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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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New Fantasyland 1983

Have you ever wondered where Skull Rock and the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship used to be in Disneyland? Did you know Dumbo once flew on the far west side of Fantasyland? And that the Carrousel wasn’t always where it is now? We look at the many changes made during the creation of 1983’s “New Fantasyland”.

We’ve created the above map to help easily compare early Disneyland Fantasyland with today’s version that came about in 1983. In pink you’ll notice just how crowded things were behind the castle. Below that you'll see a photograph of today's Fantasyland with a blue sketch overlay of the original locations of various attractions and buildings.

Photo credit: Jerry and Lorraine Kotler

Huge growth in the early 1980s

The Disney parks saw HUGE growth in the early 80s. Walt Disney World was getting EPCOT Center. Tokyo Disneyland was being built. “New Fantasyland” was Disneyland’s big project. Not long before this, the first two Big Thunder Mountains came about. My earliest memories come from this time. It was EXCITING. Everything made was extremely impressive.

Why all the changes to Fantasyland?

The land was never quite what Walt Disney wanted it to be. With limited time and money the original Fantasyland was built with the idea that it would later be updated with a more “fleshed-out” decor. Facades were created inexpensively. They were designed to look like medieval traveling tournament tents. the story behind the area explains that rides were “brought in” to the castle courtyard for the “temporary festivities”. 

The Storybook Look

It’s often assumed that no European “storybook” facades existed in Fantasyland until 1983 but there were a few. The shops immediately behind the castle, the Skyway station, Matterhorn’s queue, and the miniature buildings in Storybook Land all featured this charming architecture. It is predicted that the Storybook Land architecture would have been the inspiration for Walt’s revisions of Fantasyland had he revised the land.

An Operational Challenge

There was an operational challenge to be addressed. Outdoor rides were placed very closely to the walls of the indoor rides. Narrow walkways created constant pedestrian congestion. The solution? Rip up all the concrete and move rides around.

King Arthur Carrousel

The carrousel was located right between the entrances to Snow White and Peter Pan. It was moved back quite a distance in order to open the funnel of traffic coming from and going to the castle. The move also allowed for larger, more elaborate facades for Show White and Peter Pan. Prior to 1983 no landscaping existed around the carrousel nor was it propped up on a concrete platform.

Peter Pan’s Flight

A London-inspired exterior with a large clock tower was added. 24 new animatronic characters were installed.

Snow White’s Adventures (Renamed Snow White’s Scary Adventures in 1983)

Snow White herself didn’t appear in the pre-1983 ride (other than for short test periods in the 70s). Riders were to experience her adventures from her point of view. Most riders didn’t understand this and just wanted to see Snow White. She was included in the new, longer ride. Show scenes were updated and special effects were added. Outside in the new facade the Queen figure who opens closes curtains was introduced.

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

What? Pinocchio wasn’t always there? Pinocchio’s Daring Journey was the headliner new dark ride of the expansion. Was it Disney’s first Pinocchio ride? Nope. Shortly before it’s Disneyland debut, Pinocchio opened in Tokyo Disneyland. What was there before Disneyland’s Pinocchio? The space was previously occupied by a theater.

Mickey Mouse Club Theater (Renamed Fantasyland Theatre in 1964)

The theater showed classic Disney cartoons back to back.

Photo credits: (Left) Jerrod Maruyama, (Right) Jerry and Lorraine Kotler 

Dumbo Flying Elephants (Renamed Dumbo the Flying Elephant)

Originally located near the Skyway entrance where the outdoor patio of the Village Haus Restaurant is today. Originally the elephants were to be pink. This was to help preserve the fact that there’s only one Dumbo. Much like there’s only one Mickey. But Walt at some point decided that everyone should get to ride the real Dumbo instead of a pink elephant from Dumbo’s drunken nightmare.

Photo sent by David Blakeslee

And get this. Early Dumbo ears were HINGED!! They were mechanized to flap up and down as the Dumbos flew. This didn't work so well so later vehicles didn't have hinges.

Both 1955 and 1983 versions hosted 10 elephants. A new spinner with 16 elephants was installed in 1990 after a few minor accidents occurred. This new build was intended for Euro Disneyland. A duplicate was created for Euro Disneyland in time for its 1992 opening. Fun fact: All Magic Kingdom-style parks today have a Dumbo spinner. All but Tokyo have 16 elephants. Tokyo still has 10.

For New Fantasyland Dumbo was moved to what used to be a small lagoon where a pirate ship stood for over 25 years.

Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant (Renamed Captain Hook’s Galley in 1969)

Tuna sandwiches, tuna burgers, tuna pies, and even tuna salad in a little boat were served aboard the wooden ship. This ship belonging to Captain Hook is arguably the most interesting setting of any quick service food counter anywhere. 

