Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve At Disneyland - 1980 & 1981

I remember reading an article in Disney News Magazine when I was a kid, about a New Year's Eve party at Disneyland. It made me really want to go to the park for New Year's, but I never got that chance until I was actually old enough to drive myself there. The newspaper advertisement below happens to be from 1980 and even though I had my driver's license and had already driven myself to the park for the first time just one month earlier, I did not go to the New Year's Party that year. I would still have to wait one more year.

So one more year passed and finally I was able to go to DL for New Year's Eve. It was 1981 and back then, the park would close at 7:00 p.m. and then reopen at 8:30 for a separately ticketed New Year's Eve event. Again, this is the year that I was working at the park, so I had to perform in a 2:00 parade during the day (there was only one parade performance on the 31st), then I went home and got ready to go out for the evening, then I went back to the park that night for the party, then went home and slept, and then went back to the park the next day for a 2:00 and 9:00 parade performance. I can't imagine doing that now.....29 years later. I will be going out to a party tonight, but fortunately I am off both today and tomorrow!

Here's the entertainment guide from that night:

Gee, Skiles and Henderson sure did appear at the park a lot back then. I wonder if The Manhattan Transfer sang their "Twilight Zone" song? I don't remember seeing any entertainment that night.....except of course, for the "Midnight Spectacular"!

Tickets for this event were "advanced sale" and could be purchased either at Disneyland or at Ticketron locations. Remember Ticketron? This ticket was purchased at a Ticketron that happened to be located in the basement of a Sears Department Store!

My only clear memory from that night is of riding the original version of Snow White's Adventure's and seeing that the Wicked Witch's apple was laying on the ground right next to the path of the ride vehicles. Someone must have attempted to grab it and it had fallen. It was right there on the ground within reach! I wanted to go back and try to get it, but my friends thought I was crazy and I caved to the peer pressure. Or is that "reverse peer pressure"? Maybe they did me a favor. I could have lost a finger, or ended up in the Disneyland jail.....or both! I wonder where that apple is today?

I ended up going to the park for New Year's Eve two more times after this, but I will never do it again. To read about the reasons why, click here for my post from last year.

A VERY Happy New Year to everyone out there! Be safe!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Was A Teenage Christmas Tree At Disneyland!

I was recently going through some boxes of Disneyland items and came across some employee materials that I received during the brief time that I was a cast member....29 years ago! Working in the Christmas parade at that time (1981) meant that you were hired in October and then scheduled for both Disneyland Orientation and Parade/Entertainment Orientation before you began working. Parade rehearsals were scheduled during the month of November and the first two weeks of December (back then the park's Christmas parade and entertainment did not begin until mid-December). You then performed in the parade....every performance, every day, for two weeks straight. After that, you were released from your employment with Disney.

I still have all the handbooks that were given to me, "Disneyland and You", "The Disney Look" and others, but I believe I have seen them posted on other blogs they all have many pages to scan, so not being in a scanning mood right now, I have chosen a few other odds and ends to post. These first two items are a folder and large envelope for holding "new hire" documents.

This card shows my scheduled time for orientation at the Disneyland University, which was located in the Administration Building behind Main St. and Tomorrowland. Is there still a DL University at the park?

Next, is a welcome letter and work permit information.

Here's an article about the Christmas Parade that ran in the L.A. Times that year. I was one of those Christmas trees picture behind Santa's float. I'm not sure when this photo was taken however, because we never followed Santa. We were a part of the Finale Unit and were always positioned in front of Santa's "silly" reindeer. You gotta love Santa's helpers or the "Glock Girls" as they were called, because they played the Glockenspiels.

These next photos were taken by a friend. In the first photo, I'm the second green tree from the left.....I know that because of the position of the trees.

This advertisement was also from the L.A. Times. Eddie Mekka of "Laverne and Shirley" fame was performing on the Space Stage and Skiles and Henderson were back at the park, yet again. I miss the Kids of the Kingdom!

