Saturday, November 28, 2020

Madurodam, The Netherlands - August 1961

Without really meaning to, I have managed to acquire a mini-collection of vintage slides from a European (The Hague, Netherlands) amusement park called Madurodam. What is Madurodam? Wikipedia says: It is home to a range of 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch landmarks, historical cities and large developments. The park was opened in 1952 and has since been visited by tens of millions of visitors. It was also one of the inspirations for Storybook Land in Disneyland.

It's kind of fun to look at photos, with guests towering over beautifully-detailed models of buildings, ships, and airports, as if they've all been exposed to gamma radiation. Many of them seem to be looking at some sort of brochure or booklet. On the low rise in the background is a small mid-century style building, it resembles lifeguard stands at beaches; I wonder if security guards were there, making sure that nobody runs amok?

Those boats are impressive! I assume that they were all made specifically for Madurodam, and not bought at "Luuk's Model and Puppet Emporium". You've got your luxury cruise ships, tankers, barges, and probably a dinghy or two (I just wanted to say "dinghy"). Maybe a scow or two? In the foreground, metal tanks contain precious chocolate milk reserves vital to the Dutch economy. It looks like the park might be surrounded by a berm. Hmmmm!

Here's a model of The Binnenhof, which is a complex of buildings in the city centre of The Hague, Netherlands, next to the Hofvijver. It houses the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Built primarily in the 13th century, the Gothic castle originally functioned as residence of the counts of Holland and became the political centre of the Dutch Republic in 1584.

You can see a golden coach, accompanied by guards both on foot and on horseback, as well as a military band. Notice the tiny cobblestones, and even the red carpet leading up the steps into the Ridderzaal.

More from Wikipedia: Every object in Madurodam has been built at a scale of 1:25. When the management decides that a specific miniature is to be made for Madurodam, the builders first research all aspects of the actual building. They research the shape, color and all other properties of that object, by analysing many pictures. After this they start making the models. A computer measures everything and sends all information to a machine that makes the physical model. The model goes to the painting room, where it gets the final look. In this painting room restorations also take place. Because most of the miniatures are outdoors, they need regular paint retouches. Of course back in 1961 it's safe to say that everything was designed and built entirely by hand, with no computers.

Those model ducks are especially impressive.

Madurodam was renovated in 2011/2012 for the park's 60th Anniversary. The park is now divided into three themes: water, as a friend and an enemy; historical cities; and The Netherlands as an inspiration for the world. Each theme offers different activities - from light shows to mixing music. It sounds like a wonderful place for an outing with the family!

 I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Madurodam.


Nanook said...

How absolutely fascinating and charming. The detail is most impressive. Also on view: many babushka's-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Madurodam looks even better than Legoland!

I wonder if they allow guests to walk around on the rooftops of the buildings.....because that would be fun!

JC Shannon said...

Small village or giant people? You decide. I drove through Belgium once or twice when I was stationed in Germany. For some reason, the world has chosen to fight two world wars there, leaving the country a smoldering ruin both times. A Belgian I was hoisting a few with, in a local watering hole, told me the next time I watched Patten duking it out with the German Panzers at Bastogne, to ask myself where all the Belgian civilians were? It totally changed my view of the Battle of the Bulge. Plus, I had an epic hangover the next day. Belgian beer kinda sneaks up on you. Thanks Major.

stu29573 said...

These are wonderful! I knew of this place, but haven't seen pictures quite this good. As a guy that enjoys building the occasional 1/87 HO building, I can appreciate the work that went into these (although the current computer generated idea strikes me as cheating). Of course I would be tempted to add little joke details, like Gozilla or a huge bucket of water that dumps on people's heads in the water section. I'm a hoot at parties!

Andrew said...

TM!, I don't think walking on the rooftops would be too much to ask given how close you're allowed to get to the buildings and how narrow some of the paths look! I guess the Dutch are just exceptionally light on their feet. Never in America...

