Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Haunted Mansion: Treasures from the Attic

Today's post features a few of the "ghosts" that formerly inhabited the Haunted Mansion's attic in New Orleans Square, beginning with a sketch of the infamous Hatbox Ghost. For years, his return has been one of the hottest rumors to make the rounds on the discussion boards. My animated gif version of this long-lost fan fave:

The original bride, complete with red beating/glowing heart:

and what replaced her, proving that new and improved technology is not always the best choice:

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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cruising at Disneyland

Debuting as the Speedboat Ride/Tomorrowland Boats/Phantom Boats, the funky little vehicles shown here look like something right out of Batman (the 1966 TV version). I love 'em!

Known for their technical issues and for stranding guests mid-ride, the boats were shutdown and "re-imagined." Signs proclaimed that a Florida Everglades-type attraction would replace them. The new boat was built and tested, but ultimately vetoed due to (once again) technical issues, so as a last resort, the Phantom Boats came back for one more chug around the lagoon in the summer of 1956.

In 1957, the Motor Boat Cruise began its tenure. This very sedate “B” Ticket attraction took away any control that guests had over the boats by putting them on a track. No steering or acceleration. Guests leisurely road around the Fantasyland/Tomorrowland lagoon while the Viewliner, Autopia, Monorail, and PeopleMover “sped” by (depending upon what year you were riding the boats of course!). Cast members operating the attraction wore cute sailor outfits.

The boats disappeared for good in 1993 with the construction of Toontown. Remnants of the dock are still visible.

See more vintage Disneyland Motor Boat Cruise photos on my Motor Boat Cruise web page.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Aerotrain: A Source of Inspiration

The September 1955 GM Powerama in Chicago was one of the largest of its kind, lasting 26 days at a cost of $7 million dollars. Some of the highlights included the first solar-powered electric car, a tractor hoe-down with choreographed tractors square dancing, a Bulldozer vs. elephant event, and the GM Aerotrain (see above photo), designed by Chuck Jordan (Chief Designer of Special Projects).

According to advertisements, The Aerotrain was supposed to...

"help railroads solve the problem of a $700 million yearly loss in passenger service.

Pulled by a General Motors Diesel locomtoive, this new 10-coach Aerotrain brings an entirely new concept of speed, comfort, safety and economy to rail travel. It's light, lower and faster — and a novel Air-Suspension system gives you the smoothest, most comfortable ride you've ever had.

Forty passengers per coach travel in air-conditioned comfort at sustained speeds of 100 miles an hour and better."

In March 1956 the Aerotrain made experimental runs for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in California as a San Diegan between Los Angeles (see photo above) and San Diego. Because the trainset had to be turned after each trip and it needed helper locomotives on the Sorrento Grade north of San Diego, the Aerotrain run between the two cities was short-lived. Here it is in San Diego:

In the summer of 1957 Union Pacific ran the Aerotrain as the City of Las Vegas between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Here's a vintage photo of it at Union Station in LA:

Bob Gurr fell in love with the design of the Aerotrain and it served as his inspiration for the (also) short-lived Viewliner at Disneyland. Bob told me that Chuck Jordan, the Aerotrain designer, passed away a few years ago.

Despite what the ads promised, the Aerotrains were rough riding and uncomfortable. Because of the design, routine maintenance was difficult, and the train was underpowered. The Aerotrain was retired in 1966 and has become the stuff of romantic legend.

See more vintage & current Disneyland New Orleans Square photos on my New Orleans Square web pages.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The One Of A Kind Shop

Back in the day before Disney merchandise overtook the Park, it was possible for guests to find treasures from all over the world. One of the most beloved shops was the One Of A Kind antique shop in New Orleans Square. Here's an article from The Disneyland Line, date July 5, 1979:

They're Not Getting Older...They're Getting More Valuable!

The shop is small, situated on a well-traveled corner. The French doors, opened wide, reveal a decor best described as "creative clutter." Upon entering, you are confronted with a large, ornately carved dining set Austrian, circa 1860. The tabletop hosts a variety of brass -- door knockers, candlesticks, bells and statuettes. In display cases throughout the shop you see English China, Italian porcelain and German bisque. One nook houses an elaborate bedstead of the '30's.

The scene could be the interior of any of a number of quality antique stores, except for one thing -- location! That "well-traveled corner" is right here in Disneyland, and this unique antique collection resides in our overt own One Of A Kind shop in New Orleans Square.

Besides being one of the most interesting of our merchandise locations, One Of A Kind is probably the most famous outside the Park. Stage Supervisor Jack Onyett commented that "people will often come out to Disneyland for the sole purpose of acquiring something from this shop. Either they've been here before, to look, and now are back to buy, or they've heard that we have something of interest to them."

