Thursday, June 22, 2017

Vintage Postcards - Coney Island

Hey ho, it's time for another post featuring some vintage postcards from the collection of Ken Martinez! This one is especially great in my opinion - I have always been fascinated by those early amusement parks and their "scenic railways". The postcards make them look pretty amazing. Heeeeeere's Ken:

Coney Island Mountain Range

One of the things I discovered when I first started digging into the history of amusement parks back in the 1970’s was that there were “mountain” type  attractions well before Disney built them in their parks. Coney Island was a prime example which contained various “mountain” attractions through its early history, usually a rolling gravity scenic railway with manmade rocks, crags, tunnels and peaks.

Here’s an early Thompson wooden scenic railway called “Pike’s Peak Railway” which was located off Surf Avenue near Dreamland.  The ride operated from 1906 to 1911.  The structure which was in the form of a mountain rose to a height of 138 feet (only 9 feet shorter than Disneyland’s Matterhorn).  The ride would take riders up a lift hill and down the gravity railway, passing through the “mountain” over precipitous crags and through various caverns.  The attraction perished in the 1911 Dreamland fire.


This postcard kind of reminds me of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland.  It was officially called “Over the Great Divide” but was also referred to as “Trip over the Alps”.  It operated from 1907 to 1911.  20-passenger trains would travel to a height of 50 feet then wind their way down the tracks around turns, through tunnels and over a 70 foot bridge between “Yellowstone Mountain” and the “Great Divide” over a lake 40 feet below.  There was also a volcano that erupted at the highest point of the trip.  Each train was operated by a motorman who controlled the speed of the trains during the run through their course.  As with the “Pikes Peak Railway” this attraction also perished in the 1911 Dreamland fire.


Pictured here is the “Mountain Torrent” ride which was a combination coaster and shoot-the chutes ride.  Its location was in Luna Park near the Dragon’s Gorge Scenic Railway.  Passengers actually climbed by foot up an 80 foot “peak” where they would board vehicles/boats (which had utilized wheels) and raced down a flume which carried high volumes of rushing water helping push the “boat” along.  The ride ended in a finale with a splashdown into a glacial lake at the bottom of the mountain.  Sound familiar?  It ran from 1906 to 1910.


Here’s a close up view of the “Mountain Torrent” vehicles.  Another aspect of these cards that I love is the clothing worn by the people from the 1900’s.


Hope you enjoyed a peek at Coney Island’s “mountain range”.  There are more Coney Island postcards to come.

Information Source material: 
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Coney Island History Site http://www.westland.net/coneyisland/

MANY THANKS to Ken Martinez for this awesome post!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Special Guest Mega-Post

Today we have a contribution from GDB pal JG (you know him from the comments!), who visited the park a few months ago, and took photos until his phone was much heavier from all of the extra pixels. The massive Star Wars Land construction has removed some options from a typical visit, but it has also added a few cool opportunities, of which many of us have not been able to take advantage. (I'm not sure if I've place JG's commentary exactly where he intended, but you should be able to follow along). And now, let's hear from JG (with my own additions in blue)!

As most of you know already, the DLRR has been shut down for over a year as part of the Star Wars Land construction, which required realignment of the railroad and the Rivers of America to make room for more Ewoks.

To provide some interest for visitors in this quiet period, Disney set up a static display of one of  the DLRR engines, the old Kalamazoo hand-car and several other exhibits about the DLRR.


I had a chance to visit the Park recently and this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit was one reason to brave the ever-larger crowds.  Since the GDB crowd seems to be keen on the railroads, I took these pictures partly with the blog in mind.  Hope everyone enjoys them.


I was most interested in the old station building, which I remembered from it's original position on the guest side of the track, it has been marooned on the far side ever since the opening of NOS.  This will probably be the last chance in my lifetime to see the old building up close.

A temporary deck was built across the tracks to provide safe access and a number of interpretive boards were put up under the baggage area of the station.  The first told of Walt's passion for trains. Another described some of the specialty cars that have been part of the DLRR over the years, including the Lily Belle, the Combine Car and the  Kalamazoo Hand-Car.  I don't remember the hand-car from childhood, but GDB commenters sure do, so I took several pics. More boards discussed the various railroads at the other Disney parks and displayed attraction posters from over the years.

