Sunday, August 31, 2008
I enjoyed looking at the classifieds in the page posted above and seeing a slice of life in 1984.
You could pick up an Atari 2600 video game (with joysticks!) for $125. Not quite an "X-Box 360," but it would do in a pinch. There were quite a few VW bugs (or as my daughter calls them: "Herbie Cars!") for sale. Seemed to be the official car of Disney employees. Most of the vehicles were 1970s vintage. I should've picked up a couple back then and held onto them!
As for real estate, you could have moved yourself into a 4-bedroom home in Chino for $93,000 back in 1984.
Come to think of it, I think that's pretty close to the asking price for a home in Chino TODAY!
The more things change...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
And further thanks to Sandi Miller, who first posted this shot of the Mark Twain and the recently-drained Rivers of America during the 1984 rehab. There was a bit of a stink in Frontierland/New Orleans Square when the mucky waters receded, literally and figuratively.
Oh, and yes, Virginia, the Mark Twain is on a track. Somehow Walt and Company weren't willing to trust a ride operator to navigate the Rivers of America on their own from the wheelhouse.
And no, Viriginia, you do NOT want to dive headfirst off the bow into the River. It's a tad shallow. That's why we dye the heck out of it. Love that murky, Jungle green!
To close out today's post, I offer you another slighltly sinking Raft to Tom Sawyer's Island photograph, courtesy of George Herold---this is from 1975. The ride operator and helmsman, Bill Jacobson, seems to be all smiles, as his guests try to keep their feet dry. Dig those 70s tube socks!
Friday, August 29, 2008
It is true, I was there when the Park turned 25 and again when it turned 30, but the Grad Nite button is not my own.
The "I'm A Winner" button came from the "Gift Giver Extraordinaire" and was accompanied by a large Mickey Mouse plush toy. One of my family members won it during a visit to the park in 1985. You may have a few buttons of your own floating around the house.
As for me, I have a small number of Disney pins but am NOT a pin trader.
Those folks drink a special kind of Kool Aid.
Talk about an addiction.
(Editor's Note: The above comments come from a grown man with a blog devoted to a slice of time over 20 years ago at Disneyland, who has a known affinity for coffee and Martinis---not exactly the type who should be casting "addiction" aspersions).
Have a Happy and Safe Labor Day Weekend all!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I spent many shifts at the old Treehouse and it contained my favorite water feature in the Park: the stream running beneath the tree and through "volcanic rock" toward the old Jungle Cruise queue. The water was always peacefully moving in the background as the guests rolled through the turnstile and gazed up at the big water wheel, which, in turn, carried the water up to the top of the tree (and back down through a "bamboo" plumbing system).
Jackie Lacey worked in Adventure/Frontier Attractions and was dating (and later married) my old foreman on Main Street, Dave "Ranger Dave" Fraser. They are both great people and I understand they are still doing quite well. I expect that some of you folks from "Club 951" will remember Jackie from her days on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tiki Room, etc.
I love the photograph because it captures the location as I fondly recall it. It also shows Jackie is "taking the count," (see the clipboard), so she must have just rotated to the position and is making note of the turnstile count (shown on an old odometer-type meter on the turnstile). We would do this periodically through the day, keeping a log of the number of guests who toured the attraction. I suppose this is all done by computer nowadays.
Well, move along now and enjoy your trip through the old Treehouse!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Next, a cast member's view of one of the Disneyland Railroad trains stopped at the Frontierland Station. Guests who end up on this side of the tracks are definitely in the wrong place! Even Disneyland trains take a long ways to stop, so crossing the tracks is NEVER a good idea!
I have much more to share, but not today, so I'll just mosey along for now.
Monday, August 25, 2008
It appears from the photograph that the old Grand Hotel was still standing.
It was later imploded by Disney.
It also appears that the Disneyland parking lot was still in place.
It was later "improved" by Disney.
As for the plaid pants, thankfully, unlike Disneyland, there are some things in life that you do grow out of.
