Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Odds and Ends

I've had the pleasure of sharing many photos courtesy of the Dream Team (Irene, Bruce, and James), but I had some odds and ends, and I wasn't sure what to do with them. So I grouped five of them together and will share them today! 

When you pass through Sleeping Beauty Castle, you might not look to your left or right; but there are nice murals depicting scenes from the 1959 animated classic, "Sleeping Beauty". There's Prince Phillip, battling Maleficent in her dragon form (one of the coolest scenes in animation!). I can only assume that these murals were not there until right around the time the movie came out. I wonder if any of the famous Disney artists (John Hench, for instance) painted this?

On the opposite wall, a second mural portrays the movie's happy ending, with the prince giving Aurora "true love's kiss" to awaken her from her magical slumber. It's details like this that Disneyland fans enjoy so much.

The next three photos are from the Big Thunder Ranch area. I love a good ranch. The tumbleweeds, the prairie dogs, the creamy salad dressing. Here's a nice photo of the entrance to the Big Thunder Barbecue, an outdoor table-service restaurant that was super popular with park-goers. Who doesn't like barbecued ribs, chicken, sausages, baked beans, cornbread, coleslaw, and all that other good stuff?

The Big Thunder BBQ closed forever in January of 2016 for "Galaxy's Edge" construction.

I don't remember this little ODV cart at all. The menu is fairly minimal, a small selection of beverages, and a cookie. Something is written on little blackboards, so maybe you could get a turkey leg or a hot dog here as well. If you remember this place, I'd love more information about it.

Here's a sign direction guests to the Big Thunder Trail, a shortcut that connects Frontierland to Fantasyland. I'm wondering if the "rock" that we see here was formerly part of "Nature's Wonderland"? The trail closed during Galaxy's Edge construction, but reopened in 2017 with revamped rock work.

THANKS as always to the Dream Team!


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, the mural of Prince Phillip battling the dragon, and the one depicting his non-consensual kiss with Aurora, were both added decades after the Castle was built. If I had to guess the time period, I would say they were added during a major Castle renovation in the nineties.

Thank you for these pics, Dream Team and Major!

Melissa said...

The rock in #5 resembles a giant Snickers bar standing on its end. (Gives me an idea for a scale model of Stonehenge.)

The Sleeping Beauty murals aren’t as spectacular or as flashy as the Cinderella mosaics in Cinderella Castle, but they’re absolutely charming.

Speaking of charming, I remember reading a fan fiction story a while back, in which the Prince can only identify Cinderella by her shoe size because he has severe Prosopagnosia (face blindness). People call him Prince Charming because he has to be extra super nice to everybody so as not to say the wrong thing to the wrong person and start a war.

Speaking of super nice people, thanks to the Dream Team for sharing these special pictures and to Coach Pepperidge for making it possible.

Chuck said...

Big Thunder Barbecue was one of our favorite respites from the crowd and I think our favorite "after dark" eatery. It was relatively quiet, away from the crowds, and always managed to evoke the feeling of being at the Triple R Ranch out of Spin and Marty even though it really didn't copy anything from it. The food was decent, too. And heck - they had me at "campfire."

I think that food cart may have been repurposed as a McDonald's French fry stand during their 10-year "strategic partnership" with Disney. Or maybe it was re-used as a gypsy wagon during the tenure of the Hunchback-themed "Festival of Foods." I'm not really sure since I detested and avoided both during my single visits in 1997-98.

I think that column in your last photo was a Fantasyland-themed feature added with the construction of Big Thunder Trail rather than a relic of Nature's Wonderland, although there were "rocks" in that area that were repurposed from/the earlier attraction. When I saw the concept art for Wookiee World, I had hoped that they were going to save those rocks, but after looking at construction photos I don't believe they were.

TM!, your comment makes me think about the jackasses who sue people for performing CPR on them and saving their lives.

Andrew said...

There's another pillar on the other side of the pathway like the one in the last picture, and they connect to a gate that shields a backstage road.

Thanks, Dream Team!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, you are right. That "Trail" signage was in Fantasyland. It was right next to the Pinocchio themed bathrooms.

The rocks that we can see in the background of that same pic, were added when Big Thunder was built. However further down along that trail, and at the entrance to the Big Thunder Ranch, there were some rockwork remnants from Nature's Wonderland. These were left standing, even after everything around them was demolished for Wookie World. They can be seen in many construction/demolition photos, which were taken from the Mickey & Friends parking structure. I remember being happy to see that they were still standing and that they were being saved. Then one day, they too were gone. I never heard the story as to why they were carefully left in place, while everything else was demolished, only to later go back at a later date and demolish them, as well. I wonder if it was in the original plans to save them, and then somebody changed their mind? Maybe Mike Cozart knows the story?

