Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Scenes From October, 1963

Most of you know that TWA was the original sponsor of the "Rocket to the Moon" attraction in Tomorrowland - their logo adorned the 80-foot rocket from 1955 to 1961. By 1962, McDonnel Douglas became the new sponsor, and new markings were added. They weren't as elegant as the TWA version, but you know what? I still like them. I'd give them a solid "B", with a smiley face. 

This October, 1963 photo shows a remarkably empty Tomorrowland - the shadows indicate that it is morning-ish, but even so, there is room to swing a whole lotta cats.

And now for something completely different: the Swiss Family Treehouse. Even now I find those red leaves to be a surprising choice - most people would reach for their green crayons if they were going to draw a picture of a big tree. Of course, nature is much more complex than a box of Crayolas. Anyway, I miss the old Swiss Family (even though they were always out when I stopped by to visit) - they had great taste in music, and had some new ideas in plumbing.


Nanook said...


It's hard not to rate the 1967 Tomorrowland as the 'ne plus ultra' of all the Disneyland Tomorrowland's, but the 1955 version looks awfully-swell.

I'm afraid when I drew trees, I tended to prefer the lollipop style, so favored by talentless "artists". I like the Frontierland sign, peeking-in from the right, directing us to: the Golden Horseshoe; Mark Twain; Sailing Ship Columbia; Pack Mules; and Mine Train. I think I'll ride 'em all.

Thanks, Major.

Steve DeGaetano said...

"Nature is much more complex than a box of Crayolas."

Truer words were never written.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

The color of that tree always reminded me of the plum trees that lined our street (livin' in Reseda-like Tom Petty said). Great for free fruit but what a mess on the sidewalks.

All in all one of my favorite low tech, walk thru attractions. Still prefer the SFR version to Tarzan but like I said the other day it will probably be over taken by itinerate ewoks soon.

K. Martinez said...

The Swiss Family Treehouse pic is awesome! I like how its shape and outline stands out before the Jungle Cruise foliage grew and filled in the background. Also, those vinyl red leaves were one of my favorite features of the Treehouse.

The Moonliner pic is a beauty too. We need to locate that Wayback machine and soon! Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I’m pretty sure I have a post coming up in which I basically say exactly what you said in your first paragraph! I might have said “post 1959 Tomorrowland”. Or maybe I didn’t! I’m always drunk when I write this blog, as you know. As for trees, I tend to favor the “broccoli” school.

Steve DeGaetano, I might just be one of the great minds of our century. Check back in after about 50 years!

Alonzo, I have seen plum trees in the valley, but they are often an ornamental (i.e. non-fruiting) variety. You had some that actually dropped plums on the street? Wow. Reminds me of when I first moved into my current neighborhood, went for a walk, and there was a gigantic fig tree dropping hundreds of ripe figs all over the sidewalk. What a mess.

K. Martinez, I wonder if anybody saved some of the red vinyl leaves? I have a later leaf that is green, and every time I look at it, I think, “Why couldn’t you be red like your big brother?”. I think it can tell that I play favorites. Do you think that if they removed the Moonliner today, they would just smash it flat? Or would they allow a rich collector to purchase it?

Patrick Devlin said...

Hmm. Morning to afternoon, Tomorrowland to Adventureland, that sounds about right to how long it would take me if I had my time machine up and running.

I like how you can see either the boy's room or the master bedroom high on the right side of the tree. That's way up there and perfect for dropping hard candies on pirates...

I going to try and make a Moonliner model for one of my brothers this Christmas and I'm leaning towards "DOUGLAS" for the paint job. You frequently see TWA but realistically, DOUGLAS should be the more familiar in our memories but I should probably ask him.

Anonymous said...

It's funny, I have vivid memories of standing under the moonliner and looking in the pit under the engines, but the only markings I recall are the TWA scheme. The problem is that it had to be the Douglas markings visible due to the timing of the visit.

I guess my memory is combining the guidebook photos and comic books to add a memory that can't possibly be real.

Also, one of the most gratuitous and bitter changes to Disneyland ever, has to be the Tarzan overlay on the Treehouse. So many of these grotesque re-do's can be overlooked or gotten used to, but losing such a great attraction to a wretched C- remake of a absurd story has to be the worst 1990's thing ever. I still walk through it, but the stupid still burns.

I'm going to play the Swisskapolka at top volume all morning.

Thanks Major.


Chuck said...

JG, that's the only way to play "Swisskapolka." It works best on continuous loop while cruising the Drag with the top down. Chicks dig it.

I agree that that's the most egregious Disneyland change prior to Galaxy's Edge (not counting the closure of Gummi Glen). I wonder how much the Tarzan overlay hurt sales of home video copies of Swiss Family Robinson and, by extension, exposure to the classic adventure novel on which it's based (and which I first read en route to our first WDW vacation when I was 10)?

And now I'm wondering how much of current sales of that version of Tarzan are based on a Disneyland visit? And does anyone discover Edgar Rice Burroughs through the music of NSYNC and Phil Collins?

Anonymous said...

