This is why I love and signed up for Micechat. I learn such interesting things about Disneyland's TRUE history. I am able to see how Disneyland evolved and what remains (even if it is just a wink or tribute to a former attraction)
The one ride I wish was still there, so I could enjoy it. It is one attraction I never made it on, but heard so much praise about it, while I was growing up. I wonder if Disney Archives still have photos(Publicity) and blueprints on the attraction? Anyone know someone on the "inside"? lol
From 1959 to 1963, there was a Mineral Hall to the right of the the Mine Train loading area, and you could go in there and buy rock samples and see examples of the fluorescent minerals under black light. You could even buy black lights. The employees who worked in that section wore black so they wouldn't be too bright under the black lights. The building is still there now, but I think it is just used for storage or something and only an upper window is etched with the name "Mineral Hall" as a tribute.
I think it's now Rancho del Zocalo.
Disneyland Historic Preservation Society
I think that's right. I remember Mineral Hallóbarely. I did go in there at least once when I was a kid. Curiously, interior photos of that place are a Holy Grail for some Disney history buffs. Apparently, there are none on the 'net, and no one seems to have any or has even seen any.
"My mental facilities are twice what yours are, pea brain!"
I love Thunder Mountain, but it's an absolute disgrace to see what it took over. I had always figured that ride was a trip around the desert and over some bridges with a "Calico Mine Train" interior, I simply had no idea how elaborate or beautifully crafting this ride was! It's amazing that even with our technology and 50 years of "advancement", we still can't replicate the aura of this attraction.
That attraction was HUGE too, Thunder Mountain barely takes up 1/3 of it. I was born a couple years after it was taken out so I had no chance of ever seeing it, but I know for an absolute FACT that I would've enjoyed this ride a million times more than Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder gave me nightmares as a kid and it wasn't until I was 19 that I actually mustered up the courage to go on it. But a ride like that would've been cherished for all time... which is why I'm actually half-glad I never saw it, it would depress the hell out of me just walking through that area if I truly realized what I was missing. As it is, I'm nostalgic for it, and I never even saw it!
Today they would find some way to shoehorn Woody and Jessie into it and turn the desert into Radiator Springs. But I can only imagine what LED technology would bring into the cavern area!
And to Disney's credit, although they went on a thrill-ride building fringe since destroying this Mine Train ride, it seems they've *finally* gone back to their roots for the Little Mermaid ride. No height requirement, no 100' drops, just pure imagination over sheer technological thrills. It still uses a Disney film as a "creative crutch", but it's not Pixar so I'll take it ANY day!
I think in the 1970s Disneyland began to feel pressure to add more thrill rides, due to competition from other parks. Knott's had the Corkscrew, which had riders being upside-down twice, and in 1976 Magic Mountain opened the Great American Revolution, the first roller coaster in the world with a 360-degree loop. So Disney felt some pressure to keep up, and Disneyland may have started to get the image as a gentle park just for kids and grandparents. Even though Space Mountain had been in the works for a long time and Walt had a part in its initial concept, I think they were glad to get them open in WDW in 1975 and DL in 1977. I still think of Splash Mountain as a direct response to Knott's Calico Log Ride (now called Timber Mountain Log Ride), except Disneyfied, enlarged and done better.
In the same way Big Thunder may have been added because the management thought DL needed more thrill rides. I still think Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was rather hastily added to Frontierland without much thought as to the overall layout of the area. The mountain part should have been located in the northern outskirts, with just the loading area in the "town" part and then a track leading out to the mountain, possibly following the old pack mules trail. They also could have saved the Rainbow Caverns, and integrated it as-is into Big Thunder, either at the beginning or end of the ride, or even as the queue. They still could have kept the Mine Train in some form and today they would have both the Mine Train and Big Thunder. But that's all hindsight now. Oh well.
As for Mineral Hall, here are some pictures when it was still open:
The building was integrated into Rancho del Zocalo and a tribute to Mineral Hall added to the upstairs window:
These rocks were for sale in Mineral Hall, and you could also buy black lights.
That's an interesting story unto itself, though I don't know many details on it. There was (and I believe still is) a company called Ultra-Violet Products, Inc. which was in San Gabriel, California at that time. They manufactured a "Mineralight" which was a small hand-held black light for mineral hunting and other black light uses. Black Light Corp. of America was a distributor for those and somehow got the high-profile Disneyland spot. Nowadays it would seem unheard of for a small local company in southern California to snag a prime Disneyland location - those are apparently only for giant corporations with deep pockets. Anyway, Black Light Corp. of America sold Mineralights in the Mineral Hall, along with mineral samples, and the Tinkerbell wand. There was also a free exhibit showing minerals under black lights. Apparently there was a falling out between the BL and UV around 1961, and you can read the legalese details of it at Black Light Corp. v. Ultra-Violet Products, Inc. [195 Cal.App.2d 473] . I wish I knew more about the history of those companies and how they got involved with Disneyland. Information about it is hard to find. I believe that Ultra-Violet Products is still in business today, though under a different name and in a different location. The sign above the doorway to Mineral Hall read, "Rainbow Hall of Enchantment."