Monday, March 22, 2021

The Royal Street Bachelors, August 1966

Here are two underexposed photos, both taken in the "Court of Angels" in New Orleans Square - a spot that is now off-limits to most guests. It was a peaceful oasis in the middle of the park (sometimes you just need a moment of tranquility!), but the fact that it was generally uncrowded meant that it had no value to the powers that be.

Hey, there's the Royal Street Bachelors! They really should settle down, but they live for their music (just like I live to dance). I could tell you about the Bachelors, or you could just click on this link to Daveland's website, he already did all the heavy lifting. 

I can't tell for sure, but the lanterns on the wall appear to have genuine gas flames, and not the gluten-free flames that were used later.


As the Bachelors continue to serenade us, let's take a look at one of those odd figures that were at the base of the steps in the early days. Is it made from odds and ends? It reminds me of artsy-craftsy things that I used to see in certain stores when I was a kid. Maybe examples just like it could be found in the real New Orleans. And dark, moonless nights, you might be walking back to your hotel, only to glance behind you and see one of these things. It almost seems to be watching you! Wasn't it at the corner two blocks back? I swear I can hear it laughing!


31 comments:

K. Martinez said...

I wonder if those figures ended up in someone's home or backyard or maybe the dumpster. I also wonder what the Court of Angels is actually used for these days? Maybe Disney could charge $1,000 per person for the privilege of walking through the Court of Angels for a few minutes and give them a complimentary dessert tray of Hostess Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Ding-Dongs.

Love these photos cuz I do remember those odd figures.

K. Martinez said...

Forgot to say "thanks". Thanks, Major!

MIKE COZART said...

From 1966 through the late 90’s this area was known as THE GRAND COURTYARD.... the smaller courtyard between One of A Kind Antiques and Pirate Arcade Museum ( later Pieces of Eight ) is still known by its original name ; THE ROYAL COURTYARD.

What ever those figures were from they must have been very popular as similar ones appear with Doris Day in one of the many variations of of tv show opening on THE DORIS DAY SHOW .... the opening outdoor scenes were filmed in San Francisco between 1967 and 1971.

It was another sad day when THE GRAND COURTYARD was sealed up to regular Disneyland guests and used as a “reception “ pen for Club 33 members. Another poor move on Disneyland operations destroying yet another well thought out plan by WED of guest draw -flow and movement . Creating a claustrophobic , congested canyon to “explore” the streets of New Orleans Square.

Chuck said...

Mike, WED - ha! What did those guys know about design? ;-)

Stu29573 said...

Leave it to current Disney to figure out how to monetize a staircase. Of course, the powers that were could have done that decades ago, but they understood giving to paying customers value for their buck. Pretty soon now, your ticket will get you entrance into (most) of Main Street USA.
By the way, I named my old band loosely on CoA. It was Court of Souls.

Andrew said...

I looked at a recent Street View, and they added a big elevator to the rear of the courtyard. So much for the quaint "French lift."

Gas lamps are awesome! My neighbor has one that burns 24/7/365.

Melissa said...

The way the light is hitting those flowers is painterly.

JC Shannon said...

Andrew, nothing says 19th century French Quarter like an ugly elevator. NOS is a great place to stroll with your honey, after a romantic dinner for two at the Blue Bayou. It's romantic, I tell ya. Thanks Major.

DrGoat said...

That figure at the bottom of the staircase is a bit grotesque. Almost like a Dorian Gray version of a Mary Blair design. Looks like something Dr. Phibes would have in his house.
Sealing up the Court of Angels really made me sad and angry. I have a photo of me and my wife sitting on that staircase in better days that is our favorite pic of of all time. My fondest of memories. The current Disney operations can go sit on a tack. A really big one.
Thanks Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, unless those figures became really faded and worn, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were eventually sold or given away. My understanding is that the Court is used as kind of a “foyer” where diners wait to be admitted to the inner sanctum. Hostess products are too good for them!

