Friday, April 30, 2010

The Mark Twain, The Mark Twain, & The Mark Twain

How many photos of the Mark Twain is "too many"? I think I silently answered that question long ago, but that won't stop me from posting three more today.

Early photos like this 1956 view are always fun because Frontierland looks so raw and undeveloped. Those trees on the hills in the distance (part of the berm) are especially scrawny, likely because it was not really visible to guests unless they took one of the river craft.

Now it's 1957, and things still look pretty barren. It's a great photo though!

And finally, in July 1959 you can see that the foliage is considerably more lush. The angle is a bit different here, but that gives us a view of little Frontierland Station and a tiny piece of the Plantation House. The bunting on the Twain is probably there because of all the celebrating that busy summer (with the addition of the Matterhorn, Subs, and so on).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Disneyland Hotel Pool, 1960

In 1960, Disneyland visitors had plenty of places to stay; but the lucky ones stayed at the Disneyland Hotel! Just look at that pool. No kidney-shaped motel pool for Disney.

What the...?! I have no idea what is going on in this photo. The pool has a large model of a nuclear submarine (complete with a Polaris missile on its way to make people happy), as well as several ice floes. There are penguins (so... Southern Hemisphere) and what looks like Koala bears frolicking on the ice too. Baffling!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Plaza Inn, April 1966

Today we're going to eat at the elegant Plaza Inn, still brand new in 1966. As long as there's french fries, I'll be happy. Chip and his folks apparently have to wait for a seat (there's mom with a cigarette again...). Even in this humble corner of the restaurant, you can see the antique marble table, flocked wallpaper (did you know that wallpaper travels in flocks?), fresh flowers, and skillful carpentry that made this the fanciest place to eat at the park - until Club 33 anyhow. Not that I'd know from personal experience. Notice that Chip is holding a tripod, which means we will be getting a few nice, in-focus night shots!

Hey, where are the french fries?? Oh well, I guess there must be something on that menu that I'll eat. I'm very finicky! Daveland recently had a photo of the Plaza Inn menu from about a year earlier, see it here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ford Pavilion, 1964 NYWF

Let's Get the Feel for the Wheel of a Ford at the New York World's Fair's Ford Pavilion!

The Aurora never went into mass production, but it is a cool (and odd) prototype! Just look at all that chrome. From this angle it looks like a sports car, but it was in fact a sort of station wagon. Here's a description that I found on the 'net: It only had three doors - two on one side and one on the other (and a back hatch). Continuing the "three" theme, it was divided internally into three compartments - the front had two buckets, and the middle/back each had a kind of wrap-around sofa feature, with a glass partition between the second and third seats. Crazy!

Here are some other angles, stolen by me from somewhere (I've forgotten unfortunately). That is one cool station wagon!

Also on display at some point inside the pavilion were a number of humorous scenes showing how automobiles had become such an integral part of American culture through the years.

There were also historic Ford vehicles on display, such as this Quadricycle. As you can see, this one was, "...built by Henry Ford's hands in 1896. It's a pretty elegant little car!


By special request, here is the other interior from the Carousel of Progress. It is very dark as you can see, and any further adjustments resulted in a grainy mess. Still, you can see Father loafing in his chair while Mother slaves away at a hot iron in one of the side tableaus. You can just see the robin outside the window, supposedly also used in "Mary Poppins".

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knott's, October 1975

Let's go to Knott's!

It's picture time for two little girls who want to pose with Handsome Brady and Whiskey Bill. Looks like the building behind them was repainted, but it was easier to just leave a big unpainted spot behind the boys. Or maybe the darker wood made for a more practical backdrop for photos.

This statue represents a fellow named "Seldom Seen Slim", even though he was seen by millions of people over the years. The plaque reads: SELDOM SEEN SLIM, 1892 - 1963. HE WAS A REAL HERMIT. SLIM (CHARLES J. FERGE) SPENT NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AS THE ONLY RESIDENT OF BALLARAT. A DESERT GHOST TOWN. A GOLD PROPECTOR, HE CALLED HIMSELF "HALF COYOTE AND HALF WILD BURRO." That's a pretty cute story, but why is he immortalized at Knott's? Why not me? I'm half coyote, half raccoon, and half monkey.

These last two are real snoozers, although I still like the bits of the old Ghost Town that are evident. That city slicker is mighty interested in that old mule. Maybe a bit too interested, if you catch my drift.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Matterhorn, April 1966

I'm feeling lazy today. Even blinking is just too much of a bother. Anyway, here's a brief post for you...

Doesn't it look like the Matterhorn has two giant nostrils? Try not to think about it.

Notice all of the expansion joints, at least that's what I assume those jigsaw pieces represent. I would imagine that the concrete shell of the Matterhorn must move quite a bit from a cool morning to a hot summer day (or even due to wind loads), and some smart cookie realized that it would crack to pieces unless allowances were made.

