Saturday, April 30, 2011

Special Guest Saturday!

Today's photos were generously provided by GDB reader Kurt Raymond! If his name sounds familiar, you've probably seen his amazing recreations/restorations of the original Fantasyland dark ride murals on Daveland's blog. See his work here, here, and here!

We'll start with this classic view of a classic attraction... the Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott's Berry Farm. It was brand new in 1970, having opened the previous year. I can't look at a photo of the Log Ride without wishing I was at Knott's right now.

The rest of the photos are from Sea World in San Diego, circa 1971. There's Kurt's mom, looking fashionable in her groovy 1970's outfit! Orange, yellow and white was a popular color combination for a few years.

I have vague memories of a show like this at Sea World - maybe this exact show! Look at that elephant seal, those things are scary. But apparently they'll do anything for a few fish. I'll bet he was the bad guy in this drama. Notice the slide coming down from the upper story of that "barn", I'm assuming that some otters made a quick appearance.

The show was sponsored by RC Cola. Everybody's favorite! Notice the bed that a sleepy sea lion emerged from (hopefully that explains why it's wet), as well as the frontier-style shower. You can almost guess the simple western story just by looking at the set.

Many thanks to Kurt Raymond for the fun photos!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Universal Studios, September 1978

Today we'll take a look at 4 pictures from Universal Studios.

The "Collapsing Bridge" was added to the tram tour in 1974; as the tram attempted to cross the rickety structure, it would seem to give way and drop a few inches - enough to give the riders a good scare. The bridge became too rickety in real life, and was closed in 2006 until it could be refurbished. As of 2008 it reopened, but apparently it is closed again because King Kong: 360 3-D is now blocking it.

A herd of Glamour Trams rests peacefully in the Southern California sunshine (and smog), awaiting the next batch of passengers. I like the white and deep-pink color scheme, which somehow evokes old Hollywood.

The streets of New York look pretty sleepy right now; it swarms with trucks, lights, and people during an actual shoot. There have been so many fires at Universal Studios backlot over the years, I wonder if this street area exists in this form? Big budget productions would extend the buildings up using matte paintings for a more convincing "big city" ambiance.

Universal Studios loves their "animal actors". I'm not sure if this was strictly a bird show, or if there were other critters as well. In this case the guests were lucky to see a huge star, "Fred" the sulphur-crested cockatoo from "Baretta". Fred would almost certainly pick up that red phone in the background and say "hello" in his strange parroty voice (I can hear it now!)... life doesn't get any better than that, folks.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Century 21 Expo, September 1962

Hey! Ho! Let's Go! To Seattle and the "Century 21 Expo", that is.

I love this first shot with the Alweg Monorail station! An "Electricab" tour vehicle, looking charmingly clunky, passes by while all those other suckers have to walk.

Thar she blows, the Monorail itself! It's nowhere near as sexy as the Disneyland version, but I love it just the same.

Visitors purchase tickets at the base of the magnificent soaring Space Needle, waiting for their turn to ride up the elevator to the observation level, some 500 feet up. As you can see, they had to find something else to do for the next 45 minutes (unless they wanted to eat in the "Eye of the Needle" Restaurant - 90 minutes for them!). Why don't they just walk up the 832 steps?

I'll have more Century 21 pictures for you in a future post!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Freight Train & Town Square, 1958

Here's a couple of random photos from 1958, starting with this interesting view of the C.K. Holliday pulling the old cattle cars (for some reason I labeled this slide "1958 EP Ripley", but what can ya do). While it is a lovely view of the train, it is that vast expanse of dirt that is interesting to me. Was this the former site of Professor Keller's Jungle Killers? I'm not sure what would have been built here later. The Fantasyland Autopia?

It's around Christmas time, with Town Square decked out in wreaths and bells, and those painted plywood scenes, just visible on the Emporium. Crowds were light this sunny, beautiful day!

Jason Schultz of Disneyland Nomenclature blog fame has a new blog, "Drop In Again Sometime"; he'll be featuring his collection of photos of many hundreds of Disneyland signs and related items. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I thought I'd try to use up all of my current scans of the Mark Twain in one glorious post, thinking that I could perhaps go for weeks without posting another one. But it didn't work - I still have other scans ready to go. Oh well!

This first one from May of 1960 is a beauty... there is just nothing like Disneyland's Frontierland in its heyday. No wonder visitors were so camera-happy when they were there.

From 1958, the Twain is passing the shore where Cascade Peak would eventually sprout (in 1960). Nothin' but blue skies...

