Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Skull Rock & More, July 1969

I've got two wonderful photos of the Skull Rock Lagoon area for you today! What's not to like? 

Let's start with this view; if you could magically look to the photographer's left, you'd see the Mad Tea Party spinning away, to his right, the "Fan 2" restaurant, and just over his right shoulder would be "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". I love glimpsing the mysterious Skull Rock and its waterfalls through the layers of passing guests and the bright-colored trash can and umbrella'd ice cream cart. The Pirate Ship's sails are unfurled - always a better look, even on a dead-calm day like this was. It's a beautiful scene.

From the deck of the Pirate Ship we are now looking down at the dining that was nestled in its own stony grotto. Spare scraps of sails make for handy shades from the hot July sun. You can see two CMs in their striped shirts, one appears to be pushing a cart (maybe he just emptied the trash cans?) while the other might be cleaning up a table for some guests. The plants and flowers really help to make this scene feel like a tropical paradise.


Nanook said...

Yesterday, we had Rainbow Ridge; and today it's Skull Rock. It's hard to top that. And - Skull Rock even features a Kodak Picture Spot peering-over the ice cream vendor CM. The down angle shot is a real plus. Nice.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

These images are pretty special. For atmosphere and scenery, this was my favorite spot to dine along with the Tomorrowland Terrace. I sat in those barrel-stools having a tuna-salad burger countless times through the years when this magical place existed. One of my most missed spots in Disneyland. Back when Disneyland (in my eyes) was flawless.

Thanks, Major.


As much as I love this area of the park , Sadly I have no memory of eating there or having ever been in the galleon or on it. I do have memories of entering the dinning grotto on the Casey Jr. Depot side and cutting thru the patio and exiting thru Skull Rock near Monstro.
I don’t know if my friends and I were going that route to explore or to avoid the congestion of inner Fantasyland.

Tokyo Disney Seas is getting a whole NEVERLAND theme land complete with Skull Rock and Captain Hook’s Jolly Roger , as well as many other elements of Neverland. This is interesting because there was a proposal several years ago for a similar “land” to go where Disneyland -Anaheim’s Fantasyland theater along with a relocated Peter Pan’s Flight.

TokyoMagic! said...

These are both wonderful photos! The Chicken of the Sea Mermaid is playing hide and seek with us in that first pic. In the same pic, there is a lady with an interesting hairdo, over on the far left, up against the rocks. She might be shooting some home movies, if that's a camera she's holding. Or is that just a part of the ship behind her, and she's actually smoking a cigarette?

Mike, how recent were those plans to rebuild the ship at DL? And what would they have done with the old Peter Pan's Flight space, after relocating it? I wish they would just relocate Dumbo to the Fantasyland Theater area, and rebuild the Pirate Ship and Skull Rock, exactly as they were and in their former location.


TOKYO MAGIC: it’s been several years now , but a major reworking of Disneyland’s Fantasyland has been in the works now for the past 10 years - The Pan/Toad space has had several replacements considered including a TANGLED “waterless” boat ride. There have also been proposals of an all indoor “moonlight-all-day” Alice themed area with a relocated teacups and Alice ride thru ... the last plan mainly focuses on the removal of snow and Pinocchio .... but all Disneyland additions and expansions beyond Runaway Railroad were placed in a holding position because of lackluster Star Wars attendance. So Snow White is staying in a sugary sweet saccharin-revised version. I think the virus shutdown will put off must projects even longer. Sadly the addition of STARWARS town flipped the Tomorrowland redo with a Fantasyland redo being moved to the front burner.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, thanks for the additional info! I don't get the urgency for a Fantasyland redo. The remaining Tomorrowland '98 elements are still an abomination. Do they think getting rid of the rocks at the entrance to the land and painting out some of the brown here and there, "fixes" their hideous Tomorrowland redo from 22 years ago?

It does make sense that between all the money spent on such a huge failure like Wookie World, and now all the money they are losing due to the COVID shutdown, that we shouldn't expect to see anything new for a long time.

stu29573 said...

Skull rock was so simple, and so perfect that of course it had to go. Certain imagineer's egos wouldn't stand for past brilliance showing up their "grand vision." To me, the removal marked the death of the original Disneyland. And yet it did nothing, really. It just shows how good at their jobs those original imagineers were. True artists.

Chuck said...

This was the last year of Chicken-of-the-Sea's sponsorship. It's funny - I have associated the Jolly Roger with Chicken-of-the-Sea since some point in childhood, yet since my first visit wasn't until 1971, I know I never saw it in person under that label. Probably the tuna menu and a picture in some older guidebook.

That aerial photo is simply wonderful. I wonder how long the photographer was able to stay up in the ship's rigging before they made him come down?

Thanks, team, for the great commentary above. Looking forward to JG's comments.

Andrew said...

The "mini-golf blue" water in the pond reminds me of this pirate ship at a course in Ocean City, Maryland (the designers could have taken some pointers from Herb Ryman).

"Lou and Sue" said...

In the first picture, I see that Disney made a special seating area for expectant moms. In the second picture, if that middle "awning" is blue and pink (sort of looks blue and white?, though), then they did the same for that area. (The 'Enciente Seating Area,' I believe it was called.)


