Sunday, June 30, 2019

Along the River, 1950's

Nothin' too inspiring today, homies... just a couple of pictures looking across the calm waters of the Rivers of America. ALL OF THEM. Why, I see at least six rivers right here. Some call it a gift, I call it a curse. 

The most interesting thing about this first image is that you can see a li'l Stagecoach bouncing along on the distant shore. Everyone loves a Stagecoach! Even kids with chicken pox. Tom Sawyer Island is to our left - little did he dream that pirates would one day own that property. Is that little shack the baƱos? You'd think that I would know, but I'm too busy studying particle physics. You can just see the top of the Mark Twain's stacks peeking up above the trees.

I love these early views of the western edge of Frontierland, when it was so undeveloped. Think of all the stuff that is there now! The Haunted Bungalow, Sploosh Mountain, the Mangey Bear Restaurant, and so on. All that was there in the 50's was the DLRR (look carefully, it's there), and a split-rail fence. The fence required one "C" ticket.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Aquarama, June 1959

Does this post look familiar to you? Then you must be an early riser. I accidentally published this post many weeks ago (there were two posts that day), and some of you saw it.

Looking through boxes of old slides can be an education, if one is curious enough. I have two photos from June of 1959 showing a large, unnamed vessel docked... somewhere. The only note made on the slide's cardboard mount was "Boat with Italian cars".  Can anybody tell what make they are from here?

The boat has a distinctive red bridge (at first I thought it was a smokestack, but it has windows!), which I was sure would help in identifying it. And it did; this is the 160 meter (500 foot), 7 story high S.S. Aquarama.

It began as a troop carrier in 1945, and was called the "S.S. Marine Star" - it only crossed the Atlantic once before the war ended. In 1952 it was converted (at a cost of 8 million dollars) to a luxury liner for the Great Lakes. In '57 it began ferrying passengers and  their cars between Cleveland and Detroit.

Here's a nice vintage postcard featuring the Aquarama. Apparently the ship was popular, but there were no overnight accommodations, and costs were high. It was also involved in several costly collisions.

You know they did things right if there's a nice color souvenir program for its inaugural cruise!

The Aquarama made its last trip in 1962. There were several plans that would have given the ship another chance - one proposal wanted it to ferry between Muskegon to Milwaukee (but the channels would have needed to be dredged, an expensive proposition), and as late as 1995 there were plans to refit it (at a cost of $30 million to $50 million) as a luxurious casino ship "...with 250,000 square feet of floor space... the ship--pure white, looking like a sleek, new cruise ship--will be the largest casino ship in North America. It will employ 1,400 people and generate a gross income of between $150 million and $330 million annually". Sadly, this never came to pass.

In 2007, the rusting, derelict ship was finally towed to Turkey, where it was cut up for scrap. A sad end to a grand old boat. We miss you, Aquarama!

The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal website has a wonderful article (which I used for this post) all about the Aquarama, including some fun photos of the onboard amenities. Check it out!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Two Fun Views, 1962

I have two nice photos for you today, to get your Friday on its way - starting with this nice shot of the Fantasyland Autopia, with those kooky Mark V vehicles. These were used from 1959 to 1963; they look like they've had too much coffee. Love those vintage colors - aqua, cream, and coral pink (with a darker blue just visible in the background).  A cast member makes sure that a boy is properly seat-belted, while red-pants girl wishes he would hurry it up already. As always, I love the criss-crossing tracks for the Autopia and Monorail.

ARRR! Sorry if I startled you. Two familiar boys pose with peg-legged Cap'n Guy, (Scourge of the Seven Seas, probably) near the dining area behind the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. The kid to our left looks pretty thrilled, while his older brother is very chill. The Cap'n doesn't look so bad here; maybe he had that fatherly quality, like Long John Silver. But don't you cross him, or you'll be marooned on a desert island. Notice that the lady to the right is holding a card in her hand...

... zooming in, we can see that Captain Guy is holding a red pen in one hand and a stack of cards in the other - I only recently saw an example of one of these scarce "Honorary Skipper" cards. The Cap'n would autograph it for you - what an awesome souvenir!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lou and Sue - A Selection

It's time for more photos from Lou and Sue! It's sort of a random selection.

There's nothing like hearing some genuine live music in New Orleans Square, and the Royal Street Bachelors performed there for decades. The first two photos are dated "December, 1981". These days, NOS gets plenty of glitzy ornamentation during the holidays, but there is no evidence of Christmas here.

First of all, I need a suit like one of these for Dapper Day. So great! The musicians: Jack McVea on clarinet, Herb Gordy on bass, and Harold Grant on the banjo.

A second photo; Daveland has a nice article about the Royal Street Bachelors, you should check it out.

