Friday, May 30, 2008

Swiss Family Treehouse

I remember when a Swiss family tried to move into the olive tree in my parent's front yard. For about two weeks, my mom had to chase them away with a broom each evening until they finally got the message. Those nutty Swiss!

Disneyland welcomed their Swiss family with open arms when the attraction opened in November 1962. While I'm sure that the construction of the tree itself was a major undertaking (just look at all those leaves!), this is one of those attractions that was simple and encouraged the use of your imagination. It was as if the family had just stepped out for a bit, and you got to snoop around their multi-level home. I can still hear the "Swisskapolka" and the sound of the water splashing (and the sound of people stomping up the steps). Even now I want a treehouse like that!

The ingenious system of waterwheels, pulleys and wooden troughs that brought water to every level of the treehouse always fascinated me; it's like a wet version of "The Tower of the Four Winds", with all of the pinwheels and whirligigs. Did Rollie Crump have a significant role in its design?

Now is as good a time as any to share a photo of my Swiss Family Treehouse attraction poster! This one's a beauty, with its tropical oranges and pinks. Only five colored inks were used (along with the white of the paper), all to a stunning effect.


Unknown said...

Major, this poster is one of the very best, in my opinion, and the attraction itself doesn't receive nearly the amount of respect that it deserves. I can only imagine how great this was when it first opened in light of that point in time.

I love your question about whether or not Rolly worked on this; I know he worked on the Adventureland Bazaar area. Looking forward to seeing if your readers know more. Anyway - Swisskapolka!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Great picture, WOWIE on the Poster! That is a beauty! Lets pretend the Swiss Family still lives there......

spajadigit said...

That poster is so cool. I love the colors.

John Rozum said...

I noticed on a recent visit to WDW, that the Swiss Family Treehouse there, also impressively covered with, what is it 80,000 plastic leaves, that none of the leaves are actually within reach of human hands. This amazed me as much as the notion of the physical albor involved in affixing all of those leaves. Someone actually designed the tree so that visitors would not be tempted into taking home souvenirs.

Is this the same case at Disneyland, or do you thing the WDW tree was designed after a rash of leaf taking at Disneyland?

outsidetheberm said...

As a kid, those leaves were certainly within reach - and many were missing. Couldn't tell you what it's like today, rozum.

Sure miss the Swiss family version, though!

Mike said...

Worked many a shift at Treehouse turnstile. My favorite Disneyland water feature is the stream that runs through the faux-volcanic rock and foliage at the base of the Treehouse waterwheel. It splashed along and around the corner toward the Jungle Cruise in the days before Indiana Jones. It is still a fabulous feature, if one can possibly forgive the "Tarzanification" of this once beloved attraction. Aarrrggh!

The poster is classic and has always been among my favorites. It pairs well with the classic Jungle Cruise attraction poster, to say the least.

Excellent work! Love your blog!

Mike Kelly (

Connie Moreno said...

I remember when a Swiss family tried to move into the olive tree in my parent's front yard." Oh my gawd, you crack me up!

I happen to own TWO leaves from the treehouse. I was lucky enough to catch them as they were being thrown from a stage by Bruce Gordon and Dave Mumford!!!