Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Berry Patch Kids" Dolls at Knott's Berry Farm

In 1982, Coleco signed a deal with Xavier Roberts to begin mass producing his "Little People" line of dolls. The next year, they were introduced as "Cabbage Patch Kids" at the International Toy Fair in New York City and were such a huge hit that by Christmastime, they were causing rioting in stores around the U.S. by parents that were determined to get their hands on one for their children.

Flash forward two more years to 1985, when Knott's Berry Farm was revamping the Ghost Town area of the park for it's "Ghost Town Alive in '85" summer promotion. It was at this time, that the Knott's Berry Kids were "born."

These hand-sewn dolls were an obvious attempt to get in on the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon that was still going strong at the time. (Incidentally, Xavier Roberts' first Cabbage Patch dolls were also hand-sewn and originally had cloth faces and bodies.)

A convoluted backstory was created to explain how the Berry Kids were discovered by Walter Knott in his "magical berry patch." This was similar to the "discovery legend" that accompanied every Cabbage Patch Kids doll, explaining how Xavier Roberts found the kids in a "magical cabbage patch." This legend was printed out and included with each purchase of a Knott's Berry Kid.

I remember these dolls being pretty popular with guests that first summer and on into the Christmas season. I bought several sets of these as Christmas gifts for family members. This is a set that I bought for my mom.

Knott's Berry Kids were made exclusively for Knott's Berry Farm by "Carleen."

I wonder if that's "Carleen" in the photo below. It's interesting to note that the dolls in the basket appear to be wearing a purple or "boysenberry" color and that the dolls being sold were wearing more of a maroon color.

The woman seen above is sitting on a porch that was located across the street from the Barber Shop and the Silver Dollar Saloon on Main Street, but the dolls were actually sold at the Bonnet Shop on School Road (currently the Halloween Haunt Museum and formerly Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House, among many other things).

I hope everyone enjoyed this short little trip to Walter Knott's magical berry patch. I leave you now with this pic of the Berry Kids as they go off into the patch to look for the boysenberry-colored caterpillar, butterfly, and bird....and the elf carrying a miniature pail of boysenberries....oh, and "Rhubarb" the scarecrow! What the heck? I wonder who came up with that story?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happy 60th Birthday, Disneyland!

In honor of Disneyland's 60th birthday today, we are going back 50 years to when the park was celebrating it's "Tencennial." This coloring book from 1965 has the official Disneyland Tencennial logo on it's cover.

I don't own the coloring book shown above, but I do own the one below which is from the same year and contains images from the park's Tencennial celebration.

This book is actually copyrighted both 1964 and 1965, so I'm thinking this is the 1964 edition of the coloring book and in 1965, it was probably updated on the inside to include the Tencennial and then later in that same year, they gave it a new "birthday" cover.

Hey, who scribbled out the floral Mickey?

These next four images all reference the special "Disneyland 10th Anniversary" episode of The Wonderful World of Disney that aired on TV that year. There was a segment with pieces of cake that danced around, as well as candles that danced on top of the cake. ♪ ♫ "Ten years of happiness, ten years of fun......." ♫ ♪ I'm including a link at the end of this post for anyone that wants to watch it. I highly recommend's a hoot!

I wonder where these construction photos were being displayed? The Walt Disney Story obviously didn't exist at this time.

The Enchanted Tiki Room would have been just two years old at this time. Most of the show is featured in the same 10th Anniversary TV special.

This is interesting! I know the park maps and pictorial souvenirs often included "future attractions" but they were even including that information in the coloring books.

The "talking statue." It makes Lincoln sound more like the talking Confucius statue that was planned at one time for a Chinese restaurant in Disneyland. I wonder why they didn't just tell kids that Lincoln was going to be a "robot"?

The new Plaza Inn exterior and interior is shown in model form on that 10th Anniversary special. Here are a couple scenes from it with Walt showing the Plaza Inn models to Julie Reihm, the very first Disneyland Ambassador. Imagineer Harriet Burns is seen seated next to the model in the first photo and Imagineer John Hench can be seen in the second photo.

It appears by the scribbling below, that somebody didn't like the "promise" from Walt. Maybe they were psychic and they knew that quote would continue to be used for years to come, as an excuse for whenever management wanted to get rid of something that was beloved by all, like Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Skull Rock, or Adventure Thru Inner Space, or the Skyway....or the Main St. Electrical Parade.....or Country Bear Jamboree! I could go on and on, but I won't. Okay wait, one more.....OR THE PEOPLEMOVER!!!

There were more images in the coloring book than what I've posted here. If there is interest out there in seeing more, I can scan and post more of the pages. I also have 3 more Disneyland coloring books that are all dated a little bit later than this.

Here's that 10th Anniversary Special in it's entirety. Again, if you haven't seen this, I highly recommend it! The footage includes artwork and models for Pirates of the Caribbean ("By going UP the waterfall?), and the Haunted Mansion (A SKELETON GHOST!), as well as almost full coverage of the Enchanted Tiki Room show.

Happy Birthday, Disneyland!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy 200th Birthday, America! (1976 Sunday Comics & More)

Thirty-nine years ago, our nation was celebrating it's bicentennial. I recently came across the Sunday Comics section of the Los Angeles Times, dated July 4, 1976. These pages were stored in a box in my mom's garage along with some other bicentennial items that I had saved.

