Friday, September 14, 2007

Ford's "Magic Skyway", 1964

The Ford exhibit was one of the highlights of the 1964/65 New York World's Fair, due in large part to Walt Disney's "Magic Skyway". "Seated in late-model Fords, visitors are carried along a track on the rotunda's exterior for a sweeping view of the Fair, then on to the spectacular scenes in the main exhibit hall."

Here's a quote from the VIP souvenir book: "Bringing the prehistoric world to "life" was achieved by Mr. Disney and his WED Enterprises staff by developing a remarkable technique called "Audio-Animatronics" -- animation powered by sound and controlled by electronics. Movements and sounds of the cavemen and animals are programmed onto magnetic tape. As the tape sends signals into a caveman's body, for example, each sound impulse triggers an air valve, shooting highly compressed air through plastic tubes connected to an intricate system of springs and levers that act like muscles, thereby controlling actual movements.

One final touch of realism. The chemically processed "skin" of the cavemen has the touch of human skin, "perspires" as a human and even "bruises!"

Back to me again! The plastic skin "perspires" and "bruises"? I'm sorry I never got to see these sweaty, contused cavemen in person.


This next scene is reminiscent of the one that you still view from the Disneyland Railroad as you pass through the "Primeval World" segment. The World's Fair version is tropical, while Disneyland's shows a land that has turned into a vast desert (much like the scenes from Fantasia's "Rite of Spring"). These dinos look pretty crude, even compared to the ones at Disneyland that barely move (or don't move at all, in my recent experience).

8 comments:

Kevin Kidney said...

Great, great, great stuff today!! The Magic Skyway is one of the rides I'd love to have experienced, as I'm sure we all agree!

Just wanted to note that the reason the dinos look crude is that this is the miniature model, not the full-scale final sets. I have seen other images of this intricate model built by Claude Coates, I believe (Chris Merritt, would you confirm??)

Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin- big fan of the stuff you did for Disney in the last coupla years...genius stuff. Gonna start your own blog soon? Hope so!

Major Pepperidge; Thanks for feeding our Magic Kingdom addiction for so long and so well! Between you and Matterhorn1959, you've basically posted the best coffee table book on the park that would never have been able to be published! Who said we would never live long enough to see a time machine in our lifetime? It's called the internet. Welcome to Tommorrowland!

Major Pepperidge said...

Thank you for your nice comments, anonymous! Knowing that people appreciate the work makes it less of a chore. Please check out Daveland's blog (see my links) if you haven't already.

And Kevin (if I can call you that), I would assume that this is a photo from the actual ride judging from the flash...was there a model on display at the fair?

Chris Merritt said...

Wow! Love Magic Skyway - would have loved to ridden it...

Kevin - I think shot number 2 is the attraction - the model shots I've seen dont have such detail in the background mural. I think what is throwing you is the obvious "plastic-ness" of the artificial foliage - even though those dinos do look cruder than some of the others... Also, take into account the fact that PJ & the two "daves" blogs are all guest taken slides for the most part - how could they have had access to the model, which probably remained here in Glendale... Dave E - was shot # 2 from the same series as #1?

Davelandweb said...

Major - Thanks for the plug - keeps me from feeling like Jan Brady! Nice slides - model or not, they are very cool to see.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chris, yes the two photos are from the same lot. I have a few other Magic Skyway photos from this person, I'll post them one of these days!

Kevin Kidney said...

Hi guys! I'm finally able to rejoin the conversation!
Thank you for jumping in Chris. I trust you're right about #2 being the attraction, though if I squint I can make my perception flip back and forth between it looking full-size and itty-bitty. Weird! I'm probably fooled by the flashbulb picking up the handmade-looking trees and blotchy painting of the rocks. Nevertheless, these are wonderful shots! I'm utterly amazed! Anonymous is certainly right about the blogs the three of you do. They add up to a terrific 'time machine' that I thrill to travel in everyday!
-Kevin

Clinton said...

I rode on the Magic Skyway. Don't worry too much about not seeing the cavemen. Everything went by very fast (well, at least it seemed that way to this young fair-goer).