Monday, November 27, 2017

Swan Moat

The lame title for today's post was supposed to be a play on "Swan Lake", but I doubt it landed for anybody. Oh well. Sorry, Pyotr Ilyich! The good news is that there are swans today. LOTS of swans. Did you know that a group of swans is called a "bevy"? More lameness. At least when they're in the air they are called a "wedge", which is cool and makes me want to buy their licensed products and drink their energy drink. TASTE THE WEDGE!

SO... there's two of them. Sure, swans don't seem that exciting to you and me, because we are citizens of the world and have seen it all. But in 1958? No American had ever seen a living swan! Some considered it an example of "cryptozoology" - maybe swans only existed in folk tales. And then suddenly, swans were discovered riding on the backs of coelocanths off the coast of Africa, and everyone had to have one. This is a true story that is totally not made up.

This explains why the people on the bridge are so darn excited to see a fershluggin' swan.

That thing is swantastic. The innocent suburbanites from 1958 can't believe their eyes. What is the swan thinking? Does he (she?) have hopes and dreams? If you prick it, does it not bleed? Is it true that they are poisonous?

Now it's 1972. The swans have tuned in, turned on, and dropped out. The charred remains of a draft card can be seen on that little platform. Swans don't have to live by society's rules, man! I think the one in the foreground might actually have sideburns

Even our sailors are impressed (and they've been to Tijuana). In spite of the swans' hippie attitudes, they appreciated the men and women in the military for their sacrifices. Aww, they're just big softies after all!

Guess what? I have more swan photos. Sorry.


Nanook said...


It IS swantastic-! However, in those first two images, I had a hard time focusing on the swans, as I was in a panic a guest would accidentally fall into the moat-! I mean, c'mon... just take a look at the total lack of 48" tall, massive wrought iron railing on the drawbridge-! Just what were they thinking with 'mere' chains as a barrier-? It was this laissez-faire attitude on the part of the Imagineers that created OSHA in the first place-! Whew.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I miss the swans in the moat! The people in that first pic really do seem excited to see the least a few of them do. And there is a man up there on the bridge photographing them.

I love how we get a little cameo appearance of the 1967 Tomorrowland entrance panels and fountain in that last pic (upper right corner).

Scott Lane said...

Sideburns and no doubt little bell bottom pants under the water.

Steve DeGaetano said...

I enjoyed the witty writing today more than the photos!

K. Martinez said...

First thing I thought when I saw the title was "Swan Lake". Those two white swans, Mina and Lucy cavorted in the moat by day, while the vampire swan came out at night.

In the last image, the drawbridge chains look like spider webs with morning dew. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic!, man do you have a sharp eye. I would've never spotted the Tomorrowland entrance panels and fountains in the last image.

Anonymous said...

Hope this isnt a swan song.

Was it the Muppet Show that did a version called "Swine Lake"? Sorry that's hijacking the joke in another direction.

Excellent dialog today, Major, especially the impressed sailors.


MRaymond said...

Yes, the Muppets did Swine Lake with Barishnikov. And let’s not forget the hippo in a tutu from Fantasia.

Stefano said...

Way down upon the Swanee River .... they may not be poisonous,
but like geese they are aggressive and will chomp on the human
backside. Just recalled the great August '63 National Geographic
article on Disney, the author of which described two ladies observing
the moat swans, til one of them said "they are not real".

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, over 2000 people have been gravely injured by that moat! Sure, it looks harmless, but that’s how it gets you.

TokyoMagic!, once the swans unionized, it was only a matter of time before they got the boot. Thanks for pointing out Tomorrowland in that pic!

Scott Lane, yes, and maybe Birkenstocks on their webbed feet!

Steve DeGaetano, thanks!

K. Martinez, oh, nice “Dracula” reference! I’ve always thought it was a bit weird that they used “Swan Lake” on that soundtrack. I feel the need to watch all of those Universal classics.

JG, ha, if that wasn’t a Muppets skit, it should have been. Those sailors really have something to write home about now.

MRaymond, it’s funny, I love “Fantasia”, but my mom has always hated the “Dance of the Hours” sequence with the balletic hippos, ostriches and alligators. Not sure why!

Stefano, yeah, geese are the worst. Not only are they mean, but the poop a LOT. When my niece went to the park at age eight, we rode the Mark Twain, and she would see and animal and say, “Real…. real…. not real….” for the whole journey.

MRaymond said...

My mistake, the muppets did Swine Lake with dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

For a minute there, I thought that this post was going to be about the Swan Boats at Walt Disney World. I heard they used to traverse the moat along the castle and even went into Adventureland past the Swiss Family Treehouse. Such a pity that they closed around the same time I went on my first family trip to Disney World. Both that and 20,000 Leagues are the two rides I regret never riding. :(

Melissa said...

Swans and geese have spent centuries trying to settle the tie breaker of the "Earth's Biggest Asshole Bird" contest. They make Donald Duck look like a pacifist.

Melissa said...

This is one of my favorite posts ever!

(Seems like they used the Dying Swan theme in a bunch of Lugosi's movies after it worked so well in Dracula.)

TokyoMagic! said...

I have an L.A. Times article from around 1978 (that I plan to post soon) that talks about "The Magic Behind The Kingdom." It states that "The swans in the castle moat are replaced every six months. The birds are rented from an outside vendor and if they die on duty, their replacement cost is $350." I wonder what the rental fee was? And I wonder if swans ever died on Disney's watch?

Ken, I could spot the 1967 Tomorrowland, or even just a portion of it, from a mile away! ;-)

Scott and Major, ha, ha! I can just see the swans picketing out in front of the park in their "little bell bottoms."

Major Pepperidge said...

MRaymond, I wonder if Nureyev ever dreamed that he would dance with puppets?!

The Disney Dudebro, I’ve seen photos of those swan boats - they were so cool, it is a bummer that they removed them. While the 20,000 Leagues ride and Swan Boats are gone, you still have a Swiss Family Treehouse!

Melissa, meanwhile, the golf course near my sister’s house is regularly populated by 8 billion coots. Somebody needs to buy a peregrine falcon!

Melissa 2, thanks! As for the Dying Swan theme, it must have save them a bundle to use bits of classical music. I know that Franz Waxman’s wonderful “Bride of Frankenstein” themes were recycled many times.

TokyoMagic!, I love that the swans were replaceable, like light bulbs. On another subject, Mr. X just told me that he has some really neat old newspaper articles, including perhaps that one for the opening of Bear Country. If I can scan that and stitch it together, I will be happy to post it!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, Yeah, and just like the light bulbs on Main Street, Disney "changed" the swans when they reached a certain percentage of their life expectancy! I hope Mr. X does have that Bear Country newspaper supplement and I hope you are able to post it!

Melissa said...

Am I the only one who pronounces “bear” as “b’ar” when referring to B'ar Country, the Country B’ar Jamboree, etc?

(Google Voice wanted to change “Jamboree” to “John Bury,” so maybe I’m saying everything funny.)