Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Yet Even More Frontierland Photos, April 1977

The first three photos from today's post are a continuation of some photos from the Mysterious Benefactor (from about a week ago). In all three of those, we were aboard one of the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island.

As you can see, we have arrived at our destination. Everyone is hurrying to baggage claim, or to go to Hertz Rent-A-Pony so that they can be on their way. I enjoy the jokey idea of guests sitting on red barrels full of dynamite. Why are there barrels of dynamite on a raft? Who cares! 

"How about a reverse angle, Major Pepperidge?", I hear you cry. Ask and ye shall receive! Enjoy those genuine 1977 humans with only minor battle wear. Near the upper right, on the far shore, there appears to be a little ticket booth that I don't recall ever seeing before. Any ideas what it was for?

Sorry about the color on this one, I couldn't seem to make it look much better no matter what I did. Anyway, a new crowd boards the raft for the 12 day journey back to the mainland. I really love the Keelboats when they got their folk art blue & green paint scheme, so that's a bonus. That stars and stripes visor might be an artifact of the Bicentennial.

The next three are not very different from each other, but I decided to share them all in case one of them struck your fancy more than the others.

I wonder if Walt and his Imagineers anticipated that grown men and women would be just as interested in climbing and exploring as children? My guess is that they did.

There were no stairs or ramps, if you wanted to reach Merry-Go-Round rock, you had to climb. So fun. And I believe that being somewhat isolated on an island made people want to experience things that they might have just walked past, otherwise.

Thank you, Mysterious Benefactor!


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, that ticket booth was the Frontierland equivalent of the Fantasyland ticket booths that show up in many vintage photos. If you ran out of tickets in your ticket book, you could go to the booths that were inside the park, and buy individual ride tickets or a small book of coupons that could be used for any attraction.

Is that a random scary clown, lurking off in the distance of that first pic?

Chuck said...

That little ticket booth predates the Park, relocated from another part of the Dominguez Ticket Booth Farm in late 1954 along with her Fantasyland sisters. There were more ticket booths earmarked to be moved elsewhere on property, but the story goes that the bulldozer driver was colorblind. It's a shame, really; they all smelled like orange blossoms and locomotive exhaust.

You can catch a glimpse of one of the namesake cascades of Cascade Peak in the left background of the fourth photo. And off to the right, Supergirl makes a brave appearance in future Marvel territory eight years before her tragic, heroic death in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Nanook, there are random scary clowns lurking in the distance of all GDB pictures; they're just usually obscured by foreground objects.

Andrew said...

Those dynamite barrels have not one, or two, or three, but four Xs on them, so hold on to your hats! There's a reason everyone is scurrying off the raft.

I'm definitely not any kind of authority on this, but Disneyland just seems like a genuinely fun place in these pictures - in a nice, laid-back kind of way. Being Tom Sawyer Island probably has a big part to do with it, as it's always been the "take your time and explore" area, but other details, like the excitement of the people as they leave the raft and the Keel Boat in the background, add to the effect, too. It makes me want to go there!

Stu29573 said...

The "natural" rock formations were a very cool part of TSI, although modern lawyers go into convulsions when they see them. The really sad thing is that all the really cool imaginative playground equipment from the 50s and 60s is gone. Now any park or playground you see has the same generic "safe" equipment. However, I can assure you that kids break their arms on the "safe" monkey bars just like they did on the rocket ship monkey bars. I'm an elementary school counselor. I see two or three every year come into the clinic...

Stefano said...

Thanks Major and MB, these pictures are cherce. This TSI I put in my top 6 of favorite attractions. Apparently it is the one piece of Disneyland mostly designed by Walt himself. Disney grew up in Marceline, Missouri, not far from Mark Twain's birthplace of Hannibal, Mo., and those 5 years or so in Marceline would influence Disney's work ever after.

I'm trying to recall from the novel: the boys--Tom and Huck and Joe Harper-- cobbled their adventures on Jackson's Island out of all kinds of river jetsam, which might account for the dynamite barrels. As a kid I was taken with that half submerged barrel near the TSI Old Mill, and loved getting up close to it in the canoes.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, thanks for the information; I honestly don’t remember noticing it in any photos before, but then again, I don’t notice a lot of stuff! And if that’s not a scary clown, it’s a scary person!

Chuck, I had no idea that the Dominguez family was a pioneer in the ticket booth industry! Want to use the bathroom? That’ll be one “B” ticket. It turns out that the the famous bulldozer operator was not just colorblind, he was just plain blind. I’ve seen a photo of him, he looked exactly like Tim Conway, wearing a pair of dark glasses. Disability? What disability? Those bulldozers are easy to drive! I think I remember that Supergirl story you refer to, it made me cry. But then again, most things do.

Penna. Andrew, four X’s? That’s the good stuff! When my grandma wrote letters, she would put four X’s at the bottom, and I always assumed that it meant one kiss for each grandkid. Now I realize that she wanted to blow us all up! Disneyland really could be laid back, though perhaps not in the middle of June or July. There was a lot of non-peak time to enjoy a relaxed visit to the park.

