A Stroll Around the Park – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle - 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

Disneyland in the Summer of 1992 had matured and grown in many ways, but for guests who had been visiting since the 1960s, it was still a pretty familiar place. Thirty years later, on the other hand, it seems like change has come to every corner of Walt’s original Magic Kingdom. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a “stroll around the park.”

Yes, we used to park cars that close to the ticket booths. The canvas covered structure extending south from the entry and ticket booths was at the height of its development by this time. This is how Disneyland handled large crowds gathering for the ticket booths and entry gates. Today, of course, this entire area is given over to pedestrians

It is, of course, obligatory to stop get a family photo in from of the floral Mickey outside the berm at Main Street Station. Note that folks are walking on red painted cement, rather than red brick, and that the clock in the tower of the turn-of-the-century station is sponsored by Lorus. (Purists may be horrified to learn that the Lorus brand was introduced in 1982.)

Inside Town Square, the new Carriage Place Clothiers still seemed a little too over-scaled for that corner between the firehouse and the Emporium. It had recently replaced the venerable Bekins building, which had held lockers and other guest services since 1955.

Many guests have commented over the years that photos of Sleeping Beauty Castle taken down Main Street tend to really emphasize how much smaller it is than Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. In 1992 this was further exacerbated by the mature trees that formed a double ring around the central plaza. When these beloved trees, planted under Walt’s supervision, were later removed, there was quite a hue and cry. But in the long run, the smaller trees were far more properly scaled for framing for the castle.

Guests will always gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Here it is, before the addition of projection mapping towers, a more vivid color scheme, and before the removal of a dense blanket of carefully cultivated ivy that covered the lower walls.

This view of the castle from the east is taken from an area that was then called Alpine Gardens (as it was considered an extension of the Matterhorn). This ornamental pond and its plantings were originally the landscaping for Monsanto’s House of the Future. In later years it would become Ariel’s Grotto, complete with leap-frogging fountains, and then part of the queue line for Pixie Hollow.

This is an original Kodak “picture spot,” taken from the west side of the castle. The rock projecting into the foreground was used by Walt Disney as he read the dedication speech for Fantasyland on July 17, 1955.

Such a cute couple. And notice that their private moment is not marred by Photopass cast members forming guests into a queue!

Just west of the castle, Carnation Gardens still featured an old-fashioned bandstand, where the Disneyland Band performed concerts on warm summer days. The only thing that remains today in this scene is the terrazzo floor, which can still be found in the Fantasy Faire’s Royal Theatre.

I never did manage to pull that sword from the stone! To the right of this photo is the Tinker Bell Toy Shoppe, and to the left the Disney Villain’s Shop. (That’s what they were in 1992!)

Nearly everyone will immediately spot the Skyway cars gliding above this scene at the entrance to Storybook Land. But look closely just to the left of center. That little structure poking above the trees was Tinker Bell’s super-secret landing pad.

Here’s something you can still see today— just not at this location. Stately Toad Hall once took pride of place at the tip of the island that held the tunnel in Storybook Land. Today you will find the marketplace and royal palace of Agrabah from Aladdin in this location. Toad Hall, and Ratty’s House, have been given less prominent placement.

It’s a short trip from Storybook Land to Tomorrowland. Here is a shot of the speed ramp that once whisked guests up to the second-floor queue line for Space Mountain. The guests fenced in by the zig-zagging yellow ropes on the left are waiting patiently in line for Captain EO, sponsored by Kodak.

And here is the reverse of that view, showing the once-busy central tower in Tomorrowland. Guests could take a speed ramp up to the People Mover on the second level, or take the gantry elevator to the Rocket Jets up on the third. (Very young guests would be taking the strollers, parked outside the ropes on the right.)

And here is that second level platform. I am pointing out the awesome 1992 technology that allowed the Peoplemover operators to keep an eye on guests during their trip through Tomorrowland.

Here’s a classic Disneyland image, the Submarine lagoon and the Mighty Matterhorn. The Skyway is still making its way through icy caverns, and if you look closely you can see the post at the top of the mountain that holds the high end of the cable Tinker Bell used to “navigate” her way across Fantasyland during the nightly fireworks.

Back on the ground, things are a little more crowded, even in 1992. Here is the approach to Star Tours, brought to you from the creative forces (Get it? Forces…) of Disney and George Lucas.

This little fellow spent a lot of time in the Star Tours queue line, working on that fairly run-down droid. I can still hear him saying, “Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer!” So, I did.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world famous backside of the Adventureland entry gate! The stroller parade is in full swing; I just hope no one slips on that highly polished pavement!

You may imagine this street scene in Adventureland is about the same today, but look closer. That’s the original entrance to the old Tahitian Terrace Restaurant, hidden among the trees on the right. (One year later and that will all be changed as if by magic!)

Colorful Jungle Cruise boats depart the dock and the comforts of civilization. The “Indiana Jones” makeover of this venerable attraction was still a couple of years away.

Continuing our trek to the west side of Disneyland, we come to the Haunted Mansion, peeking through the dense foliage of mature magnolia trees. Fortunately, these specimens were spared during the clear-cutting spree that preceded the opening of Fantasmic!

My personal favorite view of the Mansion. It seems unchanged until one notices that the hearse and ghost horse are nowhere to be found.

This is the Mansion’s original pet cemetery, located around the corner to the right of the main entrance. At this time it was visible only to cast members and handicapped visitors who  were being brought through a side door. And to guests who asked nicely if they could see it. And take pictures. (Today the pets are interred right on the front lawn to the left of the entrance.)

This is not only a lovely view of Chick-a-pin Hill, it also shows something we will not be seeing again. Guests on both seating levels of the Hungry Bear Restaurant are throwing bread right over the rails, to the delight of the ducks who have gathered in the river below. Try this today, and you will be feeding guests crowding the pathway into Galaxy’s Edge.

All good days must come to an end. And what could be a lovelier way to end a day at Disneyland than with a dramatically floodlit view of Sleeping Beauty Castle? Full disclosure: this photo was taken the evening of January 11, 1990, during the kick-off event for the 35th anniversary. I recently rediscovered it and had to share.

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