As for my comment about Prince Phillip's kiss, I was being sarcastic (which I think you picked up on that fact). I saw a headline a few days after Disneyland re-opened, stating that there was a "Backlash From Guests" over the new Snow White attraction and the scene involving the Prince's "Non-consensual Kiss." After reading just that headline, I decided NOT to click on it for the full story. Sometimes a headline is all you need, if you know what I mean. I was not going to give whoever wrote that story "a click."

Here is a 1983 photo of that concrete post/pillar, taken (by my dad) from a little further back:

Big Thunder Trail To Frontierland

JC Shannon said...

I like these, they are unusual and you don't see em every day. Green spaces, far from the madding crowd, are rare these days at Disneyland. Let's see, Big Thud or the Mine Train? BBQ, or blue milk? Hmm, I guess I prefer the frontier with Daniel Boone to being harassed by Storm Troopers. Now I want ribs and cornbread. Thanks to the Dream Team and Major.

Melissa said...

"always managed to evoke the feeling of being at the Triple R Ranch out of Spin and Marty even though it really didn't copy anything from it."

Yippee-yay, yippee-yi, yippee-yo!


I think there were some early intentions on trying to save the old Living Desert rockwork and maybe have them as a added buffer between the Star Wars area, but that was all being said before there was a real complete concept for GALAXYS EDGE. I know Tony Baxter spoke to D23 groups and said that some of the rock canyons of Tatooine are very similar to those formations standing from Naturre’s Wonderland ..... obviously there was no Tatooine theming one the area as built. Whether that was just sugar coated talk for D23 or at one time that was actually a plan I do not know. The whole project was pretty rushed and when Disneyland made the announcement very little had been decided on. The “wind-swept “ Canyon that WAS built along the guest access to fantasyland behind Big Thunder was built too low so that many larger maintainence vehicles ( and fire trucks) cannot pass thru and have to take other routes.

I look over some stuff I have on Big Thunder Ranch and can find nothing regarding that smaller snack cart. I have the menu guides and price increases from 1985 thru 1990 ( they even include special Blast To The Past Ranch menus) and there is nothing for a smaller wagon/cart.
I know that the McDonalds French Fry Wagon was specially built just for that purpose ..... I have to admit - the way the wagon was themed was brilliant - and I liked the parody of 5 million served ...... “ 127 served”
with the hash line counting marks and things like “ introducing the French Fry “ and “ I will feed you all” when mcDonalds ended it’s sponsor the Wagon didn’t stay around for long ..... they served drinks and light snacks but there was no reason to keep such a large venue with those heavy frying dip ovens and equipment for just beverages. It also clogged the area with guests exiting Big Thunder .

DrGoat said...

Like JC said, It's is nice to see unusual photos that don't usually get taken. Nice pics of the Sleeping Beauty Castle murals. Most people just give them a glance.
I miss Big Thunder BBQ too. It was a great spot to sit and get all messy. That's what all those wipes my wife likes to bring along.
Melissa, I had a Spin and Marty T-shirt, which I got when my Davy Crockett wore out.
Thanks everyone for the info.
Please don't say Wookie World too many times. Once is enough.
Thanks Major and the Dream Team. Great photos.

JG said...

I guess I am one of the few that never thought much of Big Thunder Ranch. I hope I don't sound too cranky.

The first time we visited, it was closed for a "private party". Wow, who can just take over a whole chunk of Disneyland for their kid's birthday party? And the second visit, it was sort of "meh" to us. We lived in a rural area at that time, and the kids were familiar with goats and livestock, so nothing there was all that enticing. Plus, I was upset that they demolished Natures' Wonderland and this was all I got in return?

Major, I do remember that cart in the photo. I think we stopped there for a cold drink for the kids.

Mike Cozart, thanks as always for the back story, especially about the McDonald's cart. That addition to Frontierland really "fried" me (yes that's intentional). We had big issues with the Park's food choices, especially for kids, at that time, and french fries were the straw that broke it. Glad it's gone.

In combination with Fantasmic and Big Thunder Ranch, all this added up to irritate me further. This was the era that we nearly gave up on Disneyland and did not return for a decade, until my nieces wanted to see DCA in 2008.

The story about the rockwork preservation, destruction and reconstruction too small to fit a vehicle is somewhat funny. I never take anything that Tony Baxter says seriously, but I had heard that some of the Ewok Alley railroad underpasses were demolished and re-built. Then I saw the overhanging cliff in a video and wondered, how do they drive through? Now I know. Hope there is an alternate route.

