Monday, September 23, 2013

Frontierland '57 (And a Trip Report)

Hello GDB readers; I am putting my half-assed trip report at the end of this post so that you can easily skip it if you want to.

Walt Disney hated it when employees left a 1950's pickup truck parked in his 1870's Frontierland, but he didn't seem to mind it when an aluminum boat with an outboard motor was in plain sight. Because they show up in a surprising number of old photos! Maybe those rocks did a better job of hiding it than it seems. A workman in white coveralls is on his way to do something. BUT WHAT? The Indian Village looks pretty sleepy here, even the taxidermied buffalo is drowsy.

There used to be a few bears living along the river, fishing and scrounging for pic-a-nic baskets. They would usually be spooked by passing watercraft, and ran away, yowling like a whiny teenager who doesn't want to mow the lawn.

Awwww, isn't he adorable?

AND NOW, the moment that two of you have been waiting for... a trip report!

September 20th was the last day of Summer, and somehow that seemed like an appropriate time to visit Disneyland. It's been a while! A number of things that were new to me are old news to the annual passholders out there. This was strictly a DIsneyland trip, we did not venture into DCA; hopefully we will manage to go there and dedicate an entire day to the park early next year.

The weather was nice as far as I was concerned…. overcast all day, but never cold; we arrived shortly after the park opened - we would have gotten there earlier, but traffic was heavy-ish and for some reason we were routed to the Simba lot instead of the main parking structure.

Cast members told us that they often close the parking structure in the morning on days that they expect to be busy, and then reopen it for later visitors. We felt as if we were being punished for showing up in the morning, but whatever. It worked out OK, since we already had our tickets; we were able to hop onto the Monorail near the hotel and arrive at Disneyland in futuristic comfort and style! 

The park was busy, but for the most part it wasn't a problem. We rode everything that we wanted to ride, and in most cases did our favorites multiple times with lines moving quickly. Probably one of the longest waits was for Casey Jr., because they were only running one train.

Here are some random impressions from that day:

Space Mountain's "Ghost Galaxy" is such a fun Halloween overlay, I love that ride! The nighttime projections on the exterior are cool as well. Early in the day the queue wasn't too bad. In general, the lines continued to get longer and longer as the day progressed, which is typical - all the O.C. locals come over for the fireworks, Fantasmic!, and a churro.

The exterior of the "Alice in Wonderland" attraction is a mess, I hardly recognized it with all of the tarps, railings, and the leafy shapes that were supposed to be half decoration, half camouflage. It looked more like a temporary ride at a cheap carnival; hopefully somebody is working on a way to improve this embarrassment.

While riding "It's a Small World", it seemed to me that there have been many MANY significant changes to the various scenes over the years (and I don't just mean the additions of the Disney characters or the new "America" scene. I wish I could somehow compare the ride from the 1960's to the way it looks now, scene by scene. The fa├žade of IASW was surprisingly grimy due to the soot from the stacks of the Disneyland locomotives; perhaps it will get cleaned up when the attraction closes for its Christmas makeover? 

Speaking of the Railroad, I always love taking a ride or two on the Grand Circle Tour. The trains looked beautiful, and we had a fun conversation with a pair of little boys who enthusiastically told us about all of the rides that they had been on so far. They were having a swell day!

SO…. I rode the new, much-maligned Matterhorn Bobsleds. And you know what? They were FINE. I am over six feet tall, but I had no problems; yes it was a snug fit, but my knees were unscathed at the end of several rides. I was relieved, and a little bit puzzled about all of the very negative comments. Maybe we have a lot of VERY tall Disneyland fans out there? 

The voice of Mara in "Indy" seemed to be the same as it always was, so I guess the change (to a female voice?) was not well received.

The Haunted Mansion was busy busy busy all day, I don't recall waiting in such long lines before. It is the 13th anniversary for the holiday overlay featuring Jack Skellington, and I loved the new fun effects that were added this year. I won't spoil them for you, because I was glad that I hadn't been spoiled.

