Monday, December 31, 2018


Welcome to the 365th post of the year! That's practically one post on each of your Earth days. I wasn't sure what to post today, and was digging through various files and folders, until I discovered more portraits of Walt Disney at the park, generously donated by GDB pal Huck Caton. Perfect!

Here's Walt with some men of mystery, standing on what I believe is the trail for the Pack Mules (notice Cascade Peak behind the trees). I'm guessing that the old Rainbow Caverns Mine Train had just been upgraded to include the fabulous "Nature's Wonderland" additions. It looks like the waterfalls on Cascade Peak were not turned on yet. I wonder if Walt's left hand originally held a cigarette, and it has been skillfully painted out?

Next we see Walt and a gentleman who is presumably a foreign dignitary of some kind, up in the pilot house of the Mark Twain. Does anybody recognize the man at the wheel?

I'm also wondering why the board that Walt is leaning on has that partial arc cut out at the bottom. It seems to serve no purpose, and yet it was clearly done deliberately.

Walt in color! This must be May 28, 1966, at the dedication ceremony for "It's a Small World". I'm happy that this attraction (a transplant from the 1964 New York World's Fair) is still with us today. Children from all over the world poured water from famous rivers (such as the majestic Los Angeles River, I guess) into the ride's trough. Walt looks so energetic and vital here, it's hard to believe that he passed away just seven months later.

We're back on the Mark Twain again, and Walt is accompanied by another mystery person with poor posture. A friend of mine thought it could be Richard Nixon, but I am not sure I have ever seen Nixon wearing dark glasses, and I don't think he smoked either (he was a Quaker, after all).

Speaking of smoke, you can see the Smoke Tree Ranch monogram on Walt's tie.

And finally, here's a very happy Walt with the famous "Rocket Man", aka William P. Suitor, who made thousands of flights with his Rocket Belt. He appeared at Disneyland in celebration of the park's "Tencennial", and his still-cool flight was featured on "The Wonderful World of Color" (narrated by Walt himself).

Many thanks to Huck for sharing these great photos with us. And I hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Frontierland, October 1963

I have two very snooze-worthy images for this Sunday post. I hope they induce dreams of adorable puppies and kitties. 

Both are likely taken from the top deck of the Mark Twain; I understand the impulse to take pictures when you are suddenly much higher up in the air than usual. Everything looks so different! In this first one, we see the Golden Horseshoe Revue. What a grand theatre in this frontier town; it is kind of a cousin to the elegant Mark Twain, if you know what I mean. 

Looks like the ice cream vendor has a few takers. I wonder what sort of selection he offered? To the right, it looks like two boys have souvenir hats - a cowboy hat and a sombrero. Remember when there were large areas of grass in Frontierland? Neither do I.

Looking to our left a bit, we can see such wonders as the Matterhorn (including the Skyway), Sleeping Beauty Castle, Casa de Fritos, the Shooting Gallery, that cute little bandstand where one might see the Gonzalez Trio, and the Zocalo (to our left, behind the flags), where souvenirs could be had.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Vegas, Baby!

I was playing around with some faded old slides of Las Vegas, hoping to bring them back to being presentable. I think they look OK now! 

There's just something about old Vegas - a combination of glitz and glamor, a place where you were encouraged to drink and gamble and gorge yourself on shrimp cocktails. And just knowing that the Rat Pack could be nearby provided enough star power to light up all of those neon signs. 

Before you gamble, why not stop in at Skagg's Drug Center and have a bromo? It'll keep you feelin' sassy. In a way, as much as I love those fantastic casino signs, I am drawn to the small shops to the left, including Sid's souvenir shop, and the nearby Trading Post. I wonder what cool stuff they had for sale 50+ years ago. "Vegas Vic" is near the end of the street, booming "Howdy, Partner!" at passers-by. 

Benny Binion's Horseshoe Casino was a landmark along Fremont Street going all the way back to 1951. Which probably means that it was not that old when this photo was taken! One of the most famous features of the Horseshoe was a display of one million dollars, made up of 100 $10,000 bills - people loved to have their photos taken in front of it. I hardly have any $10,000 bills.

