Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Castle Rock, May 1958

Today's featured image shows a wonderful view of Tom Sawyer Island's "Castle Rock" - a "natural" rock formation that could be climbed and explored by guests - even Yippies. This whole area looks so fun, I want to step into the picture!

It's fun to check out the people, like this group of folks relaxing on Merry-Go-Round Rock. Of the eight people in that group, five are wearing souvenir hats. After years of looking at zillions of vintage Disneyland photos, I am convinced that the park must have made a fortune from those inexpensive chapeaus! 

Two young boys seem a bit reluctant to climb up those steps into the dark tunnel that led to the top of the rock. Guests who have already braved the heights are coming down the outside staircase. I think this simple feature was a brilliant piece of design!

To fill my usual quota of two photos, I am adding this just-okay shot of Cinderella's castle, as seen from the Storybook Land Canal Boats (or is it from a Casey Jr. Circus Train?).


Nanook said...


The 'formality' of the way Americans dressed back in the 1950's was both often out-of-place and yet somehow nice at the same time.

I believe there are six souvenir hats in that first photo. I'm guessing the furry blob on the head of the gal on the far right is a Davy Crockett hat - but you never know.

Thanks, Major.

walterworld said...

The also-pictured 'Teeter Totter' rock was still doing it's thing as late as 1995-1996 (got the video to prove it lol). It's still there, but they've added some cement to make it suitably stationary.

I think the second shot must be from Casey Junior. You see that right after the first inversion...

Thanks Major!

TokyoMagic! said...

That first pic looks like a law suit just waiting to happen. Maybe they should redesign Castle Rock and make it so that each guest who climbs it, has their own individual lap bar.

Stu29573 said...

A fond memory of my one and only trip to Disneyland as a kid was climbing through Castle Rock. Funny how things stick with you. Of course in my many trips to WDW, I never miss the caves on Tom Sawyer Island...I introduced my grandson to them on our last trip!

Melissa said...

The middy blouse! The saddle shoes! The white sunglasses! I think I turned into Sandra Dee just looking st that picture!

Stuart, the caves are such a vivid memory of my first trip to WDW!

Stefano said...

This rockwork in Frontierland and Fantasyland was beautifully
crafted --- the designers were setting a very high standard
within a year of the park's opening. Glad I got to experience Tom Sawyer's Island in all its scrape the knees, bump the noggin glory.

K. Martinez said...

The Castle Rock image and zoom-ins are awesome. Seeing how many adults there are compared to children enjoying this attraction, it proves that Disneyland was not just for the young, but for the young at heart as well.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but since the River redo, the cemetery in the back of the island has been removed and replaced by a storage shed. Bummer! Enjoyed the pics of the two castle "rocks" today. Thanks, Major.

DrGoat said...

Great pics Major. My friend Fred cracked his head pretty good in that very tunnel about that time. Had a headache for the rest of the day. Should have had his Davy Crockett coonskin cap on.

Chuck said...

I watched my dad bean himself in the nooodle in those tunnels in 1975 or 1976. Despite a practical demonstration of the inadvisability of such a course of action, I managed to do it myself as an adult...twice. Still managed to have fun chasing my kids around afterwards (I aimed for the blurry ones in the middle).

Tom said...

Those pics are as pretty as any could ever be of Castle Rock. Maybe the secret to stepping into the picture is to don a suit jacket and tie. I'm going to try that later.

Thanks for sharing these!

Anonymous said...

My experience pretty much echos everyone here.

My Dad was very indulgent and climbed around the rocks with me more than once. Once, there was a bigger kid who had climbed all the way to the pinnacle in reach of the bandanna flagpole. I was never strong or balanced enough to try that stunt, also hit my head more than once in the narrow tunnels. Especially the secret tunnel from the fort to the river. What a brilliant idea that was, the kind of thing every kid dreams of having.

I did get to run through a couple of times with my kids before they grew too old to enjoy playing with Dad and before the lap bars were required. I'm glad I got pics with my son at Tom's Treehouse in the exact same pose as the picture my Dad took of me, since now the treehouse is closed permanently.


K. Martinez said...

I think most of us bumped or cracked our head on Tom Sawyer Island at one time or another. And every time I worked on avoiding it, it happened anyway. Never had a problem with the Swiss Family Treehouse's "Mind They Head" branch though.

I remember being down for two hours in the First Aid station because I had whacked the top of my head so hard in the Fort Wilderness Snack Bar doorway that it caused a severe headache.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Ah, fond memories. I'm sure I cracked my head once or twice, but have since forgotten about it. My memory involves a bigger kid hiding in the shadows, who would jump out and scream at any little kid (like me) running by, and scare the bejesus out of them.

An Island with rock caves...a fort with an escape tunnel...Any wonder why Disneyland was just so much better than any place else?

Melissa said...

I just noticed the adorable li'l cowgirl barreling down the stairs just ahead of the plainclothes cop.

You suppose she preferred Davy Crockett or the Lone Ranger?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, ha ha, there is *something* on that little girl’s head, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what it is! Maybe she is wearing “Captain Video” goggles too.

walterworld, there is nothing more deadly than a teeter-totter. Think of the children!

Stuart Powley, I have a friend who is now dying to go back to the Florida Frontierland to see their unaltered river and still-awesome Tom Sawyer Island. Maybe he’ll bang his head on a rock for old time’s sake.

Melissa, it is true, the photos on my blog do have magical properties. Thank goodness nobody has turned into a toad yet.

Stefano, I agree, the rockwork here is quite nice. Better than they initially did for the Rainbow Cavern’s Mine Train, though that was improved considerably when it was updated to “Nature’s Wonderland” in 1960.

K. Martinez, there are times when a busy photo of Disneyland in the 50’s has only one or two children. I really believe that a large percentage of the visitors in those days were adults. These days too! I had heard that the TSI cemetery was removed - I can’t say I am very surprised, to be honest.

DrGoat, Fred needed one of those hard plastic “Keppy Kaps”!

Chuck, I don’t think I bonked my head on an overhead obstruction, but I definitely got part of my head “sandpapered” by the uneven sides of one of the narrow passageways. I suppose that kids were so short that bumping heads wasn’t really a danger.

Tom, I admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with the Castle Rock slide until I scanned it and saw all of the fun details. Now I love it!

JG, it sounds like you and I had the same issue in the tunnels! Ouch. I totally agree that Tom Sawyer Island fulfills some sort of innate desire that children have to explore “scary” caves, climb to the top of a “mountain”, and cross swaying bridges. It was ingenious. I wish we could see the two photos you mentioned, but I know you like to stay anonymous (as I mostly do!), so I’ll just have to use my imagination.

K. Martinez, wow TWO hours in the First Aid station! You must have REALLY bonked your head. And on a snack bar doorway? Was it much lower than a standard doorway?

Steve DeGaetano, ha ha, that sounds like something the big kids would do. Let’s scare the babies! On the other hand, when my niece was around 8, she went into a Halloween maze made of hay bales, and didn’t come out. A nice girl of about 12 went in, found her, and led her out, holding her hand.

Melissa, yes, that girl is full of beans! I love her red felt hat. I had one just like it.

The Disney Dudebro said...

There's something about the early Disneyland park that offered grandeur in its sheer simplicity. The park may not have had much in terms of thrill rides, especially by today's standards, but it more than made up for it with its immersive atmosphere. Even to this day, Disney continues to strive for such detail within its parks, making them an experience unlike any other.

Anonymous said...

@Major, I will look around for those pictures. I should have them mounted side-by-side, hunting them up for you will motivate me to do that. If I can find them, you can post them if you like.


Major Pepperidge said...

The DIsney Dudebro, thrill rides were definitely not a priority in the early years of the park. I try to imagine what Frontierland must have seemed like to someone who had never seen photos of it, or read about it, or had been so exposed to it the way we all have. It must have been amazing.

JG, I would love to share the photos - and if you'd prefer, I can always blur or pixel out the faces!