K. Martinez, no, thank YOU!

Mike Cozart, I knew that it had a name before it was called “The Court of Angels”, but could not remember what it was. I once heard a podcast in which a person said that people could not be upset that the Court was being taken away from the general public if they didn’t even know it’s original name, which seemed like some pretty dopey logic to me. My mom had little papier mache figures that covered her hairspray cans, they looked very much like the ones in New Orleans Square, only they didn’t have hats. The whole thing about closing off the Court for the rich Club 33 patrons seemed very tone deaf and like a big “sc**w you” to everyone else.

Chuck, RIGHT?

Stu29573, I used to have an interest in dining at Club 33 someday - it almost happened once. Now that the original Walt version is completely gone, it’s just a restaurant, who cares. No draw for me in the least. I’d rather eat at the Blue Bayou, frankly.

Andrew, maybe it’s just that photo, but the Court looks dark and busy, not light and airy and inviting. You-know-who’s colors again. I do like gas lamps, I don’t even know if the lamps on Main Street are still gas lamps.

Melissa, yes, like a nice floral still life!

Jonathan, you can see that they tried to hide the elevator as much as possible, but… there it is. I’m surprised that they haven’t tried to build other restaurants that have that great “night all the time” effect, it’s very appealing.

DrGoat, you’re right, there is a definite Mary Blair vibe, especially if you look at later Mary Blair artwork (some of which I find to be not that appealing). The powers that be took away the Court from everybody, I think they just expect complaints but don’t care, as long as they get their huge yearly payments from Club 33 patrons. Disneyland used to seem more egalitarian, but no more. If you’re willing to pay, you can get all kinds of perks. Ha ha, I want those guys to sit on a tack too!

Nanook said...

@ DrGoat-
"sit on a tack". That's brilliant. (Don't give them any ideas, though, Disney may just start 'selling them').

Major-
In many ways, the 'suits' du jour at Disney very-much reflect the disappearance of what [for most] was a reasonably egalitarian American society, now of long ago. It hardly excuses what has become de rigueur throughout the Disney organization, it merely creates greater animosity with its guests' - and their potential ones. (I wonder if those were the same flowers that could be had at the Flower Market-?)

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, maybe the Disney management felt sorry for their wealthy patrons. It's not so easy having tons of money, you know! Which yacht do you buy, the one with the helipad, or the one with the jacuzzi? Just get both, I say. I have no doubt that those flowers were the same as the kind you'd see in the Flower Market.

Nanook said...

Looking more-carefully at the street view Andrew provided, it's sort of an overly-wrought "design" they created - including those converted-? 'floral' pathway fixtures, now providing step lighting. But most-embarrassing is the stained glass-? "screen/gate", separating "the privileged" from the "hoi polloi" - its shape doesn't even fit into the opening-! It appears WDI bought it at a 'two-for-one' sale, along with the one farther back in the courtyard. I know, I know, the entire 'conversion' is supposed to resemble a real courtyard in New Orleans, but...

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about the gas lamps in NO Square. It prompted me to recall when they were lit manually each evening. The place had a nice ambiance...or "vibe" if you will. Perhaps that feeling will resurface with the restrictions on daily admissions back to a time when there once were 'off-seasons'. That made the park magical. You didn't have to plan everything out..you just went about it in a random and carefree way. KS

Melissa said...

The table-service restaurant in the Mexico pavilion at EPCOT has the same outdoors-at-night effect as the Blue Bayou.

Anonymous said...

This little spot was such a gem.

Like Dr. Goat, some of my favorite photos were taken here.

I once ran up to the landing and had my photo made with the little statue in the niche.

I have seen the mess they have made of the revised courtyard, and I am grateful they added the hideous gate so we po' folk don't have to see it.

Theoretically, this was done to accommodate the ADA elevator to the second floor, since the old lift could not comply, but you can't convince me that the money spent on this travesty could not have produced a compliant solution without destroying the courtyard.

Re: gas lamps, or "decorative gas appliances" were made illegal in new construction by California Energy Code sometime in the 1980's. They were allowed again for a while later when natural gas was a plentiful fuel, and are now phased out again due to "global warming" etc. although natural gas remains plentiful. Can't blame Disney for this one.

Thanks Major, I like these pics.

JG

MIKE COZART said...

