Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Origin of the Mickey Mouse Pancakes?

Although I recognize the significance to many Guests of the Mickey Mouse Pancakes served at the River Belle Terrace, I do not believe I have ever had them. The above photo is from July 1978 and shows the making of a pancake; the Guests appear to be very interested in the preparation. While doing some thesaurus work today, I believe I have stumbled across the origin of the pancakes in the very first Backstage Disneyland publication from Winter 1962:

Let's See the Lessees

Elaine Williams

Bud Coulson of Aunt Jemima's reports that Rick Hubbard, Vice-President in charge of batter, has invented a Mickey Mouse Pancake, which is a three-in-one combination and which is enjoyed by guests and employees, alike. Rick attends Long Beach State and, in the true spirit, of Disneyland, and Aunt Jemima's, has given the secret recipe to Bud's head chef, Leon Cole, and his assistants. They would appreciate your asking for the Mickey Mouse Pancake, only if the kitchen is not too busy. We feel Bud is slightly biased when he says it's a work of art, but we're sure it's delicious.
While I am quite a long way from having everything in the thesaurus, my current earliest recorded mention of the Mickey Mouse pancakes is in the summer of 1975. I have neither Rick Hubbard nor Leon Cole in the thesaurus, but Rodney ("Bud") Coulson was the Park's original lessee liaison. In the early days he also functioned as a town crier in Town Square, providing the latest news to Disneyland employees and lessees before Park opening. Later, from 1962 to 1966 he and his wife, Elizabeth, operated Aunt Jemima's Kitchen.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Déjà Vu

It's not often that Disneyland destroys something for the second time, but that's what's currently happening at the Disneyland Hotel's (former) Never Land Pool. As I was watching the pool's destruction yesterday (in a scene that brought to mind construction workers hacking away at Swiss Family Treehouse branches), I was reminded of my recent Follow That Tree post.

Here is the former Pirate Ship as it was being pried and chopped apart:

There were other workers around the edge of the pool. But what caught my eye and what made me do this post are the boxed trees in the distance:

I wish I knew something about the trees to, you know, make this post interesting, but perhaps in another twenty years these trees will still be around on the property and these photos will provide a little information to such future arboreal archivists.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Circle of Genuine Maseca Corn Flour

In the late 1990s, Disneyland seemed to be closing long-term establishments left and right. Carnation Ice Cream Parlor, Carnation Plaza Gardens, Captain EO, Rocket Jets, Circle-Vision, Submarine Voyage, Swiss Family Treehouse, Tomorrowland Autopia... I was there for the last day of many of those. I had an evening meal at the Ice Cream Parlor with others from the alt.disney.disneyland newsgroup. I was there Captain EO's final night. I saw the final public showing of "America the Beautiful." I went on the Submarine Voyage and Tomorrowland Autopia multiple times on their final days of operation. I believe this is a photo of the Tomorrowland Autopia Cast Members shutting down the line on September 6, 1999:

All of the above mentions were really Disneyland classics. While I helped to open Disney's California Adventure, it wasn't, let's say, my favorite. There were some attractions I never got on or still haven't been on. Two of these are the Mission Tortilla Factory and The Boudin Bakery. On Memorial Day, as you know, I took the Welcome to Disneyland tour. While walking along the Performance Corridor nearby my friend told me that it was the Tortilla Factory's final day. Given my recent obsession with Disneyland signs, I felt I needed to visit this attraction to document all signs and artwork.

Anyway, I learned this bit of information fairly early in the tour and we also walked around Disneyland. At the end of the tour I was given several FASTPASSes, one of which was for the recently reopened Splash Mountain. By the time I got off that attraction I had totally forgotten about the Tortilla Factory and was ready to walk back home. I was home for about forty-five minutes when I realized what I had forgotten. I weighed driving back to the Park, but I was pretty tired from the walking. I considered walking back, but that was even less appealing.

Then another friend, who had been promising to get an annual pass since April 2009 and who finally came through by getting one with her husband the day before, sent me a text asking where I was. There were several things going through my mind at this point and a plan began to form. I ended up committing to walk back to the Park so the three of us could go through the Tortilla Factory and then head to Trader Sam's (my first visit!); they would drive me home. The lure of Sam's was too much, so I raced back to the Park (my fastest time ever, door-to-door).

