Friday, July 18, 2014

Two Beauties for Friday!

Today I have two especially nice photos for you! Because it's Friday, don'tcha know. 

I love this September 1975 shot from the Tahitian Terrace, with musicians and performers on stage in front of a very convincing (but fake) tree. The TT must have been one of the best places to work! Awesome music, pretty hula girls, handsome fire dancers twirling flaming torches, and Polynesian-themed food. It all lasted until 1993, which means it's been gone for over 20 years. Phooey.

And from September 1963 we get this picture of the Flying Saucer attraction. I never get tired of seeing it! Check out the kid to our right… he is using all of his efforts to maneuver his saucer, for evil purposes I'm sure. The "flying tires" ride at DCA looks like a larger and dumber version of the problematic saucers - it seems that the "giant air hockey table" idea just isn't practical for an amusement park, even in 2014.


Nanook said...


I wish I could remember more of the details when I dined at the Tahitian Terrace, probably around 1963 or 64. Thanks to our host - a well-placed Disney executive - he arranged for my dad to be "randomly" pulled from the audience to accompany the 'pretty hula girls' up on stage. (Sorry, no pics to mark the occasion).

And as for our 'leaning space cadet', he's merely attempting the little-known levitation technique by applying some dance moves from The Twist. Yes, it too was a complete failure. Damn, those Flying Saucers-!

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

What was the load arrangement for the Flying Saucers? In this photo, it looks like there was some sort of loading dock where saucers were lined up, but I;m not sure how that would have worked with the ride.

Nancy said...

Love the Tahitian theme. I know at the Polynesian Resort at WDW the food was so good when we went in 1994 that Rachel and I went in 1996 on our first return (of many) trips to the Parks.

The Flying Saucers are so cool, wish it had worked out. I have not really heard anything about the new version, whether it has the same sort of problems the original had; what has anyone heard? Really wanted to get there this year but its just too expensive, so its WDW for us in December! Cant wait. :-)

Melissa said...

Wow, somehow I had the idea that the Tahitian Terrace closed a lot earlier than 1993.

The nearly-matching blue-striped man and lady touching bumpers in the middle of the Flying Saucers picture are too cute.

MRaymond said...

The Tahitian Terrace was my grandfathers favorite place to eat and while everyone else was rushing for rides he was rushing for reservations. He did get pulled up to dance one time, what a card. He was a showoff and played it to the hilt. That was in the 70's, wish I had pics.

Melissa said...

Ev'rybody look,
This one's for Nanook!
Do the Flying Saucer Twist,
And it goes like this:

Come on let's twist again,
On the Flying Saucers!
Yeah, let's twist again,
For the Pack Mule guide!

Although my abdomen,
Is a real lunch-tosser,
Yeah, let's twist again,
On the teacup ride!

Round and round and up and down we go again!
Oh, baby, twist that cup and don't go slow, my friend!

Twist again,
While we're Jungle Cruisin',
Come on, let's twist again,
Sailin' through a whale!

We'll twist all day and then,
When we're almost snoozin',
Come on, let's twist again,
On the Monorail!

K. Martinez said...

In my 50+ years of going to Disneyland, the Tahitian Terrace is the one restaurant I didn't dine at. I think I always thumbed my nose at it because I was already plenty exposed to this type of entertainment from my many visits to family in Hawaii. How I regret not dining there.

@Melissa - The Tahitian Terrace was closed and replaced in 1993 with Aladdin's Oasis (dinner show) which only lasted a few years. Aladdin (animated feature) opened in theaters the year before in 1992. Part of that corporate synergy. It really pisses me off they closed this classic restaurant with a restaurant that apparently didn't work out.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-

I'm honored-! It's the first time one of my "ideas" inspired new lyrics to a song: Let's Twist Again. It's the follow-up song to The Twist, the only song to have the dubious distinction of re-entering the Billboard charts and return to the #1 position - 1960; then again in 1961, six months after Let's Twist Again would debut. (Ahhhh, the things we "learn" @ GDB).

So... since Melissa has done the heavy-lifting, how's about a "Twist Day" at The Magic Kingdom - requiring all guests to 'twist their way through the park'-? (Of course, they'll be special prizes for best form, longevity, etc.)

JG said...

@Chuck, my memory of the saucer load area is pretty hazy, but some bits remain.

There was a movable "boom" that spanned the whole "field" (this is visible in old aerial photos). The rolling boom divided the field in two separate parts. The queue divided at some point and each half went up a different side of the field.

When the session was over, the boom rolled toward one outer edge of the field, squeezing all the saucers up against the edge of the load queue walkway, so your ride was over, no room to move, impossible to escape.

The saucers were now all captured in in single file along the edge. The riders got up to exit, and the new crop of riders were let in, kind of like the teacups.

Meanwhile, the other side of the field was wide open and the riders in the other queue were getting their turn. Then the boom reversed after a time and pressed them against the other edge.

