Sunday, August 23, 2015

Two From September 1971

Here are two pictures from 1971... sort of ho-hum examples, but hey, it's Sunday!

That girl has guided Dumbo to his maximum elevation. He has elephant-heightus. Yay, a gross disease pun! When I fly Dumbo, I like to go waaaaay up, and then waaaaaay down. Repeat as often as possible. The first time I let my young niece work the controls, we never went up so much as an inch.

Ever wonder what a centerpiece with plastic fruit would look like as seen through a ship's wheel? Well wonder no more. I guess it was too hard to get plastic mangosteens, papayas, jackfruit, durian,  rambutans,  cherimoyas, or other exotic fruit. Instead we get a pineapple, bananas, a lemon, an apple (?), and an avocado. I hope the Swiss family like guacamole.


Nanook said...


It may be a "ho-hum Sunday", but what-the-heck - you've singled-out durian-! Sakes alive. In spite of its rather extreme odoriferous reputation, it can have quite the exotic flavor. I think the last time I ate some, it was in the form of durian ice cream. I can't for the life of me understand why it isn't featured at Disneyland: Durain & Dumbo - it just sort of rolls of the tongue, now doesn't it-? Kinda like Starsky and Hutch, or Tracy and Hepburn, or bacon and eggs.

Thanks, Major.

Unknown said...

Does anybody have an idea of how the pivoting ears on Dumbo worked when they were present, and I'm sure some of you folks know the dates when the functional flapping ears were present and when they were removed.

I could see them being nicely balanced and left to the vagaries of relative wind moving downward when Dumbo ascends and contrariwise moving upward when the big gray galoot descends. I don't think I've ever seen motion pictures of the ears showing much motion at all, so it might have been a case of the relatively small aerodynamic forces being insufficient to overcome whatever friction was present in the bearings that allowed the ears to pivot.

Any ideas?

Nanook said...

@ Patrick Devlin-

The word on the street seems to be the moving ears never worked properly. The initial design of the lift system from Arrow Development, when paired with the 800 pound Disney-built 'Dumbos', ultimately couldn't handle the weight. Which is why Dumbo was not operational on Opening Day. When it did open on August 16, 1955, it required constant attention to the hydraulic systems to keep it running. An additional way to make that happen was to also remove the ear motors to save on unnecessary weight.

Depending on which source you choose, the "new, and improved" Dumbo lift system opened somewhere between October and December, 1955 - with I assume the ear motors returning to the fold. However, I can't find any confirmation to that fact, and what little info is out there seems to indicate they never flapped. But...

And then sometime in the 1960's the Dumbo's were replaced with new ones featuring fixed ears.

Melissa said...

If that first picture is your idea of ho-hum, Major, I don't know what it takes to qualify as postcard-worthy! That's simply breathtaking!

TokyoMagic! said...

Looking at that cutaway in the side of Dumbo makes me is it that the lawyers haven't made them put a door there? Or do the Dumbos have doors now and I just haven't noticed?

Chuck said...

TokyoMagic! - to this day, the ride vehicles still have no doors (no windows, either - which offers us a chilling challenge...). Guests are held in their seats by Disney magic...and a seatbelt. Let's pray that's good enough for CalOSHA...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I have had the chance to taste durian, thanks to the Asian market near me. They sold it on shrink-wrapped styrofoam trays, just like pork chops. You could smell it as you walked past; so my friend bought a pack, and it tasted sort of like fried onions to me, though it was more complex than that. It wasn’t terrible, but I am not in a rush to have it again.

Patrick Devlin, I think Bob Gurr wrote a detailed account of the early flapping ears and their problems; not sure if that can be found online, or if you have to buy his book. I have a photo or two in which it looks like the ears are in different positions, but I am not sure I would be able to find them in a timely fashion.

Nanook, I believe that the ears did flap for short periods of time; if I recall correctly, Bob Gurr said that the hydraulic fluid would become foamy, which made it not work - so they continually had to drain the fluid and replace it. I would imagine that this scenario didn’t last for long.

Melissa, if you are happy, then I am happy!

TokyoMagic!, yes, I would have expected little doors, similar to the modern tea cups; and yet I believe that there are none.

Chuck, thanks for the confirmation; I pray that CalOSHA does not read GDB, or they will be getting some ideas.

Nanook said...


The issue with the foaming pertained to the hydraulic system of the attraction, and was present during the initial run beginning on August 16. When the improved version was installed, so ended the foaming.

As far as I know the movable ears received their locomotion thru electric motors - at least that's what was stated in the Roller Coasters Flumes and Flying Saucers book.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember riding Dumbo when the ears moved. Later, when the ears were fixed, I just assumed that I imagined the moving ears. But now, it's all so vague, I just focus on moving the lever up and down.

I think that the Elephant at full down position sits well below the load platform so you step down into the passenger cavity, using the seat as a step, thus no need for a door. Eventually, the flying elephant will require a full wire cage howdah, on the order of the big ferris wheel in DCA.

I also remember the Swiss Family Fruit pretty clearly and wondering where castaways got the trees for all those varieties that don't grow in the south seas... I think this was mentioned in the Disney book, nursery stock carried as cargo in the wrecked ship.

I hope I still have that book.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, it's so strange, I also have very clear memories of the bowl of plastic fruit in the Swiss Family Treehouse, but not this one. For some reason I remember the one sitting on the table in the family's "kitchen" on the ground floor of the treehouse. The things that stand out in our memories, huh?

Anonymous said...

@Tokyo, that's the reason GDB is so much fun. I really enjoy other's recollections of the same things. Often, I can't remember that I remember a thing, until I see the picture, then WHAM, it's like I'm right there again, and everyone else is there too.



Chuck said...

I get the same feeling, JG. Hey, TokyoMagic! and K. Martinez - quit jostling me. There's room here in cyberspace for everyone.

Anonymous said...

@Chuck, Disneyland is always crowded.