Friday, September 17, 2021

Beautiful Fantasyland, June 1956

Today I am happy to be able to share some really nice 1956 photos of Fantasyland, as taken by Lou Perry. They really evoke that "early Disneyland" mood!

Let's start with this first shot of guests gathered around the Mad Tea Party - grandparents, parents, and very small children watch their friends and loved ones - the people who like to spin around until dizzy. It's fun to look at the folks, their clothing and hairstyles (all the ladies are wearing dresses - only a year or two later, many would switch to pants). 

There is a poster against that striped banner for the Mickey Mouse Club 3D Jamboree, there's Jimmy Dodd's smiling face in the upper right. Notice that the wrought-iron bracket above the Mickey Mouse Club Theater is lacking the round shield with Mickey's face. 

Next is this great view as seen from the poop deck (heh heh) of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. Some folks are watching the flying Dumbi, others are heading into the "Fantasyland Emporium" on the corner...

... while others are checking out the Fantasyland Art Corner - views of this are rare. Have your portrait drawn in pastel by a real artist! Or just buy special paintings created for sale, featuring Disneyland icons like the castle or the Mark Twain. Or if you're smart, you'll buy a stack of animation cels for a buck or two apiece!

Construction is going on just behind the Castle, with an impressive pile of dirt creating a berm between Fantasyland and Frontierland. That wood-framed building is where Rainbow Caverns would be (as part of the new "Rainbow Caverns Mine Train" attraction). 

THANK YOU, Lou and Sue!


Nanook said...

These are lovely photos-! I've just located my 3D glasses, so I'm all set to go inside the theatre.

As it seems fairly indisputable that the construction is indeed for the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train show building, it seems quite unlikely these images are from June, 1956 - as the attraction opened on July 2nd of that year. So... either way - what a treat to see these early views of Fantasyland - and so beautifully shot, too boot. (I know Fan 2 was open some time in 1956; I presume Fan 1 was too. I assume it's just out of view-?)

Thanks to Lou and Sue.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Nanook, I just checked my dad’s Disneyland Hotel receipt. He was there June 13-15, 1956. That was his only trip that year. This will be an interesting puzzle to solve.

TokyoMagic! said...

In that third photo, we can see the Chicken Plantation Restaurant, off in the distance. I wonder what that building to the right of it is? We can only see a portion of it, but it looks like a two story building with a window on the second floor.

Thank you for more wonderful "Lou Pics," Lou, Sue and Major!


In the 3rd and 5th images : look at the WED medieval themed Fantasyland phone booth!!! Man that sticks out as bad as the protruding pipe drinking fountain spigots on Main Street!! I know , I know ; money was tight and there were priorities.

Andrew said...

Maybe that little building is from Rainbow Ridge?

Chuck said...

There’s a uniformed Den Mother standing in front of the teacups’ exit in the first photo (note the blue rectangular den number patch on the right sleeve of her blouse) but nary a Cub Scout in sight. Here’s what that uniform would have looked like from the other side.

I had no idea that construction equipment was so specialized. I wonder how that crane differs from those used on level ground? I’ll bet JG will know.

Nanook, remember - things went up much more quickly in the early days, although whether that was because the construction was less regulated or because Walt was driving the train, I can’t say. What we have here is documentation that makes the feat that much more remarkable in our eyes.

Andrew, I think you’re right.

Stu29573 said...

Wait...Rainbow Caverns was in a BUILDING????? Aw, man. Another childhood fantasy shot down. I figured they just filled in the entrance when they closed it. You know, for safety.

I agree with Chuck. I think the solution is that things were built much faster then. Why? I'd say a big reason is permits and such, but also the guys just coming through WWII had an incredible "Can Do" attitude. I fear most modern construction crews would be left in the dust by them.

As always, these are gems! Thanks, Lou and Sue!

JC Shannon said...

More goodness from Lou's amazing photos. What a great way to start the day. Chuck, my mom was a Den Mother for years, I totally missed this mom in the photo. Thanks for pointing her out, it brought back some great memories. Babushka alert, next to the booth. I wonder what those folks would think of the price of a ticket or an animation cell today? Hey Sue, just for fun, how much did Lou pay for his hotel room? Thanks to Sue and Lou and Major for sharing these great photos.

"Lou and Sue" said...

$9 a night

Anonymous said...

Love it… let’s just pull out the Disneyland Hotel receipt from 1956, no biggie! Thank goodness Lou kept it after all these years! I too love the view of the chicken plantation restaurant. I almost missed it, thanks for pointing it out TM!


K. Martinez said...

Beautiful shots of original Fantasyland. I love how the foliage is absent so the architecture really stands out.

