Friday, July 21, 2017

Submarine Lagoon, October 1961

I sure do love today's first scan, with Tomorrowland framed by one of the Matterhorn's stony Skyway openings (orifices?)! I will be diplomatic and describe the atmosphere as "hazy" rather than "smoggy" - but it adds a dreamlike quality to the image, as if the world ends not far beyond that eucalyptus tree  wind-break.

A sub is in the perfect position as it moves through water the color of a blue tourmaline. Two butter-yellow Skyway buckets are in front of us, one heading with us toward Tomorrowland,  the other about to pass on its way to Fantasyland. I miss this whole experience so much.

Moments later, a second photo was snapped for a clean, stone-free view. Notice the fruit-laden orange tree - presumably a survivor from the original orange groves from which Disneyland was whittled - in the lower right, along with plenty of delicious oleanders*. 

*Don't eat oleander!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Along the Shore of the River...

Today I have two nice photos from 1957, taken along the Rivers of America. I'll start with this example, which is interesting to me because the very barren shore reveals those deer, peacefully grazing, unaware that a hungry mountain lion is watching them from atop the nearby rock formation. But I guarantee that they all had a case of the heebie-jeebies! 

It looks like the railroad track runs left to right at about 1/3 of the way from the top of the image. I'm so used to this area looking very lush and verdant....

... like this photo. I can't help wondering if the deer were removed (or at least moved), because they sure wouldn't be visible behind those shrubs. I always thought that the mountain lion was oddly placed up there, and now I know that there originally was a reason (beyond the fact that he would be more visible).

Next is this great early view of the Friendly Indian Village, also looking strange due to a lack of plants. In almost every other photo I've seen, that canoe is upside-down - to keep it from floating away? I kind of like it right side up.

Hello, telephone poles!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Legend City

Ken Martinez is back - with a vengeance! Also with some more vintage postcards from Legend City, in Phoenix (pronounced pu-ho-enix) Arizona (don't forget Winona). Let's hear it from Ken:

More Fabulous Legend City!

Here are the last of my Legend City postcards.  Conceived in the late 1950’s by Louis Crandall, the park which serviced the Phoenix area opened in 1963 and closed forever in 1983.  It consisted of a lot of old west atmosphere and cool themed rides.

Here we have the familiar “teacup” ride which at Legend City was called “Krazy Kups”.  Strangely this ride looks like it has interlocking circles which might make it more similar to “Maters Junkyard Jamboree” than the “Mad Tea Party”.

Who doesn’t love a Sky Ride.  This one goes way up high.  Notice the rider with his camera is getting ready for some serious aerial photography.

In the description it says residence of the fort are required to help defend against occasional Indian attacks but I think these folks are fending off door to door solicitors.  Or is that fort to fort solicitors?

Now here’s what makes Legend City fabulous!  Shooting and killing people.  They’re supposed to be bad people, but sometimes you make an honest mistake.  Two more bite the dust with a third going down.

Here we have a bank robber digging his own grave on Boot Hill.  Holding a gun on him and a rope around his neck should motivate him.  I love the nice touches like the skeleton horse, the hearse and vulture.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to the fabulous and parched Legend City. 

Information Source material: 
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko

As always, MANY thanks to Ken for sharing his collection of vintage amusement park postcards!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Some Rescans

Say, howsabout some more rescans?

We'll start with this one, originally posted waaaay back in 2006. It's an interesting angle (circa October 1962) looking down on the Bertha Mae Keelboat as it slowly cruises past the southeastern bend of the Rivers of America. The scan looks pretty murky, with yellowish grays and dark shadows. Yuck.

The original slide had some problems, but this rescan helped a lot, restoring some of the color, and lightening up some of the darker areas. A group of sailors (on leave from the Naval base in Long Beach?) lounges on the top of the Keelboat. Over in Frontierland, major construction is underway; the Plantation House has been removed, for one thing. The earliest work on what would become New Orleans Square has begun! 

Zooming in a little, you can see the yellow passenger cars of the DL&SFRR in the upper right. Along the construction wall you can just make out the "Chicken Shack" eatery. And a pickup truck appears to be parked on a level much higher than the foreground walkways. To the right is a bandstand, which was moved to various locations throughout the park, including the area near the Mine Train queue (see a shot of it in this post).

Next is this fairly horrible-looking scan from August of 1955. The slide had turned red, and I was ill-equipped (mentally!) to deal with that issue in 2007 when it originally appeared on GDB. I don't need to point out the many problems, you can see them for yourself.

The rescan is a considerable improvement, if still not as good as I'd like! However, any photos from 1955 is welcome, in my opinion. At least we can see that the Indian dancers were not wearing mostly black. Behind the trees we can see part of a yellow banner showing guests the way to the Indian Village.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Nice Snapshots, 1971

Here are three more snapshots, graciously given to me by my friend "Mr. X"! He is pretty critical of his photography, but I think he did a great job, often capturing some unusual subjects.

