I had an annual pass in 1987-88, and it was a different cool band each weekend. It was like going back in time. Basie was always the highlight: what a huge sound came from that stage! Other musicians working in the park (Side Street Strutters, Thunder Mountain Boys) would gather to watch these shows, equally in awe. We all knew we were seeing something rare and special, in a perfect setting.
Welcome aboard Ken! Doesn't matter that the Count's no longer with us physically, it's all about the music...just like when I heard Glenn Miller's or the Duke's orchestra. Hampton was always great too! It was a special thrill, though, to be able to see the Count himself.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Oh boy, I really miss the old Carnation Gardens. I miss all the giant attraction posters, and the burgers (I think one was called the "lamplighter") and as I recall you could even order hotdogs. I miss the fantasia ice cream.
About 15 years ago or so there were 'regulars' who danced Friday and Saturday nights. One couple who looked to be in their late '70s wore matching outfits. She would wrap her leg around his hip and they would shimmy together. Another couple was in their late 80's and were so adorable. Their stamina was inspiring!You can't beat the fun swing dancing brings.
I think you mean Dubby and Rose, if I'm not mistaken? They are the cutest couple EVER! I haven't been to Disneyland on a weekend in quite some time, but the last time I was, they were still there going strong.
Radioberry, I'm SO JEALOUS!!! That's amazing to have seen all of those incredible people in such a magical place. Far too cool!
I remember seeing a few bands back in the day, but I cannot recall which ones. Now I rely on finding albums and info about "Dixieland at Disneyland". I have the LP of "Date Night at Disneyland" and also "The Dukes of Dixieland at Disneyland" as well as a few others from that era.
I kind of have my own version of Yesterland for Disney vinyl records, called "Remember the Vinyl". Maybe I can put together enough recordings from the bands to recreate "Dixieland at Disneyland". That would be fun!!
Still wondering exactly what Plaza Gardens in used for now,
I believe the Plaza Gardens are only used now for "Magic Music Days," which I when school groups perform there. My only memory from there is performing with my middle school choir. We were actually performing as they reopened Tomarrowland (in 1998).
Woodland Hills CA - Hottest spot in Los Angeles City Limits
Re: Plaza Gardens Music Memories
They still do the Swing Dancing at Carnation Plaza Gardens, only on Saturdays.
But nowadays there are no Name Bands like Basie or Ellington, it's local small bands, and some of them are rather good. But some of them are just a "pickup band" where the leader and vocalist and a few core players stay the same, but he calls over and gets two-thirds of the players fresh out of the Union Hall.
It loses something in the translation - and the playing. No 'snap', no 'bounce'. You don't get a dozen people playing as one seamless unit.
Woodland Hills CA - Hottest spot in Los Angeles City Limits
Re: Plaza Gardens Music Memories
Originally Posted by Radiobarry
So the Plaza Gardens is there for music and dancing only? No more food service?
Well, the short answer is they have no place left to do it, so I guess they can't offer direct foodservice there anymore...
But feel free to pick up your food "To Go" and bring it over there to listen to the bands. Both Plaza Inn and Casa Del Zocalo are close by and have covered plastic plates and plasticware available if you ask for them, and the Plaza Gardens has lots of seating space with tables and chairs available now.
The Plaza Gardens Foodservice building from the Late 50's that was originally built to be "temporary" but ended up being permanent (Gee, I know how that works...) was finally removed around 1999. Rumor at the time was the Bulldozer Operator gave it a tap on a corner and the building just folded in on itself, it was in an advanced state of decay to where it didn't need much encouragement.
At the same time, they closed the CPG Stage and Dancing Pavillion also for a total rework of the roof from canvas tenting to sheetmetal (along with reinforcing the structure), upgraded the lighting and wiring, rebuilt and expanded the backstage area (now they have enough room to park the piano in there), and turned the old public restrooms to the west of the stage into real permanent dressing rooms for the performers, with indoor plumbing and everything. And the performers' response was !