It has been reported on many job hunting and career-coaching websites that a large number of Americans list "Jungle Cruise Captain or Skipper" as one of the jobs they would most like to have---if money were no object.
Indeed, there was even a contest in which people auditioned for a chance at the "Dream Job" of becoming a Jungle Cruise skipper.
Some of us were fortunate enough to get the job through the old "apply and interview" process.
Here is one of the documents you would have received as part of your packet of information when you hired into Department 951 back in the 1980s. Of course, many Disneyland cast members from that time period will read these excerpts with fond memories of "Harbor House" and the old time cards and punch clock located there.
I was given a reminder card for a couple of my shifts as an Adventure/Frontier Attractions Host in Department 951. Looks like I was working a 1:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Parade shift on a Sunday and a Thursday shift at Tiki Room. I guess I could call over to extension 4695 and confirm!
Also attached to your packet in 1987 would have been one of these cards announcing Disney Dollars and how to treat them. I remember handling tons of Disney Dollars while working the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade. I wore my Big Thunder costume and was assigned a money belt. I would make change, give refunds and show the guests that you really could shoot down all the cars of the wagon train in one pass---if you had hours of practice as a cast member!
I do not believe I have a single Disney Dollar in my possession today, but I sure handled enough of them during shifts at the Shootin' Arcade.
I can still drop the targets like a seasoned rifleman thanks to many slow hours and my ability to provide unlimited resets to the guns in my days as a cast member! My favorite target: the old mine---I love the explosion in the mine and the little ore cart that darts out around the bend after you hit the bullseye!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Pictured below are some very recent photographs of the Fanstasyland Skyway station taken by an apparently wayward guest who somehow stumbled up the chained-over stairway to get a glimpse at it. Join me in a brief review of what is and what was---the Fantasyland Skyway.
The lighting fixtures for the attraction still adorn the entrance walkway (down below you will see Walt next to one of them at the attraction's grand opening).
The little Skyway terminal sits in a darkened forest, like Snow White waiting for a rescue.
Here are the main entrance and exit doorways----long since closed. The old drinking fountains remain, with leaves and pine needles building around their bases. There is also a "feeding station" (not pictured) for feral cats located just to the left of the drinking fountains. There are bowls of food and water on top of a cat shelter---please don't tell Timothy over on Dumbo!
Apparently, the cats are being fed (and housed) as part of Disney's "green" approach to keeping down the mouse population (except of course for those of the red-shorts-and-yellow-shoes variety) that must inhabit this part of Fanstasyland.
I use the term "mouse" in its broadest sense here. I vividly recall a night or two on the Jungle Cruise when I turned my spotlight on a "mouse" in the Jungle that was enormous and could easily have been mistaken for a tree rat. On those occasions, I made a quick reference to the creature being a relative of the guy who signed my paychecks and the guests just laughed and seemed to think it was part of the show.
Here is another view of the exit, along with the open windows of the "station" where your Skwyay To Tomorrowland car would launch onto the cable, enabling you to take a "one-way journey and enjoy an aerial view of the Magic Kingdom" (as the 1980 Disneyland souvenir guide described it on page 24---it was a "D Coupon" attraction back then).
The frames of the windows were stenciled with the following quote from the Dormouse (again with the mouse thing) of Alice in Wonderland: "Up above the world you fly, like a tea tray in the sky."
Here is a closer view.And if you look closely at the next photograph, you can peer into the dark recesses of the old loading area. This place hasn't seen much action since the ride went permanently "101" in November 1994 (whoa! It has been sitting up there waiting for rebirth for almost 14 years!).
I am willing to wager that Walt never envisioned that the building behind him would lie empty and forgotten some 52 years after this picture was taken. (Photograph from Disneyland: Inside Story by Randy Bright, Copyright © 1987 The Walt Disney Company).
If you look at the lamps in the photograph of Walt, you will see that they appear to be in their same locations today, with the one closest to Walt still lit (as seen in the photograph of the Skyway exit above).
