Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WESTCOT Center - What Might Have Been

After looking at one of the the Disneyland Hotel slides from my last post, I was reminded of something. Back in the early nineties, when WESTCOT Center was being planned as the "second gate" for Anaheim, there was a preview center located on the third floor of the Plaza Shops building at the Disneyland Hotel. Below is a close-up of that slide and I've circled in red where the doorway was to the preview center or as it was officially called, The Presentation Center.

The only thing I can really remember being on display in that room was a very simple model showing just the layout of the proposed resort including the hotels, parking structures, Downtown Disney and Westcot. I really don't remember there being any concept art or much of anything else, but I can't say for sure. I do remember that they had copies of a newsletter called, "The Disneyland Neighborhood News" (and of course I took one of those.) The whole idea behind the center and the newsletter was to inform the locals of what was being proposed and to try and win their support since there were still some groups of locals that were opposed to any expansion in Anaheim.

Here's a copy of that newsletter:

The page above mentions that the "creative ideas for WESTCOT have been evolving and changing......" Too bad they evolved all the way into becoming California Adventure.

Originally, there were supposed to be two parking structures, one on each side of the resort. There were also going to be ramps that would provide "convenient access from the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5), allowing employees and guests to travel to and from the structures without impacting surface streets." Well those plans fell by the wayside! That bridge over Ball Road doesn't count as a direct ramp because it's only open in one direction at a time. There have been numerous times when I was arriving or leaving the area when the ramp was closed for the direction I was going. Have you ever sat at the intersection of Disneyland Drive (West St.) and Ball Road in backed up traffic and been waiting for the light to change? Me too, many times. That wasn't part of the original plan!

"Walt would have loved WESTCOT." Hmmmm, I wonder how he would have felt about California Adventure?

This postcard was also available at the center.

I kind of like the logo that was being used at that time. Ah, what might have been.....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Disneyland Hotel Rainforest

Today we have a vintage slide from 1973 showing the Disneyland Hotel Shops and Travelport. Just out of view to the right would be the Disneyland Hotel Monorail Station. I have always loved the "Erector Set" style girders and the mid-century modern architecture of the old hotel and truly miss it today. If they had just kept the existing buildings and built Downtown Disney in between them and the park, wouldn't it have still worked? Couldn't there have been a "retro coolness" in keeping the original architecture? Okay, maybe not to some people....and obviously not to the people in charge of "tearing things down."

For those that like change, this is the view that can be seen today while standing in the same spot. Again, the monorail station is just out of view on the right. That building that replaced the Hotel Shops is The Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney.

Here is another slide of the hotel grounds from 1973. I am assuming this was taken from the northeast side of the Dreams Tower, formerly the Sierra Tower, and soon to be the Adventure Tower. OR, it could possibly have been taken from the east end of the Magic Tower, formerly the Marina Tower, and soon to be the Fantasy Tower. Gee, you need a scorecard just to keep track of these names! And just so the south tower isn't left out....it is currently the Wonder Tower, formerly the Bonita Tower, and soon to be the Frontier Tower. Whew! Some of the original two level hotel suites can be seen in the foreground of this photo, along with the three-level Plaza Shops Building on the right. All of this has since been torn down to make way for Downtown Disney. But hey, that's Progress! There's a great big beautiful tomorrow......

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day In The Parks

In honor of Father's Day (and my Dad!), I'm posting some slides from my personal collection. My dad took all of these photos himself over 40 years ago.

First up, we have two Disneyland slides from the Summer of 1969. This first shot was taken from a PeopleMover car as it exited the Carousel of Progress building and crossed over the Skyway. Look at that line for the Subs!

The picture below was of course, taken from the Skyway. I MISS SKULL ROCK....and Captain Hook's Pirate Ship.....and the Skyway!

Next we have a shot of the Calico Mine Train at Knott's Berry Farm. This would have been taken when the train briefly comes out of the mountain on the upper level, looking down at a train parked in the unloading area.

The photo below is of the long gone (but not forgotten) Little Chapel by the Lake at Knott's Berry Farm. Blogger Outsidetheberm wrote a great post recently about this little structure and it's unfortunate demise. But he rescued the interior show elements and promises it will be seen again someday! Both of these Knott's photos were taken in the Summer of 1966.

Now we'll head over to the Southern California Coast.....the Palos Verdes Penninsula, to be exact. This is Marineland, a seaside park that opened in 1954....a year before Disneyland and ten years before Sea World. That pole in the background was for an observation car/sky tower type of attraction. I will have to post more of my dad's slides from an earlier trip showing the two-level observation car. These pics are from the Summer of 1967.

