Friday, June 30, 2017

The Disneyland Band, 1956 & 1957

Today I have two very nice photos featuring the wonderful Disneyland Band! This first one is a real dazzler, circa 1957, with the Band working its way from the Hub down Main Street. They are wearing their short-lived (for some reason) blue uniforms, which look pretty great in my opinion. We get some bonus goodness with the new Monsanto house in the background, and beyond that, the Skyway tower atop Holiday Hill. For some reason the absence of the Matterhorn seems extra weird in this image.

Oh, and let's not forget the horse drawn Chemical Wagon, full of guests! I also love details such as the 1957 gate handout being held by the woman to our left.

This next one is from a different batch, and is likely from 1956, though it is undated. The red and white striped wall to our right is presumably surrounding construction of the Carnation Plaza Gardens, which opened on August 18th of 1956, so that helps. The Disneyland Band is following Vesey Walker like a bunch of baby ducklings; looks like they just marched from Frontierland (perhaps they'd performed on the deck of the Mark Twain), and are about to head toward Main Street Station.

The area just beyond Vesey looks so empty; of course this was pre-Tiki Room and pre-Swiss Family Treehouse. Not to mention that the Jungle Cruise's rain forest hadn't had much time to grow. But still! I think that's part of what I like about this angle - I don't think I've seen another picture quite like this one.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Universal Studios

Today's post (featuring the vintage postcards belonging to Ken Martinez) shines a spotlight on Universal Studios. When these cards were printed, there was only one Universal Studios, and that one was in Hollywood. Or next to Hollywood, at any rate. I have a real fondness for the old Studio tour and all of the stuff that visitors could see back in those days! Here's Ken:

Vintage Universal Studios.

Today is a quick visit to the classic Universal Studios, Hollywood.  This is a Southern California attraction staple right up there with Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.  Between the three big attractions, it’s the one I have the least experience with.

I like this postcard of the Glamour Tram stopped in front of 1313 Mockingbird Lane.  There seemed to be those who preferred “The Addams Family” and those who preferred “The Munsters” but I enjoyed both as a child.  I did have a special fondness for “The Munsters” though, probably because of its connection to the Universal classic monsters.  I always liked Al Lewis as grandpa.  This house also stood in for 4351 Wisteria Lane on “Desperate housewives”.

As a kid of the sixties, I grew up on the old Universal Monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and the Mummy.  I’d always get excited seeing this postcard of Frankenstein and think about what I would do if I ran into him at the studio when I was a kid, but strangely I don’t ever remember encountering Frankenstein while at Universal.

Here we have a Wild West Stunt show.  Stunt shows seemed to be a staple at Universal Studios.  The last one I remember was “Water World”.  It’s been a while since I’ve returned to Universal. 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this quick visit to Universal Studios, Hollywood.

THANK YOU to Ken Martinez! I hope we revisit this park soon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

4000th POST!

Just over a month ago, I celebrated GDB's 11-year anniversary. Today I am celebrating post number 4000 - four times what I had originally intended to share back when I started this cockamamie endeavor (my original goal was to somehow reach 1000 posts). Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been unable to scan anything new for a while (long story), and I wasn't sure how to best celebrate today's milestone; so I decided to go back through what I laughingly call my "archives" (dozens of barely-organized folders on an external hard drive) and re-post some of my favorite images from the past - generally scans from the early years, and in some cases from years before the blog even existed.

I'll begin with this fun photo - the second image to ever appear on GDB - showing  a rare look at the interior of the Upjohn Pharmacy. The little boy with the Donald Duck cap is gazing intently at a classic Japanese tin robot, while a man (not the boy's father - he  appeared in other photos) seems to be purchasing a swell-looking Mickey Mouse toy.

I love this great shot of the Plantation House (circa 1956), taken from the Mark Twain; I can't decide if I'd rather be up on the balcony (imagine the view!), or down below, closer to river and the action.  If you look between the first and second columns of the house, to the left, you can just see the old well that was only there for a brief time.

