Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Frontierland & Fantasyland, 1956

Here's a nice pair of scans from 1956 (I believe). They're a little bit dark, but still very presentable. 

There's the be-antlered Davy Crockett Frontier Arcade, full of western-themed souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, leather goods, and everything else you can think of. Yes, even a few cyclotrons. "I didn't think you'd have these!". They were made of birch logs.

I lightened up the shadows for this closeup, with a selection of genuine vintage people. Some with cigarettes! The lady in the foreground is holding a 1955 guidebook, I've seen other photos with people still carrying those in 1956. FYI it only had artwork because there was nothing to photograph yet. There's another 1955 guidebook with photos ("Disneyland In Living Color"). Notice the Bonekraft store, "Hand Carved Bone". The perfect gift for your sweetheart.

I always love early photos of the Fantasyland Skyway Chalet, from before the newly-planted trees grew large enough to obscure most of the structure. There's so much charming detail, from the gingerbread trim to the painted decorations, and even the finials on top.

That kid (four? five?) with the Keppy Kap is fascinated by the Skyway gondolas coming and going.


Nanook said...

Always so much fun to see images from the 'very early days'. Love that rice paper-? parasol - the perfect device for sun-shading in the great frontier.

"Yes, even a few cyclotrons. "I didn't think you'd have these!". They were made of birch logs". But... did they carry natural gas-powered record players-??!! Ah-ha-!

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

I love how the Fantasyland Skyway Chalet really isn't on a hill, but dirt mounds were built up around it make it feel like it was. Disney was always good at creating illusion in the parks. The Alpine themed Skyway terminal is a thing of architectural beauty too. Thanks, Major.


I loved that Skyway chalet ! It was referred to as the “ cable drive house” . After the Skyway was removed as an attraction. There were a few proposals to make use of the structure. One was for a beverage /snack venue with a altered clock that would feature a glockenspiel type animated show every 15 minutes. Part of the out door terrace seating would have been on the skyway receiving and dispatch platform. All versions of the structure’s after life meet the same problem the ultimately killed the Skyway attraction itself - how to get wheelchair / handicapped guests access. Had GALAXYs EDGE not developed the way it did the chalet probably would have been kept as a static scenery element to Fantasyland.

TokyoMagic! said...

Is the little boy eating the ice cream bar (on the far right of the first pic), wearing wedgies? Or is he just wearing two-toned dress shoes, without any socks?

Who or what did they keep in the basement of the Skyway chalet? Whatever it was, it looks like they gave it slits/openings so it could look out into the park.

Chuck said...

Nanook, in the interest of period authenticity, the record players they sold were water-powered. You could, however, get natural-gas-powered ones on Main Street. Not sure if the atomic ones were ever approved by the AEC for sale in Tomorrowland.

Ken, I had never noticed that before, but you're right. The illusion worked on me, too. I've been hoodwinked!

TM!, that's where they kept Paul Pressler until he escaped to wreak his dark mischief upon the Kingdom.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, now it all makes sense!

JC Shannon said...

Wow, remember when you could smoke anywhere? Everyone would hack and cough and your clothes hair would stink. Good times. I'm joking, of course. Major is right, nothing says I love you like a carved bone trinket. TM, it really does look like the kid is wearing wedges. I have a shirt just like his, but I always wear heels with it. I would like to know what a Pendleton shirt went for in those days. My wife bought me one in Jackson Hole for my birthday. I about fell over at the price.

zach said...

I never noticed how close Casey Jr came to the Chalet.

I haven't been to the park since they removed the Chalet. When I do get back I will drop by with my 'D' coupon and cry until they take me to Guest Relations- Consoling Department.

Thanks for the post, Major. Happy Hump Day, all.


Alonzo P Hawk said...


The cast member (trying to look tough in lederhosen) told us it was a prison in the basement. Got caught dropping Milk Duds on people when I was 12 or so. Someone called ahead he was waiting for us on arrival.We got read the riot act for about ten mins. He finally let us go after we promised to never pull a stunt like that again.

MRaymond said...

I wonder if Mr. Von Roll has pictures of the basement? I'm guessing it was a hot, noisy place. When they removed the Skyway did they remove the equipment from down there or did Disney have to wait for the demolition?
Curiouser and curiouser.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
The same items are stored in the basement of the Chalet as are stored in the "basement" of the Alamo...

