Valley Times Newsboys invade Disneyland

Sye Gutierrez, Photo Collection

With all the recent Disneyland auction excitement swirling about we were inspired to take a little peek into our photo archive to see what historical photographic Disney treasures we have to share. Even though you may be a bit let down after losing your winning bid on an original Skyway Cab that topped out at $621,000 I still hope you join us on our free virtual nickel tour.

For our tour we will be joining a group of Valley Times newsboys who’s outstanding salesmanship during a five week subscription drive won them transportation, entrance fee, eight attraction tickets and $4 is spending cash to Walt’s original park. Over the years the Valley Times held this contest for their newsboys so we are fortunate to be wandering around during the exciting times of the opening years from 1955 through 1957 to see some rare and extinct attractions.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

With a visit to the park, the first place most guests stop to pose for a picture at is right in front of the Main Street, U.S.A. Station. This 1957 dated photo shows an original cattle car parked behind our newsies awaiting its passengers. Before the Grand Canyon Diorama was installed in 1958, guests could stand in the cattle car for the duration of their twenty minute round trip. No seats were placed in these cars to give guests the feeling they themselves were the cattle. But with the installation of the diorama, the cattle cars were altered with bench seating added as well as the removal of the wall facing park side to allow guests a better view.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Well, no trip is complete without a photo stop in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. In this 1955 photo we can see that the castle is missing the stained glass windows we see today. With limited build time and finances, the castle’s interior was left empty until Walt could afford to challenge his Imagineers to come up with an attraction that would fit in the second floor. Once the cats and fleas were evicted, the Sleeping Beauty diorama walkthrough opened in the spring of 1957. This was two years before the animated film hit theaters and was a great way to promote the upcoming feature.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Making our way from the vacant castle, we time travel to the far off future of 1986. Tomorrowland as viewed from a Sky Way bucket, opened with limited attractions, many of which were corporate sponsored showcases due to budget limitations. The icon of the area was the 76 foot tall TWA Moonliner rocket ship. Designed by Imagineer John Hench and German scientist Wernher von Braun who immigrated to this country during Operation Paperclip in 1945. The rocket was created to look like a commercial spaceliner that would be used to take travelers to the moon, hence the name. The TWA Moonliner sponsorship lasted until 1962 when Howard Hughes sold off his interest in the company.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Visible in this December 1955 photo is a rare look at the first permanent attraction to close in Disneyland history. The Phantom Boats originally named Tomorrowland Boats operated from opening day July 1955 to August 1956. The attraction with its futuristic boat design was basically the Autopia but on water. Unfortunately because of design flaws, the boats generated a lot of smoke and the engine would overheat when guests floored the gas for speed. The overheated boats had to be towed back to the dock and the attraction suffered from constant down time. Eventually a cast member would have be seated with guests to captain the ship. The operating cost became too great and the attraction was closed for good. The bonus detail in the background of this photo is another short lived attraction, The Mickey Mouse Club Circus. We can see the striped tents occupying the area around where the Matterhorn sits today. The circus ran from November 1955 to September 1956. The circus had operating issues but mainly closed due to lack of interest as guest’s preferred to enjoy the parks unique attractions. To get another distant view of the circus tents let’s take an unlicensed drive around the Autopia shall we?

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Besides the circus tents in the background the other detail I enjoy in this 1955 photo is the shockingly unrestricted open road. In the beginning junior Autopia drivers cruised the open miniature multilane limited access highway of the future in full control until 1965 when thankfully the center guide rail was installed.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Speaking of unique, let’s hop on over to Fantasyland to see if we can find an interesting place to eat. Lucky for us we find The Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant. Here fish lovers could order a variety of things like tuna sandwiches, tuna burgers or even hot tuna pies. The sponsorship lasted until 1969 and with an updated menu the restaurant became Captain Hook’s Galley. Guests could still order a tuna burger but had other non-tuna based food options like clam chowder, chef salad and roast beef sandwiches. The ship was going to be moved closer to It’s a Small World during the 1982 Fantasyland overhaul but sadly over the years the ship’s original rotting wood base was replaced with concrete and couldn’t be moved without destroying it. So the ship was bulldozed and the Dumbo Flying Elephants attraction now occupies the space where this attraction was once docked.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Maybe a little tea will help make that hot tuna pie we just finished settle. In this 1956 photo we can see the early version of The Mad Tea Party before the spiral paint scheme was added to the ride platform. Until the 1982 Fantasyland make over, the teacups spun guests in the spot where the King Arthur Carousel sits today. The shifting of the rides placement was done to help improve guest flow around the castle where traffic bottlenecked.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

With tired arms and dizzy heads let’s trek on over to Frontierland for maybe something a bit more relaxing. Here we see in 1955 the Stagecoach Ride which operated until 1959 to make way for the construction of Nature’s Wonderland. You could choose to travel by stagecoach or Conestoga Wagon and enjoy the views along the shores of the Rivers of America and the Living Desert.

Valley Times Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. (view original)

Let’s flash forward a bit to check in on that 1956 stage coach replacement the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. The train took guest to see many naturally occurring desert scenery such as cacti that looked slightly like people waving and rocks that spun precariously overhead ready fall. This attraction lasted until Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland expanded the attractions size to included geysers, waterfalls, more humorous scenes and plenty of new animal animatronics. This attraction lasted until 1979 when Big Thunder Mountain replaced it to give guests bigger thrills.

Well Mouseketeers, I hope you enjoyed our mini-grand circle tour around vintage Disneyland with those newsboys! There are lots more Disneyland photos throughout the years in our archives so make sure you check them out.