Ken Pellman, another former Cast Member who seems to share my sensibilities, wrote the piece linked here about his last ride on the Skyway. Nice job, Ken.
And as to our dear departed friend, the Skyway, allow me, in conclusion, to quote "Little Leota" of Haunted Mansion fame:
"Hurry baaaack. Hurry baa-aaaack..."
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Today, however, the paint is a rusty gold color. The canopy is brick red and off white/beige (gag). The trash cans are a bluish gray. The umbrellas and tables sit puzzingly far from any food or beverage source. And the umbrellas share the band shell's sad color scheme.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
In the distance we see the main entrance to Tomorrowland. It appears to be around the Christmas season, as the poinsettias are adorning the lamp posts on Main Street.
Our eye catches primary colors of black, crisp white and red. The yellow and blue hues of the Peoplemover cars mix with the green benches and the red and yellow flowers in the main planter of the Hub (foreground).
There is no Partners statue blocking our view across the Hub.
There is no Astro Orbiter rudely intruding between us and the curved split of the Peoplemover track.
The flagpole at the entrance to Tomorrowland lines up perfectly with the Rocket Jets in the background.
Our eye (and our interest) is drawn forward into the heart of Tomorrowland, like the camera lens is drawn through the cels in a multiplane camera.
As we flash forward to 2008, we notice some changes to this area of the Park. For one thing, you can't really see Tomorrowland anymore amidst the confusion of shapes, colors and foliage. Like a neighbor's overgrown backyard fence, the visual cues tell us: "keep out."
We see that the colorful flower beds have been replaced with green shrubs with jagged rocks goring through and out of them, like the creature in Alien making its big entrance.
What color are those rocky juttings? Purple, gold, rust, magenta, burnt sienna? It's like all the crayons you never wanted to use have melted together.
And where's Walt's wienie?
I never thought I'd ask that question, but you true believers know what I mean.
This isn't it, is it?
Can anyone give me a hint as to what this thing is supposed to be?
Did Tomorrowland sign up for DirecTV?
Has Captain Nemo misplaced his harpoon?
Did JPL clear out its attic?
Did Radio Shack have a 70% clearance sale on rusty satcom dishes?
And why am I even bothering to look at it?
Frankly, I look there because my eyes want to fill in that space above the Peoplemover station. Even if you had never in your life seen the Rocket Jets located in their proper position in Tomorrowland, something inside you would nonetheless instinctively telegraph your brain that something is wrong with the picture you are seeing. The hunk of junk in the middle is not big enough, for one thing. You eye sees it as too squat for the base on which the junk is mounted. Its central location in the geography of Tomorrowland sends signals to your aesthetic sense (come on, most of us have one) that a taller shape belongs here.
Folks, Disneyland was designed and laid out by artists first. Then engineers tried their best to make things fit the vision. Artists and filmmakers know about perspective.
Somehow, in the redesign of Tomorrowland, Disney forgot its basic principles of design (and color).
Take a gander at another shot of the main entrance area from 1979. There is a mixture of art and science (mostly art) which combines for a beautiful, eye-pleasing result.
Elements like the curve of the Peoplemover track and its arching supports, the shiny wall, the geometric planters, the contrast between light and dark, the curving bands of yellow and purple flowers surrounding proud birds of paradise, and the bright yellow cars of the Peoplemover all work together, like a painting or a sculpture, to create a satisfied response in the human viewer.
Today, the track remains, but everything else has been dumped out with the bathwater.
Is the shining silver wall there? Not like it used to be. Ack.
What the heck is the color of the track of the Peoplemover (excuse me, Rocket Rods; oh pardon me, the attraction formerly known as the Rocket Rods) today?
Is your eye pleased by it?
Where are the flowers?
In case you've forgotten---or worse yet, never had the opportunity to see them in the first place---here is a shot of one of the large main entrance flower beds.
I can see why they got rid of them.
Why waste time and space with flower beds when you can have jagged rocks blocking your view and clogging traffic?
