July 15, 2012

Riding on the Metro

One of my favorite blogs, Vintage Disneyland Tickets, has been quiet lately. I know that one of VDT's favorite things is Magic Mountain's old Metro monorail, so I thought that I would share a story from a couple of years before my days as a Disneyland Cast Member. As a high school junior, I worked a summer as a ride operator out there in Valencia (just two gallons north of Hollywood!)

I'd love to say that the Metro was my regular location, but I started in Children's World (pictured in the postcard above under the monorail beam). I next moved over to a Funicular/Sky Tower rotation, then became part of the opening crew on Roaring Rapids. All of those provided truly great times working with fun crews on some of the mountain's most unique rides. One of my best memories, though, happened while I was still assigned to its "parking lot carnival" area.

Arriving for work one afternoon, not quite looking forward to watching kids spin slowly around in various cars, rockets, or motorbikes, I got some very welcome news. My lead told me that the Metro needed somebody to cover a shift. Its first station was just steps away, opposite the Log Jammer, over by the old Mountain Express. Almost all of us in the park's Operations Division wore the same mint green polyester pants and white polo (with stripes in the same mint and yellow), so there was no need to go and check out a new costume. I hurried right over to the station and hustled up the steps.

It was no Alweg monorail system, but the Metro was lovable in its own primitive way. And it was sure easy to operate. There wasn't much to do except sit in the front of the train and spiel as the cars lumbered slowly along the beam. Colossus was the newest thing to talk about, the "world's largest wooden racing roller coaster off the right side of the Metro."

The system is still in place in Valencia as it was back then, but the ride is sadly long gone, never to return. I hope the same isn't true for Vintage Disneyland Tickets! You can see much more of the Metro's glorious past (and far less glorious present) over there. Thanks for coming on this brief departure to Magic Mountain. See you back at the Magic Kingdom.

July 4, 2012

July 4, 1976

What July holiday would be complete without a parade celebrating the best of America? (If we're talking about America on Parade, the answer is every July since around 1976, but who's counting?) Here's an old Super 8 look back at that unique salute to our country.

It's a little bit corny by today's standards.

And historians would probably criticize the way that it glosses over some of the harder facts of the American experience.

But 1976 was a time for cheering a relatively young nation's milestone, and America on Parade did that pretty darn well. Try to watch without feeling just a little bit of what made Walt get red, white, and blue at times.

July 1, 2012

First-rate third gate

Here's an idea for a new theme park experience that would be better than almost any other entertainment in the world.

It's a perfect re-creation of a place that existed from around 1967 to around 1985. "It represents the intangibles of the mind, yet exhibits a logical, physical world. Within its thematic realms are medieval castles and rocket ships, horse-drawn streetcars and streamlined monorail trains, jungle elephants and elephants that fly, a snow-capped mountain and a 'space' mountain."

You might say that such a Park exists already. But this one is different in several ways, some subtle, some more dramatic.

The new Park, for example, encourages young people to think about the past and the future using their imaginations, not just their short-term memories of what they've seen at the multiplex or online. They can enjoy adventures and attractions like traveling through "liquid space" on an exciting cruise to the North Pole, taking a thrilling journey into the world of the atom, and exploring Tom Sawyer's island with its many caves and Fort Wilderness.

At their own pace, guests can also explore a fascinating tree-top home, complete with its own bamboo-and-twine water system. The aerial views are spectacular, but even better is the panorama visible from Skyway buckets. Another panorama takes you on a film tour of the United States through the magic of CircleVision 360.

Many characters from favorite childhood films roam freely, and you can run into these old friends just about anywhere. Other friends can be seen in the many live performances such as the Golden Horseshoe Revue, an Old West vaudeville show featuring singing, dancing, and plenty of laughs. A bunch of bears put on a great show of their own. You can dance, as swinging big bands set the tempo after dark.

Hungry? You will discover a menu to please every palate and pocketbook among the large variety of restaurants and refreshment centers ranging from elegant waitress service to popcorn and ice cream wagons. Once you're refreshed, you'll want to shop for unusual man-made flowers, dill pickles, Guatemalan clothing and jewelry, choice antiques, Pendleton woolen fabrics and clothing, and professional magician supplies. The services of a perfumer to blend unique fragrances to your choice are also available.

When you ready, you can stow your purchases in a locker for .75. You won't want them to weigh you down, because there's a lot more to see. Like Mars, which you can visit after taking a grand circle tour of Tomorrowland aboard the PeopleMover--the first system of its kind in the world.

If you've still got time in your vacation, you can stop in at Carefree Corner for information on other Southern California attractions. Hollywood and the beaches are just about an hour away.

But you'll probably want to stay right here.