Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Mark Twain & The River

1956 was the Greatest Year Ever. There is no doubt about it! Elvis performed "Hound Dog" on the Milton Berle show, Grace Kelly became a real princess, and General Electric released the first clock with a "snooze alarm". Enough said!

Unfortunately, these are not the Greatest Pictures Ever, but they have their charms. I always like early shots of Frontierland in which there seems to be more bare earth than plants and trees. They should have planted kudzu! The Mark Twain looks mighty stately in the distance.

This oddball angle looks toward Fort Wilderness across the river. The Fort appears to be closed, and I think there might be some construction cranes in the distance, though it is hard to say for certain. Anyway, it's not a great photo, but it is different, and sometimes that's all I need to be happy. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

More "New Fantasyland" Construction

Man, there is nothing worse than an old Fantasyland, am I right? Tear that sucker down! Today I have two more snapshots (probably from 1982) showing some Skyway views of the carnage. 

There's "It's a Small World", still open... we can just see part of the pathway that led back to it in the lower right corner. To the left is the empty channel that normally held the Storybook Land Canal Boats. That square white container is where the Apollo astronauts were temporarily quarantined after their missions. I think. Don't want to catch any moon viruses! A bit to the right (and up) from that is a fenced-off rectangular area that once held seating for folks who wanted to relax and watch the boats go by. Presumably this is long-gone.

These are in no particular order, clearly; once again we are looking down upon some of the new dark ride exteriors, including "Pinocchio's Daring Journey". I think a portion of the "Village Haus" is also part of this group. I am kind of fascinated by the jumble of stuff on the ground, like those wooden "hutches". Not sure exactly what they would have been for - but it probably involved those troublesome Apollo astronauts again. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

More Rescans

I've been rescanning some old GDB entries, and I'm happy to say that the results have been well worth the effort. 

Look at this one, from... oh I don't know, a long time ago. Let's say eight years. The slide (from July 12, 1958) had turned an unpleasant magenta, and this early attempt at restoration is pretty bad. 

What a difference! I don't know what to say about it that you can't see with your own eyebones. Though I will mention that Columbia made its debut only a month before this photo was taken.

I have a special fondness for the old saguaro forest from the pre-Nature's Wonderland Mine Train attraction. And it doesn't show up in a lot of photos, so even this poorly-restored version is better than nothing.

However, this iteration is an improvement in pretty much every way!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Flower at Disneyland, mid-1960's

Remember when the costumed characters at Disneyland could be found almost randomly around the park? You never knew who you would run into. 

On this day, sometime in the mid-1960's (the slides are undated, but the square Skyway buckets are visible in one photo), one of the Three Little Pigs was in front of the castle, but Bambi's friend "Flower" the Skunk makes a rare appearance. He looks surprisingly huge. Every few minutes he would do a handstand and spray some unfortunate guest. It was hilarious!

He seems to be especially popular with young girls. He is pretty fuzzy and huggable, I guess.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Yawntastic Photos from August 1963

Here are two photos from August, 1963 that are pretty dull. Lucky you!

We're over by the queue for the Casey Jr. Circus Train, with a Skyway tower right next to the Casey Jr. ticket booth (which, to my knowledge, hasn't been used as a ticket booth since the earliest days). It's August, so some folks have have taken to relaxing in the shade to the right. Notice the little stage, as well.

Aaaaaand... here's a not-great photo of a Streetcar. These will be replaced with horse-drawn TIE fighters and X-wings - or so I hope! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"A Day at Disneyland" 1957 Album Art (and more)

I wanted to post some kind of souvenir thingy today. But what? I decided to take some photos of an old record album (the inside has a date of 1957) entitled "A Day at Disneyland". I love the album artwork featuring a very skinny Walt Disney, dressed as an engineer, and oiling up the E.P. Ripley. Was this just a coincidence, or did the illustrator know of Walt's love of trains?

As you can see, Jiminy Cricket is the co-star here - he's my favorite Disney character!

"A Day at Disneyland" is a re-edited version of the album pictured below, "Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland". While this version seems to be aimed primarily at adults, "A Day at Disneyland" is clearly for the younger set, with the addition of Jiminy's color commentary.

Of course we begin our visit to the park on Main Street U.S.A. The illustrations aren't amazing, but I don't think most 8 year-olds were too discriminating. Walt's narration is pretty stilted, which is odd because he came across as quite comfortable and ingratiating on TV. But I love it anyway.

More Main Street. Yo, Jiminy! An umbrella is not a musical instrument.

SO... I have tried something new. I put the album tracks and the album artwork together for a YouTube video version. Let's just say I didn't know what I was doing. But it came out OK. Here's the Main Street track:

Next we move on to Adventureland. Clockwise, eh? Jiminy, you sly dog. I think you're going to zig, and you zag!

What would the Jungle Cruise be without angry natives and hungry crocodiles?

Here is the Adventureland track:

Frontierland is next of course. The Conestoga Wagons wouldn't be around for much longer.

