Yesterland's Future

Usually, when I write something for you Dear Readers, it's to tell you about an event I went to or to fill you in on something happening that I think you should know about. But this time, I am here to bring you a nice surprise. I have some MiceAge/MiceChat news I'm certain you will find quite pleasurable.

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and visit a Disneyland attraction that's no longer at Disneyland? I know I have. If I could, I'd love to take a ride on the Flying Saucers, just one more time. It would give me a great deal of pleasure to once again hear the whooshing sound of the air rushing under my saucer as I lean in the direction I want to go and careen across to the other side of the attraction which, truth be told, was nothing more than a futuristic bumper car. Though the Flying Saucers opened in 1961 and lasted only five years they burn bright in my memory. I think about them and am once again ten years old.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever and attractions that just don't work all that well for whatever the reason have to go by the wayside to make room for ever more exciting things. After all, Walt Disney himself who said, "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."

I can no longer take a ride on the Flying Saucers but ... I can still visit them ... in a neat little place where retired Disneyland attractions go on to live called, Yesterland.

1966 Flying Saucers
The Flying Saucers at Disneyland in 1966. Now open daily only at Yesterland.

And that, Dear Readers, is my news. MiceAge will now be alerting you to Yesterland updates. Starting on Friday next week, and then on occasional Fridays after that as new content is developed and added, we'll be the first to link you to the latest over at Yesterland. At the end of each new major update, there will be a link back to MiceChat's new Yesterland forum, where you can discuss all the new content.

Now the person who will be doing this for you is none other than Werner Weiss, the man who conceived of and brought to life that wonderful website. If you haven't heard of Yesterland (and you call yourself a Disney fan) or Werner, let me enlighten you a bit. I recently got to ask him a few questions about it and I'm sure you will find what he had to say of great interest.

Way back in 1994, Werner was searching for a subject to build a website around. That was in the early days of the internet and he thought building a site would not only be a great project, but it would be a learning exercise that would help him further his career at a major technology company. I'll let Werner's own words tell you the rest, "I remembered that I had taken a camera to Disneyland in 1966, 1969, and 1974, and that it might be fun to present defunct Disneyland attractions as if they were still around in another theme park, which I called Yesterland. When Yesterland went live, Disneyland was beginning to celebrate its 40th anniversary, so there was a lot of interest in the history of Disneyland."

After hearing that, I was curious. Werner lives in Illinois, I wondered how he settled on Disneyland for his web site. Being so far away from the park, why not some place like Walt Disney World, which was a little bit closer to Illinois than Anaheim?

Werner in 1958
Yes, that's Werner in the short pants with a Disneyland Indian (before
they became animatronic). This was his first visit to the park in 1958.

It's been my experience that whatever Disney park one grow up with is usually the park that hold a place dear in one's heart. In 1957 Werner and his family moved from Europe to Glendale, California. He stayed in Southern California from that time until 1984 when he moved to Illinois. During his time in California, Werner made many trips to Disneyland and as a child, one of his favorite things was to make drawings of imaginary theme parks (thus laying the ground work for future web sites). He also looked forward to viewing the annual television show in which "Walt Disney would proudly offer a preview of what he and his talented staff were adding to Disneyland." After he got married and had kids, Werner and his family became frequent guests at Walt Disney World, "But I still have a special fondness for the original Disneyland."

So, Werner set out to make up his own imaginary theme park consisting of retried Disneyland attractions. Originally, he thought Yesterland would only house a dozen or so of the rides that no longer existed. As he said, "I had no intention for the site to be comprehensive." When Walt thought up Disneyland, it was a little park next to the Studios in Burbank, and we all know how that turned out. And so it is with Yesterland, "The site isn't comprehensive, but it will continue to grow. There are now over a hundred pages at Yesterland."

You just can't keep a good thing small.

The thing that I find the most endearing about Yesterland is the photos. Instead of being slick, professional shots of old attractions, they make me feel like I am browsing through someone's family album. They give you a warm-fuzzy nostalgic feeling that is way cooler than anything you can buy in a book. I feel a bit of envy. My Dad was an amateur photographer and we took tons of trips to Disneyland when I was a kid. But do think he shot any photos? Nary a one. So for me, looking at the photos of old Disneyland in Werner's Yesterland, is like having the family photo album I never got.

1969 Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland
The Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland
rounds Cascade Peak back in 1969 Frontierland.
(Note that a few of the shots used today have been
color-corrected for this article, you can see these
photos in their current state on the Yesterland site.)

Again I started wondering, just where did Werner get his great old Disneyland photographs? Was he digging through estate sales a la Charles Phoenix or did he have a vast archive of family shots?

"At the beginning, I had only my own color slides. Yesterland would have remained a small, very incomplete glimpse at the Disneyland of yesterday if it hadn't been for the thoughtful Yesterland visitors who sent additional pictures to me. I've never calculated the exact percentage, but the vast majority of the pictures at Yesterland are there thanks to the generous contributions of pictures."

