Friday, August 7, 2020

Walt Disney's "Disneyland On The Air" - 1955

When my brother and I were very young, we had quite a few "Little Golden Books." The title of one of them was, Walt Disney's "Disneyland On The Air." I loved that book and have kept it to this very day, along with many other childhood books.

Years later, while shopping in a "comic book and collectibles" store, not too far from Disneyland, I came across the same book. However, this was an older "Mickey Mouse Club Book" version, with a different cover. I really liked the graphics on the older cover, so I ended up purchasing it. Here is that original cover:

The original owner's name was written on the inside. I wonder if "Johnny" ever thought about, or missed his childhood book, once he grew up?

I've scanned every page of the book, so here it is in it's entirety!

I loved all of the artwork in this book, but especially these two pages, showing Disneyland's Opera House and Town Square. Notice how the Horse-drawn Street Car is depicted as being completely enclosed.

I also loved this artwork, with the Disneyland skyline used as a backdrop. Notice how the silhouette of the "rocket" on the far left, matches the one on the cover, but neither one of them really matches Tomorrowland's TWA rocket.

The back cover listed other "Mickey Mouse Club Books," which were also available.

Here is the cover of the reissued version of the book. This is my personal copy, from childhood.

The back cover was now promoting "Golden Books."

And the inside of the back cover included a list, of other available Golden Book titles.

I hope everyone enjoyed this vintage children's book!

We will end this post with a few more "Little Golden Book" and "Mickey Mouse Club Book" titles, which are also from my childhood collection. These are just the Disney ones. I have others, including Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, The Night Before Christmas, and more. I may scan some of these for future posts.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine

This is just a quick post, today. I will have my usual new "monthly" post, this Friday, so please check back at the end of the week for that. In the meantime, I thought I would share a few personal items from my collection.

With the passing of Hollywood legend, Olivia de Havilland, just last week, I was reminded that I had once written to the star. Beginning in high school, I became sort of an "autograph collector"....or at least, attempted to collect them when I had a chance. I even had an autograph book. Years later, I wrote to quite a few celebrities, and acquired a fairly large collection of signed photographs. Olivia de Havilland was one of the people whom I wrote to. She was living in France at that time, and I sent her the following two photos.

This first publicity photo (circa 1939), is from Gone With The Wind, a film for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, for best supporting actress. (She lost to Hattie McDaniels, for her supporting role in the same film.)

I believe this next photo is from the late forties, around the same time that she won an Academy Award for her leading role in, The Heiress.

After mailing these photos overseas, quite some time passed. Eventually they were returned, unsigned, along with the following letter:

As far as I know, she never did publish a complete autobiography about her life. She did write a book back in the sixties, about what it was like marrying a Frenchman, moving to France, and having to adapt to the French customs. Maybe she was still working on her complete autobiography, all these years later.

Now, I will give equal time to Miss de Havilland's sister, Joan Fontaine (Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland). They were just a little over a year apart in age, and Miss Fontaine went on to become just as big of a star, as her older sister. Joan Fontaine passed away in 2013, but about 10 years earlier, she had graciously autographed these photos for me.

In this first photo, she is posing with Cary Grant, in a publicity shot for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Suspicion. The film was released in 1941, and she won the Academy Award for her leading role, the following year.

One year earlier, Joan Fontaine had appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's first American film, Rebecca, and was nominated for an Academy Award in the title role. Here she is pictured with Dame Judith Anderson, who played Mrs. Danvers, the "obsessive" housekeeper.

I hope some of you enjoyed these photos. I have shared some Disney-related autographed photos in the past (Annette Funicello, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and Haley Mills), but it had been a while. I may post some more photos from my collection in the future, if anyone out there is interested.

And once again, please come back this Friday for my "regularly scheduled" monthly post. Thank you!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Alice In Wonderland's Grand Reopening - 1984

In 1984, a newly remodeled "Alice In Wonderland" attraction opened at Disneyland. The rest of Fantasyland had already been remodeled, and had opened just eleven months earlier as, "The New Fantasyland."

At that time, a sign was posted out in front of the closed attraction, letting guests know that a "New Alice" was coming soon.

The Spring 1984 issue of Disney News Magazine had an article, about the anticipated reopening of "Alice."

The attraction opened on April 13, 1984, after a special grand reopening ceremony. I was at the park that day, and took the following pictures.

The festivities began with the White Rabbit approaching the attraction with a giant pair of ribbon-cutting scissors.

Next, the doors on the second level of the attraction opened and dancing flowers came out and made their way down the "giant leaf" track. These flower costumes were the same ones used in the Alice In Wonderland unit, of "Fantasy On Parade."

The dancing flowers were followed by the Queen of Hearts' marching cards. The large marching cards costumes were used the previous summer in the "Flights of Fantasy Parade", which celebrated the grand opening of The New Fantasyland.

