BACKSTORY: Also known as “The Hub”; designed like the spokes of a wheel, each “spoke” from “The Hub” goes to a different land. Initially, this area was also going to be the entrance to Edison Square, between The Red Wagon Inn and the INA Carefree Corner (where First Aid is currently located). The Edison Square plans were the precursor for Carousel of Progress before the revolving theater concept came about. It was originally going to be a walk-through attraction where a curtain went up at the end of each act and the guests walked to the next set. It shows up on versions of the old wall maps and the 4 scenes are labeled on the map as “American Home Pre-electricity,” “American Home Advent of Electricity,” “Contemporary Living,” and “The Electronic Age.” Previously, this area was used as the original Art Corner. Once the Edison idea went away, this same tent served for many years as the entrance to Central First Aid.
The Carnation Plaza Gardens, a covered bandstand and dance area, opened on August 18, 1956, and has been a popular spot for concerts and dancing.
A statue entitled “Partners” featuring Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse was added to the center of the Plaza area on November 18, 1993, expertly sculpted by Blaine Gibson. Marty Sklar had approached Gibson about creating the statue. Gibson said that he was trying to capture Walt saying “look what we’ve accomplished together” to Mickey. .At the dedication ceremony on that day, John Hench, Blaine Gibson, Marc & Alice Davis, Bill Farmer, Wayne Allwine, and Russi Taylor were in attendance. Jack Lindquist, President of Disneyland, was the Master of Ceremonies. Roy E. Disney, son of Roy O. Disney (Walt's Brother), unveiled the statue. A quote from Walt Disney is on the plaque: “Most of all what I want Disneyland to be is a happy place—where parents and children can have fun together.” A rededication ceremony was held in 2001with Disney Legend Richard Sherman performing. He recalled his performance of "Feed The Birds" from "Mary Poppins" at Walt Disney World’s Destination D: “There were 2,000 people on Main Street, but I said, ‘I’m going to play this song for Walt.’” When he reached the line, “Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag,” a lone bird flew “down from heaven,” he said, and swept above his piano. He took it as a sign that Walt was watching.
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BACKSTORY: Edited from the Disney Parks Blog:
Early photos reveal “popcorn people” existed at Disneyland as far back as 1955. The popcorn wagons were labeled “The Cretors” named after C. Cretors & Co., founded in 1855, the company that originally produced the carts and their clown dolls. Eventually the clowns were transformed to match the land in which they performed.
Oogie Boogie – New Orleans Square
Rocketeer – Tomorrowland
Davy Crockett – Frontierland
Conductor – Mickey’s Toontown
Undertaker – New Orleans Square
Dapper Dan (red) – Castle Hub
Dapper Dan (blue) – Frontierland
Abominable Snowman – Fantasyland/Matterhorn
Santa – Castle Hub
Clown – Fantasyland, “it’s a small world”
BACK STORY: The balloon “La Coquette” (“the flirt” in French) was used in the Oscar winning 1956 film “Around The World In Eighty Days.” Actors David Niven and Cantinflas are in the balloon, which was painted with large figures from Greek Mythology. The balloon was built by Goodyear for the U.S. Navy and originally used during World War II for the training of blimp pilots. The Balloon Club of America acquired the balloon in 1952. One of the photos below (from the LIFE archive available on Google) shows the two stars with producer Mike Todd. In 1957, La Coquette was brought out again, this time to celebrate the one year anniversary of the movie with a huge celebration in Madison Square Garden.
Flash forward to Easter, April 22, 1962, and for some reason, “La Coquette” (N9074H) found its way to Disneyland’s Central Plaza for the Easter Parade; it may have even been used again in 1965. La Coquette was featured at the climax of the 1962 Easter Parade and floated over the Matterhorn after being launched from Central Plaza. Balloonists Peter Pellegrine and Francis Shields rode to an altitude of 2,000 feet and landed 45 minutes later in an orange grove 10 miles away. Apparently, Coquette’s retirement came 13 years later in August of 1977. Tony Fairbanks, the legendary American balloonist, took the balloon to the Flying Circus Aerodrome in Bealeton, Virginia to participate in a combined World War I air show and hot air balloon rally. “La Coquette” seems to have been the only gas balloon to have both launched and landed in Virginia since perhaps the U.S. Civil War, for many reasons including terrain, prevailing wind direction, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
Tony Fairbanks was an avid gas balloon pilot and an original member of the Cleveland Balloon Club founded in 1932. He flew gas balloons in the early US Nationals and made at least 6 flights over the Swiss Alps. Tony and Don Piccard formed the Balloon Club of America in Philadelphia, in 1952. Several years later, in 1961, the Balloon Club of America (Philadelphia) and the National Lighter-Than-Air Society (Akron) formed the Balloon Federation of America.
Apparently, you can see a 1/8th scale model of La Coquette at The Hollywood Casino in Tunica, Missouri, created by Modelwerkes in California. Surprisingly, this Casino in Missouri has quite a collection of movie props, including the DeLorean car from “Back to the Future” and the biplane from Hitchcock’s thriller “North by Northwest.”
Here is the text from the Live Narration of a Guided Tour, circa 1962 (previously started on this page):
ON THE PLAZA
From the Central Plaza you may enter any of the four lands or Main Street. Adventureland and Frontierland we have visited, across the drawbridge and through Sleeping Beauty's Castle…Fantasyland. On the Opening Day of July 17, 1955, Walt Disney lowered the drawbridge over the moat so that children of all ages might return to the land of fantasy. Over here down the Avenue of Flags is Tomorrowland.
There are many comments on the landscaping here in Disneyland. Of course, we have many native plants in the park, but we also have specimen plants and trees and tropical plants from all over the wolrd. Our two acre nursery, just beyond Fantasyland, keeps the park supplied with over 500,000 new plants yearly, so that, through the four seasons there are always colorful flowers and trees in Disneyland. We have over 600 different plant species and an untold number of varieties. Now let's go across the drawbridge, through Sleeping Beauty's Castle, and next visit Fantasyland - often called the Happiest Land of them all.
To resume your vintage tour, please go to the Fantasyland page.