Friday, August 27, 2021

A Vintage Disneyland Trip Report - August 1976

It's time for another vintage Disneyland trip report! 

Forty-five years ago this week, an elementary school friend of mine invited me to go with him and his family to Disneyland.  I have a fairly good memory about many parts of this visit.  I also saved both the park guidebook (which was handed out to guests when purchasing tickets), and the main gate entertainment guide (which was available to guests as they walked through the turnstiles).

This was the entertainment guide for the week of August 22nd - 28th, 1976.

The country was celebrating it's bicentennial, that year.  In honor of the milestone birthday, Disney created "America On Parade," which performed twice daily, starting in the Summer of 1975, and running through the Summer of 1976.  Incidentally, the nighttime performance of the parade resulted in a hiatus of the Main Street Electrical Parade, for the first time since it's debut in the Summer of 1972.

The entertainment listing mentions "Ragtime Rod," who had been playing piano at the Coke Corner on Main Street, for over 6 years at this point.  There is also a "Ragtime Ray" listed.  I have never heard of him before.  I have also never seen Rod Miller listed specifically by name, on an entertainment guide.  He was usually just listed as, "Coke Corner Pianist."

And this was the guidebook for that summer season.  The cover featured one of the parade units from "America On Parade."  I have scanned the entire guide, and will include it at the end of this post.

I shot a whole roll of film that day (12 exposures).  I've posted a pic of my childhood camera before, but I'm including it again, here.  The camera was a Kodak Instamatic X-15, and took a "126" size film cartridge.  It was a gift from my dad, for Christmas of 1974.  This trip was only the second time that I had taken my camera to Disneyland.  I have previously posted the very first photos I ever took at the park.  To see those, you can click here:  Easter Vacation 1975 - A Vintage Disneyland Trip Report.

Here are my photos, shown in the order that they were taken.  First up, we have the obligatory shot of the Castle.  We got to the park early in the morning, and I remember how it seemed very uncrowded, compared to all the other times I had been at the park.....especially for the summer season.

I remember running over to the Matterhorn, for the first attraction of the day.  The Matterhorn was still the park's only "thrill ride," and it would get a rather long line as the day went on.  It was also still kind of a "new" ride for me.  I had only been on it once before.  Note the solo mountain climber, nearing the Matterhorn's peak.  A bobsled can also be seen, crossing over the stone bridge just above the Monorail beam.

In this next picture, I am wearing my childhood Mickey Mouse watch.  Also, I made the mistake of standing behind that tree branch.  ;-)

The watch had been a Christmas gift from my mom, a couple years earlier.

This shot of Monstro shows how empty the park was, since I was able to take the picture without any people in the frame.

I remember going on most of the Fantasyland dark rides, that morning.  My friend's sister and brother-in-law did not go on Peter Pan's Flight with us.  She said that she would hold my camera for me, while we were on the ride.  Then as we were exiting the vehicle, she snapped this photo of us.

Next, we headed over to the Skyway......

This picture of Cinderella's Castle came out a little blurry.

However, I was pretty happy with this "artfully" angled shot of the Mad Tea Party.  We can see that the park was still not very crowded, but it would get more crowded as the day went on.

I remember being VERY excited to see Space Mountain under construction.  My brother and I had seen it listed for years as a future attraction, on our souvenir Disneyland "wall maps."  The finished product did look different than the artwork on the maps, and the name, "Spaceport & Rocket Flight," had also been changed.  I'm assuming that was a "placeholder" name, anyway.  I was also excited to see the construction, because Walt Disney World's version of the attraction had already opened, and I had watched Mike Douglas ride it on his afternoon talk show, the previous year.

We got off the Skyway and hit Tomorrowland, next.  I'm not sure why I didn't take any more photos of Tomorrowland, especially since it was always my favorite least up until 1998, WHEN THEY TOTALLY RUINED IT!  ;-)

Later in the day, we rode the Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland.  I remember how nice the cool mist from the geysers of  "The Living Desert" felt, on a hot summer day.  Sadly, this would be my last time riding the attraction, since it closed just 5 months later (in January of 1977).

After exiting the Mine Train, I remember seeing this tableau of a stagecoach, parked in front of an extension of Rainbow Ridge, and liking it enough to want to snap a pic.  At the time, I did not realize that this Stagecoach was a vehicle from an extinct Disneyland attraction.  I also did not realize that these buildings had been the backdrop for the former Pack Mules attraction.  While I was aware of the Pack Mules during the time they existed at Disneyland, we somehow never rode them.  We always chose to ride the Mine Train, instead.

Next, we rode the Mark Twain around the Rivers of America.  Is it just me, or does the Friendly Indian Village look small here?

For the remainder of our visit, we went on many of the same attractions that my family always went on, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree.  I also remember watching "America On Parade."  I really loved this parade.  It ranks right up there, as one of my all-time favorite parades.

This was the very first float in the parade.  Note the blue and white Small World Souvenir Stand, on the far right.

I remember at this point, my film was running out and I only had one more exposure left, so my last shot of the day was of "Betsy Ross" and her giant flag.  I wish I had been able to take more pics of this parade.

As for souvenirs that day, I bought this caricature of myself, at the Fantasyland Caricature Stand.  The stand was located directly behind me, as I was taking the photo, above.  I remember when the artist drew this, the last thing he included was the cliff that I was about to "go over."  My friend also had his caricature drawn.  The artist depicted him dunking a basketball through a hoop.  As he was finishing up, he drew a ladder underneath him, with him standing on the top step.  It seemed like the artists always added "the gags" to their drawings, at the last minute.