After ordering you could sit at one of a few tables on the ship or eat under umbrellas just north of the ship.

The simple lagoon was enhanced with the addition of plant life and Skull Rock in 1960. Guest would exit the dining area on a path that led under the Skull Rock rock work. The ship was renamed when Chicken of the Sea ended its sponsorship in 1969. 

Photo sent by David Blakeslee

The magnificent ship met its fate earlier than planned during the 1983 expansion. They say it was to be moved near today’s Storybook Land queue but upon removal the thing fell apart. Speculations have surfaced in recent years that they could have moved it successfully if they had really wanted to.

An urban legend I ignorantly grew up believing claims that Steven Spielberg purchased the ship to become One-Eyed Willie’s pirate ship in Spielberg’s 1985 film The Goonies. This is simply not possible.

Skull Rock

Added in 1960, Skull Rock featured a waterfall (or several little waterfalls) and its eyes glowed green at night. It was based on Skull Rock in Disney’s 1953 animated film Peter Pan. It was often photographed from above by guests riding in Skyway buckets.

Photo credit: Jerry and Lorraine Kotler

Today rock work and a waterfall stand where the rear portion of Skull Rock was. Do some of the original pieces remain? Probably. The plumbing perhaps?

Skyway to Tomorrowland

The Skyway changed its vehicle style from a round cylinder look to a more boxy look in 1965. The biggest change the Skyway saw in 1983 was a whole new set of views below.

You can still see the old Skyway tower hidden up in the trees.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Toad’s track and interior were removed. The track was made longer. A few new scenes were added. Part of the new queue featured and outdoor garden. The exterior was built to look like Toad Hall from Disney’s 1949 animated film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

Alice in Wonderland

The Alice dark ride was not a 1955 original. It opened in 1958. It was the only Fantasyland dark ride built after Disneyland opened and before New Fantasyland in 1983.

Mad Tea Party

The “tea cups” as they are most commonly referred to were originally located where King Arthur Carrousel is today. They were moved closer to Alice in Wonderland which of course makes sense, both being based on the same film. A tented snack bar stood near its new location where The Mad Hatter hat shop stands today. Tables and chairs covered the area now occupied by Mad Tea Party. Each version of the ride has hosted three groups of six spinning tea cups.

Photo sent by Eric Chu

Next time you are strolling through Fantasyland be sure to compare what was then with what is now! Your friends will be oh so impressed.


Related posts:

Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
Disneyland in 1955
Not Having Fun at Disneyland
EYE CANDY: National Geographic Aug '63
EYE CANDY: National Geographic Aug '63 [Part 2]

References (6)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (33)

Excellent work! Love the maps!

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonnie

Thanks Donnie! Maps are a lot of fun to make but they are a llllot of work.

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

I love the adorable couple in the matching plaid jackets ouside the old Mr. Toad entrance!

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Holy smokes! This post is fantastic on soooo many levels!!! Thank you for those maps! I loved seeing the Disneyland of my youth and knowing that I can now prove to my son that I was right about the configuration of the original Fantasyland, LOL!

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Melissa- That's it. My wife and I wearing plaid jackets on our next visit. Haha.

Connie- Thanks! I did it because I couldn't perfectly remember the Fantasyland of my youth. And I like knowing where things used to be so I can stand there and picture what used to be there. :)

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

How do you go about making those beautiful maps?

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSkipper Justin

So GREAT! For YEARS, I've tried to figure out remember just where Captain Hooks Galley was located. I loved eating my "tuna boat" there! Thanks for all the great work you do...

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Words cannot describe how grateful I am that you compiled this post. The 1983 expansion of Fantasyland is such a significant turning point in the history of Disneyland and a detailed documentation of the event desperately needed to be done. Kudos in particular to the author of the pre/post 1983 Fantasyland map, it is an aesthetic gem as well as a valuable visual reference which I'll be guaranteed to return to frequently in the future.
If you were to ever consider authoring another post similar in fashion to this one, might I suggest pre/post 1967 Tomorrowland as the subject? I believe that the exceptional contrast presented before and after the expansion of the area at that time signifies it as a subject of possible interest to potentially be given the same treatment as you've given Fantasyland in this post.

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwedway

As always you guy do an amazing job of taking us back a forth from past to present with you post and images. I was wondering if you guys have ever thought of creating some thing like a petition to bring back old rides like they have done in Carland with the Flying Saucers. For example they could bring back my favorite ride Interspace but this time have it take on more microscopic destinations like the human blood stream as well as keeping the journey into a snow flake (I hope that make sense). Just an idea and again nice job guys.

June 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon Rockwell

If the design team had their way Captain Hook's Galley and the Pirate Ship would still be there today as well as Skull Rock. Loved those Tuna Melt Burgers which they have never replaced. Don't know why???