The buyer in charge of keeping One Of A Kind a tempting lure to antique buyers is Hildegard Webster, a Cast Member since 1961. Her realm also includes the Gold and Silver shops, the Parfumerie and Le Gourmet.

Although One Of A Kind is themed primarily to European antiques (you'll find some early American oak in this group), all the buying is done on this side of the Atlantic. Hildegard is naturally reluctant to reveal her sources, but she will admit that she sticks pretty close to the L.A. and Orange County areas, and "attends a lot of auctions."

At one time, buyers did cross the ocean to search for their treasures, but in the long run this just wasn't practical. "Now," says Hildegard, "the merchandise is close at hand and it enables me to look on year-round basis."

The items vary in age, price and description from alabaster eggs selling for $1.50 each to washstands priced at $650, to the nine-piece dinette set the recently sold for $5900!

The oldest are sets of 18th Century microscopes and nautical instruments. There is even an optometrist's kit from the late 1800's, complete with measuring devices and lenses still intact. But New Orleans Lead Pat Cannon and Hostess Joani Magin agree that the most fascinating item they've yet encountered was the elaborate Gregorian Chant Book dated 1607!

It's interesting to note, too, that even here in the land of antiques there are some endangered species, clocks are getting scarce and the prices have become prohibitive. The ones now available in One Of A Kind are in excellent condition and are very modestly priced.

Although some reproductions are handled, notably chandeliers, needlepoint pillows and bell pulls, the majority of the articles, and all the furniture, are genuine.

"One of a kind" in merchandise, this cozy corner also has some "one of a kind" challenges. For instance, when a large hutch or dining set is purchased, nearly the entire shop has to be dismantled to remove it. From New Orleans, it goes to the Warehouse for pick-up or delivery. Since this procedure has to take place after operating hours, it means that at 5:00 the next morning, Hildegard, a stock person and a Lead must attempt to groom the disheveled shop before the Park opens. According to everyone who has ever been involved, "It's a disaster when we get here! If you've never seen it, you can't even imagine it." But they've never failed to finish on time!

"One of a kind"...it implies the unique, the unusual, the out-of-the-ordinary, from odd to awesome. But to us here at Disneyland, One Of A Kind is that most charming corner shop in New Orleans that knows the beauty of age.

See more vintage & current Disneyland New Orleans Square photos on my New Orleans Square web pages.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Disneyland Diary, 1968—1969


• Major improvements to the PeopleMover, in Tomorrowland,...

as well as at the Park's Main Entrance and in the Guest Parking Lot.


A record 23,000 celebrants turned out for the New Year's Eve Party.

Disneyland Ambassador to the World Sally Sherbin represented the Park in Miami Orange Bowl Parade. Later she toured the South Seas and New Zealand.

Special events included Valentine's Party, a first St. Patrick's Day Parade, "Spring Fling," Easter Parade, first Cinco De Mayo Fiesta and the Angels-Disneyland Fun Day Doubleheader.

Lionel Hampton, Harry James, Stan Kenton and Wayne King starred in the seventh Big Band Festival.

More than 300 high schools were represented in the all-night Grad Parties, 2,000 grads traveling by air.

Summer entertainment doubled with top stars in "On Stage U.S.A." plus the daily "Disneyland on Parade."

"Dixieland at Disneyland" starred Santo Pecora, Turk Murphy, Teddy Buckner, and the Dukes of Dixieland.

More than 80 new Disney characters and unique floats were added to "Fantasy on Parade," presented through the Christmas season.

Disneyland's Community Service Awards program honored 27 county organizations with cash awards totaling $30,000. The Outstanding Award was won by Orange County California Partners for Progress.


• Princess Margaretha of Sweden (February)
• Gov. Claude Kirk of Florida (February)
• Prince Abdul Wali of Afghanistan (March)
• Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn of Thailand (May)
• Sen. Robert Kennedy (June)

• Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace (August)

• Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon (August)

• Gov. Robert Ray of Iowa (November)


• HAUNTED MANSION (complete with 999 ghosts from all parts of the world) — New Orleans Square

• DISNEYLAND-ALWEG MONORAIL SYSTEM (New monorail station was completed in Tomorrowland to accommodate four newly designed air-cushioned trains put in service for the summer season) — Tomorrowland


Fireworks and dance bands highlighted the New Year's Eve Party, another sellout.

Disneyland Ambassador to the World Shari Bescos toured western states, eight major eastern cities, seven South American countries and such Far East destinations as Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Special parades and entertainment were presented for Valentine's Day, Lincoln's and Washington's Birthdays, Angels-Disneyland Fun Day Doubleheader, St. Patrick's Day, "Love Bug" Day, "Spring Fling," Easter and Viva Mexico Fiesta.

Memorial Day Weekend Big Band Festival featured Harry James, Count Basie, Don Ellis and Sammy Kaye. Star-name "On Stage U.S.A." shows formed the nucleus of summer entertainment.

