Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's a Small World, January 1975

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears. You said it, Sherman brothers! "It's a Small World" makes some of us smile, and brings some of us to tears. It makes me itchy, but I like being itchy. In 1975, Bank of America really needed you to know that they were the sponsors of this attraction. I can understand why some folks find the sign to be a bit much; at the same time, it's a detail that takes me back to the years before I became jaded and cynical and full of ennui. I especially remember the signs as your boat exited the ride. "Bank of America" = a ride I love at Disneyland.

It's so bright and sunny that the jackets and hats look a bit out of place. Check out the teenager, he is clearly NOT keeping his hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. Mere seconds after this photo was taken, his finger was ripped off when it got caught in a crevice and the boat kept on going. We warned you, punk! So much for your career as a concert pianist.

Not many people realize that this is a topiary of a balloon giraffe. The ears are a dead giveaway. I still love the topiaries, especially the sea serpent (not seen here, unfortunately).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Posterama 19

Avast, ye swabs!

Today I'm sharing a photo of my Pirates of the Caribbean poster. Arrrrr! If you compare this example to the other original silkscreened posters, you'll see that it is quite different, stylistically. Instead of the bold, simple shapes and colors of the 50's and early 60's, this poster appears to mimic the style of Marc Davis' pen and ink sketches. Perhaps it was supposed to look like an old engraving.

The background has an interesting gradation from dark amber on the edges to a lighter orange in the middle. Not sure how they achieved this effect via silkscreening, since I don't detect any kind of dot pattern; it's as smooth as can be. Some examples of this poster are quite a bit darker on the edges. Notice the subtle gray map in the background as well. The fearsome pirate holds a cutlass and a flintlock pistol - all the better to defend his treasure chest.

That chest strongly resembles one seen in Howard Pyle's famous "Book of Pirates". The WK stands for William Kidd (aka "Captain Kidd"), one of the most notorious pirates in history (or an unjustly persecuted privateer, depending on who you believe).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Along the River, January 1960

The Strawhatters perform in the little bandstand that used to be right on the river in Frontierland, and a respectable crowd has gathered to hear the jazz & dixieland tunes. For some reason I find the little dirt trails along the bank to be kind of interesting; obviously maintenance crews walked those areas enough to wear a path away.

I wonder if Tom Sawyer Island was closed? The rafts all seem to be out of commission. Injun Joe was probably seen skulking around with a knife in his hand! The Plantation House is out of the frame to our left, and the Columbia is in Fowler's Harbor as usual.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two From '57

Here are two sorta random images from 1957.

First up, Zorro and some dude (Captain Monastario?) are fighting it out on top of the Mark Twain. Zorro thinks Superman could beat Batman, and Monastario thinks that Batman would beat Superman. It always ends in violence. Is that guy to the right filming the fight?

A simple flower bed grows in the middle of the hub where the "Partners" statue now stands. As some of you already know, I prefer the flowers!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dumbo, 1957 - Part two

The simple pleasures of whirling around in a circle continue to please new generations of Disneyland fans to this day. I'm occasionally mystified by the long lines, but I guess it is a "must do" for parents with small children. In 1957, the attraction was a mere two years old. Here's a Dumbii high over head...

... and now he's taxiing for a landing...

... safe and sound back on terra firma.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Anything Goes" Saturday - Reno, 1960

This week's "Anything Goes" installment takes us to Reno, Nevada, in 1960. Also known as "The Biggest Little City in the World", Reno is famous for its casinos. Before 1950, it was the gambling capitol of the United States (and the place to get a quickie divorce).

The photo was taken along Virginia Street, and shows the modest scale of the casinos, even when compared to the Las Vegas casinos of the 50's. However, the signage is awesome! I love the li'l cartoon prospector who has struck it rich at The Nugget (notice the shiny golden nugget hanging over the entrance!). On your way to Club Prima Donna, you can stop by Tiny's and get a plate full of waffles. Mmmmm! Nothing like a night of gambling to help work up an appetite. I also like those tri-color taxis.

Sadly, due to a number of factors, Reno's casinos have fallen on hard times, and many of the most famous (Harold's Club, the Nevada Club, and the Horseshoe Club, to name a few) have folded - only to be converted into condos.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Freedomland, July 1962 - Part Three

Here is the final installment of photos from New York's Freedomland, circa 1962.

This park's aerial tramway was known as the Tucson Mining Company Ore Buckets; by 1962 they had been painted in cheerful "Lifesaver" colors, but they were originally a rusty red. (See another old image here).

Gliding on the ridge of that hill is Danny the Dragon, a trackless sort of train ride (I've been told that the vehicle followed some sort of magnetic cable that was underground, but don't really know). It looks great! There is still a working Danny the Dragon ride at Happy Hollow in San Jose (only that dragon is green)... I was lucky enough to experience it when my niece and nephew were tiny tots.

This is not the most exciting picture, but I find it interesting anyway! Look at that crude landscaping; nothing like you would have seen at Disneyland by 1962. Perhaps the harsh New York winters kept the trees and other plants from flourishing. I wonder what that kid is doing... fishing? He's holding a line that appears to be dangling in a small pond. Any guesses?

