV. Hey, here comes the Surrey!

I'll bet the parents insisted on stopping for a bite to eat. And we haven't even been on any rides yet! What a gyp. I wonder what these two are gazing at so intensely? Maybe the Disneyland Band was passing by. Anyway, here they are at the Hills Bros. coffee house. Steal a couple of menus for me, will ya?

Maybe they were looking at the Fire Truck! Looks like there are plenty of folks who want to ride. The paint near the running board has been worn by 800 gajillion feet

And no visit to Main Street would be complete without having your photo taken at the wheel of the Carnation truck.

There are lots more photos from this bunch, so stay tuned.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Arriving, April 1966

Anybody who went to Disneyland when they were a kid remembers the sense of anticipation the night before the trip, and then the mounting excitement as you piled into the car and were actually on your way! If you somehow managed to miss seeing the Matterhorn from the freeway, this might be your first look at the park. Like an oasis to a thirsty nomad! We don't care that it's a bit overcast, do we?

Whoo-EEE! In line to buy our ticket books. Can you believe that it will cost us around $15 to get the three of us in? But that's inflation for you.

All of the kids are excited to see Mickey Mouse, although they are wondering about that giant red bow tie. When did he start wearing that? The Peter Pan collar is interesting too, I predict that they will come back in style - for men's fashions - in a big way. We're going to be seeing a lot more of that freckle-faced lad, so I hope that you like him.

I think I'll post a few more from this group tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Frontierland River, August 1969

These folks are either waiting to go for a canoe ride, or they are just enjoying the scenery. The dad in the center is not too sure about that hoodlum with his greased-back hair and cigarette. He looks like one of the gang memebers from "West Side Story", and yet this photo is from 1969.

That is one busy steam boat! I think that's the Straw Hatters on the bow, or maybe the Royal Street Bachelors. Notice that the Mark Twain's pilot is not even looking where he is going.

Here's a nice view of the river, with two canoes, a Keel Boat, and of course the Columbia. They should add a pirate-themed jet ski attraction! (I shouldn't even joke about that).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Love a Parade, May 1966

Actually, I generally don't love a parade. My family was squished to jelly by a wayward Macy's balloon.

But when a parade has a cute girl with freaky albino-white hair, that's a whole different matter. As usual, I enjoy photos of the various Alices, I can't explain it. Meanwhile, where are the crowds?

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the cutest of them all?"; well, it just might be Snow White. I like her mischievous smile. Girls, girls, there's plenty of ol' Major Pepperidge for both of you! Does anybody know what those candy-striped awnings in the background were part of? Perhaps it was the entrance to the Plaza Inn's private dining area where Walt used to entertain VIPs? If you want circus folk to feel at home, I recommend stripes.

Say, shouldn't there be three little pigs? The Big Bad Wolf looks like he's just had a hearty meal, and I don't mean hamburgers. A star of his caliber should be able to afford some new pants. And a belt.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Random Knott's

Are you ready for some Knott's Berry Farm stuff?

Let's start with this fun image, probably dating from around 1950, give or take a few years. It really has a great vintage feel! Look at how nicely dressed everyone is; perhaps they were there for Sunday dinner. With the chicken dinners were so popular that it was a good idea to open another restaurant, this one serving steak and other dee-licious stuff. What a brilliant idea to build the ghost town to give waiting patrons something to do! Slim Vaughan is holding court over in front of the Covered Wagon Bar.

I'm sure that freshly cut flowers were one of the many things you could purchase at Knott's (and perhaps they were used as decorations in the restaurants)... here you can see them growing, rows and rows of beautiful colors. It really was a farm, remember!

And finally, from July 1959, here's a (Bluegrass?) quartet performing on a little rustic bandstand. The singer is packin' pistols, so you'd better be quiet and applaud! I'll bet they sounded great.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Golden Horseshoe Revue, July 17 1968 (Part 2)

Welcome to part two of my photo tribute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue! See part one here, kitty cats.

These dancing girls look like they are having a lot of fun, but they are not exactly synchronized. I don't care, I love them anyway. White gloves and parasols will be all the rage again in 2011.

There's Betty Taylor again, in her slinky black (velvet?) dress. That's right, it is made of black velvet slinkys.

More parasol action; meanwhile the curtain has gone up to reveal a lovely painted backdrop featuring the Mark Twain. I wonder if this still exists?

Slue Foot Sue changes costumes more times than Cher! Here she sings a duet with Fulton Burly.

Stay tuned next time, when you'll finally see Wally Boag!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Funland Park Mystery! Nantucket - 1950's

Doesn't "The Funland Park Mystery!" sound like the title of a "Scooby Doo" episode?

I love today's photos, even though there isn't much that I can tell you about them. Dating from the mid-1950's, each slide was labeled "Funland Park, Nantucket". And sure enough, that's what the place is called. But I can't find any mention of this park at all! There are other Funland's, but none on the island of Nantucket according to the internets. Perhaps a reader out there knows something?

In this first great photo, it appears to be the off-season in Nantucket. It just looks cold, doesn't it? Still, a few brave souls (and their neat cars) can't resist a day by the sea. Maybe they'll find some choice shells along the shore. There's Funland in the distance...

... and here we are a bit closer now. "Funland Park - Streamlined Rides". I'm sure that on a warm July day this same road was packed with people and cars and fun. Everyone had an ice cream cone or cotton candy, or a paper cup with fried clams (we used to buy those in Martha's Vineyard!). Perhaps there would be a fireworks show on the 4th, when families would show up in droves with blankets and picnic dinners.

It sure looks desolate; I wonder if the place was already out of business? That Ferris Wheel is missing some gondolas. In any case, I think that the thing I love about these photos is the way they evoke the America of the past that has vanished forever.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grand Canyon Diorama

Disneyland is full of amazing attractions and high-tech wonders, but one of my favorite features is the beautiful Grand Canyon Diorama! It reminds me of the wonderful dioramas that you might see at a number of natural history museums - only this one is over 300 feet long and 34 feet high!

Today's images are from a series of "Treasure Tone" souvenir slides dated 1958 (the year the diorama made its debut). I thought that they were nice enough to share with you, and the scenes have been put in the correct order (I hope). Play Ferde Grofe's "On the Trail" from his "Grand Canyon Suite" to really set the scene!

After a few seconds in the dark tunnel, this first vista is pretty spectacular! The canyon is dusted with a light snowfall (so neat that they chose to show the canyon during the winter), and the the ruins of Indian cliff dwellings can be seen both in the foreground and in the distance. Notice the rattlesnake!

Mule deer and the golden leaves of quaking aspens are featured here...

... and here!

That giant painting is pretty convincing.

Three playful mountain lions (cubs nearly grown?) play near their den...

... while mom is on the hunt. A storm is brewing, but unfortunately the slides skip that brief segment of the diorama, including lighting flashes, and the eventual rainbow. And the porcupine!

The sun is setting, and wild turkeys prepare to roost. They do roost, don't they?

And finally, the majestic bighorn sheep watch us go by as night falls.

I hope you've enjoyed today's images!