Friday, January 12, 2024

A Vintage Disneyland Trip Report - January 1994

Thirty years ago this month, I visited Disneyland with some very good friends.  This was a time when I was "in between" having annual passes.  In the early nineties, I was only going to the park about once a year, and at this particular time, it had been even a little longer than that between visits.

For this vintage trip report, let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start......

As we pulled up to the toll booth of the old Disneyland parking lot, we were handed this ticket.  Of course, it was after paying the $12 fee.  And that was for "up close" preferred parking.  I believe the regular parking was $6 at that time, so "preferred" parking was twice the price.  I'm not sure why we paid the extra money at the time.  It must have been at the insistence of one of my friends.

This bright yellow card was placed under the windshield wiper of our car.  It acted as sort of a "flag" for the parking lot employees, indicating that we needed to be directed to the "preferred parking" section.  I wonder why an "X" was drawn over the image of Mickey in his car?   Was that some type of parking lot "code," or did someone just not care for Mickey?

We were also handed this flyer, which listed admission prices, entertainment showtimes, and some parking information:

Wow, only $30 for a day at Disneyland (Adult).  And only $24 for seniors.  Does Disney still offer a senior discount?  Does Disney offer any kind of discounts anymore?

When purchasing our admission tickets (I was not able to locate my ticket for this post, for some reason), we were given this guidebook.  Now, I do realize that this one has "1993" on the cover, but it is the one that we were given for our January 1994 visit.  It even shows up in some of the photos we took that day.  The only reason that I can come up with for this is, since this was the "Eisner & Pressler Super Cheap Cost-Cutting Era®" for Disneyland, maybe they wanted all of the old guidebooks to be used up before handing out the new ones for 1994?  It still seems odd though, because Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin isn't listed in this guide, and it had just opened to the public.

At this point, we had just entered the park.  Hooray for Main Street, U.S.A.!   Hey, is that E.J.Peaker and the Osmonds on the upper level of the Omnibus?  I know, I know.....that line gets old!  But I can't help it.  I absolutely LOVE that particular episode of The Wonderful World of Disney.

Toontown had opened just twelve months earlier, but I had not seen it yet.  And Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin had opened just four days earlier (on January 26, 1994), so we headed over there first.....making just a quick stop to snap some pictures of the new (to me) "Easter" paint job on the It's A Small World facade.  Note the fairly new commemorative plaque in the flowerbed, explaining the history of the attraction, and how it had originally debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair.  The leaping dolphin-shaped topiaries had not yet been placed on either side of the plaque.

A few of the pictures in this post were taken by one of my friends, and this is one example.  I remember he really liked the whimsical columns on the Small World Toy Shop.  Personally, I've never liked the structure, mainly because it interferes with the full view of the attraction's facade.  Now, if it had been built completely off to the side of the attraction, I think I would have liked it a little bit better.

We are now entering Toontown, and a sign just inside the entrance is telling us that the wait for the new Roger Rabbit ride is 45 minutes.  That's not too bad, considering the ride just opened four days ago.  We will wait the 45 minutes!

We're in line, and we've moved a little further into the land.  Note the dalmatian puppy in the second story window of the Toontown Fire Department.  He pops up and barks, whenever someone pushes the doorbell to the firehouse.  And that yellow "Five and Dime" building is now gone and has been replaced with the "El Capitoon Theater," which serves as the entrance to the park's newest attraction, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.  Also note in both the picture above and the one below, how bare and open the whole area is.  The new trees were so small at the time.

We're getting a little closer!  Now the dalmatian puppy is hiding!  We can only see his two front paws on the windowsill.

A few inches the firehouse, anyway.

Now the Roger Rabbit "ride" is in view.  Those tracks in the foreground were for the Jolly Trolley, a ride that opened with Toontown one year earlier, and closed only ten years later (in 2003).  The tracks remained in place for almost another 20 years.  However, the PeopleMover tracks hold the record for that, since they are still standing (or rather, their support beams are), after that attraction's closure, almost 30 years ago (1995).

We can see one of the Jolly Trolley vehicles, below.  It's partially obstructed by the people in the foreground.  And on the left, is a water fountain with Roger Rabbit in the center.  This fountain and all of the seating around it was removed in 2022, and replaced with........artificial grass.  Hey, guests had to have someplace to park their "SUV strollers"!

Okay, we are finally inside the building!  The ride vehicles are a new character called, "Lenny the Cab," and are modeled after "Benny the Cab" from the film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Now we are on board, and just leaving the loading area.