This one is for the ladies!

We'll see more of these hunks in a few future posts... but not at Freedomland.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Haunted Mansion, October 1975

I love the exterior of Anaheim's Haunted Mansion almost as much as the interior. Walt Disney famously did not want his "haunted house" to be a broken-down hulk of peeling paint, crumbling chimneys, and crooked shutters. Instead, it is clean and sturdy, with graceful columns and wrought iron, manicured gardens and beautiful magnolia trees. You can just make out the weather vane that is in the form of a sailing ship.

Here's another photo, obviously taken mere moments after the first one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jungleland, Thousand Oaks - March 1963

Jungleland is a Southern California amusement park that many readers of this blog are not familiar with. Which is understandable! It was little, and off the beaten path - Thousand Oaks was really "the sticks" in those days - and it's been gone for over 40 years. But I have fond memories of the place! Here are a few photos from 1963.

Hey, there's an old lady in that cage full of tigers! It's none other than Mabel Stark, who was 73 years old by this point. She had performed with big cats since 1916, and was, for a time, one of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus' top acts. She survived numerous maulings, and spent her last years at Jungleland.

In another arena, a sure-footed goat walks up a narrow plank. For some reason I have a vivid memory of watching a squirrel cross some wires overhead when I was sitting in a similar audience years later. In the background you can see the long row of enclosures...

... kind of like this one. I don't like seeing those amazing animals cooped up in that tiny cage, but folks were not as enlightened as they are now. Perhaps Jungleland closed at the right time, as much as I miss it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fantasy On Parade, January 1975

Parades go with Disneyland like mashed potatoes go with turkey. Since the earliest days - even opening day, yea verily - there have been marching bands and costumed characters of one kind of another. "Fantasy on Parade" made its debut December 1966, and it continued on for many years. Here are some photos of the 1975 version (or maybe it's the late 1974 version).

There's the McDonald's All-American Band. Hopefully no Russkies have infiltrated it, sending all of our top parade secrets to the commies. Did they put seats or bleachers along Main Street for this parade?

It's shameful that these guys are parading in their street clothes. Don't YOU dress like that every day?

Sorcerer's apprentice Mickey leads an army of bucket-bearing brooms. Trippy.

Fantasia must have been recently re-released! Here are ostriches, a hippo, and an alligator, as seen in the "Dance of the Hours" segment of that movie.

Characters from "The Aristocats" (one of my less-favorite animated features) ride in a splendid blue buggy. There's Madame Bonfamilie waving, while the cats themselves are represented by itty-bitty dolls.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Knott's, April 30 1956

If only I could really go back to the 50's and see Knott's Berry Farm! These were still the "early years"... no Calico Mine Train or Log Ride - although the railroad train was there. But I do think about how neat it would have been to see Knott's when it was all Ghost Town, surrounded by miles of farmland and plenty of eucalyptus trees.

This first photo was taken from inside some anonymous structure (maybe the Livery Stable?)... a broken-down wagon sits out front looking picturesque, while a bright and shiny wagon heads towards us, pulled by two giant mice. As far as I know, wagons like this were seen in the Ghost Town because they added to the Old West ambiance. How come nobody is dressed in t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops? Where are the muffin tops? Where are the tramp stamps?

This fella is mighty pleased to be posing with Nell and Belle. They were the "Hooters" waitresses of their day, when you think about it.

I like to go the Grist Mill and eat a big handful of flour. Mmmm, fresh! And cheaper than those hamburgers and wraps available throughout the park.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fantasyland, Late 60's

Here are a few scans from a group of slides that I have delved into previously. A long time ago, actually! I'm pretty sure that these haven't been seen on GDB before, but if I'm wrong, please don't sue me.

Dad (or maybe Grandpa?) is trying to hide his terror at the prospect of riding a flying elephant. Ever since that childhood circus incident (in which he was nearly eaten by an elephant), he's dreaded this day. But he'll do anything for li'l Skeeter. (If I had a boy, I'd name him Skeeter).

Skeeter hails us with a hearty "Ahoy, matey!" just before he attempts to fly. I have no idea how that worked out. The two hipsters to our left are amazed by something. But WHAT?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Anything Goes" Saturday... Fremont Street

It's another ANYTHING GOES day! This time we return to Las Vegas, which is kind of a Disneyland for grownups. Grownups who love drinkin', gamblin', lounge acts, and scantlily-clad showgirls! Ring-a-ding-ding.

This shot from October 1964 is aimed looking up Fremont Street, which in those days was the heart of Las Vegas. "Glitter Gulch" was one appropriate nickname, due to the numerous over-the-top colorful neon signs. Oh, to have been able to see it in its heyday! Now all the biggest, most luxurious hotels and casinos are on Las Vegas Boulevard, which technically isn't even in Las Vegas.

Looking to the left, we see The Mint. According to Wikipedia, The Mint opened in 1957, and in 1988 it was sold and became part of Binion's Horseshoe.