Stu29573, they should have built all of Tom Sawyer Island out of Nerf foam. Problem solved! Bump your head on a cave overhang? Fall 12 feet onto the ground? You’ll hardly know anything happened. Of course they’d have to close the island on rainy days because it would get too squishy. My brother broke his arm falling from some monkey bars!

Stefano, I’ve always been kind of fascinated with Tom Sawyer Island’s design, and have read that Walt was largely responsible for the way it turned out - at least the general layout. In fact I think I’ve seen a sketch done by him. When my family lived near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, my brother and I would wade out to islands that would appear as the water got low, and build forts with our friends, and just enjoy having our own little kingdoms. The islands were always covered with very thick brush, which made things a little tricky, but it was still fun. But we did find stuff in the river, including a cold six pack of beer!!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

The man with the Dr. Grabo pipe RIGHT next to the Dynamite is putting the whole group in grave danger! Such flagrant disregard for public safety and risk of COPD all in one gesture, how selfish. These are soo 70's it's redonkulous. Leisure suits, pipes, lit cigarettes, girls in Superman shirts and last but not least photographic proof I was not the only dork to rock the American flag visor. ;-)

JG said...

It's amazing how such simple photos can stir so many good memories.

Thanks Major, and the MB.

Those dynamite kegs were the best seat in the house.

I seem to remember Snuffy Smith comics where his moonshine jug had 3 or 4 "X"'s as well. It probably means "only the best". When you get blown up by 4 XXXX dynamite, you stay blown up.


Melissa said...

My mother watched a classmate die from a fall off some of that concrete-embedded 1950's playground equipment. She can still recall every detail of the scene all these decades later. So, I'm more sympathetic to the playground safety movement than many others.

Nanook said...

@ JG-

I beg to differ about those dynamite kegs being The best seat in the house. Back in the day, American Standard (the plumbing folks) used 'Church' toilet seats on their commodes, and the seats were identified as such. Their advertising for the seat, succinctly-stated was, Church - the best seat in the house. I'll let others decide just how 'best' they were...

Anonymous said...

@Nanook, I'll still take the dynamite keg...


In Tom Sawyer it’s mentioned that when people are missing the search parties use canons in hopes that the sound of the explosions will raise the dead bodies to the surface. Even when it’s though Tom and Huck died from the riverboat crashing into their raft on a foggy night, the search party uses the canons. Maybe these are the gun powder kegs that once emptied were just tossed into the river to be salvaged by kids and carpet-baggers in the fabrication of their cobbled rafts .

Matthew said...

@ Stefano - I too was taken by that half submerged barrel out front of the Tom Sawyer's Island, Old Mill. Like you, I remember going around in the canoe, and depending on who was steering, you could hit it with your oar. Such a great detail that cost very little money but had a huge impact!

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Anonymous said...

Disneyland Useless fact #302: According to the gentlemen at the Mill (several of whom at been at the park since day one) as they replaced tired wooden sections and repainted/aged the dry-docked Becky Thatcher raft back in the ‘70s when I worked at Disneyland: The dynamite kegs were supposed to advise passengers that many of the island’s caves and rock-works had been created by Tom and Huck as they blew open blocked cavern entrances, etc.—all in the name of fun, of course!

Personally, I never made that connection as a young visitor to the island, but that was the claim of these fellows who most certainly weren’t kidding me as they went about their work.

Major Pepperidge said...

Alonzo, when you think about it, “Dr. Grabo” was the Evel Knievel of his time. He laughed in the face of death! Ha ha, I don’t even have to look, I remember your Stars and Stripes visor!!

JG, I have used cinder blocks for furniture for years, but my eyes are now open, and I realize that I need red explosive barrels now. It’s good to update every once in a while!

Melissa, I still remember some of the fairly crazy jungle gym stuff at my grade school - it seemed very high, although it probably wasn’t more than 10 feet at the tallest. Still, there was nothing but solid asphalt below, I suppose a kid could easily fall and do some serious damage.

Nanook, didn’t Club 33 have toilets that looked kind of like that?

Anon, hear hear.

Mike Cozart, yes, I remember the use of cannons to bring up the dead bodies. I also remember something about putting mercury in a loaf of bread, and it would somehow magically locate a corpse. I think Huck found one of these loaves, shook out the mercury, and ate the bread. Yikes!

Matthew, that’s the kind of tiny detail that most people would never notice, and yet it gave that extra touch of veracity. Add up lots of little touches, and you had Disneyland!

Anon, that is a fascinating story about Tom and Huck opening up the caves! I sure never heard that before, and like you, I never made the connection as a kid. If anything, I probably assumed that the Imagineers thought it was funny for guests to sit on and “explosive” barrel.


MAJOR: I think you’re spot on for the REAL reason there’s gunpowder kegs on the rafts - Imagineering humor! Everyone in the rafts stands ..... but if you must sit ..... your only option is a barrel of gunpowder!!

Nanook said...


"... toilets that looked like..." what-?? churches-? Or, merely had consumer type seats, with covers-? Or, maybe you meant 'XXXX' dynamite keg-shaped commodes-?? Now that would be cool for Club 33 diners-!