The Mad Hatter made an appearance on the second level, holding a large bucket of red paint. I wish I could remember more about the ceremony or what the Mad Hatter was saying here. I do remember that this was the time, when Disney made the switch from the Mad Hatter character being a person inside of a "rubber head" costume, to a "face character" (where the face of the person portraying the character is visible, and they are allowed to speak to guests).

After the ribbon was cut, red and white balloons were released into the sky, along with some larger heart-shaped balloons.

This video features partial footage (the second-half) of the opening ceremonies for the new Alice In Wonderland attraction, as well as other new additions to Disneyland in 1984 (like Donald Duck's 50th Birthday Parade and the 3-D film, Magic Journeys.


In 1982, the Disneyland guidebooks featured artwork, showing what the new Alice-themed section of Fantasyland would look like.

The "teapot" ride operator's booth for the Mad Tea Party attraction, never found it's way into the finished product. And notice on the far right, the Chesire Cat can be seen sitting on top of a mushroom. I wonder if this was intended to be an animatronic figure, a static figure, or if the artist was just "taking liberties." A static Chesire Cat figure was eventually added to the east side of the Alice attraction (the side facing the Matterhorn), but that came along many years later, and was not a 1984 addition.

And here is a pic from 1982, showing the "Alice Unit" of Disneyland's Fantasy On Parade. The "Dancing Flower" costumes seen here, were the same ones used in the reopening ceremonies of the new "Alice In Wonderland," and also on the cover of that Spring 1984 issue of Disney News Magazine.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Night Maintenance at Disneyland - 1970's (and the Castle Moat Swans!)

Today, we have another vintage Los Angeles Times article, from my childhood collection. I didn't write the date on this one, but if I am remembering correctly, it was from just after the opening of the "New Matterhorn" in 1978.

Unfortunately, the park doesn't have swans in the Castle moat anymore! I wonder if it was a cost thing? I remember hearing somewhere, that they supposedly got rid of them because the swans were mean, but I've read that swans are only aggressive when defending and protecting their nests. Does anyone know if there were any incidents involving guests? After all, swans had been in the moat for decades, so I'm willing to bet that Disney management just didn't want to pay those rental fees anymore. Thank goodness the Tiki Room birds aren't rented!

I remember reading that part about it taking one man all night, to polish all of the brass on the Carousel and thinking how tedious that job would be! I have ridden the Carousel and noticed all the fingerprints and smudges on the posts. I wonder if they even bother to polish the brass anymore? Unless someone who is reading this knows for sure, the only way to find out might be to go to the park at opening and head over to the Carousel first thing to see if it is smudge-free.

For anyone interested in seeing footage of a Swan in the Castle moat, here is a link to some brief video footage I shot back in 1992. (There's some footage of Snow White's Grotto in between the shots of the swan.)

Friday, May 1, 2020

Flights of Fantasy Parade & The New Fantasyland - 1983

Today, I have a few miscellaneous items, from the 1983 opening of Disneyland's New Fantasyland. We will also be taking a look at the "Flights of Fantasy" parade, which was created to celebrate this newly remodeled land.

First up, is this order form for a special Disneyland 2-day passport, commemorating Fantasyland's reopening. This was part of an advertising supplement, which was included in local newspapers in May of 1983. I originally posted the entire supplement, back in May of 2019 and it can be viewed (here).

The ad suggested buying it as a "cherished addition to any Disneyana collection." That might be the first time I had ever seen that mentioned as a selling point, by Disney themselves. I bought one of these tickets and I never did use it. I'm assuming it's still good since it doesn't have an expiration date on it. Of course, I'm not a "Junior" anymore. I'd like to know who it was at Disney, that decided to eliminate the "Junior" pricing category?

The commemorative tickets were also available at the main gate ticket booths, as stated in this price guide brochure. These guides were handed out to guests, as they drove into the old Disneyland parking lot.

It states on the page above, that Disneyland does not accept credit cards. I wonder when that policy changed?

Here's the entertainment guide that was available at the main gate, in the early part of the summer of '83. This one was effective June 18th through July 1st. Before the summer was over, this guide would undergo some slight alterations. We'll see the updated version a bit later in this post. This version had three panels, with the back panel of the guide featuring an ad for The Disney Channel (which debuted earlier that year).

The Flights of Fantasy Parade was created specifically for the debut of the New Fantasyland and ran both during the day and at night, bumping the usual nighttime summer run of the Main Street Electrical Parade. This was the second time that the Main Street Electrical Parade was put on hiatus for a summer season. The first time was during the 1975-76 run of "America On Parade."

