Thursday, January 03, 2019

Monstro & Skull Rock, October 1963

When you're at Disneyland, it doesn't take long for strange things to seem perfectly normal and OK. Not even worth a glance, in fact! There's a giant whale over there, stuck in that rock, and he's eating canal boats like they are M&Ms. But the guests don't even notice. The man carrying the large violet shopping bag (to our right) probably bought a stack of original animation cels for his daughter's room. One of Alice (from her time in Wonderland), one featuring the fairies from "Sleeping Beauty", and another from the fairly recent "One Hundred and One Dalmatians", with Pongo and some puppies. They were a buck apiece, but no price is too high for his kid! Keep the bag, sir, it will be worth a chunk of change to collectors someday.

In spite of my many photos of Skull Rock, it (and the surrounding area) is still one of my favorite things in "Old Fantasyland". While I do kind of wish that the skull was larger, I have no doubt that its size was carefully considered in relation to the Pirate Ship. Perhaps it was meant to seem farther away?  


Nanook said...


The Imagineers used a 'shrunken skull' as the model for Skull Rock. It just kinda worked out that way. That woman with her amply-sized white purse certainly appears to be on a mission. As for myself, I'd prefer to stop at the Kodak Picture Spot and try to find my inner Ansel Adams.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

As for that woman with the large white purse, if her suit was more of a chartreuse green, rather than forest green, she could be Tippi Hedren's stand-in for The Birds (which was released earlier that same year).

Whoever designed Skull Rock and the cove dining area was an artistic genius. Whoever is responsible for it's destruction is a....well, I better not say here!


Disneyland’s Skull Rock & Skull Rock Cove were art directed by Bill Martin. The project’s architect was P.G Barnet.

The removal of Skull Rock & Skull Rock Cove was a result of several factors and there were attempts to save it at an early point in the development of New Fantasyland ‘83. The 80’s New Fantasyland was art directed by Tony Baxter, but it was being worked on off and on ( Walt Mentioned in 1966 that after New Tomorrowland a New Fantasyland would be next) because of the focus of the Story Village setting of the New Fantasyland, I think the Skull and Grotto were going to removed either way.

Have you all seen the fantastic new NEVERLAND theme “land” announced for TOKYO DISNEY SEA!!??....complete with Skull Rock Cove and Captain Hook’s Jolly Roger Pirate Ship! Years ago when a New Fantasyland was being proposed for Tokyo Disneyland a Peter Pan area hS been proposed with the ship and Skull Rock Cove ...while the design was ultimately left on the drawing board its been revived for Tokyo Disney Sea...... Tokyo Disneyland gets all the good stuff!!

stu29573 said...

I've always felt that the pirate ship and Skull Rock were the heart of Fantasyland. It's sad that they were removed to feature...buildings. Granted, the buildings are very nice and wonderfully detailed, but they are what you could see in many places in the world. Show me another pirate ship docked in a lagoon with waterfalls gushing from a skull! That's fantasy, my friends!

Stefano said...

Cal-OSHA, Schmosha--- look at that low rock border to the lagoon. Design-wise, that could have increased excitement for kids: the possibility that easily they might drop in, by accident or on purpose.

Thanks Major, this pic is a tropical treat for a cold January morning.

Melissa said...

The second picture could pass for a fashion shoot - very artistic!

I never noticed the steps by Monstro's mouth before. Kind of looks like a fishhook.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite places anywhere in the world, let alone Disneyland. The scale and features of this little area were just genius.

Great pics of people and fashion as well.

Even the garbage cans have the special Disney look.

Thanks Major, can't get enough of Skull Rock Grotto.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, now I want there to be a GIANT shrunken head in Adventureland! Sewn up eyelids and mouth, blackened skin, the whole deal. I wonder what the lady shading her eyes was looking at?

TokyoMagic!, I wonder if chartreuse was considered an especially daring and fashionable color in 1963? I used to be baffled by a graphics magazine that I read that announced what the hip colors were going to be the following year.

Mike Cozart, I feel like Bill Martin is one of those guys that we hear about now and then, but who hasn’t received as much acclaim as he deserves. He did a lot of incredible stuff, and most people don’t know his name. Did Walt say something about a New Fantasyland on one of the TV shows? It’s hard not to dream of what he would have done. Strange that Skull Rock and the Grotto were already being thought of as expendable, since they were a mere six years old. And no, I have not seen the new Neverland themed land for Tokyo Disney Sea. Sounds fantastic!

stu29573, you make an excellent point… I think I agree with you. I love the beautiful buildings, but as you said, Skull Rock and the Pirate Ship were high fantasy of the most wonderful kind, whereas buildings are… buildings.

Stefano, today hundreds of people a day would fall into that lagoon. They’d displace all the water, so nobody would drown at least. It’s a tedious fact of life that the park needs to make everything idiot proof these days.

Melissa, there’s something about both of these photos that remind me of that Schwinn catalog that was shared here recently; and you’re right, I know I’ve seen magazine fashion-shoots from around this time that look very similar! I was looking for those steps near Monstro’s mouth… I think it might just be an out-of-focus stroller?

JC Shannon said...

Skull Rock and the Pirate Ship were the perfect pairing and perfectly located in Fantasyland. The woman with the purse is obviously jonesing for a tuna burger. Major, I would love a screen used animation cell featuring Peter Pan, but I am a few dollars short. It is impossible to take a bad photo of Monstro, he is very photogenic, and never tires of posing. Great stuff from the old Fantasyland, thanks Major.

Chuck said...

I think it's awesome that Dad bought something color coordinated to his wife's outfit. That's true love right there.

