Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lots of Parking, 1956

Visitors to this blog (and others) may have detected an excessive fondness for Disneyland's old parking lot. After all... it was a parking lot! What's to love? Well, it was big, hot, and full of cars, but it was sort of a little pre-show. You could see Main Street Station in the distance, and usually you could see and hear one of the steam locomotives (bell clanging, whistle blowing). And in later years the Monorail would go whizzing by. (Heh heh, "whiz"). We usually parked far enough away to have to wait for the little trams to ferry us to the entrance, which was also part of the fun.

Much of the appeal of this photo is due to the wonderful cars. I'm drawn to the two-tone red and white example, even though I can't tell what it is! Two-tone is groovy.


Chiana_Chat said...

Although I say this with a hardhat on, ;-) I'm fine without the parking lot. But:

a) It did serve as a good presentation platform as you arrived at the footlights so to speak.

b) Having another park in mirror pattern facing Disneyland instead, admission booths and all, just feet away, has the opposite effect of a) and is tacky.

All IMH.

Oh - and what I'd give to be getting out of my then-ordinary classic car and see the scene in that picture right now.

Thufer said...

WOW, two parking lot post this week. Yes, I love and miss the lot.
Chiana, no need for a hardhat here. Part of the special appeal of the park is how it reached into us all in so many exciting and different ways. Your points A and B are spot on.
The Lot (for me) was an attraction all in itself that had its very own conditions, sights, sounds and language. It was a destination in and of itself in a way. It was the parking lot that you had to get to before you could get to the Park. This is where you eagerly got out of the car, stretched and let your eyes soak in all the goody-ness that was around you. You were there! You were about to enter the 'Happiest Place on Earth'. Not out on I-5, not on Harbor or Katella but here, in the lot just steps away.
I could go on, but I will not. I miss the hot pavement, the smell of the exhaust and the excited high pitch of everyone looking for their first glimpse of Mickey. I almost forgot, someone quickly jot down Thumper row 8 space 36.
I will not apologize to the 'suits'; there really is and was a better use of the 100 acres. It was there, right under your feet and all you had to do was nothing. Walt already had.

JG said...

Well, I'm chiming in here, since I'm already wearing a helmet....78^D.

Thufer and Chiana, I am with you both in sympathetic memories of the Parking Lot...but.

I don't mind the design of the present entry plaza, it seems appropriate for two parks,, except weirdly oversized...downright VAST, almost scary.

But I'm not sure how else they would have accommodated the DCA entry without worse damage to the DL entry experience. I think that DCA is shaping up as a worthwhile destination, although it has a long way to go to be knee-high to DL, so I am not hostile to it per se...

Architecturally speaking, the old approach to DL was classic '50's design. No one minded a parking lot and the programmed experience did not begin until after your ticket purchase. We didn't mind since we didn't know better.

The current arrival by car in the big garage is much like an airport, but the carefully stage-managed approach with the shuttles through the screened roadways to Downtown Disney is really a work of art, of a sort. They do a great job of starting your experience long before you reach ticket booth. There is a very real sense of being in an alternate world almost from exiting your car, unlike anything I have seen for attention to detail and safety (latter increasingly important). Consider the unearthly landscaping, for example. Like something from Dr. Suess, and unlike anything in either park.

So, I miss the old parking lot, and I'm not sure it was replaced with anything better, for my part. I always enjoyed DL without DCA.

But lots of happy people seem to be enjoying DCA, and the new garages help with that process, so I'm happy about that.

Now, which of those cars would I want today...hmm?

Superb picture, Major.


CoxPilot said...

It's a Dodge Coronet

Major Pepperidge said...

Chiana, I'm sure that 99 percent of the parking lot love is a result of nostalgia. At the time, I didn't give it much thought... it's only remembering those family trips and the things that I mention in my post that take me back now. The new parking garage is not sexy, but it works extremely well, and makes life easy when getting back on the freeway. As for the other park facing Disneyland, I have no doubt that only a few different aesthetic choices could have made it all look great and work flawlessly. Today's designers generally have their hearts in the right place, but I think they lack the lifetime of movie making, storytelling experience that the old-timers had. Instead, they are theme park people, period.