Are these dolphins or porpoises? If you ask me this is animal cruelty....and you can't convince me that they "enjoy" performing. I wonder how long these animals live? Is it possible that some of them could still be around today?

Now we'll mosey on up to the Valley. Here we find ourselves riding in a fabulous Glamor Tram at Universal Studios in 1967. This view is of the New York backlot sets. I'm sure that these sets are no longer standing considering this section of the backlot has burned to the ground twice since this photo was taken....once in 1990 and more recently in 2008. By the way, I also miss King Kong! He's supposed to be making a return this summer, but I've heard very little about it. It sounds like it might just be a 3-D projection of him now, instead of Bob Gurr's huge audio-animatronic figure. I don't want to see a 3-D projection of him, I want to see him up close and in person! That's right, I like to be within pie-throwing distance!

This miniature steamboat was in the old Prop Plaza area at Universal. I'm not sure what this prop was used for. There was once a larger showboat that could be seen during the tram tour. They would explain to guests that it was used in the movie "Showboat." Perhaps this miniature was used for the same film?

To see a couple more photos of the Universal Backlot taken during this same trip, including a shot of the Psycho House in it's original location, click here: Psycho House.

Happy Father's Day, Dad! And Happy Father's Day to all dads out there!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grad Nite Tragedy at Disneyland - June 1980

The article below appeared in the L.A. Times, following the death of a Grad Nite guest who had climbed out of a PeopleMover vehicle.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Glow Fest at the Disneyland Resort!

Well, I went to the Disneyland Resort's "second gate" yesterday for the public premiere of World of Color. I got to the park only five minutes before the start of the second show and a cast member informed me that Fastpasses for all three shows (a third show had been added to the schedule) were gone shortly after the park opened. I was not deluding myself into thinking I would still be able to get a Fastpass five minutes before the show started......it was a very last minute decision of mine to go to the park and attempt to see the show.

As it turned out, I was able to stand right in front of the Victorian "San Francisco" buildings and had a view over the crowd across the way. There was nobody between me and the official viewing area because they were keeping the parade route area clear. Being pretty tall, I was able to see....or at least I feel like I was able to see everything. However, since I wasn't right up in the actual "reserved" viewing area, I am not 100 percent sure that I didn't miss anything. For that reason, I am not going to give a review on the show. I definitely need to see it again, but I will say for right now, that I think I like it better than Fantasmic!
So, since I am not going to discuss the World of Color any further (oh wait....they used the old Wonderful World of Color TV show theme song! I liked that!), I am going to post just a few pics of other things that are new at "the resort."

The signs by the trams have been changed. And look, the new logo for the other park is being used already. Hey, where did the "s" go?

Here's the new cover for the park guide. That crooked font is kind of wacky. I guess they are hoping it will attract many more people to the park than the old logo did. Personally, I would have changed the name completely like they did back in the nineties with "Euro Disneyland" when attendance was suffering so miserably at that park.

Hey.....this summer's going to be NIGHTASTIC! (I hope the new Fantasmic dragon is working across the way at Disneyland this summer.)

Park hours were actually extended to 11:00 last night and as mentioned earlier, a third showing of World of Color was added.

Okay, now this was weird. I saw some of these props in the Hollywood Backlot last Tuesday during the day and thought perhaps they were being used for Grad Nites. It turns out that they are for GLOW FEST, The Ultimate Summer Street Party! (Ends August 22nd.)

As with the rest of the park, I didn't know quite what to make of it all.

This large interactive screen was in front of the Frank Lloyd Wright bathrooms.

It took me a minute to realize that the "blob" on the left was me. My arms are raised and I'm holding my camera. The blob on the right is a guy that was standing further back and placing his hands together.

The third blob was a child sitting on top of his father's shoulders. Weird, but fascinating at the same time!

There are smaller screens all along the street with trippy changing kaleidoscopic patterns. I think I see Ellen Degeneres in this one.

Here are Bambi and Flower.

I told you the patterns get trippy.

This Volkswagon Bus was parked in the middle of the street, on top of the newly installed Red Car tracks. There was a hole in the roof with a turntable and other sound equipment on top. I'm guessing that a DJ pops up out of the rooftop and plays music at some point. There was already very loud music playing up and down the street.

There are several pedestals just like this one lining the street. Perhaps these are for go-go dancers? It's Club DCA!

The giant screen below is actually the wall of the Hyperion Theater that has the "sky" backdrop painted on it.

The people projected onto the wall were standing in a designated area just to my left. People did seem to be fascinated by seeing themselves up there.

This shot was taken from a spot near the Hollywood Backlot Stage.

As long as we're in the area, let's go pay a visit to my old friend, the Sea Serpent from EPCOT's World of Motion.

