Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween at Disneyland, Pt. 1

For my Halloween post, I decided to cover my recent trip to Disneyland for Mickey's Halloween Party. Guests buy a separate ticket for this event, and from 6pm—Midnight, they are the only ones allowed into the park. Donald and pals are above the gate, glowing in the moonlight, welcoming you into an alternate Disneyland.

It's amazing how lighting effects can make such a difference; this is not the same Disneyland you see during the daytime!

The eerie purple glow and projections you see on Main Street U.S.A. begin to prepare you for the special party that awaits you ahead.

I especially like the vintage looking toys and decor that are in the Main Street shop windows. It's nice that Disney stays thematically true with the turn-of-the-century displays.

This one is probably my favorite:

The huge Mickey pumpkin "lights" were all over the park, each one with a different expression:

This scarecrow was pretty cool...because it was kind of creepy. I do believe that Disney could push the creepy factor just a little bit more without alienating the tots. I don't necessarily want Knott's Scary Farm...but just a few more dark elements would keep these special parties from being too bland and ordinary.

The candy stations are the biggest shock for me. It blows me away to see the loooooong lines of children and parents, waiting for a piece of candy. There's nothing out of the ordinary about the treats being given; you could get them at any grocery store. Personally, I'd rather stand in line for a photo opportunity; or ride an attraction; or just soak up the atmosphere!

The Stormtroopers were one of the photo opportunities I mentioned. What kid wouldn't want their picture taken with these guys?

Over at The Tomorrowland Terrace, there was REAL party going on. Loved the DJ, loved the danceable tunes, and especially loved the dancing Toy Soldiers and Buzz Lightyear Astro-girls!

As a little boy, I used to feel that the Haunted Mansion was a different attraction at night. I preferred to ride it when the sun went down because it seemed much creepier (even if the attraction takes place indoors!). On the night of the Halloween party, I rode The Matterhorn. I don't believe I have ever been on it at night; I got the same feeling as I did as a boy with the Haunted Mansion. The cool factor magnified a jillion times as the bobsled raced through the dark at breakneck speeds, whipping me around in the cool "mountain" air as the Yeti growled at me all three times that I passed it.

The first sighting of the Yeti is only the red glowing eyes.

The 2nd and 3rd one are the Yeti in all its glory! Rooooaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Pardon the poorly framed shot...this guy is a b$%^h to photograph!

I'll end part one with a shot of the Castle, glowing an eerie green and bearing the hallmark of a spider web:

See more vintage & current Halloween photos on my Halloween web page.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brer Fox in New Orleans Square

These two shots are from 1968, and show Brer Bear and Brer Fox from "Song of the South," which has been somewhat of a thorn in Bob Iger's side. What to do...what to do...oh the pc problems this charming 1946 film has caused. Even though the film has been locked away in the vault for years, the characters can still be found in the park and they even have their own attraction, Splash Mountain.

From the vintage publicity caption:

WELL I'LL BE — It's Uncle Remus' "Song of the South" favorite, Brer Fox, right at home in Disneyland's New Orleans Squre which captures the mood of the old south. Dixieland music, lace-iron balconies and unique shops and restaurants combine with humor and imagination to enhance a guest's visit to Disneyland.

Today, it appears that the lamp post with street sign visible in the 1968 shot are now gone. If I remember correctly, the street names are posted nearby on a wall now. I'll have to check this out on my next visit.

See more New Orleans Square photos on my New Orleans Square web page.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Screen Gem Saturdays: Maureen O'Hara & The Parent Trap

Although released 50 years ago, the original "The Parent Trap" is still one of the most beloved Disney films of all time. I still have not seen the Lindsay Lohan remake; I've been told it's good too, but sorry...if I'm going to watch "The Parent Trap," it will be the original. Hayley Mills is double dynamite, playing both twins. If you can get past her unexplained British accent (mom is a strict Bostonian and dad is a carefree golfer in Monterey), you'll be bowled over by her performance. When it was released, divorce was a taboo subject. The film is very frank in its depiction of the heart-wrenching effects a divorce can have on the kids, but have no fear...a happy ending prevails as true love conquer least until the credits begin to roll.

Besides Mills, Maureen O'Hara is also a crucial piece of the success puzzle for "The Parent Trap." Her transformation from strait-laced Bostonian to…

the modern California woman is still fresh today. She lights up each scene with her auburn beauty and natural acting style.

From the moment she flirts with the minister to the heartbreaking scene where she reunites with her ex Mitch (Brian Keith) in the kitchen while preparing dinner, it is difficult to take your eyes off of her.

Here's to Maureen O'Hara - a legendary actress of the Silver Screen!

See more Disney movie photos on my Disney movie web page.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tom Sawyer Island, August 1957

Two gems from August 1957 show Tom Sawyer Island in its infancy. Just a little over one year old when these shots were taken, the Island provided a magical place of exploration for youngsters and fond memories for adults who were raised on the tales written by Mark Twain. The Suspension Bridge is obviously scaring the little boy a bit, as he appears to be holding up all of those behind him.

The same lad seems a bit happier inside of Fort Wilderness. Secret? Did somebody say "Secret"? You can bet any young boy worth his salt will immediately want to check out the tunnel that is just beyond this door. On the left-hand side of the photo, you can see the cemetery that is behind Fort Wilderness.

This is as close to Fort Wilderness as guests can get today (unless you count the restrooms!):

Although the Fort has been closed-up and bastardized in its design, there is still a cemetery there for guests to read the tombstones and get a little chuckle over some of the witty epitaphs.

