Sunday, March 31, 2019

Cascade Peak, October 1963

Wonderful Cascade Peak graced the banks of the Rivers of America from 1960 through 1998 (so it was pretty new in this pic). It was a splendid addition, especially when you paired it with such things as a little mine train, a row of pack mules, a passing steamboat, and so on. The yellow Mine Train is easy enough to spot, but you have to look closely to see the guests on Pack Mules.

You might think that I just zoomed in on a section of that first photo, but this is an entirely different image. It still seems unbelievable that this was torn down. Maybe I just had a nightmare?

I'm still away from home, but I'll be back very soon.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

More MGM Backlot Photos, 1970

Some of you may recall that I have posted a number of historic photos of MGM's backlot over the years; they were taken in 1970 just before the famous auction in which so many incredible props and costumes were sold to the public. A friend of mine was the photographer, and he generously allowed me to scan his personal Viewmaster reels - now I can share them with you! 

This first example shows up in the movie "Cheaper By the Dozen", among others. The weedy lawn makes this look a bit "Munstery", but it's still pretty. I recently learned that the street was known as "St. Louis Street", after the 1944 Judy Garland musical, "Meet Me in St. Louis".

This next house is where Judy's family (the Smiths) lived. If you put your ear right up to your screen, you might just be able to hear the movie's catchy theme song.

Here's a screen grab from the beginning of "Meet Me in St. Louis". It has that MGM sheen!

Various coaches, buggies, surreys, carriages, and wagons were parked on the street for potential buyers to inspect. It's so incredible to think of all of this amazing stuff being sold off like it was surplus junk.

Here's the Smith home again. I like the greenhouse conservatory on the side. These sets are so convincing, you'd swear that somebody will walk out the door at any moment.

Here's another lovely home, with more assorted horse-drawn vehicles. I wonder if those were genuine antiques, or if they were all built by the skilled studio craftsmen?

I wish my MGM book was handy, I'm sure I would be able to ID this structure. I'll bet it appeared in loads of movies.

And finally, here's one last shot of St. Louis Street, looking beautiful and melancholy at the same time.

There is one final reel of personal Viewmaster photos from MGM's backlot!

(I'm still out of town; I hope all of you are having an excellent weekend).

Friday, March 29, 2019

Mickey on Main Street, September 1966

I love this first photo - what could be more classic than a family having their photo taken with Mickey Mouse, right near the Main Street Cinema? Kids are squirmy, so Mickey has to hold them in place with his kung fu grip. Mickey's ears look a little worn and torn, he needs to go to the salon.

Zooming in we see another family patiently waiting for their turn to meet the mouse. The kid's hat, with the blue ostrich feather, insures that he will be treated like a king. The dad is holding an early INA guidebook in his left hand (with a ticket-info brochure tucked inside).

The lady in pink appears to be wearing a bonnet. She must be a cast member - she's also wearing an apron. Perhaps she is on break from the Candy Palace just behind her.

Wow, the Main Street Cinema was showing a movie starring President Edgar Kennedy! Who knew. Mickey is giving a photographer the business, much to the amusement of the lady in blue - we'll see more of her over the coming weeks.

I'll be out of town for a few days, and will be away from computers for the most part, but you'll get new posts each day, and I will look forward to reading your comments when I return! 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Omnibus, September 1966

There's no bus like an Omnibus. It's totally omni! I like this photo of a laid-back Town Square (with the Audio-Animatronic flagpole to our left). Folks are taking a mid-afternoon break on shady benches while vehicles come and go; one couple has just refreshed themselves at the little water fountain (after moving the C&H Sugar bag out of the way) and everything feels very pleasant. I'd love to know if they played music on Main Street as far back as 1966, since the old melodies are so much a part of the experience in my mind. 

That bus might be "omni", but it's better than being "on me". (Pauses for an explosion of laughter). In the background the Global Van Lines truck sits in front of one of my favorite buildings - the home of the storage lockers. Just above the Global van we can see three posters - Monorail, Tiki Room, and Subs. Guests are carrying striped pink bags, I wish I had the one on the bench. 

