Thursday, August 04, 2016

"Disneyland U.S.A." Poster and Press Kit

Steve Stuart (aka "Nanook") is well known to GDB regulars with his fun commentaries; and along the way he's shared items from his personal collection of Disney stuff... here's another neat piece of ephemera.

Steve has a rare poster and press kit for the wonderful 1956 featurette, "Disneyland U.S.A." (from the "People and Places" series). This is probably my favorite of all Disneyland promotional films, showing the park in the early days, all in glorious Kodachrome. It's beautiful! If you've never seen it, the whole thing is on YouTube... check it out HERE

First off is the poster, as seen in the fancy mat from Steve's favorite framer! The poster's wavy rainbow hints at the brilliant hues that would dazzle moviegoers; I love the little line drawings of various attractions, reminiscent of the kind that appear in so many vintage brochures.  After a little bit of research, it appears that this 42-minute film appeared along with "Westward Ho, The Wagons!", since both were released on December 20th, 1956.

Here's a neat image showing a Conestoga Wagon, a Stage Coach, and the Pack Mules. I would imagine that this would have been reproduced at about 4 inches wide, in smudged halftones in your local newspaper. 

Here's the cover of the press book; basically a black, white and red version of the poster. 

Who loves slugs? No, not the slimy little boogers that chew on your tomatoes. I'm talking about these little pieces of text and artwork, all ready to go with halftone grays. I think my favorite is the one in the middle. 

Book it now! Theater managers apparently needed convincing to show Disneyland U.S.A. I love the little blurbs that they provide. "42 Minutes of Sheer Enchantment!". "The Most Exciting 42 Minutes That You Will Ever Experience!". So how long is the movie, anyway? Of course these blurbs get the job done, but they're not very inspired.

Presumably, lazy newspaper editors could write a whole article about Disneyland U.S.A. by copying these prewritten promotional pieces. Hopefully they at least mixed things up so that it wasn't so obvious. Just like my school book reports!

I love the big ad for the classic album, "Walt Disney Takes you to Disneyland (A Musical Tour)" - possibly my favorite Disney album (though if you ask me on another day I might list the famous Haunted Mansion record instead). The two articles at the top of the page are puzzling to me - I guess they provided additional material in case a publication wanted to write an extended article.

More delicious slugs! I can imagine seeing these reproduced in magazines and newspapers of the era, along with dozens of other movies and short features. "Now you can see it ALL on the motion picture screen"... sounds like a movie that is not appropriate for the whole family! 

Many thanks to Steve Stuart for sharing this great vintage press kit!


Scott Lane said...

Too cool! That color one-sheet is a real gem.
And now I want a pet slug.
Thanks for sharing!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

@Nanook (Steve) thanks for sharing your treasures, these are awesome! Disneyland U.S.A is quite possibly my favorite "documentary" style offering from Disney. I just wish I could remember how long the actual movie was. Somewhere between 40-45 mins, I guess we'll never know.

Major, kudos to you for posting. For a former printer/lithographer I must say I got my USDA recomended daily allowence of slugs with nice usage of the seldom heard "halftone" to boot.

Chuck said...

This is a gem. Loving pretty much every image.

Note the Skyway buckets in the lower right of the poster. No overhead suspension cable or towers are depicted - it's as though the buckets are floating on their own through the sky. This is different from the line drawings in the old INA guidebooks, which at least show the suspension cable (

That changes my perspective on the possible original creative intent for the attraction. Just as you aren't supposed to "see" the suspension systems for Peter Pan('s) Flight and Dumbo('s) Flying Elephants as you are riding them, burying yourself instead in the fantasy, perhaps that was the intent behind the Skyway - an unfettered flight over Disneyland, and pretend the cables and towers aren't there.

And I know what album I'll be listening to today.

Thanks for sharing Nanook!

Chuck said...

Make that "thanks for sharing, Nanook!"

(I guess that first closing was for the Major.)

Anonymous said...

What Chuck said, both times.


DrGoat said...

And again. A real treat to see something like that. Thanks for sharing.

DrGoat said...

I just watched the featurette. It made my whole day. The Disneyland that I will always have in my heart. I've given in to the fact that I'm a sentimental old fuddy duddy.

Patrick Devlin said...

Thanks to you, Nanook, for sharing this. I'm continually astonished at the depth of some of youse guy's collections. I'm confused, though. The link provided to the film at YouTube shows a running time of 41:49: perhaps there was an editing error along the way...

K. Martinez said...

Nanook (Steve), Wow!!! What a beautiful set! Wonderful graphics and color. I especially like the black, white and red version of the poster. There's so much to look at and enjoy out of today's post.

"People and Places: Disneyland, U.S.A." and "A Day at Disneyland" are my two favorite Disneyland documentaries. Both sum up a specific era at Disneyland so well. I have the People and Places Disneyland on the WD Treasures DVD and have watched I a gazillion times. There's always something new to discover. What an era!