From 1978 Lou and Sue have this great photo looking in to Tomorrowland on a gray cloudy day. Rain, rain, go away! There's so much good stuff, like the Peoplemover, "America Sings" in the distance, and of course the Rocket Jets. If you look beneath the Peoplemover track, there are two later  attraction posters flanking the "y"-shaped support.

Here's a better look at the poster, advertising the "Superspeed Tunnel", which I always thought was "just OK"; more interesting than a black corridor I suppose! It was added the previous year, when Space Mountain debuted. In 1982 "The World of Tron" replaced the Superspeed Tunnel.

Many thanks to Lou and Sue!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Frontierland, 1977

Mysterious. Benefactor. GO!

I love the first two scans from the MB, showing happy passengers disembarking from the Bertha Mae Keelboat. I'm not sure when Bertha was painted with those shades of blue-green, but it resembles a piece of antique folk art furniture. Like maybe a pie safe. 70's fashions are in their glory, with wide collars and questionable patterns. I enjoy details like the shopping bag with a design I remember from childhood, or the girl with the bucket hat (they must have sold a jillion of those at the park).

The afternoon sun gives these photos a wonderful warmth. Just look at all the people who were on board that Keelboat! That high-tech, space-age length of rope separated the load area for the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island - stay tuned for photos of those.

Here's a general view of Frontierland's retail district (as opposed to the red light district). The Pendleton Woolen Mills is one of the premier businesses - old Colonel Pendleton can sell wool to a sheep. The Golden Horseshoe Revue has a considerable crowd gathered nearby... is it just people waiting to get in for the next show?

And finally, here's an artistic photo of the Mark Twain as seen through the eyes of a bumblebee.

Thank you, Mysterious Benefactor.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Gadget's Go-Coaster, Toontown, 1993

Today I have four nice scans of the panoramic snapshot prints from Irene, Bruce, and James. I think (based on evidence found among some other photos) that these are from right around when Toontown debuted (which was on January 24, 1993). I have spent very little time in Toontown, other than riding Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and have never even been in some of the structures.

Here's a nice sunny picture of the way it looks as you entered TT (by walking beneath the train tracks near It's a Small World), and then veered to the west. It's nice to see all the paint looking so fresh and bright; the SoCal sun takes its toll, and the green hills would sometimes fade to a washed out pastel.

Goofy's Bounce House is the blue structure to our left, while I believe that Mickey Mouse's house is the yellow building with dormers and an orange roof. You can also see the golden leaves from the Chip 'n Dale Treehouse.

The three remaining images primarily feature Gadget's Go Coaster. I actually had to look up to see who Gadget was - a character from "Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers" - a program that I have never watched. Gadget is described as "...the cute and very beautiful tritagonist from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. She is voiced by Tress MacNeille". "Tritagonist", eh? That's a new one for me!

Look at that crowd! The Go Coaster is a thrill ride for kids, though clearly adults enjoy its charms as well. Ride length... 44 seconds! I suppose this is a good way to introduce young kids to roller coasters - this one is fast and takes some smooth curves, but it's not too scary.

Wikipedia's description of the coaster is as follows:  Guests travel through Gadget's salvaged old comb, soup can and thread spool, and over Toon Lake. Near the end of the ride (the fastest turn), cartoon frogs squirt water above guests' heads. The coaster comes to a stop and pulls into the station.

Thank you to Irene, Bruce, and James!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Indian Dance Circle, September 1960

Oops! I woke up this morning at 5:00 AM only to discover that there was no new blog post! Ol' Major Pepperidge screwed up. Never fear, a little re-jiggering will save the day.

The old Indian Dance Circle is long-gone... but at its peak it was a big draw in Frontierland. Just look at this first picture! The area is packed. I'm trying to glean some details, like the "sort of" terraced slope to the left, or the rustic awnings that presumably provided shade for the Indian performers on breaks. Pretty meager shade, I'd say.

This was the final portion of the show, in which children were asked to join in the dancing, and did they ever! You know it was the best part for the kids - and probably for the parents as well.

A little later in the day a familiar blond lady returned for a photo when it wasn't so crowded. The chief in the background often wore bright pink or purple shirts so that he would stand out among the multitudes.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sleeping Beauty Castle, 1962

I suppose a person could visit Disneyland and not walk across the bridge and through Sleeping Beauty Castle's arch - but why would anyone want to do that? If nothing else, I like to hear "When You Wish Upon a Star", possibly my favorite Disney song. 

Regular readers will recognize this family - remember Mom with her Elton John glasses? She probably took them off to get a better look at the swans in the moat, the most incredible thing anybody has ever seen. King Arthur's Carrousel can be seen through the arch, and the toothy portcullis looks like a torture device from a Vincent Price movie.

