Thursday, June 17, 2021

Disneyland's 30th Cars, plus Tomorrowland 1984

I have a nice bunch of photos for you today, courtesy of Lou Perry and Sue B.! They are from two different lots. 

I've been wanting to share these first three, from Disneyland's 30th Anniversary celebration (taken in March of 1985), where guests had the chance to win a number of different brand-new General Motors automobiles via the "Gift-Giver Extraordinaire". Every 30,000th guest could win a Chevrolet or Pontiac. Pretty sweet!

The cars got better as your odds of winning decreased - this Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera could have been yours if you were guest #300,000 (not sure when they started counting. January 1st? July 17th?). I'd prefer the Buick, thank you very much.

Here was the big deal - you could carry a Cadillac Sedan de Ville home in your pocket if you were the three-millionth guest. Just my luck, I was guest number 299,999,999. Some five year-old kid got to drive this baby home!

These next four are from October 5, 1984, and feature good old Tomorrowland. Some of the original gray Subs bask in the warm sunlight, with their hatches open to allow those little birds inside to clean them. Just like in the real Navy. 

Soon, when the moon is full, these Subs will find their way to a remote sandy beach where they will lay their eggs. David Attenborough told me all about it.

Ah, the Rocket Jets, I miss that ride more than I should, since it was just a spinny thing after all. But the theming was so great, and its placement took you to the third level, which felt surprisingly high up. 

And everybody with a heart loves the plucky Peoplemover. It never stopped! Except when it did. Those lucky passengers know that they will have good luck for the rest of the month because they managed to ride the tomato-red Peoplemover.

 THANKS so much to Lou and Sue!!


K. Martinez said...

Lordy! That PeopleMover pic is a real beauty. Why the heck didn't Disneyland keep it? Aesthetically the PeopleMover vehicles are so pleasing to the eye.

The pics are always fun and enjoyable when they come from Lou and Sue. Thank you!

Thank you too, Major.

Chuck said...

Love that beautiful, haze grey wolfpack, waiting to wreak havoc on enemy shipping. My theory? This is where the submarine that tried to torpedo Glamor Trams at Universal Studios was home-ported.

Man, GM cars of that era were kind of...blah. Boxy. Uninspired. The same. But still - free is good. And I would not turn down a brand-new free car.,,at least, as long as I didn"t have to lug it around Disneyland all day. Maybe they"d let me drop it off at Package Pickup; there"s no way it's going to fit in a locker.

That PeopleMover picture makes my heart happy and ache at the same time.

Thanks again, Lou & Sue!

Chuck said...

Forgot to mention - as a kid I thought those life rings at the sub dock were purely decorative, a really cool way to keep the theming going. As an adult, I understand that not only are they very functional, they are required by law. Too bad the same legal stipulations didn't extend to the PeopleMover; it should have been required by law, too.

Anonymous said...

Ah, 1980's cars. BLECH! It always seemed to me that those cars looked like what little kids would draw. Just boxes with wheels. Of course, in a few decades after fuel effeciency laws kicked in everything looks like a patially sucked on cough drop. Not really better, says I.
The sub shots are glorious! Crisp and perfectly exposed. Lou is a master!
I would point out that WDW still has it's futuristic spinny thing and People Mover, but that would be mean. (but it does).

zach said...

Agreed, The PeopleMover is a keeper. I even glimpse (which has more letters than it needs) an Autopia car careening around a corner.

The garbage can on the Monorail platform, above the subs, looks like a missile silo. Great subtle theming!

I remember, every time I got on the Rocket Jets I became somewhat nervous being so high up and going so fast.

Thanks Major and Lou and Sue!


DrGoat said...

I'll throw in my hat for the PeopleMover pic. Like nothing else, certainly not like the first 3 pics of, like stu said, boxes with wheels. And partially sucked cough drop pretty much says it. Says you, say I.
I half expected on the 4th pic to say "if you are the six-millionth guest, you get this submarine".
Lou's photos are always the tops. Can't get much better. Thanks Lou and Sue!
Thanks Major. Today's post is very enjoyable. I remember really liking the Rocket Jets a lot way back when. The theming did suck me in as a kid and Junior Space Cadet in good standing.

Melissa said...

The red Peoplemover cats look like a column of ladybugs.

DrGoat said...

I have one good friend left that I met in the 60s, and our favorite movie is Treasure Island. The old one with Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper, 1934. We watch it together a couple of times a year. Our conversations anytime else are sprinkled with "says I, says you" or visa versa. There are so many good lines in that movie...quite entertaining. Not to knock Disney's version with Robert newton. Wiki says "the film that became the standard for screen portrayals of historical pirates". Not so, says I. Wallace Beery did it 16 years before. Arguably.

Nanook said...

