Monday, July 13, 2015

Crowded New Orleans Square! - August 1969

You might look at today's photos of New Orleans Square, and think to yourself, "What a gyp, we've already seen these!". But you would be wrong! 

August, 1969 was a big deal in Disneyland history. A certain Haunted Mansion made its debut, drawing record crowds. And while we don't see the Mansion in today's pictures, we sure do see how mobbed the rest of New Orleans Square was. It's hard to tell, but it looks like many of the guests were in line for "Pirates of the Caribbean" (which is in the building with the cupola on top). 

I can just imagine walking from Main Street through Frontierland, and feeling your heart sink as you realize that you will be spending the next 90 minutes (or more?) in line.

Things let up a little bit as we pan eastward, with the River Belle Terrace visible through the trees. Why would you eat when you might have a chance to see the original Hat Box Ghost in the Haunted Mansion?!?


TokyoMagic! said...

When did they get rid of the plants along the riverbank of New Orleans Square and extend that brick curbing and railing further down the Rivers of America?

K. Martinez said...

In my opinion, 1969 was the peak of Disneyland's golden age. The Haunted Mansion was brand new, Pirates of the Caribbean, New Orleans Square and New Tomorrowland were still fresh and the Mine Train, Indian Village and Carousel of Progress were still entertaining guests before they disappeared the following decade to be replaced with post-Walt era attractions.

I love how the Swiss Family Treehouse stands out and yet fits in with the foliage and right up against the Pirates building too. Only in Disneyland! Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

WOW!!! That's a lot of people. The people eaters must have had some serious indigestion that day. Do they still make Attraction-Size Tums?

I can't find the River Belle Terrace in this photo. Is it behind Aunt Jemima's Kitchen? ;-)

TokyoMagic!, Daveland shows the curbing and railing in place by October of 1972: .

For a comparison with today's 1969 photos, a very similar angle from March of '75 is posted here: .

Nice set today, Major! I'd like to be there in spite of the crowds.

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, And to think the Frontierland restaurant only spent a year between the Aunt Jemima and River Belle eras as the unsponsored Magnolia Tree Terrace. I'm surprised the curbing and railing were in place that early. My teenage mind didn't pay attention to stuff like that in those days. Thanks for the links.

Patrick Devlin said...

It's hard for me to remember how the queue area for Pirates used to be before the current overpass/underpass was installed. The doors to the entrance just seem impossibly high up to ever have allowed that constant slope down to the river.

Tom said...

@Patrick: here's another look at it: NOS in 1970

The area was pretty level back then. My theory is that the river sloped upwards before California passed a law forcing Disneyland to drop that bend of the river to level it out. It's just a theory.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I was going to do some quick research regarding your question, but I see that Chuck has already done some! However, I saw a photo of mine that had the rushes and plants there in 1969, and then a photo of the river, drained, with the plants gone in 1970.

K. Martinez, you might be right, that could be the high point for Disneyland. Of course others may have differing opinions! I know some younger folks who insist that the 1980’s was the best time. As for the Treehouse, it amazes me how completely real it looks - not bad for a steel, concrete, and plastic tree!

Chuck, huh, I seem to be doing that lately… not taking the date of the photo into account (see my recent “Nature’s Wonderland”/“Rainbow Caverns Mine Train” example). Thanks for the river front photo links!

K. Martinez, I have always wondered why they even changed the name from “Magnolia Tree Terrace” to the “River Belle Terrace” - did Oscar Meyer (or whoever the sponsor was) insist on the name change?

Patrick Devlin, I remember the first time I saw the elaborate “Pirates” queue with the bridge and stairs… I hadn’t heard about it, so it was like I had lost my mind. “Wait a minute; when did THIS happen? And why?”. Even now I admit that it seems like a weird way to get people into a building.

Tom, yes, it seems like the area was just flat. They clearly dug out a large area in front of Pirates, but even so, it seems like the steps and bridge go up quite a bit.

Chuck said...

Major, if it makes you feel any better, I originally typed "Aunt Jemima's Pancake House" and only caught my own error when looking for riverfront photos.

With as many name changes as some Disneyland locations have gone through in 60 years, it can be tough to keep track of what was called what and when. You do yeoman's work (whatever that means - maybe dressing up as Grace Lee Whitney and serving coffee?) on this blog on a daily basis, and I think that the occasional error is unavoidable, understandable, and uncommon. The fact that we keep coming back is a testament to your overall high standards and sense of humor (and, in my case, a court order, but that's a different topic for a different time). You, sir, remain our hero.

Melissa said...

I am the ghost of friend chicken past! ooooOOOooooocluckCLUUUUckcluck!

Anonymous said...

August 1969. How well I remember those days. We hit a daily record of over 80,000 guests on one of those days. The front gates were closed in the afternoon because of limits imposed, we were told, by the fire marshal. And it was nearly impossible to get into the employee parking lot with the crush of traffic. Those were great times for the Park. BTW, I worked Pirates a couple years later...many times on crowd control. Have to say, the designers were ingenious with the way it looks today. More people squeezed into a smaller area and it's more attractive now than before. But how many more can they put into the Park at one time without expanding it? It's too crowded for me these days.

Anonymous said...

This area looked much like this on my last visit in 2013, the Pirate line ran all the way to the HM and back twice.

Great pics.


Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I’m not sure I can take credit for doing “yeoman’s work”… the last few weeks (and the next few weeks to come) were all written in a big hurry, because I didn’t know exactly when I was going to move, or how long my internet would be out. As it turns out, I am moved and back on the ‘net, but that’s OK, because now I can coast for a few weeks. Wheee! Still, thanks for the nice words.

Melissa, when the guests have left and there is a full moon, some people say that they can smell fried chicken.

KS, Very cool that you were there for that infamous day with 80,000+ guests! I can’t even imagine how crowded that must be; I generally try to avoid crowded days! I have had the chance to talk to a number of former employees from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and in every case they have had nothing but positive things to say about their experiences. It makes me wish I had been able to work there myself at that time (though I was just a kid). Believe me, the only job I thought about was working at Disneyland!

JG, wow, the line was that long in 2013? Is that when some significant change had occurred at Pirates? At least that ride eats people up really fast, so even a long line goes pretty quickly.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I don't know what the special attraction was, other than Spring Break, but the Park was a zoo that day and it cut into my enjoyment somewhat.

It was a 45 minute wait, but wasn't too bad since the weather was nice and I had a nice view of the River and all the traffic going by. A really fine "pre-show", much better than being crammed into the old maze next to the Swiss Family Treehouse that was taken out by Indiana Jones.

On the other hand, I walked right on to the Haunted Mansion earlier that AM, so go figure.


Anonymous said...

Major..I feel fortunate to have worked the Park when I did...when there were busy times as well as slow periods just to contemplate the beauty of the place. It was still 'human scale'. From the crowds of 1969 to Yippee Day of 1970, seeing Hollywood celebrities walking with the crowds with just a Tour Guide escort, Custer's and Banana Ball events. Meeting my wife there. Walt's influence was still alive. Many of us have found each other on social media now. One former co-worker just celebrated 45 years, now in management, with a picture of himself today on a Jungle Cruise boat with a mic in his hand...exactly how he started. Special memories.