Thanks, Nanook for sharing images of your collection and thanks, Major for presenting it.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Nice stuff Steve! I suppose on days like this we are permitted to call you “Steve”, somehow it doesn’t sound right though. All of this material is in such fine well preserved condition. You must have a very impressive collection if this sample is any indicator.

Now of course I had to watch the Disneyland U.S.A. documentary. I had never seen that one before, although a lot of the footage had been used in other things. Amazing how Disney was able to get people to pay to watch a commercial, but hay far be it from me to knock good marketing. After all, we all love Disney marketing; otherwise we wouldn’t all be looking at Nanook’s post today.

Funny that the documentary’s narrator referred to the Cinderella Castle mote as “the Lake of the Swans”. I never knew the mote had a name, and sadly a name it can no longer live up to as it no longer contains swans at all, as we discussed a while back.

Cool stuff today, thanks Nanook & Major!

Nanook said...

Dear All-

(With the Major's help...) I'm glad to share this fun item with y'all.

You would think with the obsessing over the running time of this short subject, it would be expected to play in theatres with an expiration date-! My guess is, that portion of the Press Kit was geared straight toward Mr. Exhibitor (yes, they were all "misters" back then); and at 42 minutes, could easily substitute for a second feature for a Saturday Matinee. Don't know how many theatres played it along with a title other than Westward Ho the Wagons, but I imagine some did - assuming Disney made it available. As Patrick pointed out, evidently the 'version' included on the WD Treasures DVD is NOT the "Director's Cut" shown back in 1956. (One wonders just what lurid shots were part of those elusive 11 minutes...)

With the exception of Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland records, the copy has all the trademarks of being [essentially] 'penned' by National Screen Service. Yes, they had quite the 'way with words'-!

@ Chuck-
You mean to tell me the Skyway had cables-??!! Wow.

@ M C K-

Yes, I have a number of fine pieces of memorabilia in my collection, but it really isn't all that large. Some collectors really do have a ton of items. Although in retrospect, I do have a few gems - many of which I was able to acquire essentially for free - when their ultimate value had yet to be realized.

Thanks, Major, for sharing these items with the 'group'.

Nanook said...


Mark H. Besotted said...

I can't even estimate how much I'd pay for 11 additional minutes of that film. A lot, I suspect. (My DVD of that Treasures set cost me 6 hours of wages, but I've definitely spent longer than that watching it.)

During the downtime I spend not on Disneyplace blogs, I'm slowly working my way through the latest Van Eaton auction catalog. Your gorgeous li'l single-minded collection here is an awesome addendum to the artifacts in there. Thanks for sharing!

David Zacher said...

Just the fly-over during the first three minutes is amazing. I have this video on my Disney Treasures DVD and I am definitely going to re-watch it this weekend. (Or maybe on YouTube at work right now!)

Nanook, Thanks for letting us see some of the things from your collection.

d(not a robot)z

Chuck said...

The poster worked its magic (along with the Interwebs) - I finally watched Disneyland, USA, a film I'd been aware of for 25 years but had never seen. Win Hubler's narration is as wonderful as the photography.

"Disneyland could happen only in a country where freedom is a heritage and the pursuit of happiness a basic human right." Word, Win. Word.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Chuck, I almost posted that exact same quote from the documentary. Walt was a real lover of America; it’s peppered all throughout the old classic “Walt” Disney presentations. That quote really jumped out at me when I heard it, mostly because it’s such a stark contrast to the mentality of today’s American culture. Man! I loved that guy! Wish he were still around today.

David, I agree, that AWESOME fly-over was truly AWESOME INDEED! Almost made me squeal, and I’m not the squealing type at all.

Nanook said...

Enough can't really be said for how revealing the fly-over imagery truly is in capturing a very early Disneyland - made even better thru the use of the 'pause' feature-! There's just so much eye candy to behold, it's almost an embarrassment of riches. It's too bad similar footage - taken at yearly intervals - isn't available (or perhaps is... but just in hiding).

Chuck said...

Just realized something - there's a snippet of the theme song from Old Yeller that plays at the beginning of the Frontierland sequence. Disneyland, USA was released a full year and five days before Old Yeller, which means the tune would have meant nothing to the initial viewing audiences other than pleasant, Western-sounding background music.

Oliver Wallace composed the music for both films. I wonder if this is a case of re-using music he'd already written for Old Yeller in Disneyland, USA as a deliberate nod to the film, or did he borrow the W4estern tune he'd written for Disneyland, USA and turn it into the theme for Old Yeller? The second idea isn't so far-fetched a concept; I recently was surprised to hear a slowed-down version of the end titles from Little House on the Prairie (1974) at the start of a 1967 episode of Bonanza until I learned that David Rose had done the music for both shows. It would make sense to recycle some little-known incidental music from one show to a more prominent position in the next.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

Composers' "self-borrowing" is as old as music itself. Who can say what came first in this instance.