@ Stu29573-

Your observations on the design of American cars of the 1980's (and beyond) sums it up perfectly.

@ Melissa-
Another winner.

The angle of the Rocket Jets image obscures any references to the fact the "ground level" of the attraction is anything but-!

Thanks again to Lou & Sue.

JC Shannon said...

Lou hits in to the bleachers again. I agree with Chuck and Stu, the cars of the 80s and the music...boring. I, like most Disneyland lovers, miss the Peoplemover. It was forward thinking, innovative and a great place to relax and take a load off. So naturally it had to go. And how bout those Rocket Rods? Meh. At least we still have the Subs. Thanks to Lou and Sue and Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I went there when the GM cars were parked out front. I wanted a Buick Grand National soooo bad I just stood and stared. Still today when I see one at a car show I always think of that day.

Awesome peoplemover photo! Thanks for posting.

dennis said...

"Soon, when the moon is full.." might be the best line I've ever read on this blog.
Dennis, Levittown, NY

JG said...

Dad had a 1984 Oldsmobile, it was the last car they bought. Horrible looking, and even more horrible mechanically. I had a terrible time keeping it running for Mom in the last few years before age kept her from driving, if she had still been able to drive, I would have dumped it for a doodlebug import.

At the time, I drove a Subaru (for the all-wheel drive in the snow) and a Toyota, and there was no comparison in mechanical performance between the Olds and the imports. If I had won one of those, I would have driven it straight to the Toyota or Subaru dealer and traded it in for a good car. I've had one GM car in the ensuing 37 years and regretted it too.

Lou's photos always are crowd-pleasers, these are no exception. Like Zach, the Rocket Jets were fairly terrifying to me, even then when I had a head for heights. Impossible for me now . And the PeopleMover, just the best. I envy those folks their slow tour of Tomorrowland in a train all by themselves. Major, do you have a map of those beaches where the baby submarines hatch?

Thank you Sue and Major!


Bu said...

Oh the memories of the GM Exhibit! We had I think 30+ cars out there...with the 4 being the giveaway cars for the "Guest Grabber Extrodinaire!" Yes, boxy and ugly! Guests were crazed with contest fever. People camped out! GM however was very proud of their offerings- and some of the other models of the day- like the 1984-5 Corvette was super cool and super awesome to drive around the parking lot and backstage (shhhh...) At first the doors to all vehicles were open for guests to play around with the car, we would even start them up to hear, or for the guys...stand there and stare with the hood up on a running motor. That didn't last long after anything that wasn't nailed down on a car was being stolen. The exhibit continued after the giveaway ended. GM sponsored the exhibit in its entirety- it was interesting to see the approval process of costuming, marketing, etc. etc. Disneyland does not lose when it comes to sponsors. Those invoices were mind blowing. Love the pics of the Subs...can smell the chlorine- that water was aways so clean and clear without a single leaf in it. . Must have been early in the day for these pics...subs had no line...Peoplemover: empty cars...there are a couple of empty rockets too. The 14K days were blissful and wonderful to work in, but be prepared to be told 4 hours into your shift that you were being sent home- or worse, driving in, getting dressed, showing up and being given 2 hour report pay. Those days are possibly over now with impending crowds. Was hard to make a living back then as a "Casual" I suppose as a kid you aren't really in it too much for the $$. Thanks Lou and Sue!!

Grant said...

All great pics this morning. Thanks Sue (and Major)!!

Oh those mid 80s cars. That was the time I changed from the boating to automotive industries. American auto makers were churning out some boring design vehicles.

The subs were one of my favorite rides, especially when they had live mermaids.

The People Mover, meh. I know it was one of the most popular rides but to me it was the beginning of the end of the REAL Tomorrowland. But then I AM old and in the way ;) (It's still a beautiful photo. :)

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I agree that the Peoplemover photo is particularly nice, and it’s amazing to me to see THREE empty cars. But that ride was a people-eater, as we know. Also, maybe October was an “off time” back then?

Chuck, “haze grey”, I assume that’s the official color of US nuclear subs? Why not “Highland Heather”? “London Fog”? Come on, Navy! I can’t get that excited about the look of those GM cars, but I agree, when you put “free” in front of it, that changes everything. Strangely, I think that boxy look was equated with “luxury” at that time. The cars are big, if nothing else!

Chuck, I don’t think that the Peoplemover (or is it really PeopleMover??) needed life rings!

Stu29573, my grandma had a Buick from the mid-1980s that looked very much like one of these examples. Beige, so… double yuck. I gotta say though… that thing was smooth-running, and comfortable, for all of its lack of good looks. I never really thought about it… but WDW didn’t switch over to an “Orbitron”-style spinny ride for their Tomorrowland?

zach, I do love the fleeting glimpse of the Autopia car! Not only does the garbage can look like a missile silo, it looks like a regular silo. That nervousness you felt on the Rocket Jets is precisely what made it so great!

