Friday, March 06, 2020

Space Bar & Moonliner, 1950's

From "sometime in the 50's" (likely 1956 or '57) comes today's photos of the original Tomorrowland. In spite of my extreme love of the "New Tomorrowland" of 1967, I still think that the original version is the one that appeals to me just a little bit more. Perhaps it's that 1950's optimism shining through that does it. 

In this first scan, we're above the Space Bar in a Skyway gondola (one of the metallic gold gondolas I hope). At the bottom-edge of the picture is an assortment of "modern" shade awnings to help keep guests cool while they eat their Soylent Green. Judging by the way most people seems to be avoiding standing in the sun, it must have been a hot day. I love the glimpse over the berm into the east side of the parking lot. 

Some folks are waiting in line for standard counter service (see a couple of great pictures HERE), while others are perfectly happy to use the vending machines. Automats (like the famous "Horn and Hardart" restaurants) were still a thing in the 50's; supposedly the food at those were quite good, though I have no idea if the ham and cheese sandwiches were that sublime at Disneyland.

See what I mean? Folks are avoiding the direct sun as much as they can. Do you think that could be a cigarette machine to the right? I want a menthol Marlboro right now.

From the same batch of slides I present this wonderful shot of the TWA Moonliner. Fantastic! The photographer labeled this slide, "Disneyland torpedo".


TokyoMagic! said...

It's interesting that more space was devoted to the "automat" type of machines, than the counter for "hot foods." From the photos in your older post, it looks like they expanded the counter space a some point.

I hope that was just a candy bar machine. I know that they had the Tobacco Shop on Main Street, but do we know if DL had cigarette machines throughout the park? If so, well....that's just wrong!

Nanook said...


The "torpedo", huh-? That's a hellava one, I must say. I wouldn't want to be in its path-! I certainly hope that's a cigarette machine. Where else can I refresh my supply, without walking back to Main Street-?

Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...


A couple great photos here (ignoring the zooms and crops in the count).

Having been a long-time desert dweller (Arizona, 30+ years) I can attest that shade actually works, particularly in May and June. I still get a kick out of people searching the tiny scraps of shade from a struggling artisanal tree planted in the middle of an acreage of asphalt to park their car under in the depths of the summer.

I particularly like the last photo of the Moonliner (even with the missing top of the nose cone) and the very focused young man crossing through the frame. The matching band on his hat is a nice touch to the shirt and his whole ensamble! It makes me wonder where he was going or where he was off to that day.

The best reference for me is to the Horn and Hardart Automat. My elderly father still tells stories (tall-tales, fabrications, exaggerations??) of his time working at one in New York (likely Brooklyn) as a young man in the mid-1940s. The fact that his stories remain the same after all this time makes me believe they are more truth than fiction.

Thanks, as always, for another great batch of photos. These (along with the great narration) are fantastic. Really, what I wouldn't give for a teleporter or better yet, a TARDIS, so I could be there and then. Though, wouldn't we all....


Stu29573 said...

Great pics today! However, the "Disneyland Torpedo" actually referred to that guy's hat. For a brief time in the 50s (about 45 minutes) fedoras were referred to as "torpedoes." It was considered great luck to see one, and even better luck to photograph one. Alas, after it was discovered that the entire fad was manufactured by the giant hat consortium, a wiser and slightly chagrined public forgot all about it. I only remember because not having been born yet, my mind wasn't wiped in the great purge of 59. I think I need coffee...

DrGoat said...

Nice. I have a vague memory of my parents using the vending machines. Nothing really substantial...Dad always let my Mom do all the money stuff so she was the one operating the state of the art vending machines.
Really like the first pic. I do remember when the Space Bar disappeared, late 60s. Missed that place. Love that very linear 50s sign.
Anon., I've lived in Tucson for about 65 years now, minus 4 years spent in LA in the early 70s. Had a good time but I missed the desert and beat it back to the old pueblo. I understand the shade thing. Part of our DNA.
Thanks Major.

Melissa said...

It was many years before I got the joke behind P.D.Q. Bach's Concerto for Horn and Hardart.

I've always had a soft spot for the architecture of 1950s Tomorrowland, especially this little corner.

zach said...

Nice scans today. As a kid, I remember being amazed by the Moonliner and the Rocket to the Moon (great band name but it's taken) attraction. There's lots to look at in these. Notice the woman waiting at the counter by the the dispensers? She reminds me of all the Mom's in my neighborhood growing up.

I do like the color and activity in the Moonliner scan although the trashcans were pretty generic. I think our furtive young man has a pack of Chesterfield Kings hidden in that hat.