Meanwhile, over at the Disneyland Hotel... we get this wonderful, dynamic shot looking down on the Hotel Tram, with the yellow Monorail heading into the station, looking about as cool as possible. Just visible in the distance is the dome of the Anaheim Convention Center - not to mention acres and acres of cars to our left.

Here's a 1963 slide that I wish I could rescan - I did this one back in 2004, and while it is pretty, I think I could do a better job now. Something to do in the future! Anyway, it's a lovely view of the Matterhorn, with the Yacht Bar to our left. For some reason the Matterhorn's waterfall, splashing down to the ground, looks especially cool here. 

This one has so much going for it - intense Kodachrome hues, crystal clarity, and the late afternoon sun shining on Main Street Station and the Disneyland Railroad. And the posters - so many classics. Imagine having never been to Disneyland before, or even knowing much about it, and seeing this tableau as your introduction!

I always love a good night shot, and this photo of the "America the Beautiful" show building (from 1960) is pretty sweet. It almost looks like a stained glass window, with those rich vibrant colors. In the foyer is a map of some country. BUT WHICH ONE? If only there was a clue.

Check out this amazing photo from July of 1956! The Tomorrowland Autopia looks so great, with the curving roadways and multicolored cars that look like Matchbox toys. Almost as interesting is the view of rural Anaheim, with very little development as far as the eye can see.

Here's a fun, rare view taken inside the Kaiser Aluminum Telescope, from one of the sponsored exhibits in Tomorrowland. The telescope was angled upward (where the "Mighty Microscope" from Adventure Thru Inner Space would eventually go), and guests entered from the lower part and walked up a ramp to enter the exhibit - it looks like we are looking back down the ramp. This was one of the cooler finds in my time collecting. And it's a stereo slide to boot!

This one seems to pop up somewhat regularly on Disneyland fan sites; folks have fun with the crude and possibly frightening appearance of these early character costumes. I find the weirdness to be appealing, but... it's not for everyone.

Here's another favorite of mine, with the brave li'l Viewliner cruising (Viewliners don't chug!) through a rather barren landscape, about to cross a lake that is almost pure sulphuric acid. OK, that's a lie, but wouldn't that be cool? Fans of telephone poles will be happy today. I think that's the Junior Autopia in the distance.

If you like the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad (Railway?) you will enjoy this fun photo from 1955, as the Passenger Train scoots past the Freight Train - this is presumably from the days when the Passenger Train only stopped at Main Street Station, while the Freight Train only stopped at Frontierland Station, making the siding necessary. It's so odd to see the people standing in the open-topped cars! Somehow the gentleman's straw hat is the perfect touch.

Sticking with the train theme, I wanted to share this warm and lovely shot of the Nature's Wonderland Mine Train as it returns to Rainbow Ridge under the golden afternoon sunlight. This one is dated "July, 1960", so Nature's Wonderland was brand-new, and the trains were sporting the wonderful yellow hue (which was dark green in the earlier incarnation).

I generally love photos of the old Monsanto Plastic House of the Future, and this one is a great example. It's funny to think that this house was futuristic - but not crazy futuristic. I think that the designers hoped that ideas like this might catch on over the next decade or two, though they were probably resigned to the fact that people would always want "traditional" homes, and not a giant plastic mushroom.

I buy lottery tickets about twice a year, and know that the odds of winning are incredibly small, BUT... if I strike it rich, I want to build a house like this!

As wonderful as they were, the Disneyland Stagecoaches only ran for 4 years. They suffered from low rider capacity, and occasionally had a tendency to tip over. Their removal was sad, but the addition of the fantastic Nature's Wonderland made it all better.

And finally, here's a beautiful photo of Tomorrowland, taken from the queue of the months-old Skyway. (this picture was taken on December 29, 1956). There's so much to look at! The Autopia, the lake where the Phantom Boats occasionally plied the waters, the Fantasyland train station (with the Passenger Train stopped there), the Yacht Bar (in its original location?), "Holiday Hill" and the Skyway tower... so wonderful.

