Friday, September 22, 2023

Parking Lot Pix, April 1974

You can determine if a person is a TRUE Disneyland nerd by showing them a photo or the parking lot. Is there no reaction? Then they are phonies and should be shipped to the gulag in Siberia. If they smile and exclaim, "Jumpin' jehoshaphat!", then you know you are among friends. I already know that all of YOU are friends!

First up - the Disneyland sign! It's how we know we didn't actually drive to Knott's Berry Farm. You have to admit that this is quite a sign, and it used to get the heart beating a little faster. It might be a little too soon to start listening for train whistles or Monorail air horns, but everyone in the car - be quiet! 

Doc Severinsen was performing that night, as was Louis Bellson, and The Miracles (with no Smokey Robinson).

Just a few moments later and we've reached the gate into the parking lot. Is this the Katella Gate? No, autocorrect, I don't mean "Patella Gate". You had to pay an outrageous 50 cents to park your car, which is no way to start your day. But at least they will probably hand you a few fun flyers with info on your best value in ticket books. Or why not get a guided tour?



Jumpin' jehoshaphat!!!!!

Turning into the original Disneyland parking lot was as exciting as entering Disneyland …. I remember being anxious as we were directed to park …. Like we couldn’t get out of he car fast enough!! And when a monorail zoomed overhead; EXPLODE with excitement. The parking lot trams couldn’t get to the front of the park fast enough.

Nanook said...

As has been mentioned many times on these pages - the Parking Lot is really considered the first 'attraction' or 'adventure' when going to Disneyland.

Oh no Major, that's the real deal. The Katella gate only has four lanes.

Thanks, Major.

JB said...

I think this is the best-est and clearest-est photo of the Disneyland sign I've seen here on GDB. Even all the little pennants, up above, are in frame.
If one were to overlay a musical staff over those pennants, like sheet music, what sort of tune would they make? It would almost, but not quite, play the the first seven notes of "When you wish upon a star".

In the 2nd pic, it's kinda neat how the power line towers are all lined up, just like the cars, waiting to enter the Park. They remind me of the brooms in Fantasia, carrying their endless buckets of water, or in this case, electricity. The white station wagon has something written across the tailgate: Something, something Motel. Followed by an address and phone number

Pictures that make one feel happy and excited; thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

"Jumping Jehoshaphat" was one of my Grandpa's favorite exclamations. That and "Judas priest!"

I love the yellow vehicle in the foreground of the second picture. It looks like what would happen if a Mommy school bus and a Daddy school bus loved each other very much.

TokyoMagic! said...

Yep, it's the Harbor Gate, because of the way those electric wire towers are lined up (east to west). Also, we can see the sign for the Wonder Bowl (on Katella), off in the distance. It's that thing that looks like a hand-held fan, just above the roof of the yellow Volkswagen.

This must be the old Harbor Gate, because there aren't any toll booth type of structures yet. Also, that rode in front of the DL sign seems to running parallel to the sign, and making more of an immediate entrance into the lot. In later years, didn't it head towards the sign, swerving just a little bit around it, heading further south, before turning into the lot? And didn't the parking lot entrance move further to the south as well? I just didn't realize that it hadn't happened yet, in 1974.

TokyoMagic! said...

By the way, in the first pic, we can see the crisscrossing candy canes on top of the sign for the Candy Cane Inn.....which is still there today in a remodeled version, and sans the candy canes. (Those candy canes are just to the right of the Cosmic Age Lodge sign, which is just to the right of the last pole holding up the DL sign.)

Steve DeGaetano said...

Ah, black license plates with yellow lettering! Had them on our 1968 Oldsmobile. There's a newer truck in the neighborhood here in NC that has them, and they look brand-new. Did CA re-issue the black plates?

Mike said...

Patella Gate would actually be more accurate these days. After all, we're brought to our knees by the prices we have to pay to enjoy the park!


STEVE: several years ago California began to offer any new license plate in any of California’s past color and styles. Even 1930’s orange and black was offered … but now I believe black with yellow is the oldest style of the options. Of course any of the vintage -retro plates are extra money .

Bu said...


