Monday, March 16, 2009

Disneyland - 1970s, 1980s & 1990s

Greetings, Adventure lovers. Today we take back up blogging with a return to yesteryears---the 70s, 80s and 90s. Life for me continues as a Cast Member---in fact I spent yesterday evening on Jungle Cruise, skippering both the Nile and the Hondo. I had a most enjoyable shift and no breakdowns (mechanical or otherwise). About a week ago, we went "101" and it seemed like old times. We had a derail at the Hippo Pool and yours truly manned the rescue boat, backing into the Jungle from the dock and giving the maintenance crew much needed help in the form of an "on-track" boat to help get the disabled boat back into action. I also took the first boat into the Jungle after the breakdown. No problem. Except for the fact that the animation had not been turned back on. I simply worked the lack of noticeable movement into my spiel and the guests and I had a grand time.

But I digress.

Above is a shot (originally supplied from longtime Disneylander Bruce Nelson---many thanks!) from the mid-1970s of the Pearly Band in front of the old Mad Tea Party before it was moved closer to the Matterhorn. You can see the Fantasyland Theatre in the background. I used to love to go in there on hot days and watch the classic Mickey cartoons. As I recall, The Band Concert and Mickey's Trailer were playing the last few times I went inside. The theater was torn down in 1982 to make way for the "New Fantasyland" and it sat near the old Welch's Juice bar in the area that has since become Pinocchio's Daring Journey and Village Haus (my sincere thanks to Progressland over at Disneyland Nomenclature for his piece on the teardown of this area of the park---here's a sincere plug for his blog! Take a moment and follow the link. If you are disappointed, well, perhaps you really aren't the Disney aficionado you may have first fancied yourself to be!).
Keeping with the 1970s, above is a night photo (with thanks to old timer Rudy Bermudes, who originally shared it) showing the opposite side of the Fantasyland courtyard---with dear old Mr. Toad's Wild Ride glowing in the background. The Mad Tea Party is festively aglow and spinning away. As a former sweeper, I must also give thanks to the Paint Shop for their fine work on the waste can in the center of the picture.Next is a photograph of Main Street during 1975 (thanks to Gary Moore for sharing this with us originally). I was at the Park often during this time and it is great to see it again. Look at how CROWDED the place is compared with today. See that stuff around the horse's feet---that's pavement. You don't get to see it much in today's Annual Passholder guestfest that is Disneyland. I miss the days when the Park was less crowded. This used to happen more often. Don't get me wrong---it's great to see guests in the Park. It's just that there used to be a bit more breathing room and isolated little corners where you literally felt like no one else was around. I get that now only during opening shifts, when I walk across an empty and expectant Main Street on my way to Adventureland.
Next, thanks to Sandi Miller (who worked EVERYWHERE at the Park and for a good long while---I'm not giving out any more details as Sandi is ageless!) we have a photo of the guy who played Merlin during the Sword in the Stone ceremony that was a daily occurrence in the mid-1980s after the New Fantasyland debuted. I was a sweeper in 1984-85 and spent many hours in this part of Fantasyland---literally coming to know every nook and cranny as I sought out bits of popcorn, cigarette butts and other debris.

I remember watching Merlin and his supporting crew (a band of guys who played instruments in support of Merlin's spiel over the Sword ceremony---wherein one brave, honest, loyal subject would be crowned king or queen for the day once they pulled the Sword up from the stone, though not ALL the way out). I remember Merlin always seemed a bit too young under the white beard and hat, but the guy played the character quite nicely. He certainly brightened the day for many youngsters who were lucky enough to be selected to pull up the Sword. There are also a good many dads out there who were deemed "unworthy" (in front of the gathered crowd) and failed to get the Sword to budge---making the young ones all the happier when they were able to magically get it to move.
And to close out our post for today, I offer you a good old fashioned cookout above (with thanks to Jim Egelston) from along the Rivers of America. This is apparently how those canoe guys built up their biceps---with a hearty meal of Rivers of America Trout shared with the friendly local Indian---ahem, Native American---tribe. At least the Indians didn't catch their home on fire like that old moonshiner over on the island!

For now, I bid each of my three readers a fond adieu and apologize once again for posting about once a month!!! Doh!