Major : WED built two other “moonlight dinning all day” restaurants and technically 2 more not so extreme equaling 4. The first two are at EPCOT CENTER’s World Showcase - inside the pyramid at the MEXICO pavilion: guests eat along side the “Rio Del Tiempo “ ( the river of time) on a terraced restaurant of a Spanish Colonial river village at night as passengers in boats pass the restaurant and in the distance of the Yucat√°n jungle a volcano rumbles and gurgles and now and then has a slight eruption like a fireworks show.

The German Pavilion features a restaurant in the center of a German Village on “Der Platz” on the biggest night of Oktoberfest. There’s even a town mill wheel gently rotating. This German Village would have been visible to guests exiting the UNBUILT Rhine River Cruise attraction that also carried over the moonlight all day theme of the restaurant.

Also at EPCOT CENTER in FUTURE WORLD at THE LAND pavilion was The Good Turn Restaurant- this restaurant was built on a massive turntable - as guest ate, their view changed below them as they gently passed the themed environments of the LISTEN TO THE LAND boat ride .... including a Tropical Rainforest , a Prairie and a American Farm and a cold snow scene. When restaurant got busy the turntable was slightly sped up as it was proven guests ate faster but were really not aware of the speed change!!!

Over in Frontierland at Walt Disney World the original Pecos Bill Cafe was greatly enlarged in the 2000’s to provide much needed extra seating .... al the New themed dinning rooms were enclosed and some are completely night time themed - on makes you feel you are in a southwestern courtyard and above you in your lantern lit plaza is a bright western star lit sky - complete with a passing shooting star now-and then!

Other moonlight all day restaurants were designed but never built including one for the lamented THUNDER MESA and The Western River Expedition attraction .... the restaurant’s working title was MESA TERRACE and that might not have been the final name had it opened ....but this moonlight all day would have had views of the attraction’s indoor boat loading dock and its final splashdown and some other nite time desert atmosphere.

Also around 2011-2012 a Haunted Mansion restaurant was being proposed for Liberty Square ( I worked on that project) and that featured MIDNIGHT dining all day!!

In the early planning of EPCOT CENTER’s FRANCE pavilion a odd Paris Street Cafe was designed and even a 1”=1’ WORKING model was built - here guests would sit at out door street cafe tables that were all on a massive omnimover chain platform .... the platforms gently moved so dining guest’s street views changed recreating some of Paris’ most famous boulevards - All at night in the “City of Lights”. The platforms moved so gently , waiters could easily walk into the platforms serving desert , coffees and wine.

One of the proposals of Disneyland’s unbuilt Tomorrowland 2055 was the OBSERVATORY restaurant - guests would have a all day night time view of the Tomorrowland spaceport and see things above them such as passing alien craft , comets , asteroids , space stations and hear flight calls and departures of space craft departing and arriving creating a exiting Tomorrowland “airport - space port” restaurant .

And that will be the basic theme to the new EPCOT SPACE STATION restaurant being constructed in FUTURE WORLD soon...”. Spacelight dinning all day”

And the soon to be constructed Space Station

Chuck said...

Glad I got yo see Club 33 before they jacked it up. The street view makes my heart hurt. Those doors look like surplus from the Grand Californian. They don't look bad in and of themselves, but they don't look good here.

Mike, don't forget the Blue Lagoon/Captain Jack's in DLP's PotC.

Andrew, what does your neighbor do with the lamp during leap years?

Anonymous said...

JG wrote a beautiful poem.

This Little Spot
by JG

This little spot was such a gem.
Like Dr. Goat,
some of my favorite photos
were taken here.
I once ran up to the landing
and had my photo made
with the little statue in the niche.

I have seen the mess they have made
of the revised courtyard,
and I am grateful
they added the hideous gate
so we po' folk
don't have to see it.

MIKE COZART said...

Yes! I didn’t mention the Blue Lagoon or the Blue Bayou duplicated at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland .

Tokyo Disneyland’s Queen of Hearts Royal Banquet Table is indoor DAY TIME ...... but Themed similar to ALL DAY NITE , but ALL DAY DAY. SCI FI DRIVE IN is also a Nite time themed restaurant I forgot about.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I've been tied up all day, until now, but was glancing at everyone's comments throughout the day. I've been "chomping at the bit" to comment...