Thanks Tokyo for the follow-up pics. The color shift along that walkway is very well-done, the red rocks blending into the red plaster becoming more beige as you go along.

The SBC murals are very nice, I guess these are added to emulate the WDW versions, even though it is a different story. No harm in that.

Thanks Major and the Dream Team.


Anonymous said...

When the remnants of a treasured attraction you once worked are gone, you know you are old. (sigh) But it also happens when a former family house has been demolished and replaced by someone else. (double sigh). Same thing in a way. KS

Bu said...

JG: Yes, you could rent out Big Thunder Ranch for a Picnic. I was the one selling those events- which actually at that time were a very lucrative endeavor. At the time, BTR was a very discrete "new" location, and as I remember, it was a very easy sell- but mostly to companies- I never sold them to private individuals. It was admission and a BBQ lunch- I think we gave them 2 hours of "privacy"...but there was some stipulations to timing- all a bit of a fog now. Working in Group Sales was an awesome job- I really loved it. Working with Business to Business and not guests was a pleasant change of pace. I was there just temporarily in an office building (very non-descrip-non-Disney- MKC was over there too...) off property- over near Global Van Lines- I had a great corner office overlooking the 5 fwy. I totally forgot about that thanks for posting and jarring my memory! Oh...and "Mickey Moo" and the little animals...back in "guest land", a few of us would wander over there to pet goats and get away from the madness. Very serene.

JG said...

@Bu, thanks for that memory! I'm glad I could help. It's one of the best reasons to read GDB.

I remember the little calf/cow with the Mickey Markings, but it was old hat to my kids with their farm experiences.

@KS, I know that feeling. Tearing down the house I grew up in was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Great pics (thanks Irene and Dream Team) and comments, today! Thanks Major!

I remember Minnie Moo at WDW, years ago. Pretty cool markings.

Tom said...

We don't get to visit Disneyland very often (like once every three years) so in December of 2015, one of my plans was to have dinner at Big Thunder Barbecue so I could at least dine in close proximity to the site of the geysers and cacti that had once populated Nature's Wonderland.

I was dismayed to find out upon marching up to the entrance that it was reservation only (I tend to wing it when it comes to planning), and that they were booked up all the way to closing day. I knew we'd never see it again, so I asked if we could just walk through so I could at least see it for the first and last time.

Lesson learned: plan ahead.

Great pics as usual!

Irene said...

I always love that these photos elicit such great comments - makes me happy.

I do know that Big Thunder Ranch BBQ had an overhaul at some point - some years after these photos were taken. Much more like a restaurant where you put in a reservation and were seated by a host. I did eat there but never ate at the BBQ pictured in these photos - but when I think of it now, I should have. Sorry I didn't. I also remember Bruce telling me that back in their early days and before they moved into the Golden Horseshoe, this is where Billy Hill and the Hillbillies performed. Bruce and his friends were wild about them in this location and they were much looser there than in the Shoe. I never saw them at this spot because my daughter was young and didn't want to sit and watch a show but go go go and go on rides.

Just a quick update on me. I am doing well - sort of. Unfortunately my cancer markers are slowly moving back up. I recently had a Bone Scan and CT Scan but because my last ones were in March of 2020, they looked good. So we have more scans scheduled for August and those will be compared to the recent ones. If there is progression, there are other options available to me including a pill that targets specifically my gene mutation! There are some drawbacks/side effects that don't sound too thrilling, but we soldier on! Right now, I feel pretty dang good (to keep with the Ranch theme).

DrGoat said...

Wishing for the best results from your scans. Hope things go well with the most positive results!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks for the update, Irene!
We’re all rootin’ for you, pardner!


Big Thunder Ranch using a reservation system was only during its later years. The complex was extremely popular with guests. It was nice to sit back in the “ frontier” away from the park’s bigger crowds .... origin sky it was open only during summer and busy periods. But if you wanted to eat there you waited in line . And it was worth it! The food was excellent and you got a lot for the cost . My favorite was the beef ribs. The cornbread was almost like a cake and it’s recipe was the 2nd most asked for by Disney park guests ( The Polynesian Village TONGA TOAST in Walt Disney World was the #1 most requested )

At sunset it was beautiful - the fire ring , the flickering lanterns .... the ranch house and covered wagons lining the one side , the nature’s wonderland “natural arch” on the other side and behind that , the main towering butte of Big Thunder Mountain against a blue, purple or orange sky - depending on the pollutants !

Imagineer Sam McKIM did some of his last concept art for Big Thunder Ranch ( a early Splash Mountain ) before retiring from WED.

