Thursday, September 06, 2018

Skull Rock and More, May 1966

Oh boy, Skull Rock, my favorite of all rocks shaped like other things! (We have "Lizard Rock" not too far from where I am, and let me tell you, it's not as cool as it sounds).  

Look at how wide open and roomy Fantasyland feels. The guy to the left could swing his mom's big yellow purse (?) around in every direction and not hit a soul. The waterfalls and verdant plants help to make that corner of the park into a respectable tropical lagoon. If I was going to bury some plunder, I'd do it near the skull.

Next we get a swell bird's-eye view from the Skyway , which gives us a better idea of the complex network of waterfalls, with the water coming from the highest peak to the right of the skull. The woman with the white top is walking along the pathway that leads to the outdoor dining area behind the Pirate Ship. Meanwhile, in the distance...

...Construction for "It's a Small World" is well underway! It's too bad it isn't a bit sharper, but the photo was taken from a moving vehicle, after all. The fanciful façade is taking shape in metal beams of red and white, you can see the outline of the "skyline". And it looks like the little yellow garage of the Midget Autopia is still standing at this point - I wonder if it was used as a shady place for workers?


Nanook said...


I don't think I will ever tire of looking at Skull Rock. It's just the very definition of the ultimate cool. I miss it so.

And it looks like the little yellow garage of the Midget Autopia is still standing at this point - I wonder if it was used as a shady place for workers? I think the only way it could be used that way was if The Singer Midgets were hired for the construction-! (Okay, not really - but it isn't the grandest of garages).

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Hooray for Skull Rock! Skull Rock, with it's surrounding waterfalls and planters was pure artistic genius on the part of the Imagineers. And I forgot that you could walk right over and touch Monstro's fin. His right fin, that is. Of course, he only had the one fin, just like Claudette Colbert.


I don’t think I appreciated Skull Rock when it existed. I have no recollection toons of eating there, but I know a few times I went into the ship/ordering area. I know my friends and I used to cut thru the dinning area and they Skull Rock after exiting the Skyway. I also have memories of Skull Rock at night and memories of the waterfalls NOT working during the day. But I’ve now studies so many photos and drawings of the ship and grotto I feel like have been there many times.

TokyoMagic! said...

The track and the cars from the Midget Autopia was donated to Marceline, Missouri. I wonder if the little buildings from the attraction were given to the town, as well?

Chuck said...

Love these, Major!

The aerial shot shows that the large pool on the right wouldn't have been as nice a place to hang out and escape the heat as we all had thought. This photo reveals inconveniently-placed rocks that, along with with the piranhas they kept there, would have made the experience somewhat unpleasant.

Also note at the extreme edge of the first photo the yellow fence and the corner of a sign. This was the short lived Beanie Baby Roundup, sponsored by Ty.

Melissa said...

It's the son of The Man in the Big Yellow Hat's son, The Man with the Big Yellow Bowling Bag. He's going to fill it up with tuna sammiches for later.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wow, I don't remember seeing too many photos of IASW façade in this state of construction. So rare I'm drooling like Skull Rock. Thanks for posting.

JC Shannon said...

I agree with Nanook, Skull Rock, especially at night, was the ultimate in Disney cool. The guy carrying the purse looks like he is waiting for someone. Orrr...He is an NSA operative carrying the S.I.O.P. and missle launch codes for Lyndon Johnson. The Prez is enjoying a day at the Park and is heading for the Mad Tea Party for a spin on his favorite tea cup. Politicos love the Tea Cups 'cause they go round and round but never get anywhere. Thanks Major for the awesome pics.

K. Martinez said...

One of the things I loved about Skull Rock Cove was the volcanic rock seating as seen in both pics. So creative. I think there are still some examples of the volcanic rock seating in the "Enchanted Tiki Garden" unless they removed them as part of the "crowd-flow" initiative for "Star Stars:Galaxy's Edge". So much of the park is being effected by the Star Wars addition. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

The Skull Rock Grotto was simply the best. The waterfalls made enough noise to make you think you were on a desert island eating your tunafish.

@Ken Martinez, there are several similarities between Skull Rock and the Tiki Room, the rock work benches are certainly one. The paving in both grottoes is/was a kind of small, flat pebble-like stone in a dark concrete or grout. On my last visit, this material was still present in the Tiki Room at the top of the steps and might be the last identifiable vestige of paving once trod by Walt Disney.

