Friday, October 2, 2020

The Queen Mary In Long Beach - Special Guest Post! (Part 2)

Back in May of 2019, I featured a "Special Guest Post" about the Queen Mary, from Gorillas Don't Blog and Meet The World reader and commenter, "JG."  Well, as previously mentioned, JG had more photos from his stay aboard the Queen Mary, and once again, he has generously offered to share them with us!  The following narrative is from JG, himself:

My wife and I visited the Queen Mary in 1983 for a conference, but we couldn’t afford to stay on board then.  When we had a chance to return to Long Beach for another conference, we decided to stay one night on the QM before moving to the Convention Center hotel, since 34 years later, we could afford a nice room.

As promised, here are some follow-up pictures of the exteriors and other parts of the ship, including the special exhibit on Winston Churchill with props from the 2017 movie, Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman.

First is the Retail Promenade, still in good shape, but the shops' merchandise is very different from what I remember years ago. Similar to Disneyland Main Street, there are more key rings and coffee cups and less authentic British or Scottish goods.  There was a wine shop featuring products from a local winery that was unfamiliar to me, but quite good.  We shared a bottle in our room that night.  Notice the inlaid linoleum, this is the original floor.  Linoleum is pretty bullet-proof.  The stripes at the base of the wall are different color strips of lino laid into the field.

The exterior walkways still look good, and were recently featured in a Netflix series made in Spain, set on an ocean liner.  The interiors of that show were all sets, but many exterior scenes were filmed on the QM.

The stair/elevator towers to enter the ship have been remodeled a bit since the 1970’s, and the signage is updated.  The domed hangar built for the Spruce Goose is still there, but I understand that the plane was moved again, so I never got to see it.

Down deep in the ship, where the Jacques Cousteau “Living Sea” exhibit used to be, a special exhibit was mounted, featuring props and scenery from the recent film, Darkest Hour.  The Imperial War Rooms were replicated for the film.  I had visited the real War Rooms in London some years ago, so it was very interesting to see how well the film scenes replicated the originals.  Almost down to the flyspecks.

Churchill’s bedroom, deep underground with over 20 feet of concrete in the ceiling was one of the sets.  None of this furniture was original, of course.  Any of the real things surviving are in museums in Britain.  The bedroom had an animated projection effect showing Churchill (Gary Oldman) walking back and forth.

There was also a replica of Churchill's quarters on the QM, used on his many travels aboard, but for some reason, I did not take a picture of these rooms.  These were very nice rooms, as might be imagined for VIP first class quarters on the ship.

The ship’s exteriors still look good from a distance, but if you get close up, you can see the toll of the years in a maritime environment with little effective maintenance.  It made me sad to see it.  

We did tour the bridge and some of the upper deck cabins in Officers’ Country, including the radio room.

The bridge with the brass telegraphs looked much like I remembered it, only more worn and in need of polishing.

Overall, it was a good trip to re-visit the Queen Mary, but I don't want to go back.  I don't know how much longer the ship can survive with the present management.  It's very down-at-the-heels and doesn't have the feeling of a top destination anymore.

TokyoMagic!, here again.  I want to give a great big "thank you" to JG, for sharing his personal photos and memories with us!



JG said...

Hello Tokyo, thanks for sharing my pics, very kind of you to do so. I'm glad I could contribute to your blog. I really enjoy your posts, especially the Disney ones.

I'm a little envious that you still live close to your childhood haunts and have so many keepsakes of those times. Most of my things were dispersed and lost over the years. You sharing your collection brings back many good memories for me, including our various trips to the Queen Mary. There were many places and events that I had forgotten completely and the memories come flooding back with a tiny glimpse of a familiar thing like a pinback button.

Thanks so much for helping me, and letting me share.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, I was very glad to have you share your pics on my blog. Thank you, again!

I think a large reason that I still have so many of my childhood items is, that we never moved. I've had friends tell me that when their families moved, they had to get rid of items that they had "outgrown." My mom continued to live in the same house, for 50 years. So even after I had moved out, there were still a lot of things that I didn't take with me, and my mom did not get rid of them, either. I know I am pretty lucky to still have so many "physical" items, to reinforce my childhood memories!

