Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Motor Boat Cruise, May 1959

I'm always very happy to find some photos of the old Motor Boat Cruise, in spite of the ride's lack of thrills. In fact, thrills weren't the point (even if you did briefly pass through rocks and "rapids") - you could sit back, relax, take in some pretty scenery, and even practice your yodeling like I did. 

Looks like the boats do not yet have names of Disney characters ("Shaggy Dog", "Tinker Bell") painted on them. It seems like such an obvious idea now! They could have "Iron Man", "Venellope von Schweetz", and TokyoMagic's favorite, "Boba Fett" - suddenly the Motor Boats would be the coolest ride again.

In these early days, the landscaping hadn't had a chance to fill in much, leaving weedy dirt embankments in places, but people probably just turned their heads toward something more interesting. In the distance we can just see the yellow garage from the Midget Autopia, and of course the striped sails of the Pirate Ship, and the blurry Skyway gondolas can also be seen. 


Nanook said...


Is the Motor Boat Cruise "the second Happiest cruise that ever sailed..."-? Perhaps, no.

Thanks, Major.


Wow! Those Motor Boats look kinda classy in those early images! I know Disney saved two of the Motorboats and at one time they we’re hanging from the rafters of Disneyland's Employee/cast only restaurant The Eat TICKET. Those along with other retired Disneyland vehicles and props decorated the restaurant and was a inspiration for the original concept of RED ROCKET PIZZA in Tomorrowland .... where guests were originally going to dine seating in a Rocket to the Moon theater, a Mark 3 Monorail , PeopleMover card and Skyway gondolas while other vintage Tomorrowland props posters and images decorated the rest. But Disneyland’s Restaurant management felt all those vehicles were taking up too much space so it opened with a few attraction posters only.

I wonder how long before all the special theming of the restaurants and shops of GALAXYS EDGE giveaway to more money making space .......

Chuck said...

The first photo spurs a question. The motorboats ran on an underwater track, but we see two out-of-service boats tied up at the pier in the background (this photo shows four in the same location, although they are tied up 90° off from what you see in today's picture). How did they get them on and off the track to take them in and out of service and how did they move them around once off the track?

The second image shows why they eventually had to replace the Skyway gondolas with boxy designs. Without any hard, straight edges, the round ones kept slipping out of focus.

TokyoMagic! said...

They should bring the Motor Boat Cruise back! And Major, Boba Fett is actually my third favorite, after Itchy and Lumpy from the Star Wars Holiday Special!

Chuck said...

TM!, my vote is for Lumpy. I remember getting choked up when the stormtroopers tore up his stuffed bantha.

Melissa said...

Mother looks a bit nervous about "how does this thing work?" and Daughter is picking up on it! By the time the boat gets moving they're both having fun.

Anonymous said...

Chuck - There was a switch just forward of load position 1 that would allow the boats out of the guide trough, and since the boats would move - albeit slowly) with no one pressing the accelerator, the loose boat would slowly drift around, close enough to be snagged with a hook on a pole, and then pulled back into an empty slip. Tie the boat off, open the hood, and shut the motor off. Putting a boat on was even simpler. Start the motor, untie from the dock, give it a nudge to the right (or left on the tomorrowland side), and the boat would slowly cruise around to the end of the load dock and enter the guide trough on its own. No collision with incoming boats because there was a stop gate just before the load dock so boats could enter without jamming. The ride was so low pressure, everyone called it "The Cruise", a great place to spend the Summer.

K. Martinez said...

Major, Actually, Boba Fett is my favorite Star Wars character. As for the Motor Boat Cruise pics, the second shot is great for the unique angle it provides. I love uncommon Disneyland shots. Thanks, Major.

TM!, Meh. Itchy and Lumpy sound like a throat infection. They should be dropped into the Sarlaac pit to be slowly digested for a thousand years. BURP!!!

Chuck said...

Anonymous, thanks! Never having ridden the ride (I don't remember it ever operating on our off-season family visits), I have no frame of reference and I never really thought about how it might have operated.

Was load position 1 the one closest to the ride operator's station, between the first boat and the first green one in this photo of the Tomorrowland load side?

I'm also unsure of the underwater infrastructure. Did the boats run on a rail somewhat like an underwater Autopia track? Once you got the boat into the load trough, how did it engage with the track?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I’d say the MoBo Cruise is the sleepiest cruise!

Mike Cozart, I have another slide (already scanned) that is a really beautiful early look at the MoBos, I am looking forward to sharing it with you guys! I wonder whatever happened to the boats that were hanging from the rafters? Could they just be used as regular pleasure boats? I love the original idea of the pizza restaurant, and am not surprised in the least that it never happened, because it is too fun. As for Galaxy’s Edge, I’m sure there will be lots of fun “streetmosphere” actors and other things early on, and then little by little it will all go away.