If you take a visit to Yesterland I guarantee you will have a grand time, but you may find that your favorite attraction of old isn't there and I asked Werner about this, "In some cases, I don't have photos. I doubt many people used flash bulbs to take pictures of the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea walkthrough. In other cases, I just haven't gotten around to it. I'm equally interested in adding attractions, parades, shows, restaurants, shops, and even things outside the park. I've been given fairly good pictures of Festival of Fools, taken with an early digital camera. Unfortunately, I only have a tiny, blurry picture of the Beauty and the Beast stage show at Disneyland. I really want to add those two shows."

This lead me to ask Werner about readers contributing photos to Yesterland. I know you MiceAge readers take tons of photos and who knows, one of you reading at this very moment may say, "Hey! I've got a dandy photo of that 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea walkthrough. You remember the giant squid? Scared me senseless every time I saw it, but I just couldn't stay away."

Here's what Werner wants you to know, "I welcome vintage amateur Disneyland and Disneyland Hotel photos. I would prefer to receive an e-mail first, so that we can work out the best way to convert the slides or prints to digital images. I'm looking for pictures of "retired" Disneyland features that are missing from Yesterland, as well as additional pictures to supplement or improve pictures that are currently on Yesterland."

Remember when Tomorrowland used to be "a world in motion"?

Of special interest to Werner is Tomorrowland, "I would like to fill in the many holes in Yesterland's Tomorrowland. Anyone who goes to "Other Tomorrowland Attractions" at the site will see that I am missing over a dozen Tomorrowland attractions. I can use exterior photos, and pictures of signs." In addition to all the Disneyland photos, Werner plans on adding attractions, shows, and restaurants from Disney's California Adventure, "For such a young park, there's already a surprisingly long list of potential Yester California Adventure pages."

Everybody's been abuzz lately about potential changes to Tom Sawyer's Island. I myself, am on the fence about it. I'd kind of hate to see Tom, Huck, and Becky evicted from the isle, but at the same time, change can be good and rather exciting so pirates taking over could be lots, and lots of fun, if, and this is a big if, it is well done. If it's not going to be "E" ticket all the way, then blah... fix up Tom, Huck, and Becky's home and keep out the pirates.

So I asked Werner about his thoughts on adding Tom Sawyer's Island to Yesterland, "I loved Tom Sawyer Island when I was a kid, and my kids loved it ten years ago when they were little. I'd be happy if they just fixed up Tom Sawyer Island without adding pirates. That doesn't mean I don't want to see anything change at Disneyland. I like seeing things change. Yesterland is about change, not about wanting to live in the past. I'm just not convinced that Caribbean pirates on the island in the middle of Frontierland's Rivers of America would be a good change."

By now, I expect you are itching to leave me (how could you Dear Readers?) and go have a look at that fine imaginary theme park of old attractions, Yesterland. But don't leave me just yet. I think you'd like to hear where Werner would go if he could get Mr. Peabody to set his Wayback Machine for a trip to Disneyland past. Unlike me, who would head straight for the Flying Saucers and ride till I literally got kicked out of Disneyland, Werner has grander plans.

Werner Weiss
Werner on a more recent visit, in front of an attraction
that will most likely never open in Yesterland.

The year would be 1966. "...just before Tomorrowland was walled off for its transformation into New Tomorrowland of 1967. I would start at the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland in Frontierland, after which I would catch the original Golden Horseshoe Revue. My next stop would be the brand new New Orleans Square, a land without any rides. I would devote most of the day to the old Tomorrowland, where I would tour the House of the Future, spend an "E" ticket for the Flying Saucers, walk through 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and see everything that would soon go to the Disneyland dumpsters. I would finish with a Polynesian dinner show at the Tahitian Terrace, where I might order the complete Broiled Teriyaki Steak dinner for $3.25.

Do you think anyone in 1966 would notice if I were taking hundreds of pictures with my digital camera?"

I doubt it, Werner. They'd be too busy having the time of their lives.

Oh Mr. Peabody ... have Sherman hold that door won't you? I think I'd like to come along.

Editor's Note: It is with the greatest of pleasures we welcome Werner and Yesterland to the MiceAge/MiceChat family. Without his kind encouragement and sage advice way back when at the start of the web, I would have never built my first site, the D-I-G (Disneyland Information Guide), which eventually led to MiceAge.

As Sue has mentioned above, Werner will now be updating Yesterland more often to refresh the site for past visitors and help introduce new readers to its many charms. Plus as his time permits, he will make Guest Columnist appearances here on MiceAge whenever he has something other than Yesterland he wants to write about. His concise, elegant and witty prose make his articles a real pleasure to read.

As Werner likes to say: "Walt Disney once said Disneyland will never be completed so long as there is imagination left in the world. To that I add that Yesterland will never be finished so long as Disneyland keeps closing attractions."

Something tells me Werner is going to be very busy at Yesterland over the next few years, and who knows, for the first time ever we may even get to see a few Yesterland attractions close too. - Al Lutz

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Sue Kruse may be e-mailed at her address, [email protected] - Please keep in mind due to the volume of e-mail she gets, she may not be able to respond to each note personally.

2006 Sue Kruse

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