Friday, June 12, 2020

Before and After, June 1974

I have some fun "before and after" examples for you today, from a batch of 1974 slides that had turned very pink.

Here's how the unaltered scan looked; the scanner's color-correction software got it from "very pink" to this kind of smoggy gray/violet. Not the worst thing I've ever seen, but not great either.

Thanks to Photoshop, I was able to bring it back to its original glory! I love that gleaming white rocket against the vivid blue sky. And of course there's the Peoplemover vehicles, adding a dash of additional color.

Next is a view as seen from the Peoplemover, looking in a southwesterly direction. We're on the other side of the Rocket Jets (which are all in the air, always a plus). Again, the scanner got this image from "yuck" to a shrug.

Without the deep blue sky of the first slide, the color difference isn't as drastic, but we've rinsed all that grungy pinkish-gray away revealing the true colors. Notice the rainbow stage, where the (new) Mouseketeers would perform

I hope you've enjoyed today's "before and after" pix!


Nanook said...


Images worth 'stepping into'.

Thanks, Major.


Great work Major!

What a perfect place in time that Tomorrowland was. If I was putting together a project team and I saw ROCKET RODS on their resume.....,I’d send them on their way!

Despite Walt passing before the 1967 Tomorrowland opened, he was responsible for so many of the land’s look characteristics .... from the Carousel of Progress , The PeopleMover and its multi-levels. Even the elevated Rocket Tower was Walt’s idea.

There’s a saying in design that if your core idea is bad it can turn out to be a piece of “ dog crap covered in chocolate “ Tomorrowland 1998 basically was a piece of chocolate covered in dog crap.

stu29573 said...

Ok, after careful consideration, my favorite is....Number One! The colors are just so bright and crunchy (with a hint of peppermint). Bravo, Major! The Peoplemover and the rockets were the symbols of Tomorrowland then! Now....well....oh well.

Chuck said...

Been coming here for more than 10 years and saw this in person, but I never noticed the pavement inside the railing for the Tomorrowland Terrace seating area before...or that the seating area even had a railing.

I can only remember sitting here once before the chocolate-covered dog crap era, for a 1995 show based on the history of Disneyland through music, and that memory is mostly of performers my age or younger (and I would have been 26) making fun of the Bathroom of Tomorrow and "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." While it was cool to finally get to see the legendary stage elevating (although I was aware of it, I'd somehow always managed to miss it), we were less than impressed with the show's tone and spent the remainder of our live show time as APHs either in the Golden Horseshoe or at the Fantasyland Theatre (the former Videopolis, not the current Pinocchio's Daring Journey).

Love seeing the rainbow proscenium that I also have no personal memory of, although I know I walked right past it. Those were the Park-only Mouseketeers that predated the 1976 TV incarnation; only one of them, Shawnte Northcutt, made the transition to the TV series.

Great restoration work, Major. Thanks again!

Andrew said...

The pavement in front of the stage reminds me of the swirly flowers at the entrance to Tomorrowland. Thanks for the nice restorations!

That's funny that they were even referencing the Bathroom of Tomorrow, Chuck. I bet that most people were really confused.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Great shots! Best era! Wonderful restoration work, Major!

DrGoat said...

They are both wonderful improvement pics but I can't get enough of that beautiful expanse of colored concrete, so my favorite is number two. Nanook, I'd step into that in a heartbeat.
Good work!
Matthew, didn't get to read the later comments from Major's last post until this morning. Wonderful stories. Living the dream, literally.
Thanks & thanks Major.

Anonymous said...

Major, you do fine work. Both of these views were worth saving too. All Hail Photoshop!

My vote goes to number 2 since it is just more complex.

Thanks Mike Cozart for the background info, as always, fascinating stuff.

One detail of the stage complex that has always interested me is the way the stage lighting was carefully integrated into the edge of the patio roof. It's a very streamlined look, and quite different from the usual tangle of fixtures, projectors and cabling found over stages. A lot of thought went into that feature.

Like Chuck, I was never very impressed with the performances here as a kid, I never was a rock-and-roll fan. The location had been overtaken by the Jedi Academy at the time of our last visit, and this was the only time I saw the stage rise and lower. It was a cute show, even though I was (and am) pretty tired of Star Wars. Fun to see the little kids defeating Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers.