Ah, the burning settler's cabin. I miss it. 

Here's the Frontierland track:

For some reason Tomorrowland only warranted a single page, but it is chock full of fun stuff.

Here's the Tomorrowland  track:

And, strangely, Fantasyland also only gets one page of illustrations, in spite of the many attractions.

Here's the Fantasyland track!

And just for fun, here's the back cover. Ever since I first heard this album (or rather, the original "Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland" version) I have been very fond of the lush orchestral tracks created by Tutti Camarata, George Bruns, and Oliver Wallace. They provide an aural impression of the park rather than a literal recording of what would be heard by visitors.

I hope you have enjoyed this vintage album!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Castle, 1956

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Today's slides are more "rediscovered treasures"; for some reason I did not scan these 8 or 9 years ago, but they look mighty fine to me now! I think I was just burned out on photos of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of scores (hundreds) of pictures of this landmark.

Anyway, the pictures are hand-dated "12-29-56", so in four days they will be exactly 59 years old. This beautiful image is definitely "postcard worthy", I think you'll agree. The color is amazing. Modest Christmas decorations adorn the castle, which looks so lovely in the clear winter sunlight.

Next we get a slightly closer view, also very pretty. If only all of my slides were of this quality!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Vintage Postcards - Santa's Village, Part II

Today I proudly present part deaux of Ken Martinez's collection of vintage Santa's Village postcards! Take it away, Ken:

More Santa's Village (Part Two)

Back again with more Santa's Village!

Here's Frosty's Snowball Ride in Dundee, Illinois. Sort of like the Mad Tea Party with a "Frozen" overlay. There's definitely a difference in the trees and terrain compared to the two California parks. We had the Snowball Ride in Scotts Valley, but I never heard of it being in Skyforest. Does anyone know if there was a Snowball Ride in Skyforest?

Here's another image of Santa's Village in Dundee featuring the Christmas Tree ride. Notice the openness and flatness of the terrain. Besides the back-of-card label it's easy to tell it's in Dundee.

Here we have the Easter Bunny next to his attraction. Both Skyforest and Scotts Valley had the Easter Bunny's Nursery attraction. Not sure about Dundee. I love the holiday related characters they had roaming the park.

Here's Jack Pumpkin Head. He's cool looking. I've never seen him in Scotts Valley, but I have seen the Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny characters.

I'm pretty sure that all three parks had a Bobsled Ride. This could either be Skyforest of Scotts Valley. I'm not sure. Note the Easter Bunny and Jack Pumpkin Head in the coaster train.

Well that's the end of your two-part visit to the Santa's Villages. I hope you enjoyed and hope that you have a great holiday season.

Information source material:   History of Santa's Village

Oh man, it's almost Christmas! Hopefully I will get that Star Wars underwear that I have been coveting for so long. Are you listening, Santa?

Thank you to Ken for taking the time to scan his postcards and provide excellent text for these fun postcards from classic California (and Illinois!) attractions!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sunny Christmas

I am sharing two photos from December, 1957, which show the park looking about as pretty as can be. It's Christmastime in Southern California, which means bright sunshine and blue skies. Bamboo is a dead giveaway that the photographer was standing near the entrance to Adventureland, while the conifers to our left are near the Frontierland entrance. A family contemplates their reflections in the waters below, and each person has an existential crisis.

I am not sure if Disneyland had started the tradition of placing a giant tree in Town Square in 1957, but they did have more a more modest tree near the Plaza. The white flocking is very "50's", as are the all-red ornaments (although the style seems to be fashionable again). My mom would approve!

NOTE: I will be heading out of town for a few days starting today, but as always, there will be new posts for you every day, so stop by if you can. I'll try to check in regularly when time permits.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Random Stuff, 1968 & 1969

I threw some darts at my computer and selected two random photos for today's post.

Here's a somewhat different view of the Matterhorn, taken on the Main Street side of the Plaza Inn, circa August 1969. Yellow and white umbrellas always make me think of that restaurant. I wish we could see the menu board to the left more clearly. Tomorrowland palm trees juxtaposed against the snow-capped Matterhorn works just fine, thank you. 

I like how the two teenagers in the foreground are dressed in a neat and tidy manner, while the two grown men to their left are considerably more casual.

I am always happy to see the wonderful Swiss Family Treehouse - what a feat of Imagineering! It is absolutely convincing as a real tree. I'm sure that every kid (and more than a few adults) wished they could live in an arboreal abode like this. Sturdy steps lead up to various rooms, each providing a more spectacular view of the park below, while the Rube Goldberg waterworks provide constant kinetic energy (and fresh water!). 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Casey Junior, 1956

I love the patchwork quilt landscape of Storybook Land, so reminiscent of the 1933 Silly Symphony, "Lullaby Land". The bent-wood "stitching" is a stroke of genius! Details like this are no-tech, but are so charming. Toad Hall can just be seen in the lower left corner. I feel sorry for those folks in the open circus car... my experience in that same car resulted in a face full of hot diesel fumes for much of the ride!