Thanks Major


K. Martinez said...

I used to buy cigarettes at Disneyland back in the day when I smoked. Disneyland was so clean that I couldn't bring myself to leave my cigarette butts on the ground, so when I finished a smoke and put out the cigarette butt I'd stick them in a little bag which I kept in my jacket pocket.

Love original Tomorrowland! Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

Such interesting pictures today. The details of the Space Bar sign are fun to study, modern looking, yet very inexpensive. It's easy to imagine the two sides to the design decisions; no money, find a cheap solution, then not feel too bad about it getting shabby since you are going to tear it down in 10 years and build a better one. It looks like the Moonliner was the only thing in original Tomorrowland that they spent any money on. Everything is just out-of-the-box.

Major,thanks for the link to the older post. I know I must have read it since I went back to the beginning when I discovered GDB in 2009-2010, but it's all new again. Interesting comments there about the signage letter styles.

I wigged out a bit at the kid in today's photo 2, carrying the hat and wearing a pink shirt, I thought he was the kid from 2008 post photo 2, and what are the chances? But today's hat kid isn't wearing shorts, so there's that. Must have just been the look of the moment.

Fun stuff today, thanks!. Happy Friday everyone.


JC Shannon said...

OK, so the food at the Space Bar was't that great. That was before they knew potatoes cooked in lard weren't good for you. They would later add cigarettes and Richard Nixon to the list. Bloated on saturated fats and sugar, we get our first view of the Moonliner. I still remember standing next to her at the base and thinking WOW, I wanna go to space. Of course the closest I ever got was a Jefferson Airplane concert in Pleasant Hill. Thanks Major, and thanks to all for the great comments every day.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I agree, it looks like a lot of people chose the automat option. What I am unclear about is, if one walked through that gap in the first closeup, would the view be basically what is seen in
these pictures?? I could be wrong about the cigarette machine, but smoking was so common in the 50’s it would not surprise me at all if folks could buy a pack in the park.

Nanook, yeah, why would the labeler think it was a “torpedo” rather than a rocket? So weird. And I recommend smoking cigars at Disneyland, they can last forever if you are careful, and everyone around you will enjoy the scent of cigar smoke.

AlbinoDragon, even in SoCal you’ll see cars huddled beneath the shade of a small tree. Never mind that the shadow will move over time and the drivers will find their cars in full sun anyway! I wonder if the photographer was taking a picture of that group of people (including the man in the pink shirt who is looking right at the camera)? Otherwise it seems a shame to cut off the top of the rocket. My mom gave me a spoon from a Horn and Hardart restaurant (she knows I like weird old stuff like that), I’ve been kind of fascinated with automats ever since then. Thanks for the nice comment!

Stu29573, I forgot that you knew so much about the history of hats, even though I read your 3-volume dissertation. I need to get the updated version with new color pictures! Figures the whole fad was cooked up by “Big Hat”.

DrGoat, I assume that the food dispensed from the machines was probably inexpensive, so maybe some guests were trying to save a few bucks during their expensive day at Disneyland. Personally I like to have a hot meal once in a while, it seems to help alleviate the weariness and is just more satisfying. I’ve never been to Arizona, but imagine it to be very VERY hot. I’m sure Tucson is wonderful, but I am not crazy about 100+ degree days! Maybe if I had a pool to relax in…

Melissa, I do love the way Tomorrowland’s very 50’s, mid-century style was seen as “futuristic” at the time; I’m sure it was relatively cheap to build as well. It’s kind of amazing how much people still love the simple shapes and clean lines of mid-century modern design.

dzacher, I have heard of the band “Rocket to the Moon”, but I’m more of a Lawrence Welk guy. Besides, there’s always the Ramones album, “Rocket to Russia”, a classic! And hmm, why are the trash cans in Tomorrowland so boring? Add some stabilizer fins and some blinky lights!

K. Martinez, aha, so now we know for sure that they did sell smokes in the park! Did you have to buy them at the Tobacco Shop, or could you buy them elsewhere? I applaud your extra effort to dispose of the cigarette butts, you went above and beyond.

JG, see my comment to Melissa! I agree, those structures must have been very inexpensive. I wonder if Walt had a plan in the back of his mind that involved a complete redo of Tomorrowland when he had more money and time? Sometimes I’ll go back to older GDB posts and it feels like it was written by somebody else, it’s very strange. Don’t wig out!