Entering the "Bullina China Shoppe":

Passing through the "Toontown Powerhouse":

"Falling down the stairs":

We are nearing the end of the ride now, when Jessica Rabbit has freed herself from her captors, the Weasels.  In December of 2021, a trench coat was put over Jessica Rabbit's body, to cover her shapely figure and exposed skin, which was totally corrupting the minds of America's youth.

Let's go ahead and take a look at the rest of Toontown, since this is our first time seeing it.

City Hall:

Goofy's Gas Station:

And, Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse.  There was also a "Chip 'n' Dales Acorn Pit" attraction, located in that structure on the far right.  It was basically your standard "ball crawl" attraction, but it closed in 1998, only five years after it opened.  Reportedly, children were doing repulsive things underneath the plastic "acorns."'s the same thing that children do in the caves on Tom Sawyer Island.  I really don't get it.  Why not just tell your parents that you "have to go," and let them take you to the proper place to do it?!?!

Well, we are done with Toontown for the day.  This next pic was also taken by my friend.   He always loved the golden elephant-themed finials, on top of the lampposts surrounding the "Dumbo Flying Elephants" attraction.

It's lunchtime at the Bengal Barbecue, in Adventureland.  That "Mickey" motif on the paper cups, napkins, and cardboard food carriers, was used in the park for many years.

Here's a closer look:

 The napkins:

This paper bag has the same pattern.  But now I can't remember which food locations put their food into paper bags.  Maybe they were only used as "doggie bags."

Now it's time for the "Aladdin's Royal Caravan" parade!  The legs of the men on this float moved forward and back, making it appear as if they were walking.

The two camels would turn their heads from side to side, and "spit" water from their mouths, into the crowds of people.

This parade also ran concurrently, at the Disney/MGM Studios park in Orlando.  The spitting camels from their parade eventually (in 2001) ended up as a permanent addition to the Magic Kingdom.  Today, they can be found alongside "The Magic Carpets of Aladdin" attraction, in Adventureland.

An onion-domed structure on one of the parade floats:

This float included a large inflatable version of Genie.

The base of the inflatable Genie float:

There were multiple versions of "Genie" featured throughout the parade.  This one was dressed as a drum major, and was leading a band of musicians.

Here is a pic of the last float in the parade, taken from a brochure.

It's time to make our way over to Tomorrowland.  Star Tours was only seven years old at this point.  Poor Rex has since been replaced by C-3PO, as the pilot for all of the Starspeeder vehicles.  Today, Rex can be found hanging out in the queue for the attraction, as well as in the Cantina, over in Wookie World.  Fun fact....Rex was voiced by Pee Wee Herman (actor, Paul Reubens).

Goofing around in the Magic Eye Theater, while waiting for Captain EO to begin:

On our way out of the park, we paused to do some shopping on Main Street.  This next picture was taken in the "Crystal Arcade" section of the Main Street Emporium.  I wish I had taken a picture of that mural, just to the right and out of frame.  The artwork was only there for a short time, and was sort of like a vintage advertisement for the Emporium.  There was a portrait of "Walter E. Disney" as the store's "proprietor," and other information like, "Nearly One City Block," and "Established 1855."  I've always wondered why it didn't remain on that back wall for very long.

Disneyland Paris has a much smaller version of the mural, in their Emporium.  Does anyone remember this existing in Anaheim's Main Street Emporium, for a brief period of time?

This picture was taken in the Candy Palace.  At one time, that room in the background was the "right rear wing" of the Penny Arcade.  I can't remember what year the Candy Palace expanded into that space, but this was still prior to the store taking over all of the Penny Arcade.  Note the heart-shaped boxes of candy on the shelves.  Valentine's Day was just two weeks away.

Speaking of the Penny Arcade, let's have Esmeralda tell our fortune.

None of her predictions came true!  I wonder if Esmeralda ever worked for the Psychic Friends Network?

Who remembers the "glass" elephant in the Penny Arcade?  This was something else that seemed to be there for only a short period of time.

The elephant reappeared years later in the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour, as seen in this pic from 2011:

And today, it sits on the roof of the Tropical Imports building (now, stroller parking), in Adventureland:

We'll stop at the Main Street Cinema, before leaving the park.  Steamboat Willie is playing inside, on a continuous loop!  And as of the first of this month, he is public domain and belongs to the world!  Do I smell a followup to last year's independent "Pooh" movie?  "Steamboat Willie: Blood and Money", anyone?

