Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Pair From 1956

I have a somewhat random pair of images from 1956 - ordinarily I like to post two photos from the same "land" or attraction, but these were the leftovers.

This first picture is nice, showing a boatload of guests returning from their harrowing trip through the jungles of the world. Most of them now have special souvenirs - malaria, Chagas disease, schistosomiasis, and even leprosy. "Hard facts", you know. Walt warned them - he warned them all!

The little girl is hoping that she will be allowed to fire the revolver, but doesn't know that you have to be at least four years old to qualify.

I guess I should have posted this one back in December, but I forgot. It's another view of Town Square (it belongs with the photos seen in this post), with white-collared chorus singers milling about. Notice the Christmas decorations. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Two More from DrGoat

Here are a few more photos from our pal DrGoat (aka Peter)! 

We'll start with this nice shot of Peter with his sister in Frontierland, with the Mark Twain chugging away in the background. Peter says: The first one with my sister was in 61...almost positive. I noticed Chris has an instamatic hanging around her neck. She says she hasn't a clue where, or if the pics from that camera even still exist. I'll try to keep prodding her to check around but I don't hold any hope. I'm the one that got the Disney virus. Too bad. It was a beautiful July day, about a week away from my birthday.

Next we have a lively photo showing the Mad Tea Party, with Peter, his sister, and a friend, clearly from a few years after the first pic: The tea cup image was in 66 or 67. Same sister, older and much more disinterested. She would have rather gone to a museum of any kind. The other fellow is my cousin from my Dads side. He was 4 years older than me but he was more into Disneyland than Chris. I'm sure it's in July too 'cause we always went in the summer around my birthday.

Stay tuned for more from DrGoat's personal collection!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Pair From Frontierland, 1963

Today's photos can be classified as "snoozerific"!

If you happened to be aboard one of the boats on the Rivers of America, you would have seen this tableau of a Native American burial, right next to the Friendly Indian Village. How many dead bodies can be seen in Disneyland today? There were at least two back then - the fellow on the raised platform, and the dead settler. 

Meanwhile, the frontier is looking very lush and green.

It sure seems like the Columbia spent a lot of time in dry dock, and in 1963 it was getting some work done (audio-animatronic barnacles were being scraped off). It looks like they could block Fowler's Harbor with something resembling canal locks. A raft can be seen to the right, at what I believe was "Huck's Landing" on Tom Sawyer Island.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz, 1967

I'll bet it's been 15 years since I visited the world-famous Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, CA - but I remember it like it was yesterday! 

The Mystery Spot opened in 1941, and it is a classic example of what is known as a "gravity hill" - optical illusions enhanced by the tilted construction. Like the Haunted Shack at Knott's Berry Farm! 

I love this first photo, showing a man with his pride and joy - I think it's a 1957 Ford Fairlane - was I even close, Nanook? Even though it was 10 years old at this point, the owner clearly babied that thing. It looks brand new! Next to the car is that great little billboard guiding curious tourists down a woodsy road.

The next three were taken inside the crazy house built on the Mystery Spot. When I was there, the guide told us of the amazing "gravitational anomalies", and boy-howdy, he wasn't kidding. Look, that ball is rolling UPHILL! The kid's expression says it all.

I don't get what the big deal is, I stand at that angle all the time. While it's blocked off by that plank, I believe that the gentleman is standing on a very small board nailed to the wall. He can only be standing like that because of the anomalies! 

I think you'll agree that this photo is amazing because it demonstrates the guy's questionable taste in footwear. Normally you see people demonstrating the extreme tilt of the house with something cheap like a broom, but this fellow is willing to risk his pricey movie camera. Wouldn't you love to see his footage?

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to The Mystery Spot!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Beautiful Tomorrowland, November 1968

Today I have two beautiful shots of Tomorrowland, when it was arguably at its peak in terms of innovative design, optimism, and fun. I wish the photos were just a tiny bit sharper, but they're still pretty nice.