Anonymous said...

The Skyway Chalet was a fine piece of work, up there with Grauman's Theater IMHO.

If you look carefully through the conifer branches, you can see the flowers on the pot shelf.

From the looks of the Story Book Land rocks, in the beginning they were the same dark gray that the new Matterhorn later sported. We noted before how the dark gray gave way to browns and tans in a generally lighter palette. I wonder if the initial coloring was due to lack of time or budget, and as money became more available or perhaps on a maintenance schedule, the colors were changed to the more realistic multi-tonal look?

If there was a vault in the basement, Pressler should have been kept there until he promised not to change anything.

From the way Mike Cozart describes the building, it sounds like the motive power for the Skyway was here and not in Tomorrowland? I had always assumed the opposite, for no good reason other than the Tomorrowland station seemed closer to a backstage area for easy equipment access for repair or replacement. Maybe this location has the same benefits.

When was the tunnel under this hill put in?


Anonymous said...

Major, thanks for this post. ALways appreciate your hard work entertaining us!


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, when I zoomed in I’d hoped that the paper parasol was one of two or three that were sold at Disneyland. Being fragile, they are rare collectibles today! The one in the photo looks generic, however. I think the only gas-powered record players they had ran on Coleman’s fuel.

K. Martinez, it does look like the bottom of the Chalet is practically at ground-level! Though I guess it’s kind of going uphill to the load portion of the building? Hard to tell. Still, it’s a great looking building that I miss a lot.

Mike Cozart, I’d always hoped that they would find another use for the Chalet, but knew that getting wheelchairs and strollers up there was a problem. It doesn’t sound like an insurmountable problem, but if they wanted to do it on the cheap, then… maybe it wasn’t possible. It would have been neat to be able to dine up there and get that giraffe’s-eye view of Fantasyland.

TokyoMagic!, I do think that the boy’s shoes are two-toned, but they sure look like wedgies! He might be wearing “flesh” colored socks too, but that almost seems like too many coincidences. The basement was Walt’s other apartment. It had bumper pool, knotty wood paneling, a “hi-fi”, and a 14 inch black and white TV. Oh, and a ping pong table.

Chuck, the problem with those frontier-style record players is that the records were made out of leather and horse glue. And they were mono, of course. Primitive days, indeed. The atomic record players were only sold for a short time, until it was discovered that the purchasers had a tendency to “Hulk out”. I wish Paul Pressler had stayed in his dungeon!

TokyoMagic!, that explains why he was always talking about his “precious”.

Jonathan, I always loved it when my family would get a non-smoking room, only to find that it smelled like an ash tray at a bowling alley. “Maybe they won’t notice!”, the staff would hope. I’ve actually seen a vintage souvenir from Bonekraft, nicely made cufflinks in a little velvet presentation box, but still… carved bone does not inspire feelings of romance. That kid was ahead of his time as far as shoes go, he grew up to be a glam rocker. Maybe it’s Marc Bolan. I didn’t know that Pendleton shirts were that expensive, since all the kids wore them at one point.

zach, yes, Casey Jr. would chug on by as he headed back into the station. Like you, I haven’t been back to Disneyland since the whole “Galaxy’s Edge” thing; I wonder how weird it will feel to look up and not see the Chalet where it’s been my whole life?

Alonzo, you’re lucky you didn’t get life in Leavenworth! Another Milk-Dud related crime. When will they ever learn? Milk-Duds are a gateway candy.

MRaymond, yeah, I can’t imagine that the basement area was much in the way of luxury amenities. I do wonder if there was amazing old stuff stored down there; I once read an article (long ago) about pieces of animatronics being stored beneath the Carousel theater in Tomorrowland.

Nanook, this is BIG NEWS!

JG, I wonder what the Chalet was based on? Fancy Swiss ski lodges? It’s a lovely building, but unusual for sure. While I noticed that the Matterhorn rocks started out darker and got lighter a few years later, I never noticed the same thing about the rocks at Storybook Land, so you are much more observant than me. As for the “cable drive house”, is it possible that such a mechanism was required at both ends? I know for sure that they had machinery like that in Tomorrowland, so if Mike says they had it in Fantasyland as well… then they must have needed two wheels. The tunnel is there for Casey Jr., so as far as I know it’s been there since the park opened.