The swirly dance floor is still there as of my last visit, it's a durable form of terrazzo that might last a century or more, although it is sadly cracked in places. The railing and the little narrow planter are necessary since the dance floor and patio are somewhat recessed below the walkway grade, a subtle piece of engineering to separate the dancers from the walkers.


Omnispace said...

The first pic shows how amazing the Rocket Jets were perched high on top of the Peoplemover station. Great job restoring that beautiful blue sky and cleaning up the "floaties".

I always liked the social space that the Tomorrowland Terrace created. You could stand at the railing and watch the bands or just see all the activity going on. I see a very cool space-age Rolly Crump kiosk back towards the rainbow stage.

JC Shannon said...

As a teen, I resisted the new Tomorrowland. Where's my Moonliner? But as time went on, it grew on me. As always, your rehab of old photos is aces. Thanks for these great restorations.

Anonymous said...

If Disney were smart, they would spend good money revitalizing the peoplemover track and bring the attraction back. Unfortunately, with the parks suffering a great loss because of COVID019, that's probably not going to happen.

K. Martinez said...

JG, This didn't happen often, but at the Jedi Training Academy show I'd get a big kick out of some of the little kids who wanted to join Darth Vader and the Dark Side to defeat the Jedi. That always got the biggest laughs from those watching the Tomorrowland Terrace show.

Nice pics today. Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Your powers in the force (photoshop) are strong young Jedi. I can't believe I once made a living cleaning dirt, scratches and schmootz out of photos (till my eyeballs hurt).

Your efforts are much appreciated. Great Friday post, thanks!!

Major Pepperidge said...


Mike Cozart, I actually just wrote a blog post (that won’t publish for months) in which I speculate that there must have been at least a few engineers that knew (or suspected) that the Peoplemover track wasn’t up to the wear and tear of the stresses of the Rocket Rods. Maybe they were afraid to say “no” when everyone else was saying “yes”. I know that by the time Walt passed, the “New Tomorrowland” was pretty much fully designed - definitely one of his last great projects. Losing the Peoplemover was one of the most painful blows of that era.

stu29573, for some reason a deep blue sky makes all the difference to me. It makes all the other colors “pop”, and it just looks great. Hey, yeah, what IS the symbol of Tomorrowland now? The Astro-Orbiter?

Chuck, that show that you described sounds dreadful; the snarky humor reminds me of Dreamworks animated movies (see: Shrek and its sequels). “We know this stuff is lame, and we’re going to prove that we’re in on the joke!”. I was going to say that a joke about the Bathroom of Tomorrow was “low-hanging fruit”, but it sounds gross. Anyway, there’s something to be said for sincerity versus cynicism, but sincerity isn’t hip or cool. People come to Disneyland because they love what might be considered corny elsewhere. I think you and your wife made a wise choice to go to see some other shows! I am very impressed that you remember the name “Shawnte Northcutt”, how many people could do that??

Andrew, because I am Mr. Snooty, that swirling terrazzo floor always makes me think of THIS PAINTING by Paul Signac.

Lou and Sue, thank you!

DrGoat, HERE is a much better look at that terrazzo floor! It’s fun to restore these faded old slides when they come out nice, I almost wish I had more to play around with.

JG, if photo #2 had that blue sky, it would probably get my vote. Again, just my own personal weirdness. I can live with it. Good points about the stage lighting being integrated into the edge of that patio roof - very ingenious! I agree, it was fun to see the little kids having so much fun learning to fight with their lightsabers, but like you, I just don’t have that deep love of Star Wars that so many do. I started watching a documentary on YouTube about the making of “The Force Awakens”, and about 10 minutes in I realized that I was really bored. If you look at the link that I sent to DrGoat, you can see that the terrazzo was cracked even as far back as 1974. Maybe it’s from earthquakes?

Omnispace, I’ve always thought that placing the Rocket Jets up above everything was such a stroke of genius. Sure, guests would have to ride an elevator to get up there, but that was all part of the fun. And I don’t remember there being long lines for that ride - maybe I just got lucky. This Tomorrowland really was an incredible achievement by the Imagineers.

Jonathan, I can understand the reluctance to embrace the new Tomorrowland, but you can’t say that they didn’t have a lot to offer in place of the missing Moonliner!

