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Entries in Mystery (9)

Wednesday
Nov302011

Frito Kid Mysteries Continue

Last year we posted a look at the mysterious Frito Kid at Disneyland. Since then we have set out to answer a few questions about him– specifically “Where exactly was he located??” and “What still exists today?” Here's what we've found.

 
Location 1– 1955-1957

We knew his first location was next to Aunt Jemima's Pancake House (River Belle Terrace today) just inside the front door. But which door? We searched high and low for a photo showing the Frito Kid taken from a distance.

After no success I decided to adjust this old Casa de Fritos photo from Daveland. A simple curves adjustment in Photoshop and bam! There he is. Just inside the front left door.

Zoom in and compare.

UPDATED. Dave from Daveland has provided a lightened version of the original photo. Notice the detail!

Now to visit the location to see what remains.

Hmm. Door slightly ajar. Let’s open and have a peek. Sadly there is a wall right behind the door.

According to the cast member bussing tables, “there is nothing behind that door”. Also according to the cast member, “the Frito Kid was never anywhere near this building nor was Casa de Fritos”. That’s ok, they don’t teach this stuff in orientation. I was happy to hear that he had at least heard of the Frito Kid/Casa de Fritos. Kudos also to the girl at the River Belle cash register for knowing that the restaurant was once Aunt Jemima’s.

In 1957 this part of the building became home to Don DeFore's Silver Banjo Barbecue. So the odds are slim that anything from the Fritos setup still exists today. But maybe there's a utility box with a "Frito Kid" label on it? Or something? Someone let me know if this is the case.


Location 2– 1957-1967?

The Frito Kid and Casa de Fritos stayed in their first location just shy of two years. Though Casa de Fritos stayed in its second location for over 25 years (Rancho del Zocalo today), the Frito Kid was removed much sooner. I'm guessing his removal took place in the late 60s when Fritos corn chips stopped using Frito Kid as a mascot.

So where exactly was the Kid in this second location? This fantastic photo (thank you to whoever posted this online) shows where he stood. The architecture on the left still stands today. The wooden log structure around the figure no longer exists.

Now to determine more exactly where he stood. At first I believed be backed up right against the Frontierland Shooting Gallery (Frontierland Shooting Exposition today). Side note: The Shooting Gallery was not an Opening Day attraction like some official Disney history publications claim. The Miniature Horse Corral preceded it. Ok...

Looking at old photos and blueprints (blueprints that don’t happen to mention the Frito Kid) I noticed a hallway running behind the Frito Kid, between him and the Shooting Gallery. So he had to have been located a few feet away from the Gallery wall (with the mural), right about here:

So now we know. Now we know a little more about something extremely obscure and quite insignificant. But isn't that what makes it great? Now you can go to Disneyland with your friends and whip out this bit knowledge and be the nerdiest one in the group. If you read this blog, there's a good chance you are already the nerdiest. We see that as a good thing.

If you happen to have Frito Kid photos not currently on the internet, send 'em to us! I've never seen a video so send those too.

For some more Frito Kid history, visit Kevin Kidney

 

Related posts:

Frito Kid and Deeee-licious Fritos!
THEN
 AND NOWDisneyland [Part 1]
Frontierland Shootin' Arcade Like You've Never Seen It
Diana Lai: An Original Enchanted Tiki Room VIP Hostess
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
Marc Davis and Disneyland's Rivers of America Rehab


Saturday
Oct012011

WDW Before Opening Day 1971

Walt Disney World opened 40 years ago today. Here we bring you photos of some of the work that went on before Opening Day- October 1, 1971.

On the left (below) you see the foundation of Cinderella Castle taking shape and the utilidor tunnel being built under what would become the castle moat. Now on the right you see the same tunnel but covered in dirt. What looks like a trench next to the covered tunnel is not actully the tunnel. I imagine it was the last bit to be filled in or was used to access something. Notice the underground offices, shops, utility access, storage, etc. behind the castle foundation. This area exists today under Fantasyland.

 

Below you see the back end of the castle with views of restaurant construction and what is now the Castle Suite.

Looks like a fancy tool for inserting strands of hair into this Jungle Cruise lion. In more recent years I remember using a needle with half its eye cut off with the point inserted into a wooden handle.

Notice the maquette of the gorilla holding the rifle next to the full size figure of the same gorilla.

Check out the guy in back of the station wagon filming the elephant on its way to the Jungle Cruise.

Anyone know exactly where this yellow building is today? I always figured it was in downtown Orlando but really, I have no way of knowing.

