Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walt Disney World Autopia, June 1982

Today I've got two great views of Florida's version of the Autopia - known as the "Grand Prix Raceway". As you can see, the cars look very much the same as Disneyland's did for so many years, only WDW's sport snazzy racing stripes and numbers. Notice also that the spoilers on the cars are emblazoned with the name of the attraction's sponsor, Goodyear. I wonder how many zillions of little tires they provided in a typical year? In the distance, the WEDway PeopleMover.

Check out the painted flames on that car! That's the one that I want to drive. Please kick that little girl out, I insist. She'll get over it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunshine Springs, Florida - 1956

When I first found today's photos, I was certain that they were from Cypress Gardens, Florida - famous for their water skiing shows. But of course that little sign on the ramp tells us that this is actually Sunshine Springs! Sunshine Springs and Gardens in Sarasota opened in 1955, obviously trying to compete with the already established and successful Cypress Gardens, which had been around since 1936. They had a swan boat tour through 20 acres of lush gardens, and "aquabelles" performing on a 20 acre man-made lake.

There's something you don't see every day! A lady riding a (fake) white horse on water skis. Ooookay. This must have been the grand finale, since I've seen a souvenir flyer with this act on the cover. But they did have a real water skiing baby elephant!! Neither act was enough to keep Sunshine Springs in business; the park closed after just four years in 1959.

We'll always miss you, Sunshine Springs!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

3-D in 2-D!

It's time for more fun with vintage Viewmasters!

Here's a nice low-angle view of the fishing bears in (where else) Bear Country. Just once they'd like a chili cheeseburger and onion rings.

This one didn't come out very good for some reason, but you can kind of make out a few industrious beavers (is there one just visible beneath the water?) building a dam. This dam will supply electricity to over 100,000 homes.

Mama eagle is not too happy that the bobcat has decided to drop by without calling first. Fortunately she just happened to be cooking some pizza rolls, which bobcats love. Her babies are safe - for now!

After a trip through Nature's Wonderland, I like to go see a not-very-naughty show at the Golden Horseshoe.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fanta Sealand, March 1958

Spinning teacups, eh? Whose idea was that anyway? This classic attraction has been making people dizzy for 55 years. Stories of barfing are probably greatly exaggerated, since folks prone to motion sickness tend to stay off of this thing. Wisely. I was happy to see that I could get the cup spinning pretty fast during my last visit!

I know, I know, it's that darn castle again. What am I supposed to do? I have boxes full of these things.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Frontierland Stuff, August 1957

Both of today's photos are from the same lot, and yet one appears to be cloudy and stormy, while the other has a cloudless blue sky. I can't explain it. Maybe the photographer visited the park two days in a row. Anyway, here's the entrance to Frontierland; nothing too remarkable about it. There appears to be a bit of scaffolding (or something) if you look just below the "Frontierland" sign, to the right. Any theories?

Those darn neighbor kids are always accidentally throwing their moose antlers on to the roof of the mill. Well too darn bad, I'm not getting my ladder again. When I was a boy, I was taught to be careful with my moose antlers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Who is in the mood for a parade?!

Today's photos (from 1964) were found in a small lot of slides... a few of them were labeled "Macy's Parade", and that's really all I have to go on. But I'm confused! This looks like upstate New York, or out in Orange County, New Jersey, or someplace like that. Where are the skyscrapers and giant balloons? It can't be the same parade that we all know and love... can it?

First up is this photo of a typical hobo clown driving a beat up old clunker. Oh, it looks chilly, doesn't it? I see a big alarm bell on the side of the car, and what might be horns on the front, so that vehicle probably made a racket. I hope the hound dog had earplugs.

Now we're talkin'! It's the Munster Koach! One of the coolest TV cars ever. "The Munsters" had premiered in September of 1964. There's car designer George Barris up front, head poking above the wind screen. Obviously the folks in Munster makeup are not the original castmembers, which is kind of a bummer.

Here's a shot of George Barris sitting in another one of his creations, the Batmobile. He also designed the Monkeemobile and the Beverly Hillbillie's car!

Here's a screen grab from a YouTube video showing that Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis (Herman and Grandpa) really did appear in the big city version of Macy's parade.

Check it out!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fantasyland 1957

Here are two great Fantasyland photos from 1957!

King Arthur's Carrousel is mostly in shadow on this bright sunny day, which makes for an interesting framing device for the scene in the background. Most of the ladies still have their poofy skirts, but you can see some pedal pushers if you look carefully. A sign of the changing times! You can also see a balloon vendor with those Mickey Mouse "ear balloons", the kind in which the ears are black.

Now we're looking through one of the castle's side archways (I think this is the one that would lead you to Frontierland) towards Merlin's Magic Shop.

Stay tuned for more great photos from this lot!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Colorado Gold Rush Centennial, July 1959 - Part 2

Here are a few more photos from the Gold Rush Centennial held in downtown Denver in 1959. See the first group of photos here.