Major, I notice you give the date of the images as May 1966, but the Google says IASW opened in Disneyland in May 1966. Looking at the facade construction, the new attraction looks like it is still some time away from completion? Could this be an instance of the pictures sitting in the camera for a few months? Anyway, any date is fine to see such early construction pics, when Disney didn't take such pains to hide a new project.

Thanks very much indeed.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, while the Midget Autopia garage is small, I was trying to figure out why it hadn’t been bulldozed. There must be a reason it was saved, don’t you think? It’s possible it was used to store tools, or architectural plans, or there could even be chairs and a table inside for seating.

TokyoMagic!, poor Monstro was a mess. One eye, one fin… no wonder he was so grumpy. Claudette Colbert was famously grumpy too.

Mike Cozart, I am on record here as loving Skull Rock, particularly at night when the eyes glowed with a mysterious green light. Sadly I never ate at the dining area - it’s one of those things I would do if I could go back in time!

TokyoMagic!, I don’t know what happened to the building, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wound up in the local landfill. Did Marceline ever get the Midget Autopia up and running? I seem to remember them having a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise a huge sum of money, and people didn’t donate nearly enough.

Chuck, it is true, that pool is not as inviting as the one above the Submarine Voyage falls. I sure hope Disney buys the rights to Beanie Babies, as well as Cabbage Patch Dolls, Bratz, Teletubbies, and every other IP so that we can have more rides themed to such things.

Melissa, it’s The Boy with the Big Yellow Purse. His adventures weren’t so popular.

Alonzo, if only the photo of IASW was sharper! I think I have at least one or two other view (also from the Skyway) with that ride as it was being built - they are probably equally flawed.

Jonathan, I’d like to give the yellow purse guy the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not so sure that the NSA was using yellow leather bags. Who knows though, it was 1966, and things were just starting to get groovy in the world!

K. Martinez, I’d like to see how they achieved that “lava rock” look - sometimes there appears to be round-ish hollows, as if there were balloons in the cement that they later popped. Just like a grade-school art project! But I assume they had a more sophisticated way of doing it.

JG, I didn’t remember that the Tiki Room had rockwork benches. Unless they have some in the outdoor pre-show area? I’m sure the pebbly concrete was there in case the water from the falls sprayed on the walkway. Don’t want people to slip and fall… Meanwhile the mystery of the date on the slide is easy to explain. The photos were probably taken months earlier, and the photographer didn’t get them developed until May, when they were date-stamped. But you’re right, technically all of these are from earlier than the stated date!

Anonymous said...

@Major, I think there were some rock benches out front in the pre-show, but maybe I'm wrong. I usually stand during this part so I can easily see the idols do their thing.

I think you're right about the paving.


Chuck said...

Major, here's a photo of the benches outside the Tiki Room for reference. There's definitely a family resemblance.

I can't wait for 2D cutouts of the Bratz gang to start appearing along the Autopia route. Now that's synergy!

Nanook said...

@ Major/JG-

LOOK here - and HERE, to get an idea about those benches. (Again - thanks to Daveland-!)

Melissa said...

Skull Rock, Skull Rock,
Water flows to the river's bed.
Skull Rock, Skull Rock,
Looks like the bone inside your head.
Skull Rock, Skull Rock,
Keeps the pool so nice and full,
Skull Rock, Skull Rock,
The waterfall that's a mandible.

Anonymous said...

@Chuck and Nanook, thanks for looking those up. What would we do without Daveland?

The paving in Nanook's second link is the pebble pattern I was describing earlier. It's unique to those two areas, as far as I can recall.

I am pretty sure that it is original to the TR since it carries into the vestibule of the original restroom to the left behind the plants.


Major Pepperidge said...

JG, yeah, I always stand, so I didn’t even notice any benches.

Chuck, ah, yes, they do look similar. Thanks!

Nanook, ha ha, you even chose one of the same photos as Chuck!

Melissa, is that poem set to a familiar melody?

JG, Daveland has a lot of amazing photos, but his real stroke of genius is the website with everything organized and orderly.

Anonymous said...

Major, I was kind of amazed to see Dave's photos of the pre-show without any people. He must have taken those really early or some holiday or other.

I can see now why I was unsure if there were stone benches or not. They are always covered up with people resting and aren't clearly visible.

Dave has created (inadvertently or not) a fine research library for us. He also has some very clear shots showing the pebble paving in the Skull Rock Grotto.