Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sunday, Blurry Sunday

Ordinarily I would consider today's photos to be fairly special, and worthy of appearing on a day other than Sunday. But... both of these are a bit out of focus, and that is a bummer. Yes, I cried, I'm not ashamed. 

First up, from May 1974 comes this unusual photo taken inside the old "Flight to the Moon" attraction, which was an update to the 1955 "Rocket to the Moon". Werner Weiss' always-excellent  "Yesterland" helpfully tells us that For the New Tomorrowland of 1967, Disneyland built a new, larger show building—again with two round theaters, but larger in diameter and with a fourth concentric circle of seats in each. Flight to the Moon, presented by McDonnell Douglas, opened August 12, 1967. The new version added an Audio-Animatronics “Mission Control” pre-show and moving seats.

I love this look at "Mission Control" with "Tom Morrow" (standing with his back to us) watching film of moon launches, which of course happened four or five times a day by this point. I have a memory of Tom Morrow turning around as if he was standing on a lazy Susan, it always amused me.

Next we're back in the 1950s, with a nice (but fuzzy) look at a plucky little Stagecoach bumping along a dirt trail that paralleled the riverbank. We know that this is no later than 1959, because that's when the Stagecoaches were removed. 

A few years ago, TokyoMagic! enlightened me about the fact that there were two different kinds od Stagecoaches. The classic "Concord" type, and then this kind, called a "mud wagon". These were more open, allowing better views of the landscape, and more air inside - always a good thing on those hot days.


TokyoMagic! said...

Excuse me Mr. Johnson, would you show us what it's like for PEOPLE in zero gravity? That's VERY interesting!

I know that line is actually from Mission to Mars, but that one sticks in my head, for some reason.

Yay, a mud wagon pic! Those animals up on the hillside better watch out, or else they might wind up on top of a car, in the Calgary Stampede Parade.


Disneyland had three kinds of Stagecoaches : CONCORD COACH , MUD WAGON COACH (the style is officially called a Celerity Coach ) and YELLOWSTONE COACH. Two of the three original Disneyland YELLOWSTONE COACHES were sent to Walt Disney World for “shuttle” service around Fort Wilderness Campground. The Disneyland CONCORD COACHES were modeled after the famous version made by the Abbot Downing Company of Concord Massachusetts; hence their name but other coach makers made the same style as well and in the 1800’s people referred to them as Swell Coach because of the curved out “swelled” sides that gave more room for passengers , but could still be set in a narrower chassis.

The Disneyland MUD WAGON STAGECOACHES were based of version made in Stockton California whose company name I cannot recall at present. Most coach makers produced a version of the MUD WAGON STAGECOACH.

The Disneyland YELLOWSTONE STAGECOACHES were the three - row, all forward facing yellow coaches and were also based on a Abbot Downing Type. The US Government contracted three coach makers to produced the These coaches for service in Yellowstone Park and were made to the same design until the 1920’s. Private stage lines and hotels and resorts also purchased these coaches and were quite common from the late 19th Century into the 20th Century.

Most people recognize the Concord Stagecoach because it was used so much in early western movies , but in reality they were the LEAST used by stagelines because they were EXTREMELY heavy and very very expensive.they also required 4 to 6 horse teams to pull. Also so many examples survive today because they were not used as much as MUD WAGON STAGECOACH. Another example of how Hollywood shaped the world’s view of history.

It’s amazing that Walt Disney took the time and effort to research these vehicles and actually replicate authentically three popular versions of the American West stagecoach for Disneyland.

zach said...

I feel like I'm in a Master Class and it doesn't cost me anything! Thanks Mike and Major and all of you who graciously share your knowledge on this blog.

I know I rode a coach in DL in the 50's but don't have photos so maybe it didn't happen. I don't know which of the three it was but I know I enjoyed the experience but with a little anxiety.

The scans are blurry but that matches my memory, so there's that.

Smoky and hot here,


Melissa said...

These aren’t too awful blurry. I like ‘em! Is the girl sitting next to the stagecoach driver in costume?

Any picture of the Rocket/Flight to the Moon/Mission to Mars is fine by me! WDW’s Mission to Mars was the first Disney attraction I rode, and Mr. Johnson was the first audio-animatronic I ever saw. He was a little bit creepy but in a good way.

Stitch’s Great Escape, formerly Alien Encounter, formerly MtM/FttM just permanently closed in the Magic Kingdom, snd they’ve filed for permission for interior demolition. All the attractions in that building have preserved the same basic interior layout, so I’ll be really curious to see if whatever goes in there will require tearing out the theater structure.

JC Shannon said...

Mission to space, Stagecoach to Frontierland. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum. I like both of these splendid shots. I remember when the kiddie cocktail went from being a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers to a John Glenn. I have a model of the Moonliner in our guest bedroom, and rumor has it that Major has the original in his back yard. Just sayin. Thanks Major, two more winners today.

JC Shannon said...

zack, it's hot and smoky here in Montana as well.

stu29573 said...

Ok, today I prefer...Picture number 2!!! (Studio audience goes wild). I'm not sure that I've ever seen that kind of stage, and it appeals to my claustrophobia. Also, I love wind! (I dance around in hurricanes, but that's another story). Great pics!

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, that is kind of a weird line. I can think of lots of rude things to ask Mr. Johnson that would be very interesting! There is no finer fate for any creature than becoming a decoration for a vehicle in a parade. At least I can’t think of one.