Chuck, the MoBo CMs used a trained elephant to pick up and move the boats around. I’m sure there is footage of it on YouTube! Slipping out of focus happens to me about every 30 seconds.

TokyoMagic!, I should have known you sere a fan of Itchy and Lumpy, two of the most dynamic and yet sympathetic Star Wars characters. I HEART LUMPY.

Melissa, Mom is resigned to her fate, and if that’s the day she is called to heaven, well then so be it. In the second photo, the expressions are of joy mixed with relief.

Anon, you make it sound so simple, but it seems funny that they would just start the motor and let the boats drift to where they were pushed. It worked though! Thank you so much for the great detailed info.

K. Martinez, Boba Fett looks very cool, and I like his space ship, but I can’t remember him doing much in the original movies. And the whole Jango Fett thing in the prequels, pee-yew. And admit it, you dressed as Itchy for the San Jose Comicon!

Chuck, all of your questions shall be answered here on GDB. But you must be like a pebble in the water. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

The viewpoint of photo 2 is that of a pebble in the water, methinks.

If you can grab this motorboat from my hand, you are ready to leave the asylum, but I don't want to leave.

The early Disneyland had some scruffy landscaping, but this did not last long in the beautiful OC climate, where everything grows all year around.

I confess that I am vaguely excited about seeing Wookie World, but I'm sure that will wear off when I see the crowds, and the price tag.

The best part of Boba Fett was the Sarlacc belch.


Nanook said...


I'm having enough difficulty just trying to be 'the candle on the water'-!

JC Shannon said...

The Motor Boat Cruise was very cool when you were little. As I got older, I stopped riding. However, I was devastated when another attraction was gone. I have a soft spot for the older, classic rides. I can just see Walt looking down from the other side and thinking "Whats a Boba Fett?" Thanks Major, for keeping the old attractions alive.

Melissa said...

Man, I love hearing behind the scenes details from Cast Members, especially about stuff that isn't there anymore.

Chuck said...

Melissa, you know what else is cool? Behind the scenes details from Cast Members about stuff that hasn't even been built yet.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, why would anyone leave the asylum? They have jello every day, and it has whipped cream on top. My favorite. It is kind of astonishing to see how quickly the park went from that raw, barren look to lush and green. Like you said, it was that OC climate. I really do wonder if there will be some high-priced ticket for the first few months of Lightsaber Land? Also, I’m just relieved that it the belch wasn’t a… well, you know. Disney cartoons loved those.

Nanook, are you seeing cartoon dragons, by any chance?

Jonathan, I’m like you, I didn’t ride the motorboats after a certain point, but was very sad to see them gone. To this day they haven’t really done anything with the space, strangely. Wasn’t there a story that Lucas originally offered Star Wars to Disney, and they turned it down? Of course it would have been a completely different movie.

Melissa, I can’t get enough of the insider stuff. That rhymes.

Chuck, what about insider stuff from somebody like me, who makes everything up?

Anonymous said...

Major, Disney has announced 25% (!) ticket price increases, effective immediately, in advance of Ewok Alley. These are undoubtedly intended to be permanent.


Anonymous said...

Chuck - A couple answers: Yes, Load 1 was closest to the operator station. The trough WAS the guide all the way around the loop. Two guide wheels (one in front and one in back) mounted on a vertical axle would guide the boats, but allow them to float. Photo is of the Fantasyland side. Once that yellow boat leaves the dock, it will turn right and then head out, all the time guided by the wheels in the trough. Hope this helps.

Sunday Night said...

Wish I had ridden the Motor Boats. Actually I REALLY wish I had ridden the Phantom Boats!
Thanks for the technical details Anon! We all love that kind of stuff here.

Melissa said...

I fear I missed out on the Motor Boats. I guess you could call it a case of MoBo-FOMO.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, oh boy… if raising the prices is their way of controlling crowds then… yuck. If families can’t afford it, they’ll stay away! A 25% increase, ouch. I might even forgive it if it was a premium experience, instead of having to wait in line 30 minutes for a corn dog, or to use the bathroom. Will they ever push it to the point where the die-hard fans will rebel?

Anon, thank you for the more thorough description!

Sunday Night, yeah, even if those Phantom Boats conked out, I would enjoy waiting to be towed back to the dock. Unless I needed to use el baƱo.

Melissa, I miss the MoBos, but I admit that they are pretty far down my list of “most missed extinct attractions”.

Chuck said...

Thanks, Anonymous!