It's always a pleasure to see the figure of the goddess Uti in her outrigger canoe - all the better to protect those who brave the oceans in search of fish. Until now I was not aware that one of Uti's hands held a torch. As you can see, United Air Lines was still a sponsor.

Next is this portrait of the old Penny Arcade, taken in the dazzling early morning sunlight. The orchestrion is right next to the entrance, while Esmeralda the fortune teller is front and center in her glass box.  You can even see a Mutoscope or two. I'd love to be able to walk into the Arcade circa 1971!

In the decades before "Fantasmic!", the Mark Twain continued to ply the Rivers of America after the sun set. It was the absolute best time to enjoy that attraction! The cool air, the lights and shadows that made everything beautiful and/or mysterious, the fierce blaze of the Settler's Cabin, the sound of soft Dixieland music wafting from New Orleans Square - so wonderful. And it must have been extra amazing if one happened to be on board once the fireworks started!

This next one really puzzled the hell out of me. "Main Street Confectionery"?? What happened to the Tobacco Shop or Magic Shop that would normally be next to the Main Street Cinema? I looked at my 1971 INA gate handout - no mention of a Confectionery. And it looked like the Emporium way down at the end of the street, on the left, which made no sense at all. At about the time my brain started to dribble out of my ears, Mr. X informed me that this photo is from the Magic Kingdom.


Stay tuned for more snapshots.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Burning Settler's Cabin

How many burning buildings are beloved by thousands? Not too many! But the old Burning Settler's Cabin on Tom Sawyer Island was special, and I had sort of hoped (against all logic) that a new version of it would be added to the island when the Rivers of America reopened. No such luck. Anyway, here are two photos from different lots.

We're kind of far away in this first view (circa 1958), but that gives us more of a sense of the cabin being located in the midst of a vast and lonely wilderness. Even from here, the settler's broken body can be seen.

Zooming in, it is evident that the settler is draped over some kind of bench, as if he really was caught completely by surprised when he ran out of the blazing cabin. To the left is a split-rail fence protecting his meagre corn crop from pesky deer.

Here is the same scene in 1962. The bench is gone.  The front yard is full of tree stumps, evidence of the hard work needed to clear even a small patch of land. The flames look even more fierce here. Did the settler have a wife and a child? I know it's just a mannequin, but that's the power of storytelling for you. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Freedomland, U.S.A.

Here are three more scans of vintage slides featuring Freedomland U.S.A., located (for four short years) in the Bronx (New York, of course). I am endlessly fascinated by this park, conceived by C.V. Wood - a valuable aid to Walt Disney in the early planning of Disneyland, though they had a major falling out. You can read about it in Todd James Pierce's "Three Years in Wonderland"!

This first photo shows the next exterior to the "Civil War", "...a horse-drawn wagon adventure ride through recreations of American Civil War battle ground, camps, derailed trains and burning houses, which ends in the middle of a mock battle". As historians know, the Civil War was perhaps the most fun war ever.

There is something very evocative about these faux ruins, as if they were all that was left of a building after General Sherman's "scorched earth" march to the sea.

Freedomland had its own Santa Fe-sponsored railroad (with two locomotives), and it looks like it was a beauty. This particular locomotive appears to be the "Ernest S. Marsh" - yes, the same name as Disneyland's #4 engine (which debuted in 1959, while Freedomland didn't open until 1960). Notice the couple consulting the handy park map - as you can see, the park was in the shape of a prehistoric chicken.

I don't mean to be unkind, but come on - that HAS to be a man in that dress and golden pigtails, right? He's looking extra glum because this is "Bring Your Son To Work" day, and in about 20 minutes, 10 year-old Mikey will find out what his dad does for a living. Hey, it's honest work! For the last year the old man has been telling his kid that he "works with cattle". 

Elsie the Cow was a featured (and popular!) resident of Freedomland (you could see her in her "boudoir"), but Elsie was a brown Jersey heifer. I can sense your disappointment. 

I have only a few Freedomland images left!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wonderful Tomorrowland, September 1958

Today I have two beautiful photos from Tomorrowland, circa 1958!

Let's start with this unusual angle looking northwest-ish; I believe that our photographer was standing in front of the Space Bar, more or less. The Astro Jets are readying for takeoff, and a colorful string of Skyway buckets heads into the distance, with no Matterhorn to be seen yet.

Zooming in and looking carefully, we can juuuuust see the Viewliner station, and what might be just a sliver of the blue (Fantasyland) Viewliner train.

