Hello Friends and Family,

Mexico and California, 1972, Part 3

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Continuing our tour of Disneyland circa 1972, we explored Tom Sawyer's Island — encountering Fort Wilderness, which was in theory there to protect the white settlers from the Indians who really owned the land. Note the sign over the doorway to the left of the picture which reads, "Old Fort Wilderness Secret Escape Tunnel to the River". And it really is a tunnel, Disney always does things so thoughtfully — just another example.

This was a surprise to me — New Orleans Square. They really captured the feel of New Orleans — at least as I imagined it since I had never been there at that time in my life. Later trips confirmed it. Thinking about it now, one special item for which New Orleans is famous is the beignets from Cafe du Monde. My current curiosity directed me to Google to discover that Disneyland's New Orleans Square does have beignets inside Cafe Orleans. As would be no surprise to any fan of Disneyland, their beignets are in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head. I don't know if they served beignets at the time of my first visit but it is definitely on the agenda for my next visit.

One of the high points of New Orleans Square is the Pirates of the Caribbean — a dark boat ride to view a band of pirates in the West Indies islands around the Caribbean Sea in the 17th and 18th centuries with the saga of their voyages, troubles, and exploits. Comments from Wikipedia, "There are 630,000 gallons of water, 53 audio-animatronic animals and birds, and 75 audio-animatronic pirates and villagers in the ride, and it takes three days to empty and refill the "bayou" during maintenance and renovations.

The ride gave rise to the song "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" and is the basis for the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

Across from the boarding area within the ride is the Blue Bayou Restaurant, made to look like the backyard dinner party of a southern plantation. The restaurant opened the same day as the ride, and is considered one of the original theme restaurants."

Nearby is the Haunted Mansion — another dark ride — this one home to "999 happy haunts." Per Wikipedia, "The attraction utilizes a range of technology, from centuries-old theatrical effects to modern special effects featuring spectral Audio-Animatronics." However you describe it, the ride is fun.

Hey, I found a new friend. Here is the interesting backstory from "dizzbuf.com". "When Disneyland first opened in 1955, there were a number of shops on Main Street that are now closed or have been replaced by other unique and magical boutiques. One of those original shops was the Tobacconist on the east side of Main Street, right next to the Cinema. It closed in 1990 and has since been replaced by the 20th Century Music Company, but its Cigar Store Indian is still presiding over Main Street USA." I found him not on Main Street but in Frontierland.

Our last ride for the day was the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. The boats cruise miniature versions of several rivers in Asia, Africa, and South America where the riders see numerous Audio-animatronic jungle animals such as these elephants spraying water on a crocodile. The tour leader offers a description of the riders are seeing — it is scripted but the leaders are free to ad-lib a bit to enhance the experience.

On our next free day, we visited Universal Studios. At this time, they primarily offered visits to various studios for prepared descriptions of the movie-making process followed by a tram ride to see the backlot where many movies and television shows have been shot. Years later when I visited again, it had evolved into a full-blown theme park with lots of rides and other amusements. It is still evolving.

In this studio, the tour guide described the use of models in film making. When skillfully done, the viewers of the movie or TV show will think the action was real. She described how it was really done.

Now on the tram, we could see the whole backlot at Universal Studios. You can see some smoke rising above the buildings — part of the "magic" in filming whatever show or movie was being worked on that day. Unfortunately, that limited the areas of the backlot that we could view on this visit.

By the way, in 2008 a real fire broke out here and destroyed three acres of fake buildings plus the King Kong Encounter and a significant number of master audio tapes belonging to Universal Music Group. The exact number of tapes and the artists were disputed leading to litigation. Per Wikipedia, "A February 2020 court filing by UMG confirmed that master tapes from at least 19 artists had been damaged or destroyed in the fire. The artists whom UMG confirmed as affected are: Bryan Adams, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, David Baerwald, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Peter Frampton, Jimmy Eat World, Elton John, Michael McDonald, Nirvana, Les Paul, R.E.M., Slayer, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, the Surfaris, Suzanne Vega, White Zombie, and Y&T."

Continuing our tour we were able to see a number of buildings used in various TV shows and movies. This is the "Allison House" (AKA "Harvey House") on Colonial Street. It dates back to 1946 with the film So Goes My Love starring Don Ameche and Myrna Loy. It later became the Dowd-Simmons residence in Harvey and also famously appeared in the Don Knotts classic The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) as the haunted Simmons mansion. It later appeared in the TV series The Rockford Files.

LOOK OUT! FLASH FLOOD! Seems scary at first but the water drains away quickly and we were able to continue the tour.

Last for today, we see a California home complete with fake snow.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com