I like how the carriages in the Binnenhof model have their bases painted to match the cobblestones. By the way, two years ago my Dad and I drove four hours solely to see this huge, indoor miniature village called Roadside America that was 80 years old. They just announced they're permanently closed, which is sad, but I'm glad I got to see it.

Thanks for these fun pictures, Major.

Chuck said...

I always enjoy a photographic visit to Madurodam!

That large ocean liner appears to be a representation of the SS Niew Amsterdam, although I haven't found a photo with quite that paint scheme or life boat configuration. Still much closer than anything I could make with a paring knife and a bar of Ivory soap.

Andrew, Roadside America is permanently closed? NOOOOOOOO!!!!! One more bucket list item I'll never check off. Well, maybe I'll still get to visit Rhodesia one day.

zach said...

That miniature city needs a train! Norwegians dressed well in the 60's. I wonder if they still do.

A fun and charming diversion today. A small thing but it sets off my OCD. Why are the chocolate milk tanks so randomly numbered?

I agree, it needs a Godzilla or King Kong in the corner somewhere.

Did anyone else fry some left over mashed potatoes with their breakfast today?

Thanks Major.


Chuck said...

Zach, I didn't fry mine, but I did shape them into a rough approximation of Devil's Tower.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I would love to see Madurodam. In the 1950s! I will even wear my babushka.

TokyoMagic!, Better than Legoland? Is that even possible? They not only let guests walk around on the rooftops (and wade in the water to ride the ships), they encourage them to break off pieces and stomp on them. It seems like a crazy thing, but people love it.

Jonathan, I have no doubt that Belgium was hit hard by the two World Wars. Talk about stuck in the middle. I once stayed in a French town called Les Eyzies, and there were literally dozens of abandoned, very old houses in town that had been empty since nearly all of the young men had been killed in WWI, which was pretty sobering. Fun talk for a Saturday, huh?

stu29573, I would imagine that Madurodam must have employed dozens and dozens of skilled craftsmen - probably a lot of old guys with decades of knowledge and experience. You know, the kind that can build ANYTHING. I have photos on GDB of a “modern” airport at Madurodam, and train stations, and I do love the ships and boats. I’d love to go there. I’m all for Godzilla being added, but not so much the water dump. Now if it was buttermilk instead…

Andrew, I agree, you just know that little finials would be snapped off as souvenirs, and miniature cars would go missing. This is why we can’t have nice things! Walt was smart to put guests in canal boats where they couldn’t get up to much mischief. Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that Roadside America had closed! Such a shame, I’ve watched several YouTube videos about it and it was incredible. You are lucky to have had a chance to visit.

Chuck, thank you for the info about the SS Niew Amsterdam. How in the world did you know about it? I can find photos that are similar to the example at Madurodam, though the stacks are different in actual photos. And yes, see my comment to Andrew about Roadside America. If only there was some way to preserve it and keep it going.

zach, they did have at least one miniature train, but it was a modern train, not a lovely old steam locomotive. Take a look HERE! I think I have cracked the numbering code of the chocolate milk tanks; they appear to be in groups of four, and numbered in a counter-clockwise order, if that makes any sense. That’s the way they do things in the Netherlands! Maybe instead of going with Godzilla (I admit, the obvious choice), why not “zag” and go with Mothra? I love fried mashed potatoes, but sadly did not have any for breakfast today.

Chuck, THAT MEANS SOMETHING! I just watched that movie for the 20th time (on Netflix).

Omnispace said...

What a wonderful surprise for today! I loved this place - visited it on a family trip in the mid 70's as one of my "picks" on places to see. My photos pretty much came out the same, being on a cloudy day, but it's still very enjoyable. Interesting that the park has a small berm around it similar to Disneyland. You can see it in the background of these photos. If I remember right, the buildings were all modeled after actual places. I might even still have the guide book for it. Thanks Major!

Melissa said...

Europe will always beat America in a babushka contest.

It’s The Borrowers Go Dutch!