Sadly, the Horseshoe closed forever in 2009.


Here is a photo of GDB pal Scott Heinz (that's him on the right) in front of the million-dollar display at Binion's around 1988. Cool!

And for those who are curious, here's what a $10,000 bill looks like (thanks to Wikipedia).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Pirate Ship, 1960's

Mixed in with a bunch of random slides was a group of undated Disneyland slides. Some of them are nice, but they've all acquired a blue color-cast; for some reason, I have more trouble removing the blue tints than I do when there are red tints. But... they still look OK!

Proud papa poses with his progeny in front of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. It's amazing the way that lava rock weathered into the exact shape of a bench, but that's the way nature works sometimes. (Favorite lava? Pāhoehoe, of course).

The boys have jackets to go with their dungarees. Boy #1 (on the left) must have been playing touch football the day before, while boy #2 is waiting for his growth spurt. I believe the gentleman to our right is holding a 1961 souvenir guidebook, so that helps to narrow down the date!

Now it's mom's turn to have her portrait with the boys, this time on the poop deck (heh heh). The same impulse that lured King Kong to the top of the Empire State Building also entices guests to the top-most part of the pirate ship.

Sure, they look nice, but those three are among the most feared buccaneers that sailed these waters.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


In the past I've scanned some slides that didn't turn out too good. Either my scanner was bad at the time (the first one was a real piece of junk, I realized), or I just didn't know what I was doing in Photoshop. Both of today's images are from 1958, from slides that had turned very red.

So, here we go, with a look at a 2006 scan. It's a cute image of kids on the Pack Mules - the little girl waving at us is adorable! - but man, are the colors weird.

Here's my latest attempt, and I think it looks a lot better. It's not perfect, but I don't need perfection! I've eliminated most of that cyan cast to the buildings, and evened out some of the colors (like the blue sky). The little boy to the far left loves his trusty mule, and wonders if he can bring him home.

This next one is from the same batch, but (for some reason) it didn't appear on GDB until 2007. This attempt at color-correction resulted in some strange yellow color casts, and shadows that went very dark. It's not too terrible though.

There, I've lightened it up a bit, especially the trees. The Red Shirt to our right now has a proper red shirt! I'm always happy to see the mine trains when they were still a dark green. The difference between this one and the old version is not quite as dramatic, but I'm still glad I made the effort.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Disneyland Railroad at Frontierland Station, 1973

For those of you who happen to be fans of the Disneyland Railroad, I have three nice scans (circa 1973) for you, courtesy of our Mysterious Benefactor. 

All three of these were taken while the train (pulled by the C.K. Holliday, I believe) was stopped at Frontierland Station - he name wouldn't be changed to New Orleans Square Station until 1996, you might be surprised to learn. The crew is topping off the tender with water from the delightful water tower.

One detail I noticed is that the stacks of barrels, kegs, and other freight waiting on the platform are neat and shiny and not dusty and worn.

As I've mentioned before, seeing that Santa Fe logo makes me happy. Everything's going to be OK if the Santa Fe Railroad is handling things. I wonder how often they had to refill the tender? If I had my copy of Steve DeGaetano's "Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad" book handy (it's at my place, and I'm not there right now!), I'm sure it would have the answer.

And there she goes, all ready for another Grand Circle Tour of the Magic Kingdom! Do the trains still have a caboose attached these days? And if so, do they let people ride in the caboose?

I'm still visiting family, but I'll be back soon. Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, junior gorillas! I have some neat old photos of a holiday parade - undated, but certainly from the mid-1950's. This is Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it generally has a Christmas theme. Santa Claus makes an appearance!

The parade moved south along North Broad Street; a jeep pulls a float sporting a fearsome and very toothy dragon, while knights of the crusades march alongside. I love that old signage in the distance.