Because they've been gone so long and the way that most photographers framed their photos, I usually forget the spatial relationship between Monstro and the Skull Rock Complex (SRC). In that first photo, you can see the SRC's back waterfall at the extreme left end of the frame. For just a second, I thought that water was pouring off the roof of a building just out of frame, and I couldn't figure out why the water disappeared before it hit the ground. Time for some remedial vintage Disneyland geography...

JC Shannon said...

Yea Chuck, I saw that too. It appears the water is defying gravity!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it sure would be incredible to build a small version of some Disneyland features, and be able to view them from a miniature railroad (similar to the Carolwood Pacific). Ah, if only I could do it! Meanwhile, what other place has fans of the garbage cans? ;-)

Jonathan, by the time the studio made “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan”, the artists were really at the top of their game. I think that both of those movies are just beautiful to look at, and the animation is top-notch. I’d love a good “Peter Pan” cel! I prefer the old black, extra-mean Monstro to the blue version of today.

Chuck, you can’t tell, but that guy wore purple socks too. I see what you mean about the water illusion - normal physics don’t apply in Fantasyland.

Jonathan, I just figured it was a “Pepper’s Ghost” effect.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, I have seen the artwork for the new Peter Pan area at Tokyo Disney Sea. And yes, they do get all the good stuff. Have you seen the video that popped up online a couple weeks ago, showing the advanced A.A. figures for Tokyo's new Beauty and the Beast ride? I need to go back to Tokyo, darn it! It's just that the radiation which continues to spew out of the Fukushima nuclear plant still scares me a little.

I don't see why the Pirate Ship and Skull Rock couldn't have coexisted with the New Fantasyland. All they did was move Dumbo to that spot and Dumbo sticks out just as far as the lagoon did. Couldn't the little New Fantasyland village have been a seaside village? They certainly don't seem to care about a cohesive theme within the lands or the parks anymore, so what would it have mattered anyway? Dumbo easily could have been relocated elsewhere, like in the Fantasyland meadow next to IASW (where it was originally going to go when "Circusland" was planned). Oh well!

Melissa said...

I'm not sure what it was like in the 1960s, but since 2000 Pantone chooses the color of the year and other Industries fall in line. It's good for business to make everybody think they need to go out and buy the same thing in a different color.

It can be difficult to match vintage clothing from different decades, because dye lots tend to change slightly over time.

I should have zoomed in on those "steps" before commenting on them!


MELISSA : WED/WDI rarely used Pantone untill the late 1990’s. The Disney parks used mostly PLOCHER COLOR SYSYTEM, DITZLER FLEET FINISHES( now PPG) AMERITONE and FINCH FINISHES. There were other smaller companies as well but those above companies provided the color pallets for almost everything in a Disney Park untill the 2000’s. FINCH and PLOCHER were local California companies - PLOCHERE ( buildings signs posters etc)still exisists and is very popular with architects. FINCH was merged with Price-PHISTER and they dropped the color/ paint line in the 1990’s ( FINCH was the color line used on the DL & WDW RAILROAD locomotives and mist metal items in the park) DITZLER has made paint for automobile companies since the early 1900’s and became part of the PPG company - WDI still uses colors of the DITZLER / PPG - DITZLER was used on Main Street vehicles, Big Thunder trains , 1978 Matterhorn bobsleds and hundreds of other things in the Disney parks .

Today Disney uses PANTONE a great deal ( it’s the easy way out for color selection) DuPont industrial finishes are used as well in addition to many other highly specialized color finish and coating companies.

But if you want the color of Disneyland in the 1960’s - thru the 1980’s it’s PLOCHERE not PANTONE.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I just looked at one piece of concept art for the new Neverland area, and it looks very nice. It’s a shame that the skull won’t have waterfalls pouring out (at least based on the artwork), but otherwise it looks great. Gee, I can’t understand why a little radiation is worrying you! I’m guessing that while they could have moved Dumbo elsewhere, they wanted it to be fairly centrally located. Who knows.

Melissa, the magazine I was referring to is “Communication Arts”, and I don’t think that Pantone was doing the choosing - there was always a whole palette of colors that would be the “in” thing next year. I have no idea how they chose them, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at that magazine.

Mike Cozart, wow, more great information (though I know you have mentioned some of it before)! Pantone sure seems to be the industry standard these days, it’s so easy to use one of their color palettes and pick exactly the hue that you desire. Thanks!

JG said...

Thanks Mike Cozart for the paint and color info. I can add a little more from the construction side.

Ameritone Paints was bought about 15-18 years ago (?) by Fuller O'Brien, which was then bought in turn by a British group called ICI. Both brands appear to be still around, Ameritone Devoe and Fuller OBrien are still on the internet. We used to prefer Ameritone colors to other makers since they were more "subtle". Thanks to new whiz-bang technology, conventional paints now can be made in any color imaginable and different brands can match one another, which was not the case in the '80's.

PPG was Pittsburgh Plate Glass, and developed a coating arm. Now the PPG glass division has been renamed "Vitro", but the coatings division is still PPG. They make high performance industrial coatings for architectural and other applications, aluminum windows, and metal roofs etc. Product name Kynar / Duranar. Colorways for these products are more limited, but there are fun metallic and sparkly effects available. These high-tech resins have long life in hard use for locations where it is very expensive to come back to repaint, like the outsides of highrise buildings.

Plochere is local to the LA area, still located on Hyperion Ave not far from Disney. They now appear to be an alternate color system on the order of Pantone, not a manufacturer of coatings.

I did some research recently for graffiti protection for a building in Long Beach and discovered Coval Molecular Coatings, which has a portfolio of Disney projects (which is not advertised). These industrial products are preservative and high performance protection for other finishes and must be how the Disney facades last so long. I've noticed that many of the storefronts (the Frontierland train station for instance) no longer "feel" like painted wood to the touch, but more like a molded plastic or acrylic, which is this type of effect.

Great thread.