Friday, October 27, 2017

Skyway & More, May 1958

Sometimes I will find a slide of a scene at Disneyland that seems fairly ordinary, and yet... once I actually scan the thing and look at the details, there will be all kinds of fun stuff. Like this 1958 shot of the old Skyway Chalet, as seen from the Pirate Ship! 

Skyway buckets are a-comin' and a-goin', and the trees have not grown so large as to obscure the lovely Fantasyland structure. 

Zooming in just a bit, we can appreciate elements of this area, such as the little waterfall that cascaded over the Storybook Land tunnel, or the row of flower pots on the side of the building that the public would hardly see. Thanks to the small trees, we can even see the queue to the upper left.

The men are in suits, the ladies in nice dresses. I've always loved that cartoony little "depot" (ticket booth) for the Casey Jones Jr. RR.

I'm sure that little gingerbread ticket booth for the Skyway has appeared in other photos, but I'll be darned if I remember ever seeing it, or at least seeing it this clearly. Hooray for a "new" detail! I wonder how long that structure lasted?

Also, here are some swans. I have a surprising number of photos of Disneyland swans. Should I share them? Delete them? Burn them? 


Nanook said...


Details... details. Ahhh, what a difference they all made. (I remember those flower pots).

And as for those swans - a barbershop quartet comes to mind-!

Thanks, Major.

Dean Finder said...

Is the man in "Air Force casual" in the center of the 3rd picture a guest or a ride operator / cast member? In any case, he should be wearing a sport at least-this is Disneyland, after all.

Don't burn those swans! They should be medium-rare at most.

Chuck said...

I am suddenly reminded of the "whoosh" sound you'd hear as your Skyway gondola launched out of the load structure and your ears adjusted to the ambient noise of the Park below you.

Note how long the line was for the Skyway. You can see even in 1958 that the ride needed more capacity. Of course, even with two-seat gondolas the throughput was greater in 1958 than it is today...

I'd totally forgotten about that waterfall. Is it still there?

Interesting to note that I still have to force my mind to remember that there's a barren desert on the other side of that ridge (and suburbia and orange groves on the other side of that). Another score for immersive theming.

Dean Finder, there appears to be another man wearing a short-sleeved white shirt and dark tie peeking into the caboose. I'm going to guess that they're both cast members (and Geminis, to boot).

Anonymous said...

Very interesting third shot. I also had never seen the Skyway ticket booth before.

Tom said...

There is something so pure and perfect about that first shot, between the colors, the movement, the subdued shrubbery and the amazing number of attractions that are squeezed into just one photo.

It's hard to decide which part I like best.

Though I'd have to go with the Skyway Chalet, looking so perfect and joyful with its blue roof, scrollwork and floral details. Seeing it in its prime makes me miss it all the more now that it's been bulldozed.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I would figure you for a Swans fan - the U.S. experimental rock band, not a barbershop quartet! Also, seeing those four swans kind of reminds me of another experimental band, “The Residents”, which often has three members dressed in white, and another dressed in black.

Dean Finder, I am guessing that the man you refer to is a cast member; that seems to be the general outfit of a lot of men who worked at the park (especially the Autopia). I like to serve roast swan served in its own plumage. And a bowl of lark’s tongues.

Chuck, gosh, I don’t remember the “whoosh”, though I wish I did. I mostly remember the swaying sensation, which quickly subsided. My guess is that the waterfall is gone. A friend of mine has been contacting the park about a non-working waterfall on Storybook Land (possibly a different waterfall) for what seems like years, and I think he is about to finally give up, since they clearly have no intention of fixing it.

Anonymous, I went through as many photos of the Fantasyland Skyway station as I could find, and at best we can only see a small part of that little ticket booth. I am claiming that as a “new” discovery!

Tom, I agree with all that you said! With all of the advancements in technology, I’m not sure the Disney folks have surpassed what they did in Disneyland for certain areas - like that one!

Chuck said...