UPDATE: Thanks to comments by World Famous Dave Ensign and Cousin Orville we have the location of the "yellow building". Seen here is the building in Plant City (as predicted by Dave) at the corner of Highways 39 and 92. The photo from Google Street View (as found by Cousin Orville) shows the building today almost exactly how it looked 40+ years ago. Mystery solved!

Speaking of where things are today... below we bring you a little bonus. A quick search on Bing Maps shows us an old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Nautilus submarine at backstage Epcot of all places. And right in front of it, an old Jungle Cruise boat. Yep, still hanging around. Used now and again for special events.

Before any of the above photos were taken, this model was built:

Click to enlarge and look closely. Clearly on the right you'll see the never-built Thunder Mesa. Look in the background. Behind John Hench on the right, is that a model of the Magic Kingdom Monorail Station? Towards the center it looks like a rather large model of the Contemporary. And to the far left, a tiki bird!

Happy b-day, Walt Disney World. You haven't changed a bit.


Thank you, The Story of Walt Disney World Commemorative Edition for the great pics. All photos ©Disney.


Related posts:

Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
THEN AND NOW: MK Adventureland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Liberty Square [Part 1]
Disneyland in 1955
EYE CANDY: National Geographic Aug '63

 

Saturday
Dec182010

Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall

While doing occasional work on Main Street, U.S.A. (Magic Kingdom) we had the thrill of walking between the walls.  That is, the space between those great-looking Main Street facades and the actual buildings behind them. On the ground level there are few areas of dead space between walls, mostly due to large doorways and windows.  On the upper level, however, there are long narrow walkways behind the facades which accommodate decorations (lamps, chairs, etc.) intended to be seen from the street below. These are designed to look like turn-of-the-century shop keepers' residences.  You know, the shop owners would live in apartments above their shops back in olden times.  Anyway, the offices behind are your regular, windowless run-of-the-mill boring offices.

So one day I was behind a wall and THERE IT WAS...  An old folded-up yellowed piece of paper shoved between wooden framing and drywall.  It looked like it could have been a big ol' souvenir poster map and it was.  Poster-sized, old, and in pretty good shape.  I had always been on the lookout for these things since boyhood- long before ebay.  

So how long had it been there?  Why was it there?  Who put it there?  Did some custodial guy buy it at a gift shop, leave it behind the wall until after his shift, then never remember to come back for it?  By the looks of things it was stuck behind the framing for some time.  The exposed surface of the paper was significantly more yellow than any other part.  I imagine it could have been there for 30 years.  The best part:  No one on the project wanted it and it was to be trashed if I didn't take it home.  Tough decision.

Without a year printed on the map it was up to the process of deduction to know when it was made. Some things you see: Pirates of the Caribbean- so it was made after '73. Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain are there- so it had to be '74 or later.  You don't see any sign of Big Thunder- so it's definitely earlier than '80.  It can't be later than June '75 because you still see Flight to the moon and there is no mention of it's successor Mission to Mars.  One final clue: Look at Space Mountain.  It looks more like John Hench concept art or the rendering below than the Space Mountain built in '74.  Check out all the extra spires.  So the map artwork had to be from a time between the announcement of this new ride and the completion of the ride building.

I'm sure Disney blog geeks everywhere know exactly when this map was made but without knowing exactly I had to guess mid 1974.  Any earlier, Magic Carpet 'Round The World would be America the Beautiful.  Any later, Space Mountain would not look like that.

Are there variations of this same map? Not sure but I imagine there are.  By the late 70s the souvenir map had become much more cartoony with little kids in the Grand Prix cars and many more characters dancing around the poster and such.

So here the map sits- in my home office among other old souvenir poster maps from Disneyland, Epcot, EuroDisney, and even California Adventure.  Sadly the Disneyland poster map that once hung on my childhood bedroom wall is long gone.  But much like my grade school years, I sit and stare at these things and study them like a textbook. "NERD", you say???  Tell me I'm not the only one.  Admit it. You do the same.


Things you may or may not miss from this era...

Tropical Serenade without plastic flying carpets blocking the view.


Mike Fink Keel Boats


Plaza Swan Boats


Main Street Cinema when it was a cinema.


The Mickey Mouse Review


Fantasy Faire Stage

 

Related posts:

1962 Disneyland Souvenir Map - High Res
Fantasyland Expansion Model
THEN AND NOW: MK Tomorrowland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Liberty Square [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: MK Fantasyland [Part 1]
Swiss Family Treehouse Model