I have some spectacular vintage night shots of Fremont Street that I will be sharing here in the future!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Skyway & Skull, 1974

The Fantasyland Skyway chalet still stands, even though the colorful fiberglass buckets completed their last trip across the park in 1994. Even though it makes me a bit sad that it sits there unused, it would make me more sad if they tore it down. In the photo below, you can see it at its peak, with beautiful mature trees surrounding it, enhancing its alpine ambiance. I like the colorful flowers on the hillside. See any edelweiss? I was going to zoom in on the Skyway sign, but it's a bit indistinct, so ... never mind. It does say that you need a "D" ticket though.

High above Fantasyland, we glare (always glare!) down upon Skull Rock, and the Pirate Lagoon, not to mention the dining area behind the pirate ship. They should have had mermaids in this lagoon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Knott's Berry Farm, 1956

Here are three Knott's photos from the good old days!

This first picture shows a view that is probably similar to what you would have seen as you approached the entrance to the Ghost Town. This rose garden (which reminds me of my grandma's yard) was surrounded by the old Steak House, the Candy Shoppe, and Marion and Toni's Sport Shop. There's the "Dreger Clock", presumably only recently installed. To the left of it you can see a sign pointing guests in the direction of the original berry stand.

If you have a ghost town, you might as well decorate it with items like this old broken-down (but nicely whitewashed) stagecoach. In the background you see a sign for the display of antique pianos, Mott's Miniatures, and the mostly-forgotten boxing museum. I wish I could see all of those!

I believe that this teepee was on an island in the middle of the lake next to the Church of the Reflections. Sometimes an Indian chief would be nearby for a photo op... something to show the folks back home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

HOF, 1957

I never get tired of photos of the old Monsanto Plastic Home of the Future. In fact, every time I see a good picture of the artificial abode, it makes me wish I could live in it (the house, not the picture!). It's so full of mid-century coolness! I'd fill it up with furniture from the Herman Miller catalog, and barbecue big ol' steaks while wearing a "Kiss the Cook" apron and have cocktail parties and smell of Hai Karate aftershave and watch reruns of The Avengers and Ernie Kovacs and listen to Les Baxter albums on my hi-fi.

In this first image, the house is looking a bit forlorn because the landscaping hasn't quite had time to fill out. An old fellow sits nearby, amazed that he's made it to the Spage Age. It almost looks like the house is glancing to the left. Sometimes it talks to me, too. Can't you hear it?

A second view shows us one of the "wings" head on; a kid in a Keppy Kap (made from real Keppys, not fake ones like today) is not so interested in the modern wonders inside. But he's only eight, what the hell does he know! The big TV inside got his attention, though - just imagine how great it would be to watch cartoons on that thing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Views From Tom's Treehouse, 1957

Before 1959 (and the construction of the Matterhorn), the highest point in Disneyland was Tom's Treehouse on Tom Sawyer Island. The tree itself wasn't that tall, but it sat on top of a hill and afforded adventurous guests with some very nice views.

This first image looks towards Rainbow Ridge, with the dirt loading area for the Stage Coaches and the Conestoga Wagons to our left. The little hive of cloth-roofed buildings was "El Zocalo", a little marketplace full of wondrous souvenirs. And there's the sails of the Pirate Ship, the Skyway in the distance, and the castle. But wait, I see something else of interest!

There's the Viewliner! Unfortunately our photographer did not take any other pictures that captured the Train of Tomorrow, so this one will have to do.

I think we're looking to the north and a bit to the east here, and Frontierland was still pretty empty. It helped to give it that authentic frontier ambiance I suppose. There's an interesting detail in this pic as well!

On top of that rock stands our old pal Stormy! That's what I call him anyway. You can call him whatever you want. This proud pony wasn't there for very long. In fact I have a photo from the following year in which Stormy has been replaced with a mountain lion (here's a better shot of him).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Calico Mine Train Postcards, Part Two

Here is the second post featuring vintage postcards from Knott's Berry Farm's Calico Mine Train (see part one here). This time we are focusing on the little Mine Trains, which were constructed by Bud Hurlbut (who had built more than a few miniature trains for various amusement parks).

This first example is one of my favorites. Not only do you get a good look at the strange and wonderful rock work and the sturdy saddle-tanker locomotive, but Bud Hurlbut himself makes a rare appearance.

That's Bud, standing next to the little train! A white shirt and black string tie seemed to be his standard work outfit from this period. Bud was involved in the creation of the Henry's Livery (a little car ride), both merry-go-rounds, the lagoon area (including another small train), the Log Ride, the Happy Sombrero ride, the replica of the Liberty Bell, and more. He lived to the venerable age of 93.

I love the waterfalls cascading down the front of the show building, as if some underground river suddenly burst forth. And on a hot day, the fine mist they provide is pretty nice too.

Bud built 6 mine trains for the attraction, all electric-powered, and capable of carrying some 50 passengers each. Besides going up and down hill all day, they manage to navigate some pretty tight turns at some points.

This card shows the trains with updated paint schemes. Watch out for the prickly pear cactus!

And one final shot!

In part three, we will finally be getting to the good stuff... going inside the Calico Mine!