Major, maybe "whoosh" isn't the best way to describe it. I'm remembering sort of a vibrating noise that seemed to accelerate as you launched, along with a metallic sort of sliding noise as you left the loading track. There was also a distinctive sound as you passed over the rollers on the suspension towers. Now I'm going to have to see if I can find a video that does it justice...or maybe show me my memories have started getting mixed up.

Anonymous said...

Major, this is a terrific find. So much goodness packed into one picture.

I don't recall the little ticket booth at all except maybe a tiny glimpse from peripheral vision in other old pictures. This is the first really clear view of it that I can remember. From my memory, the tickets were taken at the entrance to the chalet, but that was a long time ago.

And the flower pot shelf on the far side that no one sees? Brilliant. I guess it was visible from Casey before the trees.

I don't remember the little waterfall either, or if it still there or not.

@Dean Finder, I agree with the observations about the men in "Air Force Casual". We have seen several pics on GDB and Daveland where the male CM's in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland wore uniforms like this, teacups, autopia, dumbo, etc. (at least some of) the shirts had a big patch on the breast pocket with a castle logo. I have a family photo from a little later on the Casey load platform, there are two men with the same clothing (can't see any patches on their shirts). For a long time, I thought they might have been architects from WED on a field trip* to the Park, but now, I think they were CM's on Casey.

*I worked with a guy long ago who had been an architect for WED. He worked in Burbank on the late stages of the Haunted Mansion. He said one of the highlights of their jobs were site visits to Disneyland to verify conditions or look at already-constructed features to see if these were working as-planned. Sometimes we see these men in the photo backgrounds with rolls of drawings or clipboards. The planning and coordination required for these projects far exceeds that for conventional work, due to the complexity of the designs and surroundings, innovative materials and techniques and the need for speedy construction with minimal downtime. Disneyland is really a laboratory of advanced architecture, many people overlook this.


Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

I too remember the 'launching vibration' and sounds generated when the rollers of the attaching arm were raised above the steel guide rails as the grips of the arm clamped around the travelling cable as the bucket's support was now being performed by the cable. That's merely one example of how [seemingly] unrelated sounds and smells play a HUGE portion in our memories when thinking of any sort of experience - especially so, when they are good experiences... the smells inside most of the Disney dark rides; Pirates; The Haunted Mansion, etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

Major shame that they got rid of the skyway in both parks. Seemed like a convenient way to cut down on foot traffic...aside from the train, of course. I guess they had to get rid of it due to that one incident where someone fell out and sued over their injuries. I take it Disney couldn't risk another lawsuit like that. Shame it got rid of an attraction I never had the chance to ride. :(

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, that little ridge/gully for the waterfall is still there, but the water has been turned off for many years now.

Major, I love that your friend has been so persistent in writing to them about it. Did he ever get any response from them...even initially?

Major and JG, I also remember seeing little glimpses of that Skyway ticket booth from far away, but I never even realized that it was a ticket booth! I always thought that it was just some little queue entrance structure that must have been removed at some point. This pic of it is indeed a rare find. Now it brings up the question of, was there another ticket booth that was specifically for the Tomorrowland Skyway station?

Just the roof of that Fantasyland Skyway ticket booth can be seen here in the postcard pics marked "Fantasyland - Dumbo Ride" and "Fantasyland - Skyway Chalet." Disneyland Postcard Booklet

Chuck said...

Nanook, thanks for confirming I'm not completely off my rocker.

You can kinda hear the sound I'm talking about right at 2:00 in this video, although the camera operator says "whee!" at the same moment, so it's hard to pick out if you don't know what you're listening for.

You can also hear it at around 5-8 seconds in this video, just before the music starts.

TM!, that's a bummer that the falls are shut off. I wonder if there are corrosion issues with the piping that nobody is willing to spend the money to replace. Letting them deteriorate in place is the best solution, right? I mean, that worked really well with Captain Hook's galley, didn't it?

Major, maybe we should all should all start writing to Disneyland to complain about that fountain. Then we could all have the same experience of being ignored.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from experience, there are two likely reasons why the little waterfall might have been turned off.