Starting on a good note, I want to say that I absolutely LOVE today's photos...I don't remember those doll-figures, but I like them - so colorful! I absolutely LOVE this courtyard!

I don't get upset over much, but losing this beautiful courtyard to Club 33 REALLY MAKES ME MAD! Closing it in, ruined it. I wouldn't even like it if I was a Club 33 member. If I was one, I'd complain. Disney knows how to build stuff...they could've added a new elevator at a different location - FOR PETE'S SAKE!*

* Speaking of Pete:
Dr. Goat, I can imagine how much you treasure your picture with your wife, on these beautiful stairs. One of the last (if not - THE last) photo taken of me and my dad on his last (and final) Disneyland trip was on these stairs. My husband snapped the picture and it will always be one of my favorites, too!

Andrew, thanks for attaching that Street View. I found it interesting that you could click on some of the doors and windows - and end up inside - or "outside" - and also go up the stairs and travel around upstairs, by clicking away. That's cool!

Mike, thanks for sharing all of that restaurant info!!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Part 2 of my rambling:

JC Shannon - Yes, yes and yes!

...You didn't have to plan everything out..you just went about it in a random and carefree way.
KS - Those were great times!

JG, I like your poem and attempted one myself (and I'm waiting for Melissa to add one, too!):

WHAT'S-ITS-NAME COURTYARD by Sue

Those Disney suits didn't know what they were doing
When Jr. Gorillas and common folk they were shooing
Major said, "Leave that place
To the uppity race
We'll go instead to Trader Sam's for their brewing."


For the teetotalers: Change last line to:
We'll go instead to Rivers of America, canoeing!

Dean Finder said...

Mike Cozart - I knew that there was supposed to be a Rhine River Cruise ride at EPCOT, but not that it would have has a view of the restaurant. Would love to see how that would have worked.

MIKE COZART said...

Yes, the German Oktoberfest village river dock across the way would be what guests saw returning to port and exiting .... to draw them in as if maybe that was their destination. The River Rhine Cruise didn’t happen exactly for a few reason .... one was the original interested sponsor KD RIVER CRUISE LINES wasn’t comfortable with the cost of the attraction... ( the Mercedes / GM conflict is internet speculation and Mercedes was never a contender for sponsorship or the River Cruise anyway. WED attempted to still do a similar version and did a proposal for beer distribution company that handled Beck’s , Polaner ( MY FAVORITE!!) Lowenbrau & Cardinal beers ..... but this time the boats were exchanged for Air Balloons using the air balloon ride system developed for THE LAND PAVILION ... and Disneyland’s GREAT WESTERN BALOON ACENT in Discovery Bay/ Dumbo Circus . Guests would see miniature castles and cities and villages ....... and breweries ..... from the air.... but the attraction didn’t have the same casual romantic feel as river views and boats but Eisner killed most epcot phase two attractions of sponsors didn’t flip the whole bill and Eisner put a strangle hold on park based attractions already in development .... to focus on hiring his friends to build hotels and channel Epcot and Disneyland , magic kingdom expansion money into a EISNER DISNEY STUDIO where he could hire more friends from Hollywood.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I do not care for the look of that courtyard AT ALL; it looks rather cheesy to me. I just can’t believe that Disney, with all that money, can’t get something that looks truly classy and nice. Maybe they need to not use “in house” people, I don’t know. I also don’t care for the stained glass (which I am not even sure is genuine stained glass).

KS, I’ve seen artwork of lamplighters on Main Street, and feel like I have the ghost of a memory of watching somebody actually light those lamps. I doubt I’ve seen the same thing happen in New Orleans Square, sadly. And like you, I miss the days when you could just go to the park and be spontaneous. Somehow that has become a dirty word for the Disney folks. I hate the idea of having to plan a trip to WDW nine months or a year ahead of time, down to what meals I would want.

Melissa, oh yeah! I guess I have seen photos of that. Sounds very nice.

JG, I never went up the stairs because I guess I assumed they were off-limits to mere mortals. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life rotting in Disney jail, with nothing but churros and water. I agree with you, the elevator and other design choices feel half-assed in many cases, and just plain tacky. Lucky for them, most guests love anything they do, no matter how crummy. I didn’t know that fact about “decorative gas appliances”! Thanks for that info.