DrGoat said...

Only have a few memories of eating in the stony grotto eating area. Very vague.
Lou & Sue, I guess ice cream and pregnant moms go together.
Hey, thanks for the back and forth guys. One of the perks of the Major's blog is learning new tidbits about the park. Where else is one going to find out these nuggets of information. Obviously, nowhere.
Thanks Major. Like Nanook said, hard to top this week's pics.

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
Geessh - another I Love Lucy reference. (Season 2, Episode 10).

JC Shannon said...

Stu, I could't agree more. Something so artistic and just plain cool deserved a better fate than the wrecking ball. When darkness set in, it got even better. Just glad there are plenty of photos and places like GDB and people like us to keep the magic alive. Thanks to all, and the Major, for the memories.

Nanook said...

With all the Skull Rock adulation, I missed that pair of 'groovy' pants on the lad adjacent to the trash can in the second image.

Anonymous said...

Imagine the craftsmanship involved in building that wooden 'ship'. Of course if it wasn't maintained like the MT, then over time its fate was a matter of time. I recall the Grotto well. Fantasyland was such a hot place to be in the Summer so it was a refreshing break just to stand behind the waterfall. I can hear and feel it now. :) KS

"Lou and Sue" said...

TokyoMagic! That lady (with the interesting hairdo) appears to be smoking AND shooting footage of Prince Charles, as he strolls past.

Lou & Sue, I guess ice cream and pregnant moms go together.
DrGoat: You are sooo right, I missed that connection. Thank you for pointing that out!

Nanook, thank you for aiding and abetting. ;)

Thanks, Major!

JG said...

Wow, Major. These are the "gold standard" of Skull Rock/Pirate Ship photos. Seems like everything is in view, from the mermaid to the speckled pebble pavement in the dining area.

Little-known fact: The pebble paving in the grotto dining area was responsible for me finding GDB. We took our nieces to Disneyland in April 2008 and I was telling them stories about how the Park was when I was a kid, and the pebble pavement was part of the tale. There are pieces of it that survive in the entry of the Tiki Room even today. Afterward, I searched for photos of this area online and discovered Yesterland and GDB. You know the rest.

I think we had lunch here almost every visit as a kid. Dad didn't like tuna fish, but he did like the little apple tarts, so he was patient and endured while Mom and I ate our sandwiches. No one ever ordered the burger for some reason. The sandwiches were held together with little plastic sword toothpicks. I might even still have one somewhere, probably with my Upjohn vitamin bottle.

KS memory is spot-on, it was shady and cool, the waterfall sounds dampened outside noise. You could hear Casey Jones go by behind and above, but not see him because of the heavy vegetation. It was like a secret world back in the grotto. I'm sure many visitors missed it because you had to search for the way in if you didn't go through the ship.

In addition to the barrel seating, there were benches molded into the rock wall at the back so you could lean against the rock and feel the train go by above. I think you can see one in the upper right of photo 2 behind the hanging lamp.

In photo 2, the lady with the big white purse looks like my Mom, but too far away for positive ID. Also she is holding hands with a little girl, no counterpart in our family. Based on the date of the photos, I am sure we are in the pictures somewhere, or else not too far away.

Thanks Mike Cozart for the back story information, as always much appreciated.

Major, thanks so much for posting these. Along with some recent pics from the motorboat cruise, these photos bring back so many good memories, so welcome in a time when so much is troublesome. A glimpse back to the golden past.


Major Pepperidge said...

Holy moly! I’ve been spending the morning doing errands and helping my mom out. Also rescuing many orphans from burning buildings. Only to come home and find 17 comments! I’m not complaining, but I have my work cut out for me.

Nanook, there’s just something about today’s pix, I find them so appealing. More so than my usual offerings. The ice cream vendor is definitely a plus.

K. Martinez, I wish I’d experienced the Pirate Ship in its glory days. I remember reading an article about it in “Disney News”, by then Chicken of the Sea had probably ceased sponsorship, but they described a nice tuna sandwich (yum), and I got hungry just reading about it. Van Eaton sold one of those little barrel stools in an auction, that would be a great prop to have in one’s home.

Mike Cozart, yeah, I never even set foot on the pirate ship to look around, which is a huge bummer. For most of my Disneyland-visiting years, I did what my parents wanted to do, and clearly they had to interest somehow. I’ll bet you and your friends were just exploring, it makes sense. I love the idea of a Neverland-themed land, “Peter Pan” was always so beautifully designed. Hopefully they can translate the look to a physical place.

TokyoMagic!, that mermaid is a tease! But I can’t be mad at her, ha ha. The lady with the interesting hairdo has her beehive sticking up through her babushka. They said it couldn’t be done. But she did it. I think she’s just smoking, sadly.

Mike Cozart, it seems unbelievable that they would consider removing the Peter Pan attraction, its popularity has never waned. And the thought of losing “Toad” is painful, though I know that these old rides are probably considered lame to many. A “moonlight all day” Alice themed area sounds neat - I recall the scene where half the sky is sunny, the other moonlit. I like “Tangled” more than “Frozen”, but not so much that I want to see a ride based on it. There are some films that one wants to step into, and others… not so much.