More than 90,000 high school graduates and their dates attended seven all-nigh Grad Parties in June.

Al Hirt and ten top jazz bands starred in "Dixieland at Disneyland."

"Fantasy on Parade" highlighted a festive Holiday Season.

Disneyland's Community Service Awards program honored 24 county organizations with cash awards totaling $30,000. The Outstanding Award was won by the Dave Wilkerson Youth Rallies.


• Queen Muna of Jordan (May)
• Gov. Robert Scott of North Carolina (August)
• Gov. Robert McNair of South Carolina (August)
• Gov. William G. Milliken of Michigan (August)
• Secretary of State William Rogers (September)
• Russian Cosmonauts Gen. G.T. Beregovoy and Mr. K.P. Feoktistov and their families, accompanied by American Astronaut Eugene Cernan and his wife (October)

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Disneyland Diary, 1967


• PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (exciting Audio-Animatronics adventure) — New Orleans Square

• NEW TOMORROWLAND opened. Seven new attractions included:


• CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS (since moved to Walt Disney World)


• FLIGHT TO THE MOON (now "Mission to Mars")



• AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL (now American Journeys)


More than 18,000 greeted New Year's and thousands more attended the second annual Valentine Dance.

A capacity crowd celebrated "Spring Fling," nightly dancing to midnight during Easter Week and old-fashioned Easter Sunday Parade.

Marcia Miner, third Disneyland Ambassador to the World, toured the United States.

Angels baseball stars joined a capacity crowd for Angels-Disneyland Fun Day Doubleheader.

Memorial Day Weekend Big Band Nights starred Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Mel Torme, Larry Elgart and Art Mooney.

More than 75,000 youngsters from 250 high schools (Needles to San Francisco) attended all-night Grad Parties in June.

Star-studded summer shows included weekly Humdingers, Hootenannies, Vaudeville and Country Music Jubilee.

Jazz greats for Sept. 30 "Dixieland" included Eddie Condon, Teddy Buckner, "Doc" Souchon's All Stars and South Market St. Jazz Band.

Disneyland's Community Service Awards program, in its 10th year, honored 23 county organizations with cash awards totaling $28,000. The Outstanding Award was won by Children's Hospital of Orange County.


• President Cevdet Sunay of Turkey (April)
• Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (April)
• Vice President Tin Pe of Burma (May)
• Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York (July)
• Prince Rainier III, Princess Caroline and Prince Albert of Monaco (August)
• Prince Monlay Ali and Princess Talla Zohra of Morocco (September)
• President Corneliu Manescu of the United Nations (October)
• Crown Prince Vong Savang of Laos (November)

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disneyland Diary, 1966

In 1966, Disneyland and the world mourned Walt Disney's passing on December 15. Roy O. Disney, President of Walt Disney Productions, pledged the continuation of Walt's plans for the Park's expansion, in keeping with the promise Walt made on Disneyland's Day One.


• IT'S A SMALL WORLD — Fantasyland

• PRIMEVAL WORLD — Seen from the Disneyland Railroad.

• NEW ORLEANS SQUARE (Disneyland's first all new "land" since its opening).


The New Year's Eve Party attracted 18,000.

Connie Swanson, 1966 Disneyland Ambassador to the World, toured the West coast and other areas of United States, plus Scandinavia, South America and Canada.

Valentine Dance, Youth Days and "Spring Fling" (with 23,000) set new attendance records.

Antique autos paraded for Easter along with ladies and gentlemen in turn-of-the-century fashions.

More than 60,000 high school seniors and their dates attended five all-night Grad Parties.

Xavier Cugat, Nelson Riddle and Harry James starred in summer-opening Big Band Night.

Top recording artists for weekly Hootenannies, Humdingers and Country Music sparked summer entertainment.

Louis Armstrong, Bob Crosby, Turk Murphy and "Doc" Souchon's New Orleans All-Stars played for the seventh "Dixieland at Disneyland."

Twice-daily "Fantasy on Parade" presentations highlighted the Christmas season.

Disneyland's community Service Awards program honored 23 county organizations with cash awards totaling $28,000. The Outstanding Award was won by the Orange County Society for Crippled Children and Adults Rehabilitation Center.


• House Speaker Anwar Sadat of United Arab Republic (February)
• Mayor Mahamane Haidara of Timbuktu (March)
• Prince Michael and Princess Marine of Greece (April)
• Admiral Toscana of Brazil (April)
• Prince Surachatra of Thailand (April)
• Prince and Princess Pahlavi of Iran (May)
• Prince George and Princess Anne of Denmark (May)
• Ten U.S. Governors (July)
• Prime Minister Forbes Burnham of Guyana (July)
• Sir Edmund Hillary (August)
• 275 Congressional Medal of Honor Winners (October)

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