Tinkerbell was returning to the "Fantasy In The Sky Fireworks" show, for the first time since the summer of 1976. Her flights had been grounded ever since demolition began on the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland attraction in 1977. Her "landing pad" had been located within the footprint of that attraction, so as it was being removed, Tinkerbell's landing spot went with it. For her 1983 return, a special "ranger station" type of tower was built on the eastern side of Big Thunder Mountain, which allowed her to "land" once again, after taking off from the top of the Matterhorn.

The "Make Believe Brass Band" was listed as performing throughout the New Fantasyland. This group was also new for the summer of '83. Three of it's five members can be seen below, leaving Fantasyland to go on a break. They are exiting through the Big Thunder Trail gate in the northwestern corner of Fantasyland.

This brass quintet would also assist Merlin in the "Sword In The Stone Ceremony," which was a show created specifically for the New Fantasyland. Merlin would perform a few magic tricks for guests and then he'd choose a child from the crowd, to come up and try to pull the sword out of the anvil in the Castle forecourt.

Prior to choosing the child, Merlin would choose an adult male, who would attempt it first. The men were always unsuccessful, but the children were always able to do it.

Afterwards, Merlin would give the children a special medal to wear around their neck. In later years, the children were only given a button (like the one below, from 1986).

At some point, they must have gone back to giving out the medals. I found this one on ebay. At first I thought this must be from the earlier days of the Sword in the Stone Ceremony, but the seller was claiming that it's from circa 2005. The fact that it has "© Disney" stamped on it and not "© Walt Disney Productions" (like the button does), confirms that this would be from a later date than the button.

By the spring of 1984, The Sword In The Stone Ceremony was being featured on the cover of the park's entertainment guide.

In addition to Merlin and the Make Believe Brass, the New Fantasyland featured a couple other new "street entertainers." The woman below, was a street mime. At times, she would stop "miming" and play her recorder for guests.

There was also a juggler, who would stroll through the land and perform for the crowds.

Here is the second version of the entertainment guide, for the summer of '83. This one is for August 28th through September 10th. The artwork for the Flights of Fantasy Parade had been expanded for this guide, making it four panels/pages across, in comparison to the previous guide's three panels.

This was an ad that ran in a special "summer entertainment supplement," to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

Now let's take a look at the new parade! It began with Mickey, Minnie and Donald, riding in their own hot air balloons, while other iconic Disney characters walked alongside them.

On this particular day, Minnie doubled up with Mickey in his balloon.

Next up was the Winnie the Pooh unit. The parade floats were all "soft sculpture" in design.

And some of the characters in the parade, such as the Heffalumps and Woozles below, were actually inflatable costumes with a performer inside.

It had to be difficult walking inside one of these giant costumes. And it must have gotten awfully hot in there!

These Haunted Forest trees from the Snow White unit, were reused the following year in the park's Christmas parade.

This float was also used again in the Christmas parade. The Wicked Witch had a spiel that she gave as she stirred her couldron. It went as follows:

"Mix the brew and make it right.
Just the thing to get Snow White.
A poison apple......TAKE A BITE!
Go on, take a bite! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

The clown jack-in-the-box on this Pinocchio float would slowly rise up out of the box. Note the large Dutch puppet on the right side of the float (between Honest John and Gideon).

Next came the Babes in Toyland unit.

The "Toy Soldier Drill Team" had been a regular feature in the park's Christmas parades.

These oversized marching broomsticks were my favorite part of the parade!

This float from the Fantasia unit was also recycled and used again for the Christmas parade, along with the Alligators, Ostriches and Hippo costumes.

Okay, the broomsticks AND Maleficent, were actually "tied" for my favorite part of the parade!

The dragon would blow smoke from it's nostrils!

Maleficent also had a spiel that she would recite throughout the parade. Her monologue went like this:

"Well my pet, shall I cast my spell on them, hmmmmmmm?


Next, was the Alice In Wonderland unit. It was pretty unusual to see a character costume for the March Hare. And the character head for the Mad Hatter, had been redesigned for this parade and was much smaller in comparison to the costume head that had been used in the past. The following year (1984), the Mad Hatter "rubber head" costumed character was retired and replaced with a "face character," meaning that the person who is wearing the costume, has their face exposed and is physically and verbally acting out the part of the character.

This float used the same smoke effect as the Maleficent float, with the smoke coming from the caterpillar's mouth.

We will end today, with this out of focus picture of the Disneyland sign that used to sit on Harbor Boulevard, at the entrance to the old Disneyland parking lot. The bottom portion of the sign reads, "Open Every Day. Today 9 am - 12 am. See The New Fantasyland. Flights Of Fantasy Parade."

Actually, we will end with these two videos, which I recently came across on YouTube!

This first video features home movie footage of the parade, with the parade soundtrack dubbed in:

This second video features many snapshots of the parade, accompanied by the parade's soundtrack: