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.


Nanook said...


Love these pan-o-rama views. I feel as if I'm in a movie theatre.

Thanks again to Irene and her photogenic brother.

TokyoMagic! said...

Yes, thank you again, to Irene and her brother for these wonderful panorama shots!

Major, I'm not sure of the exact year that they gave ISAW it's pastel color scheme, but it was later than the 1983 Fantasyland remodeling. I believe that it happened in the early nineties. Maybe in 1990, for the park's 35th anniversary? Wasn't it blogger, "Vintage Disneyland Tickets," that used to refer to that version of the facade as "Easter It's A Small World"?

Even with the newly "junked up" tip of Tom Sawyer Island in that second pic, the view still looks better with all of the Frontierland trees still on the horizon......vs. the view today with a ton of ugly rocks, an ugly trestle and a parking structure off in the distance. I won't say it!

Chuck said...

While I prefer the original color scheme, the pastelification of iasw didn't look that bad when it was new, as in this photo. I remember a post (maybe on MiceChat?) on shoddy DL maintenance from around 1999-2000 with photos showing how badly faded the façade had become. The caption included the comment "maybe they're waiting for it to fade back to white."

TM!, you won't say it, but you're right.

Thanks again, Irene's brother and his sister named Irene!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, from what little I know about you, you probably are in a movie theatre!

TokyoMagic!, thanks for your input. Gosh, you think it might have been as late as 1990? Of course it is very possible - in fact that’s probably when I really started looking at Disneyland websites on a regular basis (maybe it was a few years later). The 1979 souvenir “Dial Guide” depicts IASW as being multicolored, but that might just have been artistic license, since the colors on the whole map are very bright and fanciful. I’ll attach a scan! Meanwhile, I am hoping that the north end of the river is softened over the years by trees and shrubs.

Chuck, I don’t even really hate the colorful IASW façade - if you look at some of the early concepts, there is considerably more color. I’ll attach another scan that shows one concept, pre-smiling clock.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I forgot to add that the colorization of IASW seemed to be the start of a general move toward brighter, more intense hues throughout the park; almost as if they started painting the buildings based on an outsider's view of what Disneyland was supposed to be, as opposed to what it had been for decades. if that makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Major, Irene and brother.

Panoramas are definitely a step up.

Like most of the commenters, I prefer the original white and gold look, but it is interesting to see the color approaches in the related brochures. It looks like the one is more of a night lighting scheme? I have a reproduction print of a Mary Blair study for the facade and it is brightly colored. We saw a later version that is white and gold on a blue background, much like the final construction version.

I do recall seeing the facade in the "post-modern" colors on at least one trip, but couldn't have been much earlier than 1993 or 4. It seemed fresh and interesting then, but like much of the architecture of that style, it wears poorly, both in physical quality and in interest.

Part of "old school" architecture was the selection and development of iconographic schemes for the decoration and the art. Artists and architects worked together to select symbols and themes appropriate to the use and location of buildings, or to their owners, then these themes were carried through in floor patterns, wall carvings, sculpture, and ornament, murals and ceilings, art glass, even into door hardware and ventilation grilles.

The classic white and gold always seemed to me to be a powerful part of the theme of the attraction. All the different cultures of the world in their brilliant colors and exuberance are seen one after another, and then, in the final scene, everyone is shown together in white and gold, celebrating the common themes of humanity, "a smile means friendship to everyone", our differences are less than the things we have in common.

Making the exterior into a house of many colors seems to me to undermine this powerful concept. Seems like the decision might have been made without much regard to the iconography and narrative of the attraction. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

Thanks for letting me carry on.


Anonymous said...

Here on the East Coast, the Small World façade still have the white and gold colors. A shame considering that pastel colors match the overall attraction better. Also quite a shame that Disney World has an indoor loading area rather than the epic outdoor area that Disneyland has. Thanks, Florida's increment weather! :(

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I have an "Anaheim" postcard that shows an aerial view of the park. In the pic the facade of IASW is being painted and it's covered in scaffolding. The clock tower is still in shades of blue and has not been painted yet. The postcard is not dated, but the photo has some clues in it that give us an approximate date as to when it was taken. Big Thunder Ranch and the Magic Eye Theater are present so it has to be post-1986. In fact Star Tours is already there, so it has to be after 1987. Upon further inspection, I noticed that the "new" Dumbo attraction has been installed. That's the one that was originally intended for Paris DL, but was given to Anaheim instead because one of the vehicles from the old attraction broke off while in operation. That new apparatus was installed in 1990, so the pic has to have been taken at least that late. One other clue is, that there is a large crane over the area just to the left of IASW. Toon Town isn't present yet, but it's train trestle entrance was built a couple years earlier in order to allow guests to go under the train tracks for "Baloo's Dressing Room." That was a meet 'n greet that was a part of "The Disney Afternoon Avenue" promotion/overlay given to the Small World Mall area in 1991. That narrows the date of the IASW paint job down to 1990 or 1991!

I remember a Wonderful World of Disney episode, where Walt spoke with Mary Blair as she showed him the white facade for IASW. Then they turned on some colored lights and aimed them at the facade and Walt made a comment about the special "treatment" that the exterior will be given at night.

I also remember that the IASW pictorial souvenir book that was available throughout the seventies and eighties showed a few construction pics in the back. There was also a model showing the clock tower painted in shades of pink...very similar to the way that they ended up painting it in shades of blue in the late seventies.

Melissa said...

Just beautiful! The panoramic view gives you a real you are there feeling. Heck, it gives me more peripheral vision then I have in real life!

it's a small world is among the handful of attractions I've experienced on both the East and West coasts. As it stands now, I prefer the Disneyland exterior and the Walt Disney World interior. But you never know when WDI is going to sing another chorus of “If It Ain’t Broke, Let's Break It,” so that could change any time. I do agree with the Major about the white room and the white exterior expressing the theme of the attraction.