Mom says, "Ta daaaa!". Or at least that's what I like to imagine. This slide was damaged, so I cropped it down to a nice square for your viewing enjoyment.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Rebel Railroad, June 1965

Welcome to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee! Today we are revisiting the old "Rebel Railroad"; some of you may recall that I've posted pictures from there in the past, along with some historical context. If you're interested, check those out HERE and HERE.

As some of the old comments mentioned, 1965 was the 100th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, and apparently there was a lot of interest in that era among the public. For instance, "Fifemania" was a thing; all the cool kids learned to play the fife. Why did I waste my time learning to shred on the electric guitar??

Rebel Railroad had two beautiful USATC (United States Army Transport Corp) steam locomotives; this one is #192, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1942, in a 2-8-2 configuration (2-8-2 represents the wheel arrangement of two leading wheels on one axle, eight powered and coupled driving wheels on four axles and two trailing wheels on one axle, usually in a trailing truck. This configuration of steam locomotive is most often referred to as a Mikado, frequently shortened to Mike). After the war, it went to the White Pass and Yukon Route and ran between Canada and the U.S. 

In 1961, real-estate developer Grover Robbins acquired #192 (and #190) for his second amusement park, located in the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee - the Rebel Railroad. It looks great, don't you think?

Looks like we have a bunch of new recruits. My gosh, they look like kids. But I wouldn't mess with them - those Union boys better watch out.

These two steely-eyed soldiers are brandishing their Sharps rifles. War is heck.

In 1966, the park was renamed "Gold Rush Junction"; and in 1976, new owners called their park "Silver Dollar City", and the locomotives were given considerable makeovers.

In 1986, Dolly Parton became a co-owner of the property, and the park was renamed Dollywood. The train ride was renamed Dollywood Express, while the locomotive itself is called  "Klondike Kate". It's so great that it is still running today! It's sister, the #190, went to the Tweetsie Railroad in North Carolina.

I was going to describe these buildings as "western-themed", but that doesn't seem accurate to the Civil War motif. I know the war extended into the west, so perhaps that's the justification. Either way, as long as you have a saloon, it's all good.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Rebel Railroad!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Rocket Jets and Peoplemover, June 1968

Oh boy, Tomorrowland circa 1968! A World on the Move, and they weren't kiddin'. Rockets move - just look at them go. You can see a small group of guests near the gantry, waiting for their turn. A CM in a red jumpsuit looks up to make sure all is well with the happy folks. Were you a "move my rocket up and down" person, or a "fly my rocket as high as it will go and stay there the entire ride" person? Due to gravitational anomalies, Skyway gondolas appeared green that day.

Awww yeeeeaaaahhh! The Peoplemover moves along the winding track - just seeing that ride makes me smile. Even the General Electric logo atop the Carousel of Progress building is great. It's a bit strange to think that everything is these photos is gone, with the exception of the empty Peoplemover track.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Random 1998 Pix

Like the title says, these 1998-ish photos are pretty random!

When the new "New Tomorrowland" opened, the landscaping had lots of edible plants. The term "neo-agrarian" was tossed around. It looks like cabbages (?) were planted next to the odd rock formations that were added near the Astro Orbiter. It's nice to know that we'll have coleslaw and sauerkraut in the future. Small citrus trees are there as well, perhaps a callback to the origins of the park. I don't even know are these edible plants still there?

I confess that I am not entirely sure where this pretty cascade was located; I think that it's in Critter Country, over near those singing bears. I'm all for waterfalls in the park... the more, the better.

I suppose a photo of Sleeping Beauty Castle was bound to happen sooner or later. As you can see, the colors are still pretty subtle - the towers have a very pale pink hue, and the stones are three or four different shades, but it works because it isn't over the top. The odd gargoyle faces are something I've never noticed before, I wonder when those were added? We get a pretty nice view of the spire that is a copy of the one that was on Notre Dame cathedral.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rejects - Unrejected!

Through witchcraft and other dark arts, I have resurrected some old slides that were not ready for this world.

Like this first one, showing Sleeping Beauty Castle circa 1958. The original slide had turned very red, and I was able to restore it fairly well. The foreground area feels a little barren, though I'm not immediately aware of what's missing.

Hey, there's Italian legend Marcello Mastroianni (to the left)! Soon he'll see all sorts of weird things in Fellini movies.

Also from 1958 (and also from a red slide) comes this unusual photo, taken aboard a horse-drawn surrey (see the fringe?). A warp in space-time allows us to pass ourselves coming the other direction! Notice the lamp-post signs for the Grand Canyon Diorama. There are so many, surely they can spare one for little old me. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

On the Peoplemover, November 1976

I was delighted to find a batch of slides from 1976 - over 30 of them, and every single one was taken in Tomorrowland. That's super unusual! A lot were taken while the guest was aboard the Peoplemover, for better or worse. Let's all imagine that we are riding it!