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

Great Post. I really wish that the Pirate Ship and Skull Rock would return at some point.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNate Parrish

I'm thrilled with the positive response. I was hoping that this would answer a few questions. I learned a number of things while researching.

Wedway- You are in luck I've done some of the groundwork for a Tomorrowland '67 post in similar fashion.

Skipper Justin- I draw everything in Adobe Illustrator and overlay a paper texture.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

Wow, I had no idea Fantasyland was that different when the park opened! And to think all of these changes happened before I was even born. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSnow White

Senior management did not want to save or move the Captain Hook's Pirate ship and Skull rock to it's planned new location. The WED Design team did try to save parts of it like the stern anyway for the future. 9 years later, with the people who had said no, no longer objectionable, Tony Baxter recreated both the ship and Skull rock in his Euro Disneyland in Adventutreland. No tuna melt burgers were available there however. After 20 years, it was recently rebuilt of new materials that could better stand the snowy winters.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

After the New Fantasyland opened in 1983, Disney WED Legend John Hench wanted to finally introduce Big Willy the giant's sleeping head at the base of the Casey Jones Jr. Railway castle as it was originally planned. The train would have passed through his open mounth much like the Monstro and the canal boats did. Epcot budgets left no room for the addition however. Maybe one day they will complete this for John.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

Rusty- I'd love to know more about Big Willy. Also, where exactly was the Pirate Ship intended to go? I keep reading it was to be placed near today's Storybook queue buy I figure it would have fit better somewhere near the old Motorboat Cruise water. Do you know?

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

This is great stuff; thanks for making these marvelous maps! Just the other day I was reading E-Ticket Magazine and I was wondering how much more building space was acquired with the new Fantasyland. You answered it! Please keep up the great work.

I also read Tony Baxter's comment (in E-Ticket) that the Pirate ship's ornate work was made of delicate plaster which wasn't designed to be moved. They didn't realize that until they began to move it and the plaster crumbled.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex G.

I believe Tony said he wanted to put it where the front of Indy is today, near the Swiss Family Tree House and not to far from the Pirates ride which makes sense back then.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

This was a great post! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort it involves for an article like this. So Cool! You bet I'll be looking at Fantasyland a bit differently next time I visit. :)

June 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

Top notch job of explaining the changes. Interesting that you wrote about the testing of Snow White in the 1970's, as I have a photo on my site pre-1983 showing her on the attraction. No other site has mentioned her appearance before 1983.

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

How come I never knew the Dumbo ears used to flap?? That's it, I am now going to spend the rest of the day reading all your old posts.

July 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShane

This is such an informative post! And those first graphic overlays are incredibly helpful! Thanks for posting, always look forward to your blog posts!

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam Allen

This is such an awesome post. I love it. Good work. All the pics really help see Disneyland when it began. Thanks for sharing.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMouse Insight

Just checking to see if any Disney Park has revived the Captain Hook Tuna Burgers and have not found any positive information. Wish they would bring it back. It was a lot of fun designing the new Mr Toad's Manor and the first Pinocchio attraction and facade for both TDL and DL Fantasyland.

August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

I loved this post! It's fun to see how Disney looked then. I think it sort of looked better.

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeatrice Moyers

As a young kid on my first visit I remember getting minerals from the Mineral Hall in Fronteirland an taking them on Peter Pan and watching them glow under the scenic blacklights while flying over the city and island.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

My friend remembers a tiny candy store under a bridge. I'm not sure which bridge or which land. She said you could buy rock candy there. Any clues what it was called? She's undergoing chemo right now. I'd love to send her a photo of it along with some rock candy. It would make her smile.

June 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

One of the most magical trips I've ever taken to Disneyland came after at least 8 or 9 visits through childhood and a good way into my adulthood, in 1983. Hitherto, Fantasyland had been fun but the rides around the outside had consisted of essentially plywood facades painted with not very believable carnival-like designs. Then the whole land closed for a couple of years (compared to other ride or small area closings for perhaps months), and when we returned, curious but not knowing what to expect--we were Blown. Away. And THAT's when I decided to start taking photos of the park, darnit. So, thank you SO much for this article with the before photos!

July 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen F

Then the whole land closed for a couple of years (compared to other ride or small area closings for perhaps months), and when we returned, curious but not knowing what to expect--we were Blown. Away. And THAT's when I decided to start taking photos of the park, darnit. So, thank you SO much for this article with the before photos!

November 7, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterblackmart alpha

I remember getting minerals from the Mineral Hall in Fronteirland an taking them on Peter Pan and watching them glow under the scenic blacklights while flying over the city and island.

November 7, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergarageband for android

thanks for the post man

November 10, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterwindows 10 key

thanks for the post man its really awesome

November 10, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterwindows 10 key

its really nice

November 10, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterblogger templates

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