These boards remind me of Michael Broggie's book, "Walt Disney's Railroad Story"... I wonder if he was involved in creating them?


Someday they're gonna give me a ride on the Lilly Belle as a V.I.P! Yes, I will be wearing a top hat and monocle.


I thought it was interesting that they devoted so much space to the combine, which can now be seen in Griffith Park.


There are the four WDW locomotives; compare and contrast them to their Disneyland cousins! I have never seen that "Santa Fe and Disneyland RR" sign or poster before.


The artwork in the upper left is familiar to me, but I was surprised to see that it is credited to Fred Joerger; I believe that he was famous for his models and sculpting, but I had no idea that he also did concept art.

Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland get a mention.


Hooray for posters! Thanks to the book, "Poster Art of the Disney Parks", I knew that the same basic design had been reused a number of times. But they left out the Disneyland Bicentennial version!


I'd like to think that lots of people actually read these signs and learned something about the history of railroads in the U.S.A.


The pointing hand shows the way to the telegraph office. Clickety click! I'm not sure what you would call that ornamental device that resembles a wheel, but it reminds me a bit of the Santa Fe Railroad logo, which was sometimes depicted at an angle.


Like this:



There was a nice model of a steam train boiler cut-away so we could see the internal works and some very lucky Cast Members whose jobs were to explain it all to the visitors.  

What a cool thing to include! I wonder if this was custom-made for this exhibit.


It's so strange to see guests walking right in front of the station!


I don't recognize the train that was set aside as the main event  but I'm confident someone will.  The shot of the cab interior is fascinating, but the valves and levers are Greek to me. Hopefully Steve DeGaetano will explain.

These photos show the Ernest S. Marsh, but I wonder if different locomotives were on display on different days?


One of the best parts of the whole affair was being able to take photos up and down the line from the center line of the track.  This part of NOS has always been fun, with the laundry flapping on the lines on the back stage buildings and the water tower, etc.  The only thing missing was the old Santa Fe logo to make my memory day complete.


What a treat to really be able to get a close look at this old locomotive, with its beautiful paint and gold leaf details. 


Where's the steering wheel? How am I supposed to play my 8-track tapes?


Here's a friendly staff member who can answer all your questions, including dumb questions about 8-track tape players.


There's the Kalamazoo Handcar, on the world's shortest railroad spur. If you only need to go 18 inches, you are in luck!


My tour of the exhibit ended with the Delta Ramblers playing on the station platform.  Then off to the Haunted Mansion.

All of this has now been dismantled in the run-up to the re-opening of the River and starting the train again.


And finally, JG included this final photo, along with a very nice note: I am enclosing one last photo from the end of the day.  I stopped at the Hearthstone Lounge in the Grand Californian for a nightcap.  Since I can't buy you a real drink, I'm sending you a virtual one.  Up to you whether you include this last one (or any of them, for that matter) on a family blog, but it's a toast to you and all our friends that make GDB so interesting.  It would be a grand party to have us all together at the Hearthstone.

Aw, thanks JG!


Until I read JG's text, I was not aware that this display of Disney railroad stuff has since been removed. It was definitely an experience that has never been available before (as far as I know), and I am grateful that JG was able to see it and share his photos with us. MANY THANKS to him!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Disneyland Locomotives, June 1963

There seems to be less and less "Walt" at Disneyland as the years pass; for some people, the whole park is a tribute to his legacy, and that's not wrong. But I mean that the things on which Walt Disney had a direct influence, things he helped design, or even attractions that he would have been able to ride during his lifetime, have become fewer and fewer. For those familiar with the history of park, the Disneyland Railroad feels like a direct link to the man that so many of us admire - I am grateful that the locomotives are not only still there, but seem to be more popular than ever.