And now jumping forward 17 years to 1975, just look at how lush and verdant the river has become. The trees all but obscure Cascade Peak from this angle, and the steamboat looks like it can juuust squeeze between the trees along the shore.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Skyway Views, 1960

Here are two nice Skyway photos, one taken right after the other - but facing different directions.

In this first pic, we're heading towards the Skyway Chalet in Fantasyland, with the Alice in Wonderland attraction directly below us (out of frame). The blue and white-striped tent of a Fantasyland eatery is to the lower right; you can spot all the other familiar attractions!

Our photographer quickly turned around and snapped this photo looking back toward the Matterhorn. Everything is bright and colorful - what a difference it makes to have the sun at your back when taking a picture!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Knott's Log Ride, March 1977

Today's photos from Knott's Berry Farm feature the wonderful Timber Mountain Log Ride. Boy oh boy, did I love that ride when I was a kid! And it's still there; some of the scenery could use a little TLC, but the ride is definitely worth checking out!

The Log Ride opened in 1969 and was an instant smash. I'm noticing what appears to be a bunch of eucalyptus trees that have had their branches removed - for subsequent removal? - over to the right. Many more would follow, unfortunately.

One last look...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pirate Ship Sails

We've all seen countless photos of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. And I'd say that at least half of them (maybe more) show the masts and spars devoid of sails, or the sails are furled. Of course it looks best when the red and white striped sails are unfurled and catching the easterly breeze! In this first photo, the ship seems to have wandered into the doldrums.

If you look closely at the sails in the 1956 photo, you can see numerous patches and repairs after only one year of existence. Fresh white stripes alternate with older brownish cloth; and my favorite is the half-assed repair with the little flap of red and white cloth at the top of one sail. The sails were replaced on occasion (I can almost swear that I've seen at least one photo in which the sails are black and white rather than red and white), but at some point these huge pieces of cloth must have been deemed too expensive to constantly maintain.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Skyway, 1961

Here's a terrific (and unusual) view of the Tomorrowland Skyway station as seen from one of the old buckets. We're heading towards Fantasyland; our photographer is facing backwards in order to see the fella in the red shirt. The Space Bar is to our right, and the Autopia is to our left.

I love this shot, passing through the caves of the Matterhorn with Fantasyland below us! One thing puzzles me though. The man in the red shirt, in bucket # 15 now seems to be heading towards Tomorrowland. Or am I completely discombobulated? I knew I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

3 From Nature's Wonderland, January 1974

Here are a few scenes from the wonderful Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. This ride would only be around for another three years after these photos were taken!

"Bear Country" was a favorite of mine, in large part because the mine train crossed above the scenery on a trestle that was probably only about 20 feet high - but it felt higher! Below you would see bears fishin' and scratchin'.

Geysers, bubbling pots of colored mud, and strange weathered rock formations were all part of the Living Desert.

Our photographer almost missed this bobcat - one of several bobcats visible throughout the ride (there was another trapped atop a saguaro by wild pigs, and another attempting to get at an owl's nest). Was there another one that I am forgetting about?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dutch Wonderland! July 1967

Today we're going to visit Dutch Wonderland, near romantic Lancaster Pennsylvania! The park was started by a potato farmer named Earl Clark, who personally built the stone façade for the castle seen in this first photo. The park is 48 acres and has amusements aimed at families and kids, and it debuted in 1963.

Yep, that's for kids alright! There were seemingly dozens of "Mother Goose" themed parks around the country, and Dutch Wonderland clearly used many of the same concepts, such as this giant shoe slide. I'd rather have a shoe phone, but I'm a loner and a rebel.

Please don't tell me that this giant soft pretzel counts as an attraction! Still, this young miss seems to be enjoying it. Tell everyone it was designed by Claes Oldenburg. The little cottage in the background? I say that it was the baños.

You know what's wrong with city kids these days? Don't get me started! One thing is that they have never known the joy of milking a fiberglass cow. Why do you think they do drugs and wear crocs?

You could take a relaxing stroll through manicured gardens and enjoy miniatures of some of Europe's famous sights (much like Madurodam). Here you can see the Leaning Tower of Pizza and the Waffle Tower.

Dutch Wonderland has a Monorail, and while I don't have any photos of it, you can see the beamway here.

Might as well show a postcard of the monorail so that you don't cry!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Skyfari, San Diego Zoo, 1973

It seems that "Skyway"-type rides have almost vanished from amusement parks all over the country; possible reasons include the fact that they are not wheelchair accessible, and that riders had a tendency to drop pennies, or spit, or otherwise misbehave while passing over guest's heads.

