Thursday, February 21, 2019

Aboard a Keelboat - March 1977

Today I am posting a series of slide scans from the Mysterious Benefactor; the photographer was aboard a Keel Boat in 1977 (these photos were taken for possible publicity use), so the perspective is pretty unusual. I can only think of a single slide in my collection taken on a Keel Boat.

What do you call the guy who mans the controls? The rudder man? The pilot? The cap'n or skipper? I'm going to call him "Fred" until further notice. Fred is good at his job, and he likes it. 

Our fellow passengers are in all six photos - a nice lady with a camera who doesn't seem to ever take any pictures, and a young lady who may or may not be related. You decide. Camera Lady sports a rather plain badge that lets everyone know that she is a guest.

Whoa, this one got really dark. We can just barely see some rocks from Tom Sawyer Island, and the ghostly white shirt of a gentleman.

It's so strange to see the Hungry Bear restaurant in the distance, since it absent in so many hundreds of my own slides. I like eating there for its proximity to the river and the great views - or at least I used to. Any idea what that tags worn by the lady and the girl were for? Was it a sort of passport?

I've only heard a single live recording of a Keel Boat spiel, and the cap'n was pretty jokey on that occasion. I assume that this attraction was probably serious in the early days, and the jokes were added later, much like the Jungle Cruise.

I believe that Fred is pointing (with one finger!) toward the Friendly Indian Village at this point; other theories are welcome.

Oh man, we've rounded the bend, and now the sun is in our eyes. From this angle we can see the distant meese along the shore; he's in the water because meese breathe through gills. I learned that on Animal Planet. 

We miss you, Keel Boats!


  1. Major-

    I'm still in a state of shock over the 'single finger pointing'-!! So much so, I almost forgot to laugh at the knee-slapper 'ol "Fred" was telling as seen in the 4th image. Interesting the push-to-talk microphone required an extension cord - coiled, no less.

    Thanks, Major.

  2. If other theories are welcome, then I'll say he was pointing with a laser pointer. ;-)

    And gee, that girl can't make up her mind about whether she wants to wear her jacket, or not!

  3. Those do look like Passports of some kind but not your standard Magic Kingdom Club variety.

  4. The gentleman in the white shirt IS a ghost. Also, it's almost impossible to see the German U-Boat trailing the travelers, but it's there....oh yes, it's there.

  5. I'm going to call him 'Mike'! haha

    That is a great 'you are here' perspective, soon to be on a Starbucks mug near you. I like it. I was fortunate to ride the Keel boats. It was a C-coupon and more fun than the D-coupon mark Twain, as I recall.

    I miss them, too.

    Thanks Major and MB,


  6. I'm going to call him Howard Keel.

    I never bothered to ride the Keel Boats because, like the chump I am, I just assumed I'd always have a chance later. Chump. But the river still doesn't look quite right without them. Glad I got to see a little of what I missed.

    My high school French teacher had a necklace just like the camera lady's.

  7. I covet the photographer's wide-angle lens. These photos give you a real "you are there" feel. Except that I'm not there. Some would argue I'm not all here, either.

    The camera that the woman never uses is a Canon FT QL. My dad had one. Durable camera that took fantastic pictures - the 58mm f/1.2 lens took great low-light shots - but not durable enough to survive a fall from the top shelf of the hall closet onto a marble floor - twice.

    It's interesting to see a series of Disneyland promotional photos together in exposure order like this. From my background I know that shoots are done in series, with photo editors picking the best photos for use in what may be multiple, different publications, but I've never seen this with Disneyland photos before. It turns promotional photos into a visit record, more like well-composed family snapshots.

    Just a few nights ago, I leafed through the 1968 souvenir guide and the 1972 edition of Walt Disney's Disneyland back to back and noticed for the first time that there were examples of different photos from two different shoots that cropped up in both books. What's really interesting is that they show up in the same page or facing pages in both books.

    Stu, it's U-507 again.

  8. Unusual perspectives today. The Keel Boats are so cool, free floating rides that gave a whole different river experience. Adults, like camera lady are diggin' it as much as the kids. I wish we could read those badges, so we could know a little more about these riders. Where I live, meeses are our neighbors,and while Major is correct about the gill thing, they also enjoy sticking their heads into kitchen windows while you are doing the dishes. They then demand treats and if they don't get 'em, they break all your Corningwear. Thanks to Major and the MB for these great shots.

  9. Nanook, perhaps that CM was physically unable to do the two-finger point? The poor, brave little trooper! I’ve heard a single live recording of the old Keel Boat spiel, and the cast member laughed at his own jokes a LOT.

    TokyoMagic!, I just hope he didn’t point that genuine frontier laser pointer at any Frontier Airlines planes. Ha ha, I didn’t even notice the jacket, so… there ya go.

    Scott Lane, I think that the tags are being worn because of the Illuminati.

    Stuart Powley, I… I think I see the U-boat! Torpedo… LOS! (Apologies to Roy Lichtenstein).

    David Zacher… I get it! And that’s saying something. A “C” coupon, I guess that reflects on the less-than-fervent demand for a slow boat around the river.

    Melissa, now I imagine the pilot speaking (and singing) with a deep baritone, instead of the “Arnold Stang” I previously imagined.

    Chuck, I would never say that your not all there. I would think it, but never say it. Once again, your camera knowledge is impressive. I wish I had that lady’s photos, though she doesn’t seem to be taking many on this ride. Given the inconsistencies of the girl’s jacket (it’s on, now it’s not on), I probably got the order wrong. So much for putting together a post in a hurry. I was recently looking at a book called “A Visit to Disneyland” by Mabel Watts, and actually found one of the very same photos from our Mysterious Benefactor. I’ve been considering scanning the whole book (it’s pretty small) and posting it here.

