Monday, November 8, 2021

Tomorroland Terrace and Pirate's World - 1969

50 years ago, I was lucky enough to see the Stone Poneys at the Tomorrowland Terrace in Disneyland. Tomorrowland has always been problematic for Disney, the past of Frontierland or Main Street USA doesn't change; it's a different story trying to keep up with the future, but 1967's remodeled version of Tomorrowland was the perfect construct and vision of what the world would become. The buildings rose in a clean white symmetry and featured murals by Small World artist, Mary Blair. Across from the Carousel of Progress and America the Beautiful, the Tomorrowland Terrace would rise out of the ground with the band already playing; what had been a futuristic garden became a stage in the round. The Stone Poneys featured Linda Ronstadt and members of what would become the Eagles: Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Randy Meisner. Linda was like a 60s poster child in a miniskirt and bare feet and of course, the finale was Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum." It was probably the first time I was ever in love. The Happiest Place on Earth featured a mix of musical styles from Harry James and John Denver to 80s quirky post-punk band Sparks.

But while Disneyland could boast an eclectic selection of musical genres, it was an obscure theme park in Dania, Florida that would host some of the 60's best new bands. That theme park was Pirates World which opened in 1967 without really much of a theme, the pirate motif not fully realized. Still, there were great rides including the reconstructed Steeple Chase from Coney Island and a sky tower from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The big attraction though was the summer concert series. Led Zeppelin played there twice; once in 1969 and once in 1971. 1970 had Iron Butterfly, Faces with Rod Stewart, the Grateful Dead, Traffic, Black Sabbath, Blood Sweat and Tears, Deep Purple with both Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan and Johnny Winter would record his album Live Johnny Winter in 1970 with a release date in 1971. 

Grateful Dead
Jethro Tull, Grand Funk, The Steve Miller Band, the Moody Blues and Three Dog Night all played in 1971, David Bowie in 1972 along with Santana, and in 1973, Pirate's World hosted Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys. By 1973 Pirates World was experiencing hard times, with the concert venue being its only real success; it seems, up the road, a little place called Disney World had opened in 1971. Nonetheless, before the amusement park closed in 1976, the venue would feature Chicago, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Leon Russell, Badfinger, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It sounds like a list from the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden; nope, little old Pirate's World.

1 comment:

  1. I had been searching Linda's and the Stone Poneys concert lists and history and had about come to the conclusion they had not appeared at Disneyland on June 13, high school grad night...but perhaps a few faded memories were not just a dream! I was even starting to doubt a couple of old classmates. Thanks for the very helpful and interesting article.