A group of mummers march toward us, wearing their typical feathered costumes and playing banjos. When I lived in Pennsylvania, there were commercials (a special offer!) for recordings from mummers, and I thought it was the strangest thing. "What's with all the feathers?". Notice the Broadwood Hotel in the distance, and the white tower of the Inquirer Building.

Industrious elves are loading up a big bag of toys for the Salvation Army. Dolls, footballs, chemistry sets, jump ropes... that kind of stuff.

I'm glad that this float is labeled "Cinderella", because I would have been stumped, otherwise. That coach looks nothing like a pumpkin! There are some footmen, presumably former mice. I can't see Cinderella herself from this angle.

"Four and Twenty Blackbirds" - this float was based on the nursery rhyme, "Sing a Song of Sixpence". You all remember! All of those blackbirds were baked into a pie; "Wasn't that a dainty dish, to set before the king". It sure was, Timmy... it sure was.

Most of the floats mention Gimbels Toyland; just imagine what collectible wonders could be found there. If you knew then what you know now....! This float has a children's choir, and an organist in a bowler hat.

Oh boy, there his is... SANTA! I hope he doesn't hit his head on that Mobilgas sign. Saint Nick is accompanied by a bevy of beauties dressed in snowy white.

Better take another picture just in case. Aha, now I see that the beautiful ladies are "Snow Maidens". I feel so foolish.

A large marching band continues along North Broad Street. The flag bearer carries a 48-star American Flag; that flag was in use for 47 years, lasting until July 4th, 1959 when Alaska became the 49th state.

I'm still away from home; whatever your beliefs (or lack thereof!), I hope that all of you have a warm and wonderful day.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas at the Magic Kingdom, 1971

It's Christmas Eve, and I thought it might be nice to see some photos of The Magic Kingdom during its first holiday season. These were taken at night, so the focus isn't as sharp as we might like, but they're still worth a look.

First up is this view of the giant Christmas tree in Town Square. Look at all those lights! It appears that they were the size of a standard home lightbulb rather than the tiny sort you'd find on a normal-sized tree. It's interesting to see that they were still running the Horse Drawn Streetcar in the dark.

Main Street was bustling on this November evening (the pictures were taken during the Thanksgiving holiday). As is usual for the early days, the decor is looks very much like the sort of thing one might have seen in a real city - some garlands, a few lights, some wreaths and bells. Nothing over the top.

We've moved up the street just a bit, with Cinderella Castle towering in the distance. With the popcorn lights lining the buildings, Main Street always looks like something special is going on. Maybe a Hollywood premiere! But no, it's just good old Main Street. The Omnibus is passing on the right; does anybody know if the upper panel (blank in this photo) was ever covered with mini-posters like their Disneyland cousins?

I'll be out of town for the next few days; but keep checking in - as always, there will be new posts for you each morning. Merry Christmas to everybody!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Funky Frontierland, July 1959

For a while, the Disney Studios had kind of an obsession with chimpanzees. You had "The Monkey's Uncle" (yeah yeah!), "Monkeys Go Home", and "The Barefoot Executive", not to mention Mr. Stubbs from "Toby Tyler" and chimps in "The Moon Pilot" and "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones". Those are just the examples that come to mind off the top of my head. Everything those chimpanzees touched turned to gold! 

It should come as no surprise that chimps showed up at Disneyland; in this case they helped to man the magnificent Columbia, climbing the rigging, and hopefully not attacking the fearful guests. An enraged chimp has the strength of 10 Hulks! Jacques Cousteau (at the bottom of the photo) is so scared he can barely stand it.

Chief Wavy enjoys the novelty of chimpanzees, and waves at them with extra enthusiasm. "Now I've seen everything!", he says to himself.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Santa's Land, Cherokee, North Carolina - 1969

Christmas is almost here... it's so close I can taste it! Pepperminty. I'm sharing some fun 1969 scans from Santa's Land in Cherokee, North Carolina - just 3 miles north of Cherokee, NC and the southern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (or about 35 miles outside Pigeon Forge). I've been unable to find much history about Santa's Land other than the fact that it opened in 1966.