Let's start with this awesome view of the Rocket Jets spinning above the Peoplemover load area, with the Space Bar below it. I love seen all those Peoplemover cars! To the left, McDonnell Douglas' "Flight to the Moon" attraction, which looks like it might be closed at this particular moment. We've also got the fun little ticket booth designed by Rolly Crump. The long structure in the distance is the Administration Building.

Next is another awesome shot, featuring a Mark II Monorail gliding along the beamway over the Submarine Lagoon, with the Autopia and Peoplemover nearby. I believe that the Mark III Monorail trains made their debut this year, so as always it is possible that the November date stamp means that these could have been taken months earlier. Still, I'm not complaining!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Snacktime with Steve Stuart

You've seen Steve Stuart at Santa's Village, Disneyland, Marineland, and other places, but today we're visiting a new spot - Pacific Ocean Park! Now I admit that I am saving the better P.O.P. images for later, but for now let's check out snacktime:

It’s July, 1962 (or June – and it’s my 11th birthday-??) and another group of friends and I are enjoying cupcakes-? and Coca-Cola at the famous (or infamous) Pacific Ocean Park (POP).  That’s my mom in the upper center, looking at me the way only a mother can.  Next to me is Don, and to his left, my aunt.  Down front, with their backs to the camera are Mark, Bill, Jeff and Dick.  It would appear we’re “dining” at the Fisherman’s Cove, “… a recreation of a quaint New England fishing village…  “… The area was a picturesque collection of quick-service food and beverage restaurants, all set to a Cape Cod theme”.  

(The preceding brief quotes were taken from Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space-Age Nautical Pleasure Pier.  I will happily use any opportunity to ‘plug’ that book, as it’s easily the best reference book about POP written to date-!  If you have any interest in POP, or seaside amusement parks in general, don’t pass-up the chance to purchase a copy for yourself.  You’ll be thanking me long into the future).

Can’t you just ‘sense all that Cape Cod goodness’ as you scan that scene-?  Those cupcakes have more of a “Cape Cod feel” than the background we can see pictured here. 

Oh, wait – it must be the yellow fire hydrant and that lonely tree in the planter box seen in this image that are providing all that New England “theming”.  And are my mom and I wearing ‘similarly striped shirts’ - but with different colors-?  How creepy – especially when one’s friends are rather near.

In the third view we can now see the faces of Dick, Jeff, Bill and Mark wolfing-down those ‘cupcakes’.  And looking-around, based on the Thermos and a picnic basket, it seems the other diners brought some, or all of their own food and drink to Fisherman’s Cove.

But perhaps more amusing is the printed “message” emblazoned at both ends of each table:  “We hope the previous users of this table left it clean for you”.  In other words – “We’re too cheap to hire enough staff to clean-up after ‘previous users’-!“  Oh well.  It’s doubtful those ‘self-service’ messages alone were a part of the downfall of POP, but at some point they certainly didn’t help keep it alive.

Stay tuned for more P.O.P. photos (and other stuff) from Steve!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

More Vintage Magic Mountain Postcards

Here's another popular installment of vintage amusement park postcards from the collection of Ken Martinez! Magic Mountain (in Valencia, California) has an interesting history for fans of such things. Like me! Here's Ken:

Magic Mountain, Part 5

It’s time for another vintage visit to Southern California’s Magic Mountain.

Here’s the original marquee for Magic Mountain before it became Six Flags Magic Mountain.  I assume it’s still standing.

One of the early thrills at Magic Mountain was the “Log Jammer” Arrow flume ride.  Like a lot of Magic Mountain’s custom rides it was built into the terrain.  At the top of the hill is the Shangri-La Station for both of the Eagle’s Flight sky rides (the Galaxy and El Dorado) and next to it, the Four Winds Restaurant.  The Log Jammer was an opening year attraction that lasted for forty years from 1971-2011 until “Full Throttle” was built in its place.  Another Arrow flume ride the “Jet Stream” opened in 1972 and is still operating at the park to this day.