It occurred to me that I could almost merge both of the photos into a panorama. So I gave it a go; I wasn't able to use Photoshop's "photo merge" function, which would have been ideal - there wasn't any overlap. So I just did a somewhat crude version, and I have to admit that it looks pretty good if you ignore the edges of the flagpole! It's sort of fun to see the same Omnibus twice. There's even a man and woman who appear in both halves.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Alice and Friends, July 1960

It's nice to see that big celebrities like Alice and the White Rabbit have managed to remain friends in spite of the intrusions of tabloids and paparazzi. From what I've heard, they still text each other regularly, and Alice thanked the WR in the liner notes of her trip-hop solo album, "Who In The World Am I?".

Back in July of 1960 (nine years after the release of the Disney movie) the two pals made an appearance at Disneyland, and even posed for photos with some of their fans. Fame hasn't gone to their heads!

I guess that everyone pretty much had to take a photo of the castle when they went to Disneyland. How else could they prove that they were really there?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Around Fantasyland, 1957

I have a couple of vivid 1957 photos of what I was initially going to call "peak vintage Fantasyland", until I thought about it a bit more; the Alice ride was added in '58, and Skull Rock arrived in 1960 - I loved both of those. But... '57 was still pretty awesome. 

There's that crazy Pirate Ship. Whenever a merchant vessel spotted the tuna boat in its rear view mirror (ships have rear view mirrors, right?), the entire crew felt a chill in their hearts. "Sacre bleu!". The sails have been reefed, so we can rest easy... for now. Tomorrowland was a "land on the move", but this area had the spinning teacups, flying Dumbos, and the Skyway overhead for a general sense of activity and excitement.

Ach du lieber! Look at how busy it is - this must have been a summer Saturday. The lines for the dark rides are bonkers, but... everything is relative. As always, I love the use of stripes, polka dots, and other patterns.

Mama mia, I don't love crowds, but I would gladly be mixed among those lucky people.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Four More From 1997-ish.

What's sweeter than the harmonies from a barbershop quartet? The beauty of Frontierland, circa 1997 (give or take a year). Photos courtesy of Mr. X, who took them himself.

This first one is my favorite of the bunch, and I think you can see why. For one thing, it's just a lovely photo. But it also shows Cascade Peak, still looking wonderful, even though it appears that the upper falls are not working (a common circumstance in the last years of the peak's existence). X wishes that the trees near Cascade Peak had been trimmed or removed to maintain the illusion that it was larger, but it's hard to be too mad at big, beautiful trees.

Here's another pretty photo showing the entrance to Frontierland. I sure don't remember those little teepees ever being there; I believe that there were similar teepees in roughly the same locations in the earliest days of the entrance area.

Next is this shot looking back at the Friendly Indian Village, with the Storyteller shaman scene. I've been trying to determine when that scene was added, and so far all I can say for certain is that it shows up on souvenir maps from 1995. Does anybody know? Of course the entire area was changed in 2017, and now the shaman is atop a rocky promontory on Tom Sawyer Island.

And one final photo is nothing too exciting, though it's got Cascade Peak, so it gets extra points for that!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Along the River, September 1966

I've got Steamboat Fever! Symptoms include an insatiable desire to hear banjo music, the tendency to wear a white linen suit with a string tie, and vomiting. Thankfully there is a cure - 20 mint juleps. But back in 1966, people with Steamboat Fever (spread via mosquito bites) just had to ride it out. Get it? Ride it out? Because the Mark Twain is a ride! I will accept checks, PayPal, and crypto-currency.

Just when I think I've had enough photos of the Mark Twain to last me a lifetime, I find this pretty view looking westward - not the same old view. Those two gentlemen have noticed the potential for a memorable photo, in spite of the lack of a Kodak Picture Spot marker. 

This view is a bit more standard, but I like how it is right between the still-unopened Haunted Mansion and the closed-at-the-moment Columbia sailing ship.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Liberatchy Home

Here's a weird one for you! Going through a pile of old slides, I found one hand-labeled "Liberatchy house, Sherman Oaks". First of all, I love that Liberace was spelled "Liberatchy". Second of all, I used to live near Sherman Oaks, and wondered if Liberace really had a house there once. So down the internet vortex I went. As it turns out, he did own a home, at 15405 Valley Vista Boulevard - I've driven right past it on my way to merge on to the 405 freeway.