Process repeats.

This was not very efficient, since the saucers would bunch up behind one another. I seem to remember a CM rode the boom and walked along with a pole to push them into a single file line.

Sometimes CM's would go out and move them around, which was dangerous, since they might get pinched between two saucers.

Overall, this ride was better in concept than in reality. I'm glad I had the experience.

Anyway, that might be wrong, but it's what's left after 50 years.

Maybe Cox Pilot remembers more.


CoxPilot said...

That's a good description. I can't add much more, except that the CMs did not step out onto the floor of the ride. It was to fragile. They would manage the saucers from the moving booms. When the crowds were thin, they would run only one side. Before open the ride, CMs would be asked to ride it as much as possible. I rode it about 15 times. The early saucers had side handles the controlled the spinning of the saucer, but later that was locked down.

Nanook said...

I believe on one -or more- of the TV specials there is footage of the Flying Suacers in action. I'm not certain if the on-screen time is of sufficient duration to document the load/unload operation, however. Seems unlikely.

Thanks to both JG & CoxPilot for their contributions-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, at least you experienced the TT, unlike me. And to think it was there until 1993! I feel so dumb. I wish I had a well-placed Disney exec as my host!

Chuck, I was going to answer, but I see that JG did an excellent job, so I will leave it to him.

Melissa, I know, it was surprising to me as well. "Touching bumpers", lol.

MRaymond, oh man, if ONLY you had photos of your grandfather! What amazing memories.

Melissa, I cannot condone standing on attractions, even if it is in order to twist the night away. Think of me as the John Lithgow character in "Flashdance"!

K. Martinez, I'd feel sorry for you - except that you got to go to HAWAII instead! And the replacement of the TT with Aladdin's Oasis seems to be the way things go, even today. "Make hay" while a property is hot, and then let it whither when people lose interest. It will happen with "Frozen", I'm sure.

Nanook, Chubby Checker should STILL be singing about twistin'. How the heck do you know so much about the history of his two hits? Was all that info in your head, or did you at least have to resort to Wikipedia (no shame in that)?

JG, thank you for your excellent description of the way the saucers loaded. The moving boom is an ingenious idea, even if it needed the aid of a CM with a stick. I'm sure that if they walked on the blue field, they had to be extra careful not to step on the circles.

CoxPilot, did the side handles move some fins beneath the saucers, or was there actually some sort of air jet that rotated it?

Nanook, there is definitely footage of the saucers, I remember them throwing beach balls into the fray (which is something they did on the Flying Tires for a while). I don't think it shows anything about how the ride loaded or unloaded though.

Chuck said...

JG & Cox Pilot - I figured if anybody knew the answer, it would be one (or both) of you. Thanks so much!

CoxPilot said...

The handles just directed air from the deck some how under the saucer. It didn't work well and most broke early on. The idea was to face the direction you wanted to go like bumper cars. Great when it worked. You could turn it around and then lean forward and the thing would really zip across the deck, and WHAM!

Melissa said...

If you can't do the Twist sitting down, you're literally unhip!

JG said...

@Cox Pilot. Thanks for confirming my memory. We probably met in Tomorrowland, but I was about five. I remember the Flight Circle and had a couple of Cox planes.

I really seem to recall the CM out amongst the saucers pushing the things around, but maybe they were standing on the saucer rim. Some of them got jammed somehow and wouldn't move.

Anyway, you're welcome everyone. Thanks for letting me play.

Major, thanks as always for the wonderful pics.


Anonymous said...

JG and CoxPilot have done a great job describing the operation of the Saucers. It was one of the few attractions that you had full control of. I loved to scoot across the full length of the circle. You could really go. Others found how to create an air suction and literally jump the Saucer up and down off the blue platform not unlike a pogo stick. That probably hastened the demise of the ride because of the damage it could do. ROs were constantly warning kids not to do it. As for the line-up of vehicles to enter and exit the ride, the Saucers were not in single file, but double file. Look carefully at the background of the picture.


Nanook said...

@ Major-

You would'a thought Wikipedia was where I turned for the info on The Twist. But, no - for 'us record collectors', that little tidbit of trivia is one we're all aware. And the actual source, was none other than a "printed and bound book"-! Yes, I know we're all shocked. In this case the book would be none other than Joel Whitburns's Top Pop Singles, which started out as a paperbound publication in 1970, simply listing the Billboard Top 100 Pop Charts from 1955-1970. In the ensuing 44 years, that publication (now one of many) has morphed into a gigantic 1,000+ page tome, and " a comprehensive and detailed chronicle of the 8,400 artists and 41,000 songs that appeared on Billboard magazine’s pop singles charts and beyond since the dawn of the rock era..." It now is loaded to overflowing with artist & composer info, B-side info, birthdates, and tons of trivia. (Well, you asked).