In the world of television music, especially back-in-the-day, "library music" was often employed when a particular music cue was needed . Sometimes those cues were written by the show's composer, other times, simply 'pulled' from a library of music cues. I was watching an episode of Perry Mason from the 1950's, and all of a sudden a heard a music cue which I had heard used several times in the Leave It to Beaver TV show. I assume the reason is that both shows were produced by Revue Television (the TV arm of Universal Studios), so naturally they had easy access to the same music library, and could borrow whatever tracks were needed with little or no need to pay certain royalties - as they own the music.

Major Pepperidge said...

Scott Lane, I think I might have one of the press kit, but it’s the one-sheet that I really covet! Posters, I love ‘em.

Alonzo, “Disneyland U.S.A.” is definitely my favorite. I love the ones that Walt hosts, but they tend to reuse footage over and over (POV film from the Matterhorn, a ride through “It’s a Small World”), and often end on a dance number (snore!).

Chuck, I might be mistaken, but I believe that Disneyland’s Skyway was the first such ride in the United States. Many more would follow, of course, but I wonder if you are right - maybe the idea WAS that you were supposed to forget about those cables and imagine that you were soaring above the landscape. Interesting!

Chuck, there is enough Nanook to go around!

JG, to quote Slim Pickens in “Blazing Saddles”, “Ditto”!

DrGoat, that is one of those films that I almost have to watch when I start it. Everything about it is so amazing, from the beautiful color, to the music, to Winston Hibler’s narration, and of course, Disneyland in its wonderful early days.

Patrick Devlin, YouTube edited out an erotic scene. Those prudes.

K. Martinez, I must have “A Day at Disneyland” among my DVD’s but it doesn’t come to mind right away. It doesn’t seem to be on YouTube.

Monkey Cage Kurt, I think we should maintain decorum and continue to call Steve “Nanook”. Just my opinion of course! He probably will answer to either. I would cheerfully watch any commercial that had as much to offer as “Disneyland U.S.A.”. Many of the old Disney TV shows were essentially long commercials for upcoming films or attractions, and those were the episodes that I always loved the most! “Lake of the Swans”, something tells me that was a romantic bit of artistic license.

Nanook, I am a big fan of library music, and have many hours of it! Some of it makes for pretty good listening all by itself. Has anyone here seen “Westward Ho the Wagons”? I never have. National Screen Service, they got paid to write that stuff?? “37 Minutes of Excitement, With 5 Minutes That Aren’t So Hot!”. They need to hire me.

Nanook, I was thinking, “Wait, 11 MINUTES??”. I can only wish.

Mark H. Besotted, great minds think alike. Wouldn’t you love to view some of the “B Roll” footage? I’ll bet a lot of it was beautiful. As for the Van Eaton catalog, do you mean the one from the “Collecting Disney” auction?

David Zacher, I still think you might be a robot. Maybe YOU don’t even know if you are a human or not. It happens all the time in movies.

Chuck, I envy you for experiencing that movie for the first time. Yes, that quote really stands out, particularly since it was right around the HUAC hearings.

Monkey Cage Kurt, I still remember talking to a girl who was going to Cal State Northridge, who said that one of her professors told her class that Walt Disney was a Nazi. My head just about exploded! I think that the “Hollywood’s Dark Prince” book was to blame. The whole idea is so preposterous.

Nanook,I totally agree, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there WAS some amazing footage shot over the years that we will never see.

Chuck, until you pointed it out, I had never realized that the music was from “Old Yeller”, and even if I had, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that “Yeller” wouldn’t have been released at that point. Now…. I am ASTONISHED that David Rose was responsible for the music for both “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie”… the “Little House” music was so grating and unpleasant… syrupy strings dialed up to 11; it ruined the show for me, or nearly so.

Nanook, I can’t help thinking of Ren and Stimpy when I think about library music!

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Major, I remember the “Nazi thing” going around back in the 80s. I don’t believe it, but the Wernher Von Braun connection from Man and the Moon is a bit creepy. Was he SS or something? (I don’t know, so don’t quote me on that) But if we are engaging in “guilty by association” Ward Kimball would be skating on thin ice as well, and nobody wants to go there, now do they?

Oh and thanks for all the thoughtful responding and typing you do every day. I think about it all the time, how much work you do around here. WAY more than I’d be willing to do. It probably doesn’t help that I am always expecting you to be consistently funny.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Major, that's the one. I had just stopped at 1955 yesterday before I came by this way, so it was especially appropriate.

MC Kurt, I'm struggling to not quote Tom Lender here. Instead, I'll point out that during one of the Man In Space episodes, von Braun fiddles with a huge cake of uranium for several minutes onscreen, taking no precautions. WHILE he's discussing the Curies. Different times.