Thanks to Irene, thanks to Irene's brother, and thanks to Irene's cousin from Milwaukee.

Nanook said...


That just shows what you know. I AM a movie theatre-!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I have seen a lot of rough concepts by Mary Blair for the external part of IASW, though my understanding is that Rolly Crump was largely responsible for what we actually got (it seems to be a combination of both styles). Your description of “old school” architecture makes me think of Frank Lloyd Wright, though I know that MANY others did it too. It’s great to walk into a building that feels so unified. Like you, I always liked the big finale with so much pure white (accented by subtle colored lights). As I said in my comment to chuck, it seems that, at some point, the color decisions at Disneyland started to go off the rails a bit.

The Disney Dudebro, I’ve never been to Florida, but most of the people I know either talk about the heat and humidity, or the regular rain showers! I’ve seen photos of the “mini-façade” inside the loading area appearing much like the Disneyland version, has it always been like that?

TokyoMagic!, thanks for the postcard scan; your clues as to when the ride exterior was repainted seem pretty spot-on. I am totally going with your “very early 1990’s” estimate! Your knowledge of so many telling details is pretty amazing. I’ve seen that footage of Walt and Mary Blair, it’s very interesting. As far as I know, they never did a colored-light treatment in those days. I believe that the model you are referring to was made by Rolly Crump, and it is in extremely intense colors!

Melissa, from what I have seen (in photos), I definitely like the “flooded room” approach to IASW, rather than riding through a trough. Is it very different other than for that detail?

Nanook, just as I always suspected….

steve2wdw said...

From what I recall, IASW changed colors soon after DLP opened with it's multi-colored IASW exterior, which would have put it later in '92 or early '93. As usually, awesome post!

Melissa said...

”Is it very different other than for that detail?”

Yeah, there are a number of differences.

No “Welcome” tunnel (not really needed, because you have all that time in the indoor queue for your eyes to adjust)
No added Disney characters
More of the action closer to eye level
Smaller “cowboy” scene
I *think* there are more vignettes and vehicles in the finale room, but that's really hard to be sure about.
Goodbye room is totally different. Instead of the giant postcards, there are big signs with “Goodbye” translated into different languages.
Slight variations in the order of some countries.

I just watched videos from both parks to make sure I remembered what I was talking about. They bore out another thing I’ve noticed - California guests seem so much more polite than their Florida counterparts! Every other time I've ridden iasw at WDW, it's been wall-to-wall flash photography and screaming kids. The videos I watched tonight were the same as my experience in California: people just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

The ride at Disneyland does seem to have a better sound system.

Chuck said...

Major, the back walls of WDW's iasw load area have always been a flatter echo of the one at Disneyland, but their scaled-down clock wasn't installed until 2004-05. Aside from the flooded room concept, the other major difference is that WDW's version is constructed entirely of limburger cheese.

JG, excellent write-up. Thank you.

TM!, thank you for sharing that postcard. Lots of interesting details from an era that I'm not used to looking at aerial photos of. Aside from the things you've noted, the Small World Concourse appears to still be red slurry at this point, there are swans in the moat, Adventureland looks awesome from this angle, the Skyway is not operating, and there's a nude sunbather on the patio behind the Firehouse.

Melissa said...

There also used to be fountains in the load area in Florida.

Major Pepperidge said...

steve2wdw, interesting, I (obviously) did not even consider the opening of DLP. While I’m not entirely sure of the connection between that event and the colors on IASW, I can see how somebody (Eisner?) might have decided that Disneyland needed some sexiness.

Melissa, thank you for all of those notes! I really thought that except for the flooded room approach they were exactly the same, so now I know otherwise. Tomorrow I’ll check out some YouTube videos for myself.

Chuck, that’s kind of what I was thinking… the tick-tock smiling clock was added relatively recently. Limburger cheese, I almost want to try it just to see how stinky it is!

Melissa, you mean there were fountains inside the covered load area?

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, I love that...."If It Ain't Broke, Let's Break It!" That sums up pretty much everything they do these days. Tokyo Disneyland still has their original indoor loading room, which is very similar to WDW's original loading room, fountains and all. However, Tokyo's exterior is similar to Disneyland's (without the outside moat and loading area), but theirs has been multicolored since opening day in 1983. Maybe that's what inspired Disney to paint Anaheim's IASW in pastels.

Major, I didn't remember that you had posted that same postcard and a couple others with similar views, way back in 2009. Now that I see the post, I remember it! Wow, where did the last 8 years go?

Melissa said...

Yes, Major. I can't seem to find a good picture online, but there were little jet fountains coming up out of the water on the port side of your boat just before you left the Load area and just after you came back into Unload.

Not sure why they took them ou not sure why they took them out. Maybe too many people were trying to stick their hands out into the spray or somethin or something. But it did add a more festive atmosphere.

Melissa said...

Looks like my speech-to-text had an echo for a minute there! Sorry about that!

Anonymous said...

@Major and Chuck, thanks.

@Tokyo, I remember that card, I've studied it a lot, trying to date it. Now I remember the scaffolding in the pic and wondering what was going on.

I remember Baloo's dressing room from our first visit with the kids, pretty sure it was 1994, it was definitely before ToonTown, so that sounds about right. I know our second visit was 1999 and ToonTown was in place.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading the multi-color paint job for IASW was for two reasons: to make it more toy-like for then new sponsor Mattel (the large gift/toy shop at exit arrived around this time) and to better transition from Fantasyland to the new (1993) Mickey's Toontown.