Thufer, in general I love the idea of "more Disney park" rather than a parking lot. It's just that DCA was unfortunately built in an era when Eisner was more convinced with doing it as cheaply as possible. The suits thought that slapping the Disney name on a park would be enough, and obviously it wasn't. I just looked at some old Walt Disney Company quarterly reports from the 80's and 90's, and they had some pretty incredible plans - until the economy sagged.

JG, as I said earlier, I do think that they did a lot of things right in regards to the multi-level parking garage, and Downtown Disney. Your airport comparison is apt. And the few times I've been to DCA, I've had a perfectly OK time (granted, I usually got in for free!). I just missed the attention to detail and as much as I'm sick of the words, I missed the "Disney magic" as well.

CoxPilot, thanks! I have a photo of the Flight Circle, I wish I could have you ID the two men visible in it!

Connie Moreno said...


Orange Co Native said...

DCA is 55 acres and the Disneyland Park is 85 acres. Much smaller and less to see. I only went to DCA once in 2003 and was not impressed. There was no feel to it.

Part of it might be that I grew up with Disneyland and not DCA. However, DCA seemed like a bunch of buildings slapped up with little or no planning. Also, we were done in about 3 hours. A lot less to do and see at DCA. Luckily we had tickets for Disneyland and went back there. I also had the impression it really lacked landscaping and there was too much concrete.

In my opinion, Disney at most should only charge $20.00 to get into DCA. It is lacking in charm, scenery and inventive attractions.

The missing ingredient that the Disney Company needs today is Walt.

Orange Co Native said...

Oh, the architecture was terrible as well at DCA. Mostly square box buildings that looked like warehouses. Hopefully, things will change for DCA with all the renovation they are doing.

CoxPilot said...

Major: Sent you an e-mail. Will be glad to do my best if you send on the pic.

Nanook said...

I'm afraid the car is not a Dodge - wrong tail lights. It's actually a 1955 Plymouth Belvedere.

Major Pepperidge said...

Connie, don't be glum!

OC Native, I definitely agree that DCA lacked much of what makes Disneyland so special. And it's not an "all day" park, at least not yet. The thing that bugged me the most was all of those off-the-shelf rides that you might find at any number of other parks. And yes, the industrial sheds were barely disguised in many instances. We can never get Walt back, but I believe that DCA can still become a worthwhile destination.

CoxPilot, you've got it!

Nanook, I certainly have no idea what kind of car it is. Even if you could see the whole car, I'd be stumped. How the heck can you guys ID a car just from the last 1/4?

Snow White Archive said...

Groovy is the right word. And smokin'.

Those cars are smokin' sitting there in the DL parking lot!

CoxPilot said...

Nanook is right on. I was going just from memory, and that's slipping as of late. They both used the same body, but Dodge had two round tail lights instead of the one single lens on the plymouth. Yay Mopar!

Nanook said...

CoxPilot said it all. In this particular case a very important part of the vehicle was exposed making it less of a challenge to identify. 1955 was the year Chrysler overhauled their "look", with their designs looking decidely different from 1954 and earlier. (I suspect CoxPilot knows a bit more about cars from that era than I, but I've got enough of a grasp of the subject to know where to start looking to confirm my thoughts).

CoxPilot said...

Interesting that the two cars in the front are great examples of Chrysler Corp cars of just a few years earlier. The cream one in front is a 1949 Dodge, and the next maroon one is a 1949 Desoto. The Dodge has a distinctive grill, and the small fins identify the Desoto. The next one in line is a (I think) Nash Ambassador. Again; the tail lights. Probably 1955 because that's when the two tone paint was big. Then the Plymouth, and then a 1955 Chev. The last in line is really hard to tell. Can't see the details, but most likely around 1948.

All these cars I grew up with, and could easily I.D. I'm sure a car buff of today could do the same for modern cars, but I just don't keep track anymore. And, there are a LOT more models on the road. In those days we all were looking at all the parts and pieces to build our rods.

Major Pepperidge said...

I still don't know what "Mopar" means! You car nuts have a depth of knowledge that is pretty impressive. I'm amazed, even new cars that all look the same to me are very distinctive to my brother.

Katella Gate said...

It's spelled "Mopar", but it's pronounced "Belowpar".

Sorry, couldn't help it. Apologies also to Raymond Luxury Yacht.