Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Adventureland and Main Street Rarities

Sometimes, I get so bleary from the constant scanning, cleanup, and posting of my images that I don't take the proper time to really analyze them. Recently, one of my readers, Jason, pointed out a few gems in my collection that I had quickly brushed over.

This September 1962 seemed unremarkable to me; just the exterior of the Tiki Room with the walkway of the Tahitian Terrace in the background. Big deal.

How about a semi-big deal? The Tiki Room opened on June 23, 1963, approximately 9 months after this image was captured. Not commonly known today is the fact that originally, Walt had intended the Enchanted Tiki Room to be a restaurant with Audio Animatronic birds serenading the guests as they dined. The "magic fountain" in the center was to be a coffee station (a storage compartment remains in the base) and the restaurant would have shared its kitchen with the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace and Plaza Pavilion Restaurant.

As Jason pointed out when he saw this image:

"That's a view showing the Tiki Room before the addition of the exit steps spanning the waterway leading to the 'Rivers of Adventure.' At the time of this photo, Sept '62, and prior to the Tiki Room opening in '63, it looks like the restaurant and bird show idea was still in full swing and no rear/side exit was deemed necessary. I always assumed the rear/side exit was an original part of the Tiki Room's blueprints. Apparently when the decision was made to skip food service in the Tiki Room and the show became the only function, the additional exit to promote a smooth transition and flow of guests became obvious. Or, it might have been originally intended for the guests partaking in the meal and show version of the Tiki Room to exit through the Pavilion's existing dining patio. This option was most likely eliminated when the idea for the Tahitian Terrace restaurant and show fulfilled Walt's determination to combine food service with entertaiment in Adventureland and the steps over the waterway became the only good option."

At the same time my September 1962 image was shot, the Disneyland Tour Guide Script stated:

Adjoining the Terrace is Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, an outstanding Adventure in eating and entertainment.

Here's a zoom-in shot of the balcony as well as the covered walkway that lead to the Tahitian Terrace Restaurant.

Today, this area looks much different with the addition of the steps to "dry land."

As if that wasn't comes a mystery image. According to the stamped sequence on this September 1962 batch of images, the next shot was this:

Followed by this familiar Jungle Cruise lanai scene:

I always assumed that the previous image with the waterfall was part of the original African Veldt scenery. However, Jason (a much bigger JC expert than me) pointed out:

That waterfall in the photo is not a small feature but appears to be at least as tall as Schweitzer Falls but it isn't Schweitzer Falls. The rock formations simply don't match any constructed on the DL Jungle Cruise and the vegetation isn't of an exotic "jungle" nature. Also of note, the awning support poles do not match those of the DL JC boats and they appear to be brass; the DL boat's supports always were painted white until the Indiana Jones era. While similar, the awning cut pattern doesn't match the DL boats either as the bottom of the flaps are more 'squared-off' and the spacing is too close together.

If the photo in question is indeed of Disneyland's Jungle Cruise then I am completely at a loss to place the view along the route. If constructed at Disneyland, the waterfall and rocks would have existed for an extremely brief period and do not match photos of the 1962 construction for the future "Elephant Bathing Pool" or "African Veldt" additions. I've studied hundreds of photos of the attraction including many aerial views and have never seen the rocks and waterfall shown in that photo.

Any true JC geeks out there who can determine if this is a JC image or just a mislabeled stray from another boat ride at some random park in the U.S. of A.?

Here's an image that is no mystery. This seemingly "normal" Bengal Tiger scene at the Ancient Shrine reveals the playful sense of humor that cast members can display.

Zooming in, you can see a purple not-so-hidden Mickey Mouse head and ears leaning against the shrine.

Oh those crazy cast members; what they won't do to make work more fun!

Over on Main Street, Jason noticed this particular rarity which once again escaped me.

Your 1960 photos below show the rarely (no hyperbole) seen "Electric Cars" (as called in the souvenir book, "Disneyland -Dreams, Traditions and Transitions") actually in action and present on Main Street.

These cars are seen (if seen at all!) much more scarcely than the almost mythical Fantasyland "Phantom Boats." While reading through the souvenir book's chronology several years ago I came across the listing of the "Electric Cars" on Main Street for 1960. This was news to me as I'd never heard of them or ever saw any evidence of this attraction ever operating. Sometime later I came across a poorly reproduced photo in the number 14 issue of the "E" Ticket magazine showing the two Electric Cars along with one of the Horseless Carriages picking up guests in Town Square behind the RR depot. I e-mailed Jack Janzen to find out the source of the photo and to request a better print but he informed me he couldn't recall the original source and, therefore, obtaining a clearer print was impossible.

I had had photos of these cars for decades but didn't realize it: they were featured in a couple of 1970's post cards with Mickey and Minnie aboard in Town Square. I thought the cars were just props used for parades and photo-opps and hadn't made the connection between the mention of the attraction in the book and these cars shown on the post cards. I wasn't convinced the Electric Cars had ever been an official attraction requiring a "A" ticket to ride. I had never personally seen them (though my first visit was in 1961 at age 4) or seen them in any guide books. I'm not sure but I don't believe they were ever specifically listed on a "A" coupon. I believe the cars were so short-lived in the Park that by time the promotional materials and guide books could be updated they were gone. The cars appear to only accommodate two adult guests and perhaps room for one small child which means they most likely couldn't offset their operating costs.

I had the opportunity to ask Bob Gurr about them and showed him the postcards and "E Ticket" photo. He had stated he remembered constructing four "runabouts" for Walt but, incredibly, didn't have clear recollections of the cars shown in the materials I'd brought! He also couldn't verify whether the cars had ever been an "official" attraction. Well, you've got photos proving that they were! Mystery solved.

Your June 1960 photo of the couples shows a maintenance vehicle (pick-up truck) off to the right with what looks to be a hose reel! Huh? This shot appears to have been taken near or after closing time; I'm sure Walt would've screamed at its presence while guests were still in the Park!

As a final bonus, I am "borrowing" the patented technology of Wigglevision® From The Major at Gorillas Don't Blog to bring you this Sept. 1962 Jungle Cruise image:

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Gina said...

I believe I can solve your mystery boat/waterfall photo.

I think this photo was taken at the Busch Gardens attraction in Van Nuys, CA.

Busch Gardens had their own boat ride with waterfalls and flamingos. They also had a brewery tour, bird sanctuary, and small amusement park. The park closed in 1979 due to plant expansion and high operating cost for the park.

Thufer said...

What a fascinating post.

K. Martinez said...

I've seen this image on your Daveland site and knew it wasn't Jungle Cruise. My first guess I always thought it was the boat ride at Busch Gardens in Van Nuys. Here's some photos.

Adam Hazlett said...

Here's another link that shows the boats used in the Busch Gardens Ride and one long shot of the water fall

Major Pepperidge said...

Ha ha, I was going to chime in about Busch Gardens, but I'm late to the party!

Jason really has an eye for detail, and the knowledge to put it all together. Very cool about the Tiki Room and the electric cars. Wonder if I have any photos of those? Probably not...

Don't forget about this early Tiki Room Poster in which it is referred to as a restaurant!

Connie Moreno said...

Dang, y'all! This was so informative and loved reading everyone's comments, too! That nighttime photo on Main Street blows my mind.

K. Martinez said...

I just noticed the WiggleVision pic. While I'm not a big fan of it, the layered depth works well in this image.