DrGoat, I think that the very uniform look of so many makes and models of automobiles these days is why I get so excited when I see a beautiful car from the ‘50s or ‘60s. I’ve said it many times, but if I won the lottery, I’d rather have a fleet of vintage cars than a bunch of “supercars”. I don’t know if you remember, or if it was just me, but when riding the Rocket Jets, the load platform seemed to disappear, and all I was aware of was the ground three levels below. It was exhilarating!

Melissa, those ladybugs are up to something, and I’m not sure I like it.

DrGoat, I have never seen that old version of “Treasure Island”, but I love the original story - it’s the perfect “boy’s book” (though I’m sure many girls liked it too!). I can’t remember if the “says I, says you” was in the book. I had high hopes for “Treasure Planet”, how could it fail? But it was a disappointment, despite having some good moments.

Nanook, it’s true, if one didn’t already know, one might assume that the Rocket Jets were merely soaring 10 feet (or so) above the ground.

Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, I’m sure there must have been at least a few good-looking U.S. cars from the ‘80s, but I couldn’t tell you what they were. And while I agree, that most Disneyland lovers miss the Peoplemover, I’ve seen young folks who never experienced them saying that they looked “boring” and they don’t understand why people miss them. I guess ya had to be there.

Alonzo, I’m sure you were not alone in your dream of owning that car - especially after seeing one so shiny and brand-new!

dennis, I watch too many nature shows!

JG, my dad like Oldsmobiles too; I think the last one he had was from the 1990s, and I think it was a pretty nice car, if I am remembering correctly. My dad was at that age where he wanted something roomy, and heavy, with good AC and a good stereo. It’s such a shame that GM cars went through such a slump, they just assumed that people would buy them no matter how many corners they cut while making them. And then Japan came along and built cute cars that were surprisingly good in quality. How could consumers resist? I got a Honda that I loved, while my brother got a Volkswagen Jetta, which he lived to regret. That thing was a real piece of junk, sadly. I can’t reveal the location of the baby submarines, too many people would go there and take them as pets!

Bu, 30 cars? Really? That’s a lot! I didn’t think they even gave that many away in total. I definitely remember the Gift Giver Extraordinaire, and have read about the ways that people would try to game the system, waiting until a guest had passed through so that they could be the next guest at a key number. Hey, all’s fair. Wow, that stinks that people stole stuff off of the display cars. I love those Submarine photos too - remember, it was October, so it’s possible that in 1984 the crowds might have been light. Oh man, I would hate showing up to work, only to be told I wasn’t needed! Hey man, that’s THEIR problem!

Grant, it’s funny to go to places like Art Center School of Design, and seeing all of the creative and wonderful ideas that those students have, only for them to move on to careers that demand that they design the most boring cars ever. I wouldn’t even mind that if they were mechanically sound, but often we don’t even get that. The Peoplemover meant “the beginning of the end of the REAL Tomorrowland”?? I’m shocked!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to keep a weather eye out for it, says I...

Anonymous said...

Major, WDW kept their rockets, but did install "planets" spinning around them. Very impressive ride at night! You still ride up the gantry elevator to load. The last time I rode them, I noticed the rockets were smaller and harder to fit into ;-). That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Hahahaha! Love the funny comments, and thank you for the kind words - which I'll share with my dad on Father's Day. You'll make his day extra special!

In the 3rd photo, I'd rather win "PUSH." He'd be easier to get home, is adorable and probably worth a WHOLE LOT MORE today than that old Caddy is worth today. (He seems to be standing back there, pouting and dejected. Poor thing.) Hey, Mike, do you own a PUSH? I bet you do!

Zach, the Rocket Jets made me nervous, too. But I did enjoy them!

Speaking of 1980s cars:
We bought a new '87 Camaro. Great looking car, IMO. Biggest piece of junk we ever owned. After a year or so, the engine wouldn't run right...even the GM mechanics couldn't get it to run right. T-tops ALWAYS leaked (great fun going to work with a wet bottom, when it rained). Paint completely peeled off the hood, after a short time.
Best car I ever owned: 2000 Toyota Camry. Kept it 19 years and passed it on to dear friends who needed a car. It's still running nicely and looks great, believe it or not.
Bu, this is for you (after reading your comment):
We bought a 1985 Corvette used, in the '90s, for a good price. It had been repainted in a cool teal color. Probably my all-time favorite car that I ever owned.
Now, I drive a boring black cough drop. It looks like every other car in the parking lot and, yes, I've gone to the wrong car MANY TIMES. It's sad when you have to look at your license plate to see which car is yours. Boring.