As for things taking longer to build today than in Disneyland's early days, a lot of that has to do with being a bigger corporation or corporate behemoth. The more expansive a company gets, the slower it becomes. I worked at a start up tech company in the early 80's and in the early days it was a free wheeling company moving at a rapid pace at getting things approved and done quickly. Once the company grew, became public and started acquiring other companies, it became slower. Larger public companies get tight with the money and have all these internal processes and regulations. So yes, permits slow things down, but internal management of a big corporation slows things down too as it grows larger.

Chuck, Remember that even in Walt's day the New Orleans Square "dirt pit" along the Rivers of America sat there half developed for a while during the time Walt was distracted with the New York World's Fair. Already a sign of projects being delayed and slowed down as company interests expand into other areas.

Kathy! said...

Yay, full color pix from the early days! I like Grandma’s milkmaid braids in the right of the first photo. And Keppy Kaps and paper cone hats in the other photo, woo hoo! And a boy with a red and green beanie near the Art Corner. That’s amazing, Sue, that you have the receipt handy. Thanks to Lou, Sue, and Major.

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
I never really doubted the date, as early construction seemed to take place in record time, but... HERE'S an aerial view that places things in perspective. Have at it.

Grant said...

A "Lou pic morning" is a good morning! Thanks L&S(&M)!

Chuck, thanks for the Den Mother link. I was a Cub Scout ten years before this book was published but clearly remember the activities depicted.

I love this quote from the Den Mother book. I think a few of us here can identify with it. :)

"In 1969, as many of us long-haired, bead-wear’in, love-makin’ hippies were marching in the streets and rolling in the sheets, a generation of younger kids and their moms settled in for the all-American ritual of Cub Scouting."

"Lou and Sue" said...

Am at work now and will text more later...but, taking a super quick look at your aerial view, Nanook, I noticed that Cascade Peak looks like Abraham Lincoln—from the Lincoln Memorial, doesn’t it?

Melissa said...

That first shot is particularly lovely. The spectators are lined up like a second set of fence posts, and the bright patterns of their clothes clash beautifully with the stripes and dots of the medieval fair decor.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, these are swell, lots to see and comment on.

Unfortunately I have to work hard this morning, so I will check in later.

Stu, the RC buildings had "cave" painted on the side, so it is almost the same thing as a real cave. See, I could be an imagineer also.

Back later, don't go anywhere without me.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I can only go by the date that Sue gave me, and Lou seems like he was pretty careful about documenting everything.

Lou and Sue, see? Documentation!

TokyoMagic!, I’m pretty sure that building is part of Rainbow Ridge... one of those structures up on that steep hillside.

Mike Cozart, ha ha, you fooled me; I thought maybe there really WAS a phone booth that somehow looked “medieval”. I think they eventually moved the booth to a less prominent place (and maybe there were two of them?).

Andrew, yes, that’s what I thought too!

Chuck, I had friends who were Cub Scouts, and I don’t remember any of them dressing in snazzy outfits like the ones pictured in that great booklet. Then again, it was the ‘70s, and things changed. Those cranes are fitted with special skyhooks that help with lifting objects uphill. And we can see from 1959’s example, Walt and his boys added the mighty Matterhorn, the Submarine Voyage, and the Monorail, all in less than a year. It would take them several years at this point!

Jonathan, My mom was a Den Mother for a short while when our family lived in Huntington Beach, I remember being very jealous of the older boys who could participate in those cool activities. But then we moved to Pennsylvania, and that was the end of that. I’m sure that folks from 1956 would have a hard time believing that a nice cell with an original background could go for tens of thousands of dollars today!

Lou and Sue, OUTRAGEOUS!

Celeste, ha ha, it’s true, some people are organized like that. Not ME. But it’s an admirable trait.

K. Martinez, as you said, it’s a factor of it just “being a different time”, and certainly a factor of the company being so incredibly enormous. No more “Walt signed off on it and we built in in two weeks” stuff! People often compare a large company to steering a container vessel, which seems apt. You’re right about NOS sitting undeveloped for a long time, but those World’s Fair projects were pretty massive, and were achieved in a relatively short amount of time!

Kathy!, I had to look at Grandma to see what “milkmaid braids” are! I love the two kids with the Keppy Kaps. Did you know that there are six or seven variations of Keppy Kaps? I’d get one of each if I could afford them. (I have one, the most common version). That beanie looks like the kind that kids got through Kellogg’s “PEP” cereal.

Nanook, I love aerial views, and that one is a beauty!

Grant, I wonder what skills you learned as you prepared to become a full-fledged Boy Scout (assuming you went that far)? Field-dressing a deer? Building a tree-top home? My brother was definitely a Cub Scout during “peak hippie years”! While we certainly saw those counterculture folks, I feel like we were pretty insulated from that movement as well.

Lou and Sue, it took me a minute, but I see Abe! Sitting, waiting to stand up when the music swells.