"Tillie" won't take our "A" Coupons.  She's totally unresponsive.  Maybe she's just tired.  I'm sure it was a long day, and now she's ready to clock out and go home for the night.

We'll stop at City Hall and get an extra Guidebook to take home.  One can always use an extra Disneyland Guidebook, right?  We'll also take one of these flyers, which has information about Annual Passes.  My next Disneyland visit was six months later (in July of 1994), and I did upgrade that day's admission ticket to an Annual Pass, and continued to renew that pass for several years.  I will also be doing a trip report about that July '94 visit, so stay tuned.

Oh, look....there's the Skyway.  Sadly, the Skyway would be removed before the end of the year (in November).

I can't remember the specific souvenirs I purchased on this trip.  However, I do remember many of the items I bought around this time.  So here is a Toontown pinback button, which I very likely could have purchased on this trip, or at least within this same time period of the mid-1990s.

I know that I saved one or more of the Disneyland shopping bags from this and other visits around this same time, but for the life of me, I could not find one!  Of course, I was able to find one from every other era.  Oh, well!  So, this image of one of the bags is borrowed from ebay.

And just for fun, here is a photo taken earlier in the month, on New Year's Day.  This was the Walt Disney Company's entry into the 1994 Tournament of Roses Parade.  The float featured Lenny (or Benny) the Cab.  After the parade, the floats are always driven to a park in Pasadena, and are left out on display for a few days.  However, this particular float broke down early on in the parade that year, and had to be towed the rest of the way down the parade route, as well as to the park.

For years now, I have made a point to acquire one of the Hallmark company's complimentary "Date Books."  I have always used them to document various events in my life.  It doesn't have to be a major event.  It can be something as simple as going to dinner with a friend, seeing a movie, or a Disneyland visit.  This 1994 Hallmark Date Book shows the entry for this visit to Disneyland on January 30th, as well as my trip to see the Rose Parade floats in Pasadena.  I just thought I would share this additional "record" of my Disneyland visit.  Of course, I had to "erase" some of the other things I did that month, before sharing it here!


Here is the 1993 Souvenir Guidebook we were given that day (even though we were already 30 days into 1994), in it's entirety.  Enjoy!


"No tickets are required on any attraction......."  It's interesting that they still thought it was necessary to state this, even though the individual ticket system was phased out 12 years earlier.

That lady aboard the Jungle Cruise looks just a little TOO excited!

Awww, the Mike Fink Keelboats were still operating!  (They closed 3 years later.)

The Casey Jr. Circus Train was "Open selected weekends and seasonal periods only"?  How odd!

Once again, "Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin" isn't listed here, because they were handing out these older guidebooks at the park entrance!

Wow, this Tomorrowland seems far more exciting than the current one.  I miss Circle-Vision!  And the PeopleMover!  And the Skyway!  And the Rocket Jets spinning high above Tomorrowland.

It looks like the Dancing Waters/Fantasy Waters show was still going strong (twice nightly!) over at the Disneyland Hotel.  And Disney was jumping onto the current "Country Western" music bandwagon, with their "Neon Cactus" venue, also over at the hotel.

Aladdin was released on video, just eleven months after it's initial release in theaters.

Bonkers was apparently an animated series that was shown on broadcast TV, as a part of The Disney Afternoon lineup.  According to Wikipedia, new episodes were produced from February of 1993, through November of 1993.

"Print film"?  What is that?  ;-)

I hope everyone enjoyed this vintage trip report, from 30 years ago!

****Post Update (03-26-24)****

I found one more item with that same "Mickey" motif.  This is a paper bag/sleeve which was used to hold large fresh baked cookies, sold at select quick-service food locations throughout the park.

The only variety of cookie that I ever purchased at the park was "chocolate chip," so I am kind of surprised that this doesn't have any chocolate or grease stains.  I suppose I wouldn't have saved it if it did.


Dean Finder said...

The Mickey color scheme on those food trays and cups is the one I best remember, since my kid sister was prime Disney customer in those days (every VHS clamshell was in our house)
I don't think I've ever seen much of Toontown. It was closed when I was there in the fall of 2022, and not many pics show up on Gorillas don't blog.

TokyoMagic! said...

Dean Finder, I believe Disney used those graphics on their paper products for quite a while. Tokyo Disneyland also used them for a while, even after Disneyland in Anaheim stopped.

I think Major P. recently announced that he will changing the subject matter on Gorillas Don't Blog to, "All Toontown, All The Time!" ;-)

"Lou and Sue" said...

$12 for up-close preferred parking. So THAT was the start of Genie+, I bet.