Oh, and the Silly Symphony swings are now open. They are SO MUCH more fun to ride now that.....hmmmm, actually, they're still just swings.

I remember riding these at Knott's Berry Farm when they added them to Fiesta Village in 1987!

The Knott's version has a figure of a Senorita on top!

Okay, sorry for the lame post and the blurry photos today!

***POST UPDATE: To see Knott's Berry Farm's version of a "Glowfest", click here: Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"That 70's Sleeping Beauty" Returns to Fantasyland

I had a very pleasant surprise yesterday, while visiting Disneyland. I wandered into the Enchanted Chamber shop located inside Sleeping Beauty Castle and this is what I found......

The Princess Aurora figure and her "prince" from the old Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru have returned! (These are from the 1970's redo of the castle walk-thru.)

I must say I was very excited to see these. I asked the cast member in the shop how long the figures had been there and she said that they had just been installed the night before! Unfortunately, one of the boots with a rabbit in it had fallen, but I'm sure that will be fixed soon.

Here's a shot taken with a flash......

....and here's a "vintage" shot I took in 1997 of the same figures when they were located upstairs in the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru. The Aurora figure used to slowly rotate, but I do remember at the time that I took this, she was not rotating and hadn't been for some time.

The cast member also mentioned that they are supposed to get other "stuff" in the shop, but she didn't know for sure what that would include. I am so happy that these were saved and that someone cared enough to restore them and put them to use again. Hopefully we will be seeing more of this kind of attention throughout the park (now go restore Tomorrowland, please!)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kingdom of the Dinosaurs Remnants at Knott's

I wanted to call this post "Knott's Bear-y Tales Remnants," but unfortunately there isn't much left at the Farm to remind us of that attraction....at least not around the old attraction building. There are three Bear-y Tales figures in the barn in Ghost Town that I posted about in April. Those can be seen (here.) Let's now take a look at the abandoned space that used to house two former Knott's Berry Farm dark rides. That upper deck held a large part of the queue for both attractions.

I love the neon sign on top of the building. It's kind of strange that it's still there since the area hasn't been called the Roaring 20's for many years now.

I wonder if the neon still works? I remember it being truly dazzling as the lights would "travel" around the circle and then radiate out to the "shooting stars."

If you look closely, you can still see the Hollywood Hills part of the mural that was painted behind the loading area for Kingdom of the Dinosaurs.

And some of the clouds above the hills......if you squint, you can see them.

Here's the old entrance to the queue. It now contains some sort of game of chance in which you can win.....a stuffed animal! The Laser Zone sign is for the attraction located behind it. We'll see that in just a moment.

Here's a vintage shot of the entrance. Notice the Pterodactyl on the rooftop and the dinosaurs in "relief" below the sign. The marble statue of Rocko, the baby Triceratops is now located in Camp Snoopy. I remember when the artist (John Cody), was sculpting Rocko, he did it out in the open where the public could watch.

Here are some current shots of the old queue ramps.....

I had heard a rumor that the old attraction space had been turned into "laser tag." Well, it turns out that it's just located in a space on the ground floor next to the arcade. I asked the employees about it and they said it doesn't use any of the upstairs space.

See how popular this attraction is? Oh, and you have to pay extra to go into "The Lazer Zone." It is not included in the price of admission.

Here's more of the old queue. Some of the metal railings are beginning to rust.

This close-up shows that they have cut off and removed the concrete ramp at the bottom level.

Now let's go into the arcade and take a look at the old attraction exit.

I went up the exit ramp......it was kind of creeping me out, but I did it anyway and nobody stopped me.

There's a metal gate at the top of the ramp and it's locked. The gate was kind of "fuzzy".....it had a lot of long black dust growing on it.

Here's a shot taken through the "fuzz" looking up the exit ramp. And yes, I did get some on me while taking this pic.

This is the view looking to the extreme right.

And this is the view looking to the extreme left. The mural still looks great!

And here's a shot of the mural that I took after I broke the lock, pulled back the metal gate and ran up the ramp!

Okay, even if the gate hadn't been locked.....I'm not THAT brave. This photo was actually taken about nineteen years ago after boarding one of the ride vehicles.

I wish Knott's would put some kind of dark ride back into this space! The park really needs another family type of attraction. How about a Peanuts/Snoopy dark ride since those characters are used throughout the park? Or just bring back Knott's Bear-y Tales! I'm sure Rolly and Chris Crump could recreate it perfectly!

We'll take a look inside the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs attraction in an upcoming post.

***Post Update: I've completed my post showing the interior of the attraction when it was operating. To read that post, click here: Kingdom Of The Dinosaurs - Mega Post!