Many guests dining at the ranch were very aware that the old mine trains used to travel back there ... you’d hear people talking about from their pic-Nic tables ..... but to me it seems so very long ago ... when in actuality Natures Wonderland has only been gone for about 8 years when the Ranch opened !

And as much as we all loved The Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland .... we have to understand it was going to go away ..... it’s death knell was called for by both Disneyland and WED as early as 1972 ..... Liberty Square , Thunder Mesa , the indoor mine train thru the seasons ( called the SEASONS attraction during Marc Davis development) and other master plans for Disneyland’s Frontierland , Fantasyland all had one common denominator: the removal of nature’s wonderland .


IRENE : positive powerful thoughts being sent your way!! God speed in your healing!

Chuck said...

TM!, I remember watching construction photos, seeing those columns saved, and thinking "oh, that's a nice touch. I'm glad they kept that." And then they were gone.

Mike, your comments about the rushed nature of the Galaxy's Edge project are fascinating. That helps explain the "we're keeping it...we're keeping it...we're keeping it...ah, forget it" process on the last surviving rockwork from Nature's Wonderland.

TM!, thanks for linking that picture. I had forgotten about the wooden gates there that could be used to close off the walkway and allow vehicle access to the backstage area to the west of the castle during times that guests were in the Park.

Irene, thank you for the update. We will continue praying for you.

Chuck said...

Andrew, I'm sorry - I missed your comment and the linked photo. Thanks for providing that and the explanation that I totally missed so I added my own. :-)

Melissa said...

Mike, I bet that’s the same cornbread recipe they use at Fort Wilderness at WDW. Great texture, but super sweet!

Fingers, toes, and internal organs crossed for a good result, Irene.

Major Pepperidge said...

ARGH, another case of mysterious vanishing comments! I thought I replied to everyone hours ago, and yet… here I am retyping them all again. There’s nothing like doing things twice!

TokyoMagic!, thanks for the info about the murals - I could find almost nothing about them online. Every time I Googled, I got info about the mosaic murals in WDW. Amazing that they weren’t added until the 1990s!

Melissa, it DOES look like a giant Snickers bar! And you are right, the mosaics are certainly more impressive, though I am glad that we have those painted murals here. After the walk-thru closed in 2001, they were the only signs that the castle had anything to do with Sleeping Beauty (other than the name of course!). The word of the day is: Prosopagnosia!

Chuck, I know that the Big Thunder Barbecue was very popular with people, I’m sorry I never ate there. And “after dark” sounds especially nice! Can you believe that I’ve never seen an episode of “Spin and Marty”? Maybe there are a few on Disney+. I remember how divisive the McDonald’s Fry Cart was during its tenure - many people despised it, but there were lots of folks who were happy to be able to get their Mickey D fries. Thanks for the info about the stone column… it didn’t really look “Nature’s Wonderlandish”, but you never know - it could have been resurfaced. A shame that there are no little remnants of the old Nature’s Wonderland ride - Easter eggs for us fans of “old Disneyland”.

Andrew, I think it’s amazing that you know Disneyland as well as you do, considering that you have never set foot in it! Impressive.

TokyoMagic!, “Pinocchio themed bathrooms”. A Monstro toilet perhaps? I do remember reading about how those last surviving NW rocks had finally been removed. Like you, I wonder if there had originally been plans to incorporate them into Galaxy’s Edge? I heard that ridiculous story about Prince Charming kissing Snow White against her will. She was DEAD, and his “true love’s kiss” brought her back to life. Something tells me she would have approved! Some people are so dumb. Thanks for the link to the photo taken by your dad! No white ovals necessary.

Jonathan, I realize that it is almost certainly a generational thing, but I am more excited for a Frontierland with a Mine Train and Davy Crockett than I am for a Star Wars land. Clearly I am in the minority!

Melissa, gesundheit!

Mike Cozart, I don’t think I realized that the concepts for Galaxy’s Edge were so tenuous at that late a date. Kind of surprising. I do remember that the development of that land did seem very fast for Disney (maybe not so fast compared to Universal). It would be interesting to see all of the rejected ideas, and, since Imagineering is famous for never throwing anything away, if we’ll see some of those ideas resurfacing in another form or even another “land”. I didn’t have strong feelings about the McDonald’s fry cart, though I admit that it did feel weird to have the golden arches in Disneyland. It would be the same if Burger King was in the park. WHAT? Small children are happy with french fries, maybe that was enough to make their parents happy too.