The Magic Ears Dudebro, somebody (was it Marty Sklar, years ago?) said that the Peoplemover is never coming back. I believe it has to do with the fact that they can’t figure out how to have a safe egress for guests in case of emergencies, and/or that the track itself is so beat up from the Rocket Rods that it is beyond repair.

K. Martinez, as a “monster kid”, I probably would have wanted to be with Darth Vader too. He’s pretty cool!

Alonzo, my best friend worked for a professional photographer, and he also spent a zillion hours “spotting” and cleaning up photos. I think he’s pretty glad that those days are over!

Anonymous said...

Ha, Major, I remember that photo of the terrace now, but I did not notice the crack, which is the exact one that I was thinking of. Terrazzo is a brittle material, I think the cracking is more likely due to substrate failure of some kind, maybe not compacting the soil underneath the underlying concrete on which the terrazzo is placed.

I was a pretty good fan of Star Wars some time back, but the recent films have really dampened that feeling. The Mandalorian is boosting it back up slowly. On the trip in question we were there for the premiere of the first of the Disney trilogy films, and "everything" was Star Wars. Even the loop track music was the Imperial March over and over and over. Enough is enough. I was looking forward to Galaxy's Edge, but now, not so much.

@Ken, we didn't see any apostates like that. I'm surprised that they did a show like this, considering the dark content of the 3rd prequel. I watched that the other day, and said "never again".

Major, I am skeptical of the claim that emergency egress killed the People Mover. There are plenty of attractions with that problem. The monorail comes to mind, and any of the river boats, MT & Columbia. Also, there are other similar systems at airports like SFO, with no exits between stations. Didn't we have a thread some time back where a monorail recovery vehicle was discussed, a kind of emergency train they send out to tow the disabled train back home? Was that a real thing?

I think that seismic and structural issues with the track are much more likely, and account for the closure of the Rocket Jets also. The forces imposed by that spinning mass have to be enormous, and the old design was too elegant to meet updated codes. And Disney is too cheap to either tear it down or beef it up.


Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it seems weird that they would go to all the trouble of making that beautiful terrazzo floor, only to skimp on the substrate, but I’m sure you are right about that being the issue. The new Star Wars films are not a total loss, I think Daisy Ridley is genuinely charming and empathetic as Rey, and I was one of those folks who liked Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi”, which is so contentious. I never even bothered to see “Rise of the Skywalker” after reading the reviews! It’s the first Star Wars movie (not counting “Solo”) that I didn’t see in the theater. My understanding is that all the other rides you mentioned are “grandfathered in” as far as their lack of emergency escapes - supposedly the Peoplemover would have also been grandfathered in, but once it was removed, any new ride would have to meet the latest codes and ordinances. I assume that the Rocket Jets came through a number of quakes with no issues that I am aware of, even though I agree that it seems like it would be a disaster waiting to happen.

Sunday Night said...

It appears that the Rocket Jets elevator also served as a location for a couple of theatrical spotlights for stage shows. Double duty!


Major and Anonymous: the PeopleMover roadway was indeed affected by the loss of any “grandfather laws” Too much time passes and those easements are lost. Even Rocket Rods has been gone for almost 20 years. both Marty Skalar and more recently Tony Baxter bluntly told fans that the PeopleMover is not returning or anything else on the track system. The last concepts for a functioning attraction on that roadway was around 2006. The biggest problem now is any changes of the roadway - through the various buildings affects those structures grand fathered laws. And any of you who live or work in California - it is very difficult in the state dealing with the building codes - especially in historical or renovation of larger architectural projects. This is all part of the problem with getting any progress on Tomorrowland renovations.
The last attempt to use the PeopleMover roadway was a Tony Baxter project loosely termed the “TOMORROWLAND LAAS” ( Land -Air-Sea) ride system that was part PeopleMover, part coaster and part Submarine! This gave tomorrowland visitors a tour of Tomorrowland inside, above and underwater. Disneyland and Imagineering basically gave up because of all the safest upgrades to all the other attractions structures . Even in the 2006 period a greatly increased guests emergency exits were required - approximately every 25 feet - this wast too much of a problem but ALL those exits must be accessible to wheelchairs and other handicapped vehicles - THAT WAS A PROBLEM.
The recent new Tomorrowland plans - have been pushed back in favor of a New Fantasyland. But when Tomorrowland’s time comes except the complete removal of the Carousel Theater and unique sculptural “hanging gardens “ through-out the land .......... and those of us old enough to remember will know what those “ hanging garden” planters used to really be!


