Thursday, May 03, 2018

Wonderful Fantasyland, 1959

I sure do love me some classic 1950's Fantasyland! Listen, homies, I realize that you have seen many similar photos on GDB over the years. But I find the colors and patterns (lots of stripes) to be so charming and old-school. 

From the deck of the Weasel of the Sea Pirate Ship we take in the hustle and bustle surrounding the Mad Tea Party, with the Peter Pan attraction to our left, Snow White's Scary Adventure's to our right, and the Carrousel in the middle (ish). Which ride would you like to do next?

Same day, but... I don't know, perhaps this was just a little bit earlier, and we can see that the number of people is considerably smaller. We can just walk into the Mickey Mouse Club Theater (it's air-conditioned). Even the line for the Carrousel is reasonable. The moral of the story is to get the park early, I suppose.


Nanook said...


Stripes, stripes and more stripes - even featured on some of the guests-! It appears Pecos Bill - "See those Rootin Tootin Cowboys" and Gaucho Goofy are featured in the Mickey Mouse Club Theater. Those were the days-!

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

I love original Fantasyland. Still my favorite. I remember wandering through original Fantasyland when it was practically empty. It was an October weekday back in the late 1970's and the park was practically empty in the earlier part of the day. I remember since there was no crowd noise, I could hear all the flags flapping in the wind. This was when I first started going to the park by myself. Fantasyland was emptier than what appears in the bottom pic. I never saw Fantasyland or Disneyland that empty again. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Do you suppose that round sign with Mickey's face on it (hanging in front of the theater) rotated in the wind? It appears to be facing us in that second pic, but it appears to be facing a different direction in this post from 2015:

Fantasyland Characters - August 1961

Melissa said...

The buildings look like toys, esp. in the shot with fewer people.

Snow White first for me! I was at the Magic Kingdom about a month or so before their Snow White ride closed, and we just kept coming back to ride it "one more time."

Stefano said...

The colors of the first Fantasyland were candy counter appetizing, stimulating kids without the after effects of a sugar fit. The Mickey Mouse Club Theatre photo reminds me of the night my sister and I had 20 minutes of belly laughs there watching "It's Tough to Be a Bird".

K. Martinez, that "It's Tough" night was 3 days after the '71 Sylmar earthquake; this was Lincoln's birthday and the park was open holiday hours, though as empty as you have described it. A never-to-be-repeated experience.

Chuck said...

TM!, actually, the sign was stationary and the theater rotated in the wind. That may have been a contributing factor to the theater's eventual closure.

zach said...

Another 'am I in there somewhere?' photo. Those are always fun. I would go on Peter Pan. It was so unique in it's day.

I do not remember ever going into the MM Theater even though I was a huge fan of the show. I remember my mom calling me in to see the premier MM Club program on our little 17" black and white TV. That and Winky Dink and You were my favorite.

Thanks, Major,


Patrick Devlin said...

Lovely shots, Major, so thanks for that.

It's interesting that half (nine) of the Tea Cups have not been decorated with zany designs yet. Were they only so painted once they were installed? Oh well, it's time for some photo-research...

Anonymous said...

The only time I remember going into the theater was when management had meetings with CMs regarding the latest wage proposal to our labor union (mid 70s). KS

Anonymous said...

Getting to the Park early is the best.

I want to get there in early 1959.


JC Shannon said...

I must confess, I love the old Fantasyland. I couldn't get enough of Peter Pan. The best dark ride on planet Earth, in my opinion. I once stole a kiss from Laureen R. just as we were passing over Big Ben. Don't get me wrong, the redo is great, and one of the few changes to the Park I like. But as a kid I remember it fondly, as it is in these photos. Thanks Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, maybe the wind-powered rotating MM Club Theater was the prototype for Carousel of Progress? ;-)

K. Martinez said...

JC Shannon, I think the redo is technically great too, but the original Fantasyland is the one that holds my fond memories of growing up on Disneyland. I guess what one thinks of Disneyland sometimes has to do with when they experienced it.

Stefano, With the event that took place when you went, I can imagine it was practically empty. I don't even know if that's possible now with the demand.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I’ve always loved Pecos Bill, though I not understanding what a bustle was or why somebody would wear one. I was such a fool!