I got to the Tortilla Factory and found out they were next in line for California Screamin'. Perfect. I could document the exterior and be ready to head inside when they were finished. When I arrived there was a small line outside. As I don't frequent the area, I didn't know if this was normal or not, but thought it possible that a few people may have found out about the attraction's closing and came to experience it one last time:

The Cast Member at the entrance periodically checked to see if inside they were ready for the next group:

I snapped a photo of these Guests waiting in line (more for the exterior than for the Guests themselves):

Of course, I took photos of exterior signage, including the "TOUR ENTRANCE" with the open door visible in the background:

And the proclamation of genuine Maseca Corn Flour:

And then I grew a tad disturbed... As Guests now came up to the exterior Cast Member, they were informed that the attraction was closed:

It turned out that the Mission Tortilla Factory had a hard closing time of 4:30 p.m. and I missed my date with destiny. Those Guests in line four photos above were the last ones in the attraction. My friends showed up about two minutes after it closed. No tortillas for me; I left only with the story of how I had walked to Disneyland a second time in one day to miss the attraction's closing by a couple of minutes.

I came back the next day (with Vintage Disneyland Tickets) just to confirm that the attraction had closed. We were greeted with a rather generic Tortilla Factory sign indicating it was closed (but not that it was actually closed forever):

And this is how the exit doors looked:

Mildly tempting, but if I'm ever arrested for trespass at Disneyland it will not be at Disney California Adventure! (For the record, I have never trespassed at Disneyland and have no intentions of doing so.) A few days later the interiors of the doors and windows were covered in black, the final curtain on the tortilla story.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Follow That Tree

Nothing captures my interest in something at Disneyland faster than somebody telling me it's been around since Opening Day and has been relocated to a new spot. This excerpt from the October 14, 1982 Disneyland Line is a classic example:

This beautiful ficus, located in front of the Pirate Ship since opening day, was temporarily removed. It will be relocated in the new Fantasyland.
Now, checking the available photographic evidence, it appears this ficus did not appear in front of the Pirate Ship until the Skull Rock improvement of 1960. I suppose it's possible that the tree was on property Opening Day, but Disneyland World of Flowers did not mention it at all. Still, if present in today's Disneyland, the tree would have been on site for over fifty years and that's impressive enough. I was unable to find good enough photos of the tree trunk online, so I made it today's mission at the Park to confirm that the tree still existed on site.

You can see the ficus off to the left of the Pirate Ship entrance:

Pay no attention to the destruction in the following shots; you're supposed to be focusing on the tree!:


One last shot of the tree in situ at its original themed location:

The destruction around the ship has started and the ficus has been pruned:

Remember, your focus is the tree:

No more ship, but the tree stands!:

Most people avoided taking a picture of the tree; for these Skyway riders, that was one of the few things left to photograph:

But the demands of the future Dumbo the Flying Elephant required the tree to move. It was first removed from the ground (presumably for the first time in 22 years)...:

...and boxed...: it could be moved...:

...out of the way by the Mad Hatter for a couple of months:

At least 24 people supervised its new permanent placement in the Mad Tea Party queue:

The wooden fence affords the ficus a small level of protection from the construction vehicles:

From the Skyway:

Pictured here as queue construction is beginning:

And here it is as the first New Fantasyland Guests saw it:

And while the fencing has changed, you can see it's still the same tree there today:

I don't ride the Mad Tea Party often, but I'm sure it's a great shade producer:

You can see I was not the only one admiring the tree today:

You need a wide angle lens with this tree now:

I hope this tree remains at Disneyland for at least another fifty years--and that each of you climb it on your next visit. Here's to arboreal adventures!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Golden Ears

Disneyland Line, January 21, 1982:

I don't know for sure, so I hope my parents took me to see The Golden Horseshoe Revue in my first eight days.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dead and Alive

There are people who are alive and there are people who are dead. Of course, at Disneyland, you can be both (even if you're not a cat). Back when Disneyland acknowledged that the frontier was a dangerous place, a dead settler (obviously not Mike Fink) lay with an arrow in his chest in front of his burning cabin. But did you ever wonder who the dead settler was? Well, wonder no more. The settler was modeled on Club 55 member Ed Winger, who also has a window on Main Street. From the September 3, 1981 Disneyland Line you can read about how his body came to rest at Disneyland:

If Ed Winger, Manager of Building, Grounds and Construction in the Maintenance Division, tells you he gave his all to Disneyland, you'd better believe him.