Rocket Rods evolved from several proposals for a updated PeopleMover system. But the first design leading to the actual Rocket Rods was a proposal for VELOCI-PODS ; two clear pod like capsules that were suspended over the left and right of the roadway beam with the wheel and rail propulsion system in the middle. These VELOCI-PODS were powered by peddling guests. They were inspired by railroad VELOCIPEEDES : three wheeled bikes used as Railroad section cars by inspectors and track workers. The Tomorrowland Veloci-Pods would feature a auto overide to keep the vehicles moving along if the guests were not peddling. This concept proved too inefficient because only two guests per vehicle, the loading of the vehicle was slow and clumsy and fewer vehicles could operate at a single time greatly cutting down on guests capacity. A proposal for Tokyo Disneyland’s new Tomorrowland “ Sci Fi City” featured a Rocket-Bike .... a fast futuristic motorcycle type ride on a newly designed trackway ( Tokyo has no existing PeopleMover) it was a combination of a PeopleMover-Velocipod-Rockit-Bike that became the ROCKET ROD. And from the very beginning imagineers knew there were gonna be problems with a vehicle going at high speeds and sliding down. The budget was never given to embank curves for the Rocket Rods.
There are two kinds of imagineers ( goes for any design project I suspect) one who truly believes in what will be best for Disneyland and the guests experience .... and sometimes you get the designer with the ego - the designer who is more concerned with celebrity and getting his name associated with the next “E” Ticket attraction. And Rocket Rods was a result of ego. And the Evil Eisner fed his ego on this designers ego. And you see what happens. Of course there were other issues as well but you get the basic story of why a PeopleMover system was tossed out fir a quick cheap thrill.

The omen that Rocket Rods was a bad idea was the day at WDI a test Rocket Rod was accelerated to 45 mph then slowed down to make a quick left turn ( replicating the distance from the Peoplemover station and into the Star Tours building) the result of the first test? .....the test Rocket Rod burst into a explosion of pieces everywhere!!

zach said...

We visited during the first month of Rocket Rods and didn't want to deal with the lines. We'll ride it next time, we said. Well, you know what happened. Gone.


Major Pepperidge said...

Sunday Night, yes, and Nanook has told me what exactly those spotlights are (maybe “Hercules” was in the name?). Smart to design something to do two things.

Mike Cozart, Thank you as always for all of that amazing information! The fact that the Rocket Rods didn’t even last three years, and was fraught with problems almost daily, shows that the concept was a problem from the get-go. The one time I rode the RRs the ride broke down twice while I was in line. My brother and I decided to cross our fingers and hope that they would get it back up and running, and they did. It was an OK ride, but just lacked any depth of theming. “You’ll go around the Peoplemover route real fast was about the extent of it. What a waste of that elevated vantage point. I’d heard rumors (before “Galaxy’s Edge” was decided on) that they were considering putting the Millennium Falcon up on the tracks, though I can’t remember what purpose that would serve. I can definitely see how it would be an issue making exits every 25 feet, even for wheelchairs, etc. Rollercoasters seem to be able to skirt that issue? The “hanging gardens” idea sounds incredibly cheap and lame - like draping a cloth over the issue and hoping nobody notices.

Mike Cozart II, I had never heard of the Veloci-Pods idea. Can you imagine how backed up that ride could get if you had young kids, or just someone who didn’t have the strength to pedal a vehicle all that way? I cannot believe that there is not one person who could think of a better use of that elevated track. Do you think there is ever going to be a time when Disney will actually spend the money to have it removed? Right now all it does is provide a little shade for certain seating (and strollers). I always wondered if they could have used something like the inflatable slides that are on airplanes as emergency exits, but of course that would not work for wheelchairs. I have no doubt that there are still Imagineers who have a passion for creating the best themed experiences for guests that time and money will allow, and I also have no doubt that “the suits” probably stifle many of the best ideas for one reason or another. There will be egos in any creative industry, it’s a shame that we, the public, pay the price! Thanks again.

zach, I’m very glad that I rode it the time that I did, but with the breakdowns, I think we waited nearly three hours. I can’t say it was worth it for a two minute ride.

Nanook said...

Major/Sunday Night-
Yes, those "spotlights" are either a Strong Super Trouper, or a Strong Gladiator - follow spots.