As much as society has changed, there used to be a time when smoking was much more common (In fact, even Walt himself was a smoker; and more often than not, he’d be seen with a cigarette in hand )…and the activity created lots of opportunities for businesses to promote themselves.
Although smoking is not for me, I DO appreciate the gorgeous matchbooks that used to be distributed throughout the Disney Parks.
Nearly every single dining establishment, store, “land,” hotel and lounge had its own matchbook — free souvenirs to visiting guests. I’ve recently stumbled upon (and won) some online auctions for vintage Disney Parks matchbook collections. I am completely obsessed with their coolness.
The matchbooks I’ve received include everything from early early Disneyland to Disneyland Paris, to Epcot and Pleasure Island in Walt Disney World. It was so much fun to go through them and sort out the restaurants and lounges to share here on the blog.
Vintage Disneyland Matchbooks
Because there are so many, this will be a three part series divided into Disneyland, Epcot and “Other.” Let’s start in Disneyland!
The Club 33 match book is one of the more recent matchbooks in the collection. Not sure that it would be considered vintage, but it’s still pretty awesome.
Years ago, personalized match books awaited you at your table when you dined at Club 33, but when a healthier trend started to spread, the matches were replaced mini pads of paper that looked exactly like a matchbook. This photo though, is an actual matchbook.
Plantation House and Red Wagon Inn
The other three matchbooks are much older. The one below features two restaurants, The Plantation House in Frontierland and the Red Wagon Inn on Main Street USA.
Both restaurants debuted at Disneyland’s grand opening and were operated by Swift Meats. The Plantation House served up fried chicken dinners for $1.70. Meals could be enjoyed on the patio of a plantation style home along the Rivers of America. The Plantation House closed in 1962 to make room for New Orleans Square.
The Red Wagon Inn was said to be Walt’s favorite restaurant at Disneyland. A lovely table service restaurant, The Red Wagon Inn was the most popular place to dine as well as the only restaurant in Disneyland to serve full course dinners. They also served breakfast and lunch.
The Red Wagon Inn housed the first cast member only dining room, which was dubbed the “Inn Between” because its location was “in between” Tomorrowland and Main Street.
In July of 1965, after the Swift Meats’ lease was up, the restaurant was converted to a buffet style counter service venue and reopened as the Plaza Inn, which faithfully serves up the best fried chicken in town! For more information on the Red Wagon Inn, check out this post on MousePlanet.
The Disneyland Hotel matchbook is very mid century modern looking. I love the gold and blue.
When the Disneyland Hotel first opened, its restaurants were run by “Gourmet.” There was an “affordable” coffee shop, the ‘Round the World Lounge, and the Gourmet Restaurant. There was also this fab Hotel Bar and the Top of the Park Lounge. In 1986 the Coffee Shop converted into the ultimate 80’s awesomeness of the Monorail Cafe.
Casa de Fritos
My absolute favorite book in this Disneyland collection is the Casa de Fritos matchbook. The artwork, colors, composition, and even the out of registration printing makes it so classic.
Originally located in what is now the New Orleans Square area, the popular restaurant, after two years of business, outgrew its space. In June of 1957 it had to be relocated to Frontierland in the space that currently houses Rancho del Zocalo.
The “Mexican” restaurant and I say that very loosely, served original menu items that included Frito Chili Pie (Fritos topped with chili and cheese) as well as a taco in a “Tacup” which was ground beef taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and sauce served in a fried corn corn dough “cup.” Other menu items included tamales (there was a Frito tamale!), chili and beans, Mexican rice, and a combination plate that went for a whopping $1.00!
It is also rumored that Doritos were actually invented at Casa de Fritos. Unused tortillas were cut up, fried, and seasoned. Due to their popularity locally, Doritos were released nationwide in 1966 and were the first tortilla chip on the market.
Another fun part of Casa de Fritos? Here you could meet the Frito Kid and buy a pack of Fritos from him for a nickel. Put in the nickel and out of the mine slides a bag of Fritos.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down one of Disneyland’s many memory lanes. Join me next time when I share Part 2 of this fun little series: Vintage Matchbooks of Epcot!
Do you have any vintage Disney Parks matchbooks stashed away from years ago?