Mike Cozart, thank you; Melissa reminded me of the Mexico pavilion. And I have seen at least one publicity photo; it sounds nice enough that I would want to make a trip to the Mexico pavilion just to eat there. I guess I didn’t ever know about the German Pavilion. A friend gave me a comb-bound booklet about some of the pavilions at EPCOT, and it has a section about the Rhine River Cruise, which is pretty neat. It might have other never-built pavilions mentioned as well. Wow, the Pecos Bill Cafe, another one I’ve never heard of! Thunder Mesa, such a shame that that huge project was never realized. A Haunted Mansion restaurant sounds like money in the bank, everyone would be lining up for hours! And I have seen concept artwork for the Tomorrowland 2055 restaurant, along with all of the other stuff. So intriguing to think of what might have been. Thanks Mike!

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, yes, you are very fortunate. How did you get in? It sounds like sour grapes on my part, but I honestly have NO interest in going since they changed it.

JG, wow! You have been inspired to write a poem, that’s pretty amazing! I have no skills for poetry. I have to wonder if even some of those Club 33 members were unhappy with the changes. Human nature is a funny thing; build a restaurant and make it exclusive to a chosen few, and suddenly many others want to get in as if it is some sort of special achievement. Thanks for your poem!

Mike Cozart, I didn’t know they had the Blue Lagoon or Blue Bayou restaurants. It makes me feel like I don’t now much about anything!! I’d like it if they added another “all night” restaurant at the Anaheim park, however. Not sure how they would do that. A Star Wars-themed eatery?

Lou and Sue, I think those doll things were only there the first year or so, which is why they don’t show up in most photos. I’m sure the designers never imagined that the public cared much about the Court of Angels, maybe they didn’t do any research? Like you, I feel like they could have added an elevator elsewhere, and preserved the one that Walt wanted. I realize that your photo of you and your dad on those steps might be very personal and that you might want to keep it private, just between you and Lou (and your husband of course), but if you ever think you’d want to share it, I know we’d love to see it!

Lou and Sue, that was always the most fun thing, showing up to the park with friends and just doing whatever you wanted, spontaneously deciding what rides to see. There is no charm in having to plan every moment. Disneyland isn’t as bad as the Magic Kingdom, as far as I know, but there has been a big push to increase reservations for everything, to the point that they will ruin it for people who find all that planning to be unpleasant. And hey, I’m not much of a drinker, but I’ll meet you guys at Trader Sam’s! OR to go canoeing!

Dean Finder, if I can find that EPCOT booklet, I will try to scan that page, or maybe the whole darn thing.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, I'm not a "drinker," but I LOVE iced tea, or iced coffee drinks with all the caramel, cream, whipped cream and all! Am drinking a Dunkin Donuts Iced Caramel Craze, at this very moment.

Anonymous said...

I just want to make clear that the Anonymous post with the poem "by JG" was not posted by JG but by a different Anonymous poster. I was just struck with how The JG original post seemed poetic and decided to arrange it in a poetical structure just for fun. I'm sorry if people misunderstood that the poem post was from JG. I should have made it clear that I was just inspired by JGs words.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Anonymous: I’m glad you were inspired, as you then inspired me. ;-) Thanks for clarifying. Keep commenting, and writing poetry!

Chuck said...

Major, I have a cousin whose company had a corporate membership back in the '90s who got my wife and me in just before we moved out of SoCal in '95. It really is a special memory that I treasure. I took some photos, but unfortunately, it's the only roll of film I've ever had blown in commercial processing. It looks as though the roll jammed in the automatic processor - there are torn sprocket holes and a hole in the negative itself, and the pictures are all muddy. I'll have to dig those out and send some scans to you so you can see just how badly they came out.

JG said...

@Anonymous, thank you for your transformation of my post.

I never intended it to be particularly poetic, but I am pleased that something I wrote touched a chord for you.

And thanks for sharing credit with me. GDB is a great place to reflect on past and present, and sometimes, to be happy that you are sad.

JG