Well, there you have it; 15 greatest hits for post #4000. I can hardly believe it! There won't be another 4000, I'm sorry to say, though if I owned enough photos, I'd give it a shot. As always, thanks to all of you who comment and contribute to make GDB such a fun little community.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Three Hucktastic Photos

Today we have three more photos from Huck, circa 1995!

Ah, the old Autopia - I was awfully fond of the Corvette-style sports cars, so it's nice to see them here, just a short while before the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland Autopias were joined into a single track. In theory I like the idea of a variety of car types for the miniature highway, but am just not that crazy about the way the current examples look. 

It's kind of interesting to look at the photo from last Friday and compare the way Tomorrowland Station looked then and now.

For you fans of signage, here's a sign from the Fantasyland Autopia. Bumping may occur! That's OK, my favorite dance at the disco is The Bump. Pregnant women should avoid this ride - we don't want any unexpected deliveries. Unless it's a pizza with sausage, mushrooms, and pepperoni. 

Look at that kid with the backwards baseball cap! Disgraceful! 

The old Submarine lagoon looks very pretty hear, glowing like a blue topaz. The Monorail beamway gleams in the sunlight, and there are still Peoplemover cars up on their track. Lemon yellow subs ply the waters, no longer hunting for commies, but instead performing undersea reasearch.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Town Square, May 1999

Here are a few more nice shots from Disneyland circa 1999 - 18 years ago, yo! I'll start with this photo of a pair of Omnibuses (Omnibi?) - gosh, do they ever run more than one of those anymore? They certainly appear to be doing a brisk business. I miss the mini posters that used to be affixed to the sides of the vehicles.

I did not recall seeing that elaborate signage on the stairs of the Omnibuses, but Mr. X explained that National Rent a Car was the official car rental for Disneyland for a number of years (at least from 1998 through 2004, if not longer), and they sponsored the Fire Engine, Horse Drawn Streetcars, and Horseless Carriages. Did all of those vehicles sport some sort of advertising?

Also... the stroller takeover has begun.

Here's a good photo of a Horseless Carriage passing a Horse Drawn Streetcar. Everything is so clean and tidy, even the motorcar - do all of these still date back to 1955?

And if you're not in a hurry, howsabout taking a few moments to enjoy the Disneyland Band? They don't dance around, but they sure sound great.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Jungle Cruise, February 1961

For many people, Sunday is a day of rest. For me, it's a day of sloth, which is way more fun than rest. It's also the day when I tend to share some of the least interesting scans in my latest "scanned slides" folder. Today's aren't too bad though.

Yes, it's that crazy Jungle Cruise, in which we manage to somehow putt down so many rivers of the world in mere minutes. Africa! Asia! India! Oxnard! As you can see, some natives are wearing colorful costumes and dancing in a circle to the sound of pounding drums. What a welcome! Usually when I show up somewhere, people just glare silently at me. Maybe because I owe them money. That tree trunk looks like something repurposed from the original Anaheim property. Hey, it works.

One of the more curious animals you might see in Asia is the wily water buffalo. It looks like a large mammal, but is in fact a fish, using its gills to extract oxygen from the water. At certain times of the year, large schools of these fish swim en masse to the ocean, where they lay their eggs in trees near the shore. When the eggs hatch, the babies drop to the ground and run to the water, where the cycle starts all over again.

Ain't nature wonderful?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Captain Midnight Decoder Badges

Today's "Anything Goes Saturday" is kind of different!

Years ago, I lived near a number of antiques stores, and would mosey on over to see if anything good was there. On one excursion, a Little Orphan Annie decoder badge caught my eye, and I bought it for a surprisingly low price. After that, I looked for other old radio premiums; I am pretty sure that I found all of these at various shops, and didn't buy any of them on eBay (or other auction sites) which is why they are sometimes not quite as "minty" as I would probably want these days. Still, I love the idea of some kid saving up his cereal box tops (or similar coupons), sending in 5 cents, and happily receiving his or her very own secret decoder badge. I don't have them all, but love the ones I do have. I'll be sharing photos of 6 different decoders from the "Captain Midnight" show.

