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Entries in Frontierland (13)

Wednesday
Jul162014

Disneyland Turns 59

Happy 59th Anniversary to Disneyland. Disneyland opened on July 18, 1955 but thousands of people (only some of whom were actually invited) visited the park on July 17, 1955 during a press preview. Los Angeles Times photographers captured the events of both days and only recently have many of their photos been made public. 

The photo above was taken during construction, not long before Opening Day. You can see some construction equipment if you look closely.

Look at those long lines! And a bus drop-off area right in front? This was July 18, the first official opening to the public, hence the people lining up to buy tickets. 

Newsboys sell newspapers to passengers aboard the Disneyland Railroad. Look where the guests are sitting! (And standing). Can't ride there anymore.

Disneyland Police Department?? Anyone remember this? The building is still there and its exterior has changed very little. You might remember it as the Guided Tours building. It's located just South of City Hall.

Did someone leave their booze by the steps?

Cameras on the rooftops. Everyone looking dapper.

Fess Parker.

A residential neighborhood right by Disneyland way back in '55? When were those built? And we can see from this photo that this part of Orange County wasn't just oranges as far the eye can see, like we often hear. But yes, many orange groves.

Original Fanytasyland. Dumbo was way over there towards Frontierland and the Carrousel was much closer to the castle. The Mad Tea Party (tea cups) were located right behind the Carrousel. Storybook Land was still without plant life and miniature set pieces. And no Monstro.

 

The above photographs (and many others) were posted on Los Angeles Times Framework by Scott Harrison on July 16, 2014.

Illustration by Mitch.

 

Related posts:

Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
THEN AND NOW: Walt at Disneyland
Vintage Disneyland Home Movies- Meeting Walt Disney Himself
THEN AND NOW: Aerial Park Photos
Not Having Fun at Disneyland
THEN AND NOWDisneyland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOWDisneyland [Part 2]


Friday
Jun012012

Big Thunder Mountain Model

We've got lots of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad love for everyone. This marvelous 1/4" = 1' scale model can be seen in the lobby of the "Frontierland Tower" at the Disneyland Hotel. It's the wildest model in the wilderness!

 


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Origins

Young Imagineer Tony Baxter had recently worked on the install of some Magic Kingdom Fantasyland attractions prior to Walt Disney World opening. He landing work in the model shop and was working with Marc Davis on plans for Thunder Mesa and Western River Expedition. The area would have included a train ride and a very elaborate boat ride sometimes explained as “Cowboys of the Caribbean” or “Pirates of the Caribbean with Cowboys and Indians”.

Rising 1970s gas prices, lower-than-desired park attendance, and guests expecting a pirate ride ultimately led to the management-promoted idea of axing Marc Davis’ Western River Expedition and the entire Thunder Mesa complex in favor of Pirates of the Caribbean at a fraction of the cost.

Baxter himself was not very happy with the current state of his mine train ride concept. “It has no story, no theme. It’s just a train rolling across a hillside, nothing more.” The train wasn’t very thrilling until later in the ride. Baxter pitched to executives his ideas of a bat-infested cave, an earthquake, and a more thrilling experience starting from the beginning of the ride. Card Walker told Baxter to start work on a stand-alone E-Ticket runaway train thriller, independent of Marc Davis’ project.

Meanwhile the concept of Space Mountain was becoming more and more attractive to Magic Kingdom management. America had recently landed on the moon, people were more interested in space flight than the Old West, and the park needed its first “thrill”. Space Mountain became top priority amongst Imagineers at W.E.D. Space Mountain opened in January 1975 at Walt Disney World. Shortly after construction started on an entire Space Mountain complex at Disneyland which opened in May of 1977.

Everyone in both parks had thrill fever– guests and management alike. Disneyland management had grown tired of Frontierland’s great Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland and it’s high maintenance costs. They wanted yet another thrill. Tony Baxter’s mine train now had new potential. Would his Florida concept fit in MTTNW’s location? Plans were “flipped” and the more-fitting rock style of Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park was selected. The style was to allow for a nice transition between this part of Frontierland and the very nearby Fantasyland.

Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened September 1979. The name “Big Thunder” came from a large waterfall in Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland. Magic Kingdom wanted a thrill for its west side and debuted their Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in November of 1980.


Thoughts

I, for one, love the Big Thunders. They are very well crafted, have great layouts, a touch of thrill without being obnoxious, and are super immersive. As nice as it would be to ride Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland (it was like three time larger in footprint than its replacement) Big Thunder Mountion wonderful. It lacks a lot of the "nature" of Nature's Wonderland and it's difficult to watch any animal for more than a few seconds (many of which were originally in Nature's Wonderland!). It lacks that charming ride narration and the ride ends much much sooner than the original but really it's a gem.

 

Related posts:

The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 1 ]
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 2 ]
Buena Vista Street Model
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
Mars and Beyond Robot


Tuesday
Feb282012

Magic Kingdom at Night

Will you be pulling an all-nighter at Disneyland or Magic Kingdom as part of Disney's "One More Disney Day"? I will be at home and in bed by ten. After watching "Disneyland After Dark" on dvd of course. Here we present some old nighttime photos of Magic Kingdom.

Where was this photo taken? The top of the train station tower? We get a nice view of backstage parking and even Tinker Bell's landing spot atop one of the Tomorrowland buildings (in green lights).

Many of the following photos were sent to us by Ryan Rewasiewicz as part of our Photo Hunt. They were taken in either 1975 or 1976.

Tomorrowland. STUNNING. What great nighttime views old Tomorrowland offered.

Liberty Square.

Frontierland. And the still-in-operation Diamond Horseshoe.

Adventureland. So nice at night. Look at those old signs. "Tropical Serenade" and "The Enchanted Tiki Birds". The Sunshine Pavilion, unique to Florida, was such a delight. This photo is from an old souvenir picture book.

Ahh the soothing water fountain. Excellent photo, Ryan.

Back to Main Street.

For those of you who make it through the night, this may be your view as you turn around on your way back to your car (minus the Skyway poles, of course). Also from a souvenir book.

Why will I not be there for the Leap Year all-night thing? It does sound fun but I'm going to stick with the memories of the many many all-night adventures I had over the years. Grad Nites, Y2K preparation, Hurricane ride-out crews, other work assignments, sneaking around after hours, sleeping on some old couch in the break room under Main Street.

 

Related posts:

THEN AND NOW: MK Tomorrowland [Part 1]
If This Doesn't Scare You.....
Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall
THEN AND NOW: MK Fantasyland [Part 1]
Atop Cinderella Castle
EYE CANDY: National Geographic Aug '63
EYE CANDY: Not Having Fun at Disneyland