TokyoMagic!, it’s going to be like the bad old days when they were spending so much money on Walt Disney World that Disneyland is going to feel like the redheaded stepchild. At least that was my feeling at the time, “Why do THEY get all the cool stuff?”. I’m sure we got good stuff during that time too.

Major Pepperidge said...

stu29573, the only change I would make to Skull Rock is that I would have made it larger, but I’m sure a lot of consideration went into the scale of it in relation to the things around it. Still… Imagine if it had been 3 or 4 times bigger!

Andrew, man, that is some blue water. It looks like raspberry blue Jello. Notice how the “lagoon” in Disneyland is leaving a blue-green “crust” where the waves lap.

Lou and Sue, what were those moms expecting, anyway? A standing ovation? ;-) Maybe you’re right and that really was supposed to be for pregnant women. (I had to look up “enciente”).

DrGoat, yes, they should have had a cart selling dill pickles right next to the ice cream cart! That’s one of those TV tropes, when I was a kid it seemed like they always had pregnant women craving weird things, like pickles and ice cream. I have no idea if it’s true or not. Where do babies come from, anyway?

Nanook, I don’t even want to know.

Jonathan, I might not have minded the removal of Skull Rock as much if they’d replaced it with something wonderful, but they mostly tore it out so that they could shuffle things around, like the Dumbo ride, the Mad Tea Party, and the Carrousel. There must have been another way.

Nanook, it was 1969, after all…

KS, I’ve always been so impressed with that beautiful ship, built by studio craftsmen who really knew their stuff. And designed by Imagineers who had a depth of education and pure talent. I love standing behind a waterfall, it always feels like a slightly enchanted place.

Lou and Sue, why, it IS Prince Charles! He’s probably heading over to the Golden Horseshoe to see some leggy dames. I’ve heard the rumors because I read ALL of the tabloids.

JG, I sure wouldn’t have expected somebody to find GDB due to pebbled paving! But that’s the internet for you. I’ve always wondered, is each pebble in that style of pavement placed individually, by hand? If so, yikes, what a lot of work. Little apple tarts! There’s a detail I didn’t know about. I have a souvenir plastic sword from the Pirate Ship, see it from THIS 2011 POST. Which I now see has a comment from you about it! There used to be a podcast in which somebody would find a shady bench in one of the lands, and then they would turn on their recording device, and just captured all of the ambient sounds for 30 or 40 minutes. Train whistles, screams of delight, background music, and what have you. It was nice. I can’t recall which podcast it was, though. I’m still waiting for another GDB family ID (TokyoMagic! is pretty sure he saw his mom and grandma, long ago) - we’re due for somebody else to spy themselves or a relative. Glad you liked these!

JG said...

Major, that is a great idea for a podcast. I would subscribe to that, it sounds even more fun than the loop tracks.

I don't remember the post with the sword pick, but it was 9 years ago. Thanks for the link.

In retrospect, I don't think the picks were particularly special. Now, 50 years later, with many of them spent in various bars around the world, I realize that sword picks are pretty common stuff. But to a untutored farm boy back then, they were the cat's pajamas.

I'm sure the individual stones were not hand-set. And apart from the Tiki Room, I think this paving type was unique in Disneyland. It might have been limited application since chewing gum would be hard to remove.

I haven't seen pebble paving quite like it in my career since, but the methods using slightly smaller stones involve a concrete mix with the stones included.

This is placed using customary methods and troweled off to grade. Then a chemical spray called a "surface retarder" is applied to the concrete surface with a hudson sprayer. the surface retarder prevents the top layer of concrete from setting up. Then, some time later, the surface is sprayed with a hose, the water washes off the thin layer of cement, leaving the pebbles exposed, while below, the concrete sets up and holds the pebbles in place. It's a nice look, popular with tropical-themed establishments.

Based on my 2017 examination of the edges at the old doors on the upper landing, the Tiki room installation appears to date to the original construction, since it hasn't been cut or patched at the junction. So, if it is still there now, it must be some of the oldest paving in the Park, maybe the last identifiable bit remaining that Walt himself walked over.


Chuck said...

Major, re: the origin of babies - see the first five minutes of Dumbo.

JG, thanks again. I knew I could count on you.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, now I really wish I could remember which podcast that was! I used to listen to a lot of Disney and Disneyland podcasts, and little by little they either stopped making new episodes or they changed to the point that I didn’t enjoy them anymore (i.e. too much Star Wars talk). I’m sure the sword/pick is generic, and I have no doubt I would have saved mine too! Thank you for your explanation of how the pebbled concrete was done. I’ve seen other pebbled walkways, but I can’t compare them to what they had at Disneyland. I hadn’t considered the “gum issue”, but you’re right, it would make life harder for the custodial crew. Funny how any artifact from the early years, including cement paving (or the “three fences” area in Tomorrowland) become something to make us fans smile.

Chuck, yeah, yeah, that’s what my grandma said too. But somebody’s not telling me something!