Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Autopia, 1950s

I always get a kick out of early Autopia photos. Why? I haven't really thought about it too much, but I do love those old Mark I, II, and III cars (Who can tell them apart? They look the same), and the large expanses of landscaped (aka "weedy") fields and hills in Old Tomorrowland. 

A nice lady (you can tell she's nice!) is coming in for a landing, and she is being directed by a helpful cast member who has only been run over six times this year, so things are going great. I assume that the street lights were custom-made for Disneyland, they have a simple modern design that fits in with the Land of the Future. A bit of Tomorrowland Lake can be seen to our left, my guess is that the Phantom Boats that used to ply those waters were gone by the time this photo was taken.


A second photo was taken by somebody waiting in line. Just look at the traffic! It's like rush hour on the 405 freeway. The Richfield sign with the space station is always a welcome sight; as is the world's strangest tree, to the right.


 

24 comments:

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, that’s not the ‘world’s strangest tree,’ that’s one of the first topiaries, though not very well trimmed, of Marilyn Monroe. They only got better with practice.

Nanook said...

Major-
"A nice lady (you can tell she's nice!) is coming in for a landing..." A "lady", you say. Well - if you say so.

Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

Yeah, that tree does kinda look like it’s waiting for a bad haircut to grow out. Don’t worry, Mr. Tree; we like you!

Such lovely sunny skies in both pictures. And I love the Richfield sign.

Melissa said...

Is that a radio in the Cast Member’s back pocket?

K. Martinez said...

Love the first pic. Especially for the street lights and titled angle. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, what about all of those telephone poles! ;-)

Stu29573 said...

Ah, the old Autopia. Where cars roamed free over the highway and played and frolicked among the weeds and skinnytrees (official botanical name).
I know those lights are supposed to be leaning like that, but it makes me think that someone could have used a plumb bob. Or a Sponge Bob. Sorry, wrong park (and decade).
The castmember's clothes look very well pressed. I guess getting smooshed by little cars has its upside.
At this point the Phantom boats had been sunk to make an artificial coral reef that was used in the submarine ride. Now you know!

JC Shannon said...

Lou and Sue, I think the topiary looks more like Carmen Miranda. Always a must ride, even as an adult. The Autopia, not the tree. If that's a lady, I hope she has a stellar personality. A good time is being had by all. Major, it can't be the 405, no one is displaying a finger. The only traffic jams we have where I live, is when a herd of bison decide to cross the I 15. You don't dare show them the finger, cause they will poop on your hood and laugh at you while they do it.

Melissa said...

If you put the stress on the third syllable of “Autopia,” you can sing it to the tune of “Mamma Mia!”

"Lou and Sue" said...

JC Shannon, by golly you’re right!! That looks exactly like Carmen Miranda! I guess the gardeners didn’t do such a bad job, after all.

DrGoat said...

Love the old Mark cars too. And the Richfield sign always brightens up a photo.
By the way, that's no lady that's my....
Melissa, I had to go with the Bohemian Rhapsody instead of that movie which shall not be named. It stills works.
Does anyone know what happened to that tree? I'm sure it's gone but I'm curious.
Nice old photos Major. Thanks.

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, I guess I DO see a “figure”… maybe Marilyn is supposed to be waving a big hat??

Nanook, well, I must have been high on drugs (you know how I love my drugs), or else I wrote the blog post without bothering to look at the full-sized image. It was three months ago, so I can’t say for sure.

Melissa, the Autopia went through so many changes in those years, I wonder if the weird tree ever had a chance to grow to a big, beautiful example?

Melissa, whatever that thing is, it’s BIG!

K. Martinez, I love that early view too. So much empty space around!

TokyoMagic!, I think we can be sure that Ken liked the telephone poles too!!

Stu29573, I agree, the leaning light poles do look like they need propping up. It probably doesn’t help that the photo itself is so skewed. I assume that the CMs pressed shirt was part of the costume issued by the park, and that he didn’t bring one of his own from home. But… you never know. It would have been fun if they’d added a nod to the Phantom Boats somewhere in the Submarine ride!

Jonathan, everybody loves that tutti-frutti hat. Especially if you need a snack after your dance routine. I never give people the finger on the freeway, you never know who might wave a gun back at you! Instead I just have fantasies of having laser vision. You know what I mean. That’s pretty cool that you have herds of bison near you! Just don’t let them trample you.

Melissa, well gosh, I guess that’s true. Disney, what are you waiting for?

Lou and Sue, now I feel bad for not recognizing the genius of those landscapers.

