Friday, November 19, 2010

Billboard of Happiness

Painting by Paul Hartley, I do believe. 

Wow, huh?  This jaw-dropping billboard design (shown here without text) was created in 1961 to boast about the enticing new things in development at Disneyland for the year ahead: New Orleans Square, the Swiss Family Treehouse, a brand new shooting arcade for Adventureland, the Tahitian Terrace Restaurant (and a still undefined  Tiki Cafe that would eventually morph into something called Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room),  and over at the Jungle Cruise: new improved animals and scenes such as the African Veldt and the Elephant Bathing Pool.  
It's pretty clear that Disneyland was about to become smokin' hot!

Oh, one last little tidbit touted on the sign is the Haunted Mansion.  Although construction of the Mansion's stately exterior was completed in 1962,  everyone knows the attraction inside opened seven excruciatingly long years later.


Now, take your loved ones by the hand, please, and kindly follow me over to Daveland to view shocking images documenting construction of the Haunted Mansion on November 19, 1962 -- forty-eight years ago to this very day.  You'll even spy the fabulous "Coming Soon" billboard in the shot of WED art director Bill Martin visiting the construction site.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Down By The Station, Early In The Morning...

On November 13th, bright and early, Jody and I will be down at Disneyland for the release of our newest collectible based on a classic attraction:  The Nature's Wonderland Mine Train.  From 1960 to the mid 70s,  these bright yellow little trains carried passengers on a scenic adventure through the "unspoiled wilderness" of Frontierland.

Traveling over creaky wooden trestles, through cool rock caves, and beneath a natural arch bridge, passengers viewed over 200 animated animals and birds representing "almost every specie still roaming the North American continent", according to the original press release.

The unpainted, first prototype

Although Jody and I both can say we have ridden through Nature's Wonderland, we were too young to remember anything about our experiences. Our model, on it's own trestle base, is carefully copied from stacks of photos and the original vellum draftings stored in a big flat drawer at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Creating the realistic Olympic Elk figures for the attraction.

Legendary designer Bob Gurr (that's him above in the green shirt) built mechanisms for many of the realistic animals that inhabited the ride.  "Nature's splendor" culminated in the colorful Rainbow Caverns, a florescent watery-wonderland of underground stalactites, stalagmites...and, of course, black lights.

Spoiler alert!  (Although, really, how can we spoil something that doesn't even exist any more?) Here is a RARE view of a portion of the Rainbow Caverns during a routine refurbishment in the 1960s.  The water is drained, work-lights are on, and a workman's power cord stretches across the tracks, ruining the illusion, but allowing us to appreciate "how it was done"!  

Rocky cut-outs obscure rows of lights, while electric fans mounted on the walls create a refreshing breeze for passengers still warm from their trip across the arid "Living Desert".

We dearly love the Mine Train and wish we could still take a trip through Nature's Wonderland today (although Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of our favorite Disneyland rides, and retains several of the effects and scenes from its predecessor.)  

Tomorrow mornin', if'n you're in our part of the wilderness (that is Anaheim), why not mosey on down to the Disneyland Gallery on Main Street and visit for a spell? Jody and I will be there, along with Bob Gurr, to sign Mine Trains and shoot the breeze from 9am to 11am.  Hope to see you there!