See more Tom Sawyer Island photos on my Tom Sawyer Island web page.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Traveling Thursdays: More Vintage New Orleans

Continuing with more images of the "genteel decay" in The French Quarter, I begin today's post with two images of Brennan's Vieux Carré Restaurant. First one is from November 1954; the second is undated.

Here is one of my faves; no trip to New Orleans is complete without a dinner to Antoine's. Another November 1954 image:

The rest of these undated 1950's shots show what I would call the seamier side of the city. Of course, by today's standards (or lack thereof), these images seem tame and kitschy. The Napoleon House was supposedly intended to be a residence for Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile; a local plot to bring Napoleon to Louisiana ended with the news of his death. Now it is a bar and restaurant.

Although you can't see the sign here, I believe this photo is of The Mardi Gras Lounge at 333 Bourbon Street. Apparently due to the financial difficulties of this club, Fred Kohlman and his New Orleans Jazz Band were eventually replaced by an "All Star Show" that featured scantily clad women! Shocking!

Anybody care to see Evangeline the Oyster Girl at Stormy's Casino Royale?

The Silver Frolics Night Club was located at 427 Bourbon Street. It closed in 1963 as local law enforcement began cracking down on vice in the French Quarter.

It may have been called "Monte Carlo," but I'll guarantee you that you'd never find Grace Kelly at this place!

Not sure which club had this poster in front, but va-va-voom! Today, a club like this would have girls butt-naked with their legs spread wide-open. Oh how the times have changed!

See more vintage & current New Orleans photos on my New Orleans web page.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walt, Eels, and The Flight Circle

Today's first photo shows the publicity machine working hard to promote the new upcoming attractions for 1959. What a year! 3 major attractions that are still beloved and in operation today: The Monorail, The Matterhorn, and The Submarine Voyage. From the publicity caption:

Walt Disney has his hands full with a "squirming" moray eel, one of hundreds of deep sea denizens that will be in view during an exciting submarine cruise beneath the Seven Seas of the World at Disneyland beginning in early June of this year. One of three new major attractions in a $5.5 million development, Disneyland's greatest expansion program since its opening in July 1955, the undersea voyage will be available to visitors aboard eight air-conditioned submarines, each carrying 40 passengers.

This photo shows the same eel (or possibly a cousin) in September 1965 posing with Tomorrowland Flight Circle employee Bart Klapinski. Daveland reader and contributor Cox Pilot sent this image that he snapped shortly before he left his job at The Flight Circle. As he describes it:

It was a cold day in September, thus the coats we had. The park had only a few visitors so we spent a lot of our time goofing off. We decided to finally find out what was behind the scenes at the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea exhibit, so we went around back by the train tracks and slipped into the maintenance area. The subs were closed that day, so we also walked the cat-walks above the water inside the "cave" of the ride. We were surprised how messy and dirty the whole thing was, and how the illusion was created. A lot of wires were supporting things that were under water too.

Here's a photo I took of Bart with all the airplanes in the circle just after the last show in September 1965:

This is the same shot that he took of me from the top of the center stand where the gold thimble was:

After Bart left the Flight Circle, he went to work for WED merchandising at the hobby corner. He eventually worked his way up to Main Street merchandising head. For some reason I don't recall he left and went to work for the phone company after 15 years. I went to work at L. M. Cox Manufacturing as an illustrator (they ran The Flight Circle).

Many many thanks to Cox Pilot for supplying the photos for today's post and tying all the loose ends together!

See more vintage & current Submarine Voyage photos on my Submarine Voyage web pages.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old School Disneyland Primer, Pt. 2

Still enjoying your time travel trip back to Disneyland circa 1950's? Today will provide a few more tiny tips to help keep you from being disoriented in the Disneyland of yore. You can still hop aboard the Disneyland Railroad and journey over to Tomorrowland. That much hasn't changed. In fact, you can even travel on the exact same train (The E.P. Ripley), as seen in this October 2011 comparison photo:

Obviously the landscaping has matured over the years. If you decide to head over to the Submarine Voyage, that might be where the biggest shock occurs. If you're expecting the bright yellow subs that take you to visit Nemo, you'll be greatly disappointed. Or actually, in my'll be very happy. In this July 1959 photo, guests are enjoying the recently christened Disneyland fleet of submarines that take them on a magical journey through liquid space. In all of its gray glory, The Triton sub looks like it just came from U.S. Government surplus.

Today, this is what you'd see at the very same dock:

Here is a glorious view of The Autopia & The Monorail, circa 1959. Just like today, the area is scented with the fumes of gasoline.

For all you detail nuts, I've zoomed in on a few portions of this particular shot:

Let's face it; the heart of that image is the gleaming Red Monorail, recently christened by the Nixon family:

If Tomorrowland is too newfangled for you, you could always wander over to Frontierland and visit Tom Sawyer's Island. These July 1959 young ladies are crossing the Suspension Bridge. Hope they don't drop their purses and brochures into the water!

The bridge is still there today, but it's got all kinds of pirate stuff nearby. In fact, Tom Sawyer is barely a memory here as Jack Sparrow and his gang have pretty much taken over the island.

Pirates or not, I have to admit that the Island is still very lively and the youngsters seem to get a huge kick out of exploring it. The only disappointment I saw the other week on my most recent visit was a number of kids checking out Fort Wilderness and trying to open up the gates. Like the rest of us, they want to be able to go inside like the original guests of Disneyland could.

See more vintage & current Disneyland photos on my Disneyland web page.