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Tag Archives: Disneyland

Look What I Found: Vacationland, Summer 1982

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Here’s a pristine issue of Vacationland from Summer 1982, added to my collection. This was a magazine produced by the Disney company and given away to hotel guests in Anaheim and Southern California. I remember poring through this particular issue as a kid on our somewhat frequent family vacations there, and it’s kind of a trip to see it again! Fascinating to see the company when it was prepping Epcot Center for opening, and constructing Tokyo Disneyland and a top-to-bottom makeover for Fantasyland in Disneyland.

As for the trip itself, I remember experiencing the TRON Superspeed Tunnel in the PeopleMover and playing a game of Frogger in the Starcade at Tomorrowland (in retrospect, kind of a weird thing to spend valuable Disneyland time on). Of course, our family tradition was making a beeline for Pirates as soon as the park opened, and we were wowed by the Main Street Electrical Parade. I also got ribbed for being a 13-year-old boy still into Disney. Guess what? I’m a 48-year-old man into Disney, and anyone who takes issue with that fact can kindly and gently shove it.

Here’s some photos from that issue – don’t forget to click the image for a full-sized version! And kindly keep your hands and feet inside the ride vehicle at all times.

Hostess advertisement featuring Robin Hood characters posing in from of the Fantasyland Skyway station (demolished in 2016 to make way for Star Wars Land).

Hostess advertisement featuring Robin Hood characters posing in from of the Fantasyland Skyway station (demolished in 2016 to make way for Star Wars Land).

Article on the Ronald Reagan anamatronic added to the Hall of Presidents in Walt Disney World.

Article on the Ronald Reagan anamatronic added to the Hall of Presidents in Walt Disney World.

Universal Studios Tour ad, from when they pitched themselves as an actual working movie studio with tours and not a theme park.

Universal Studios Tour ad, from when they pitched themselves as an actual working movie studio with tours and not a theme park.

This spread captivated my imagination - on the sign painters of Disneyland!

This spread captivated my imagination – on the sign painters of Disneyland!

Sea World advertisement opposite an article on the Tokyo Disneyland project.

Sea World advertisement opposite an article on the Tokyo Disneyland project.

Article on EPCOT Center (later shortened to just Epcot) flanked by ads for Gray Line Tours and Northern California.

Article on EPCOT Center (later shortened to just Epcot) flanked by ads for Gray Line Tours and Northern California.

Article on 1983 New Fantasyland flanked by ads for the San Diego Zoo and something called The Kingdom of Dancing Stallions.

Article on 1983 New Fantasyland flanked by ads for the San Diego Zoo and something called The Kingdom of Dancing Stallions.

Vacation Fun Spots - love this graphic!

Vacation Fun Spots – love this graphic!

Marineland ad highlighting the Baja Reef swim-through aquarium. I went on this, and the water was so cold!

Marineland ad highlighting the Baja Reef swim-through aquarium. I went on this, and the water was so cold!

Classy Knott's Ice Spectacular ad opposite a tacky Catalina Island boat tour ad.

Classy Knott’s Ice Spectacular ad opposite a tacky Catalina Island boat tour ad.

Local restaurants in Anaheim; Roger Folk Gallery in Laguna Beach.

Local restaurants in Anaheim; Roger Folk Gallery in Laguna Beach.

Knott's Berry Farm advertisment.

Knott’s Berry Farm advertisment.

Look What I Found: 2015 Catch-Up

Spread from Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man showing his 1940s bullfighting art.

Spread from Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man showing his 1940s bullfighting art.

The theme of this post is “More,” as in – More books! More visual inspiration! More occupied shelf space! In my last post from a month ago, I wrote about my plans to spend each month of 2015 buying a different beautiful, visually-oriented book at a budget price. With a couple of exceptions, I’ve kept true to the plan. I’ve already shared the May book – Sing for America, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. The June book has also been enjoyed, and will become the subject of its own post later on. In the meantime, I’m taking this space to write a few bits about the books from January through April. Let’s begin!