Here's the 1958 photo - it's surprising how modest it looks compared to the the mega-mansions that we expect celebrities to own these days.

Here's a vintage postcard with a better view of the home, which was built just for Liberace (he moved in in 1953). At the time it was supposed to be very modern, with push-button conveniences. It was a house of the future, only not made of plastic.

One of the most famous features was the swimming pool, shaped like a piano!

Looking at a Google satellite view, the pool is still there.

Apparently Liberace's mother, who lived in the home, was attacked by two masked men in 1957. Realizing that the house was just a little too accessible to fans (and non-fans), Liberace sold the house in 1958. Fans still flocked to the Sherman Oaks house, and the subsequent owner had to resort to placing a sign in his front yard.

Liberace was one of those people I would see on TV when I was growing up... I always thought his schtick was odd, and yet the audiences loved his gaudy costumes and corny jokes. The guy could play the piano though. I'm reminded of a joke from "The Benny Hill Show". "I called one of my dogs Skinny, on account of he's the leanest; I called another dog Killer, on account of he's the meanest; and I called the third dog Liberace, on account of he's the pianist". It's one of those jokes that works better when heard, rather than read!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Teacups & Pirates, April 1969

Here are two fine photos from Fun Dad, my personal hero. There aren't too many left from him, and I am hoarding them like Scrooge McDuck hoards money. Still, the day will come when they've all been posted, and then what are we supposed to do with ourselves? It's back to motorcycle gangs, I guess.

I have plenty of photos of the Mad Tea Party attraction, but none that look quite like this. Fun Dad got right up to that beautiful chain link fence to capture the colors and patterns of Old Fantasyland. The teacups themselves are in tasteful pastels, while the turntable of the attraction is a swirly of red and yellow. Lanterns are overhead, with various familiar sights in the distance such as the Dumbo ride, "Fan 1" (seemingly shuttered), the Skyway chalet, and that mini-berm separating Fantasyland from Frontierland. The Fantasyland Theatre is showing "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree", the first in a series of popular animated featurettes featuring the hunny-loving bear.

Next is this nice shot of the entrance to "Pirates of the Caribbean". As is so often the case in Fun Dad's photos, the people milling about are half the fun. Who is your favorite? The lady with the plaid skirt (to the left) is carrying a souvenir wall map, which is always cool to see. 

It's strange to see the way the fa├žade used to look, when guests just strolled up like they owned the place. I believe that the bridge/walkway was added around 1987 in conjunction with the opening of the upstairs Disney Gallery. 

I hope you have enjoyed today's photos!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

More From The Magic Kingdom, November 1971

We're getting down to the last 10 (or so) scans of photos taken by your pal and mine, Mr. X. What a treat they have been!

Can you say "postcard worthy"? Because this first one definitely qualifies. You've got the beautiful "Admiral Joe Fowler" steamboat next to that lovely 2-level load/unload building, the glassy river, a Canoe gliding past, and the stately Haunted Mansion in the background, all beneath a glorious blue sky.

Check out this unusual night shot of the motorized Fire Truck (did the Magic Kingdom ever have a version of the "Chemical Wagon"?). Considering how dark it was, I'm surprised it came out as well as it did. Notice the custodians, possibly cleaning up after a parade - or maybe just keeping the place spotless as usual. Twinkle light alert!

And this last one is kind of a cheat, because I have actually posted it before. Mr. X gave me a stack of photo prints that were mostly Disneyland, but this shot of WDW's "Main Street Confectionery" was included. See it here. This scan, from a negative, looks a lot better.

Many thanks to Mr. X

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

More Cool Frontierland Views! - 1977

Frontierland scans. Mysterious Benefactor. You know the deal! Here are five images from 1977 that I think you will enjoy.

