Wednesday, February 15, 2012

World's Fair Sky Ride, October 1964

I love Skyways, Sky Rides, Skyfaris, Astroways, and all of the other related gondola-lift attractions that used to be so common at amusement parks in the USA. Many of them have gone away over the years, unfortunately. It makes me sad to think that my niece and nephew may never get to ride in one!

Anyway, today we can enjoy a look at the New York World's Fair's "Swiss Sky Ride". Built by the Von Roll company (the same company that built Disneyland's Skyway), the Sky Ride ferried guests between the Swiss and Korean pavilions.

The Sky Ride took about four minutes to get from one station to the next, and lifted passengers 113 feet in the air at the highest point (about twice as high as Disneyland's Skyway). A vehicle left the station about every 14 seconds.

See? You were way up there! And what a view. If you look carefully you can see the Tower of the Four Winds in the distance, with the Eastman Kodak building to the right. The bumpy building in the foreground is the pavilion for the country of Jordan.


Nancy said...

beautiful! the first shot makes me think i am somewhere in Europe with all those lovely stone buildings. you would never guess this is New York City.

as for riding high in the sky, when you see the view from here it looks like they paid as much attention to the detail one would see here. I dont remember those polka dots..very cool!

thanks for more great pics of the Fair ;-)

Bill Cotter said...

The Swiss Sky Ride was unusual in that there were two sets of cars, one on each side of the pylon. Think of it as two rides running side-by-side. On slow days they would use only one set of cables, then step up to both when things got busy.

After the Fair ended the ride was moved to Great Adventure in NJ.

Major Pepperidge said...

Bill, cool info! Freedomland also had the double sky ride arrangement. I can only assume that Great Adventure in New Jersey no longer has a Sky Ride? Internet to the rescue!

Rick West said...

Very interesting that the bucket design looks very similar to the later version of the Disneyland Skyway vehicles. I would imagine Walt's peeps saw these at the Fair and said, "Hmmmm... we needs us some of them!"

Have never seen images of this skyway ride; thanks for sharing! Very cool!

Major Pepperidge said...

Bill (again), it looks like Great Adventure does still have its sky ride! Amazing.

Rick, you are right; I would imagine that Walt and his Imagineers liked the increased capacity of the rectangular vehicles; the old buckets looked as if two people was the maximum, unless folks were willing to get very cozy.

GAcoaster said...

I actually have one of the Skyride cars sitting in my garage. I purchased it on eBay from a guy in Jackson, NJ who got it from Great Adventure when they replaced the original NYWF cars with newer cars they got from Six Flags Great America when that park removed their Skyrides (they had two).

The cars were unique because they were fitted with battery packs which powered a pair of space age style lights on the top.

After the NYWF, the Skyride was sold to a company in Canada but because of customs problems was detained in upstate New York and was eventually sold to Great Adventure in 1974. We believe that the towers used at Great Adventure were from Freedomland in the Bronx.

I am also co-owner of and co-author of the book "Images of America: Six Flags Great Adventure" as well as being a huge NYWF fan and I've done quite a bit of research on the Skyride (though not much concrete info exists). Here's a link to our page on the Skyride at Great Adventure:

Douglas McEwan said...

The old curcular Disneyland buckets had two seats. Not a bench, two seperate bucket seats. I remember sitting in one while my brother rode across on our dad's lap. Two was capacity and three was a crowd. Four people in your party? Forget it.

It's been 47 years since I rode the New York World's Fair Skyway. Thanks for bringing it back to me again.

I wish I knew exactly when Disneyland switched from the round 2-seaters to the rectangular 4-seaters. Anybody out there know? I have a Sam McKee Disneyland wallmap from 1966, which has most of "New Tomorrowland" on it as "Future Attractions" (While retaining the "Clock of the World," which went bye-bye with New Tomorrowland, and also including Space Mountain - very early design - 12 years before it opened.), and the skyway still has the round buckets on it.

My brother was injured on the Disneyland Skyway once. His hand was on the outside bumper when it hit the next bucket in the station, and made a DEEP cut between his second and third finger. We did not sue, as it was clearly my brother's fault for ignoring the "Keep your arms and legs inside at all times" warning he knew by heart, and the Disneyland First-Aid was very thorough and efficient and concerned.

My mother served on a jury in a lawsuit by a woman against Disneyland once for an injury she allegedly received on the Skyway. Mother and her jury found for Disneyland, after learning that the woman had made similar lawsuits for the identical injury, against Knott's Berry Farm and against Magic Mountain. If POP or Marineland had still been open, she probably would have sued them too.

I always wondered what the hell the lawyers were doing during Voir Dire that they did not discover they had a juror on a Skyway injury case who had a son who had been injured, for real in his case, on the same ride.

I miss the Skyway, not just for the view; it was the best place to smoke a quick joint, as long as you kept it hidden while passing through the Materhorn, where you were on camera. (It always amazes me how few people realize while on Disneyland rides that someone is watching them on camera at almost all times.)

Robert vonrollskyway1 said...

Very nice pics of there Vonroll top drive...These gondolas that are shown here were made by Gangloff.In 1964,Vonroll made there hangar arms especially for the 4 passenger gondolas.These hangar arms set the standard for all Vonroll Type 101s that were 4 passenger rides.There are differences between the 2 passenger vonroll's and the 4 passenger.Still,in the USA there are 11 such Vonroll Skyrides to enjoy.Oldest one is at Cedar Point.It was built in 1962 .That ride is a carbon copy of the 1956 vonroll vr101 that was at Disneyland.The cost of maintaining these old rides is very high,But all that are still running are very well maintained and are loved in the parks/zoo they operate.

Major Pepperidge said...

GAcoaster, very cool that you have one of the original gondolas from the NYWF! I'll have to check, but I almost think that Disneyland's old buckets had red lights on top of each car. Amazing that it took 10 years to get from the fair to Georgia. And yes, the towers look the same as the ones at Freedomland! Thanks for the info, and I look forward to checking out your web page.

Douglas, for some reason I always thought it was a bench-type seat in the old buckets. I think I have photos from 1965 with the rectangular buckets, so I think the switch was made sometime that year. I'll have to double-check though. As for lawsuits, it's no surprise with any big company. You probably read about a woman (years ago) who claimed that one of the three little pigs fondled her breasts, when in fact the arms hang useless on those costumes.

Robert, you sure know your Skyrides! Only 11 left in the USA, which is a shame. Such a simple concept, and yet I loved the one at Disneyland. Wish I could ride the Cedar Point example, since it is just like Disneyland's!

Rick West said...

GREAT stories and comments here - this is one of my MUST-reads each day when I come in to work. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

A friend of mine who was the foreman for the Matterhorn climbers said they'd hang out on one of the ledges above the Skyway holes through the mountain. Very often, couples would be engaged in naughty things and the Cast Members would offer a very friendly, "Hello! Enjoy the rest of your day here at Disneyland!" from above! :)

robert vonrollskyway1 said...

As for knowing my Vonroll Skyride yes i do..If you want to know anything about the Disneyland Skyway,Ill be glad to give out any info..Like the Gondola switch in june 1965.It was more that a gondola switch.The Skyway had alot done to her for the switch to 4 passenger cars..!/groups/115004863923/ If you want to know more about the Vonroll Skyrides.I also build working scale models of the classic vonroll skyrides..

Lisa Plumlee said...

Please forgive my lateness in commenting, but I just found your blog. And a wonderful blog it is. It isn't too late for your niece and nephew, the San Diego Zoo still has their Skyfari (sp) ride. Although it can never compare to the one in Disneyland, it is still a Sky Ride.