This was the scheduled entertainment for December 21-24, 31, and January 3rd.

This was the schedule for December 25-30th. Looks like Eddie Mekka was teamed up with The Aldridge Sisters (from the Lawrence Welk Show)....and maybe with Boo Boo Kitty too!

This was the park guide at the time.

Richard Ferrin, who was a Clown Fireman in the "Dumbo Circus" unit of the parade, designed this T-Shirt and made them available for all the parade cast members. Richard was also "King Lion" in the Main St. Electrical Parade and rode on the the calliope float in the Dumbo Circus unit of that parade for several seasons.

It was a tradition back then to take a cast photo and have everyone pose on the framework of the "Living Christmas Tree" from the Candlelight Procession/Ceremony. A few things to note in the photo below:

-Santa from the parade is dressed in full costume and standing at the top of the Christmas Tree.

-The two guys to the left of the "Tree" and standing above everyone else are actually standing on top of the old "Show Biz Is" sign which is laying down flat. Just behind them is the ballroom canope from the Cinderella unit of the Main St. Electrical Parade.

-The people in the lower right holding the "53" decals are from The Love Bug unit and are also holding a pair of dummy legs that were used during the parade when Herbie would "swallow" a motorcycle cop/stuntman. Just above them is the timecard shack and beyond that is the employee parking lot (I believe this area completely disappeared with the relocation of West St./Disneyland Dr.)

-West St. would have been off to the right in this picture. The trees in the background are a part of the park berm and the rear section of the Rivers of America.

-A couple more things to note... there are several people that are wearing part of their parade costumes. Three of the clowns from the Dumbo unit are wearing partial costumes or wigs.....the guy that played Gideon in the Pinocchio unit is wearing his costume without the character head.....and the guy that played Burt in the Mary Poppins unit is wearing his straw hat.

During the casting for the parade, they had every position that was needed written out on index cards. After being selected, they would give you the card and then have you take it over to a table to fill out employment forms. I've kept my casting card all these years.

Okay, I don't have a hoarding problem (honest!) but I kept my locker card too. Hey, I'm just sentimental about the one and only time that I worked at The Happiest Place On Earth!

After the parade was over, this letter was sent out as a thank you and to let us know about the upcoming auditions for the Main St. Electrical Parade.

I did actually go back for the Main St. Electrical Parade auditions a year later and was hired by Disney a second time. By this time, I had already gotten a job at Knott's Berry Farm, which was more hours and better pay than working in parades at Disneyland. I somehow thought if I got hired for the Electrical Parade, I would ask Knott's if I could just work daytime shifts and then I would go over to DL to work nights in the Electrical Parade. Well, what I didn't know was that they were also casting at the same time for the "American Gazette" parade which was a daytime parade. I ended up being hired for that parade and was too young and afraid to ask for a part in the Electrical Parade instead. So I chose to keep the job with the better pay and hours at Knott's and called Disney a few days later to tell them I couldn't take the part....even though I hated doing it!

For a while, I often thought about going back to Disney, but as time went by at Knott's, I formed some very close friendships that I really didn't want to leave behind. Of course, eventually I did leave Knott's, but I'm glad to say that I have kept many of those friendships even after all these years. As for my time spent working at was short, but it is something that I look back upon and have nothing but fond memories!
*****POST UPDATE***** (May 2024)
I recently came across this Los Angeles Times ad, which was attempting to recruit people for jobs at Disneyland. This is from 1981, the same year that I auditioned and was hired to be in the park's Christmas parade.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Disney Christmas In Black & White - 1980

For today's post we have some Los Angeles Times newspaper clippings from 30 years ago. Up first, is an advertisement for the 1980 holiday season at Disneyland. The S.O.S. band was back at the park and the Lennon Sisters were performing as well. Michael Landon was the celebrity guest for the Candlelight Procession/Ceremony that year. I like the way that this ad was drawn as if it were needlepoint....or is it cross-stitch?