First up is the front page. It's odd that Peanuts and Andy Capp did NOT have a patriotic theme that day, especially when almost all of the other comic strips did.

Here are some highlights from the pages inside:

These commemorative bicentennial Pepsi cans were in the same box as the comics. The can that's been converted into a bank was given to me at a barbershop back in the summer of 1976. The barber had a case of these and was giving them out to his customers. I saved the other can after "emptying" it's contents. This was back when the tabs on top of the soda cans were removable. Just about this time, the tabs started being made to stay on top of the cans in order to reduce litter. As Woodsy Owl used to say, "Give a hoot, don't pollute!"

Last up for today is this bicentennial pressed penny. I don't remember where I got this originally, but I found it in a separate box along with some pressed pennies from Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and Magic Mountain. I will post photos of those in a separate post.

To view a couple pages from the "Long Beach Press Telegram" that are also dated July 4, 1976 (including a vintage Disneyland advertisement) click here: Long Beach Press Telegram - Disneyland Advertisement

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mickey's Mouseorail (& Other Vintage Tomorrowland Ride Vehicles)

In 1987, the Mark III Monorails at Disneyland were retired and replaced with the Mark V Monorails (the Mark IV was designed for use at Walt Disney World).  After retirement, the Mark III "Monorail Red" train was chopped up and converted into "Mickey's Mouseorail."

The Mouseorail was a street-legal vehicle that toured the country in 1990 to promote Disneyland's 35th anniversary.  Prior to embarking on it's promotional tour, it appeared in a pre-parade show for the 101st Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day, and then again at Disneyland in the premiere performance of the Party Gras Parade on January 11th, 1990.

If you would like to see footage of Mickey's Mouseorail making it's debut in the 1990 Tournament of Roses Parade, you can watch it below. The Mouseorail appears at the 5:40 mark, but the video includes the full Disney pre-show, as well as the entire Rose Parade.

Back in the late nineties, I used to drive to and from work using West Street (now Disneyland Drive). This was back when Disney was buying up property for their "resort" expansion. There used to be a small campground/RV park located on the east side of West Street, that backed up against the Disney property. After Disney purchased this property, they put up a gate across the driveway and used this property for storage. One of the items that was stored back there for a while was the Mouseorail. Since it could be seen just sitting there on the other side of the fence, I decided to pull over one day back in March of 1997, and take some pics of it through the opening in the gate.

Note the steering wheel that was installed in the nosecone of the monorail. There is also a pirate ship parade float that can be seen in the distance. I'm not sure which parade that would have been from. In the foreground, we can see a couple boxed-up trees. I wonder where those trees were from and where they ended up?

When it came time to design a new Tomorrowland, the original plan for the former Mission to Mars space was to have it be a restaurant where guests could eat their food while sitting in an old Skyway gondola, a PeopleMover car, or the actual Mouseorail car. One of the old Mission to Mars space capsules (there were two theaters!) was going to be left intact and guests were also going to be able to eat their food in that theater while watching the original "Rocket To The Moon" footage play on the floor and ceiling. Well, as we all know, plans can and do change very easily over at Disney (Helloooo, Westcot and Port Disney!) These plans got scrapped and what we ended up with was Redd Rockett's Pizza Port where guests can eat their food while sitting next to the Monorail, PeopleMover, or Skyway......attraction poster. Waaa waaaa!

It was then decided to just use the old attraction vehicles as decor in both Tomorrowland's Premiere Shop and in the queue of the new Rocket Rods attraction. At this time, the Mouseorail/Monorail Red was chopped up again and a portion of it went into the Rocket Rods queue along with a couple Rocket Jet vehicles, a couple PeopleMover cars, and a car from Space Mountain. (To see pics of the old Tomorrowland attraction vehicles that were used in the Premiere Shop, click here for my previous post from 2009: Vintage Tomorrowland Ride Vehicles.)

For the Rocket Rods queue, the vehicles were painted blue and tape was applied to them to give them a "blueprint" appearance.

You can see in the photo above and below that a mirror was used at the end of both the Monorail and the PeopleMover cars to give the illusion that they are longer and that they are coming out of a tunnel.

I love the way that the PeopleMover cars were just placed on top of the carpet without a base or anything. At least a fake beam-way was recreated for the Monorail. And how about the irony of that statement above the PeopleMover cars? It reads, "In the world of creativity, there's no end to the possibilities." Oh, I think there WAS an end to the possibilities and they reached it with Tomorrowland '98!

This next photo shows a couple of the old Rocket Jet vehicles. On the wall in the background, there are blueprints for the Tomorrowland Moonliner Rocket, as well as one for the Flying Saucer attraction.

Well unfortunately, there was not a happy ending for "Monorail Red." At some point after the closure of the Rocket Rods, that last remaining section of the Mark III Monorail was scrapped and another piece of Disneyland history was lost forever. :-(

(And as a side note, the front section of one of the 1971 Walt Disney World Mark IV monorails was saved after it was retired and is now in the hands of a private collector. To see a brief video tour of it's interior and exterior, click below:)

To see footage of the rescued WDW Mark IV Monorail being reunited with it's designer, Bob Gurr (at Walt's Barn), click below: