Monday, September 30, 2019

Swiss Family Mystery!

It's time for more photos from GDB pals Irene, Bruce, and James, aka "The Dream Team"!

As is often the case, none of these snapshots were dated, so a lot of guesswork is necessary. In this first image, we see a sign next to the Swiss Family Treehouse: On this site, July 17 1805, the Swiss Family Robinson, composed of myself, my good wife, and three sons, Fritz, Ernst, and little Francis... were the sole survivors by the grace of God, of the ill-fated ship RECOVERY.

From the wreckage we built our home in this tree for protection on this uncharted shore. (signed) Franz R.

A second photo shows the same sign (or is it merely a similar sign?), with the same text, only this time it is mostly light text on a darker background, while the former sign was mostly dark text on a lighter  background. The ill-fated ship is still the Recovery, though.

The third photo shows another sign (or is it the same one?), only the name of the ill-fated ship is now the "TITUS", which is interesting. When did it change? Why did it change? WHO DID IT CHANGE? It occurred to me that this might be from the treehouse at Florida's Magic Kingdom.

Back in 2015 I took this photo at Van Eaton Galleries during the preview of their "Story of Disneyland" auction. As you can see, this artwork has the name "Titus" as well, and the gallery's description says that the artwork was done for Disneyland - maybe that is erroneous?

Thanks to Irene, Bruce, and James for this dark and bloody mystery!


Nanook said...

Just to throw another monkey wrench into the fire, the current signage at WDW refers to the "ill fated ship" Swallow, complete with improper grammar. It seems to be a free-for-all.

Thanks to the Dream Team, and the Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I believe all three photos were taken at Disneyland. In the first and third pic, we can see the waterwheel and bamboo railings right there behind the sign. Walt Disney World's version of the treehouse is much further away, as it sits on an island and is accessed by crossing over a long bridge. In the second photo, we can see the The Disney Gallery sign as well as the stairway leading up to it.

Maybe someone in the DL sign shop, got their kicks from changing the name of the ship every so often?

Chuck said...

What an interesting mystery!

The ship is not named in the original novel, nor is its name mentioned in any dialogue in the 1960 film.

While I couldn't find any explanation for the difference in signage, it appears we are not the first to pass this way.


I understand when the attraction opened at Disneyland it featured the ship’s name from the film ; TITUS. During a rehab at some point the sign shop while verifying the name of the ship was sent the wrong information regarding the “recovery” of supplies from the ship “SWALLOW” as it was called in the book and script. So eventually it was “corrected” to the SWALLOW...and around that time Walt Disney World was given the book name SWALLOW ( and I think has always kept that). Disneyland’s treehouse during a later rehab had the name changed back to the film shop name TITUS. And it remained TITUS until the Swiss gave way to Tarzan.

I may have the time placement of RECOVERY incorrect - it may have come after SWALLOW before the final name change to TITUS.
SWALLOW : book ship
TITUS : film ship
RECOVERY : a clerical error

Tokyo Disneyland’s Swiss Family Treehouse opened in 1993 and mentions the wrecked ship as being the TABLE LAMP.


Now that I think of it - either the ship was not named in the book but was named on the prop ship was TITUS and SWALLOW was in the script name. Something along those lines - I can’t recall the specifics now. Also I totally made up the name of Tokyo Disneyland’s ship wreck of ours.



There you go! That’s right! The ship is not named in the book - but it was given a name in the script / prop/ sets .... which may not be visible in the final cut scenes in the film. But you gotta give the sign shop people credit for all their research!!


I have a 1972 Disneyland Treehouse sign photo names the ship TITUS . And the sign in 1999 is also called TITUS.

Andrew said...

It seems as if this mystery is already all figured out, so I'll just re-state that this is a nice lookin' sign - in all of its forms!

Anonymous said...

I was going to make a joke about it being the Good Ship Lollipop, but I recently found out that the GSL was actually an airplane, so that doesn't work at all. Oh well...

JC Shannon said...

I do love a mystery. Maybe there is some deep meaning behind it. Or maybe not. I loved the Tree House as a kid, but I probably never read the sign. Kids are like that. thanks to Major and Irene, Bruce and James.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it’s been a while since I originally composed today’s post (about two months, believe it or not), I think I did look up to see if WDW had a similar sign, and that their ship was called the “Swallow”. What’s the problem with the grammar? I probably didn’t even notice.

TokyoMagic!, I appreciate your input, I figured it would be less interesting if it just turned out that one photo was from Florida. I like that they changed the ship’s name because it seems so random. “Kids these days, they don’t want a ship called something nerdy like ‘Recovery’!”. You know how kids are. And yes, you can see the blue bannister of the staircase up to the Disney Gallery, that was the only one where I was sure it was Disneyland.

Chuck, believe it or not, I actually checked to see what the name of the ship was in the novel, I should have mentioned that. I used to read that book over and over when I was a kid, it was a fascinating and fun adventure - the illustrated volume that I have is probably from the 40’s or 50’s, as it originally belonged to my mom. I’m glad that you found another mention of the treehouse name mystery, because I couldn’t! Also, I am impressed that you found the entire script online.