  10. Chuck... argh, "you're", not "your"!! The ultimate faux pas

  11. It's OK, Major - I new what ewe meant.

  12. Just looked at my copy of A Visit to Disneyland and I found the photo of which you speak. That's pretty cool to have a higher-resolution scan of the original image.

    I think your gentle readers would get a kick out of a scan of that book.

  13. Anonymous11:03 AM

    I think I can see Gollum following on a floating log. Either Gollum, or an ewok.

    The ghost in white is a lucky fellow, he went to TSI after he died.

    These are interesting pictures,a fortunate find for us. Thank you Major.

    I am going to guess that photos 1 and 2 are in reverse order, since they show the same TSI rock, at different distances. If we are traveling away from the rock, which we must be doing, it will be further away in the later photo.

    Also, I believe the rock in question is the one with the overhang that was on the side of the island facing toward Cascade Peak. If this is correct, then pic 1 and 2 should be placed later in the sequence, with the following proposed order:

    Photo 3
    Photo 4
    Photo 5
    Photo 2
    Photo 1
    Photo 6

    This has the young lady's jacket off at the beginning (in the sun), then she puts in on as the boat passes into the shade at the northwest end of the river, then the boat comes back out into the sun as it passes the Friendly Village and the chomping moose, then the sun is in everyone's eyes at the end. The view of the village could only be taken almost exactly opposite Cascade Peak due to the bend in the river. The sun is coming over the narrow neck of TSI where there aren't many trees.

    The Keel Boat was a favorite. Riding on top was the best since the views were constrained by the windows down below. For some odd reason, I remember the keyed microphone and the long cord. I had forgotten the ticket value was less, more fun and a better value.

    Major, you posted a picture a while back with a good image of the roof deck speaker, an octagonal shape that looked vaguely like a tom-tom. Before GPS too.

    Thanks for a brain-teaser, and for letting me speculate.


  14. Melissa and Major, HA, HA!....Howard Keel and Frontier Airlines!

    Major, I don't know if I've shared this with you before, but here is footage of the entire Keel Boat trip that I shot back in 1996. How can that be over 20 years ago now!?!? The Keel Boats at Disneyland (Full Ride) - 1996

  15. Lady boat operators would be Ruby Keelers, of course.

    (Thanks for that video, TM! I woke the cat up chuckling at "Uncle Jeb's housewarming party.")

  16. Dean Finder5:28 PM

    At first, I though they may be been some dignitaries because there is a patch with the Presidential seal on the sleeve of the person at bottom right of the first photo.
    Though it appears that's another kid, so I'm guessing that's the Presidential Physical Fitness patch. I suppose he could do pull ups from the Peoplemover track pretty well.

  17. Chuck, being the greedy bastard that I am, I hoped to find even more photos in that book that were also from the MB. No such luck!

    JG, your list looks pretty spot-on. Maybe you should be doing this blog! ;-) You definitely spent more time analyzing the background than I did. It would have been great to experience those familiar river views from the open-topped Keel Boat (I agree, why would anyone want to be in the lower level?). I wonder if they ever had a pre-recorded speil, like the Mark Twain, or if it was always done by the pilot? Meanwhile, I remember the exact photo you are referring to, that’s the only other one of my photos I can think of that was taken aboard a Keel Boat.

    TokyoMagic!, I don’t remember seeing that video before, it’s great! But oh man, that guy’s laugh… I’m starting to wonder if the audio that I heard years ago was ripped from your video, because the laughing sounds just exactly the way I remember it. It’s great to see the burning cabin, and teeter-totter rock, and Cascade Peak among other sights. Thanks!

    Melissa, I imagine Ruby Keeler piloting a Keel Boat, dressed exactly as she was when singing “42nd Street”.

    Dean Finder, maybe they are visiting Russkies! All they are thinking about is their next bowl of borscht. I’m looking and looking for the Presidential seal, but for some reason I’m not spotting it.

  18. Major, that audio you heard could have very well been ripped from my video. I recorded the background music that blared out of the rocks in the Skull Rock Cove area, back in 1981. I then shared it with just one person back in the nineties. Today, it appears to be circulating around on the internet. I can tell that it's my recording, from the random voices of guests in the background. But I know that you are all too familiar with the "borrowing" and "sharing" that takes place on the internet.

    I was actually contacted by a guy that wanted to extract and use my Keel Boat footage that I posted on YouTube. He was making his own "Frontierland History" DVD to sell at conventions and asked for permission to include my footage. I figured that I could say no, but I really couldn't stop him from going ahead and doing it anyway, so I said okay, but asked if he could give me credit somewhere on the DVD. He said if I came to the convention in Anaheim, he'd give me a copy of his DVD, but I couldn't get over there that particular weekend. Now if only I had the software to place a watermark right across the middle of my videos. ;-)

    Melissa, and I'm imagining Ruby Keeler tap dancing precariously on one of the benches on top of the Keel Boat!

  19. I remember riding on the lower level twice. It was fun as a kid (I loved the picture of Abraham Lincoln taking a keelboat over the falls of the Sangamon), but kind of confining as an adult. After an upper-level ride or two as an adult, I agree that the upper deck was the better option. I feel the same way when I ride stagecoaches. And elephants.

  20. Chuck, and Tauntauns? (Refer to Melissa's GDB comment from 2-10-19!)

  21. Anonymous9:47 AM

    I keep looking at the CM wondering who he is. I'll try a screen capture and share it with those who worked the attraction at that time. KS

  22. Major P. -- what great photos of old-timers at the Mouse Club. Thanks for all who had a part of sharing these. Wow.