I just blinked.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Periodically I have to do a bit of cleanup when going through my scans, and I usually find a few orphaned images. Here are three of 'em.

This is a nice picture (1963) of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Oh yes it is, how dare you contradict me! Go to your room! Some guy is waving to us in the distance, while the little girl in the pink top is crying because her mom wouldn't buy her a balloon. Happiness; sadness. It's all about balance.

Remember that story of how the Disneyand Band was staying in that hotel and they totally trashed it? Musicians! They're all crazy. Hey, see if you can find the Secret Service agent in the crowd.

Looks like this sub is ready to take on a fresh load of passengers. Funny how we never see passengers exiting. Oh well, I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation. Let's go have another hamburger!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Subba Bubba, April 1966

I have heard that, at some point, the concept of a glass-bottom boat ride was considered for Disneyland. The idea evolved into the beloved Submarine Voyage, which after all really is a kind of glass-bottom boat! But way cooler and much more clever.

Here's a nice shot taken from the Skyway, a view which includes the Motor Boat Cruise, the Autopia, and a Monorail beamway. Even from this height you can see at least three sea turtles (none of them named Crush).

This is probably the worst abalone infestation that I've seen in a long time. This lagoon will need to be tented and fumigated.

Here we can see some of the colorful fish that inhabit the reef, and I even know their names. Bob, Trudy, and Albert. Pleased to meetcha!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


It's time for another edition of POSTERAMA! I'm down to just a few more examples, so enjoy 'em while they last.

The "Alice in Wonderland" attraction did not debut until 1958, but it was a fine addition to Fantasyland. This poster is not super rare, I am assuming that it was produced through several printings. There is a scarce variant with the word "Fantasyland" at the bottom, I sure wish I had one of those! I've heard the theory that the versions without the "Fantasyland" were intended to be placed on top of the mushroom, which you can see here. I guess that sort of makes sense, since the bottom would be blocked - but why not make one version even if you can't see the word?

Anyway, I've been told that the poster was designed by the legendary Claude Coates (can anybody confirm this?), and it manages to capture some of the manic charm of the ride; in the upper left, the White Rabbit peers down the rabbit hole while Alice, looking alarmed, is surrounded by swirling images of characters from Wonderland.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Four More From April 1966

By golly, this lot of slides from April 1966 just never seems to end. And there are a lot more to come! So I figured that I'd post a few of the less-spectacular images today even though they are still worth a look.

Here's a general view of Fantasyland from as seen from the Pirate Ship, on a busy (but not too busy) day. I like the little ticket booth!

Presumably this view is from taken from an upper deck of the Mark Twain. From this vantage point, we can spy on the raft pilots and record all of their most confidential rafting secrets, which we will then sell to the Russians.

Here's a beautiful shot of Skull Rock. When I win the lottery, the shower in my master bathroom is going to look just like this.

And finally, we wave goodbye to the passengers on the Mark Twain as it heads around the bend past the Haunted Mansion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Progressland, NYWF 1964

Today I get to combine two of my favorite subjects; the New York World's Fair, and Disney. Here are two great photos from General Electric's Progressland!

In spite of the long line (and it is long!), the sign says that there is only a 20 minute wait. That's nothing! And look, the show itself is 45 minutes. How can you resist? A graveyard of strollers and wheelchairs sits by the sign. The domed building looks even more impressive up close, with all of those curves that just weren't possible with older modes of construction. The whole thing makes you excited for the future - - particularly the next 45 minutes or so!

Well, for all of that futurism outside, the "Carousel of Progress" spends quite a bit of time in the past. Here's a rare interior from the 1940's segment of the show, with its kitchen full of great vintage General Electric appliances that made life better for everyone. Father sits at the Formica table eating a sandwich (liverwurst says I!). The curved scrim to the right has painted details that probably looked pretty convincing when not lit by a camera flash; when the lights went down on stage and ON behind the scrim, the cloth became all but invisible and revealed a scene with Mother putting up wallpaper. Or was it daughter Jane at her exercise machine?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two Treehouses, April 1966

There's just something about having a house up in a tree! It's not for everyone of course. Swiss families like them, I'm told. As do adventurous boys. But I'm sure that many of you are neither boys nor Swiss, and you'd still like to have one.

Chip is just starting his way up the stairs to the first level of rooms on the Swiss Family Treehouse. I can hear that Swisskapolka now! That giant fig tree's air roots provide some handy additional support for staircases and a Rube Goldberg plumbing system that is a kinetic work of art (did Rolly Crump have anything to do with its design I wonder?). I used to love to try to identify the pieces of the wrecked ship that had been salvaged and incorporated into the arboreal abode.

