Monday, October 04, 2010
1500th Post - It’s A Celebration, Pt. 4: New Orleans Square
It’s hard to choose faves, but for me, New Orleans Square takes the cake when it comes to being my favorite part of Disneyland. From the attractions to the restaurants to the “architecture,” this place has it in spades. Like Walt, I also love the actual city of New Orleans. From day one, Walt had a small tribute to the French Quarter with a small storefront row called “New Orleans Street.” Even the Rivers of America had a French Quarter inspired gazebo that was perfect for Dixieland Jazz by groups such as The Strawhatters.
In this July 18, 1955, note the wires hanging overhead from the Opening Day Broadcast that took place the day before. If the building in the background looks familiar to you as a Disneyland patron, it should: The faux house inside of The Blue Bayou definitely mirrors The Chicken Plantation which was displaced by New Orleans Square’s construction.
It became apparent that a street and a gazebo were not enough for Walt; he needed an entire section of the park. Debuting on July 24, 1966, one could easily deduce that New Orleans Square was also Walt’s favorite part of the park. He even planned to build his own apartment there as well as Club 33, the exclusive members-only restaurant that served (gasp!) liquor. Here are some shots of the models and eventual construction for N.O.S.:
And here is the finished product, circa May 1975. Look at these ladies enjoying a little shopping as if they were really in New Orleans. Although not a very big parcel of land, New Orleans Square seems much bigger because of its meandering and curved streets. Brilliance!
If you’re hungry, N.O.S. has a ton-o-restaurants that provide food AND entertainment!
Dig those hairdos!
How about those Royal Street Bachelors? The original trio (Jack McVea, Herb Gordy, and Harold Grant) lasted about 25 years at Disneyland, and continues to be updated with new members. I’m sure some of you park enthusiasts are just as excited about trying to see some of that merchandise in the One-Of-A-Kind shop!
Here is the legendary Blue Bayou restaurant; one of the few dining establishments in the park that has kept its same name and theme since its opening in 1966.
Howzabout those prices? I’ll take about 10 of those Monte Cristos, please!
The other big name restaurant in this area is hidden next door to the Blue Bayou, with its name casually designated by this marker:
Many a Disneyland fan would sell a relative just to get into Club 33, a members-only club. Here’s Liz Taylor & family, who probably only had to trade in a husband to get in—just kidding!
As for attractions, this land has my two fave: Pirates of the Caribbean (as shown in this early walkthrough concept on display at the Disney Studios in Burbank)...
...and The Haunted Mansion, with its many iconic scenes:
NEW ORLEANS SQUARE TODAY: I still love it. Of all the areas in the park, this one has managed to stay very close to its original design. Walt’s apartment, which never came to fruition during his lifetime, was finally constructed in 2008. The original renderings by Dorothea Redmond were used as inspirations by the current Imagineering Team. It has been dubbed “The Dream Suite,” and it truly is spectacular. It would probably take the selling of at least 2 or more family members to get into this place! Liz, are you listening?
Both N.O.S. attractions have seen a few “modernizations,” but nothing that has significantly diminished their appeal:
Just like Main Street, the shopping has lost most of its regional appeal and been replaced with Disney-themed schlock, but mercifully the handcrafted beauty of the interiors has remained:
And yes, you can still get a Monte Cristo...it’s just a little more than $3.10!
Next up: FANTASYLAND! View more vintage and current New Orleans Square photos on my regular website.