Here's the magnificent welcoming billboard. Giant Santa is kind of scary - the expression on his face is unsettling.   

Christmas trees, igloos, and a post office with Santa's twin brother stuck in the flue. If we have to call the fire department one more time, they're going to start charging us to get him unstuck.

The Toy Shop would be 38% more fun if they had spelled it "shoppe", but it's too late now. A surprisingly confrontational snowman dares us to take even one step closer. "Come on, tough guy!".

He's still there, making people uncomfortable for over 60 years.

I'm not sure what that weird tree thing is; my guess is that when you crawled inside his mouth (ew), there was a slide that was basically his digestive tract. Don't think about it too hard! 

Some of you may remember this lovely red-haired woman from photos posted long ago. We've seen her in Disneyland, and Japanese Deer Park, among other places. It's nice to see her again! 

This might be the official entrance to Santa's Land - there's a red elf guarding the door. Any freeloaders attempting to sneak past will be turned into sugar cookies. Above the door is a sort of mini-church, complete with boy's choir and pipe organ. I wonder if it moved?

There's Red again, smiling from an old-fashioned Christmas scene. Santa has left his full sack of toys, so... too bad for all the other kids in the world. I hope there's a Mattel "Thingmaker" in there, or a "Strange Change" toy!

Santa's house - there it is! He's probably heating up a can of chili for lunch, so I hate to knock on the door. There's a nice static sled for guests to sit in for that perfect family Christmas card photo. Rudolph leads the team.

There are eskimos at the North Pole, everybody knows that. And polar bears who love to nap on igloos. At least there are no penguins. The eskimo statue is borderline distasteful, but I guess it has that folk art thing going for it. Notice the garden gnome leaning against the building to the right.

Much to my amazement, the eskimo is still there! His dogs have retired, though.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Santa's Land!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Rocket Jets

Oh boy, more beautiful Tomorrowland pix! I'll never have too many. Both of today's examples come to us courtesy of Mr. X, who loved those Rocket Jets - and who can blame him? 

I love the way the central tower of the Rocket Jets was built to look like a mighty Saturn V rocket. I remember seeing that portion of the ride for sale years ago, but don't remember if there were any takers. 

As I'm sure I've said before, the attraction was almost as fun to look at as it was to ride, with the smaller rockets spinning around in formation like a space ballet from Stanley Kubrick - if I recall correctly, they looked like they moved pretty slow from the ground, but when you were in them, it felt much more rocket-y. You experienced up to 18 Gs, and the skin of your face pulled back, like you see in movies. It was hilarious, especially if you barfed.

Was this taken from the upper level of the Carousel of Progress? I know somebody out there will know! Notice that Mr. X would always wait until the Rocket Jets were in the air before he took his pictures... the mark of a true artist. Also note the cast member in the red jumpsuit with the white stripes.

The Peoplemover on the middle level isn't operational, and in fact there appears to be pieces of what might be side panels of Peoplemover trains scattered near the railings, while men work on the track. On the lower level, the Space Bar is literally shuttered. Perhaps this was the off season? Mr. X couldn't be sure.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Holiday Time at Disneyland

I'm dredging up more holiday-themed photos, including another rescan. If you just look at the thumbnails, this first one (originally posted in 2006) doesn't appear to be that different. But it's kind of blurry, and the colors are weird.

This one is much sharper, and I think the colors are a bit more natural (although they are still off, being from a magenta slide). I love seeing the old Chemical Wagon; it looks like it's taking on a load of passengers. Note the wreath on the window of Walt's apartment, as well as the painted plywood Dickensian (?) figures to the left. 

Here's a scan of a slide that I skipped years ago, for some reason; it is hand-dated "12-29-1956", and shows guests heading toward (and away from) Sleeping Beauty Castle under a  glorious blue sky. The castle has wreaths and garlands aplenty, and somehow looks bigger than usual to me.