Here's a photo showing the Fantasyland Caricature Stand (from the blog, "Disney On Parole").  It was taken in 1979, but I'm including it because it's the best one I have seen out there on the internet.  In the photo, we can see that there are about 5 samples of framed caricatures, displayed on the counter.  A customer is standing in front of the counter, and turned to the side so the artist can see his profile.  The artist is seated behind the counter, and in between him and the customer, we can see the top of an overhead projector.  As the artists drew the caricatures, guests could watch the progress, projected onto that white screen behind them.

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Candy Palace on Main Street.  Both the Candy Palace and the Castle Candy Shop used to sell these clear plastic cubes, filled with various kinds of candy.  Some of the plastic cubes came with a ceramic figurine of a Disney character, glued to the lid.

How about that price of $1.55 for five ounces of candy!

I have several of these plastic boxes, which I saved from different visits to the park.  I always bought the ones that were filled with the "Swiss Petite Fruits."  I even remember coming home with this same type of candy, after a childhood visit to Universal Studios.

I hope everyone enjoyed this time traveling visit back to 1976!


Here is the Disneyland Guide from this trip, in it's entirety.

Note the message below, about Disneyland being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, in the off season.  Disneyland did not start being open everyday, until the early eighties.

In the "General Information" below, I see that there are two references to Disneyland "employees," and two references to "Disneylanders."  I guess at this point, Disney was not yet calling their employees, "cast members."

I always loved the tiny graphics used in these guides, for each of the attractions:

The PeopleMover had been temporarily removed from the list of "D" attractions.  The construction of Space Mountain had forced it's closure.

Note, the location of the Fantasyland Caricature Stand, below.

The back cover had an ad for the re-release of Peter Pan, and two new "live-action" films, from Walt Disney Productions.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Cats of Disneyland & Knott's Berry Farm

Today is International Cat Day.  International Cat Day is a celebration which takes place every year, on August 8th.  It was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  (National Cat Day is celebrated every year on October 29th.)

Speaking of international, I took this cat's pic near Disneyland's It's A Small World attraction, back in 2009. Awww...sorry for the bright camera flash, kitty!

And I took this pic near California Adventure's Grizzly River Rapids, in 2015. This cat's name is officially (or I guess, unofficially), "Francisco."  Francisco is a very friendly cat and will sometimes come right up to guests, to be petted.

Knott's Berry Farm has it's own feline population.  These first two pics were taken just outside of the Western Trails Museum, in Ghost Town.

And this shy kitty cat was hiding in the bushes, near Ghost Town's Boot Hill Cemetery.

Even Japanese amusement parks have their own feline residents. I took this pic at Tokyo Dome City, in 2009.

Several years ago, there was an article in The Los Angeles Times, about Disneyland's feline population, and "Francisco" was actually named in the article. Knott's Berry Farm's cats got a brief mention, as well.

I have my own personal cat story, from when I used to work at Knott's Berry Farm.  Back then, the cats were rarely visible to guests or employees, during the day.  After the park closed, we would sometimes get a glimpse of one running out from under one building, over to another.  There weren't any feeding stations for the cats, and we were told that management only let them hang around, because they helped keep the rat population down.

One night, in December of 1988....the day after Christmas to be exact, it was late and the park was going to be closing in about an hour.  Suddenly, a black cat walked out into the middle of Ghost Town, and started crying out.  She came right up to a couple friends/coworkers of mine and even let them pick her up.  She was super skinny, to the point where you could see the outline of her rib cage.  We really believed that she was "crying out for help."

It was very cold and the temperature was supposed to drop below freezing that night, so my friends were going to secretly lock her inside of "The Original Berry Stand" overnight, and leave her with some chicken strips.  One of them was working early the next morning, so they would have been able to let her out without anyone else knowing she had been in there.

Well, it just so happened that our family cat had passed away, two months earlier.  She was 20 years old, and had been a part of the family since I was 4 years old.  At that time, we had made the decision not to run out and adopt another cat right away.  This cat, presenting herself the way that she did, sort of made me feel like it was happening for a reason.  So, I took her home with me.

I did wonder if security would stop me as I tried to leave the park with her, and say something like, "Hey, you can't take that cat......that's Knott's property!"  I really would not have been surprised if they did.  So, I put the cat inside of my employee jacket (while I was wearing it!), snapped it up to the top snap, and attempted to smuggle her out.

Surprisingly, she was completely comfortable (and probably warm) inside my jacket and she didn't even scratch me, or attempt to escape.  However, she did not like being completely hidden inside there, so she stuck her head out the top and kept craning it around so she could see where we were going.  I could not get her to duck down, even at that moment when we were walking past security.  I never made eye contact with the security guard, so I don't know if he saw her or not, but we made it to the car, and she made the journey home with me, where she proceeded to live out a nice, long, pampered life.

Here is a photo of her, taken not too long after she had been brought home and "fattened up" a bit.

And here's a pic of her about a year later, taking possession of a piece of notebook paper that had dropped onto the floor.

I hope everyone enjoyed my (long) cat story!  I'll end here, with a couple pics from when "Grumpy Cat" (R.I.P.!) visited Disneyland, back in 2013.

A very happy International Cat Day, to all the cat lovers out there!