The CPG Stage and a new outdoor seating area that replaced the foodservice building space reopened in 2001 shortly before the new "Casa Del Zocalo" restaurant. They opened the new public walkway between CDZ and CPG and the new public restrooms on both sides of the walkway around that time also.
I have great memories of so many summer nights standing next to the bandstand at Carnation Plaza Gardens, listening to some of the greats of American musical history. I invite any other such memories into this thread.
I saw...The Glenn Miller Orchestra
Duke Ellington (himself and later his Orchestra)
Count Basie (my favorite)
and others I am sure that I will later remember...
of course, usually accompanied by the incomparable Fantasia ice cream cone!
I, too, have seen many a night of that great entertainment with the dance floor, totally crowded with the local dancers and regulars.
I also saw Glen Miller's band, Ray Anthony, Tex Benecke, Bob Crosby and his Bobcats, Les Brown, the Harry James band, Ray Mckinley, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey's band and others as well. What a shame for Disney to end an era by getting rid of that venue. I still go every now and then to see a group play there, but they do not compare to these fun filled days. I also remember a video tape series , hosted by Peter Marshall, showing the big bands and the folks dancing the night away. I wish they would convert those to dvd.
I remember going on several ocassions and making friends with one couple, Art & Amelia, and I ended up inviting them to my wedding, which they attended. He gave me a signed photo of Harry James, that was his favorite big band leader.
Also, on a sad not, I also remember being there one night with my buddy and we were getting into the music and the dance floor was jam packed with dancers. I was watching this one couple (a young gal and her father) and they were doing great and having a blast. After the song ended , everyone was clapping and all of a sudden the father just collapsed on the floor. Security immediately got there and started to work on him. The nurses were called and eventually the paramedics. They took him away conducting CPR on him. I found out the next day from a security guard that he died of a heart attack. What a tragedy to have happened. But, on a positive note, he is in a better place now and his final moments were with his daughter, doing what he loved doing, in the Happiest PLace on Earth.
Many moons ago, the park sold summer passes that allowed you to go into the park after 4 p.m. all summer long to see the Big bands that rotated thru the Plaza Gardens or The Space Mountain stage where acts like Dick Dale, Chuck Berry, and The Beach Boys would play. Occassionaly they would even have concerts by the ROA with a stage set up on TSI where they perform Fantasmic! I saw Ella Fitzgerald play there once. People would also buy theses passes to go dancing ( for all of you folks to young to remember, dancing use to be a big, popular activity at the park with bands and dancing going on in several different lands. People would go to Disneyland just to dance, never even going on a ride). I also saw quite a few of the bands people have mentioned here and remember one time Buddy Rich was on the Tonight Show (Carson not Leno) and he said that if it wasn't for those week long gigs at Disneyland in the summer it would be impossible to keep the big bands going thru the rest of the year.
Still wondering exactly what Plaza Gardens in used for now, and if others have musical memories as have been shared above!
The Carnation Plaza Gardens is still used for dancing on Saturday evenings, and during the summer, they have dancing there on Friday and Saturday.
Back when we first started dancing there (1994), the band that played (always) was Stanford Freeze and the Disneyland Big Band (which was the Disneyland Marching band). In (I think) somewhere between 1996 and 1999 they started to have other bands, and not so much of the Disneyland Big band. We danced there from 1994 until mid early 2004 (I slowed down in early 2003 and had to basically quit in ealry 2004).
They had and still do have some very good bands there, not the names as long ago, but still some good bands.
I still go out there ocassionally on Saturday eves to be with friends and listen to big band music, but dancing is out (for me, for now). I'm hoping I can find someone to teach me adaptive dancing so I can move around with my cane and sort of Rumba and maybe even a West Coast Swing (should be adaptable, the man doesn't have to move too much).
Well, my bandstand memories are more recent than the days of The Glenn Miller Big Band (his music and songs are still the best) but they are still wonderful memories of "date night for dancing at Disneyland with my wife.