Here's a nice shot of the E.P. Ripley waiting at Main Street Station - the little locomotive is parked above the west tunnel. For some reason I thought that the trains were mostly run by old-timers back in those days, yet that fellow with the hat looks to be a young 'un. The "Ripley" looks wonderful as always, with gleaming paint and polished brass.


Our photographer must have had a fondness for the trains, as he also captured this shot of the C.K. Holliday... possibly taken mere minutes after the previous picture. I assume that the fellow just exiting the frame to the left is a DL&SFRR employee - perhaps he is taking this opportunity to cool off after being in that hot cabin.

Poster alert!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Golden Horseshoe, August 14 1956

Digging through some previously-unscanned slides, I pulled out today's photos from the Golden Horseshoe Revue. They'd faded to a dabolical magenta, but I figured I'd give them a scan and see what I could do with 'em. The results were decent, if not spectacular. Still, it's fun to have these early views of a classic Disneyland attraction.

Whoo-eee, those gals sure can shake a leg! The scandalous can-can is not quite as scandalous at Disneyland, but I'll bet you two bits that this photo was taken by a dude. Once in a while I am surprised at how tiny that stage is, considering all of the hubbub that went on there.


There's Donald Novis, the Irish (actually English) tenor who preceded Fulton Burley. I love being able to see the kids in the boxes at the side of the stage! The gentleman in the lower left doesn't like what he's hearing, apparently.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rescans

After spending a few hours admiring my exquisite collection of thimbles (from the Franklin Mint!), I decided that I would try to rescan a few old slides and see if I could make any improvements. The results were mixed!

Here's a pretty nice vintage view of Fowler's harbor, taken on August 14, 1958 (for those of you keeping track). It looks adorably ramshackle - maybe the gals from Petticoat Junction would feel at home there. Authentic riverboat junk is scattered along the wharf, while a Keel Boat rests to our left.


The rescan lightened up some of those very dark areas (including the vignetting), and I smoothed out some of the grain. Otherwise it doesn't look that different. BUT... it's an improvement just the same. 


This next one is from July 25, 1961; it's a swell view of the parking lot, with plenty of old cars, Monorail Blue, and a kid in a Civil War kepi holding a striped tube that probably held a souvenir map. This one was OK, but was a bit heavy on the cyan.


Here's the rescan, lighter, brighter, and with the cyan mitigated somewhat. I think it looks loads better! Howsabout you?


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Eastman Kodak, 1964 New York World's Fair

The Eastman Kodak pavilion was one of the more distinctive buildings at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair, and that's saying something! 

Here's a previously-posted exterior. See what I mean? I'm not sure what architectural style was used, except something like "Spaceage Googie", perhaps?


Today's photo were taken from the "moon deck" an undulating surface from which fairgoers could get some sweet views of the rest of the Fair. 

In this first photo we can see things such as a helicopter, probably on its way to the roof of the Port Authority building; the Sky Ride; and from left to right, a "moon berry" (that's what I calls 'em), indicating the location of a "Brass Rail" eatery; the red roof of the Republic of China pavilion; the blocky "House of Japan"; the spindly crown of the Indonesia pavilion (with the large U.S. pavilion barely visible in the distance); Shea Stadium; and the wooden A-frames of the Austria pavilion. The grassy area closest to us was the "Garden of Meditation".


In this view we can see the medieval buildings of the Brussels pavilion; the fluted roof of the Vatican pavilion; the sharp angle of the Christian Science building; the barbed wire cylinder of the Astral Fountain; and the "Tent of Tomorrow", part of the New York State pavilion.


We can just see a sliver of the Schaefer Center; the blocky hexagonal "Better Living Center; and closest to us, Pepsi Cola and Unicef's "it's a small world" (all lower case for K. Martinez), with the infraggable Tower of the Four Winds.


What a Fair!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Two Random Goodies

I had a couple of nice standalone slides - images that were not part of a larger lot. These are good enough for a Friday!

Like this great shot of Main Street Station from the parking lot, from a slide date-stamped "May 1958". Everyone's dressed for a cool day, and the clouds are a hint that this might have actually been March April. I'm always a little surprised at how well you can see things like the Bank of America, the Opera House, and City Hall from this distant vantage point. Presumably they are obscured by trees these days. Sure, I could look on Google, but that would involve effort. I hate effort!

