Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Mansion, Florida, 1971

I couldn't think of anything ghastly to share with you on this All Hallows Eve. Sure, I have photos of my bloody knee after I wiped out on my bicycle, but that doesn't seem to be quite the thing. 

Hey, I know! How about a few photos of the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion, taken when it had only been open for about two months? I always liked that the Imagineers made the Florida mansion look completely different from the outside, compared to the Anaheim version. 

At this point the exterior queue left visitors unprotected from the sun; I believe it was three or four years before they added a covered awning (what am I going to do, look it up?). The spookiest awning ever.

Some of those architectural details resemble chess pieces, and I know I've read about them, but have forgotten exactly what the consensus is. Wasn't this mansion based on an actual house, just like the Anaheim mansion? Did the Imagineers add the chess pieces on purpose? Is chess scary?! My guess is that it's just a coincidence. A very SPOOOOOOKY coincidence! 

One window appears uncharacteristically red. Red, the color of spooky tomatoes! Oh yeah, blood too. Is there a theory as to why that room has red windows?

I really like this unusual angle - maybe because we get a  good look at the conservatory with its green copper patina (it has obviously been there for 150 years!) and tiny panes of glass. We see some guests as they exited the attraction; clearly they are traumatized! The two gentlemen in the foreground needed some sweet, sweet nicotine to calm their jangled nerves.

Notice the red window, part of the same room as seen in the previous photo, just on the other end of the mansion.

Have a SPOOKTACULAR Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Storybook Land, 1961

Whenever I look through a new batch of slides and find a large group of images from Storybook Land, I usually cry, and yell, and roll around on the ground kicking and whining. But today's examples only elicited a few sniffles! I love the attraction, but photos tend to be all very "samey".

This first one is the best, showing a be-hatted hostess, seated on top of her canal boat, in mid-spiel. It doesn't look very comfortable up there, but she can see if her passengers are up to any shenanigans. All Storybook Land hostesses were proficient in judo, karate, and Krav Maga, so you'd better be on your best behavior.

Mr. Toad sure knew how to live. Look at that mansion! At least nine fireplaces, and that means plenty of s'mores for everyone. For some reason, Toad Hall was always one of my favorite miniatures (well.... second favorite) - maybe because I secretly wanted to live there.

Cinderella's Castle sure looks nice, but it's lonely up there. She has a great view of the fireworks every night, however! 

So... here is my favorite part of Storybook Land. Geppetto's Village! It might help that "Pinocchio" is my favorite animated feature. Even so, I love the winding street, the slightly skewed buildings with their peaked roofs, and even the bridge with the guard gate to keep out bandits and marauders. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dark and Murky, October 1970

Oh boy... here are more of those awful GAF slides that I keep whining about. The darkest, murkiest, most horrible slides ever. The scans you are seeing have been lightened up dramatically, and I I had to  apply a de-graining filter three times. They still look like crap, I know. But... being late October, it seemed appropriate to share a few images of the Haunted Mansion when it was only a year old (not that you can tell).

Gosh, when did they paint the Haunted Mansion's columns a sickly shade of yellowish gray? Did a young Paul Pressler sneak in and do it when nobody was looking? Nope! It's that quality GAF film. I am somewhat surprised that only a year after the Mansion's spectacular debut, there seems to barely be a line at all. Everyone was home watching "The Flip Wilson Show". The Devil made me do it!

Just when you thought the photos couldn't get any worse, I give you this next example. Yeesh.

How about this gem? It isn't related to the Haunted Mansion, but OOF. The haze and smog almost perfectly hide the distant Anaheim Convention Center.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Does Beer Make You Smarter?

For those of you with who love classic jokes, you already know that the answer to the question in the title of today's post is, "Well, it made Bud wiser". Yep, it's going to be one of those days, homies. But I don't tell terrible jokes for no reason... today's "Anything Goes Saturday" definitely has something to do with Budweiser.

While scanning some vintage slides of Southern California, I found a small batch that had turned a hideous shade of magenta. But after looking a bit closer, I decided that they were worth restoring (to the best of my abilities).

Let's start with this unremarkable photo of an unremarkable building, underneath a sky that would make Sauron happy.  But there's some kind of building in the distance that rings a bell...

Ah, that's better! (Sorry, it was hard to match the color of the first image). It's the Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch) plant, located in Van Nuys. It's SO strange to see it, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere! Today one of the busiest freeways in the country runs right past it (it would eventually be  just beyond where those telephone poles are). 

