Disney Voce
July 10, 2013 4:10 PM   Subscribe

This is a video I’ve wanted to dish for years--a video that contextualizes Disneyland within the political and cultural events of the early 1950s. “Disneyland Voce” is distilled down from a dozen home movies, all shot in 1955, during the first five months that Disneyland was open to the public. Here’s one reason I love home movies: they reveal the vacation experience as taken by the average guest. Disney has produced reels of film documenting the park during its early years (most notably “Disneyland U.S.A.” in 1956 and “Gala Day at Disneyland” in 1959), but professional footage presents the park under ideal conditions. Home movies lay down the scenery as a typical guest would have experienced it. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to visit Disneyland when it first opened, buckle into your DeLorean and hit the play button on YouTube.

Note: The first 50 seconds of music almost made me close the video, but won me over by the end.
posted by mudpuppie (18 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
The park looks so uncluttered. Love the guy cheerily waving as he exits the bra shop. And footage of the Phantom Boats; I'd never seen them in action before!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:21 PM on July 10, 2013


i muted the sound
posted by robbyrobs at 4:22 PM on July 10, 2013


Ditto. Muted. (It was the music after the 50 second mark that grated on me.)

Interesting: About three minutes in, you see why those cars they let the kids drive (Autopia?) are on a guide rail now.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:42 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suggestion for alternate background music/ambience: You Are Listening To (Los Angeles)
posted by saturday_morning at 4:44 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really love this panorama that was stitched together from a long pan in one of the home movies.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:46 PM on July 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hollywood Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel shop lasted exactly six months. In my years and years of collecting old film of the park, I’ve found only three images of this shop. The clip here is a beauty. The shop featured two rooms: The first room offered a visual history of women’s under things—such as the brassiere—with miniature displays arranged in small shadow boxes. In the center of the first room was your host, a wizardly mannequin done up in a turban and sporting a magic wand, who offered a tape-recorded presentation explaining the restrictive Victorian approach to undergarments and extolling the virtues of modern bras. The second room, of course, offered these modern bras and other undergarments for sale. And no, I’m not making any of this up.

Sometimes I learn something about the past that is exactly the opposite of what I ever would have guessed.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:02 PM on July 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I really love this panorama that was stitched together from a long pan in one of the home movies.

Oh my gosh. Where are all the people??
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:04 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hollywood Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel shop lasted exactly six months.

If it had lasted a few more decades, they might have stocked some of these.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:14 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) Now I want a boat with tailfins.

2) I guess this is a year too early for a Steve Martin cameo, I wonder if anyone else is hidden in the crowd.
posted by madajb at 6:34 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you missed all this, don't despair: Take a trip up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and visit Storyland one day and Clark's Trading Post the next. You'll be brought right back to the 1950s.
posted by adamg at 6:42 PM on July 10, 2013


Well, as I recall (and, damn, I'm old) there were two Autopias. The "Junior" Autopia, the one that ran on a rail (which was kind of neat; there was "barn" that you drove through, where the doors only opened at the last second) and the "Tomorrowland" Autopia, which had no rails but which were flanked by high curbs. The "big" Autopia sported signs that suggested, "Please don't ram the car in front of you." Which, of course, is exactly what we tried to do. Given that the engines on the cars were about as powerful as your average gas lawnmower of that time, we all had a good laugh at that.

Four other recollections, if you will indulge me.

In the middle of Tomorrowland was "The Space Bar," where you could buy drinks, burgers and fries. I remember running up to the building and pushing against it furiously. What are you doing? my family asked. "I'm pressing 'The Space Bar'," I declared, grinning. NO ONE GOT THE JOKE!

There was this pavilion (by Bell Telephone, IIRC) where you could actually videochat with other kids on the other side of the country (I forget where). I came away with two memories. One, this is NOT SCIENCE FICTION, this is SCIENCE FACT, and it's amazing! I am living in the future! This is not a "ride," it's real! Wow! Two, once you get past, "how's the weather where you are?", there isn't much to chat about. (To this day, I flinch at the idea of video-conferencing.)

The most awesome ride ever for me (as a young, budding nerd) was Monsanto's Mighty Microscope, a "ride" that would shrink you "beyond the limits of magnification... magnification... MAGNIFICATION!" I recall standing in line and trying to match up the folks ahead of me with the "reduced" figures that were projected into the "microscope." ("Hey! That's the girl in the red sweater that was in line before! Yeah! This is the real thing for sure!")

And to this day, I break into a sweat about Mary Poppins. During the fireworks, there was this bit in which Mary Poppins drifted through the exploding sky. My parents assured me (thanks, 'rents!) that, yes, this is the real Mary Poppins, risking her life for your entertainment. Mary, no! Fly away, be safe! To this day, I feel I witnessed "The Great Exception" risking her life as the cannonades of Fantasyland exploded about her.
posted by SPrintF at 6:54 PM on July 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


I want to ride on the top of the stage coach! Can you imagine the pages of release it would take to allow someone to "climb a ladder" to get on a coach without a chest high railing? I don't want to live in this future.
posted by sammyo at 7:04 PM on July 10, 2013


Imagineer Bob Gurr did an amazing series of articles for laughingplace.com about building the park and the engineering chaos that was taking place during the opening.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:04 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was in the 1st grade when it opened with much fanfare. Disneyland filled every corner of my tiny brain. I fantasized endlessly about the amusement park I was going to build when I grew up. Alas, Roller Coaster Tycoon was as close as I ever came...
posted by jim in austin at 7:09 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


A bit more about Hollywood Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel shop and The Wizard of Bras.
posted by unliteral at 10:29 PM on July 10, 2013


2) I guess this is a year too early for a Steve Martin cameo, I wonder if anyone else is hidden in the crowd.
posted by madajb at 6:34 PM on July 10 [2 favorites +] [!]


Yep, dipped in here to give a shout out to Robbins Barstow's Disneyland Dream. Super charming, even if it didn't have the Steve Martin blip.
posted by Ennis Tennyone at 4:31 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of the linked piece: "Lastly, as I’m sure someone will ask: voce, an Italian word often used in musical terminology, means simply voice."
posted by hyperizer at 7:26 AM on July 11, 2013


I want to send this to my mother, who would have been 11 at the time and grew up in Arcadia.

Even having been a kid of the 70s and 80s it brought up little bits of nostalgia for me, too. (sigh)
posted by epersonae at 11:17 AM on July 11, 2013


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