Starting in the 1950s, amateur filmmaking became a popular passtime because 8mm cameras were small, fairly easy to use, and affordable. This is fortunate because it coincided with the opening of Disneyland in July 1955. Many people not only had cameras, they also had projectors, which made it desirable to sell professionally-produced films as souvenirs of a visit to the Magic Kingdom.
One of our interests is the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland. We are actively seeking copies of all images of this attraction as well as those which were adjacent to it in time and space, including the Stagecoaches, Pack Mules, Casa de Fritos/Mexicana restaurant, and the store called Mineral Hall.
A year or two ago we expanded our image hunting to include moving pictures, both professional and amateur which might include this attraction. One of our first acquisitions was an orange 8mm film produced by Hollywood Film Enterprises for Disney. Since then, we have obtained many others.
Most of these films are "regular" 8mm but some are "Super8", a format which was introduced by Kodak in April 1965. Doubtless for a time the same content was available in both formats. Super8 with a magnetic sound track was introduced in 1974.
Disneyland Full Color Home Movies (1956-1958)
The earliest professional film we have from Frontierland is a thick box in the traditional "Kodak gold" color. There is no date on the box but it has images of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train (opened June 1956) but nothing for the Columbia (opened June 1958) so it is likely that this film was from late-1956 or 1957. The film is on a silver pressed-metal reel. The reel is smaller than the ones used in the later Hollywood Enterprises editions but the box is the same width and height but is thicker.
This film opens with a drawing the Entrance to Frontierland and an animated gate which opens. Below is a list of the scenes shown in this film:
Hollywood Film Enterprises: Adventures in Disneyland U.S.A. (1960)
The next oldest film is from 1960. We arrived at this date because the new yellow Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland is shown at the Rainbow Ridge station but no guests are waiting to board and the train does not move. This would place it about April or May 1960 since this new ride opened in that latter month after its predecessor closed in October 1959. The Stagecoaches closed in September 1959 due to safety concerns. The film is on a red plastic reel.
This film opens with a simple title screen and a copyright message of 1960, which helps to cement the date along with the internal evidence of the attractions displayed. Below is a list of the scenes in this film:
Note: The light blue boxes have been seen in two sizes. The larger size (3.75") seems more common and contains more footage, obviously. The smaller box (3.00") is the size of the Super8 boxes. I will add this as a subformat when I have had a chance to compare the content of the large and small light blue box editions of Frontierland.
Hollywood Film Enterprises: Adventures in Disneyland U.S.A. (1961-66)
This next film is from between 1962 and 1966. Not a lot changed in Frontierland between 1960 and 1966 but the scenes in this film are quite different. The dates are estimated from a Tomorrowland film from the same format series which includes the Flying Saucers (opened in August 1961 and closed in September 1966) and the Spaceman K-7. The film is on a black plastic reel.
The film opens with an image of the orange box but no actual copyright date for reference. Below is the list of scenes:
Note: The orange boxes have been seen in two sizes. The larger size (3.75") seems more common and contains more footage, obviously. The smaller box (3.00") is the size of the Super8 boxes. I will add this as a subformat when I have had a chance to compare the content of the large and small orange box editions of Frontierland.
No. 103 Walt Disney Productions: Adventures in Disneyland U.S.A. (1970s)
Although the Super8 format was introduced in April 1965, this film is likely later. For one thing, the Pack Mules are not shown and they closed in 1973. The film is on a red plastic reel. The reel and box are smaller than the Hollywood Enterprises versions. The price sticker (from Disneyland) on this box showed a retail price of $5.95 plus $0.30 sales tax (5%). Our copy of this film has a significant red shift.
The film opens with an illustration of several Frontierland "posters" which are nicely drawn. The list of scenes follows:
We have other films in our collection, including ones from later time frames than the ones shown above. We would appreciate your feedback on this information, especially any new data you can provide. We are always interested to buy films of Disneyland we don't have or upgrade ones where our copies have a red-shift. Please send us an email.