Some of you know that this was also the location of Busch Gardens, a lovely, gentle amusement park that existed here from 1966 to 1979. There were boat rides, waterfalls, beautiful birds, a flume ride, a monorail that went through the factory... and more. As a kid I remember adults walking around with little metal buckets of beer, which I believe was "all you can drink", for free. 

Here's a beautiful photo, scanned from a book with the title (I believe) "Above Los Angeles", which came out for many years with many various editions. What a fantastic look at this often-forgotten park, probably not long before it closed forever - now all of that land is used to make zillions of gallons of beer - you can often smell a malty, "hoppy" aroma as you drive past the plant on the 405 freeway (in the upper right). 

Not knowing much about the history of the Budweiser plant, I did a bit of online research; an excellent site (Water and Power Associates) had some great photos and information. 

Below you can see the plant under construction, circa 1953. Supposedly the thing cost $50,000,000 dollars to build. That may be pocket money to you and me nowadays, but it's the equivalent of over $460,000,000 when adjusted for inflation. 

Here's an aerial view from shortly after the factory was completed (looking southwest). I had a hard time determining when the 405 went through this part of Los Angeles. If anybody knows, please chime in!

And finally, here's a contemporary photo, above the 405 freeway, with the Anheuser-Busch plant to our left, and the San Gabriel mountains in front of us. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Skyway & More, May 1958

Sometimes I will find a slide of a scene at Disneyland that seems fairly ordinary, and yet... once I actually scan the thing and look at the details, there will be all kinds of fun stuff. Like this 1958 shot of the old Skyway Chalet, as seen from the Pirate Ship! 

Skyway buckets are a-comin' and a-goin', and the trees have not grown so large as to obscure the lovely Fantasyland structure. 

Zooming in just a bit, we can appreciate elements of this area, such as the little waterfall that cascaded over the Storybook Land tunnel, or the row of flower pots on the side of the building that the public would hardly see. Thanks to the small trees, we can even see the queue to the upper left.

The men are in suits, the ladies in nice dresses. I've always loved that cartoony little "depot" (ticket booth) for the Casey Jones Jr. RR.

I'm sure that little gingerbread ticket booth for the Skyway has appeared in other photos, but I'll be darned if I remember ever seeing it, or at least seeing it this clearly. Hooray for a "new" detail! I wonder how long that structure lasted?

Also, here are some swans. I have a surprising number of photos of Disneyland swans. Should I share them? Delete them? Burn them? 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, May 1958

Now that the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship has been gone for over 30 years, there are plenty of current Disneyland fanatics who never got to see this wonderful Fantasyland feature. It was a restaurant, of course, but all you have to do is look at it to know it was much more than just a fancy eatery. 

Both of today's photos are from May, 1958, although they are from different lots. This first example is a real beauty. If only it was a sunny day with a blue sky, I would deem it "postcard worthy". But in a way, the diffuse light of that milky sky resulted in nice even lighting with no harsh shadows. The Jolly Rodger looks especially jolly! The striped sails must have been at the dry cleaners.

Who knows, maybe this next image was taken on the exact same day. This Skyway view is also quite nice; I always like seeing the decks of the ship when they're busy with guests.  The level of detail on this galleon is really astonishing.

Zooming in a bit, we can see a bird cage to the right, possibly holding Paco the Parrot. Mothers, fathers, and kids are swarming the decks like boarders from an attacking vessel. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Among the many photo prints that GDB reader Irene shared with me was a selection of very nice panorama prints. Maybe you remember those special cameras? Based on the photos taken by Irene's brother, the cameras must have had better lenses, because the image quality seems to be considerably nicer than the standard-sized prints.

First up is  this colorful look at "It's a Small World" (from 1993), as seen with its rainbow of pastel pink, aqua, lilac, gold, persimmon, and other colors. Yes, I know that many people love the multi-colored version, but I was always partial to the original white and gold exterior (which was also Mary Blair's preference). Still, it's kind of nice to have a good clear photo of the way it was.

Question: Does anybody know when the switch to this palette was made? In 1982 it was still mostly white, with touches of pale blues added for accent. Perhaps it was done for the 1983 "New Fantasyland" refurbishment. In 2005, it was restored to its original hues, and all was well in the world.