In 1957 the "Settler" (a scarecrow-like dummy in front of the burning cabin on Tom Sawyer Island) was torn apart and destroyed. At the time, Ed was a Plaster Tender in the Staff Shop and happened to be in the Shop office when a request for another "dummy" was made. Thus, he was volunteered to be the model for the new prototype.

The mold was made in two parts: the body from the neck down; and the face and ears. As he laid on a table, he was greased and covered with plaster on both sides. The plaster took 30 minutes to harden before it was lifted off. Not only did Ed learn to take short breaths as the plaster set, but had to contend with the heat that comes with hardening plaster.

During this period, Ed laid face-down with his head resting on a sponge. At that time, the Staff Shop was where the Administration Building is today. Cast Members used to drop by frequently on their way to work to see the latest creations.

A few stopped to talk to Staff Shop Cast Members standing next to Ed, completely unaware of him. He could only see their feet, and when he made a request to readjust his sponge, there were some startled reactions. "They took off like a shot," Ed recalls. "They didn't realize a live body was underneath all that plaster."

For the face and ears mold, straws were inserted in his nose to allow for breathing, and tissue dipped in cold cream was placed on his eyelids and eyebrows.

After the mold was made, a fiberglass figure was cast, then dressed and positioned on the Island."
Ed was born in El Dorado, Arkansas and raised in the oil fields of Oklahoma. He joined Disneyland during its construction (working for Herrick and Herrick) and then spent ten years in the Staff Shop under Bud Washo before working his way up in the Maintenance Division. In May 1972 he was promoted to Buildings Manager with responsibilities for the Mill, Paint, Sign and Sheet Metal Departments. He passed away on July 13, 1998 from complications of Alzheimer's.

Here he is as pictured in the 1975 book, Club 55: The Pioneers:

In the November 1957 Disneylander with other members of the Plaster Shop:

And in the July 15, 1976 Disneyland Line:

According to Disneyland: The Nickel Tour, in 1984 the dead settler was replaced with a drunken moonshiner, who himself was removed in 1991. I wonder whatever happened to the Ed Winger dead settler? Surely one of my readers has it in their collection...

Thanks to Daveland for providing the enlargement at top!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Tribute to a Photographer

As I often do on the weekend, I walked to Disneyland today. I like to walk and once I get going I don't like to stop. But as I was almost out of Town Square my eye caught on the mail box outside the Emporium and I paused for a moment, thinking to the photos posted today at Gorillas Don't Blog. As it happened, this ever-so-slight pause (it couldn't have been more than four seconds) gave me opportunity to run into a friend on her way into work. I don't remember what song was playing on the Main Street loop, but I imagine it must have been Fortuosity.

I stopped because I thought it would be interesting to capture similar photos. I think this first one embodies the spirit of what that photographer is all about, but I didn't get the framing exactly right (original):

I didn't get the second one quite right, either. I guess he or she just had a very unique perspective that is impossible to duplicate! (original):

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Do I Have This? (Part 3)

OK, obviously I hung around Redd Rockett's Pizza Port a lot when it opened. But I had forgotten all about these wings until I found them in a box last week. I have absolutely no memory of why they were produced. I don't think they were worn by Cast Members. I know they weren't generally handed out to Guests. Were they maybe handed out to select Guests to create "magical moments"? Does anybody else have these? (Mine are so scuffed up, I'm sure, because I always brought them to the Park.)

UPDATE 6/2/2011: Tonight while attending the media party at the Disneyland Hotel for Soundsational Summer I had occasion to tour the new suites. Who did I see there but Rona Kay, the first manager of Redd Rockett's Pizza Port and with whom I am pictured as the first dollar. She was able to tell me that they were created to hand to children as airline wings had been. They made one batch and then Safety got wind of it and prevented the production of any more. So, that explains why I only have the one. I am amazed that I ran into the one person I know who could answer that question (and whom I have not seen in years) on the very day I posed the question, but I've been amazed by a lot recently.