In January, something that had been on my want-list for some time. Published in 1959,The Golden Book of Myths and Legends was illustrated in striking primitive-modern style by Alice and Martin Provensen. The Provensens lent their talents to many different projects over a long, long period of time. Myths and Legends comes from a particularly excellent, creative time when they applied vibrant textures and stylization to traditional subjects like The First Noel (1959) and The Iliad and the Odyssey (1956). More recently, I picked up the Provensens’ 1978 children’s book A Year at Maple Farm at a thrift store, a sweet look at the seasons changing at their farm.

The Golden Book of Myths and Legends (1959).

The Golden Book of Myths and Legends (1959).

Echo and Narcissus, from The Golden Book of Myths and Legends.

Echo and Narcissus, from The Golden Book of Myths and Legends.

Heracles: The Twelve Labors, from The Golden Book of Myths and Legends.

Heracles: The Twelve Labors, from The Golden Book of Myths and Legends.

February signaled the annual arrival of the huge VSNA Used Book Sale, held mere steps from our house. This year, I splurged a bit on a beaten-up yet nice ’50s-era copy of The Passport, an illustrated volume of doodles, cartoons and observations from the famous New Yorker artist Saul Steinberg. One of my fondest childhood memories was checking out a reprint of this book from the local library – it was literally one of the main things that influenced me in becoming an artist. Steinberg’s images of exotic locales, skyscrapers, mismatched couples and exaggerated Americana remain as delightful as ever. What a treasure!

Saul Steinberg - The Passport (1954).

Saul Steinberg – The Passport (1954).

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In March, I caught wind of this stupendous auction at Van Eaton Galleries of vintage Disneyland stuff – posters, props, costumes, souvenirs. Although the items were listed at well above my price range, I ended up blind-buying the auction catalog in luxurious hardback. It turned out to be well worth the money, since the book’s colorful photography and detailed descriptions serve as a wonderful general-purpose guide to vintage Disney theme park items. Organized by land, the book is full of fantastic stuff that even my Disneyland-saturated eyes had never seen before. The top sale from this two-day auction was lot #357, a green animatronic bird from The Enchanted Tiki Room, which fetched $153,400.

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Van Eaton spread of Main Street, USA items.

Van Eaton spread of Main Street, USA items.

Chapter headers with map diagram and vintage snapshots - nifty!

Chapter headers with map diagram and vintage snapshots – nifty!

Van Eaton catalog spread of Matterhorn/Fantasyland items.

Van Eaton catalog spread of Matterhorn/Fantasyland items.

Continuing along the same lines, April‘s selection came from our long-awaited tour of the Disney Studios in Burbank, California. At the studio’s Disney Store (yeah, they have a complete Disney Store location right there on the backlot!), I picked up a lovely tribute to one of the studio’s icons – animator and imagineer Marc Davis. This gorgeous looking large-format volume is divided into ten chapters, each headed by a sincere testimony from a Davis friend or admirer on a specific aspect of his life. The topics include not only the expected animation and theme park attractions, but non-Disney things like Davis’ illustrated trips to Papua New Guinea, personal art, and instruction. Although the book omits a few projects (there’s nothing at all on the Country Bear Jamboree attraction, for instance), I appreciated the space given important areas like the never-produced 1960 film Chanticleer and Davis’ biggest supporter – his widow, Alice (a talented artist in her own right).

Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man was published by Disney Editions in 2014. Buy at Amazon.com here.

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Marc Davis concept art from Chanticleer.

Marc Davis concept art from Chanticleer.

Marc Davis concept art for America Sings Disneyland attraction, 1970s.

Marc Davis concept art for America Sings Disneyland attraction, 1970s.