Scott Lane said...

In my head I actually heard my brain say, "Ooh! Parking lot pix!"

JG said...

Come for the pictures, stay for the comments!

Oh look, it’s prehistoric DCA!

Thanks Tokyo for pointing out the details. High School Me spent an idle hour or two at Wonder Bowl before and after Park visits and those motel signs really hit home. Yes, the entrance drive was re-routed to be more elaborate. Always wondered why they did that.

I wonder if Walt got the land at discount since half of it was under the power line easement? If so, they paid it all out and then some having it moved.

Thanks Major!


Steve DeGaetano said...

Interesting. Thanks Mike Cozart!

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, I think I was so excited to see the Matterhorn (as a child) that I didn’t really even consider the parking lot. Though I did like catching the tram to the front gates!

Nanook, it probably sounds crazy to people who weren’t there, but it’s true - the parking lot meant that we were really there!

JB, hmmm, now that you mention it, this might actually be the best photo of the Disneyland sign here on GDB. It’s funny how I remember so many slides, but also have forgotten many, so it’s hard for me to say after 17+ years. As a musical genius, I can tell you that the pennants are notations for the song “Tequila”. Looking at those electrical towers and the power lines, you can see why Walt didn’t want those cluttering up his park. Good choice! And yes, that white station wagon must have been a shuttle from a local motel. “Anaheim Grove Motel”?

Melissa, “Judas Priest” always made me laugh, it just sounds so odd. I knew a woman who always exclaimed, “Jiminy Christmas!”, too. I guess that yellow vehicle is a station wagon?? I can’t quite read the little placard.

TokyoMagic!, good eye on the Wonder Bowl, that’s a fun detail! Oh, that yellow thing is a Volkswagen? Huh. So without those toll booth structures, did the poor employees just stand out in the elements, even on hot or rainy days? Not cool, Disneyland! As for the details of the road, I’ll have to bow to somebody’s else’s more vivid memory.

TokyoMagic!, ah, more fun details with the Candy Cane Inn and the Cosmic Age Lodge!

Steve DeGaetano, I do love those black and yellow license plates. The other day I saw one (new) that had white lettering on a black background. Never seen that before. And yes, CA has made the black and yellow plates available again!

Mike, ha ha!

Mike Cozart, oh man, I would go for orange background with black lettering if they made that available. Extra money? Why I have piles of the stuff!

Bu, these scenes are very much like what most of us would have seen during our own childhoods.

Scott Lane, I thought people might like these! That’s why I saved them for a Friday.

JG, I think Charles Phoenix has an amazing photo of the Wonder Bowl, if I had more time I’d look for it and share it here. Thanks for the info about the re-routed entrance road, I honestly had no idea. Todd James Pierce might know the answer to your power line discount question, maybe I can ask him!

Steve DeGaetano, this is a helpful bunch.

Anonymous said...

The anticipation of entering the Park began HERE! The April 74 date stamp and operating hours suggest that this was Spring Break and the crowds were coming. It wasn't too long after that, that the original entrance structure was replaced with a newer one. And that was the result of a suggestion by a CM during a 'all hands' meetings with company management in the Fantasyland Theater. The suggestion was that this, along with the sign, was the FIRST thing people experienced when on-property. And it didn't convey the Disney magic as it should...not to mention it didn't provide any comfort to the CMs staffing it, rain or shine. I recall Card and Donn indicating that the suggestion was a good one and that they would follow up. Harbor House replaced the old Time Shack in a similar direct CM suggestion. KS

Anonymous said...

Major, I think the back of that vehicle states: Anaheim Tropic Motel

Yay! We finally arrived at Disneyland!


Hogarth said...

The Disneyland sign was brilliant. The rectangles of color read as intentional design elements, while they actually disguise the fact that they're just the back side of the opposite-facing letters. The symmetry of the silhouette is broken up by the use of color, along with the seemingly random placement of the "flags" above.
The whole thing is a wonderful piece of mid-century design, and makes me happy just to look at it.