Ha! Look at all those strollers lined up, waiting to watch the iasw dolls come marching out on the quarter hour.

I love the spitting camels. Saw them in Disney's MGM Studios, before they TRE'd that park, too.

I'll definitely be back to read all the guidebook pages. I enjoyed this trip to Disneyland, especially since we got a chance to see your twin, in person. Finally. ;o)

Thanks, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I believe that "preferred parking" was a fairly new thing at this time. And yes, that probably was one of the earlier money grubbing stunts, which now also includes "Genie+". It's amazing to think that Fastpasses were actually free at one point. Management probably had no idea at the time, that guests would be totally willing to pay through the nose for such a thing. But then who am I to talk? We paid double to park "up close." I just know that it was NOT my idea!

I didn't really focus in on the strollers, until you pointed them out. Even that number of strollers would eventually pale in comparison to the "sea of strollers" that would form out in front of IASW, in the years to come.

I didn't mention it, but the spitting camels actually had one additional use, within the Disney-MGM Studios park. After the "Aladdin" parade ended it's run, they sat outside of the Soundstage Restaurant, before ultimately ending up in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland. Now I'm wondering if you remember them from the parade, or if you saw them outside the restaurant....or maybe both locations?

"Lou and Sue" said...

I saw the camels in the parade, and then later in their stationary spot They were spitting on unsuspecting guests, both times.

The new stroller parking 'lots' are huge. If they outlawed the strollers, there'd be room for 5-6 new attractions. Easily.

TokyoMagic! said...

The new stroller parking 'lots' are huge. If they outlawed the strollers, there'd be room for 5-6 new attractions. Easily.

HA, HA! I believe you are right, Sue! ;-)


This period of time feels like it was just a few years ago …. But it’s been three decades. I feel old.

The Emporium mural was designed by imagineer Jim Michaelson - who design the 1977 Disneyland Railroad and the 1976 Jungle Cruise attraction posters …. Among hundreds hundreds of other park signs, posters and graphics. It was hand painted on canvas and displayed at the end wall of the the Crystal Arcade interior. Sadly a big chunk of it was often blocked by stacked plush toys . The mural was actually created for display inside the Euro Disneyland Emporium…. And there is a Walt Disney World and Tokyo Emporium mural as well …. But for whatever reason the murals used in Paris and Florida are photomechanical reproductions ( digital now I’m sure) but Disneyland’s was a hand painted enlargement. In the early 2000’s outside of the Disneyland signshop was the emporium mural rolled up along with one of the Country Bear Jamboree advertisements stage drop . Why they were outside I don’t know …hopefully they were saved and taken care of…. But probably not.

I never was a big fan of Toon Town … mainly because it took away funding from the new Tomorrowland project “TOMORROWLAND 2055” …. But compared to how badly TOONTOWN has been watered down it was fairly impressive when it was new!

The first plans for TOONTOWN featured a “coin” crawl in Scrooge Mc Duck’s bank vault ……. But Eisner wanted more “Disney afternoon “ presence …. So there went that … despite TOONTOWN was suppose to be a 1930’s - 1940’s time frame .

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, thanks for that information on the Emporium mural. Do you happen to know when it went up and when it was taken down? For me, it seemed to be there for a very short time. Wow, they had it outdoors? Maybe they were just waiting until they had a pile of something to sweep up, so they could cut it into pieces and use those pieces as dustpans?

I was never a fan of Toontown, either! That's too bad that the money for a new Tomorrowland went to Toontown, instead. But I suppose that a new Tomorrowland, no matter how great it looked on paper, would have turned out crappy in it's execution. It would be inevitable with Eisner and Pressler in charge of things.


Chris : my earliest photo of the Emporium mural inside the crystal arcade isn’t dated … but it would have to be from the 1992-1993 period.

The “glass elephant” was a mistake given to Disneyland for use. It was manufactured for Euro Disneyland’s Boardwalk Candies … the shop is themed to 1890 - 1910 Atlantic City. Anyway, the glass elephant was supposed to be filled with fake candy ( gum balls) to look like a giant fanciful confectionery jar based on Lucy The Elephant ( in Atlantic City) the vendor who fabricated the piece forgot to put the fake gumbals when they casted it … so it was used at Disneyland when they merged the penny arcade - candy palace - and I’ve cream parlor yogurt / bakery and AMWAY product showroom. The elephant was relocated to the jungle cruise boat house after additional seating ousted the glass candy pachyderm.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, thanks for that additional "inside" information. I thought the elephant looked odd in the Penny Arcade. I remember during just one visit, it had been moved to the front of the Penny Arcade, and was in Esmeralda's spot and she was in the center of the Penny Arcade. By the next visit, they had swapped places. I was trying to figure out if this was that visit, but I couldn't really tell from the pics of each of them. Okay, I just now went and rechecked both photos. If you look through Esmeralda's side window, there is a white post/column in the distance, that might mean we are looking through the inside doorway, into the ice cream parlor/bakery....whatever it was at that time. If that's the case, then that means this is the visit when we saw Esmeralda in the center of the Arcade and the elephant was out front.

