Tuesday, February 25, 2020

River Construction From Huck

Our pal Huck has provided even more photos from a trip to the park in October 9, 1991. Today's images feature some of the drastic changes that took place along the Rivers of America when "Fantasmic!" was added. Poor Tom Sawyer Island would never be the same. 

Any idea where Huck was standing when he took these? Was it the queue for "Pirates"? Or the stairs up to the old Walt Disney Gallery? I could ask him but I'm too ashamed.

Of course the sleepy Old Mill that had been on the south end of TSI since 1956 had to go, and the too-large (and ugly) stage was built in its place. I assume the riverbed had to be deepened to add equipment for the fire effects, the water screens, and other marvels.

You can see vehicles and teensy hard-hatted people amongst the construction chaos. The green fence works its magic, in all the photos the guests are facing away from it ("Nothing to see here!"), except for the few in line for a treat from the ODV cart to our left.

Huck was nice enough to stitch all three images together! He's pretty dismissive of the results, but I think it looks quite good. And my own attempts looked much worse. 

Now we can really enjoy the appearance of the Granny in red (and her friend), who magically appears three times. Is she a witch?? She can bend time and space to her will.

MANY THANKS to Huck! There's more from him in a future post.


Nanook said...


Oh my. Ultimately such a sad sight. But in the name of "progress"...

Thanks, Huck.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Great job on the 'triptych' - though it's like we're at a wake ("viewing") for the funeral of a dear friend.

The young gal with the long brown hair should've appeared 3 times, too - but got eliminated in the middle shot. She must not've been as good at "bending time and space to her will," like the Granny. Obviously, the Granny had more experience.

Thank you, Major and Huck, for these unique photos!


Andrew said...

Oh, I can't wait to read these comments... ;)

Seriously, though, these shots are really interesting with their different perspective on a familiar subject.

DrGoat said...

All I can think of is what a wrong decision. That little cart of goodies is a poor substitute for those poor folk expecting to jump
on the Mark Twain. I used to know who illustrated that poster but
it's gone from my sensorium. I know you guys know.
Really interesting pics Major. (Lou & Sue already used the word unique). Thanks and a nice job of stitching them together.

Stefano said...

Poor Tom Sawyer Island is right ... the panorama reminds me of that 1963 National Geographic vista that even Disneyland used in its souvenir guides. That was the heyday: every element on the island open for pleasure, lawsuits be damned. Nearly 30 years later is this indignity, followed by the pirate infestation, and then the 2016 amputation...

I remember the original advertising blurb for Fantasmic was "Be there when the night ignites!", which had to be changed pronto as the show premiered shortly after the '92 LA riots.

Thank you Major, Huck, and all who have contributed images of the original TSI, the one piece of Disneyland mostly designed by Walt himself.

Anonymous said...

I usually enjoy construction photos, but not these.

They are good sound images and the panorama is nicely done, but the subject matter is too hard to look at.

Thanks Huck and Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I guess it’s obvious now, but at the time I had no idea how much the addition of Fantasmic would change the character of all of Frontierland.

Lou and Sue, Huck and I both noticed the pretty girl in the short skirt, but not because she should have shown up in the triptych!

Andrew, sounds like you are expecting some fireworks (no pun intended)!

DrGoat, I’m OK with construction walls generally - there has to be a way to add and change things at the park. Like Space Mountain! But as I said to Nanook, it’s a shame that Frontierland went from a beautiful place that I loved to be (especially at night) to a crowded place with a show that has become tired (obviously many people still love it somehow). It’s alright if you use the word “unique” too!

Stafano, I held out some hope that Tom Sawyer Island might get some fixes when the river was closed for the addition of “Galaxy’s Edge” and the rerouting of the railroad tracks, and while they did change things at the north end of the island, the public areas didn’t really change much. I thought that maybe, just maybe, they’d reopen Fort Wilderness. “Be there when the night ignites” rings a bell, I didn’t know the detail about the L.A. riots.

JG, I think the photos themselves are fascinating, it’s just a bummer that nearly 30 years later we are still stuck with the results of the drastic changes. If Fantasmic ever finally goes away, I assume that they will replace it with some other river show.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I'm just wondering if any of 'our' readers have ever worked on (or knew anybody who ever worked on) the re-designing or re-construction of any of the classic Disneyland attractions/areas. Am just curious how difficult it might be to do so, though I do understand that as an employee - you'd have no choice. (For example, the men working on the dry river, in these photos, had to find it fascinating work - but maybe not if they were sad to see it get torn up.)

Look at that poor Mark Twain, hiding way back in that corner.



LOU and SUE :
Most of the projects I’ve worked on were for entirely new parks or theme lands that didn’t affect any existing facilities to any great extent. Some however were difficult to work on knowing what would be the eventual outcome if the project go the green light . One was for Walt Disney World and it involved expanding their Frontierland and reconfiguring their Liberty Square. Both had some good elements but it whole it would have drastically altered what we know of these original themed areas. As the months past I was dreading how it was evolving. Luckily the project was halted when out-of-the-blue AVATARLAND was and a Frozen attraction for Epcot ( I had friends working on a new Viking attraction for Norway and they knew nothing about a Frozen project ) Country Bear Jamboree DID however suffer a show editing that was done to include sone new songs planned to be inserted into the original show and tie it in to the one of the new ( unbuilt) attractions. The longest song being the “Ballad of The Furfields & The McLaws”


LOU and SUE : as for Disneyland goes, some smaller projects like the Main Street “side street arcades” would have been wonderful had they been done they way they were designed - sadly Disneyland would not spend the money and they built the “cattle stock pens “ used today fir crowd control.
There have been dozens of New Tomorrowland projects in the last 10 years ( I was never on these projects) some were FANTASTIC others were “just shut Up don’t complain and be grateful for what remains” but the area that keeps getting attention is a New Fantasyland - the versions I worked on have been paused but it would have brought in some great new attractions and improvements but sadly would also see the loss of some greatly loved ones forever changing the feel of any original Fantasyland. With the recent work going on Snow White’s ( Formerly Scary) Adventures it would appear the New Fantasyland is not currently on the immediate Horizon.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Mike, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts about working on the various projects. I can't imagine how interesting your work day must be, at times, working on those different projects. Always love to hear what you have to share!

Though Disneyland has changed so much, over the years, I do still enjoy going there . . . and I try to ignore the newer "annoying" changes - and mainly focus on the really good stuff and what remains from the good ol' days.


Anonymous said...

Mike, let me chime in with Sue. Very much enjoy your stories. I learn so much reading them. Thanks for sharing with us.

Sue, as you say, there's always some little piece of a good memory still available. I'm working on making more when visiting with my kids.