The Swiss Twist was a Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve with an Olympic theme which operated at the park from 1973 to 2008.  It was eventually removed due to aging parts and maintenance costs.  In the backdrop is the Galaxy double wheel.  

Here is a mix of opening year attractions all of which are gone from Magic Mountain.  In view are the Galaxy (1971-1979), the Eagle’s Flight (1971-1994) coming into the Galaxy Station and the Metro Monorail (1971-2011).  It appears Six Flags isn’t into scenic attractions in its current offerings.

The “Grand Centennial Railroad” (1975-1985) opened before Six Flags purchased the park and shifted its focus on extreme thrills.  The railroad took a trip through the back of Magic Mountain through a buffalo corral with a stop at Spillikin’ Corners.

This is the ride that put Magic Mountain on the map and foreshadowed its destination as Southern California’s premier thrill park.  Since the opening of The Revolution in 1976, Magic Mountain has had 26 roller coasters throughout its history and stands as the current record holder for having more roller coasters than any other single amusement park in the world with a count of 19.

Hope you all enjoyed the return visit to Magic Mountain! 

Information Source material: 

THANK YOU, Ken Martinez!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New York World's Fair at Night

Fairs and amusement parks always look more beautiful at night, and that goes for World's Fairs as well. A lot of thought went into planning the colors used in various sections, and as nice as these photos are, they probably only give an inkling as to how amazing it looked in person.

First up is the "Solar Fountain", not too far from the Eastman Kodak pavilion. It's a bit hard to see the golden sun at the top of the jets of water. I believe that the Japan pavilion is right behind it, with the Sky Ride silhouetted against the sky. I have a nice daytime photo of the Solar Fountain in this post.

Here's a pretty shot of the ornate Thailand pavilion. Here's what the official guidebook says: The main building, patterned after an ancient Buddhist shrine, has a gilded, tiered and spired roof rising nearly 80 feet. The building was inspired by a shrine north of Bangkok where a sacred footprint of the Buddha is preserved. The ornate roof was built in Thailand, shipped to the U.S. piece by piece and assembled on the fairgrounds. In this building and an adjoining wing, exhibits reflect the arts, crafts and traditions of ancient Siam and modern-day Thailand. In another wing are a gift shop and restaurant offering national products and dishes.

And finally, here's a photo of the colorful Tower of Light. The Tower was famous for it's intensely bright searchlight that shone straight up into the heavens, but that appears to have not been turned on yet. More guidebook info: The world's most powerful searchlight beam rises from the center of this unusual building, whose exterior walls consist of 600 aluminum prisms fitted together to form an eye-catching pattern. Sponsored by investor-owned electric utility companies throughout the nation, the building is entered by a moving ramp that carries visitors over a reflecting pool and deposits them on a giant turntable. The turntable revolves past seven chambers, stopping at each chamber for a new episode of a musical presentation on the benefits of electricity.

I hope you've enjoyed these photos from the New York World's Fair!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Two More From DrGoat

Here are two more scans, courtesy of Peter, also known as "DrGoat" in the comments. Hooray!

Peter sez: This one is from '60 or '61. I was always enamored of the Columbia, being obsessed with pirates and Tom Sawyer Island. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I saw Disney's Treasure Island (with Robert Newton) that year. one of the most over the top portrayals of Long John Silver ever.

Robert Newton might be over the top, but I love that movie! And it looks great too, I think the production designers used N.C. Wyeth's illustrations as a jumping-off point. 

Peter thinks this was from the same trip as the previous photo. It's funny, I never get tired of seeing Skull Rock. My mind instantly recalls how amazing it looked at night - spooky and beautiful at the same time (see a nice night photo on my fourth anniversary post).


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jungle Cruise Critters

It's Sunday, and you know what that means... it's a boring post on ol' GDB. They can't all be winners.