Andrew said...

What a fun trip report! And no white ovals to be seen! :)

I love that you enjoyed this visit with friends who appreciate the details of the parks like you do! That makes any visit all the better. As an aside about appreciating the parks, YouTube has minted a lot of Disney fans who may have never gotten into the subject otherwise. In high school, I had a friend who I would have high-level conversations with about vintage Epcot and the like all the time!

It seems like you enjoyed Toontown based on the number of photos you took, or at least you were intrigued by it. Since it was closed entirely when I visited the park, I don't have any opinions on it. I'm bummed we missed out on the Roger Rabbit dark ride though. That Rose Parade float is sweet! When a float breaks down, do they have a crew who springs into action so it can be towed for the rest of the route?

I kind of like the different artwork for each land on the guidebook. It's very 90s (so it's vintage now!), like something you would see in a mall at the time.

Haha, that Jungle Cruise lady really is way too excited!

I understand why you would save your guidebook, the admissions flyer, and even the parking pass. However, I am at a total loss as to why you would save something like a paper cup! ;-)

TokyoMagic! said...

Andrew, I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I can't guarantee that the white ovals won't return at some point. People seem to just love them so darn much! ;-)

I was very lucky that even in my childhood and my teenage years, I had friends who were "into" Disneyland, just as much as me. I'm glad to hear that you had someone who you were able to have "high-level" conversations about the Disney parks with....or at the very least, EPCOT!

I guess you could say that I was somewhat intrigued by Toontown. It's probably only because it was entirely me, anyway, since I had not seen it yet. I started taking the pics as soon as we got in line for the new ride, which began just inside the entrance to the land. After waiting in line and going on the ride, I did only take three more pics of the rest of the land. Ha, ha, I'm getting all defensive about the reasons for the number of photos I took! One additional defense, I've always recommended to my younger friends who are "into" Disneyland, "Take pictures of even the ugly stuff!" My reasoning for that is because even though something is ugly, sometimes it disappears later, and by taking photos, you will always have documentation (and proof) of it being there. If only they had bulldozed Toontown for Star Wars Land, then I would have some great documentation of some stuff that isn't there anymore! Oh, well! :-)

I'm sorry that you didn't get to see Toontown during your visit, and that you missed out on the Roger Rabbit ride. I do like the ride, very much. If they were to ever get rid of Toontown (which I don't think is going to ever happen, except in my fantasies, of course), I would hope that they would keep the Roger Rabbit Ride. I suppose they could keep the new Mickey and Minnie ride too. I haven't seen it in person, but it looks "decent" from the one video that I watched.

I do think there are crews standing by during the Rose Parade, just in case a float breaks down. I don't know if that happens as often these days. It's seems like it was kind of a common thing in the past.

You are right about those vintage graphics on the guidebook. I think the merchandise bag also screams "1990s." I could see those colors on a 90s sweater.

Not only do I save paper cups, but I save used pizza boxes. The greasier, the better! ;-)

Susie said...

Oh man! This post brings back memories… that year was my 8th grade trip there (my school went every year) but in 8th grade you were allowed to walk around without CHAPERONES! I still have my guide book and I think they gave us a “school discount” and our tickets were $19 each. I will see if I still have it! VIP PARKING TOO - you fancy. That cast member for sure hated Mickey with that X

TokyoMagic! said...

Hi Susie! Wow....your school went to Disneyland every year? Cool! We only went for 8th grade graduation and high school graduation (Grad Nite). I remember the 8th grade trip being exciting, because we were also able to spend the day there without chaperones. Prior to the trip however, they warned/threatened us that if we misbehaved, we would be taken out to the school bus in the parking lot, and have to remain there for the rest of the day. They tried to scare us with some story about a student spitting from the Skyway one year, and how security was waiting for him at the end of his ride.

"That cast member for sure hated Mickey with that X."

Ha, ha! I couldn't figure out any other reason for that X on top of Mickey!

Thanks for commenting, Susie!