A Leisurely Amble Around Disneyland: The Original – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

Last month, you may recall, we learned that the 1991 Disneyland promotion was “Disneyland: The Original.” This month’s blog will follow that theme with a somewhat “original” amble around the park. These photos were taken days (and in some cases months) apart, but pretty much represent what Disneyland looked like in the early winter months of 1991. In those days, as soon as the holidays were over the park sort of slumbered a bit until spring. 1991 would be different from that in at least one “original” way, as you will see next month.

I renewed my Annual Pass in April, but will present it to you now. The hole punch was done by the folks at Disneyland when I renewed a year later. As you can see, it was punched right through the bar code.

We will begin our visit at the parking lot, but not through this gate. This is the Katella gate, located at the south end of the lot, and used very infrequently during the busiest times of the year. As you can see, I snapped this shot through the windshield of my car, as there was no parking or even stopping on Katella, even thirty years ago.

Once inside and parked, there was a decision to be made: walk to the entrance or look for the tram stop. After a year of visits, I had already developed my own parking strategy, as was the case with most pass holders.

Note that the Disneyland Hotel in the background still has an external elevator, going directly up to the club level. You will also see that a monorail is headed not toward Downtown Disney, but to the Disneyland Hotel Travel Port. The track is still in the same exact place; today that monorail would be headed through the Grand Californian Hotel complex. Finally, note that guests no longer were wearing skirts, hats, and suits to visit Disneyland. Nope— in 1991 we dressed for comfort!

We will start this month’s visit with a quick trip around the park via steam train. Keeping with the “original” theme, we will see two very original views…

Here is a look from the end of the last car to the New Orleans Square station just after entering the tunnel behind the Haunted Mansion. You can see the water tank and supply pipe on the right. Below us, guests are patiently moving down the corridor of changing portraits in the Mansion’s lower level.

If you thought the last photo was odd (I mean, ORIGINAL), how about this one. This is the view immediately after leaving the Primeval World, and heading into Main Street Station. If you listen carefully, you may be able to hear the sound of thirty-year-ago dogs barking in the kennel through the bushes to the right.

Here we have the obligatory Castle Photo. In case anyone was wondering what was in the center of the hub before the Partners Statue, now you know. Nothing.

Headed into Frontierland, we can see there was something over on Tom Sawyer Island before the Fantasmic! Stage was built. That is the old water stage, with the vine covered mill in its original location behind. To the right you can see a raft docked at the former landing. And through the trees on the left is a glimpse of a river craft that sails no more, a keel boat.

While waiting for the Mark Twain, one can catch this charmingly framed photo of the Golden Horseshoe. Even in 1991 strollers were something of an issue in Disneyland.

And here is the majestic Mark Twain steamboat, also charmingly framed by the intricate architecture of the boat landing.

From the upper decks of the Mark Twain one can get a better look at the Keel Boat. This is the Gully Whumper, carrying a full complement of guests in the enclosed lower decks, as well as on top. It certainly looks top-heavy to me. They ran the Keel Boats only on particularly busy days. (And look at the tree canopy over that Indian Village!)

Back on shore, this appealing vignette along Big Thunder Trail is an actual remnant of the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland attraction. That stub of a trestle used to extend over a river teeming with salmon and fishing bears. The tunnel itself can still be seen in the same location.

Before it was the Festival Arena, before it was the Big Thunder Barbecue, and certainly before it was part of Galaxy’s Edge, the area between the trail and the railroad tracks was Big Thunder Ranch, the home of the happiest horses on earth. You will also see a genuine piece of Disneyland history parked in the background— one of the scaled stagecoaches that carried guests through the wilds of Frontierland, starting in 1955.

While this shot seems pretty much the same as you would find today, note that there is no toy shop on the right hand side of the photo. And that gentle slope on the left leads to a feature that was brand new in 1991— an overpass to… nowhere. At least, not yet.

Riding the Fantasyland Skyway to Tomorrowland offered some of the greatest views of the Happiest Land of Them All. Here is the still “new” Dumbo attraction, with a nice view of Cinderella’s castle and a glimpse of the French village below in Story Bookland.

One of the best views of the Abominable Snowman in the Matterhorn was from the Skyway, as it passed through the holes in Walt’s Swiss mountain. (Today “Harold” resides in the Collector’s Fortress in DCA!)

Finishing the descent into Tomorrowland, most people would be looking at wonders of the 1991 “World on the Move.” But in this “original” tour, we are instead looking at the big room where the Skyway buckets go to sleep at night. It’s not nearly as magical, but it is certainly novel…

From high atop the PeopleMover platform, one can see the street performers Transtar entertaining guests in front of Mission to Mars. According to the Disneyland Today guide, those guests are experiencing “intergalactic sounds as Transtar performs Endor’s top 40 favorites.” (And yes, the trio rolled on stage in that spiffy little space craft behind them.)

Over in another corner of Tomorrowland Mickey was greeting guests and posing for photos. Looks like Mickey’s pal Goofy is there, as well!

As dusk falls over Tomorrowland, the World on the Move keeps on moving. While there isn’t a monorail on the track, you can see a submarine completing its final turn in the expansive lagoon, and a PeopleMover car just visible on the right. Over on the left, the Matterhorn is behind walls for a well-deserved refurbishment.

More construction walls, but take a look at that alluring sign in the right foreground! The Motor Boat Cruise was a long-term attraction that offered an appealing if somewhat tame experience. The area directly in front of it’s a small world is strangely bare in this photo, with few guests. But wait and see what March will bring!


2 responses to “A Leisurely Amble Around Disneyland: The Original – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland”

  1. James Avatar

    This is fantastic! This is exactly the Disneyland I remember best. Thank you for posting!

    1. Doesn’t Doug do a fantastic job? I love these! Thank you!

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