This first one is a beauty, with one of Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes (formerly the Indian War Canoes) preparing to get underway. I wonder how hard it was for the CMs to control one of those big canoes when they were being powered by 20 inexperienced guests? It seems like it would be a workout, for sure. The fellow to our right looks like he has gotten into the spirit of things with his cowboy hat and jaunty red feather.

Listen, there's been just a little too much running around on Tom Sawyer Island, and these three are ready for a break. I personally like to lay down under some bushes for a snooze, but that's not for everyone. 

I love this photo of Tom's Treehouse. He and his pals took more time than most kids do when building a treehouse; there's an entrance and an exit, instead of just a rickety series of wood planks nailed to the side of the tree. Does anybody know if there was anything inside the treehouse (furniture, maps of caves, an X-Box 360, etc), or was it just an empty room?

This one was hella dark, but Photoshop helped to make it somewhat presentable. You can see that Tom, Huck Finn, Joe Harper, and the other boys used boards from old crates (plentiful along the wharves) as lumber for their treehouse. Too bad they didn't use aluminum siding, which is attractive and impervious to bugs and weather.

And finally, here's a nice view of the interior quad (or whatever you call it) of Fort Wilderness. Looking at plans for Fort Astoria (1811), the open middle area is referred to as the "Parade". So there.  Like the rest of Tom Sawyer Island, Fort Wilderness offered simple pleasures, but that doesn't mean they weren't truly fun. It's all gone now, of course.

As always, many thanks to the Mysterious Benefactor for his generosity in sharing these great scans.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Disneyland Matchbooks, 1970's

I have a small collection of various matchbooks relating to Disneyland in one way or another, and decided to share five matchbooks that must date from at least the late 1970's (since one of them features Space Mountain, which opened in '77). They're not super rare, but eBay sellers sometimes ask nutty prices for them. Caveat emptor. 

I'm certainly not the first person to share these... GDB pal TokyoMagic! had them on his blog nine years ago! But perhaps you've forgotten them, or you are ready for another look.

What could be more classic than the castle (in kooky kolors!), along with Tinker Bell? I've decided to take up smoking just to use these matches. Turkish cigarettes, or perhaps those clove dealies.

Frontierland, eh? I've heard of it. The Country Bears were still in "Critter Country", but I always thought of that land as an adjunct to Frontierland. The striker side of the matchbook shows a Davy Crockett type in front of a Lincoln Log Fort Wilderness.

I love the graphic style on this one - it is so evocative of the era. Sort of a post-psychedelic thing. If only these matchbooks could have resembled velvet blacklight paintings. Genius! On the flip side, New Orleans Square. Strange that of all the things that they could have featured for NOS, they chose a lantern, but oh well. There aren't any good attractions in that part of Disneyland, when you think about it.

There are so many iconic attractions at Disneyland, it's a bit of a surprise that the Blue Bayou got it's own matchbook. Again with the lantern? Some swamp people live in those boats, and believe me, it is like heaven.

And finally, my personal favorite, the Tomorrowland matchbook, with Space Mountain, and the Rocket Jets in fanciful hues. While I acquired the others over the years, I saved this one from a trip to the park when I was much younger.

I hope you have enjoyed today's matchbooks!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Disneyland In Black and White, 1962

I've got three more black and white snapshots for you, circa 1962! We'll start with this interesting photo of the ground-level area next to the Swiss Family Robinson's treehouse. This was their yard, I suppose, with a dining table, something that appears to be a food locker of some sort (resembling a fridge!), a table set with items salvaged from the shipwreck (as well as other items crafted from resources provided by the island), a washtub, and casks and barrels (any idea why that one cask is atop the food locker?). If you're going to be shipwrecked, this looks like the way to go.

Now we're on the Skyway above the old Astro Jets, with the Flight Circle (nothing to see there), and the Flying Saucers in the upper left. The Moonliner has the Douglas paint on it at this point.

I'm not sure if this third pic was taken atop some rocks on Tom Sawyer Island, or from the Mark Twain or Columbia - my vote would go for the rocks. We're looking across at the loading area for the Indian War Canoes; I initially thought that they were not in service, but we can see one canoe loaded up with passengers to the right. In the distance is the Indian Village.