Saturday, May 25, 2013

30th Anniversary of Fantasyland 2.0

Thirty-years ago today, Fantasyland 2.0 opened to the public, showing a version of this beloved land that was not possible back in 1955 when Walt Disney found himself short of money. Today's post celebrates all things Fantasyland, starting out with a construction shot of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Zooming in, it would appear that the original intention was to put something on the area where the crest now resides. However, this area remained blank for another ten years. Another cost cutting measure, perhaps?

Relive the excitement of Opening Day, July 17, 1955 as you read the publicity blurb that accompanied this photo of the first children to experience Fantasyland:

THE RUSH TO FANTASYLAND IS ON—Children sprint across the drawbridge and through the castle that marks the entrance to Fantasyland during today's premiere of Disneyland here. Fantasyland, on which Walt Disney's creators lavished their most vivid imaginations, remained closed until late in the day. A full scale stampede developed when it finally was opened.

Plenty of celebrities on hand for Opening Day festivities, including Jerry Lewis on Mr. Toad:

and Richard Nixon:

Anyone know what this cast member's shirt says?

In this October 1958 shot, you can see that the 3-year old Castle was already in need of a bit of maintenance, with scaffolds surrounding the turrets:

Although the style was charming, this October 1958 shot of the Mad Hatter stand shows the basic flaw with early Fantasyland: flat and somewhat cheap looking. Still, it is pretty cool to think that the people who painted these signs were not too far removed from the artists that first created these legendary animated characters.

A colorful 1960's overview of Fantasyland:

Flash forward to the 2.0 version, here are a few aerial/zoom views of what it looked like from the sky:

The entry sign on Harbor Boulevard is visible here:

The original stampede photo was recreated; the kids of 1983 seem just as excited as their 1955 counterparts:

The new fa├žade for Peter Pan:

Snow White:

A few interior shots of the attraction:

A brand-new attraction for Pinocchio, who replaced the Fantasyland Theater:

Toad Hall comes to life:

Naturally a new restaurant, The Village Haus, joined the mix:

Which do you prefer? Fantasyland or Fantasyland 2.0?

UPDATE: Thanks to the generosity of Disneyland nametag/badge collector, Benson Myers, you can now see the debut of two items from his collection: badges given to members of the press and invited guests at the premiere of New Fantasyland:

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K. Martinez said...

Thirty years of New Fantasyland!! Geez I'm feelin' old.

I grew up on the original Fantasyland so I have a special fondness for it. For my entire childhood and well into early adulthood the original version stood there. I still remember it well for being very colorful and whimsical. I also remember back then hearing several people referring to Fantasyland as the area in Disneyland that looked most like an “amusement park”, so I guess that wasn’t too flattering. I used to eat at the Pirate Ship Restaurant, Welch’s Grape Juice Bar and Character Foods next to Alice in Wonderland quite often so there are lots of memories tied into the original Fantasyland for me.

By the time New Fantasyland was built and opened I was already an adult. For all its detail and European style storybook setting it's quite spectacular. For design and execution it’s definitely technically superior. While impressive, it doesn’t hold the charm for me on a personal level, but I can admire the work put into it. I think the best part of Fantasyland both old and new is Storybook Land with its Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train. Pure magic and charm!

So between original Fantasyland and New Fantasyland it’s about even for me. I love them both for different reasons.

Question: Is the Pinocchio’s Daring Journey interior shot a publicity photo?

Daveland said...

K. - Yes, that's a publicity shot. I agree on Storybook Land - I could spend hours there looking at all the miniatures!

K. Martinez said...

Dave - Thanks for answering my question. That's what I thought. It has the look of a publicity photo. Very nice collection of B&W photos today.

Matt G. said...

Definitely prefer the newer version. I seem to recall reading that the makeover is more inline with what Walt Disney originally envisioned, had he not ran out of money.


So much of the Disneyland 1983 New Fantasyland is comprised of destails from molds made for EPCOTS World Showcase. Germany, United Kingdom and France details were used to make everything from chimney pots, wrought iron trim and even the plaster and stone finishes. Without Epcot, the New Fantasyland would have been very different.

Matterhorn1959 said...

The patch on the cast member's shirt reads Fantasyland in a stylized shield.

Anonymous said...

I am torn about the New Fantasyland. I love everything new about it except that Dumbo displaced the Pirate Ship.

If some way had been found to keep Skull Rock and the Pirate ship, it would be perfect.

Everytime I enjoy Fantasyland now, I can't help but be reminded of what we lost to gain it, and to pray that no one decides to eliminate Casey and Storybook Canal boats for something else.

Thank you for these special pics, Dave. Really nice.