Sunday, February 07, 2016

Treehouse & Skull, August 1963

Here are two more scans from very faded (or over-exposed) slides... these were so blown-out that it took a lot of fiddling to try to make them presentable.

But it was worth it, if only for this view of the Swiss Family Treehouse! I loved that thing so much as a kid (and as an adult). Like the Nemo subs, I suppose I'd rather have the current "Tarzan's Treehouse" than no treehouse at all. Besides the fantasy of the original Johann Wyss story (which is a classic adventure tale), I always loved that it felt as if the Robinson family had just stepped out to tend to their crops or fight pirates while we looked in on their living quarters.

And here's the wonderful Skull Rock, with waterfalls aplenty, and green tropical plants and vines to help make it feel like that feature had been there forever. Monstro is to our right, and the "V" of the Richfield Eagle's wings can be seen just above his forehead.


walterworld said...

Both shots were taken from non-typical angles which is always a plus.

Feels like you're 'backstage' at Skull Rock... Wonder if this was taken from a Skyway bucket or from Cap'n Hooks ship?

Thanks Major

Unknown said...

Cool angle on Skull Rock, indeed. Pictures of the rock usually make it seem like it was surrounded by rock-work and vegetation but you can see that it's mostly free-standing. Now I must go and compare this shot to every other shot of Skull Rock I can find on the Web. Be right back...

Nanook said...


One more vote for the Skull Rock image-! Definitely an unusual angle. 'Ol Skully isn't necessarily looking his best in this angle, but his lair is sparkling.

Thanks, Major.

Graffer said...

Whoever decided to remove the treehouse water wheel, buckets, & plumbing should be horse whipped. Yet another removal of an important kinetic focal point in the park. Every visit, I spent a lot of time examining the wheel, gear, ropes & counter-balance to see how the Swiss family did it - and even more time as an adult with an engineering degree.

K. Martinez said...

The Skull Rock shot is awesome! It shows how Disney Imagineers were masters at placing objects within the park and integrating them into their surrounding environments in such a compact way.

Wonderful Swiss Family Treehouse shot. I agree that there was something special about having the Swiss Family absent and you're on your own to explore their home. It allowed the imagination to work and fill in the blanks. The life size "animation character" figures in the tree house today just kill the whole idea of a "live-action" Adventureland. Thanks, Major.

Greffer, I agree! Disneyland seems to become more and more static as time passes.

TokyoMagic! said...

Graffer, can we extend the horse whipping to whoever marked Skull Rock for removal? I love this unusual angle....and notice the roped off area just below and to the left of Skull Rock. I wonder if that was the entrance to an electrical room for the waterfalls/pumps, etc.

MRaymond said...

It doesn't make sense to simply 'rope off' the access are to pumps. That wouldn't have stopped me when I was 8 years old. I wonder if the skull was open to visitors at some time in the past. I remember running around the skull but no specifics. Some vague memory remembers looking out the eyes.

Anonymous said...

Disneyland Facts No One Cares About #s 58, 311 & 117: There was a small (damp!) maintenance room with a themed wooded door located under the skull structure. It contained controllers for the lights, cart machines for the music and bird sound effects, pumps for the waterfalls as well as mops, buckets, ringers, brooms, barf dust (SaniSorb packets after Custodial stopped mixing up batches themselves in 1977), and cleaners utilized by what were then called Janitorial Busboys (think sweepers who swept, cleared tables and dumped trash at some food stands: Coke Terrace, Fritos, Golden/Hungry Bear, Tuna Boat, Space Bar, Plaza Gardens, River Belle, Fan 1 & 2 and a few more—but not French Market, Sara Lee, Coke Corner, Hills Bros., neither Sunkist location, etc.).

A rope (seen in the photo) was draped across the alcove where the door to the maintenance room was located whenever anybody thought to put it up. As there wasn’t any potential problem with customers walking up to the closed (but never locked) door, the rope was usually not in place. The busboys (women included, despite the name) kept a small (compared to the much larger carts sweepers pushed through the park while collecting trash) themed trash liner cart either in the alcove or near the walkway under Skull Rock. When the hard plastic trash liners couldn’t hold any more trash, the cart was pushed back though Fantasyland to the compactor behind Fan 1 and emptied there. There was also a red “treasure chest” seen in the photo used by the busboys (and Maintenance) for keeping frequently used items closer at hand.