Ah. The simple beauty of this new approach clearly trumps yesterday's stale old flora.
Friday, August 15, 2008
But never forgotten.
Carnation Plaza Gardens at the northwest corner of the Hub was a great food service location throughout its history.
Now its famous band shell sits alone, the food is gone and Plaza Gardens has become a walk-through area (leading to the Plaza Zocalo and Frontierland).
Sure, there are still some tables over there (and some red and white umbrellas), but why? Guests who come to enjoy the entertainers in the band shell have no place to grab a hot dog, fries, an ice cream or a drink (absent a trek down Main Street or into Frontierland).
Plaza Gardens has special meaning to an old sweeper, since I would walk through this area every day on the way to Custodial Control---Day Custodial's main office. There was a door to the back area just to the left of the food service location pictured above. I think it's still there, actually, but I'd have to go back and check during my next visit to be sure. Anyway, I purchased many a Coke and a cup of coffee on my way past Plaza Gardens while heading for my assigned area. The bussers and food service people in this area were familiar faces.
Inexplicably, Plaza Gardens has been stripped down to only its famous stage and canopy. I imagine this was for "traffic flow" purposes, since the West Side of the Park is devastated nightly by the Fantasmic show (so perfectly themed to FRONTIERLAND!) and an additional means of egress is necessary to help funnel the hordes trying to escape New Orleans Square and Frontierland after the show lets out. A traffic tunnel has been carved out and the former Casa de Fritos location was greatly expanded---both of which occupy the area where Custodial Control's little offices were located.
Sure, the traffic moves more smoothly now. Sure, the bathrooms are bigger and better than they used to be. Sure, there are a lot less french fries on the ground.
But I must admit to an emptiness inside when I stray through this area today. It is similar to the feeling I get when I walk past the Aladdin travesty that was once the Tahitian Terrace. Or hear Tarzan's jungle call as I struggle through the crowd in front of what was once the Swiss Family's treehouse.
Maybe you know this feeling. If you are a long-time Disneylander, I'll bet you do.
You know, it is that bilious feeling when you get to the end of Main Street and make a right turn into what used to be the open, flower-filled entrance to Tomorrowland and instead you collide into rust-colored jutting rocks and a mangled version of what used to be the Rocket Jets. And you think, "Who in the hell thought that taking the Rocket Jets down from their tower in the center of Tomorrowland and moving them to Main Street (in FRONT OF the Peoplemover tracks) would be a good idea???!!"
Or that feeling when you search in vain for Circlevision 360 or glance skyward in Fantasyland for the colorful cars of the Skyway.
It is how you feel when you see that Mission to Mars has become a foul-smelling, poorly air-conditioned Pizza Planet.
It is the difference between the disaster of Light Magic (and all its funky lighting fixtures that have now clogged both sides of the skyline on the path leading to It's a Small World) and the unbridled warmth and joy of The Main Street Electrical Parade.
It is Winnie the Pooh taking over Bear Country and cruelly hanging Max, Buff and Melvin, now forever motionless on the wall, as a testament to the coup.
It is Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln becoming A Few Moments With Mr. (Steve) Martin.
It is Toontown.
It is Jack Sparrow.
It is Jack Skellington.
It is a rotting Keel Boat.
It is a Festival of Fools.
It is Chevron taking over the Autopia (pull out some pictures of the old attraction's vehicles and layout and compare them to what is there today).
It is Innoventions instead of America Sings.
It is the People Mover traded out for Rocket Rods.
It is the empty waters of the Motor Boat Cruise.
It is the Hungry Bear Restaurant looking kinda lonesome and out of place in Critter Country.
It is what brought you the (thankfully) temporary pastel paint job on the facade of It's a Small World and what may be behind whatever they are doing to that attraction as we speak! Poor Mary Blair!
It is Cascade Mound instead of Cascade Peak.
It is knowing that the proud Columbia and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad somehow once became lethal.
If you do not know the feeling, consider yourself fortunate.
If you do, you have company.
