Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Living Desert, August 1969

Hoo boy, it's time for some more snooze-tastic images from August of 1969. It's not a total loss, because they are from the old "Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland" attraction, but we've seen similar photos many (MANY) times before.

This is a typical (but OK) shot of the buttes and mesas, sculpted by eons of wind and water and aliens. There is NO way that "natural" arch happened without the intervention of little gray people! And the fact that we can see a geyser through the opening is no mere coincidence - it is a message from the stars.

These colorful mud pots are arranged in such a way as to indicate a landing area for flying saucers. There have been probings a-plenty here, let me tell you. Prove me wrong, internets... prove me wrong!


Nanook said...


I always wished I had a backyard big enough to have my own 'Nature's Paint Pots'. I guess this image will have to suffice. Fabulous.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Is that compost or are those bushes shedding in the lower part of the first image? It's definitely not the same color as the "desert" floor.

Chuck said...

I think they're shedding, Ken.

Note the little jog in the track in the second image. That's one of those little details that makes the ride more interesting to the guest as well as a practical view block to make the next scene that much more dramatic as it unfolds in front of you. Walt's home layout used this technique in the tunnel and elsewhere, and I think it's a design element that's often missing in kiddie park, zoo, and "Tier 2" theme park rail-based rides to their detriment.

The Toledo Zoo used to have a very interesting track layout for their Chance Rides 2-foot gauge C.P. Huntington train that included two return loops, crossed a pedestrian walkway twice, ducked between buildings, zipped along plantings and walls, and ended zooming through a curved, blacklit tunnel. Part of the excitement was not being able to see where you were going and the ability to access parts of the zoo nobody else could see. When they expanded the zoo in the mid-2000's and replaced their early 60's trainset with a brand-new copy, the new track layout is a loop around an animal enclosure that is completely visible from a large observation deck. And it's incredibly boring.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I once met a former Imagineer who said he was building a miniature Rainbow Caverns for his backyard train (I should have asked if I could see it, since he lived nearby!), but I love the idea of having a “living desert” backyard, especially in today’s drought-stricken California. Paint pots would be a real showstopper.

K. Martinez, I thought it was just shadows that looked extra contrasty - it almost looks like there had been a brush fire.

Chuck, you are right, it is those little details that make so much difference. It is amazing that the Toledo Zoo went from a fun, busy train layout to a boring loop. Either they cheaped out, or some designer didn’t know what he was doing (or he didn’t care).

Alonzo P Hawk said...

According to David Koenig's "Mouse Tales" books the probings were known to be at higer levels on Grad Nites.

The little gray aliens were banned from the park by the 1970's for constantly trying to use "kids" ticket books.

Thanks for posting photos of one of my fav-o-rite extinct attractions.

Melissa said...

It's a wonderland of nature
It's a nature's wonderland
There's a pot to paint yer wagon
And a pot to paint yer sand

David Foose said...

Much of the rock work in the 1st picture still exists near the entrance to Big Thunder BBQ restaurant. Love your page, Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

Alonzo, nobody would mind the probings if the aliens would just warm those things up! Meanwhile, the little gray guys aren't tall enough to ride the E-ticket attractions.

Melissa, I don't really have a tune for your lyrics, and yet I can almost hear Lee Marvin "singing" them.

David Foose, I have heard that those rocks are still there, but never think to go over and look for myself. I'm glad you are enjoying GDB!

Matthew said...

Cant't get enough of ol' Nature's Wonderland and the Living Desert. The 'S' curve caught my attention too and when Chuck said, "a practical view block to make the next scene that much more dramatic as it unfolds in front of you." I had to stop and think what would have been the next scene.

At first I thought it must have been the Warthog and Bobcat scene, but looking at the distance between those rocks near the track and the mud pots it just seems to small of space; however, the rocks would block the view of the warthogs at the base of the cactus and the bobcat on top would draw your eyes upward until you came around the bend.

Or were the small rocks and 'S' curve meant to block the "Devil's Paint Pots." Either way, the photos are great Major. Thank you for posting. Are there any "Red Handkerchief" men out there to let us know which it was? Too busy to stop and go look at our friend Chris Merritt's "fun map" drawing.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

DBenson said...

Speaking of "The Living Desert", it's one of the movies on TCM's Disney night Thursday, July 2. Also Johnny Tremain, which I think is represented by the Liberty Tree in Florida's park.

Major Pepperidge said...

Matthew, I would have never noticed the S-curve it Chuck hadn't pointed it out! But it's an example of a tiny detail - they could have easily left it out - that helps to enriched the experience. I use Chris Merritt's "fun map" drawing as reference all the time, but he did have to use some artistic license, so it isn't 100 percent accurate. What I need is a big, detailed aerial photo looking straight down! I think Daveland had one on his blog, come to think of it.

Donald Benson, unfortunately I don't get TCM, which is a huge bummer. I still remember seeing Johnny Tremain when I was a kid and being fascinated by it.