This next one isn't very interesting, but hey, they are a set, so I'm posting it anyway.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Jungle Cruise, August 1963

Oof, here are more Jungle Cruise photos from a very so-so lot of slides - they all had washed-out color, and are not crisp. Which is why they are perfect for a Sunday!

There's that crazy elephant, showering beneath a beautiful waterfall. As a kid I always thought he had the best spot! Heck, as an adult I still feel that way.

This one is just plain bad, but hey, I scanned it, so here it is, awaiting your derision. I think that might be Trader Sam standing with his collection of heads.

Man, hippos have weird mouths, there's no doubt about it. Look at those little peg-like teeth, and those crazy tusks. And yet they are among the most dangerous animals in Africa. Notice the cloud of smoke from the gun that the skipper just fired!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Vintage Viewmaster - Main Street at Night

Here are three more vintage Viewmaster scans from various old reels. Main Street at night is the best Main Street! Prove me wrong, interwebs, prove me wrong.

I may have overdone the contrast just a little bit! Those lights on the buildings look like tiny suns. Shoppers were surprised to get San Tropez tans after dark. I like the ghostly images of guests who rudely continued to move during the exposure. I often stand as still as possible for minutes at a time just in case somebody is taking my photo. But I'm not a hero, I'm just an ordinary Joe who loves his country.

This one is a little bit more "twilight-y" (the time of day, not the terrible sexy vampire movies). Main Street looks busy, but not as busy as it is every night nowadays. I see that the Emporium sells gifts. Hey, I like gifts a lot!

You'd think that the rich and powerful Viewmaster corporation (one of the six corporations that secretly governed the world) could have at least provided an un-skewed picture. But I'll forgive them because it's pretty neat.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Two Beauties from 1957

Here are two very nice Kodachromes featuring a Disneyland that is long-gone. But not forgotten! 

We'll start with this fun shot taken as we prepare to board our car at the Junior Autopia. Those old vehicles were so great - even now they look sporty, though they have acquired a vintage quality, like an old Porsche. 

You can just see bits of the circus wagons that used to be displayed beyond the queue building. I'd always assumed that they were there because they'd been used in the "Toby Tyler" movie, but it turns out that the film wasn't released until January 1960. So I guess they were just there because they'd been used in the Mickey Mouse Club Circus, and various parades.

We've seen that vast expanse of dirt before, why didn't they landscape it? Imagine the dust kicked up on a day with gusty Santa Ana winds. *Cough*

Next is a great shot from Tom Sawyer Island, with a group of boys preparing to ambush unfortunate passers-by. This almost looks like a forced-perspecive shot from "Darby O'Gill".. they boys don't really appear any closer to us than the lady below them (though they certainly are), making them look like giants compared to her. Maybe it's just me.

In the lower part of the photo, guests are crossing the pontoon bridge, and you can see the suspension bridge in the background. Also... love the evocative signs! "SECRET PASSAGE TO CASTLE DUNGEON", "GIANT PUNCH BOWL", what kid wouldn't want to see those features?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Vintage Postcards - Santa's Village, Part I

Today I am happy to present a special holiday-themed edition of Ken Martinez's vintage postcards - Santa's Village style! Here we go (take it away, Ken):

Santa's Village - Part One

Once upon a time  there were three Santa's Villages. The first one opened in Skyforest, California on Memorial Day in 1955 (six weeks before Disneyland). The second one opened in Scotts Valley, California in 1957, and the third and last park opened in Dundee, Illinois in 1959. All three parks have since closed and are long gone.

One of the interesting things about collecting postcards of Santa's Village is trying to figure out which of the three parks the postcard represents. This is an issue when the card does not give the location or it has been mislabeled. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's not. The Dundee location is usually easy to figure out because of the terrain and foliage. The only park I visited was Scotts Valley because it was 10 minutes away from home.

This card is labeled Santa Cruz (Scotts Valley) but I'm not thoroughly convinced it is. There is no Snowball Ride out front to the right. This is why I think it is Skyforest.

This one is easy to identify because the Bumble Bee Monorail was unique to the Santa's Village in Skyforest.

This one is a tossup. I think both Scotts Valley and Skyforest had a Magic Train Ride. Does anyone know which location this is? Love the golden pine needles covering the ground.

This looks exactly like the Mill Wheel Funhouse/Puppet Theater that was located in the Scotts Valley Santa's Village.

This Santa's Sleigh Ride was located in Scotts Valley and traveled in a clockwise direction. The Sleigh Ride in Skyforest came out of the tunnel from a different angle.

Here's a GDB image showing the Sleigh Ride in Skyforest:

This is the first part of two posts related to Santa's Village this month. Stay tuned for part two.

Information source material:  History of Santa's Village

Major Pepperidge again; I still find it somewhat unbelievable that my grandparents never took us to the Skyforest Santa's Village - but that's the sad truth. I'm happy we have Ken's postcards to look at!

Thanks as always to Ken Martinez.