This first one is a 1942-1944 "Photomatic Code-O-Graph". In 1940, Ovaltine took over sponsorship of the Captain Midnight radio program, and the Captain became the head of a secret government paramilitary group called the Secret Squadron. With the advent of WWII, he fought Nazis, especially spies and saboteurs intent on destroying the old U.S. of A. Kids were encouraged to replace the Captain's photo with their own, instantly becoming a member of this exclusive squadron! Because this one was available for years, it is not hard to find.

1945 saw the introduction of the "Magni-Matic Code-O-Graph". With brass being such a critical wartime resource, Ovaltine instead used stamped sheet steel that was then painted gold. There is a plastic insert with one half of the cipher, and the clear knob also acted as a magnifying lens, mostly used for frying ants. I have read that this was the only Captain Midnight decoder in which demand exceeded supply.

I found this one (and the next one) in a junk shop for a pittance (along with some 1939 World's Fair pins) - that was a good day!

Next is this "Mirro-Flash Code-O-Graph" from 1946. This is the last Captain Midnight decoder released as a badge. With the end of the war, they used stamped brass again. The knob now has a metal insert that could be used for heliography - flashing a reflected signal to passing airplanes. Why just the other day, I got a passing Boeing 787 to land because I had skinned my knee. Thanks, fellows!

This next example is from 1947 - the "Whistle Code-O-Graph". It's a beautiful blue plastic whistle that I  am sure to have with me at all times, often testing it loudly at Starbucks or Target to make sure that it  still works.

And yes, it is still a decoder. We'd whipped the Nazis, but now the commies were becoming a real pain in the neck. To this day I'll see some guy with a bad haircut and ugly brown leather shoes buying a loaf of bread - he must be a commie!! It's the only rational explanation. I always alert the authorities. But I'm no hero - just a regular Joe doing his bit.

How do you like this 1948 "Mirro-Magic Code-O-Graph"? It is made of brass, aluminum, plastic, and steel. The cipher numbers and letter can be seen through those tiny windows. Mere friction is used to keep the two separate parts of the cipher properly aligned, and slippage turned out to be a vexing problem, resulting in many communist plots succeeding.

Here's the back (made of plastic), with yet another handy mirror. Once again you can flash out an S.O.S., or just make sure that your hair already has plenty of Wildroot Cream Oil in order to keep it neat and tidy.

Finally we have this unusual 1949 "Key-O-Matic Code-O-Graph", which was improved from the 1948 version by actually using gears for the cipher elements. The tiny key is required to reset the thing, and not surprisingly, it was often lost. Clever bending of a paper clip would suffice, but these days the keys can sometimes fetch higher prices than the decoder itself.

I hope that you have enjoyed today's "Anything Goes" Captain Midnight decoder badges!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fabulous Tomorrowland, July 1958

Today's scans are the last from a very nice set of  1958 photos - I wish there were lots more! But we must be grateful for what we have, I suppose. 

Let's start with this lovely, amazingly empty view in the heart of Tomorrowland, with the whirling Astro Jets in the foreground. It's interesting to think that the Astro Jets was an off the shelf ride - you could find others pretty much just like it at fairs, carnivals and boardwalks - Tomorrowland was famously unfinished when Disneyland debuted, and the Jets seems a bit like a filler, and yet they survived until construction for the "New Tomorrowland" began. 

Let's go ride the Rocket to the Moon - going to the moon is a good way to work up an appetite. Then we can eat at the Space Bar!

I like this pretty view of Tomorrowland Station - about as minimal as it can be. In 1958 this minimalism probably seemed super modern, if not necessarily futuristic. It reminds me a bit of a simple gas station or car wash. Note the sign for the new Grand Canyon Diorama!