McDonnell-Douglas came later in the 60s with the merger. Douglas was a stand alone company at the time of its original sponsorship.

I always marveled at the plumbing of the Treehouse. And since I at times 'worked' at the Treehouse taking tickets (either for a full shift or giving a break to the assigned CM), I well know the Swisspolka :). KS

PS...Earl Archer will always be known as "Mr. Treehouse" to many of us former CMs.

Anonymous said...

@Chuck, hey I *liked* Gummi Glen.

I had the Swiss Family story book (bought in the Disneyland Bookstore on Main Street), and was very disappointed that it did not include a schematic of the water wheel and piping.


Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, yeah, I don’t think I ever started my Disneyland visit in Adventureland! Not even for “Indy”. Maybe it would be cool to the Jungle Cruise first thing in the morning. But, as always, there were other things beckoning me into the park. Wow, that Moonliner model sounds like a pretty sweet gift!

JG, I suppose I might have seen the Moonliner, but I sure don’t remember it. My older brother swears he remembers going through the 20,000 Leagues walk-thru. I was very small when it was removed, so… no memories for me. As for Tarzan’s Treehouse, I have heard that there was talk of tearing it out (WHY?), but that somebody (Tony Baxter?) suggested the Tarzan overlay to save it. It might be true, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It feels more like somebody like Michael Eisner wanting some new IP in the park.

Chuck, how about a Swisskapolka ring tone? Let’s make it happen! I read “Swiss Family Robinson” when I was a kid, mostly because it was in a bookcase at my grandmother’s house - I read a LOT of the books that she had, many illustrated by N.C. Wyeth and other folks. The fictional island is too good to be true, and yet… the idea of these castaways being able to use the island’s bounty through their wits and ingenuity was wonderful.

KS, I stand corrected! The Rube Goldberg waterworks of the Treehouse were so great; I felt as if I could have just watched them do their thing for an hour. I’m sure my dad had to say something to get me to move! May I ask who Earl Archer is?

JG, I’m sure Gummi Glen had its charms, but by that point, I didn’t like it when the company cheaped out with painted flats, especially out in the bright sunshine (rather than in the low light of the dark rides). Even the Winnie the Pooh ride, which is not terrible by any means, relies too much on the flats for a newer attraction. Maybe it was unreasonable to expect more from Disneyland. Just my opinion of course!

Melissa said...

The Swiss Family Treehouse is the weevil's whiskers! It's one of the best examples of what I call "wandering down the rabbit hole" attractions. You're not quite sure where you are or how you got there, but you know it's not the same place you woke up in this morning!

"I guess my memory is combining the guidebook photos and comic books to add a memory that can't possibly be real."

That's the same phenomenon that gives me clear memories of riding the steamboat Admiral Joe Fowler in 1983, years after she was scuppered.

Anonymous said...

@Major, I was being sarcastic about Gummi Glen, I think Chuck was reacting to my over-reaction.

I agree, GG and the Tarzan Treehouse were symptoms of the same kind of creative failure, put some cheap wallpaper over what we already have to make it look new and exciting for audiences too young to remember the originals. Coupled with not understanding that the original stories were far better than the follow-on stuff, it doubles the insult.

If you really want a Swisskapolka ring tone, I can make that happen. I've made a wide range of custom ring tones from my music collection. Let me know.

I have a glorious memory of the 20K walkthrough, with the giant squid and the bubbling blue water in the airlock hatch, and wanting to jump up into the salon and the bridge. Then the feeling of disappointment when it was gone on my next visit was tempered by the unalloyed awesomeness of 1967 Tomorrowland. I had to wait years until the movie finally came around again so I could finally see it and understand what I had seen as a kid.

I always wanted a salon like Captain Nemo, and I have a glass-topped display table today filled with shells and mineral samples that is inspired by that memory. No giant squid outside the window, though. Just my garden. Gotta draw a line somewhere.


Melissa said...

I usually stuck to evergreen trees in my drawings, but they tended to look more like feathers from a green electric space chicken.

@Alonzo P Hawk
My grandmother had two golden plum trees, and she gave Mom a bushel of plums every year. Oh, the jams and jellies we had all year long! And plum pudding at Christmas.

Chuck said...

JG, I'm a little disappointed. I'd hoped you had a giant squid in your garden.

Melissa said...

Liberty and giant squids for all!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I think we have a new novelty Tee idea brewing.

Nature is much more complex than a box of Crayolas on the front and

Liberty and giant squids for all! on the back.

Anonymous said...

Major...a little late in a reply to you. Earl was a long-time CM (retired from the Park) who always seemed to man the Treehouse wearing his knit cap on his nearly bald head in a way we wondered just how it stayed on. He also would take the LONGEST cruises on the JC which would be a minus for those of us in his rotation. Very much remembered by those of us who worked with him. Passed away a few years ago :(. KS

Anonymous said...

@Chuck and Melissa: Actually I had a giant squid for a while, but it ate a lot of Purina Squid Chow and shed on the couch and barked a lot at night and turned out to be a dog not a squid, so there's that.