We're deep into the darkest jungle on a nameless river, completely cut off from civilization. I'm already sizing up the other guests in the boat, in case we need to eat somebody. To our left we suddenly see a huge African elephant! I can't tell if this is the mother in-law or not. We must have surprised the pachyderm while he (she?) was noshing on those sweet Valencia oranges nearby. It is a relief to know that this elephant won't get scurvy.

You know what the worst animal in Africa is? The rhinocerworst! They're near-sighted, short-tempered, and kind of smelly too. And yet... I love them.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Vintage Amusement Parks

Today I have two nice scans featuring scenes from two unidentified amusement parks (or maybe I should say, "kiddie parks"). 

I love this first one, showing parents and kids aboard a miniature railroad. It looks like "back East" to me, but who knows, it could be anywhere. Maybe even another planet. Check out the boy in his little fedora! 

If you were to hazard a guess as to when this was shot, what would you say? I would have thought that it was from the early to mid-1950's. Maybe even late 1940's. And yet the slide is date-stamped "May 1960"! As you can tell, I am very surprised. Maybe the roll of film sat in a drawer for 10 years before it went to the Photomat.

This next one is actually older than the previous shot (based on the red cardboard "Kodachrome" mount, at least), though the colors are still fresh and vibrant. A cute little girl waves happily from her galloping steed - she has the merry go-round all to herself. Just behind her is a little roller coaster; some of those hills are over 6 feet high! Too intense for me. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Main Street, June 1963

Let's visit Main Street U.S.A.!

I love this first image, looking south toward Main Street Station. Two horse-drawn streetcars are passing each other. The slide was date-stamped "June 1963", and that looks about right, though the crowds are not bad at all. I love seeing the old classic shops, such as the Hallmark store and the Swift Market House to the left, and the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor and the Upjohn Pharmacy to the right.

That guy to the left of the streetcars has an early double-wide stroller - a portent of things to come!

I can't imagine that there are any prominent fire hydrants anymore. They help give Main Street a veneer of verisimilitude that it lacks today. Notice the little boys, fascinated by the passing streetcars.

And there's the train station itself, with patriotic flags and banners aplenty. It's almost noon, the day's half over! 

As usual, I enjoy looking at the people, like the group of kids with the woman dressed in yellow, or the ladies in their nice summer dresses. Also as usual, the Santa Fe logo makes me happy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Disneyland 1961 - STEVE STUART

Hey! Ho! Let's Go! It's time for more photos from Steve Stuart. This time he and some of his pals are at Disneyland, circa 1961. Once again, Steve has provided some fun context:

Apparently keeping-up with the “tradition” of wearing hats while at The Happiest Place On Earth, ‘us guys’ paid a visit to the local haberdasher, and came-away with a ‘feathered collection’ we shamelessly showed-off.  The date on the slides (ah-hem) – there’s been quite a hullabaloo as of late regarding the often inaccuracy of such annotations – but the slide box indicated March, 1961.  (I would ‘think’ a visit closer to my birthday [June] would seem more in-order, but this is what we’ve got to work with).  So, I’m either nine years old, about to turn 10, or – happy 10th birthday to me-!

Down front we see Ricky and Peter; and in back – yours truly and Andy.  Once again – I have questions without answers.  It’s sort of like “the sound of one hand clapping…”  Just what am I looking at – again with the sinister grin-?  And, what is that pin Andy is wearing-?

In this next image I seem to have an answer to one of my questions:  That “pin” Andy is wearing is no pin at all, but instead a patch – a MLB team patch.  And to get really specific ‘me thinks’ the one “featured” on Andy’s left shoulder in the first image belongs to the Baltimore Orioles, from the 1960’s.  And could my ‘grin’ be in response to the rather “supercilious grin” on that caterpillar-?  "Whooo ... are ... you-?”  You’d a thunk I’d be more interested in the rather curvaceous gal loading-in two caterpillars behind us – or perhaps that strange-looking hat on the gal-? disembarking from the next caterpillar back, with that very long, pink something-or-another cascading down the side.  “Whaaat … is … that-?”