Those original ticket booths look so teeny tiny. No room to swing a cat, that's for sure. There's no train at the station, so points are deducted, but I can recognize several attraction posters, which adds points right back. I can identify the Jungle Cruise and Skyway posters (near the "I" in the Disneyland sign), the Frontierland "tri-level" (under the first "N"), and the Autopia (under the "L").

What do I win?


Here's a neat photo of the Motor Boat Cruise, from May, 1960. The Monorail beam passes above us, and we can see little Fantasyland Station and the Disneyland Railroad pulling the yellow passenger cars. The boat to the left might contain a Grandpa and two little girls - looks like the older girl is "steering". 


Thursday, June 15, 2017

More WDW, December 1971

We're back at "The World" today - Walt Disney World, that is! And instead of the usual shots of the Magic Kingdom, we're at the Polynesian Village Resort on the south shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Name the seven seas! The Sea of Tranquility; the Sea of Love; the Adriatic Sea, the, um... er.... aaaa, who cares about those other crummy seas anyways? It's oceans that impress me.

Back in the 1970's, ads for WDW always showed people water skiing and sailing. There are plenty of outrigger sailboats for those with skills. I wouldn't have the faintest idea of what to do, except capsize.


Presumably even Florida gets chilly enough in December so that most people don't want to risk a dunking.  Where are the speedboats? I want to be as noisy and obnoxious as possible.  Vroom!


Not only were there sailboats, there are also a few very long canoes (kayaks?) along the wharf. And you could also rent a little Bob-A-Round Boat - unseaworthy little electric-powered pleasure craft beloved by many, except for those who were stranded in the middle of the bay when their battery ran out of juice. Some had to resort to cannibalism after two or three hours. 

I know very little about the Polynesian Resort in its current state, but I'll bet it was tons of fun 30 or 40 years ago!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Three More From Huck

Here are three more photos that GDB pal Huck took back in 1995. Can you believe that that's over 20 years ago?

Star Tours is doing bang-up biz on this day, with the line out the door - something I haven't seen for a while (though I have still experienced relatively long lines). The cast member in the orange jumpsuit will use the Force to maintain an orderly line (or a William Shatner karate chop if the Force isn't strong). 


Now that I am paying attention, all of the queues are super busy - and the Jungle Cruise is no exception. With the addition of the Indiana Jones attraction in Adventureland, the Jungle Cruise underwent some changes. Some of the Rivers of the World were re-routed, and scenes were removed, while a new two-story boathouse was built. It's a nice way to get people out of the narrow streets of Adventureland, plus they get to stand in the shade.


I still love riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds; it isn't the scariest roller coaster, but the theming makes all the difference. Can't you practically hear the sound of yodelers, the occasional roar of the abominable snowman, and the screams of happy riders? 

Bonus points because two bobsleds are visible. 


THANK YOU, Huck!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Town Square, June 1963

Hey, weren't we in Town Square yesterday? Yes we were! But I am very lazy and don't feel like walking, so I am staying right here. Only I'm traveling in time to 1963. Don't you do that?

Oh man, it's a a race to the death between the Omnibus and the Horse Drawn Streetcar! The thrills, the spills, the roar of the crowd, the carnage! It's like "Mad Max: Fury Road" only with less sand. And no Charlize Theron.


This looks like an establishing shot from a movie - not a coincidence, when you consider how much of Disneyland was designed almost as if guests would walk through a "living" movie. With the sound of the train whistle, music playing somewhere, the smell of popcorn, and the clip-clop of horse hooves, it was a complete sensory experience. 


Zooming in a bit, we can see a banner across Main Street heralding "The World Premiere of Walt Disney's  ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM". Please find that banner and have it shipped to my penthouse suite as soon as possible. 

I suppose it's possible that the park opened not long before this photo was taken (maybe 10 AM?), with the long shadows from the east, and the numbers of people heading toward the castle. Chairs and music stands are ready for the Disneyland Band.