Here's the perfect treehouse for boy adventurers like Chip or Tom Sawyer. Tom Sawyer did not do things in a small way, so he built an actual staircase rather than nailing pieces of lath or bits of boards into the trunk for a makeshift ladder. The house itself is made entirely of scrounged crates that were plentiful near the steamboat docks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Knott's Photos

Well, if all has gone according to plan, I should be at Knott's Berry Farm today! It's the big "Knott's Preserved" event, and the first time I've been to Knott's in so many years that I don't even want to say. I expect it to be drastically changed, but look forward to revisiting whatever remains of the old Knott's. And who knows, maybe I'll even meet a few of you while I'm there.

Here's a nice vintage photo of one of the trains; I sure wish our photographer had panned a bit to the left, because we would probably be looking at the Calico Mine Train ride still under construction. I'm sure they thought that they wanted to avoid all that ugly scaffolding!

If you're gonna ride the train, you have to have a ticket. Just like in real life! Just head on over to the ticket office and pick up a few (one for you, one for your pal, and one to keep in unused mint condition). Even though this slide is dated June 1967, it is clear that it was taken about six months before that. There are Christmas wreaths on the building, and folks are wearing sweaters and jackets to ward the chill off.

And finally I have this undated slide showing the old General Store. It might date from the 50's, or even the late 40's (the slide itself looks old!). It amazes me to see how dilapidated the upper stories are, but it is a ghost town after all.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Storyland, 1957

Here's the second part of our look at Storyland, in The Granite State (aka New Hampshire). See part one here.

Everyone knows the story of Jack and the Beanstalk; and here you can see Jack himself, armed with a hatchet that he used to chop down that beanstalk. The little girl is standing on the corpse of the fallen giant; but just what part of his anatomy that is, well... I'm not sure I want to know.

That sure is a crooked house. I've lived in worse! The crookedness is accentuated by the crazy paint scheme.

There's Miss Muffet, sitting on a tuffet (whatever the hell that is). Somehow she did not notice the huge spider, dripping venom and covered in thousands of tiny pale (but equally deadly) babies. Today is a good day to die, Miss Muffet.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Main Street Stuff, April 1966

We're back to Main Street today, starting with this great photo of Erik, the hideous villain from "The Phantom of the Opera". I assume that the cast member is wearing one of those rubber masks made by the venerable Don Post; it's a pretty good likeness too. My guess is that he is pretending to be a dummy in this photo, ready to jump and scare the bejesus out of some poor shnook. I wonder if the monster craze of the mid-1960's was responsible for the Phantom (and sometimes Mr. Hyde) being here?

There's Chip and his mom, they managed to get a table at the crowded Carnation Corner. Mom's enjoying a nice smoke (I say it's a menthol Viriginia Slim), and really, what goes better with a cup of coffee? Chip is anxiously awaiting his grilled cheese sammich. Meanwhile there is something disturbing about this picture, something inexplicably evil...

... I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

General Motors Futurama, 1964 NYWF

If I had a time machine and could go back to the 1964 New York World's Fair, there are many attractions and pavilions that I'd love to see. But General Motors' "Futurama" would be way up near the top of the list!

Check out this beautiful night shot of the impressively HUGE (110 feet high) leaning facade (look here for another perspective), made even more striking because of the dramatic lighting.

In the display area there were, of course, many General Motors automobiles to admire. But it was experimental cars such as this super-cool Firebird IV that made gramps look so thrilled (ha ha)! It looks like it should have been atomic ("Very atomic!".... anybody? anybody?) but in fact was to be powered by a gas turbine engine. You wouldn't even have to drive the thing when you were on the highway, since it would do the work for you while you ate a big plate of ribs.

Now for a somewhat rare interior of the ride itself; this delightful machine is a veritable factory on wheels; it will grind up those pesky forests and leave behind a fully paved roadway! I know I would rather have less forests and more roads ANY day.

Here's one of the futuristic cities that will be built as a result of those new roads. If nothing else it would be the perfect place to film a remake of "Logan's Run".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Indian Chief at Knott's

Disneyland has had many costumed characters wandering the park, giving happy guests a chance for a special photo, a record of one of the highlights of that particular day.

Knott's Berry Farm had the occasional prospector to pose with, although I haven't seen too many images of him. But if you wanted a photo with a "genuine" Indian chief, then you were in luck. The kid in this 1958 photo looks like he just stepped out of an episode of "Leave it to Beaver". And let's face it, the chief would look weird with a big grin. He is stone-faced just the way he should be.

Now for a color image from approximately the same time (maybe even earlier?), with the Bottle House behind our chief. He's working with props this time, a tom-tom and a plastic-tipped spear. The ladies in the background are a little intimidated by his proud gaze.

These last two are from 1966, and our chief's face is more heavily lined, and his expression is somehow even more stony than before. But he is kind to babies, like this one wearing the beaded headband.

I wonder if he just autographed that postcard? "To Bob - Don't take any wooden nickels! Love, the Chief".