A slight zoom shows us some details, like the lady in the ticket booth, and the loud speaker on top of the booth - what did it play? "Ticket book holders, please tear out a 'D' coupon..." or something along those lines? (As you know, E tickets did not yet exist in 1958). 

One gentleman sits on the bench, possibly perusing his souvenir guidebook - I guess he might be waiting for his kids as they ride the Autopia?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Coney Island

Hey ho, it's time for another post featuring some vintage postcards from the collection of Ken Martinez! This one is especially great in my opinion - I have always been fascinated by those early amusement parks and their "scenic railways". The postcards make them look pretty amazing. Heeeeeere's Ken:

Coney Island Mountain Range

One of the things I discovered when I first started digging into the history of amusement parks back in the 1970’s was that there were “mountain” type  attractions well before Disney built them in their parks. Coney Island was a prime example which contained various “mountain” attractions through its early history, usually a rolling gravity scenic railway with manmade rocks, crags, tunnels and peaks.

Here’s an early Thompson wooden scenic railway called “Pike’s Peak Railway” which was located off Surf Avenue near Dreamland.  The ride operated from 1906 to 1911.  The structure which was in the form of a mountain rose to a height of 138 feet (only 9 feet shorter than Disneyland’s Matterhorn).  The ride would take riders up a lift hill and down the gravity railway, passing through the “mountain” over precipitous crags and through various caverns.  The attraction perished in the 1911 Dreamland fire.

This postcard kind of reminds me of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland.  It was officially called “Over the Great Divide” but was also referred to as “Trip over the Alps”.  It operated from 1907 to 1911.  20-passenger trains would travel to a height of 50 feet then wind their way down the tracks around turns, through tunnels and over a 70 foot bridge between “Yellowstone Mountain” and the “Great Divide” over a lake 40 feet below.  There was also a volcano that erupted at the highest point of the trip.  Each train was operated by a motorman who controlled the speed of the trains during the run through their course.  As with the “Pikes Peak Railway” this attraction also perished in the 1911 Dreamland fire.

Pictured here is the “Mountain Torrent” ride which was a combination coaster and shoot-the chutes ride.  Its location was in Luna Park near the Dragon’s Gorge Scenic Railway.  Passengers actually climbed by foot up an 80 foot “peak” where they would board vehicles/boats (which had utilized wheels) and raced down a flume which carried high volumes of rushing water helping push the “boat” along.  The ride ended in a finale with a splashdown into a glacial lake at the bottom of the mountain.  Sound familiar?  It ran from 1906 to 1910.

Here’s a close up view of the “Mountain Torrent” vehicles.  Another aspect of these cards that I love is the clothing worn by the people from the 1900’s.

Hope you enjoyed a peek at Coney Island’s “mountain range”.  There are more Coney Island postcards to come.

Information Source material: 
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Coney Island History Site

MANY THANKS to Ken Martinez for this awesome post!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Special Guest Mega-Post

Today we have a contribution from GDB pal JG (you know him from the comments!), who visited the park a few months ago, and took photos until his phone was much heavier from all of the extra pixels. The massive Star Wars Land construction has removed some options from a typical visit, but it has also added a few cool opportunities, of which many of us have not been able to take advantage. (I'm not sure if I've place JG's commentary exactly where he intended, but you should be able to follow along). And now, let's hear from JG (with my own additions in blue)!

As most of you know already, the DLRR has been shut down for over a year as part of the Star Wars Land construction, which required realignment of the railroad and the Rivers of America to make room for more Ewoks.

To provide some interest for visitors in this quiet period, Disney set up a static display of one of  the DLRR engines, the old Kalamazoo hand-car and several other exhibits about the DLRR.

I had a chance to visit the Park recently and this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit was one reason to brave the ever-larger crowds.  Since the GDB crowd seems to be keen on the railroads, I took these pictures partly with the blog in mind.  Hope everyone enjoys them.