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, nice insights, I’m sure you are right about it being Spring Break. Did the cast members dread the crowds? Or was it just part of the deal? I’m not sure the newer parking lot entrance gates were much nicer to look at, but it is nice that they provided some protection from the elements for the poor people who had to be out there all day (and into the evening). Interesting that it all happened due to CM suggestions!

Sue, you have better eyes than I do. I will give you $200 for them.

Hogarth, I agree with you for all the reasons you mentioned! That sign really did make me happy, and it still does now (too bad it can only be via photos).

Nanook said...

@ Sue-
It is the Anaheim Tropic Motel. Evidently it started out life as the Royal Palms Motel in 1955; don't know when it changed names. The current version of the Anaheim Tropic Motel in business since 2004 still exists, I believe at the same address...

Yes, that yellow thing IS a Volkswagen Squareback sedan, introduced in 1966. The year of this one is anyone's guess.


Yes … the Germans called that VW the VW 1500 Variante . In America it was the VW 1500 Wagon and it was very popular. The VW 1500 was also offered in a “square box” Limo ( called a Sedan in USA … and was not a popular model in America) and VW 1500 Slope back ( called hatchback in USA and also popular with Americans) there was a delivery truck also produced but I do not think it was imported to North America (??) the VW 1500 looked identical from the front …. The 1200 and 1600 were versions of the first VW sedan …. The popular VOLKSWAGEN “Beetle”.

Several years ago I fabricated several architectural models of some 1960’s VW Auto Dealerships for an American German Air Cooled VW museum exhibit … and I became a casual expert filling the 1:87th scale showrooms and lots with accurate ( and expensive!!) scale miniature VW’s by companies from Germany like BREKINA , WIKING , and BUSCH. And if you you thought there were serious matchbox and hot wheel collectors … you should see the collectors of these 1/87 ( HO) scale accurate plastic miniatures!!


Imagineer Herbert Ryman designed a short height entry “medieval” marquee for Disneyland that used moulding elements and turrets created for Sleeping Beauty Castle …. But there was no money early one for the construction of this design …. A less expensive “temporary” one was built and this remained into the 1980’s ( 1988 I think).

Anonymous said...

Major...I don't think we dreaded the crowds. It meant more hours of work for us part timers. Plus there was an influx of casual/seasonal CMs that added freshness and vibrancy. And we had more chances for parties too! Some 'rookies' just naturally fitted-in. An example is one fellow I worked with on the JC. He not only fit in, he was hilarious. And he remains interconnected with us old timers, attending functions and is a member of the ORH by invitation. At a little get-together when I was down in SoCal a few years back he mentioned that he was a casual who only worked one season. Somehow that totally slipped by me. After all these years he was so well remembered that I thought he had been there as a permanent for at least a few seasons. I was floored. KS

Anonymous said...


Honestly, and not just from the prices.


DBenson said...

Got any billboard shots? Those were the first triggers for squirmy kids on old-fashioned road trips. "Only 20 miles to ..." "Just 30 Minutes ..." "Take the Exit at ..." Authoritative answers to the question, Are We There Yet? Then streets lined with gaudily whimsical motels, one of which was journey's end -- Disneyland was the next morning.

I remember billboards in the 60s, often in undeveloped fields by non-super highways, proclaiming tourist draws of various power. The Nut Tree in Vacaville ... Harold's Club and other Reno casinos ... Wall Drug, somewhere en route to Minnesota ... and of course, Disneyland. The one I remember had a cartoon of a guy on the Flying Saucers ride.

Decades later, recall WDW having a few scattered billboards on property. One was disproportionately long to feature all Seven Dwarves, the other less a billboard that a cutout of the Tower of Terror with a rocking elevator. Think they missed a bet by not doing several in a consistent retro style, roadside "collectibles". Back in the 80s I recall the resort buses had ads, but instead of public service messages and personal injury lawyers they were all for Disney Afternoon shows. Always a reminder you were within the psychological berm.

DKoren said...

The parking lot was everything! Well, catching that first glimpse of the Matterhorn while driving up was THE moment of super-excitement, followed by pulling into the parking lot. That's when you knew it was real, that you were going to get to spend a day at the park. Is it stupid that I still miss that parking lot?