Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Big Parade of '59

July 17, 1955 is probably the most important day in history for Disneyland nutz like me. Running a close second would be June 14, 1959. It was on that day that the Monorail, Matterhorn, and Submarine Voyage were rolled out to the public. A special parade heralded the event with a number of celebrities on hand to commemorate the occasion. A recently acquired batch of slides just happened to document the parade; unfortunately, their quality really sucks. At times I wonder what the photographer was thinking (or not thinking) when he/she snapped the shutter. Still, it is cool to get a glimpse into that historic day. These first few shots show the parade as it went down Main Street, U.S.A.

Zooming in, you can see the sign for the not-too-often photographed Book and Candle Shop (1955-1971) on Main Street.

A close-up of the festive banners/signage declaring 6 spectacular new adventures at Disneyland:

Although a boat attraction had been around since the beginning in one form or another, the Motor Boat Cruise was deemed something "new" for 1959; I'll let Walt slide on this one.

You can see the banner proclaiming it as one of the 6 here:

This image shows the China entry from the International portion of the parade, featuring a 150-year-old Chinese dragon; it looks a bit like a hot mess to me.

Fred MacMurray, who had recently starred in the Disney classic “The Shaggy Dog,” is shown waving to the parade watchers.

This float is a little easier to decipher; obviously a tribute to the Matterhorn:

Zooming in, I wonder what happened to this little miniature model/sign showing the castle that was here in the early years on the Emporium?

Although previously posted, I thought I'd show this letter of invitation from Walt to then Vice President Richard Nixon:

The view from the hub:

Here are a few shots of Nixon and his family in the parade. The vehicle that they are riding in is a 1909 Cadillac, driven by Barney Rademacher.

In the backseat are daughter Julie, wife Pat, and daughter Tricia.

The last one I have from the parade that day features Seventy-Six Trombonists, appropriately directed by Meredith Willson of "The Music Man" fame:

This view of the Matterhorn shows more of the flags and banners from the day:

Check it out - at least 5 climbers on the Matterhorn at once!

This lovely gal with a corsage poses as close to the Matterhorn as she can get:

Zooming in, you can see the temporary bleachers for spectators:

And again, the Matterhorn is swarming with climbers!

The last two of the batch are pretty poor. Your regular Skyway shot:

and a very blurry image of the Subs; looks like all the hoopla had died down by the time this was taken.

To celebrate the release of Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" on home video, here's an interview with Burton himself:

Frankenweenie is described as a semi-autobiographical project. Does this mean the younger characters in the movie are based on your classmates from school?

The kids in the movie are based on various real people, but they are also based on horror icons like Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and dubbed Japanese movies that I remember seeing as a child. They relate to movies and actors, as well as real people that I remember from my childhood.

The main character, Victor, loves to make movies. Is that what you used to do when you were a child?

Yes, I did. A lot of kids did, actually. It was a fun thing to do, and it became a very easy way to get good grades.

What movies did you make?

Sometimes I’d make stop-motion movies and sometimes I would make live-action movies. Sometimes I filmed drawings, or I did a mixture of things.

Were you also into science projects, just like Victor in Frankenweenie?

I liked the idea of making things and creating things, but I guess I always treated science and art as quite similar thematically. I feel like the idea of science and short filmmaking, and doing science fairs and projects like building volcanoes, is all in a similar vein.

Did you have a pet dog like Sparky when you were a child?

When I was a child, I had a really strong connection with a dog we named Pepe. He was a mutt who was ill for a very long time.

Is Sparky based on Pepe?

This dog is nondescript. He wasn’t meant to be like a literal translation of my dog. He is more of an emotional translation.

Do you have any dogs in your life now?

Right now, I don’t have a dog because I travel a lot and I don’t want to leave it abandoned while I’m away.

Has your family got any pets?

My kid has a tortoise and three terrapins, but that’s about all we can handle at the moment.

When it comes to Frankenweenie, why did you decide to create the movie in black and white?

I find black and white very beautiful. It gives a real sense of emotion. I was really excited about seeing this in black and white because there’s a depth in the black and white, which I love. I was very happy that the studio went along with the idea. If they wanted it in color, I wouldn’t have done it.

Do you dream in black and white or in color?

I’ve had black and white dreams, as well as color dreams. I’ve had both. I love black and white; I always have. I think there’s a real beauty to it. It’s not right for every project, but when you take the color out of something, sometimes you start looking at other things like textures andcharacters. It does something really interesting.

Frankenweenie is an homage to black and white monster movies from the past. Did those movies scare you as a child?

I think I was more scared by real life rather than movies. I could watch a monster movie fine, but I’d be terrified if I had one of my relatives come over. I was never scared by monster movies because I felt like the monsters were always the most emotional characters – at least in those old films. I guess it’s slightly different these days.

What about spiders and bugs? Do they scare you?

I’m not a big fan of spiders or rats and things like that. I got up one morning on a vacation recently and there was a huge centipede in my bed. I wasn’t very happy about that.

Did you worry that the story of Frankenweenie might be too dark and scary for Disney?

No. In my mind, I always felt confident that it was quite a traditional Disney movie. Disney movies like Bambi and The Lion King have dealt with emotional issues that are not dissimilar in some ways. Disney films have a certain element of danger or darkness in them, and if all of that stuff was taken out of every Disney movie, they wouldn’t feel the same. Frankenweenie has got a happy ending, so I never felt like it was pushing the boundaries very much in terms of that.

You’ve worked on such a wide variety of projects and movies… How does it feel when people come up to you to tell you that they identify with one of your memorable character creations?

The best thing that ever happens to me is not so much about reviews or box office [takings]. I try to make the money back for each film, but the nicest thing is when you get people coming up to admit that they have a personal connection with a character. That’s really, really nice. To me, that means more than anything because that’s the reason why I do this.

See more vintage and current Disneyland Parade photos on my Parade photo web pages.


K. Martinez said...

Blurry or not, today's images are great!

Disneyland '59 was my favorite expansion at the Park. In some ways Cars Land reminds me of Disneyland '59 in that both expansions elevated their respective parks to a whole new level.

Love the Book & Candle Shop sign.

Anonymous said...

Wow...what an add to your collection!

ben said...

It's not a sea serpent, it's the 150-year-old Chinese dragon from the China entry in the international segment of the parade.
You can see it at the "Gala Day at Disneyland" video on Youtube, at the 9:40 mark.


Daveland said...

Thanks for the info Ben

Major Pepperidge said...

Wow, those are wonderful. LOVE photos like these, rare as they are.

Anonymous said...

Hooray, Book & Candle shop!