DrGoat, I guarantee that I didn’t give those murals a glance, because I don’t really remember even noticing them. Typical for me! Your wife is smart to bring those wipes with her - she knows what to expect. I once went on a date at Tony Roma’s (when I was much younger!), and realized what a mistake it was to try to impress a girl while covered in sauce.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it’s OK to be cranky here! I would hate it if any feature of Disneyland was closed because a private party was already there. The idea of anything being off limits to the average guest is crummy. It’s a way of making one feel excluded, or not good/rich enough. But the powers that be can’t resist those upcharges. Don’t forget that Nature’s Wonderland was mostly demolished for Big Thunder (the coaster)! I generally have a pretty low bar for amusement park food, but I want it to at least not make me physically ill. Of course it would be nice if it tasted good too! Disneyland does a pretty good job for the most part, in my opinion. I think that Tony B. had to tread lightly when talking about anything, since he was essentially the face of Disney Imagineering at the time. Now that he’s retired, it feels like he’s a bit more willing to call the park on its BS.

KS, I have definitely experienced that terrible moment when you realize that one of your old homes is gone. I think I’ve mentioned that my grandparent’s house in Encino, a wonderful place full of a lifetime of memories, was torn down so that three houses could be built on the lot. Ouch.

Bu, I have no doubt that renting out Big Thunder Ranch was lucrative, but I still balk at the idea. In the old days companies could rent Holidayland, which was outside the berm. I’m amazed that you loved working in Group Sales. Maybe it would be more fun than I imagine, but it doesn’t sound so great to me! I guess I could see how NOT dealing with guests could be nice, however.

JG, the best thing about Mickey Moo was the name!

Lou and Sue, oh, I didn’t know there was a Minnie Moo too! Now I’m realizing that they originally named a cow “Mickey”.

Tom, I realize that is is not the same, but I once at at Rancho del Zocalo and we could watch the Big Thunder trains as they cycled through them after a brief power outage. It was sort of fun! Disneyland used to be a much more spontaneous place, but they seem to like the WDW model, which involves planning ahead, booking way in advance, and not relying on any last-minute ideas.

Irene, Big Thunder BBQ was yet another park feature that I wish I’d visited. Looking back, I think I just needed to go to the park a LOT more than I did at that point! I think there is a photo in the batch that you gave me with Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, it might show them in the Big Thunder Ranch area. I’m so sorry to hear about your less-than-great cancer numbers, and am sending positive brainwaves in your direction. Stay healthy, we love you!

DrGoat, I couldn’t agree more.

Lou and Sue, ditto!

Mike Cozart, I think Bob Gurr said that he used to like to relax at the Big Thunder Ranch too, for all the reasons that everyone has already stated. I don’t think the folks who run the park realize the value of an area where people can feel as if they can “get away”, even if it’s only for a half hour. You get to recharge your batteries and relax. I love the thought of being at the Ranch at night - just like most of Disneyland, it must have taken on a whole different feeling. I don’t remember hearing about the indoor “mine train through the seasons” EVER! Have you mentioned it before??

Mike Cozart, hear hear!

Chuck, I’m sure there were many factors that shaped the Galaxy’s Edge that we wound up with; changing plans for sure, and money too. Remember all the publicity about the wealth of walk-around characters who were going to interact with guests? That all went away for the most part. I know that there is still room for some sort of third big ride, or at least that is the story I’ve read. We’ll see.

Chuck, I’m sure Andrew forgives you!

JG said...

Irene, thanks for the update, we continue to remember you in prayer!



MAJOR : the plans for Thunder Mesa at Disneyland included the Western River Expedition but NOT the Runnaway Mine train like WDW’s Mesa was to have . Before Big Thunder Mountain was greenlighted the Mine Train would have been a mostly indoor attraction divided up into four sections ..... an indoor Nature’s Wonderland highlighted by four season changes . The attraction’s layout and scenes are included in the two volume Marc Davis Park art book.

When Western River Expedition was placed on hold at both parks ... the master plan focuses more on Fantasyland and the area where Thunder Mesa would have gone was replaced with Discovery Bay ....and big thunder was inserted as a way to get guests a secondary access to Discovery Bay. Before Big Thunder and after Liberty Square between Frontierland and Fantasyland , the land expansive nature’s Wonderland would have been squeezed and condensed into a show building .

Chuck said...

Major, an early version of the four seasons overlay proposal for Nature's Wonderland is on Page 28 in Volume 1 of the Marc Davis book.

Chuck said...

Major, forgot to mention - the entire first series of Spin and Marty is available on Disney+. It was previously released on DVD, so it was a quick and easy transfer, like so much of their launch content. It's worth a watch. If the Disney folks won't accept it, then you can send the watch to me. I need a new one anyway.

Dean Finder said...

Prayers for improved numbers, Irene

Anonymous said...

We are all pullin' for you Irene! KS