There are actually two more photos of the guys in the Alice caterpillars, but I am miserly and will share the others in a separate post. THANK YOU, Steve!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Vintage Dorney Park Postcards

It's time for another batch of vintage amusement park postcards from the collection of Ken Martinez! It's for Dorney Park - a place I am completely unfamiliar with. Here's Ken:

Dorney Park before Cedar Fair

Today we visit another wonderful Pennsylvania park.  This was Dorney Park before it became known as “Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom” and before Cedar Fair took over and Snoopy moved in.  The park can trace its history as far back as 1860 when it was known as Dorney’s Park.  Like many of the other traditional parks of the day it became a trolley park (end-point destination to encourage riders to utilize the entire trolley system).   It eventually grew into a full-fledged amusement park and has now become a modern theme/amusement park owned by Cedar Fair.

I love the colorful central support tower from what appears to be a very early midway attraction.  There are many photo images of attractions like this.   It definitely served as the inspiration for Disney California Adventure’s “Golden Zephyr”.  This shot was taken from atop the lift-hill of the park’s wooden roller coaster.  Note the Mill Chute ride similar to Hershey Park’s “Lost River”.

Here we have a PTC coaster train climbing the lift hill of the park’s wooden roller coaster simply known as “Coaster” from 1924 to 1988.  It is now known as “Thunderhawk”.  Originally an out-and-back coaster, it was modified in 1930 into a figure-eight coaster.  It’s great to see that there are still several of these golden age roller coasters that have still survived into the 21st century.

Featured here in this postcard image is a coaster train plummeting down a drop.  I’m not sure if it’s the first drop but it’s still a wonderful shot.  I love the old style PTC trains here.  These three postcards are some of my favorites as they capture that old-time feel of the traditional parks in the eastern U.S. at the time.  Today, the coaster is now dwarfed by the modern “Steel Force” coaster towering 200 feet over the 80 foot tall classic wood coaster.

Hope you enjoyed your vintage visit to Dorney Park!  Stay tuned for more.

Information Source material: 
The Great American Amusement Park copyright 1976 by Gary Kyrazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Roller Coaster Database   http://rcdb.com/

Dorney Park, huh. I should have known this place. I love the classic look of the grounds and rides! Thank you as always to Ken Martinez.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Trip To Disneyland, 1958

Today I have something a bit different for you; a few years ago I bought a lot of Disneyland brochures and other items. Among the stuff was an envelope that contained a letter that is a record of a trip to the park taken by a woman and several of her friends on June 19, 1958 (a Thursday). There are some fun details about how they got there, etc. I was amused by the old-fashioned (or odd) names. Faetta, Whenn, Nellie, and Vesta! To spice things up, I added some photos from past blog posts. 


Vesta, Nellie, Whenn, Faetta, and I met at the P.E. (Pacific Electric) Station at 9 a.m. I missed a bus and had to wait 20 minutes, so I was five minutes late. Vesta and Whenn had gone on to the bus station on the street below the depot (on Los Angeles street). Our bus left at 9:20 - we couldn’t all sit to-gether, so V., N., and I sat in the back and F & W sat to-gether by the rear door. We went via Knott’s Berry Farm.

It took a little over an hour. Vesta gave all four dollars and fifty cents from club treasury, the fare round trip was $2.22.

The weather was perfect, altho it got a little warm in the early afternoon. We all bought a book for twenty five cents. Guess all got them to send away to friends. Vesta & Nellie got some post cards right away. They were 6 for 25 cents.

We went on the Grand Canyon train first - it was trully (sic) a beautiful trip, but so different from what we expected. The train went through a tunnel & the scenes were behind glass windows - it wasn’t a painting but made up of real things. The goats and wild animals were stuffed but had been real once - it only took a few minutes to go through the tunnel but it was very nice anyway. 

