Dropping in on the current "Save Carnation Café" thread got me motivated to dust off a few things and present a thread on the origins of Carnation Café ...especially for those too young to remember any or all of its previous incarnations.
Personally...I miss the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor greatly. Its "old-fashioned ice cream parlor" theme and operation fit in much better than the more modern and totally charmless switch-back queue Gibson Girl thing that replaced it, IMHO. And I have to state I've never been a fan of the decor of Blue Ribbon Bakery on Main Street either.
The old 1950's thru 1990's Carnation Ice Cream Parlor was one of those things that made Main Street seem like a real working representation of a place and time gone by. It was one of those wonderfully charming places that was part of the Main Street story. I was very sad to see it go, and think that while the things they replaced it with are more efficient and serve more Guests at more profit...the replacements were negative to the whole, IMHO.
But don't get me wrong. I do love what's left of the original...the current Carnation Café.
Okay...editorial over...lets see where its been and perhaps speculate where its going.
The original 1955 Carnation Ice Cream Parlor was quite a bit different than its later models. I don't know if it was by deliberate wish or by budget constraints back when Walt was struggling to get Disneyland open...but for whatever reason, Carnation Ice Cream Parlor opened with not as much detail and perhaps design as may have been originally hoped for.
Whatever the reason, the original 1955 version had some elements of the Blue Bayou in it, in that when you went inside it sort of looked like you were outside, especially at night! The settees had trees growing out of them, and there were Chinese lanterns hanging beneath a painted blue-sky ceiling that gave the impression of dining al fresco, especially at night when there wasn't sunlight viewable thru the windows and the ceiling above now seemed a black night sky.
That all was kind of neat, but at the same time it always seemed to me as looking like they did it that way as they ran out of decor money...and I never thought it fit in with what you might find on your typical Main Street. Regardless...in a few years the Parlor was remodeled into what most of you probably remember it as...the candy-striped more traditional Victorian model.
Another major difference between the earlier versions of the Parlor and the 70's-90's model was that there was no outside patio eating area at all. The space where the current Carnation Café resides today...was a Flower Market for the first 20 years. If I recall correctly, Carnation didn't expand to include the patio dining until around the time they were about to open Space Mountain, which would have been around 1977.
Once the Parlor expanded outdoors, the menu expanded as well to include more hot food items in addition to the Ice Cream favorites.
Now also from the Opus Archives...here's a 1990 issue of the Disneyland Line Cast Newsletter that featured an article on the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor back during its hey-day. You might recognize a few familiar faces such as Karlos and Oscar.
Here's the only color picture I could find that shows an example of the interior of the 70's-90's version:
If anyone has any additional interior pictures of the old Parlor...please post them along with any additional memories or corrections/additions.
Oh. And did I mention Fantasia Ice Cream and Matterhorn Sundaes? Would love to seem them put an old-fashioned ice cream parlor complete with counter, back in that space. They should flip with the bakery, IMHO.