Classic Hollywood: ‘Hollywood Home Movies: Disneyland’ is an E-ticket to the park’s past

Baby boomers with stardust memories of Disneyland often lament how the park has changed. Gone are the E-tickets, the Rocket to the Moon, the Skyway, the Submarine Voyage, the PeopleMover and the mule rides.

For a misty-eyed ride into that past, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is presenting “Hollywood Home Movies: Disneyland,” a sold-out show Saturday night, Oct. 24, at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Los Angeles.



For the record

3:02 p.m., Oct. 17: An earlier version of this post misstated the date of the “Hollywood Home Movies: Disneyland” show as Saturday. It will be presented Oct. 24. It also misspelled Lynne Kirste’s first name as Lynn.


Culled from the Academy Film Archive’s vast home movie collection, the featured clips include color footage from opening day, July 17, 1955; nominees for the foreign-language film Oscar (and Federico Fellini’s wife, actress Giulietta Masina) visiting the park in 1957; amateur home movie footage of families enjoying the Mad Tea Party, Dumbo and Jungle Cruise attractions; and even actor Steve McQueen and his family on a 1970 VIP tour for daughter Terry’s 10th birthday.

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Suzanne Lloyd, the granddaughter of comedic actor Harold Lloyd, also will be on hand to present 3-D photographs of Disneyland taken by the silent film great a week before the park’s opening.

The evening isn’t just a celebration of the park’s 60th anniversary but also a glimpse at how Disneyland “was a similar and yet distinct experience for all different kinds of people from all different places,” said Randy Haberkamp, the academy’s managing director for programming, education and preservation.

“Seeing real people in a particular year, you realize what people were wearing, the way people behaved in an amusement park,” Haberkamp said. “It does show the differences in culture over the decades and the difference in the attractions.”

The earliest footage in the program predates the opening of Disneyland by seven years. It’s from the Ward Kimball Collection donated by his son, animator John Kimball, who will be appearing at the event. Ward Kimball was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men group of core animators. The 1948 clips show Walt Disney enjoying miniature steam trains that inspired the creation of the park.

“That was a key year for the future of Disneyland and everything,” said John Kimball, who is featured in the footage as a little boy. “It was kind of a landmark year for big changes that were going to be taking place. My father had a railroad in our backyard in east San Gabriel. Walt would come out there, and they would run his train. It went from the back of the property to the front of the property, a distance of maybe 500 feet.”

The color footage of opening day shows just how unfinished the park was.

“They had about 15 rides on opening day,” said Lynne Kirste, the special collectors curator who selected the footage and will host the evening. “The trees are little. Now everything is manicured.”

A woman modeled a strapless bath suiting outside a store on Main Street. “They had a Cole of California bathing suit shop,” Kirste said. “They would never do that now. It’s too sexy.”

Fabulous footage from 1958 shows Guy Williams and the cast of Disney’s ABC series “Zorro” performing live for fans, and home movies shot between 1955 and 1959 capture appearances by the Mouseketeers and Bob-O the Clown.

Neile Adams, who was married to McQueen from 1956 to 1972, has donated home movies and more than 30 scrapbooks of her life with the actor. Adams’ movies are a kick to watch, not only for the outrageous clothing worn by the visitors but also for the joy on the faces of daughter Terry, son Chad McQueen and their friends as they enjoyed the VIP perks, such as not having to wait in lines. No one seems to recognize Steve McQueen — perhaps it’s his totally uncool hat — when he and Chad buy popcorn. But as soon as he sees the camera on him, he motions to Adams to stop filming.

“He was having a little hissy fit,” Adams said. “We were fighting. Eventually it was OK. For about an hour he wouldn’t speak to me.”

Harold Lloyd was great friends with Disney and used to go out with Walt, Suzanne Lloyd said. “They would dress up and go to costume parties and do crazy things.”

Harold Lloyd began shooting 3-D photographs in 1947. “He never shot anything but 3-D,” Suzanne said. “He felt it was so real.”

She recalled going to Disneyland with her grandfather, her governess and others on what she thought was a preview day. Her grandfather used his Stereo Realist camera to take stunning photographs of his granddaughter eating hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as the stage coach ride, the carousel and the trolley on Main Street. Stardust memories, indeed.


‘Hollywood Home Movies: Disneyland’

Where: Linwood Dunn Theater, Pickford Center, 1313 Vine St., Hollywood

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: The event is sold out, but there will be a standby line