Friday, April 30, 2021

Two Nice Ones From the 1950s

Say! It's Friday. Hopefully you will agree that today's photos are nicer than the usual nonsense that you see on GDB.

Let's start with this strangely deserted view of the park's exit gates (no turnstiles, surprisingly). The clock seems to indicate that it is 2:20, but boy-oh-boy, was this an off day or what? The only people we see are a few shadowy souls to the left. Judging from that gray sky, this must have been during the winter, and there were definitely slow days in the 1950s that had an attendance of under 4,000. Since there are no posters in front of the Mickey flower portrait, we can date this photo to before June of 1956 (thanks to Lou and Sue).

You can see the blacklight used to read hand stamps, right next to that empty stool. Even the little information/souvenir booth appears to be completely empty - no guidebooks or Keppy Kaps to be had there.

From a different lot (but also from the '50s) comes this beautiful (POSTCARD WORTHY) photo of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, jolly red and white sails unfurled against a picturesque blue sky. What a contrast to the gloomy atmosphere of the first image. 

It's fun to take a closer look at the guests, including a Cub Scout troop (moderately squirmy). There are four girls (one with bright red pants), it looks like big sis is in charge of the other three. Meanwhile a patient father carries his weary baby on his shoulder. 


Chuck said...

The Turnstile attraction must have been down for annual maintenance. Most expensive attraction in the Park - it cost as much as a Disneyland admission ticket to experience it. Must have been a lot of disappointed guests that day.

Looks like there's a line to get up to the helmsman's wheel on the Jolly Roger.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Andrew said...

Geez, that first picture looks like a dream. You're at 1955 Disneyland, and you have the whole park to yourself. It looks like the train platform may be empty too.

If there's a line, maybe the ship would've been popular enough for an A coupon.

It looks like the Cub Scouts found a perfect spot for their Raingutter Regatta.

See 'ya later, I'm going to make a break for it through the exit and see if I get caught.

Stu29573 said...

Ok, the first picture is creepy. I've long said Disney parks need people to have the right amount of energy. I went to The Magic Kingdome a couple of decades ago when it was pretty abandoned, and it did NOT feel right! I'll avoid the Twilight Zone "Where Is Everybody?" observations (which was the first episode, but I digress)
The second shot makes up for it, though! The tuna boat deftly sailing through the concrete jungle of Fantasyland! That Cub Scout troop was taken captive and forced to mop the place nonstop. Much later, they were models for Pirates of the Caribbean. Time had taken its toll.

Bu said...

I’m wondering if this could have been a “closed” day given no real control over the main gate- and a few uninterested rando’s hanging about. If the population number got sharper you might be able to get clearer on dating- I did some editing and it looks like 5,200,000. Not sure how often they repainted this sign. I’m loving the chain link fence, the uncut lawn, etc. People get so crazy these days when they say “Walt would never allow this or that or whatever.” I think it all looks great- when things get so “Mary Poppins Perfect” they lose a bit of character...just my opinion. I’m not sure if you see cub scouts, Boy Scouts, brownies, etc. in uniform in groups anymore. I’m sure the leader gave the speech “you are representing the scouts so you have to behave politely!” In my time you would see gaggles of these groups everywhere, and the marines, sailors, al. The landscape has changed. Happy “day one” today Disneyland.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget - In the early days, the park was closed Monday and Tuesday during the off-seasons. A photo like this would be an easy one back then.

JC Shannon said...

Oh boy, the Cub Scouts bring back some great memories. I went all the way to Webelo. My mom was a Den Mother and back in 1963, we got all the girls in Colfax Ave School. I don't remember if we ever went to Disneyland though. I still have my hat and it hangs on my Red Ryder rifle rack. The photo of the Pirate Ship is a gem. I always preferred the full sail rigging, Happy Friday to all and thanks to Major for making my morning once again.

DrGoat said...

That first pic has a nice tone, but the nothingness behind the station is rather offsetting. Looks like a replica Disneyland built in the Twilight Zone. The last two do make up for it Stu.
Thanks Major

Nanook said...

It sure would appear to be a Monday or Tuesday when the park would be closed in the off-season, but then why would the chain link gates be flung open-? On the other hand, if the Park is open, how come the booth is devoid of all merchandise and the UV light seems partially stowed-away-? (Maybe it is the "Twilight Zone").

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, they had to close the Turnstiles for a few weeks to make them less frightening. Before that, guests had to avoid a series of large, swinging blades. With 20/20 hindsight, Walt realized that those might have been a bad idea. And yes, you are right, there really is a line to man the helm of the Pirate Ship!