I was most interested in the old station building, which I remembered from it's original position on the guest side of the track, it has been marooned on the far side ever since the opening of NOS.  This will probably be the last chance in my lifetime to see the old building up close.

A temporary deck was built across the tracks to provide safe access and a number of interpretive boards were put up under the baggage area of the station.  The first told of Walt's passion for trains. Another described some of the specialty cars that have been part of the DLRR over the years, including the Lily Belle, the Combine Car and the  Kalamazoo Hand-Car.  I don't remember the hand-car from childhood, but GDB commenters sure do, so I took several pics. More boards discussed the various railroads at the other Disney parks and displayed attraction posters from over the years.

These boards remind me of Michael Broggie's book, "Walt Disney's Railroad Story"... I wonder if he was involved in creating them?

Someday they're gonna give me a ride on the Lilly Belle as a V.I.P! Yes, I will be wearing a top hat and monocle.

I thought it was interesting that they devoted so much space to the combine, which can now be seen in Griffith Park.

There are the four WDW locomotives; compare and contrast them to their Disneyland cousins! I have never seen that "Santa Fe and Disneyland RR" sign or poster before.

The artwork in the upper left is familiar to me, but I was surprised to see that it is credited to Fred Joerger; I believe that he was famous for his models and sculpting, but I had no idea that he also did concept art.

Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland get a mention.

Hooray for posters! Thanks to the book, "Poster Art of the Disney Parks", I knew that the same basic design had been reused a number of times. But they left out the Disneyland Bicentennial version!

I'd like to think that lots of people actually read these signs and learned something about the history of railroads in the U.S.A.

The pointing hand shows the way to the telegraph office. Clickety click! I'm not sure what you would call that ornamental device that resembles a wheel, but it reminds me a bit of the Santa Fe Railroad logo, which was sometimes depicted at an angle.

Like this:

There was a nice model of a steam train boiler cut-away so we could see the internal works and some very lucky Cast Members whose jobs were to explain it all to the visitors.  

What a cool thing to include! I wonder if this was custom-made for this exhibit.

It's so strange to see guests walking right in front of the station!

I don't recognize the train that was set aside as the main event  but I'm confident someone will.  The shot of the cab interior is fascinating, but the valves and levers are Greek to me. Hopefully Steve DeGaetano will explain.

These photos show the Ernest S. Marsh, but I wonder if different locomotives were on display on different days?

One of the best parts of the whole affair was being able to take photos up and down the line from the center line of the track.  This part of NOS has always been fun, with the laundry flapping on the lines on the back stage buildings and the water tower, etc.  The only thing missing was the old Santa Fe logo to make my memory day complete.

What a treat to really be able to get a close look at this old locomotive, with its beautiful paint and gold leaf details. 

Where's the steering wheel? How am I supposed to play my 8-track tapes?

Here's a friendly staff member who can answer all your questions, including dumb questions about 8-track tape players.

There's the Kalamazoo Handcar, on the world's shortest railroad spur. If you only need to go 18 inches, you are in luck!

My tour of the exhibit ended with the Delta Ramblers playing on the station platform.  Then off to the Haunted Mansion.

All of this has now been dismantled in the run-up to the re-opening of the River and starting the train again.

And finally, JG included this final photo, along with a very nice note: I am enclosing one last photo from the end of the day.  I stopped at the Hearthstone Lounge in the Grand Californian for a nightcap.  Since I can't buy you a real drink, I'm sending you a virtual one.  Up to you whether you include this last one (or any of them, for that matter) on a family blog, but it's a toast to you and all our friends that make GDB so interesting.  It would be a grand party to have us all together at the Hearthstone.

Aw, thanks JG!

Until I read JG's text, I was not aware that this display of Disney railroad stuff has since been removed. It was definitely an experience that has never been available before (as far as I know), and I am grateful that JG was able to see it and share his photos with us. MANY THANKS to him!