I'm glad that some of my posts, are able to bring back memories for you, as well as others! And thanks once again, for sharing your photos and memories with us!

K. Martinez said...

Another great installment of JG's Queen Mary photos. I love these posts. I'm really loving the radio room and bridge pics. I also love the interior design of the shopping promenade. Makes me with I was born a wee bit earlier to travel in a ocean liner like this. It truly is ashamed someone doesn't invest in this beautiful ship and restore it to its former glory.

Thank you for sharing your pics, JG. And thank you TM! for hosting.

I just spotted this official Queen Mary YouTube channel with many videos about the ship. I think I'll give it a look.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I agree with you about the restoration of the ship....I also wish someone would step in and do it. I thought it might happen with Disney, when they were managing it, but as we all found out, they really weren't interested.

I worry that one day the ship will be just too far gone and will have to be scrapped. I always hear that the ship has all sorts of leaks. I wonder if that's true. And if so, I wonder if she could ever just sink right there where she is docked.

On a happier note, thanks for that link! I'll have to check it out. I visited the ship about 5 years ago, and went on several of the tours and took a lot of photos. I might have to put together my own Queen Mary post at some point in the future.

JG said...

Ken, thanks for commenting!

The radio room is now the home of a real radio station, the man in the pic is a real person, not a mannequin.

I agree, modern ships are nice, but nothing today approaches this level of luxury & design. The Art Deco style is so plush. It’s sad to see it in decline.

Thanks again to Tokyo for hosting my photos, I’m glad they are enjoyable.


Major Pepperidge said...

I really do hope somebody comes to the rescue of the Queen Mary; from what I've read, it is rusting away so severely below the waterline that the thing is in danger of flooding (though I don't think it would sink or capsize, since I don't think it's actually floating anymore!). When Disney was in charge, I thought they might be able to make the QM a popular attraction again; I guess that was when they considered Long Beach as a potential location for their "WESTCOT" park. Once that possibility went away, it seemed like the beginning of the end. Nobody else will spend the millions it would take.

I wish I'd seen the Spruce Goose when it was there!

Thanks for today's "Special Guest Post"!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I thought maybe the Queen Mary was no longer floating anymore, but someone explained to me why it has to float. They said a ship that size is designed to float and that if you put a concrete foundation under it, it could not withstand it's own weight and would eventually have structural problems or collapse. Now, I don't remember who was telling me that, but I don't think they were a marine engineer, so who knows for sure? It made sense when they explained it.

Remember when Disney was talking about building a "Disney Seas" park next to the Queen Mary? I wish they had gone ahead with that in Long Beach, instead of building DCA in the DL parking lot. Of course, I'm not fooling myself. I know that if they had built that park in Long Beach, it would have been just as cheap as DCA was when it opened, and that it would not have come anywhere close to resembling the "DisneySea" park that they ended up building next to Tokyo Disneyland.

I visited the Queen Mary at least a couple times, while the Spruce Goose was still there, but didn't go see it. Now that it's gone, I wish I had!

Major Pepperidge said...

Well I admit that I was only assuming that the QM didn't float anymore - it makes sense that it was not built to support its own weight, as you said. Maybe it is supported by a foundation of Play-doh. Firm, but yielding! If it IS floating, I wonder if there is ever a time when one could feel the ship rocking, say during heavy winds? That would be weird!

Did they have tentative plans for a "Disney Seas" park AND "Westcot" in Long Beach? Or am I just getting my facts mixed up (which is not unusual)? And yes, had they built something in Long Beach, it probably would have been cheap and awful. I think it's so strange that Eisner figured that fans would take any old crap if it had the name "Disney" on it. The reason people loved Disney was that they provided the best in quality, at least for a while.

I haven't been to the Queen Mary since I was about 8 years old...