Since the PeopleMover's empty, I think we should all head over there NOW and ride together. We can squeeze in. And, Grant, I think you'll change your mind about the PeopleMover after riding together with us! Melissa, will you do the narration for us?? And Major can spit-out nature facts for us...

Grant said...

Major, The Peoplemover meant “the beginning of the end of the REAL Tomorrowland”?? I’m shocked!

Major, yeah, my age is showing. Anything after '66 is "too new" for me. As I said... old and in the way... I'll show myself out. ;)

Lou and Sue, I'm with you on the Toyota Camry. We have a 1998 that's in near mint condition and still going strong.

I'll happily accept a ride with you, Melissa and the rest of the gang. That would be so much fun it would become my favorite ride!

"Lou and Sue" said...

^ ...I should explain better: The leaking T-tops (in my Camaro) allowed water to drip into the car, ON my cloth seat. My seat would become a soaking wet sponge. Ugh.

Grant, BTW, my dad said "they" ruined Tomorrowland in 1958 (end of 1958 - when they stopped the Viewliner).

One more thing, Grant: KEEP that Camry! Or maybe I'll buy it off of you.

Chuck said...

Major, I botched the punchline. I was trying to say that the PeopleMover itself should have been required by law. And yes - the "m" is capitalized.

"Haze gray" is the paint color used to paint U.S. Navy ships above the waterline. It's no longer used to paint submarines (ironically, most U.S. submarines were painted black by the time the Submarine Voyage opened in 1959).

Stu, isn't it weird how everything seems to shrink in the Florida heat?

Major Pepperidge said...

Stu29573, oh man. I’m jealous; I would be much happier if our rockets were still up high; I’m sort of in the middle on the Orbitron look. Darn those shrinking rockets!

Lou and Sue, I hope Lou knows that he has lots of fans out there. I know nothing about cars, but I’d think that a Cadillac of any vintage would be worth a pretty penny assuming it wasn’t a wreck. I think if I could own a Disneyland trash can, it would either be one of the Tiki Room variety, or a Fantasyland trash can. Wow, too bad about your Camaro, I always thought that those things were cool. The paint peeling off the hood - sometimes I will see cars like that and wonder how it happened. I used to have a car that I parked on the street for years, and the paint never peeled. My brother drives a newer Camry and loves it, and suggests that if I ever get rid of my current car that should look into the Toyota line. Why did you get rid of your teal Corvette?? I have a boring silver cough drop, but… it’s been such a faithful, good car that I can’t be mad at it. I was so surprised that Grant didn’t love the Peoplemover, especially since Walt himself saw transportation as a modern problem that needed solving. And Bob Gurr was so instrumental in its design.

Grant, so if you don’t like anything from the “New Tomorrowland”, you weren’t a fan of “Adventure Thru Inner Space”, “Carousel of Progress”, the Rocket Jets, or “Flight to the Moon”? Well, I have to hand it to you, you are hard core.

Lou and Sue, ha ha, I figured you meant that it was the leaky roof that resulted in a wet seat! And come on Lou! Sure they got rid of the Viewliner, but we got the Matterhorn on its beautiful beamway up in the sky!

Chuck, I guess I’ve been spelling “PeopleMover” incorrectly my whole life. I’m not sure if I will be able to bear the shame. (Thinks for a second)… I’m OK now! And of course I knew what you meant about the life rings and the PeopleMover, but you lobbed one over the net for me, I had to smash it!


The only way Disney was able to copyright “Peoplemover” was by spelling it “PeopleMover” - with the capitol “M” in the middle. As most of you know I collect vintage Tomorrowland stuff and the hallmark of that collection is the PeopleMover - I even have a real PeopleMover car. I
I interestingly have a grouping of office memos and letters and legal letters from the early 70’s of Walt Disney Productions trying to find ways they can copyright the word The PEOPLEMOVER . After back and forth from WED , Disneyland and company legal the final memo says to notify all divisions of the company that whenever the attraction is mentioned in any writings or publications it is to be “ The PeopleMover” or “PeopleMover” . Nothing is ever mentioned regarding the term WEDWAY PEOPLEMOVER - which is also copyrighted.

When the Disneyland PeopleMover was being developed goodyear was already working on a people moving system in the 1950’s called the Goodyear Rubber Railroad and also called The Goodyear Peoplemover.... thus was long before a Disneyland or a Disney PeopleMover ....I think all the publicity of this system in the past is what directed Disney to approach Goodyear in the mid 1960’s.

Anyway , WED had planned on developing some kind of catching name and eventually it was going to be just called THE WEDWAY . However for so long imagineers has been calling it “PeopleMover” snd that was the name that stuck.

Remember that capitol “M” in the middle!