1. Most likely; expense of running the pump. A number of Disney waterfalls have been eliminated, turned off, or volume reduced because of the electricity cost. Schweitzer Falls (named after Dr. Albert Falls) is a case in point.

2. Equipment failure or internal leak.

Fountains and waterfalls are some of the most expensive and complicated building amenities. They look great in the design renderings, but are always maintenance headaches in real life and often end up as planters, or just turned off entirely and left empty.

Another example, the exotic fountains at the entrance to 1967 Tomorrowland, these were turned into planters in very short order, even in the era of "Good Disneyland". I think this was considered acceptable to management because the fountains were not essential to the "narrative" of the entrance, like the submarine waterfalls.

Still, Disney has been pretty good about keeping up most of these elements, so one little one is something we can probably live without. I hope that little mountain is made of steel, not wood like Cascade Peak, so it lasts forever.

Chuck, I am definitely going to watch those videos, the sounds had slipped my mind somehow.


Melissa said...

I'm taking with the two kids Behind the trash can at the far left of the first picture. Is big sister hitting a little brother? Or is she just zipping up his jacket? Giving him a bite of candy? Are both of those hands hers, or as each one raising a left fist toward the other? Are they playing rock, paper, scissors to see who gets on first? Is she going to throw him to the swans?

Nanook said...

@ Melissa

I believe big sister is assisting her younger brother with re-fitting his retainer, following his Tuna Clipper Salad meal at the ‘Pirate Ship Restaurant’. (Evidently he hadn’t consumed enough Chocolate Drink to cleanse his palette).

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, perhaps it was more of a “ker-flump”? Or maybe a “bonkity-boink”? I need to contact Michael Winslow (anyone? anyone?) for a more accurate description. I definitely remember the sensation of passing over the rollers - “Here’s where our bucket is disconnected from the wire and we plummet to the ground”!

JG, as I said earlier, I only can find partially obscured views of that ticket booth - among my own photos, at least. Doesn’t it seem as if the cast members on the Casey Jr. train would have been in something more fanciful than shirtsleeves and black ties? Maybe that look was so ubiquitous that it became “invisible” to guests. I like your story about the guy you knew who worked for WED. I’m sure that it is a challenge designing structures that are not only inventive, but can withstand the stresses and rigors of millions of guests (many of whom are less than careful).

Nanook, maybe I couldn’t hear that noise over my own fearful weeping.

The Disney Dudebro, I know! I hate that those rides were removed. Tony Baxter said he wanted to figure out how to get guests back up in the air again, but so far… no go.

TokyoMagic!, I know that one of the people he spoke to was someone you and I met at a Gurrtini party (I don’t want to rat her out!). She responded politely a few times, but lately there has been no response. SO… who knows. I love that little ticket booth, since (as I said earlier) it really does feel like a new detail. It’s certainly new to me! I’ll have to look to see if there was a corresponding booth in Tomorrowland. That postcard view sort of confirms that the Fantasyland booth was mostly hidden by shrubs after a while.

Chuck, thanks for the links to the videos. MAN I loved that ride! Such a bummer. I still remember making my lame move on a girl I had taken to the park, and I was completely shot down. The longest remaining Skyway ride ever! Ha ha. As for letting the pump remain broken, my guess is that the thinking is something like, “Who even notices that waterfall? Why spend money to fix it?”. My friend would probably be very happy if we started a big campaign to fix the waterfall!

JG, I know that water features are a big pain. I hate what they’ve done to Schweitzer Falls (named after Alfalfa Schweitzer) - it’s a mere shadow of its former self. I believe that wind was the main issue with those weird 1967 Tomorrowland fountains (and it has been an issue many other times). Water features are so great, I can’t believe that with a bit of regular maintenance, they couldn’t work just fine for decades. Because I am such an expert (ha ha)!

Melissa, those kids don’t look like they’re fighting, but I sure can’t tell what they ARE doing!

Nanook, I feel like your explanation is the only one that makes sense.