JG, thank you!

Kathy! said...

Yay, there is a lady (maybe two, the one behind her in the shadows) wearing my favorite paper Disneyland hat. Almost everyone has a hat in the Skyway pic, as a matter of fact. I would appreciate a carved bone gift, but whose bone?! Thanks for the fun post, Major.

Melissa said...

It’s Souvenir Hat Wednesday! The Dad in the blue and white striped shirt in #1 looks like he smelled something he wishes he hadn’t.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, ha, ha! Pee-wee's bike!

Alonzo, I remember the morning of our 8th grade graduation trip to Disneyland, when one of the teachers or counselors gave us a warning. They told us the story of how during a previous 8th grade school trip to the park, a student spit on the guests below, while riding the Skyway. Supposedly, by the time his gondola reached the station, security was already waiting for him. He was then ejected from the park and had to spend the rest of the day sitting with a teacher on the school bus, out in the DL parking lot. I always wondered if that was a true story or if it was made up just to encourage us all to behave properly.


I too had always thought the Cable Drive for Skyway was in Tomorrowland - at WDI after working of NEW FRONTIERLAND and NEW LIBERTY SQUARE models for Florida , I was slid over to do models for a TANGLED themed Fantasyland boat ride that used a new patented water omnimover system ( I remember people online speculating it was for Shanghai’s Pirates of the Caribbean - but I couldn’t say anything then!!) the attraction was going right where the WDW fantasyland cable drive chalet also was. A previous project team had tried to also find a re-use of the beautiful structure and area of Florida’s beautiful building with its Swiss clock tower. That’s when I learned both Tomorrowland skyway stations had been removed when they were and both Disneyland’s and Florida’s Fantasyland structures remained as long as they did - because of the hassle of removing the power drive system. I seem to recall Florida’s however could also be powered at both ends.
Anyway , the TANGLED attraction didn’t get the green light ( I have to admit - I’ve never seen Disney’s Tangled) but the relocated fantasyland restrooms went where the WDW Skyway chalet had been ( to increase line space for Peter Pan’s Flight) and that’s why the restroom structures and landscaping are TANGLED themed.

Anonymous said...

Major, I think that the drive system that Mike is referring to, has to be on one end or the other, not both.

Having two motors would present speed coordination problems. I imagine that the motive force is at one end and the other is just a free-wheeling pulley. Perhaps Nanook would know, he seems to have some Von Roll knowledge.

The tunnel I was referring to was not the Casey tunnel. There is a service tunnel for vehicles straight under the Chalet hill. It has been there for some time, at least since the construction of Big Thunder Railway and the opening of the walkway between Frontierland and Fantasyland.

You can see it clearly on the Satellite view, the tunnel connects backstage behind ToonTown with the utility area that is "in between" Village Haus, Rancho Zocalo, and the backstage parts of Big Thunder. I assume it is to bring in groceries for the restaurants and to haul out the trash. There are two big themed gates that close off the ends where the vehicle route crosses the pedestrian walk that guests use.


Chuck said...

I know the designs are markedly different, but for some reason the clock on the DL chalet has always made me think of this. Strong impressions made in early childhood or something.

JG, I think that tunnel dates back to the construction of the chalet. If you zoom in on this 1955 aerial from Yesterland, you can see a service road between Casey, Jr./Mud Banks of the World and Painted Desert 1.0 that connects the north-end backstage access to the backstage area behind Fan 1 (or maybe that's Fan 2; I'm kinda sleepy right now and not firing on all cylinders).

When you look at the same scene from 1960, you can just make out the tunnel portal for the service road on the north side of the chalet and, while the lighting and picture quality makes it impossible to see clearly, you can infer the location of the southern portal from the shadow line along the eastern edge of Painted Desert 2.0 that dead-ends into the backstage area behind Fan 1 (or Fan 2; can somebody throw me a bone here?).

I think the tunnel was bifurcated when they built Big Thunder Trail between Fantasyland and Frontierland.

MRaymond said...

OK, I had to do a little digging. The basement of the chalet has been there all along and is the area that has the drive motor for the Skyway. Everything that makes the Skyway move is in the chalet.
The Tomorrowland terminal has a HEAVY counterweight and maintains the tension on the cable for the entire skyway. According to one source I found, the counterweight is still there (they buried it in place).

Chuck said...