However, there is still a "gondola lift" attraction at the world famous San Diego Zoo, called The Skyfari. It was built in 1969 by the Von Roll tram company of Switzerland. Von Roll was also responsible for the Skyway at Disneyland, as well as Pacific Ocean Park, the '64 New York World's Fair (and other Fairs), Astroworld, and MANY more. Today's photos are from 1973

You just can't beat a skyway for views of any park! I think those are seals down there in that pool, although they might be giant carnivorous slugs from Tasmania.

In the summer, you can ride the Skyfari at night, which I pretty much want to do RIGHT NOW.

You can take a ride with total strangers right here!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Frontierland, October 1975

The most interesting thing (to me) about this first photo is just how lush and abundant the plants on Tom Sawyer Island have become. The Old Mill has nearly vanished beneath the riotous growth of trees and vines. Compare this photo with today's!

Again, a familiar scene that looks quite different thanks to the profusion of reeds and other water plants at the shore... you'd hardly know that there was water there. See this photo from 1961 for contrast.

These pod people have been proliferating as well. They look like us, but they are strangely emotionless. Notice how their hive minds work so well together when paddling one of Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adventureland, March 1961

I posted a photo of this unusual tiki once before, and an anonymous commenter doubted that it was even from Disneyland. But now I have proof that it WAS. Huzzah! That being said, this stern looking fellow, whittled from the corpse of an old palm tree, must not have been at the park for very long.

Here's a familiar view from the queue of the world famous Jungle Cruise. Looks like it's almost our turn. I've always liked those faux-bamboo trash cans!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dumbo, 1957

Dumbo's Flying Elephants is one of those classic attractions dating back to the earliest days of Disneyland; charming and simple, its appeal has not waned in over 55 years (demonstrated by the fact that they will have twin Dumbo rides in Florida when their Fantasyland refurbishment is finished).

Today's photos were taken by a proud papa - in fact these are just two of five pictures of the airborne pachyderms. I'll post the others someday! This first picture is wonderful, with a happy mom and kid sitting, with crazy-colorful Fantasyland behind them. It's hard to tell, but this might have been taken while the ride was in motion.

This is my second favorite view, with Dumbo soaring through the air, and the deep blue sky (and Skyway buckets) behind. His trunk seems to be posed to hold a magic feather, and yet there is none. Did you know that Dumbo was designed by the great animator Bill Tytla, who was inspired by his own infant son Peter?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Freedomland, July 1962 - Part One

It's been a while since we've visited New York's Freedomland (the east coast rival to Disneyland, located in the north Bronx area). I'll have three posts consisting of a small group of slides that I found recently. There's nothing extraordinary, but it's always nice to take a look around this park that only lasted four years before closing.

Here's a photo of the Old Chicago Train Station; of the three stations (one in San Francisco, and one in Little Old New York), this one seems to be the least photographed for some reason. The statues surrounding the flagpole are an interesting touch. To the extreme right is the Fire House, and just in front of it is a sign announcing the next performance of the Chicago Fire attraction.

Walt Disney tried having a circus at Disneyland, and the idea was one of the early failures at the park. I wonder if the George Hamid, Jr. Circus at Freedomland fared any better? To the extreme left is a chintzy bandstand (for lack of a better word) for the Freedomland Circus Band.

I like signage, and you don't see much from Freedomland... check out this example for the American Express Overland Stage (and see some photos of it here and here)! Like Disneyland, Freedomland's Stage Coach keeled over at least once, injuring a number of guests.

Look out for part two of this series - comin' atcha!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leftuggies Again

It's time for some more leftuggies - images that didn't quite make it into a regular post, but are still worth a look.

Yes, even this view of the Friendly Indian Village is nice, thanks to the fact that it's so darn old (probably 1956-ish). The Shiniest Boy in the World is not standing on that overturned canoe yet. Back in the good old days, the Disneyland Railroad track passed surprisingly close to the Village, right at the base of the berm.

The Flower Mart was a great place to pick up chicks. Except for the day this photo was taken! Just visible near that street lamp is the window dedicated to Walt Disney's grandson, Christopher D. Miller. Also notice the lady at the cash register, pretending to be busy.

This Peoplemover view is less than spectacular, but I love it just the same. I've always wondered if the track had a number or uphill and downhill sections in order to demonstrate the Peoplemover's potential use in real-world situations.