Of course, the Park remains magical and always will.
I always expected it to grow and add new things, but never at the expense of what it means to be truly Disneyland.
I think the new regime might finally be getting the picture. The re-opening of the walk through attraction in Sleeping Beauty's Castle is one of many steps recently taken back toward the core of Disneyland. The Subs, after all, are back. And the Park is immaculately clean as of late.
Here's to every step in the right direction! And a fond farewell to many things and places that are no more. Adieu.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The Olympics Summer. The summer of Ghostbusters. The year when George Orwell's "Big Brother" was supposed to be watching us. The year before Disneyland would celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The year Donald Duck turned 50.
Disneyland even had a parade for him.
While not exactly pulling out all the stops---after all, he isn't exactly Mickey Mouse---Walt Disney Productions did make something of Donald's 50th birthday, as found within the pages of the press kit that WDP distributed in advance of the big event (the cover of which is pictured here to the left---click on these photographs to see the large-sized scan in its entirety).
These press kit pages are fairly rare, I imagine. I hung onto them after they were sent to me in my capacity as the editor of our school's newspaper in 1983-84.
Frankly, I don't know how many newsrooms kept their kits, but I suspect most tossed them at some point during the last 24 years.
Anyway, here are the contents of the press kit, as distributed by Disneyland's Supervisor of Publicity in 1983, Lorraine Santoli. We begin with black and white photographs that were to accompany articles on Donald's birthday.
I particularly like the photographs of Walt Disney and of Clarence "Ducky" Nash, both of whom had a pretty close working relationship with Donald over the years.Without Mr. Nash's amazing vocal skills, I doubt strongly that Donald would today be counted among the "Fab Five" of Disney's most famous cartoon characters (and we're not talking about Pocahontas, Quasimodo, Brother Bear, Milo James Thatch -- of Atlantis fame---and Maggie---from Home on the Range, if you know what I mean).
The kit included was a 4-page background entiteld "Donald Duck Celebrates 50th Birthday," which is reproduced for you below in its entirety.
It provides a host of information on Donald in a fairly short amount of copy.
Click on the scans for a better view and read for yourself Donald's "official" story that WDP caused to be distributed for general release in 1983. Donald's "Official" birthday was linked to the June 9, 1934 release date of The Wise Little Hen, one of the famous Silly Symphonies that Disney produced in the 1930s. 1935's The Band Concert is still my personal all-time favorite Mickey Mouse cartoon and was also released during the same general era---it shows a somewhat evolved Donal Duck who has most all the elements of his "character" firmly in place only about a year after his debut.
Disneyland held a daytime parade for Donald's 50th. It was a pretty stock "character" parade, as I recall. I think you might even be able to see snippets of it on Youtube.com (search "Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Parade" and you should find it).
I remember being part of the post-parade clean up crew on Main Street. We would gather at the Hub with a group of sweepers and a couple of motorized vacuums (they looked like big lawnmowers). Two or three sweepers with push brooms would strike out ahead of the vacuums and begin sweeping confetti or parade debria from the curbs toward the middle of the street. The vacuum operators would follow along and pick up the debris.
We were kind of our own little "parade" after the Parade. It was noisy and created quite a commotion, but old Main Street was cleaned up in less than half an hour and back to its "pre-parade" spotlessness.
This past June our friend Donald turned 74 and we wish him many happy returns.
Sadly, "Ducky" Nash passed away in February 1985, only a few short months after Donald's 50th birthday year ended. Thanks to Mr. Nash for brightening our lives with his talent.
I hope that you devoted Jungle readers have enjoyed the chance to peek at this press kit.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Reproduced below are selected pages from the information booklet that was given to Day Custodial cast members who were hired in the 1980 - 85 time period. I am sure you will get an indication from reviewing this booklet why it was that "Disneyland is synonymous with the word cleanliness" and "The cleanliness of the Park is one of the most common compliments received."
Here's to our quadrupedal friends on Main Street and the many times they helped to keep me humble!