It looks like we've just left the Peoplemover load area (with its always-rotating platform) for our journey above Tomorrowland; I like that we can clearly see the rubber wheels embedded in the track - the secret to our show, gliding movement. It almost seems like magic. Hello, Mary Blair murals. Down below, the crowds are light, but a steely-eyed security guard is still making sure that there's no funny business.

"Adventure Thru Inner Space" was one of my favorite attractions, and the Peoplemover gave guests a sneak peek into the queue area, where they could see the endless train of Atomobiles entering the Mighty Microscope - and then seeing them partially shrunk to the size of grapefruits as they moved through a clear tube. It was fantastic!

Stay tuned for many more photos from this batch; some are better than others, but I'm mighty glad to have them.

Monday, June 17, 2019

More Lou and Sue

Today I have more great photos from Lou Perry and his daughter Sue B. - these are from Tomorrowland, circa September 1977. 

What is there to say about the Peoplemover that hasn't already been said? It was smooth (with just the right amount of comforting rumble), quiet, and cool to look at. In this version we can see that the last car has the number 9 on it - a few years ago, two Peoplemover cars sold at auction for a huge sum. I wonder if they appear in this picture?

How's this for a beauty? This Tomorrowland is futuristic, but far from sterile. In fact, it is warm and inviting, with flowers, shrubs, palm trees to help make it feel alive. I just love this view.

Here's the Rocket Jets - I couldn't help noticing the arm that appears to be waving from that one rocket. Did somebody up there know Lou? Or maybe it was just that "hands in the air" thing that people do, like on rollercoasters. 

And last but not least, here is another look at what might be the best Tomorrowland of all. If I had any model-making abilities at all, I'd love to make a version of this section of the land. In excruciating detail! 

Many thanks to Lou Perry and Sue B. for sharing these fantastic photos. There's LOTS more to come!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Two Castles, September 1966

Disneyland has multiple graveyards, and several different trains, and more than one castle (which might surprise some folks). For instance, there's Cinderella's Castle in Storybook Land, perched high on a stony peak - because Cinderella was afraid of lizards. Who can forget the song, "I Freakin' Hate Lizards"? 

Pumpkin coach alert! 

I'm bending the definition of "castle" a little bit, but it's for the children! Over on Tom Sawyer Island there was Castle Rock - a geological formation carved by eons of wind, water, and bugs. Cinderella hated bugs too, remember? There's the song, "These Damn Bugs Are Annoying" that we all sang in grade school. 

You could live in Castle Rock, I suppose, but the nearby treehouse was much more comfortable.

Are there any other castles in Disneyland (besides Sleeping Beauty Castle, of course)?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Eastman Kodak Pavilion, 1964 New York World's Fair

Most of you know that I am a big fan of the 1964 New York World's Fair; if only I could have seen it for myself! But I just have to find enjoyment in vintage photos of the place.

One of my favorite photo subjects is the Eastman Kodak pavilion, with its distinctive "Kodak Picture Tower" that featured five giant photos (the tower looks square from many angles, but it was a pentagon when seen from above - or even when it wasn't seen from above). The photos were actual huge prints (30' X 36'); each one was lit with 6 million "candles". Exposure to the elements meant that these photos were replaced approximately every 4 weeks; and that means that most (if not all) images of the Picture Tower that I have display different photos. Which I love!

Here's one, date-stamped "June, 1964". There's a trio of Siamese kittens on one side, and boats on the ocean on the other.

Next we can see some flowers, and a little boy playing baseball. I wondered about the photos and where they came from, and one piece of publicity said, The pictures will be changed every three or four weeks while the Fair is open six months this year and six months next; consequently, there was a need for a great many special pictures for this part of the Kodak exhibit. That need set off the most extensive picture-taking project ever for Kodak's Photo Illustrations Division. People, places and things were photographed, with emphasis on the beautiful, the dramatic, the familiar and the unfamiliar. To provide the necessary pictures, Kodak's in-plant photographers covered the United States by caravan and flew all over the world.

You can see the same little boy in this brochure image.

A mother and son are attacked by seagulls in a charming beach scene, while collegiate chimpanzees clown for the camera on the other screen.

Another Kodak brochure showed some of the many photos that eventually wound up on the Picture Tower. There are the three kittens in photo #1, and the chimps in photo #3. I know I have another slide with the pretty bride, too. Eventually I'll have to dig out my other pictures of the tower and feature them here on GDB.

I hope you have enjoyed today's visit to the 1964 World's Fair!