Mike Cozart, it’s been so long since I’ve seen the Disney film version of the story that I remember only a few highlights (and some lowlights, like Moochie going on and on about a tiger). During the writing of today’s post, I dug out my copy of the book, and did not find a name for the Swiss Family’s ship at all, but maybe I just missed it. I can’t tell if you are joking about “Recovery” being a clerical error?!

Mike Cozart II, I didn’t even think about Tokyo Disneyland, do they have a Swiss Family Treehouse too?

Mike Cozart III, I assume you must own a copy of the script? It would make sense that they would name the ship as an aside, even if its not mentioned in the final film.

Mike Cozart IV, I had the feeling that “Recovery” was the older name. The photo of the artwork from Van Eaton stated that it was from 1962, which I was pretty sure was erroneous.

Penna. Andrew, I’d still like to know why they went to the trouble of renaming the ship - something that probably 99% of guests wouldn’t even notice.

Stu29573, that Shirley Temple trivia will get you every time!

Jonathan, this mystery is basically like “Watergate”, only with less Nixon. I think I read some of the signs that were seen throughout the attraction (more on those in a future post!), but probably never read this main sign.

Nanook said...

"Ill-fated" needs a hyphen to appease the grammar police.

JG said...

Wow, this post is something all right.

I recall the name of the ship as the TITUS, but I have no photographs to prove that memory.

I did not get to see the movie until we got Disney Channel in the '80's.

I had two versions of "a" book. First was a kids book bought at Disneyland in 1965, (which I just found again in the garage boxes), and the second was a "young adult" reprint which might have been the original, or maybe a "condensed" version.

I will check my kid's book since I don't know where my YA version went.

Thanks everyone.


Melissa said...

You would think a house built from the wreckage of the RECOVERY would only have twelve steps.

Anonymous said...

My friend (whom I've been in several bands with) wrote a song called "9 Steps." He calls it a recovery song for quitters. (It's not, really...)

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
The Robinson’s were infamously bad at math.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, when in doubt, I like to use an ampersand.

JG, until I saw these photos from the Dream Team, I could not have told you the name of the ship. And then I would have to turn in my blogger’s license and change my name and move to France. My book version of SFR has some nice illustrations, though not as nice as a master like N.C. Wyeth, who should have done it. Maybe he felt like it would be redundant, since he had already done a masterful job with “Robinson Crusoe”.

Melissa, ha ha!

Stu29573, I’ve heard about those 12 steps, and some of them would be tough for me if I had to do them. You’ll have to guess which ones though!

Nanook, luckily William Robinson knew the uses of every plant, animal, and mineral, along with how to make isinglass from sturgeon bladders, or a sticky concoction called “bird lime” to catch pigeons, or how to make felt and then dye it with cochineal. Math, shmath!

Melissa said...

So the treehouse had isinglass curtains you could roll right down in case there was a change in the weather?


MAJOR: I’m not kidding about the name RECOVERY being a “clerical” error. I recall Imagineer David Mumford telling the story that when someone in the sign shop got the ships “correct” name from a contact at the studio ... this may have been prior to the creation of the Disney Archives in 1968 - the memo was misread as the name of the ship in the “recovery” scene ( the recovery of supplies from the ship the Swiss Family was on) and was read wrong from the note or fax or however they communicated from the studios to Disneyland at that time period .. and it was misunderstood that the ship’s NAME was “recovery” not the ship in the recovery scene ....etc.

I was at a Swiss Family Treehouse Party this past spring and Kevin Kidney and Jody Daley did their amazing and highly detailed presentation on the film and attraction .... and the ship name story was discussed ... including the ship used in the distance action shots and the Chinese Junk done for the Burma Pirates in the film as well as the construction of the “ship wreck” built onto the rocks in the island reef.

And yes Tokyo Disneyland got their Swiss Family Treehouse attraction in 1993.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
They even had a hitching post for 'said' surrey-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, your are not too far off! In the book they mostly live in a beautiful dry cave (because monkeys overrun the treehouse), and they make isinglass window panes after boring holes in the cave walls. (I know you’re making an “Oklahoma!” reference, BTW).

Mike Cozart, interesting! I can see how it would be easy to make that mistake about the name. And ultimately, nobody visiting the park would know the difference, so it was a case of “no harm, no foul”. Sounds like that party at Kevin and Jody’s was pretty neat! Thanks as always for your fun comments.

Nanook, hitching posts weren’t invented until the 1970’s.

Nanook said...

Curses-! Foiled again by fact-checking.

Melissa said...

Yep, they built s regular Swiss Colony.

Chuck said...

Melissa is on fire today.

Loved the book as a kid, too, Major. My first read-through was driving down to Florida on our first WDW vacation in '79, and having only seen the 1960 film in the theater and the 1976 Martin Milner TV series, I was really surprised at how comparatively little time they spent in the treehouse.

Mike Cozart, thanks, as always, for the additional backstory. That party sounds like it would have been amazing.