Monday, February 19, 2018

Friendly Indian Village, May 1958

Here's a familiar scene, featured on this blog so many times over the years. The Friendly Indian Village was a regular beehive of activity. The wilderness provided, but it took a lot of work. I like this photo because it seems particularly clear and vivid (not sure why that is). 

Zooming in a bit, we can observe details, like the paintings on the teepees, the buckskin clothing, and a trio carving a dugout canoe. 

Over on Tom Sawyer Island, Fort Wilderness looks suitably spiky and tough - the kind of place that would help a weary traveler feel safe while traveling across the plains.


Nanook said...


It seems like commonplace now, but back in 1958 seeing this level of detail at any sort of amusement area was just simply rare and almost mind-boggling. (With a tip of the chapeau to Knott's Berry Farm). And in the case of Fort Wilderness - you could immerse yourself right into the center of the action. Is it any wonder we are still singing the praises of Walt Disney and his Imagineers to this day-? Now - how do I go back-??

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I've never noticed the real flames coming from the fire pit before!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great to see these images of yet another recently removed bit of Disney history. Forget Americas past and give us more galaxies far far away. Make room for the fiberglass falcon and the full on Jedi invasion. When is the SFR/Tarzan Treehouse going to be re-imagined into an Ewok condo co-op? Ugh, progress. It's a great big beautiful tomorrow.

K. Martinez said...

I wonder what year they added the dog for the Native American boy? I always enjoyed that little scene.

The Indian Village was always one of those peaceful and quite scenes which complimented the slower pace of the various watercraft on the Rivers of America. One of the things I liked about Frontierland's big river was that it was slower paced and reflective of an era when life took its time. Thanks, Major.

Nanook, just think that back then there was nothing like Disneyland anywhere else. Not even a Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland or the modern Universal theme parks. It was truly one-of-a-kind. Back then it was an international draw, today it's more of a regional and locals park. To me there will never be another Disneyland like the one we grew up on. It truly was a special place.

Chuck said...

Shiny Boy seems to be looking right back at us, strange intruders into his peaceful way of life in our big, white canoe. Perhaps he's contemplating the inevitable changes to come, changes that will rework the very contours of the land, destroy his village and ultimately scatter his people to the wind in the name of "progress."

Either that, or he's memorizing our features so he can come and find us in the after hours.

Thanks again, Major, for sharing another wonderful record of what once was and can never be again.

Patrick Devlin said...

I just thought that the flag flying inside Ft. Wilderness has only 48 stars (no Alaska or Hawaii til 1959), or maybe even fewer if they were going for the real 1870 look. When would anyone guess the time frame Frontierland originally shot for? I guess it would have to be pre-Alamo at least.

Patrick Devlin said...

Note to myself: do your research and think before you post.

I guess I was way off with 1870 as a year for Frontierland. Yesterland has Ft. Wilderness as being right around 1812. I guess, now thinking about it, it could be any year they wanted 'cause it's the turn of the century back on Main Street and the beckoning future in Tomorrowland. OK, I feel better now.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, yes, I think that Walt and his Imagineers did a great job with both Main Street and Frontierland as far as the idea of “walking into a movie” - plenty of detail to “sell” the concept. As for going back… let me know if you hear anything!

TokyoMagic!, those flames are animatronic.

Alonzo, I don’t even mind a Star Wars Land, just don’t chop up our Frontierland to make it. It really does seem like SWL would have been the perfect opportunity to open a “third gate”, because the fans would absolutely show up in droves.

K. Martinez, I’m sure if I wasn’t so lazy, we could probably go back through my many MANY photos of the Friendly Indian Village and narrow down the time that the dog was added. Much of Frontierland moved at a leisurely pace, and while I get that modern audiences crave excitement (comments on message boards are sometimes beyond belief), the frontier should have a sense of adventure and exploration. Just my opinion of course!

Chuck, while I am happy to be living here in the U.S., the treatment of the Native Americans was pretty horrendous - of course I wish it hadn’t happened that way. Even “peaceful” tribes would get pushed around until they finally wound up on land that nobody else had a use for. Considering how many western movies portrayed Indians as vermin, it seems fairly progressive of Walt to have two villages in Frontierland showing peaceful people living their lives, creating art, making food and shelter, etc.

Patrick Devlin, since Andrew Jackson was inside Fort Wilderness, I think that the late 18th or early 19th centuries are more likely. I’m sure there was still quite a lot of very rugged “frontier” in 1870, though!

Anonymous said...

I agree that Frontierland was originally a land of contemplation, representative of a slower time. The design worked well. The Disney company back then was a 'cottage industry' compared to what it is now. We just didn't realize it then.

Ft Wilderness was a place to explore and enjoy. Today kids are too absorbed into their virtual-reality video screens for entertainment (and getting fat as a result). KS

Melissa said...

When I'm calling yoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ou,
Will you dig my ca-noo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oe?

That picture of the fort gives me an inexplicable craving for pretzel rods.

Anonymous said...

Shiny boy and Chief Wavy, my two favorites.

I had forgotten how many figures were included in the friendly village. It's downright crowded.