Andrew, it sure would be interesting to go to the park when it that empty. Not necessarily the most fun, but I’d still like to experience it! They should have made the Pirate Ship rock and sway as if it was on heavy seas all the time (sort of an early simulator thing). Maybe sales of tuna sandwiches would plummet though.

Stu29573, I agree with you, a certain amount of other guests helps a lot with the energy and appeal of the rest of the park. We might not even be conscious of the movement and sound that they bring. It’s hard to imagine the Magic Kingdom being so empty, was it right around a hurricane?? I’ll bet those Cub Scouts made great swabbies. Pretty soon they would be given cutlasses and flintlocks to repel boarders.

Bu, I considered that the park might have been closed that day; it also might have been first thing in the morning, or even before the park opened. I’ve always wondered, on “closed” days, could guests enter the parking lot? Or did they put sawhorses in the way? I do think the “population” sign reads, “5,000,000”, but I also don’t think that it was very accurate. It seems like it was only changed for significant numbers. Boy Scouts and Brownie troops probably can’t afford to go to the park en masse anymore!

Anon (Bu again?), it’s true, the park was often closed on Monday and Tuesday, but why would they have that exit gate open at all? There could be a logical reason, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface of it

Jonathan, I still don’t know what a “Webelo” is. An animal? Is it an Indian word? If only there was some large, easily-accessible database from which to look things like that up. Fun that you still have your Cub Scout (or Webelo) hat; tell the truth, you put it on sometimes just for the heck of it. Happy Friday!

DrGoat, yes, if I had to choose which day to go to the park (if my time machine could only take me to one of them) I think I’d choose the beautiful blue skies and bustling crowds of photo #2. Although… imagine walking around Disneyland, early 1956, with a camera and tons of rolls of color slide film!

Nanook, yes, I wondered about those open gates too. I think it might just be very early, possibly before the park actually opened. No need to man the exit gate quite yet!

Grant said...

I'm going with the Park-is-closed theory. The gate would have been open for workers. Although I have been there on open days that looked pretty close to that pic. When the kids were little we would take the day off from school/work and go on a cold, cloudy February week day. I never minded a deserted Disneyland. It was a treat since so many days there were spent battling crowds.

The cub scouts brought back memories for me too. (I only made it as far as the Wolf badge but still had fun.) Our pack went to Disneyland once. I remember the den mother being only partially successful keeping us from wandering off. Kinda like herding cats. :P

JG said...

I’m thinking photo 1 is taken on a closed day due to the lack of merch. If it were early on an open day there would still be goods out to buy.

Photo 2 is definitely postcard worthy. Taking a Cub troop to the Park requires more courage than I can muster now. I like the idea of having them swab decks & sharpen cutlasses.

Major, Webelo’s was a rank introduced for 10 y.o. Boys to assist the transition into “regular” scouting, at that age many boys dropped out & did not bridge to a Boy Scout troop. Name stands for We’ll Be Loyal Scouts. There were minor uniform changes and a different achievement program. At the end, successful boys earn the Arrow of Light award which is the highest award in Cubs.

Like Jonathan, that was as far as I got, until I could become an adult leader in BSA 30 years later. I have my old Cub neckerchief slide but all the rest is gone.


Anonymous said...

My vote is also that the Park was closed. The lack of vendors, like balloons, just strikes my memories of being consistent with those days. Loved the mention of a lineup to steer the old Tuna Boat. Because, yes, there were times that a line would form. I can tell you it was a great view from the helm overlooking all of Fantasyland. I was "King of the World"...or so it seemed. And yes, the old hand stamp. Even if we weren't to return, the folks and I always got our hand stamped as a free souvenir. It would take a few days before it wore off...I'd never wash my hands.KS

"Lou and Sue" said...

LOVE the Pirate Ship photo! Not only would it make a great postcard, but I can picture it used for a 500-piece Disneyland puzzle.

Thanks, Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it is very possible, I don’t feel strongly enough about my theory to argue! And the lack of merchandise is definitely a good clue that they were not expecting guests. I can’t imagine herding a bunch of squirrelly boys that age, hopefully there was at least two Scoutmasters. Thank you for the info on the Webelos, I thought for sure it was an Indian word. Oh well. I’ll bet there are millions of neckerchief slides in drawers and attics all over the country - the part that every boy saved.

KS, you and JG both make good points. You’d think that if the park was going to open, even in an hour, it would look basically ready to go. It’s possible that things weren’t as efficient in early 1956, but… I doubt it. I’m going with the “closed” theory. Now I really do wonder, could guests just drive into the parking lot, even with the park not open? Seems kind of mean. Welcome to our parking lot - now go away! I’m sure that being up at the helm felt like you were WAY up there - I wish I’d experienced it for myself. And I used to always try to make my glowing hand stamps last, whether from Disneyland or Knott’s!