I have a friend whose parents came from the Netherlands, and they’ve been back frequently to visit family. I’ll have to ask them if they ever went to Madurodam. (Autocorrect keeps trying to replace “Netherlands” with “Netherworld.” My phone must be haunted.”

Chuck said...

Major, in all honesty, I didn't know anything about the SS Niew Amsterdam until this morning (at least, not consciously). As you know, I have some weird, wide-ranging interests, and one of them is a passing fascination with ocean liners. I put that together with the fact that this is a park that showcases how "The Netherlands is an inspiration to the world," and then it was just an educated guess as to how to focus the research.

I really need to watch that movie again - been probably 8 years or more. I have a DVD set with all three theatrical releases, and I've never watched the Director's Cut.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I can only imagine what the outside elements do to these wonderful displays...don't they ever have windstorms? hail? locusts?

Major, when you've taken past pictures and done the "tilt-shift" thing to them, you end up with a miniature village look. What happens when you do tilt-shift to today's pictures, I wonder?

Thanks for this fun trip, Major, and all the fun comments!
Now I'm going to put on my babushka, wooden clogs and hop on my bicycle to get some tulips...

Major Pepperidge said...

Omnispace, we know that Walt and his Imagineers took inspiration from many parks, and it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody noticed the “mini-berm” around Madurodam. However, such a factoid never shows up in any histories of the park. Maybe we’ve busted it wide open, right here in GDB! I’ll make millions! I didn’t know that ALL of the buildings were modeled after real places, but it would make things a little easier to find a real air terminal or train station or castle and use it for reference. I’ve never seen a guidebook from this park, sounds fun!

Melissa, I am ashamed to admit that I never read any of the “Borrowers” books. Maybe because I like to steal books but NOT borrow them. It makes me a bad boy, but in an adorable way. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I bet your friend’s parents have been to Madurodam. I’ll bet ten quintillion dollars.

Chuck, yes, you definitely have wide-ranging interests. If there had been a miniature bus, you could have told us all about it! And if it had been wearing a military uniform… just imagine. The version of “Close Encounters” that is currently on Netflix is the original theatrical release; supposedly Spielberg has disowned the “Special Edition”. I don’t think I have ever watched the “Director’s Cut” either, but I hope it includes the famous alien pie fight.

Lou and Sue, there aren’t many locusts, but sometimes frogs rain from above. Frogs are so cute that nobody minds. I would imagine that Belgium gets its share of snow and sleet, and yes, probably windstorms. If I tried to do the tilt-shift with these, a vortex would open in the time-space continuum, and we would all be sucked into it and transported to Oxnard, CA. Sounds like you are going to have a fun day with your babushka and wooden clogs!

Dean Finder said...

They don't have to keep anyone from stepping on things at Legoland. I mean, have you ever stepped on a Lego? Ye-ow!

Sad to hear about Roadside America. I went a few times as a kid on family vacations, but the last time I drove past it, it was hard to get to from I-78. Typically for these kinds of places, you can see it from the highway, but not get to it. They even had a bit on CBS' Sunday Morning a few years ago explaining how it was facing tough times. I guess it's not surprising that it wouldn't the pandemic.

JG said...

I've heard of Madurodam, but these are the most comprehensive pictures I've seen. I had no idea that they modeled modern scenes, much less ocean liners.

It's a little odd to see a model tank farm, but if you're gonna model, go all the way, I guess.

Sad to hear about the other old park closing up. I would have loved to see that place.

America doesn't deserve nice stuff like Madurodam, it would be destroyed in a heartbeat. The only way it would work here would be to have each visitor post a $10K bond before entry, and the bond would be returned if they broke no rules or caused no damage. Disney had the right idea with the boats, keeps the visitors moving at a controlled pace, out of reach of the scenery. The success of this method can be seen in the frequency with which it was re-used in the Park on later attractions.

Thanks Major for enjoyable photos, and everyone for the comments.