Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Swiss Family Treehouse, June 1963

In November 1962, the wonderful Swiss Family Treehouse made its debut. It was a welcome addition to Adventureland, which only had two attractions at that point (and I'm including the Safari Shooting Gallery, which also opened in 1962). I always looked forward to climbing those stairs and looking in at the various furnished rooms (it was as if the family had just stepped out for Chinese food), watching the network of pulleys, wheels, and troughs that carried water to the upper levels of the tree, and enjoying the elevated perspective.

Here's a murky late-afternoon shot of the Treehouse...

And here's a nice interior of one of the rooms. That photogenic little girl is watching water stream into the wooden cask, where it could be dispensed into the giant clam/washbasin. I can only assume that the hairbrush and comb must have been nailed down, because monkeys have a habit of pilfering things that don't belong to them.


Anonymous said...

The girl's expression says a lot about what's wonderful about the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Still amazes me it's "real."

Yes... The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Not the plastic cartoon figure treehouse, but one for peeps like... you and me. Gosh!

Katella Gate said...

Personally, I think the most brilliant thing about the old tree house is the concept of the attraction can be completely detached from the story of the movie and still work.

You don't need to know about the Robinsons, the pirates, or any other aspect of the movie's story whatsoever... all you needed to know is they were shipwrecked and they built this tree house.

So many of the Eisner-era attractions are badly flawed because of the "Story Edict": Every attraction must revolve around a linear story.

Aside from the fact that many attractions don't/can't tell a story in a meaningful way, it misses the entertainment value of the venue: You want to appeal directly to a person's emotional core.

As soon as you start in with the story angle, you have to deal with the rational aspects of the human mind, which invites analysis and blocks suspension of disbelief.

Major Pepperidge said...

Amen, Katella Gate!

And I totally agree with you too, Chiana!

I agree with everybody, hooray!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hopefully all the plastic animals will be pulled from the tree house if (or is it when?) the new Swiss Family remake if released.

Also, Claude Coats used to say that many Disneyland rides were about immersion into an environment via a series of well-crafted sets, not about story. For the Disney-style themed "attractions," I think that this is a far more useful way to conceptualize a successful attraction. Was there a traditional story in the original Pirates? No. Haunted Mansion? No. Small World? Space Mountain? Matterhorn? Sub Voyage? Well, maybe there were hints of a narrative in the Sub Voyage. But still the cool thing was being in the subs and taking in the environment.

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