I finally saw the "Soundsational" parade, which was lots of fun. The fireworks were nice, but as far as I could tell, they haven't changed for a while. 

After the fireworks, the crowds became absolutely insane. Amy and I looked from the castle down toward the Train Station, and I don't believe I have ever seen it so crowded. It probably wasn't even that unusual by today's standards, but even so, it was at that point that we started thinking that it might be time to leave. We thought we'd try one final ride on the Mansion, but Frontierland and New Orleans Square were completely jammed because of the upcoming showing of "Fantasmic!".  Instead we bought churros at the hub and relaxed as the teeming masses swarmed around us, and then shopped on Main Street (I didn't find anything I needed). 

After that, we hopped back onto the Monorail for the trip back to the Simba lot, and on our way back home. It was a great day, but my feet were glad it was over!


Nanook said...


Sounds like a good time; and glad to hear that ... you hadn't been 'spoiled', at least as far as the Haunted Mansion, Jack Skellington theming is concerned-!

K. Martinez said...

Nice images today. Love the bear shot.

I'm glad to hear the Matterhorn Bobsleds worked out for you. It must be body type or my age because the bobsleds were definitely unpleasant for me. said...

Thanks for the brief trip report, sounds like a fun time, I have been wondering myself if the Matterhorn really would be a problem for me as I am 6'5" tall but have always felt that I am pretty flexible for a guy my size and I suspected that the stories of just how difficult it is into the bobsleds now for tall folks was possibly a matter of folks who were very used to the old sleds having to adjust to something new, and it sounds like perhaps that just may be the case.

Daveland said...

Thanks for the trip report, Major; sounds like overall it was a fun day. What; no turkey legs?!?

stu29573 said...

Sounds like a great time! One picky point- The last day of summer was the 21st... Just sayin!

Mike D said...

In your first post - Unlimited access to the train tracks?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I've seen the Jack Skellington stuff many times, but it was the new-for-this-year effects that hadn't been ruined for me!

K. Martinez, the key (I think) is to sit with your knees apart. It didn't look very dignified, but it worked - there was still a few inches between my knees and the front of the bobsled - I could even use my legs to sort of brace myself on the sides of the bobsled to help cushion some of the parts of the ride that are rough., I can't guarantee that your 6' - 5" frame will fit as well as I did (I'm about 6' - 2"), but I think you can still make it work.

Daveland, the turkey legs smelled pretty good, but when it was time for a meal, we didn't even consider them. We paced ourselves and purposely planned for a nice leisurely sit-down meal.

stu29573, well that's what I get for listening to my friend, who kept telling me what that going to Disneyland was a great way to spend the last day of summer!

Mike D, oh man, I didn't even notice that very interesting detail. You can see the wooden gate that seems to be allowing folks to cross the tracks. They must have been coming over from the just-opened Holidayland. Thanks for pointing that out!

Melissa said...

"...possibly a matter of folks who were very used to the old sleds having to adjust to something new..."

I had been wondering that myself. Especially when you're used to having to fold yourself up to fit into something, having to fold yourself up a different way can feel worse than it otherwise might be.

I love today's first picture because it's the earliest iteration of the Village People: The Disneyland Indian Village People!

They adopted costumes and stage personae to make their act more instesting, but this being the more conservativee 1950'S they ended up with the house painter, the Dust Bowl farmer, the Scoutmaster, the tourist, the minister, and the mysterious guy in white who could be either an Arican tribesman or an exterminator. They even had a short-lived hit song.

"In Tomorrowland find pleasure, search for sunken treasure, learn science, technology.
In Adventureland begin to make your dreams all come true, in a boat or up a tree.
In Fantasyland you fly, learn to drive and sail and ride, study oceanography.
Sign up for the big band or sit in the grand stand,
On the pretty U.S.A Main Street.

Work for Disney, yes, you can sail the paddlewheel,
Work for Disney, yes, you can haul and you can keel,
Work for Disney, our Buffalo can barely stand,
Work for Disney, can't you see we need a hand?

