Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Empty Lagoon, March 1961

Every once in a while, Disneyland's Submarine lagoon requires some maintenance. Water all by itself is tough, and the high chlorine content just adds to the fun. So... the water must be drained, and the old faded corals, seaweeds, shells, and critters need to be replaced or repainted. Like in the photo below!

Here's a similar angle taken just four months later.

As I've mentioned before, the lagoon was drained during one of my childhood visits to the park, and I was fascinated. It was a little glimpse "behind the magic", right out in the open for all to see. Especially from the Skyway! Just look at all that stuff.

And another view (this time from June 1960) from a similar angle - sort of - showing how it all looks when it's covered with turquoise water.


bloefeld said...

Beautiful group of photos, Major. I too remember seeing the sub lagoon drained as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Man, do I miss that ride! Don't even get me started on that whole Nemo thing.

Chuck said...

I love the low tide photos, especially the third one.

Note how the slightly depressed areas in the center are painted darker, which creates the illusion of greater depth when covered with a couple of feet of water. Model railroaders and other dioramists use a similar technique to fool the eye into thinking that flat expanse of plywood covered with paint and clear epoxy is actually a river or lake of varying depth.

Also note how the subs were painted black below the waterline, just like the big boys they were patterned after. Never noticed that detail before, but it's very clear to me now that I know to look for it in the second photo.

Additionally, to give you a sense of scale, there is a man standing next to the tracks in front of the cavernous opening to the show building. Since a third of it is normally filled with water and there's a waterfall in front of it, it's hard to see just how large it has to be to accomodate a sub.

On a related note, I've only been back to the Park once since the Nemo refit. I saw a recent photo taken from over by the Monorail station. Was the show building extended into the lagoon in front of the entrance?

Chuck said...

I just showed these pictures to my eight-year-old, who was utterly fascinated.

When I pointed out the man next to the tracks, he asked me "is that a worker or a civilian?"

Thufer said...

Those are really fascinating. In all of my trips to the park, I have never seen the 'pond' drained. In some respects I was lucky in that I always was able to venture into the world of 'liquid space.' On the negative side of that, I never was or have been able to see the sights you have shown us this morning.
Good post today...thanks.

TokyoMagic! said...

I remember seeing the lagoon drained during at least two different visits to the park. Does anyone know how often they had to do this kind of rehab?

Chuck, yes...the entrance to the caverns was extended out into the lagoon during the Nemo remodel.

Major Pepperidge said...

bloefeld, I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed in the Nemo refit. It's not something that bears repeat viewings.

Chuck, I had not noticed the use of dark areas to give the illusion of depth, but it's almost certain that the Imagineers did that on purpose! "Dioramists", that's a good word! Why are real subs black below the water line (sounds like the setup for a punchline)? And YES, the show building has been extended into the lagoon quite a bit. "...worker or civilian"; sounds like your kid is a real Army brat! ;-)

Thufer, the drained lagoon is definitely a "good news/bad news" situation. Kind of like when the Rivers of America is empty. Looks cool, but then there's no Mark Twain ride, no Columbia, no Tom Sawyer Island.

Chuck said...

@Major - military subs are painted in low-visibility colors to make them harder to see. Black is particularly good for blending in with deep water and when submerged, especially when viewed from above.

I've done a little more research on this since this morning's post, and apparently a lot of subs aren't/weren't black below the waterline but a reddish color of anti-fouling coating designed to discourage things like barnacles from growing on the hull. That said, it seems that many US subs during WWII actually were black below the waterline and on all horizontal surfaces in an effort to be as invisible as possible from enemy aircraft, so this paint scheme would have looked right to many naval veterans of the day.

"Dioramist" IS a good word, isn't it? I wonder if I can copyright it...

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

This attraction was less than two years old and already needed to be drained, I guess that chlorine really causes havoc!

When it was drained for the Nemo update it didn't look anything like your vintage pictures. I think they are using diffident materials now, it looked extremely fake in sun light, yet it looks pretty convincing underwater...

"Liquid Space" only at Disneyland!

JG said...

Notice how the exposed elements are all such "warm colors".

I bet they had to color everything more orange and red than would otherwise be the case since the water absorbs the reflected red color, everything would be only blue and violet to an observer otherwise.

Interesting observations about real subs and train sets, especially since that is really what this is...a life-sized submarine train set. Ha!

Major, thank you for these striking and educational pictures.


Connie Moreno said...

I can't think of anything intelligent to say so I'll just say what's on my mind. "Beautifully, magically gorgeous!"

Nancy said...

that is so cool ...

David said...

While I never got a chance to ride it before the ultra boring Nemo ride (and I agree, once was enough), I've always been fascinated with the behind the the scenes stuff.

And looking at these pictures, I'm reminded again how much those people movers are missed. I wish I could have rode them just once in my life.

Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, as VintageDisneylandTickets points out, they're doing it after only two years, so maybe they were on a 2 year schedule? Just a guess of course.

Chuck, did you make up "Dioramist"? I've never heard it before, but it sure sounds legit. I remember seeing submarines when I lived in Virginia (as a little kid), and was surprised at how big they were, since the Disneyland version was the only thing I had to compare them to.

VDT, I remember reading that they used crushed, colored glass in the new sub lagoon because (supposedly) those colors won't fade the way most other pigments do.

JG, I'm sure you are right about the use of warm colors. They had to overdo everything in reds and oranges. And you are welcome!

Connie, you said just the right thing.

Nancy, YEAH!

David, why you sound like some kind of whippersnapper! ;-) I agree, the Peoplemovers ARE missed, certainly by me anyway. Maybe, if we're lucky, they'll be back and you will be able to experience them for yourself.

Chuck said...

I'd never heard the word "dioramist" before either, but it just seemed to fit.

Unfortunately for my dreams of financial embiggening, it appears that "dioramist" is a perfectly cromulent word after all...