Sunday, September 09, 2018

Along the RIvers of America, 1957

Once in a while, I try to put myself into the mind of a Disneyland guest from the early days. Why would he/she take a photo of a fiberglass elk? "I need to preserve this moment forever!". And yet, lots of people took pictures of the various deer, meese, elk, and mountain lions that lined the Rivers of America. My guess is that they were so impressed with the realism of this river and "wilderness" in the middle of Anaheim that they had to record it; otherwise, nobody back home would ever believe it.

Zooming in to the upper right, we can see some teepees from the Friendly Indian Village, but if you look carefully, one of the Stagecoaches is just visible through the trees. We can even see the top of the train tunnel in the upper left.

Here's a familiar sight - the Burning Settler's Cabin, sponsored by Duraflame™. As many times as I've seen this, there are often little details that change. It's not uncommon to see an anachronistic, modern boat at the water's edge, but there also appears to be a sunken log raft as well, I don't recall seeing that before.


Nanook said...


Just what makes you think the guest who snapped that elk photo knew it was fiberglass-?? And along with a Stagecoach and a partial view of the train tunnel, let's not forget a telephone pole-!

Happy Sunday. Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

I like all those ducks along the shore near the elk. Wonder what they though of the fake Elk? Disneyland must've been like an oasis to those ducks back then. Thanks, Major.

JC Shannon said...

I think you hit on it Major. Who, back home, would believe a river world like this existed in Anaheim without photographic proof? I always thought it was a testament to the Imagineer's skill. I thought Burning Settler's Cabin was sponsored by Charbroil. A lazy day on the river, thanks Major.

Anonymous said...

I guess people were more impressed by the "realism" of the Disneyland attractions back then, even if they were evidently fake. Disney must have really been ahead of the game when it came to such effects.

The riverboat ride is an underrated classic attraction. Too bad Disneyland's attraction has been downsized with most of the river being removed to make way for Star Wars land.

stu29573 said...

Is that a raft or a dock that took a dunk? The boat really doesn't look too out of place, since it's fairly easy to imagine that it's made out of wood...of course I'm pretty good at suspending disbelief...It's my super power!

TokyoMagic! said...

In the upper left hand corner of that first pic, are we seeing a smidgen of the flames from the Burning Cabin through the foliage? Was it located that close to the "Friendly" Indian Village?

And I thought the Burning Cabin was presented to us by the creative forces of Walt Disney and Irwin Allen.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more than a few people (early on, at least) who were unaware that these animals were fakes. And this being the Old West, maybe that’s a telegraph pole!

K. Martinez, I’ve always thought that Disneyland must be a paradise for waterfowl, as long as they can deal with the explosions from “Fantasmic!” and the fireworks. Think of all that popcorn they get to eat!

Jonathan, when you look at these photos and consider what the typical amusement park was like back then, I could imagine people being amazed at this wilderness that was carved out of Anaheim orange groves.

The Magic Ears Dudebro, when I took my 8 year-old niece to the park, she was trying to determine what was “real” and what was “fake”. She wasn’t always right, which was kind of cute.

stu29573, it looks a bit like a sunken Tom Sawyer Island raft - only too small! And at least the boat doesn’t have an obvious outboard motor, as we’ve seen in other old pix.

TokyoMagic!, I see an orange shape, but it is too indistinct to determine if it was the flames from the Settler’s Cabin. I think that the height of the island would have made it unlikely, but I can’t say for sure!

Melissa said...

Just this morning, my sister and I were driving through an area of Pennsylvania where they've mapped 25 spots where you're supposed to be likely to see wild elk. At least with Disney's animalatronics, you know they're going to be right there where you expect them!

And yeah, when I was a kid (sometime shortly after the war of 1812, if the wear and tear on my body is any indication) realistic animatronics were still uncommon enough to be exciting.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I lived in Pennsylvania for four years, and I don't think I ever saw a deer, much less an elk! The Disneyland elk might have had limited motion (wasn't there a meese that chewed some watery weeds?), but I think that they were mere sculptures. Good ones, though!

Anonymous said...

To be fair to the unknown photographer, with the poor plastic lenses of most snapshot cameras of the era, the "animaltronics (snicker), look pretty good in still photos.

@Jonathan and Major, Duraflame took over the sponsorship of the Flaming Settlers Cabin after Zippo, the original sponsor, gave it up.