Poster Art of the Disney Theme Parks

I have very specific memories connected with the posters at Disneyland – approaching the park, driving into the no-longer-there parking lot, striding towards the gingerbread ticket booths, the first concrete thing I’d see of our adventures ahead would be those iconic posters, affixed to the bases of the Monorail pylons and inside the tunnels leading to Main Street U.S.A. Each poster was a trip in itself – the vine-entrenched intrigue of the Jungle Cruise, the topsy-turvy whimsy of Alice in Wonderland, the hitchhiking ghosts of The Haunted Mansion, the kinetic energy of the PeopleMover’s Superspeed Tunnel – a gallery of future memories waiting to be experienced.

Poster Art of the Disney Parks, a coffee table book published by Disney and written by Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt, comprehensively explores this angle of that pixie dust-strewn universe. As Tony Baxter’s intro explains, poster art is an integral part of the Disney theme park experience. The book’s 11″x14″ size gives ample space to the best posters, with many getting a full page to themselves (although one of my personal faves, the Columbia sailing ship, gets a mere quarter page). Divided into “lands,” the book includes nearly every poster created not just for Disneyland but for all of the Magic Kingdom theme parks (Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are absent). It’s interesting to note the different ways Disney uses to approach the same attraction in each park, with some intriguing little differences – such as the Euro Disneyland train engine sporting a pair of antlers. The book also contains separate chapters reproducing the Art Noveau influenced designs used for Tokyo DisneySea and the optimistic 1920s to ’50s era throwbacks employed on Disney California Adventure’s recent overhaul.

Two things in particular impressed me about this one. Firstly, they give credit to the unsung artists behind these posters (hooray for that). Secondly, they include lots of fascinating unused poster concept art. Before getting this, I never realized that most of the iconic poster designs from Disneyland’s early years were tied into one talented man – Bjorn Aronson. Aronson’s playful, cleanly modern, eclectic yet unified poster art probably did more to establish Disneyland’s visual identity than anything else. It’s astonishing stuff, and this book reproduces them with vivid clarity.

Poster Art of the Disney Parks can be purchased here at Amazon.com.

Side-by-side poster comparison for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Bjorn Aronson’s illustration skill is evident on this close-up of his fantastic Red Wagon Inn poster.

Casa de Fritos and the Lucky Nugget Saloon (Disneyland Paris) in the Frontierland section.

Not a good photo, but at least it gives you an idea of the chapter openings (using another excellent Aronson poster).

An undeveloped Adventureland poster concept is shown next to a printed one.

A demo of the silk screen color-layering process (that looks familiar).

Oh, how I wish they would have made Aronson’s Candy Palace poster design a reality!

Tomorrowland: all about the primary colors.

Having Wonderful Time

Vintage postcard of Fantasyland in Disneyland, circa 1960.

Today I’m looking at artifacts from The Happiest Place On Earthâ„¢. As my first trip there in seven years plus six months approaches, I’m pretty excited. Last month, we went to a local paper memorabilia collectors’ show – and in anticipation, I scoured the dealers’ supply of vintage Disneyland postcards for stuff to add to my collection. Mostly I just look for interesting images of bygone attractions, meaning basically not-so-rare items like the Fantasyland one pictured above. There were several I wanted, but I ultimately ended up with the ones pictured here for under $20 – including the rarity seen at the end of this entry.

Chorus girls high kickin’ it at the Golden Horseshoe Revue. Most Disneyland postcards have some sense of the bustling activity of tourists at the park, but I kinda like how this one captures a laid-back dress rehearsal (or maybe it’s just a poorly attended performance). For this next trip, I’m planning to check out places like the G.H.R. that I wouldn’t normally seek out. Since this is one of the few spots in the park basically unchanged since the ’50s, I’m looking forward to checking it out (really, this postcard might look exactly the same photographed today in the same spot).

And now, a view that the Disney Co. suits have casually ruined! The two Mary Blair tile murals in Tomorrowland were among my favorite things in Disneyland as a child – riding the Peoplemover, craning to see all the details and colors in the tiles. Good times. I think Walt Disney understood that things like this, although they didn’t have a “spacey” feel that totally adhered to the tomorrow theme, accurately captured the optimism of the future. As for what they have there now, I don’t particularly care.