Melissa, those primitive humans look so much like we do, it’s amazing!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Again, checking in for a quick minute and will be back later...

When I saw Nanook's first email, I checked my dad's records, in case I screwed up. I tend to agree with Nanook that it would be a huge project to finish in two weeks(!) there any chance the July 2 date could be wrong? It's happened before. What's the original source for the July date? There's no chance my dad's date is wrong - it's on everything - and he documented all his trips. I may even have his plane tickets. I do have a Disneyland newspaper from then, too. :o)

JG said...

Not only are these important documentary photos of this corner of old Fantasyland, they have the added benefit of being "Lou Pics", so they are well-framed and in-focus, and downright lovely. This corner of the Park filled in slowly and it's interesting to see it so sparse. I can only locate two trash cans, in photo 2, and they are the plain green livery used up to 1957-58 or thereabouts.

Chuck, my den mother wore that outfit. Cubs through Webelos was the limit of my scout career until I became an adult leader in my son's BSA troop.

I tend to agree, the amount of construction remaining looks like a lot to finish in a short month, but we know things moved faster then. In my experience, the things that slow down construction now are the insane complexity of building codes, slow plan review, contractors jockeying to point fingers at everyone's work in order to raise prices, and slow decision making by Owners and architects. None of these would be factors in Disneyland 1956.

I'm looking at the final zoom-in, enjoying the ATT standard phone booth. It's counterpart was highly prominent in the entry of Adventureland around this same time. Cheap and easy to procure.

But if it is theming you want, we have you covered. Notice the little "flag" signs marking the restroom entrances, just to the left of the booth. These read "Princes" and "Princesses" if memory serves. On the pole light tower in the left of the view, there is a shield-shaped sign with an arrow directing to the restrooms. We saw a counterpart to that one near the Casey Jr. platform recently.

Chuck, the crane visible in photo 1 is certainly the same crane seen in photo 3, while the angle is different, the crane has pivoted, or possibly moved laterally. And yes, building-mounted tower cranes are markedly different from mobile units. This one has caterpillar tracks, which are uncommon today. In the extreme distance, we can make out the beloved power line towers marching across the landscape.


JG said...

Pardon me, I take back the caterpillar tread comment. I was fooled by the scalloped detail on top of the fence. Another common old Fantasyland detail.


Chuck said...

Ken, you make an excellent point.

Nanook, that aerial is awesome. I hope KS chimes in to pinpoint the exact location of his secret picnic table.

JG, so you're saying that classifying cranes isn't as easy as reading the lettering on the side of the cab?

And my Den Mothers (I had two as a Cub and then worked for two more as a Den Chief for three years) all wore a similar uniform, only slightly updated for the '70s (polyester slacks and I think a sleeve cuff with a point at the top; Melissa will know what those are called).

JG said...

Chuck, I wish everything were as easy as reading the label! Cranes are easier to identify when they stand on one leg. If they are pink, they are flamingos, if not pink, then a crane.

Hill Crane Service is still around;, established in Long Beach, 1947, so probably the same team we see in the photo. Remember, Anaheim was the backwoods in 1956, had to go afield a bit to get construction help.

Some great pics of current practice on their website.

Yes, one of the little Rainbow Ridge buildings is visible in the extreme upper left of the crane zoom-in.

From Nanook's aerial, we can see the Chicken Plantation across the Rivers, and reconstruct the line of the crane photo.

Major, I have also researched the origin of the "poop" deck. The authorities have it that the term is a corruption of French "poupe" which denotes the stern of a thing, in this case, the vessel. So it is more likely that the vulgar usage of the term derives from association with the stern, than that the deck name derives from the vulgar. Can anyone tell I am tired of work today?


Chuck said...

Just today? ;-)

JG said...

Chuck, lol. Yes, er, no, er... what was the question again?


That Rainbow Ridge structure visible is actually the “cable house” to a mine head frame for the Rainbow Mountain Mining Co. the structure is easily visible to guests boarding the pack mules , stagecoaches and mine trains

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
The July 2nd date seems pretty reliable. (I have seen comments mentioning "some sources cite July 1st"). But July 2, 1956 seems to be the real deal. It's certainly possible the 'cave itself' was completed before the building 'skin' was cladded all-around.

My first inclination would be [all] the documentation of your father's is to be considered Etched In Stone - so, all the other pieces of the puzzle are gonna have to somehow be crammed-in to make them fit-! Things are not always as they appear... See Mike's comment - above.

Melissa said...

Chuck, if there’s a more technical term than “pointed cuff,” I’ve never heard it. But I know what you mean - it’s like the cuffs on the stereotypical waitress’s uniform.

"Lou and Sue" said...

JG, I can work is constantly getting in the way of GDB!

In the very last shot (close-up), you get a great view of the little white fence, hiding in plain sight.