We looked around some and Vesta, Faetta, and Whenn went into “Alice in Wonderland”. Nellie and I sat in the shade and chatted and waited for them. Something broke down inside the building and the ladies were a while in getting out. It was one of the newer attractions and hadn’t been perfected as yet.

Faetta & Vesta went to the Carnation snack room to eat (on the main square), & Nellie, Whenn and I ate in “Tomorrow Land”. We ordered what we wanted and ate from chairs with a wide arm.

Then we all went to see “2000 (sic) Leagues Under the Sea”. It was 10 cents. None of us got the “ride books” - we got general admission for 90 cents each. I guess it would have been just as well to have gotten the books as we rode on the train - 50 cents - 50 cents for a ride on the new sailing ship “The Columbia”. It had only been in the water 5 days. It is a very beautiful ship and Faetta took several pictures in color of it at all angles - one they had put up 2 huge sails - then when it came around the lagoon they were down. It is made like the real old time ships.

From there we walked around in the different shops & every little while we rested - Vesta & Whenn went back to L.A. on the 3:30 bus. They said the last bus that goes on Glen Oaks left L.A. at 6 or 6:30 so they had to leave then. Faetta, Nellie and I stayed on. We went to Tom Sawyer Island, and climbed to the tree top & went in all the caves - - over the rocks - then we came back to the main land & went to the Indian Village. 

They put on a dance every two hours or so.There are 16 Indian tribes that (illegible) some activity in Disneyland. The main speaker for the dances was a Hopi from Arizona, he was very pleasant & friendly. He told us about the new sailing ship. It had only been completed 5 days.

We went through the village and Faetta bought a small Indian doll for her daughter in law. We went back to the main part & Faetta and I had a waffle at Aunt J. kitchen - Nellie didn’t want a waffle as she had a salad in a little snack place a few doors from where we ate. 

[Note: Here's a small Indian doll that was in a recent Van Eaton Gallery auction - when I saw it I wondered if it was like the one that Faetta bought. It's only 7 inches tall].

[Note #2: Inside the envelope was this item, presumably taken from the table while they ate at Aunt Jemima's. There is another version that says it's from Disneyland - those are very valuable - but this one is generic].

We took the 7:51 bus back to L.A. only we didn’t go directly home. The busman must have been a new man as crossed hiway 39& went up Norwalk Ave.We came to a road block & he asked a man in the service station. We came back to #39 - & went to Knott’s Berry Farm to pick up some people. 

The bus driver told the people in the front part of the bus he was going to phone, but he didn’t. We got into L.A. after 9 - I called Earl so he wouldn’t worry. We all took the same bus home. Faetta & Nellie waited until my #25 bus came along. I got home at 10:15 - we had a nice day.

I'm glad our unnamed letter writer had a nice day! It really is more of a memoir, since the document does not start with "Dear Patty..." (or whatever), and it isn't signed at the end.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a 1958 trip to Disneyland!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Trio from DrGoat!

Today I have three more vintage slides from the family collection of GDB reader Peter, aka "DrGoat"! Check 'em out.

Peter says: This first image is of me and my Dad, circa 1967 I believe, about 8 years after the shot of me and him in the Autopia car. That was a great trip. I was just about to graduate from high school. Wish I still had whatever we were reading there. It was just Dad, Mom, my sister and I that year.

I wish I had a photo of me with my Dad at Disneyland!

Peter thinks that this second one if from the same trip (makes sense, being the same square format). It's a nice shot looking North on Main Street on a wonderfully uncrowded day. 

In spite of the fact that this one is also square-ish, DrGoat thinks that it might be from 1961. So the park had probably just opened; it looks like Peter's family was heading to Tomorrowland right away, or maybe they wanted to ride the Matterhorn before the lines got too long.

Many thanks to DrGoat for sharing his family photos!!