One nice thing about working as a busboy at the Pirate Ship was getting a break from wearing whites (the only difference between the sweeper and busboy costumes were the bolo ties the busboys were required to wear). Busboys working Fritos, Golden/Hungry Bear (oh, those heavy boots!) and the Pirate Ship were issued themed outfits from Wardrobe for those days. Sweepers could chose to wear RO raft costumes when they worked a full shift (it had to be a FULL shift) on the island… although most chose not to do so.

The other nice thing about working a Tuna Boat shift was access to the pool that collected recirculated water in the skull’s “mouth” before it flowed out through its “teeth.” Many a hot day, busboys (and some visiting sweepers) entered that small utility room and climbed up the rungs to sit and dangle their bare feet in the (chilly!) water during a break. The pumps and the tumbling water were pretty loud but the the seagull sound effects played through speakers in the skull’s mouth were louder still. Fun stuff.

Interesting? No.

True? You bet!

(And, no, the public was never allowed access inside the Skull Rock structure.)

K. Martinez said...

Anonymous, Thanks for more great stories of your days past as a Disneyland cast member. I'll never look at Skull Rock Cove the same way again!

Chuck said...

The Skull Rock photo brings back more memories that had been buried. I remember that rope and wishing I could get past it and into the rock. Sounds like it would have been cooler than I imagined.

Thanks again, Anonymous, for sharing your first-hand knowledge and stories. They're always appreciated ans never facts I don't care about. Does that mean I'm nobody? Hold on a minute while I have a brief existential crisis...

TokyoMagic! said...

Yes, thank you anonymous, for all that info. I love hearing those kind of DL facts. I had a feeling that it was an entrance to something like that. MRaymond, you can go inside of Disneyland Paris' Skull Rock. There are two for looking out of the eyes and a lower level for looking out of the mouth! The Paris version is much larger and more closely resembles the one from the film.

Nanook said...

@ Anonymous-

"Facts no one cares about-??!!" I think NOT-! It's doubtful those whose heads are all wrapped up in Frozen care about such things, but there are others who do - and many of them are here-! Keep 'em comin'-!

Major Pepperidge said...

walterworld, it is true, at this point anything different is very welcome! I’m pretty sure that the second photo was taken from the Pirate Ship.

Patrick Devlin, I didn’t really think about it, but you’re right, looking at Skull Rock from the other side does make it appear much more massive somehow.

Nanook, all the best skulls use Lux Grotto Wax to keep everything at its sparkling best.

Graffer, I honestly believe that more kids were fascinated by those waterworks than the Imagineers, um, er… imagined. I often skip the treehouse these days, or march through while barely pausing to look at the scenes.

K. Martinez, those sculpted figures are a fine example of how the folks that worked on Tarzan’s Treehouse did not trust the public to understand or enjoy the attraction without hitting them over the head. “How do they know it’s Tarzan’s treehouse if they never see Tarzan?”. Arg.

TokyoMagic!, seeing Skull rock, especially at night, is one of my fondest memories of visits to Disneyland. As a kid, it was sort of scary, and yet so COOL. I always wished I could live in the room inside the skull (though I’m sure it was much smaller than I thought), with its green glowing light. Then I could sneak out and explore the park when everyone went home.

Anonymous, THANKS for more fantastic insider info! I could read that stuff all day. So it certainly is interesting to ME.

K. Martinez, hear hear!

Chuck, I think that many boys (and possibly girls too) wanted access to the Skull… it would have been like the ultimate club house. Now that I think about it, they could have put a new Skull Rock on Tom Sawyer Island when they committed to a Pirate theme! Imagine seeing it reflected in the river at night. A lost opportunity.

TokyoMagic!, I know that the Disneyland Paris version of Skull Rock looks more like the one in the animated feature, and yet… I still love the Anaheim version the best.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I like Disneyland's Skull Rock over Paris' as well!

Sunday Night said...

Thank you Anonymous. Yours is just the sort of stuff we never get enough of here on GDB. Hope to see many more postings from you.

Nancy said...

Cool stories, Anonymous! I would love to have been working at Disneyland back in the day when it was fresh and more fun that is seems to be today. Too many good things have gone away.

Love the views, Major. Skull Rock looks so close to Monstro in this picture...I am also a big fan of the different than the norm. :-)

Anonymous said...

What Graffer said, and also what everybody said to Anonymous. I remember that little door, but not the rope. Always wanted to know what was back there, now I know.

Thank you all so much for sharing your memories.