The entrance of Adventureland, captured at or around the time Disneyland first opened in 1955. The early D-land card have that sparse look, along with shoddier printing that accentuated the pink/magenta side of the color spectrum. This one was a little more pricey, but I’m so happy I bought it to go along with the early view of the Main Street horse-drawn carriage already in the postcard collection. At first I thought they changed this entrance somehow since then, but I think it’s the mature tropical foliage that has subsequently grown around the structure that makes it different looking.

A lot of Disneyland postcards have a standardized layout on the reverse side, but sometimes one finds a neat graphic like the Tinkerbell below, which was on the Fantasyland card at the top of this entry. What a cute way to say “wish you were here.”

Flickr Friday: Disneyland Aluminum Hall of Fame Brochure

For Flickr Friday, I’m sharing a bit of that vintage Disneyland brochure that I picked up at the antique mall in Sherman Oaks during our recent L.A. trip. This brochure is from the Kaiser Aluminum Hall of Fame, one of the corporate-sponsored attractions that was quickly shoehorned into Tomorrowland in time for the park’s grand opening in July 1955. Although I couldn’t find much information on the Hall of Fame on the web, thanks to Daveland I now know that lasted in the park for five years, with Kaiser cutting their contract with Disney short since they felt the Disneyland TV show had inappropriately used competing sponsors.

In keeping with the science class-y nature of early Tomorrowland, the walk-though exhibit guided parkgoers through the wondrous process of making aluminum. This is illustrated in the brochure with nifty midcentury modern drawings like these:

Aluminum is poured into a rough form known as “pigs,” from which all our favorite aluminum stuff is made. Remember, you will be tested on this. According to Daveland, the attraction had a pig mascot named KAP (Kaiser Aluminum Pig). The 40 foot-long telescope at the center of the attraction looked as if it could slice someone’s limb open, if they weren’t careful.

With an optimistic look at what other Disneyland attractions used Kaiser aluminum on the brochure’s back cover, that concludes our visit to one of the more educational corners of The Happiest Place On Earthâ„¢.

Book Review: Designing Disney

hench_bookReading John Hench’s Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show reminded me a bit of my trip to Las Vegas last December. Although we usually think of Imagineering in terms of Disney theme parks, the core ideas of the job apply to most anywhere people gather to relax and have fun. In that respect, Vegas must be the biggest example of Imagineering on Earth. While exploring the various casinos, I was very aware of how everything was designed in a way to create a world away from the world, preferably to get patrons plopped down at the slots. While some casinos treat this idea as an afterthought, the immersive themeing of places like New York New York or Paris, Las Vegas (where even the men’s bathrooms have a quaint “Paris in 1900” aura) never failed to impress. It made me wish that everything in my life was Imagineered.

Which brings me to this book! Amongst Disney Imagineers, John Hench had the most durability (having served at Disney for an astonishing 65 years) and was the one whose ambition and scope most resembled Walt Disney’s own. He’s the one responsible for conceptualizing much of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland (original and 1967 remodel), the Enchanted Tiki Room and Main Street U.S.A. Beautiful achievements all, and all the more impressive when one realizes the work encompasses architecture, signage, interior design, costumes and even the floors below guests’ feet. The proof of this is displayed throughout the book in fabulous renderings that called to mind the work of Syd Mead. Check out the costume designs below — wonderful!

The renderings are really what makes this book special. Unfortunately the great imagery is offset with lousy, unprofessional looking fonts. Hench’s text itself (co-authored with Peggy Van Pelt) is rather rudimentary and textbook-like; I would picture the ideal audience for this book as young would-be Imagineers in their teens. Despite those disappointments, there are a lot of great anecdotes in here. I was especially fascinated with how Hench and his fellow Imagineers explored color possibilities for a hotel exterior in Disneyland Paris by factoring in the area’s climate and lack of sunlight at various times of the day. Tiny details like that are something that an ordinary theme park guest would never consider, but added together they complete the immersive experience. All in a day’s work for Mr. Hench.

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Related: Justin Jorgensen’s memories of working with Hench.