Also from 1993 comes this photo of crowds gathering to watch "Fantasmic!" along the shores of Frontierland. Fantasmic! debuted in 1992, and has been very popular ever since. This picture shows off the advantages of the panorama format, with a vista stretching from Fowler's Harbor to the left (with the Columbia at rest there) all the way to the east side of the Rivers of America, with a small portion of Big Thunder Mountain visible.

And lastly, here's a lovely, undated shot of Sleeping Beauty Castle before the colors were amped up. The bare trees and occasional long-sleeved flannel indicate that this must have been taken in the autumn, or even winter.

As always, many thanks to Irene and her brother!

PS... here is a scan of a 1979 souvenir Dial Guide:

And... here's a scan from a 1965 guidebook showing an early concept for the façade:

And one last addendum comes from TokyoMagic!, with a scan of a postcard... well, I'll let him explain: Here’s that postcard that I described in the comments just now. I think it is probably from 1990 or 1991 for the reasons that I mentiioned. I supposed it could be as late as 1992 and that crane could be for the construction of Toontown, but I think the construction wold be further along at this point since the land opened in 1993.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ken Martinez Santa Cruz Postcards

It's time for another excellent post from GDB pal Ken Martinez, who has been sharing so many scans of his vintage amusement park postcards with us. He numbered this as his 54th submission, but that doesn't count things like the "Summer '67" guidebook posts. 

Today's subject is near and dear to Ken's heart, as you'll learn from his detailed, interesting, and personal writeup! His "I was there" viewpoint makes this post unique. Here's Ken:

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Part 2 - Ride Operator Days

This is the second post I’ve done on my home park, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  Not sure if I mentioned it in earlier posts, but I was a ride operator at the Boardwalk from 1978 to 1983.  It was probably the easiest job I ever had and the most fun I ever had on a job.  What could be better than working in the fresh ocean air and working for something I enjoy anyway.  I also returned to the Boardwalk for a short stint in the Summer of 2011 in the grounds maintenance department.  In other words kept the trash bins empty.

Here’s the Ferris Wheel and where it was located when I operated it.  It was probably the hardest ride to operate because I had to be aware of what body types I was distributing on the wheel.  For others who operated the wheel occasionally there would be a maintenance call to repair the motor because it would smoke due to too many heavy people on one side of the wheel which caused an imbalance.  I used to pride myself on equally distributing the weight along the wheel, but eventually the day came when I too burned the motor and the wheel went in reverse.  

The Sky Glider was and still is a very popular ride at the Boardwalk . It was also one of my favorite rides to operate.  The 2-person gondolas are permanently attached to the cable and travel slow enough to allow continuous movement.  Also seen in the lower left is the Carousel building.  The Carousel was another favorite of mine to work on.  I never got sick of the calliope music and still enjoy it to this day when walking by.  

1960.  Walt Disney himself came by to inspect the Autorama attraction because it had the center guide rail and Walt was considering it for his Autopia back at Disneyland.  Anyway, I never operated the Autorama, but several times did operate the Cave Train.  It was pretty simple to run, but one had to be alert on the curves so as not to derail the train if going too fast.  And this was all in the dark (black light).

The Trabant was a ride I was assigned to quite a bit.  It was also an unpopular ride since there was never a line and the ride rarely filled up.  I think it was because it was isolated on one side of the boardwalk.  I mostly remember kids jumping off the ride before it came to a complete stop.

The Giant Dipper I worked on occasion, but only as a loader, ticket taker and safety bar checker.  I liked the group that worked on the coaster, but found it kind of boring to work on the coaster itself.  I think it was because of the way it cycled out.

The “Jet Star” was a coaster I worked on a lot.  It was fast and intense and one really had to pay attention when working on it.  I loved it.  My favorite position was mover/loader as it was continuous and required quick thinking and movement.  I love a challenge.  Once in a rare while the emergency brake system would kick in and all the coaster cars would stop at various points along the track.  If that happened we would have to climb the structure with our safety belt and hook ourselves to the structure when we arrived at the coaster cars stuck on the upper tracks.  From there we’d release the individual safety brake and then manually push our weight into the coaster car filled with riders to make sure they continued down the drop and completed their circuit.  This process would be repeated until all coaster cars were back in the loading area.  I also worked on this coaster during an earthquake.  I remember seeing the structure and track wobble and shake. 

Hope you enjoyed today’s post and hearing of my days as a rider operator.

Information Source material: 


Monday, October 23, 2017

Miscellaneous Knott's Berry Farm

It's time for some miscellaneous Knott's Berry Farm pix! 

