Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Canoes & Fort Wilderness, 1959

I have a couple of nice Frontierland views for you, circa 1959 - a big year in Disneyland history. Frontierland didn't undergo many changes in that year though. 

First up is this nice shot of an Indian War Canoe gliding past the fishing dock (notice the many bamboo poles) in the background, and a raft loading up with guests, about to head back to the mainland. Once again I will state for the record that I love this early Frontierland, with the banks of the rivers looking like a wilderness instead of an amusement park.

Here comes a Keelboat!

Here's a nice view inside Fort Wilderness (on Tom Sawyer Island), where guests are safe within the stockade. They could climb to the parapet to sneak a peek at the outside world, yodel down a stone well, meet General Andy Jackson (or a waxwork facsimile), ring a large triangle to deafen your neighbors, take the emergency escape tunnel down to the shore... it was tons o' fun. 


TokyoMagic! said...

I also like the real "wilderness" look in that first pic!

My favorite part of visiting Fort Wilderness, was the Secret Escape Tunnel. Oh, and also the thrill of potentially losing a finger on one of the rifles in the fort's gun towers.

DrGoat said...

That canoe is right up to the water line filled with happy adventurers.
Ah, the secret escape tunnel that claimed many a rambunctious kids noggin.

Stefano said...

Love the folks in the second photo, it looks like some of the cast from "Marty" is visiting Fort Wilderness. I can hear the grey-haired lady: "Katerina...don't make an opera out of it!".

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I wonder if the growing obesity problem in America has been an issue with the seating configuration, speed, water level of the current canoe. My guess is that on average there are a couple less riders per boat than back in 59'.

Anonymous said...

@Dr. Goat. I think the dent is still in my head from the exit tunnel.

I loved the old island.

Thanks Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I suppose it is inevitable that they would need to build so much along the river, but it is nice to see Frontierland looking so undeveloped in older pictures. I actually don’t remember ever using the Secret Escape Tunnel, but I wish I had!!

DrGoat, yeah, look at how low that canoe is! I hope nobody decides to lean over. Makes me nervous just looking at it.

Stefano, ha ha, Ernest Borgnine (or is it Rod Steiger?) always did love a good fort. I’m only just noticing the torches, just think how neat the fort looked at night.

Alonzo, I am sure that the canoes have been replaced with redesigned, more buoyant versions. There was one in the recent Richard Kraft auction. And yes, I can’t imagine that they would pack a canoe with so many folks these days.

JG, I used to always manage to hit my head in the caves on Tom Sawyer Island, or worse, grind the top of my head off on the rough surface. OUCH.

JC Shannon said...

I really love anything Frontierland. The river, the island, all cool. You could really lose yourself in the illusion, and imagine you are plying the river on a craft from the past. The Imagineers really out did themselves with the ROA. And now I think I will dig an escape tunnel into my backyard. Thanks Major.

Anonymous said...

Major, I think they closed TSI at sunset, I remember being shooed off by CM's on one trip.


Anonymous said...

Tokyo...I was likely manning one of those guns in the tower along with you at the time. And of course...the escape tunnel. I could spend my entire day on the island. What a great 'fun house' for us kids....and relief for my parents KS

Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, Frontierland was brilliant - I think everybody wishes they could have explored the wilderness of the old west, or at least the movie version of it, and Disneyland provided a beautiful simulation. As you said, the Imagineers really outdid themselves.

JG, yes, the ticket books and INA handout guides all said that Tom Sawyer Island “Closes at Dusk”. But those torches in the fort appear to be tall enough that they might have been visible from shore.

KS, for all of the more high-tech offerings in the rest of the park, kids really would have been perfectly happy to climb and explore for many hours. I know that when I was a kid, we left because my parents had waited for us long enough!

Melissa said...

Now I've got "The Battle of New Orleans" stuck in my head. Not that that's a bad thing