Next is this lovely image, with the impressive Moonliner, flanked by giant bird of paradise plants, which add an interesting Venusian to the mid-century futuristic land. How do I know what it's like on Venus? Don't ask!

There's Walt's customized Autopia vehicle - I wonder if there was a sign telling guests exactly what it was? At the base of the rocket you can see a banner bearing the words "Thimble Drome", where the Flight Circle was. The fingerboard to the right lists such enticing exhibits as "The World Beneath Us", "20,000 Leagues Show", "American Dairy Association Dairy Bar" and... the public telephone.

FYI... I'm heading out of town starting today, and I'll be gone the whole weekend. I won't necessarily have great Internet access, but I'll try to check in at least once a day to respond to comments. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tomorrowland Snapshots

Here are three more snapshots from Disneyland, from GDB reader Irene, and her brother! These are all from Tomorrowland, though they are not all from the same date (as far as I know).

First up is this shot of a deep-sea diving bell named "Nemo". I can only read the bold type on the sign, which says that this vehicle was first launched in 1970. Despite my superhuman efforts (!) I was unable to find exactly when this was on display - as you can see it is located near the start of the Submarine Voyage queue, and even though there is hardly anybody in line, there are a few people waiting for a Journey Through Liquid Space. SO... this is pre-1998 (when the subs closed). It might even pre-date the  Tomorrowland renovations that began in 1995 - if anybody knows, please chime in.

Here's an interesting snap from out in front of the "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" attraction, which opened on May 22, 1998 (replacing "Captain EO"). As you can see, the queue is blocked off by barriers, as well as a whole lotta potted plants.  I liked this attraction for what it was - what do you think, the equivalent of a "D" ticket? Maybe even a "C" ticket? The problem was that it didn't bear too many repeat visits, and it wore out its welcome rather quickly - though it survived for 12 years.

Without wanting to be too negative, the graphics on that marquee are not my favorites, to put it mildly.

Next is this nice photo of the façade of the "Circle-vision" attraction. As you can see, it was on its last legs; "America the Beautiful" had originally closed in 1984, replaced by "Wonders of China" (which I never saw!), which ran in conjunction with "American Journeys" (um, not sure I saw that one either). By 1996, both of those films were removed, and the classic "America the Beautiful" came back in a "Special Return Showing". In 1997, the ride closed completely, and the area became part of the "Rocket Rods" queue.

THANK YOU, Irene and her brother!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Knott's Golden Spike Ceremony, January 12 1952

Digging through my main box of miscellaneous ephemera, I found this nice program from the dedication of the railroad at Knott's Berry Farm, on January 12, 1952. All these years later, the big trains are still one of my favorite things at Knott's! 

So... here's the cover. I wonder who was able to attend this event? Were people invited? Were visitors to the park allowed to enjoy the festivites? My guess is "yes" to both. Since the community of die-hard train fans was relatively small, I'm also wondering if any notable Disney people were there that day (although Disneyland would not come along for years)?

The program provides a brief history of the Denver Rio Grande locomotive, and the usual list of music and speakers that one might see at an event like this. It looks like a mercifully short ceremony! I wonder if there is any surviving record of Water Knott's' remarks?

I scrounged some photos of the event from the interwebs, and they are kind of fun. Look at that crowd gathered in front of the Calico Saloon! It's like Disneyland on a slow day in 2017. Being January, there are lots of coats, hats, and babushkas. The stand of eucalyptus trees looks so great! 

Looks like there was even some drizzle, but that didn't seem to bother most people. Notice the TV camera on that makeshift wooden support. Arthur Fonzarelli was there! Also notice the sign for the short-lived "Mark Smith Horse Show". 

Among the invited guests was actor Sterling Hayden, who was starring in a 1952 movie called "Denver and Rio Grande". That's him, pounding in the golden spike - perhaps you will remember him from his role as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, in Stanley Kubrick's "Doctor Strangelove".  The lovely lady is Kasey Rogers, also in "Denver and the Rio Grande" - she had a long and successful career, appearing in many movies and television programs. She played Larry Tate's wife Louise in "Bewitched", and was memorably strangled by Robert Walker in Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers On a Train". Criss cross!

Was there really a ceremonial golden spike? Does it exist in a collection somewhere? Can I have it for free?

First of all, the guy's name is "Sterling", and yet he is driving in a golden spike. Who's idea was that? They should have asked 7 year-old Goldie Hawn to do the honors. I hope Mr. Hayden didn't hit Kasey Rogers' fingers.

And finally, here's perhaps my favorite photo, with Walter and Cordelia Knott posing next to their newest toy, dressed in period costumes. Or maybe that's just how they dressed on an average day, who's to say. They had some lean years in their early days - I'll bet they never imagined that they would have the success that came to them through hard work and good ideas.