The Centennial had a beauty of a stagecoach... was there a company somewhere that manufactured stagecoaches for all of the western-style amusement parks all over the country? Too bad this one sat there as a static display. Look, a Dolly Madison ice cream store; I thought Dolly just made snack cakes for Charlie Brown and his pals. Mmmmm, Zingers!

"Andy Anderson - Gun Smith"! It's the new hit TV series that everyone is talking about. Andy builds and fixes guns while dispensing frontier wisdom from his work bench. Betty White makes a cameo this week as Andy's wacky but lovable Aunt Millie.

Somehow I would expect City Hall to look a bit more grand. Instead it looks like a place you could buy some nightcrawlers (for bait, not to eat). There sure are a lot of people apparently waiting to buy marriage licenses. Meanwhile, remember telephone booths?

Right next door to City Hall is the Livery Stable. Mmmm, livery and onions.

Tommy ruins yet another family portrait. I see military school in his future.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Gold Rush Centennial!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Casa De Fritos & Canoe, March 1958

I have two beauties from Frontierland '58 for you today!

Let's start with this neat photo of a stylish mom (why the bandaged wrist?) and her mopey kid posing in front of the Casa de Fritos restaurant. I love the variety of clothing, from the snazzy kid to the right with his trilby hat, to the woman behind him looking like she just came from church, to the mother in capri pants, and her casual family (except for her kid to the left wearing a shirt and tie). Meanwhile, our main mom looks great in her hat and painter's smock. Very Betsy Wyeth. And doesn't the restaurant look great too?

This might be my favorite photo of a Disneyland canoe ever. Such an interesting low angle (taken from another canoe?). The water is so glassy, and the moose has managed to be just at the right place. Way to go, moose! You can see that some folks are concentrating on their paddling technique, while others are distracted by the sights. A few can give equal time to both! If only this picture had been taken with a stereo camera...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Round The World's Fair - 1964

Let's visit some more international pavilions, shall we?

Here's a beautiful photo of Malaysia's building. Remember those old commercials in which they tried to entice tourists to come to Malaysia with pretty girls making goo-goo eyes at the camera? You don't see those anymore. ... There are scale models of a tin mine and of the Parliament House of the 14 Federated States of Malaysia. Reflecting the country's industry and commerce are exhibits of rubber, timber and tin. Films of Malaysian scenes are shown on the hour, and there is a collection of national art works.

Japan: Side by side with some of the world's most advanced microscopes and industrial machines are charming evidences of the quiet rural Japan of a century ago. Judo tournaments, fashion shows and dance programs are held on an outdoor stage. There are also a restaurant, a snack bar and a roof garden that serves Japanese beer. Where do they sell cool Japanese tin toys?

A proposed French pavilion was never built, but there was one for "The Pavilion of Paris and French Industry". It looks sort of unfinished here, maybe it was just modern and minimalist. Gaily colored flags of the French provinces hang from the walls in this privately sponsored pavilion. Parisian boutiques sell perfumes, gourmet foods and other luxury items for which the city is famous. A kiosk carries French newspapers and paperback books, and an art gallery sells original oils.

The Sky Ride passes right over Korea's pavilion! The pavilion houses products of Korea's rebuilt industries and displays of the nation's artistic and cultural past. Waitresses dressed in flowing silk robes serve the delicacies of a cuisine that dates back more than 2,000 years

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Indian Village Fever

I'm working on a screenplay for a version of "Saturday Night Fever". In my version, a young working-class Native American kid finds his only joy by dancing at the Disneyland dance circle. This story has everything. Romance! Laffs! Wisecracking robots!

But our Indian hero learns a lot about life along the way, and in the end he leaves Disneyland to work at Knott's Berry Farm. It'll be in 3-D!

Those people on the suspension bridge are not dancing nor are they Indians.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mickey & More, February 1969

Here's a fun shot of Mickey Mouse greeting a few fans in front of the Bank of America. Even the little girl with the Donald Duck hat likes Mickey! Apparently, popcorn sales were up on this sunny February day. Drinking fountain alert: could that be the same one that used to support bags of C&H sugar nearby?

I was at an event fairly recently in which Mickey Mouse made an appearance, and it was kind of amazing to watch the room full of adults suddenly smiling, applauding, and clearly genuinely happy to see him. And I was impressed with the way Mickey could interact so fully with guests in spite of his reliance on pantomime.

Boy oh boy, look how deserted Town Square appears here!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Disneyland Hotel, 1965

I wish I had something smart or interesting to say about today's photos of the Disneyland Hotel. But I don't.

They are from stereo slides, I guess that's interesting! If you enlarge this first photo and rub your face against your computer's monitor, you will have good luck for nearly 1 minute. But... which minute?? Notice the sign for radio station KEZY. I can still hear their call-letter jingle in my head ("Kay-ezee-whyyyyy!"); over and over until I go mad!

You know what's wrong with the Monorail? Nothing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Calico Mine Train Exterior, mid-60's?

The Calico Mine Train is my favorite attraction at Knott's Berry Farm. There, I said it! Someday, when I run for President, this scandalous opinion will come back to haunt me, but I'll just have to live with it.

Today's photos are from two strangely faded and discolored slides that I have attempted to restore.