Let's begin with this photo of the "Dreger Clock", a fabulously complex town clock built over the span of five years by Andrew Dreger, Sr. The clock has "...19 different dials and displays which tell the local (California) time, the time in 12 international cities (New York, Liverpool, Paris, Berlin, Petrograd [Leningrad], Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rome and Mexico City), the phase of the moon, the date, and day of the week". Holy Toledo! (What time is it in Toledo, by the way?). The clock stood in front of Dreger's Long Beach home for nearly 20 years, until his death.

It was moved to Knott's Berry Farm, where it stood for over 50 years. After a thorough restoration, the clock was again moved, and now stands in the Buena Park Historical District.

Pan for REAL GOLD! What kid (or adult) hasn't dreamt of striking it rich? Maybe you'll pull up a carrot and find a pocket of gold dust. But the chances of those things happening are, I don't know, one in twenty or something. Me not good with math. So Knott's stacked the deck in the guest's favor by providing a trough guaranteed to produce at least a few tiny flecks of gold, which you got to take home in an itty-bitty vial. Anyone who did this as a kid remembers the cold of the water, the way the prospector helped show you how to move your pan, and the fun of looking at your own gold every now and then (magnified by the water in the vial).

In this 1961 aerial shot, the Dreger Clock is inside the red circle, while the Gold Mine is inside the yellow rectangle.

Either it was a strangely foggy day, or somebody had a crummy camera. Or... perhaps the film was exposed to x-rays at the airport. Did they x-ray luggage in 1965? Probably not. Anyway, I still love seeing the wonderful façade if the Calico Mine Train - one of Bud Hurlbut's true masterpieces.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Frontierland, June 1963

Here are two views that are all-too-familiar to regular GDB readers. And while we've seen a ton of photos of the old mill at the south end of Tom Sawyer Island, the lush landscaping is pretty impressive after 7 years (TSI opened in '56) of growth. The mill has practically been swallowed by various vines and bushes - it reminds me of photos of kudzu in the South. Still, it adds to the illusion that the mill has been there for 100 years.

I am so accustomed to photos like this, it is almost like seeing a picture of an old friend. An old friend with an arrow through his chest. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Random Places

Sometimes, scanning random slides can send me down a rabbit hole of research. Results are iffy - occasionally I am successful, other times, not so much. Today's examples are a little bit of both.

Let's start with this September, 1960 photo of an unidentified road through some green, rolling hills. At first I thought it might be Tennessee's Smokey Mountains, but then I noticed the maple leaf on the gas station sign to the left. Also, the sign for the "Hotel Coulson" is up on the hillside to our right.

Looking up the Hotel Coulson, I found several scans of vintage postcards, including this one. Sudbury, Ontario! Now I have no idea if the first photo is within 50 miles of this town, but at least it gives me something to go on.

Here's another postcard, possibly from around 1960. Ish. Sudbury is a cute little town.

Next I have this undated slide featuring a roadside eatery called "The Chuck Wagon". It probably served traditional French cuisine (everything's cooked in duck fat!). My curiosity was piqued, so it was GOOGLE TIME.

Well well well! There she is, in all her lithographic glory. Turns out The Chuck Wagon was in Rapid City, South Dakota. It looks slightly more rustic here, perhaps this is from a few years earlier.

Yet another vintage postcard shows the place looking a bit more familiar. I'll start with foie gras, and then have the duck confit, and then (keeping with the duck theme), duck à la mode, with a glass of fresh duck juice.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Adventure Thru Inner Space, 1971

One of my "most missed" extinct attractions is the wonderful "Adventure Thru Inner Space" (presented by Monsanto!), and I have all-too-few photos of it in my collection. So I was pretty thrilled when Mr. X handed me a stack of snapshots that he had taken back in 1971, and found today's pictures in the bunch.

There it is, as seen from the outside; it's pretty cool that this was taken at dusk. Not only does it look great with the lights aglow, but we can actually see through the doorway! Along the back wall is a line of blue Atomobiles (the very first application of Bob Gurr's "Omnimover" vehicles), and a red-jumpsuited CM. There's a single stroller parked near the trash can; where are all the other babies?!

"Monsanto welcomes you to the world of the molecule". The efficient Omnimover was such a "people eater" that there was rarely a long line for ATIS. Overhead the Peoplemover passed through, allowing guests on that attraction to get a sneak peak. We can also see two of the "window box" displays that one could view while waiting in line. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but this ride was one of my all-time favorites!