K. Martinez, I can practically hear those flags snapping in the wind. Wow. I would love to have experienced that! Of course what I would REALLY love is to go back with my 2018 knowledge and soak in as many lost details as possible. Camera in hand, of course.

TokyoMagic!, the sign is definitely facing a different direction, but it sure seems odd that they would make it so that it rotated in the wind. Anything is possible, I suppose! There is a vintage postcard in which that Mickey sign is parallel to the face of the building - one interesting note is that they later released the same postcard but retouched the sign for the Mickey Mouse Club Theater out.

Melissa, I should try to do a “tilt shift” effect on these! Maybe later. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t do wrong with any of the dark rides.

Stefano, I do believe that those colors and patterns, seemingly so basic and simple, might really evoke a response that something more elaborate would not. I lived very near Disneyland in ’71 (we were in Huntington Beach), if only we had thought to go to the park right after the earthquake!

Chuck, I have no choice but to believe you!

David Zacher, my gosh, I can still hear the “Winky Dink” theme song. Since I watched the show long after its initial run, I didn’t understand the parts in which you were supposed to draw something on your TV screen (using your official Winky Dink screen overlays). It was just weird!

Patrick Devlin, I have seen some early postcards in which the postcards are not decorated. In fact, one early card shows the Mad Tea Party before the turntable was painted with its pinwheel stripes!

KS, there is nothing more fun than wage proposal meetings! Hopefully in those days the CMs felt a little more appreciated than they do now.

Jonathan, ha ha, stealing a kiss didn’t work out so well for me… I was on the Skyway (the rectangular gondolas) with my date, and moved over to her side to work my magic (ha ha) - she leapt to the other side! Man was that awkward.

TokyoMagic!, Walt was interested in alternate sources of energy long before anybody else. That rotating Mickey sign generated thousands of kilowatts per hour.

Chuck said...

Major, I can imagine that was awkward. How did you explain the open, swinging door to the CMs at the end of the ride?

JC Shannon said...

Major, she obviously had no taste... or she was sitting on chewing gum.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, luckily it wasn’t that bad! The young lady actually became my girlfriend eventually.

Jonathan, I’m sure I could have handled things more smoothly! ;-)

Melissa said...

Oh, good fortune! Oh, what luck it
Was to find love in a bucket!

Chuck said...

Melissa, that happens to me every time I got to KFC.

DBenson said...

Speaking as an almost-boomer kid, I feel obliged to remind folks that seeing a color Disney cartoon was a big enough deal to qualify as a park attraction. Most of us were still watching B&W televisions well into the 60s (because we got lousy reception my parents held out until the 70s); a lot of Disney stuff could be seen ONLY in theatrical re-release, as part of the Sunday night hour, and maybe in silent 8mm. And some items, like "Melody Time" and other package films in their original form, couldn't be seen at all.

Yes, Mickey Mouse Club served up Mousekatoons, but by the mid-60s the syndicated reruns had ended. Other studios dumped their cartoons and shorts onto TV for immediate profits, thus we had Loony Tunes, Stooges and Popeye every day. Disney kept a very tight hold on his library -- a compulsion after losing Oswald, perhaps -- and even if you found Bugs Bunny funnier, Mickey and the gang were still An Event. As for "Pinocchio" or "101 Dalmatians" on TV ... Forget it!

As late as the 80s, the Contemporary Resort at WDW had a small cinema where you could buy a ticket to see "Sword in the Stone" or "Alice in Wonderland" -- and since Disney wasn't releasing on tape yet, it was a moderately big deal.

It was a different world, pre-video. My childhood fantasy was to own a 16mm sound projector and be able to rent such Disney and other classics as were available. Now I own tons of vintage stuff on DVD. Keep your premium cable and streaming -- there's magic in pulling a disc from your very own shelf and watching "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" instead of waiting for a rerun.

Melissa said...

They still show Disney movies at many WDW resorts, on outdoor screens in the evening. The last time I stayed at Pop Century, and they were showing Monsters, Inc. on a big, inflatable screen next to the main pool as I was walking back to my room in the 1950's section.