Sorry - I posted the link to the 1955 aerial twice (see "not firing on all cylinders" above).

Here's the 1960 aerial from Yesterland.

"Lou and Sue" said...

The fancy-footed fellow is wearing the men's equivalent of THIS WOMEN'S SHOE STYLE that I found on eBay. I couldn't find the men's style, and I'm sure there's a reason for that.

Melissa, your mentioning that dad smelling something - reminded me of one of the things my dad strongly remembered about his first visit to Disneyland in 1956...he said the smell of oranges was everywhere in the air throughout Disneyland, and he loved it. Though I'm sure that pleasant scent was occasionally interrupted by the scent of cigarette smoke. (JC Shannon, I sure do remember there was smoke everywhere you went - work, restaurants, homes, cars, airplanes...but everyone and every place smelled like an ashtray back then, so you didn't notice it, until smoking started getting banned from places. Thank goodness.)

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, I could have sworn that I’d seen the drive system (in photos) at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland terminal. I can’t speak at all about WDW, knowing practically nothing about that park. I like “Tangled”, actually quite a bit more than “Frozen”, which I was lukewarm on (no pun intended). It seems like it would be hard to do an fun “Frozen” attraction, I’d want something beyond just straightforward recreations of movie scenes. Maybe the ride would have been more than that.

JG, I guess you are right, though I am too ignorant of the engineering challenges that a Skyway cable system would require. Sorry I misunderstood which tunnel you meant; I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your question. Maybe somebody else does? Perhaps it was added during the Toontown construction.

Chuck, ha ha, I can definitely see a family resemblance between the two clock faces! The toy reminds me of one that I had as a child, it also was a wind-up music box that played a tune I can remember note for note, but am unaware if it was based on a classical piece of music or not. Thank you for chiming in (Get it? Chiming? Clock?) about the tunnel, I would have done more research but just haven’t had time today. Thanks also for the links to the aerial photos (I see the corrected link!).

MRaymond, very nice, thanks for the info about the Skyway drive mechanism! I guess the counterweight is what I was thinking of (from photos). I wonder how much that weight weighed? So strange that they would just bury it in place, but then again, what else could they do with such a thing?

Chuck, gotcha!

Lou and Sue, I can’t blame the kid for wearing those shoes; I’m sure his mom bought them for him! Weird though. I love the smell of orange blossoms; my grandma and grandpa had an orchard with over 30 orange trees, and when they were flowering, it was the sweetest smell. Even now if I happen to walk past a flowering orange tree my memory is transported right back to grandma and grandpa’s yard. I’m so grateful that I never took up smoking (unlike my older brother, who just can’t seem to kick the habit), for one thing I learned that he pays almost $100 for a carton of smokes. I have better things to do with my money!

Nanook said...

@ JG-
I see MRaymond already answered your question. I believe this is how ALL cable-driven 'skyways' are configured.

I don't know the Disneyland statistics on their counterweight, but the Von Roll Skyride at Six Flags Great Adventure (originally installed at the 1964 NY World's Fair), has a 14-ton counterweight. I'm gonna guess the one at Disneyland wasn't that heavy - but who knows.

JG said...

Chuck, thanks for the research and the links. I did see the later one. Agree that the route has been there from the beginning.

Since the hill is artificial, the tunnel and the basement for the Skyway engine were probably built at the same time. Thanks MRaymond for that info.

Now that I think about it as an adult and not a kid, it makes sense that the engine would be at the higher end of the ride, which I think the Chalet is, since the cable has to be pulled up, having the engine at the low end would be like pushing a string, and of course a counterweight would be needed. Thanks Nanook.

Thanks Major and everyone for an interesting conversation.


Melissa said...

“...the Von Roll Skyride at Six Flags Great Adventure (originally installed at the 1964 NY World's Fair), has. 14-ton counterweight.”

You load 13 tons, and what do you get?
Not enough weight on your Skyway set.
St. Peter don’t call me; I can’t go there -
My Skyway bucket’s stuck in the air.

JG said...

Melissa, that’s very funny.


Melissa said...

It’s based on the song I wrote for the 15-ton bridge on my old road.

You load 16 tons and what do you get?
You fall through the bridge and your car gets wet.
St. Peter don’t call me, ‘cause I can’t go -
My car fell through to the river below.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
Too funny-!