Mike Cozart, I am aware of the Yellowstone Coaches, and have several photos on GDB. While they are certainly a coaches, I didn’t think of them as a stagecoaches. It seems designed to be a sightseeing vehicle, if you know what I mean. As far as I am aware, the Yellowstone Coaches didn’t last much past 1956 - possibly into 1957 - but they seem to have been seldom-used. I always wondered what happened to them, amazing that they were sent to Florida! I had no idea. Somewhere on this blog I have a vintage photo of an actual Yellowstone Coach (at Yellowstone), slightly larger and with some additional seats on top and at the rear (sort of a “rumble seat”). One early Disneyland item calls them “Yellowstone Carry-alls”. Thanks as always for all of the amazing information! I don’t know how you know so much.

zach, me too! I always learn lots from Mike. It’s pretty neat. Because I am not very observant, I never noticed that Disneyland had the Concord coaches AND the Mud Wagons, until TokyoMagic! clued me in. There is lots of smoke in various parts of California, my sister sent a photo from near her, it’s like the worst London fog you’ve ever seen.

Melissa, I assume the girl next to the Stagecoach driver is just wearing a 1950s outfit, it just looks like she is from the Ingalls family! While I appreciate the amount of innovation and work that went into some of those early animatronics, it is sometimes hard to believe that folks thought that they were really live actors. I hadn’t heard that Stitch’s Great Escape had closed, but I was not aware of too many people who loved it!

Jonathan, that’s Disneyland for you! From wooden coaches and buggies, surreys and horse-drawn streetcars, all the way up to rocket travel. A “John Glenn” kiddie cocktail?! I had no idea! I don’t have the original Moonliner, but a full-size exact copy.

Jonathan, jeez, is the whole country on fire?

stu29573, ha ha, we need a new feature: “Which does Stu prefer?”. Sponsored by Geico insurance. Hey, at least the Mud Wagons were open on the sides, unlike the Concord coaches, which really were enclosed. Claustrophobia-inducing for sure!

Nanook said...

Blurry, shmurry-! (Or, is it 'blursville'-?) I think a little bit of the 'blurs' on a Sunday is perfectly apropos. As did Zach, I too have ridden [one of the types] featured @ DL, but my memory is too 'blurry' too remember exactly which one. I do have home movies memorializing the event, but haven't wanted to spend the Big Bucks necessary to have a proper transfer done. And even that service, usually produces disappointing results. Someday... maybe.

Considering the technology available, and with only 'show lighting', the image of Tom Morrow [and electronic friends] is pretty-darn swell.

Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...

I believe the Mud Wagon Stagecoach manufacturer you're thinking of is Henderson & Co. Either way - thanks, once again for all this great info-!

"Lou and Sue" said...

I never got to ride a Disneyland stagecoach. Nanook and Zach, you both are so fortunate to have experienced the 1950's Disneyland!! My dad also remembers riding the stagecoach and LOVING IT! Growing up with western radio programs and TV shows must've made the experience a dream come true! Thanks, Mike, for all the interesting info!

Looking at the attraction dates, I would've gone to the moon on both "Rocket to the Moon" and "Flight to the Moon," but, sadly, I don't remember Tom Morrow. I definitely DO remember the exciting feeling of sitting in the seat and feeling the "lift-off" rumble and the moving seat that made you feel like the rocket just blasted-off, with the g-force-feeling pushing you down. My mom LOVED this attraction, too. Her enthusiasm always made this ride even more fun for me.

I have a memory of Tom Morrow turning around as if he was standing on a lazy Susan, it always amused me."
Major: I take offense to the use of the word "lazy." ;)



NANOOK: YES!!!!! Henderson & Company!!! Thanks!!

MAJOR: in the 1980’s the remaining 3rd YELLOWSTONE COACH was used as a photo op in Bear County..... oddly you really were not suppose to sit in it but just stand in front of it. But I climbed up into it and ripped my pants. Served me right.


Correction: Abbot-Downing was located in Concord New Hampshire, not Massachusetts.

JG said...

I loved that pre-show with all the movies and jokes, with the pelican landing caught on radar as a UFO, interviews with space stations etc. it felt like space travel was inevitable and just a few beautiful tomorrows away.

Now look what we have instead.

Zach, you are right, GDB should be eligible as college credits. Who knew, besides Mike Cozart, there was so much to know about stagecoaches? Thanks Mike!

Thank you, Major!


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I admit that as blurry slides go, these are among the better examples! I’ve been on the stagecoach at Knott’s at least - hey it’s better than nothing. You should do like I did and have your entire brain transplanted to a robot body.

Nanook, ha ha, of course you would know that!

Lou and Sue, I’m not sure you were even born by the time they removed the Stagecoaches?? I sure love the idea of trundling through the Rainbow Desert in a genuine Stagecoach, splashing through muddy creekbeds, and so on. Just like the Old West! As is usual, I only remember drips and drabs of the Moon/Mars rides, but old Tom Morrow is pretty vivid. And yes, the “rumbling seats” was a really neat idea, they were ahead of their time with that concept. And even as I was typing “lazy Susan” I thought, “I hope Sue doesn’t take offense!”.

Mike Cozart, I wonder if they still own any of the Yellowstone Coaches! I figure the vehicles were made to survive thousands of passengers, so one more shouldn’t hurt. Bummer about your pants though!

Mike Cozart, NOW I am definitely going to win “Jeopardy!”.

JG, the old “Rocket to the Moon” ride goes back before my time, but you can watch a version of it on the old “Disneyland” TV show. One of my favorite bits is when they orbit to the dark side of the moon, fire a flare to the surface, and find ruins of buildings from now-extinct Moon Men! Such a cool thing.

Melissa said...

JG, I say it all the time: I miss the old future.

Dean Finder said...

A modern risk manager for the park must get palpitations just looking at that picture of guests riding shotgun on the stagecoach with the driver.

JG said...

@Melissa, so true.