Jonathan, I doubt that sandwiches and maybe bowls of soup were that amazing at the Space Bar, but I usually don’t expect gourmet delicacies at an amusement park. That being said, there’s a woman on YouTube who I enjoy watching, she’ll go to all kinds of parks, and try a large selection of items. The food at Dollywood looked really good!!

Anonymous said...

Considering the 'future' of food was possibly to come out of tubes like for the astronauts, it's not surprising that the Tomorrowland had an "automat"! KS

"Lou and Sue" said...

These pictures are gems! Thank you, Major.

I don't remember the vending machines at Disneyland, but I do remember them at my dad's work in the 60's and 70's. I especially remember getting my coffee out of a vending machine at my office, in the early 80's - which really was delicious (I can still remember the taste). I'm guessing the great flavor came from the chicken-soup-flavoring that also came out of the same "pipe." For those of you old enough to remember - those machines dispensed coffee, tea, hot chocolate AND chicken soup - ALL from the same "pipe" or faucet - whatever it was called. Your extra flavoring came from the prior person's beverage (or soup) choice.


P.S. This was my dad's favorite Tomorrowland. Recently he mentioned that "they" ruined Tomorrowland, and I asked him, "When?" He said, "1958."

K. Martinez said...

Major, if I remember correctly, besides the Tobacco Shop I purchased cigarettes at both The Emporium and Character Shop. They were behind the counter out of reach so you had to ask for them which is understandable. I believe they stopped selling cigarettes in the mid-1990's. They used to have a special "Disneyland" blend of tobacco at the Tobacco Shop, but I never tried it.

Melissa said...

Sue, I'm very partial to the vending machine "cappuccino" that you get in hospitals and turnpike rest stops. And I definitely remember the machines with the "chicken soup" option!

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, I’m not a coffee or tea drinker, but I’ve certainly seen my share of vending machines. Just thinking about coffee coming out of the same orifice as “chicken soup” gives me the willies. When I was a kid I used to like to get hot chocolate from a machine, it made all sorts of rude noises as it was dispensing. Ha ha, I love that Lou thinks they ruined Tomorrowland back in 1958! That’s a different take than I usually hear! Doesn’t he like the Monorail and Subs?

K. Martinez, that makes sense that you had to ask for smokes, it sounds like you could probably buy them in many other places too. I have an empty bag that was supposed to contain that Disneyland blend of tobacco (for pipes I guess?), it’s probably from later years, maybe the 1990’s.

Melissa, what I really liked were the machines that dropped a paper cup, dispensed a bit of ice, and then poured in some Coke or Dr. Pepper. It’s surprising how fun something like that seems to a seven year-old!

steve2wdw said...

Being such a hot day at the Space Bar, I wonder how the mustard and ketchup taste, coming out of those dispensers sitting out in the sun in the 1st and 3rd picture (almost directly under the "R" in the Space Bar sign). They appear to be on a little table, mounted in an upside-down position. I've never had hot mustard or ketchup, but I bet it's a treat!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major - The reason my dad says they ruined Tomorrowland in 1958 is because they got rid of the Viewliner (I guess near the end of 1958?) and he LOVED the Viewliner! He also loves the Monorail and Subs, but that Viewliner made a lasting first impression on him.

Melissa, just curious: Have you ever found a K-cup that you liked? I know that's a silly question, but it sounds like your taste is similar to mine - and I just don't like any of the coffees made from K-cups. The old vending machines have them beat. Let's meet for a nice cup of cappuccino - my treat, you name the place.

I just asked my husband if he remembers the coffee vending machines and he said his company STILL has one. He said that sometimes a cup doesn't drop down - so all the ingredients just come out and go right down the drain. I guess your money goes down the drain, too, then. I'm going to have to stop by his work and see if the coffee is as good as I remember it. :)

"Lou and Sue" said...

I should add this to the end of my last paragraph, above:

I'll first purchase chicken soup, then the coffee.

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
Not to worry... although it may look as though all those 'delicious' beverages are dispensed through the same orifice, each "flavor" has its own dispensing tube. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can now sleep more soundly tonight-! You're welcome.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thank you, Nanook! G'night and pleasant dreams!


P.S. Then how do you explain the 'film' that floats on the top of every cup of coffee?? ;)

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
Consider it your good fortune. (No one else is as lucky-!)

Melissa said...

Sue,y favorite brand of K-cups is Wide Awake. I like the flavor, they use less plastic, and the owl on the box is adorable. At the moment, I'm using a refillable pod with Target store-brand coffee, which is OK.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks, Melissa! I see they even have different flavors, too. I’m going to get some.