DrGoat, I wonder what the differences were between the Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV Autopia cars, since they were visually identical? Different, more robust engines? No idea. I’ve only seen clips of Meryl Streep waving her arms around in “Mama Mia!”, enough to make me avoid that movie. If I had more time, I’d look up Autopia photos to see if that tree was there for very long, but… it’s another busy day.

Andrew said...

It looks like that tree was gone pretty quickly. Thanks to you, DrGoat, I now know that the Autopia was originally one track and didn't have two until 1957 (same year as the Viewliner) when the cloverleaf-like section was reconfigured. This change resulted in the removal of the tree. (It's right in the middle of the first pic I linked.)

Tom said...

It was so clean and uncluttered. That first shot, at the jaunty angle, with the small trees, untouched wilds and clear horizon... just wonderful.

Very relaxing pictures today.

DrGoat said...

Andrew, good job! Thanks for the links. Poor tree didn't last long. One can only hope he found a home somewhere else.
Major, I have forgiven the actors. Not even going to mention Mama Mia 2.

Nanook said...

Major-
Let me see if I can help explain (with my limited knowledge) the differences between the Mark I, II, III, & IV Autopia cars...

The Mark II Autopia vehicles were updated versions of the original cars (Mark I). The improvements included 'beefier' parts, and changing out the engines to the "smoother-running" Wisconsin units.

The Mark III consisted of a single test car, in 1956.

Late in 1956, the roadway was re-configured with 'A' & 'B' sides. Half of the guests boarded their cars on the left side, the other half, on the right side. To accommodate the additional capacity, 40 new cars were built, [Mark IV's] with their steering wheels on the right side. These vehicles had different (Kohler) engines, but retained the original "Ferrari" body style. In the ensuing months, the 39 original cars were converted to Mark IV's, with the total vehicle count of 79 vehicles.

I can't account for the additional 40, [modified] Mark II cars that were used for the Junior Autopia - featuring extender blocks on the pedals, and booster seats. (As the Junior Autopia operated thru December, 1958, these cars couldn't have been re-purposed for use in the expanded Tomorrowland Autopia). Hmmm...

Nanook said...

...Maybe those 40 cars (modified) ended-up in the "new" Fantasyland Autopia...

Chuck said...

Darn you, Melissa & DrGoat - now I have "Auto-pia...here I go again" and "Auto-pia, Auto-pia, Auto-pia, let me go" on an infinite loop in my head. Thanks. Thanks a LOT.

Jonathan, just curious, based on your experiences traversing bison herds - was Roger Miller telling the truth?

JC Shannon said...

Chuck, he was correct, they don't like skateboards either. But, they can be had for donuts with sprinkles and the occasional eclair.

JG said...

Long day out in the cold rain. Made brighter by Autopia pics and comments.

Thanks everyone.

JG

Stu29573 said...

Thanks, Chuck. Now I have it too. But I can be happy if I set my mind to it...

Major Pepperidge said...

Andrew, thank you for doing the legwork, so to speak, I only just got home at 10:30. No time for research. I do kind of hope that the tree was relocated, the park had a history of moving trees around. Why not that one too?

Tom, ha ha, yes, that first one has a jaunty angle alright! But I admit I kind of like it too.

DrGoat, lucky me, I have readers who do all the hard work for me, so I can sit around and eat Doritos. Nacho Cheese of course. I didn’t even know there was a “Mama Mia 2”, unless you are joking?

Nanook, THANK YOU! That’s more information that I could have probably looked up for myself, but lately there hasn’t been a lot of extra time. Sometimes I don’t even get back to the comments as much as I’d like. Wouldn’t it be awesome to own one of those original Autopia cars? The only one that I’ve seen that survived is the one described as “Walt’s car”, the customized special that is displayed at various events. Thanks again…

Nanook, yes, that makes sense!

Chuck, you just need to listen to some OTHER ear worm to replace the “Auto-pia” worm. How about “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band”? Or any song by K.C. and the Sunshine Band? Also… what did Roger Miller say?

Jonathan, I have no idea what you guys are talking about!

JG, yes, I’ve heard that you guys were hammered with heavy rains today. I think it will be heading down our direction tomorrow afternoon, fingers crossed. Thank goodness tomorrow is a rare day that I don’t have to go anywhere!

Stu29573, I used to work with a guy who would whistle a familiar tune, and then a few minutes later I would unconsciously whistle it too, and he would always say, “Ha ha, I imprinted you!”. It was kind of funny, actually.

Anonymous said...

Major- This is what they are talking about-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujxirrigR4k

;)

-DW

Melissa said...

I love Roger Miller. You can’t put my sister and me in a car together without it breaking out into a spontaneous rendition of “King of the Road.”