I enjoyed all the comments today - especially the thread about the new "building" construction mystery. Am I understanding you correctly, Mike (and Nanook) - that the construction we see is NOT the Rainbow Caverns "show building"?? If not, then that would surely explain a lot (such as how-in-the-world could they have completed the "show building" in two weeks, etc.). Can anyone link a picture to what this finished structure looks like - I'm curious!

Thanks, Major and everyone!!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Oh, nuts! I misunderstood your comment, Mike, didn't I? Are you commenting on that little building, on the hill - and not the big building??

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, I’d say that your evidence is pretty iron-clad!

JG, I’m hoping that Sue will find more early photos from the park, because these are so exceptional. Even though 1956 is a bit before my time, the pix remind me of why I loved the park so much. It’s more than just the rides; I think it is apt to say that it was “greater than the sum of its parts”. While I agree that the construction looks like it has a long way to go, this is only about a year after the park debuted, and most of us have read about how crews would work day and night to meet a deadline. Unthinkable these days! thanks for pointing out the “Princes” and “Princesses” signs, I love it. A bit of whimsy. I think Chuck was joking (you know that Chuck!), but it doesn’t surprise me that there were different cranes for different kinds of jobs and terrain.

JG, there are no take-backsies! This is going on your permanent record!

Chuck, I love a secret picnic table - for secret liverwurst sandwiches. Ha ha, I knew what you were up to with the “Hill Crane Service”! Even though my brother was a Cub Scout for a few years, I am pretty ignorant of the whole “Scout Culture”, sadly. Sleeve cuffs with a point at the top… you must mean “pointy cuffs”! That’s right, I went to college.

JG, somehow I like that Hill Crane Service is still around. Established in 1947, pretty impressive. I was just looking at an aerial slide that I need to scan, I’ll have to see if it has a good view of the area between Fantasyland and Frontierland. As for the term “poop deck”, I just like to chuckle like a nine-year old when I hear the word “poop”. Nobody can stop me!

Chuck, normally JG actually skips on his way to work. With a song in his heart.

JG, the question was, “Would Jean Luc Picard prefer a smoked turkey leg? Or a churro?”. The world needs to know.

Mike Cozart, well, I had no idea that there was even such a thing as a “cable house”, or what its purpose would be.

Nanook, I’m definitely going with Lou’s meticulous records. As you said, things are not always as they appear - especially when it comes to information on the Internet. I’ve seen too many bogus dates and “facts”.

Melissa, hey, I was pretty close!

Lou and Sue, you could always quit your job. Who needs money anyway? It’s so vulgar. When you mentioned the “little white fence”, I thought you meant the one in front of the crane, but I see the tiny wire fencing near the restrooms. I’m pretty sure that the big construction area is for Rainbow Caverns, though I would not be surprised if I am mistaken. I think they put a “hill” over the Rainbow Caverns building, but I’m going to have to double check when I get home later.

Lou and Sue, once again, I’m so glad that I never make mistakes.

"Lou and Sue" said...

It's certainly possible the 'cave itself' was completed before the building 'skin' was cladded all-around.

Nanook, that's definitely the only logical answer!


SUE: yes the small board & bat sided building with the window. ( not the larger construction building - most certainly the show building for Rainbow Caverns.

MAJOR: a cable house is where a winch is located powered by steam , kerosene, oil, or later an electric motor. The winch pulls the cables that are strung to a mine head built over a mine shaft. The cables can raise or lower a mine shaft elevator carrying supplies and miners in and ore cars with ore or mine tailings ( shaft tunneling waste) out.

Bu said...

I’m late to the party again- there is soooo much in these photos, I am a bit overwhelmed! This is the first time I’ve seen the Fantasyland facades in actual fabric rather than sheet metal. For some reason, I thought it was always sheet metal. It must have been really super cool, but probably got super dirty and dusty- especially with the giant ball of dirt close by. There’s another one of those “non sacred cow” trucks in full view of guests…not to mention the already mentioned Superman telephone booth- they probably got that for free from Pacific Bell (?). A line for Dumbo…ALWAYS…they got out the old stanchions though for line control- those would later change to a core drilled hole and metal posts with chain. That is a super specific sound when the chain hits the metal post during transit. I remember walking up those stairs by the Fantasyland theatre. I’m pretty sure there was a break room up there in my time. Fantasyland Theatre was also the home to the Disneyland Drama Club…I was often compelled to join the group, but the rehearsals didn’t fit my active social calendar. I did go to see “Once Upon a Mattress” there- a friend played the lead…it was really amazing to me that the park had some extremely talented people who normally worked in somewhat mundane roles. A security guard that wouldn’t crack a smile was up there singing and dancing like she was on 42nd Street! I could go on a while with these photos- they are actually historic given the material in them and the sharpness and finesse of the photographer! Thanks to Lou for taking time to photograph the unusual!