Lou and Sue, I agree, it really would make a good puzzle. I’ll bet there are places that would make one for you with your own photo!

Bu said...

Re: entering the parking lot when the park was closed: my fading memory tells me that even though the park was closed the news stand outside the gate was open for business. I think a ticket booth was open too to sell "in advance tickets". I was only working for a short time during those M-Tues closed time, but I DO remember it was possible to drive into the parking lot...and cones would corral you to parking lot exits. There wasn't anyone at the gate- it was just drive through as you wish. They might have possibly done this so that cars arriving on Harbor Blvd would not need to flip a U-ee and go out the filter people into the Disneyland Hotel lot to shop UNOCO shops or drink/eat/etc. The Katella gate was rarely open- only during crazy attendance days (what I remember anyway.) Being closed was awesome as maintenance could be completed- ripping up streets and such- during the day rather by dark of night. I don't know how they do major work without putting up some hideous construction wall now!


I too was going to vote that it’s a closed day ....but if it really is 2:20 in the afternoon it’s possible it’s just a brief MOMENT where no quantity of guests are in the entry , and a train has just pulled out if the station clearing out all the guests from the platform. At 2:20 it’s possible employees were not staffed at the booth ... the majority of the day’s guests ate already dispersed inside the park , and maybe employees will be staffed again for exiting guests .

Also you do all see there are four people to the right of the exit? Two along the fence , and two in the tunnel.

Also even in severely crowded modern times I have taken many photographs where you get a wide expansive shot..... and get that quick moment with NO people in it making the area look completely empty...... in reality hundred of employees and guests were just out of view.....even for just that nano-second.


Correction : four people to the LEFT of the exit.

Andrew said...

Major, your idea for the ship sounds just like Noah's Ark at Kennywood, a sentimental favorite of mine.

Chuck said...

The word "Webelos" was originally derived from the first letters of the Cub Scout ranks, showing a progression to Boy Scout:

W - Wolf
B - Bear
L - Lion
S - Scout

Then they added vowels so you could pronounce it and then added the other "secret meaning" of "we'll be loyal Scouts." What's now the Arrow of Light was originally known as the Webelos Award until I think 1967, when they introduced the Webelos program and discontinued the Lion rank. The current Webelos Award between Bear and the Arrow of Light was introduced in the mid-'70s (sorry to not be more precise, but this is off the top of my head because my wife wants to eat and I'm cooking).

Surprised nobody has commented yet on what major California theme park re-opened for business today.

Major Pepperidge said...

Bu, that makes sense, I could see how they might let cars come through, though it does seem like some people might not realize that the park itself was closed until they got up to right in front of the station. Unless there were clear signs along the way, which there very well might have been. I agree about the closed days allowing maintenance to be done with little inconvenience to guests - and you have probably seen photos from recent years, when they DO have to have construction walls in the most awkward places sometimes.

Mike Cozart, I know what you mean about taking a photo at just the right moment… but I still get the feeling that the park was closed. It’s that souvenir booth that has no goodies that really sells it. Even if the photographer did happen to snap a frame when there were no people around, there would still be stacks of Keppy Kaps, souvenir guidebooks, maps, postcards, and other treasures.

Mike Cozart, I do that all the time! (say right when I mean left, and vice-versa).

Andrew, now that you mention it, I guess I did sort of steal an idea that is not exactly new! I love that Noah’s Ark, I’ve seen examples on postcards that are easily 100 years old.

Chuck, I’m sort of surprised that the Scouts didn’t acknowledge vampires, but hey, nobody asked my opinion. Even though it’s the best opinion! “The Arrow of Light” sounds quasi-religious. Maybe it is just that! Thank you for the information about Webelos. What did you make for dinner? Pulled pork with potato salad? Tortellini in a vodka cream sauce with asparagus? Ketchup in water to make tomato soup? And I had no idea that Legoland reopened today!

Nanook said...

Actually, it was Marineland of the Pacific that re-opened today. It was a REALLY Big Deal-!!

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, even with the Park closed, the Parking Lot gates were open for visitors to stop to make a few purchases, get assistance and have questions answered. A sort of "Wallyworld" moment. KS

"Lou and Sue" said...

KS, I never knew that entrance was open on the days Disneyland was closed. That would sure be a less-stressful day for the cast member working the souvenir booth. Thanks for sharing that info!