The show building for the Mine Train is pretty huge, and even though the rockwork is pretty funky, I love it. It almost looks as if it has painted "snow" on it here, doesn't it? I'm not sure I've ever noticed that before. Maybe it's just the result of my half-assed Photoshop meddling.

Over the years, scenes have been altered and effects have been removed (or did they just stop working?), but it is still a fantastic attraction that not only takes me through the wonders of underground lakes, glowing stalactites and stalagmites, and hearty miners working under dangerous conditions for precious gold - - it takes me back to my childhood.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Main Street '56 Views

Here are scans from two stereo slides, circa 1956.

Main Street looks freshly scrubbed (or steam cleaned) in this bright sunny picture. An industrious employee polishes the fender of the Carnation truck; he's wearing a spotless apron, does that mean that he would later be scooping ice cream for guests?

The Opera House is one of my favorite buildings on Main Street. There is not too much about it that is exceptional - until you get to that wonderfully ornate pediment! It looks like the top of a Chippendale desk. The masks representing comedy and tragedy are beautifully sculpted, and it all feels very authentic... a real tribute to the craftsmen who built Disneyland with such care and artistry.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Blog reader Connie was nice enough to send me a photo that she took of the Opera House from May of this year. I love comparing old photos to new, and there is certainly a lot to take in. I am ashamed to admit that I walked right past the House and didn't even notice the gilding. It sure is fancy - but maybe not very authentic? Please make a note of all the changes and write a 25 page essay. I want your margins to be neat and be sure to use footnotes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stan Kenton, Freedomland 1964

Before I get to the picture of the day, I thought I'd mention that I had the pleasure of meeting the world famous blogger and commenter Connie yesterday. Hi Connie!

Today's image was in a small group of stereo slides; about a dozen of them were labeled "World's Fair", but they are really from Freedomland! They are pretty terrible, actually - except for this one, which is clear and colorful (and gives a remarkable sense of 3-D when looked at through the proper viewer).

Stan Kenton and his band are performing on a modest stage with whimsical cartoons of musicians painted on the back, while a small crowd gathers. Stan himself is barely in the photo, you can just see him partially obscured in shadow to the extreme left. My dad was always a big fan of Stan Kenton, I can still remember the covers on some of the 78 rpm disks from his college days!

Sadly, this was Freedomland's last year of operation. I just know the Russkies are to blame somehow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Main Street & Matterhorn, Sept. 1967

It's late summer, and a warm late afternoon in 1967 in today's photos. This first shot gives a look down a very busy Main Street. Seems like an awful lot of backs are towards us, which might mean that families are heading home after a fun day. There's nothing really that extraordinary to see in this picture, and yet I like it a lot.

Was a Matterhorn ever planned for Walt Disney World? I think I've seen artwork for a proposed version at EPCOT, but I'm not sure about the Magic Kingdom. Anyway, I'm glad that Disneyland has the only one; it makes it just that much more special! In the foreground, a family trudges past the Monsanto Home of the Future...

.... might as well take a closer look at the little path (entrance? exit?), since the house would close forever in just a few months. Although we can only see a small portion of it, the mature landscaping adds a touch of beauty that was absent in earlier photos.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sea World, November 1964

There are several "Sea World" amusement parks around the US, but the one in San Diego was the first, having opened in March of 1964. So today's photos were taken just 8 months later! I like Sea World just fine, but admit that I haven't been to it for many years. You find pictures of it fairly regularly, mostly dophins, pilot whales, and killer whales in mid-jump. Happily, these two are different.

Does anybody know anything about the area behind this happy couple? It is themed with Japanese-style architecture, and looks pretty great actually. Lots of warm varnished wood and plenty of paper lanterns. Maybe it's a restaurant. "Dolphin dogs" and "whale burgers"? My favorite thing about this photo: the woman's fuzzy hat.

Gene and Ralph look around with critical eyes (they approve), while Doris (of fuzzy hat fame) sets a brisk pace out front. I love that modern, swoopy-roofed building. I wonder if anything from Sea World '64 still survives?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Viewmaster and the Mine Train

Welcome back to another edition of "Viewmaster Theater". I hope you have your smoking jacket on and a nice glass of sherry in your hand. Today I am featuring a few photos of the Mine Train.

Let's start with this great pre-1960 view of the little train as it enters the saguaro forest. In the background, you can see the magnificent rock formations, caused by eons of water and wind erosion. Some of those formations are unstable, and cause boulders to tumble precariously as we pass. If you make mom sit on the left side of the train car, chances are good that a boulder will land on her and spare your life. A word to the wise.

There's some of those unstable rock formations! The prospector who also happens to pilot our train is telling the boy that everybody else in the train is doomed, DOOMED! That lucky kid, how many folks got to get out of the train during the ride?

Now it's post-1960 (the mine train is now a bright yellow). If you look closely you can see some rattlesnakes on a rock, as well as the bleached bones of a dinosaur. I wonder what brand of bleach is the best for whitening dinosaur bones? In the upper right you can see the hilltop that the photographer stood upon to take the first photo in this series.