Come home for the holidays......come home to Disneyland!

Next, we have an ad from October of 1980 announcing auditions for the Christmas Parade at Disneyland. As we can see in the ad above, the Christmas Parade that year was "Fantasy On Parade" which was making it's return after being on hiatus for several years ("The Very Merry Christmas Parade" had taken it's place in 1977). I happened to go to the parade auditions one year later and was hired for the 1981 edition of "Fantasy On Parade."

And here's an ad from December of 1980 for the first re-release of the animated film, "The Aristocats."

Friday, December 10, 2010

ElecTRONica Is Here! - Part 2 (Flynn's Arcade)

Welcome to Part 2 of my ElecTRONica series (to read Part 1, Click Here.) The flyer below is being handed out to guests as they enter the Disneyland Resort parking structure.

Before we take a look inside Flynn's Arcade, I thought I would post just a few more general shots of ElecTRONica. Here's another view of the entrance.

And another attempt at a nighttime shot of "The Recognizer".

In Part 1 of my ElecTRONica series, I posted a daytime photo of the DJ booth in front of the Monsters Inc. attraction. Here's what it looks like at night. The people in the foreground are all dancing the night away.

And now we'll enter Flynn's Arcade, which is located in the former Hollywood and Dine restaurant.

It feels like 1982 all over again! The arcade is filled with vintage video games....LIKE, TOTALLY! Also, the music playing throughout the arcade appears to be specifically from 1982....."We Got The Beat", "Gloria" and "Rock The Casbah", just to name a few of the songs from memory.

The games all take special tokens that are available from a change machine. Each token costs .25 cents and the games all take just one token to play!

I experienced a temporary flare-up of "Pac-Man wrist" after playing just a few of these vintage games.

I never did get hooked on Donkey Kong. Where's the donkey anyway?

But I used to play Frogger a lot!

How can you not love that font and those graphics.....a frog trying to cross the road while wearing a tie and carrying a briefcase!

Watch out for the cars!

There's some cool neon artwork on the walls of the arcade.

"The Recognizer" from TRON is depicted in neon.

And here's the actual TRON video game from the 1980's.

The "flash" picture below, reveals a secret doorway hidden behind the game. Since "TRON: Legacy" doesn't come out until December 17th, I really can't tell you much more about this door other than the fact that it's shown very briefly in the "sneak peek" that's currently being shown in the Muppet Theater in the Hollywood Backlot. In the movie, the hidden doorway is located behind the Tron game in Flynn's arcade, just as it is here in the recreation. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: They show the door open in the preview and there's a dusty office with an old computer sitting on a desk located behind the wall.

I used to love the TRON arcade game too. The Starcade in Tomorrowland had several TRON machines once upon a time. The Buffalo Nickel Arcade below Knott's Bear-y Tales at Knott's Berry Farm had a few TRON machines as well.

Here are two of TRON's four games. The Lightscycle Grid:

And the Tank Maze:

The item below, is something that I've had since the eighties. It's a flyer from Bally/Midway, the makers of the TRON arcade game. These must have been distributed to arcade owners to try and get them to purchase the units.

Flynn's Arcade is supposed to be temporary, but it appears to be very popular.....ESPECIALLY with adults. I think it would be great if when ElecTRONica is over, they moved all the machines to the Starcade in Tomorrowland. It would definitely bring more business in there than what they get now....but who knows if they would be smart enough to do that? For now, I'll be reliving my video game-playing days over at California Adventure. See you all at Flynn's Arcade. I'll be the one wearing the wrist brace!

*****Post Update (April 2024)*****
I was recently going through my collection of vintage newspaper clippings, and I came across this advertisement from The Los Angeles Times.  It's for the 1982 theatrical release of the original Tron.  It looks like it had a limited or "select" release, at first.  I did go see the film that summer, but I can't remember how soon it was, after it's July 9th release.  I should consult my old calendars, since I would usually write that kind of thing down on them.