Work or Disney, and sweep the streets of Frontierland,
Work for Disney, come on and join the Dapper Dans,
Work for Disney, come on, and be like Peter Pan,
Work for Disney, Work for Disney.

They want you! They want you!
They want you in a Mickey suit!

If you like Adventureland, then don't you wait to enter and use the recruiting office fast.
If you like to sail a boat right through a whale, then join the Storybookland cast.
Maybe you're not bold enough to venture out today, but don't you worry 'bout a thing
I'm sure the Indian Village will always be back here, if you just want to dance and sing.

Work for Disney, etc.

They want you! They want you!
They want you in a Mickey suit!


But..but..but I'm afraid of mice!

I get cute overload even watching it on the TV!

What am I gonna do in a submarine?

Melissa said...

Forgot to add: the best thing about a half-assed trip report is that there's always a chance that the other half of the ass will surface later in the form of anecdotes.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, wasn't there a Village People-style song in the 1970's? I want to say it was "Macho Duck", but I'm not 100% sure. "Be like Peter Pan", ha ha.

Melissa again, you never know, there might be more anecdotes, I left out a few gripes just because I didn't want to be too gripey!

Nancy said...

Sounds like a wonderful day...but then pretty much all of them are at Disneyland! Glad you had a nice time. :-)

Rich T. said...

Great report, Major! I'm glad you didn't have a problem with the new bobsleds. I'm six feet tall, and my main issue with them is that, every one of the five times I've ridden the new sleds, I get off feeling as if someone punched me in the back. It's never been a smooth ride, but there's something about the new design that I just can't find a comfortable sitting position in.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nancy, considering the crowds, I had a very good time!

Rich T., after reading all of the negative comments, I think I expected the ride to be much more unpleasant. My back was OK afterward, but my friend said her neck was sore. The bobsleds are definitely a squeeze for taller people though.

Snow White Archive said...

Excellent trip report. Always love hearing about other experiences and impressions inside the parks.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, from your first set of comments/responses, I realize that you were in the front of the bobsled. I was told by a cast member that the first seat in each car is not as rough for some reason. Maybe that is because you can place your feet anywhere you want in the first seat. In the other seats, there is a very specific spot for you to place each foot with pretty much no wiggle room. I sat in one of the middle seats and my back was literally thrown out during the ride. I actually had to get a chiropractic adjustment the next day! That has not happened to me on any ride, in any park, ever...until now. The cast member that told me about the front seats being a slightly more comfortable ride also told me that they have received many complaints about how rough the new vehicles are. I have been tempted to go on it again and just request to sit in one of the front seats, but it still kind of scares me. I'm not sure if I will ride it again unless they redesign the vehicles.....which I'm sure is unlikely. :-(

So what did you think of the Princess Fantasy Faire???

Major Pepperidge said...

Snow White Archive, thanks!

TokyoMagic!, actually the first time I rode I was in the back, the other two times I was in the front. It's never been the smoothest ride, you'd think with that tubular steel it would be less jerky. I'm sorry you hurt your back - if you want to ride the Matterhorn again, can't you request a front seat? I was beat up way worse by a coaster at Knott's (maybe it was "Ghost Rider", I sort of forget)! Now that you mention Fantasy Faire, I barely gave it a look. Being dropped off in Tomorrowland at the start of the day meant that we didn't do the usual walk up Main Street - it's surprising how weird that felt. Also, I wasn't interested in hanging with the princesses, and it was very crowded. I wish I had taken some time to at least give it a good once-over, but we had so much to do that I didn't think of it later in the day.

Anonymous said...

I remember going to the chapel with my sister and parents in the late 1950's and there was a statue of Jesus, the lights were turned off and his eyes slowly opened, I was in awe! I know this is real because at that time they gave out little cards/pamphlets that when you opened it in the dark his eyes opened too. I am now 64 yrs old and after moving around and finally settling in Texas I still have the card and his eyes still open after all this time, I was probably about 6 or 7 when we went. No one I have ever talked to ever remembers this or even hearing of it before but I have the card to prove it. Does anyone else remember this at the chapel at Knox Berry Farm?

Mesquite, texas