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, as far as I can remember, Disney's first choice was to do Disney Seas next to the Queen Mary. I think Long Beach wanted to have a say in how the roadways around the park and entryways into the park would be laid out (how dare they!) and Disney didn't want them to have any input. Then the California Coastal Commission was wanting to do some impact studies (how dare they!) and Disney was going to have to maybe make some changes and jump through some hoops, so they canceled the project and turned their eyes to Anaheim.

The first thing they announced for Anaheim was WESTCOT. But we all know what happened there! It will be too expensive to build! Let's just give them a slightly glorified "county fair" and they will eat it up!

They released artwork and plans for both Disney Seas and WESTCOT, to the Los Angeles Times and they featured cover stories on both "future" parks. I need to scan those articles and post them!

"Lou and Sue" said...

TokyoMagic! I enjoyed this post and the previous (Part 1) - all the pictures and comments from you, JG and all. I think it would be especially nice to eat in one of the restaurants and stay overnight - a really unique atmosphere.

One of my relatives (by marriage) moved with her family from England to the U.S. via the QM, around 1965. She has good memories of that trip.

Thanks, TM! and JG!


TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, that relative of yours got to travel on the QM, just two years before she was sold to the City of Long Beach! I think that would have been incredible to get to sail on the QM, back in the day. Today, I enjoy visiting her, but I'm not sure I'd want to spend the night aboard the ship. I think I might get a little "creeped out." I used to know someone who worked on the ship, and he had all sorts of employee stories about "ghostly encounters," including some of his own experiences. Unfortunately, I can't remember any of those stories, now!

JG said...

Major and Tokyo, thanks for the posting about the Disney involvement in the QM development. This was all news to me. I never had any idea that Disney was ever involved here.

It's too bad that none of those plans came about, from what I have heard the DisneySea park is very nice and another would have been a great addition to the SoCal attractions.

@Sue, thanks for your kind comments. We had a nice time on board for our last and final stay. We had cocktails and breakfast on board, but no other meals. The restaurant was hacked into what had been a public space as part of the renovation into a static attraction, and was not part of the original ship design. The decor was about 30 years out-of-date, but the food was pretty good. The room accommodations were interesting, as I noted in the prior post. Especially the provisions for one's servants to stay out of sight. A very different world then.

How interesting that your family came out on the QM. My uncle came back from WWII on either the QM or the QE, not sure which (actually, he might have gone out on it too). He visited the QM with us on one of our trips when I was young. There was a part of the lower deck that was restored as it was as a troop transport. He was very quiet when we toured that part. Never spoke about that trip.

Tokyo, as you know, the QM features ghost tours and they also had a promotion to stay in one of the several "haunted rooms" on board, your choice of about three or four with known spectral activity. Not for me.

To be honest, the two (or maybe three?) decks of first class staterooms that made up the present-day hotel did have a creepy feeling in the corridors, but we didn't have any out-of-the-ordinary experiences on our stay. I am pretty sure I encountered a ghost on another mothballed ship, the WWII Hornet aircraft carrier in Alameda, and that was a definite sensation unlike anything I felt on the QM. I won't recount it here.

I am not going to stay in one of the haunted QM staterooms, though, I will leave that to braver souls. The unquiet dead need no encouragement from me, i only wish them peace.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, even though the City of Long Beach owns the Queen Mary, the QM Hotel has been managed by different companies. The Wrather Corp. was the current manager, at the time that Disney strong-armed them into selling the DL Hotel. The lease on the Queen Mary went along with the sale of the DL Hotel. That is how Disney got involved with the ship. Once they decided that they were not going to develop the adjacent property, they got rid of the lease.

There was even a news story back when Disney acquired the QM lease, that they expected the ship's "Captain," who had worked aboard the ship for many years, to shave off his mustache, which he had also had for many years. If I'm remembering correctly, he refused to shave it off, so they fired him. Isn't Disney just wonderful?

As for the ghost tours, I did go on one of those. I have to go digging through my photos to see if I took any on that particular tour. They might not have been allowed.....I just can't remember for sure.