Thursday, January 16, 2020

Where's the Water? December 1958

Back in December (or thereabouts) of 1958, the Rivers of America was (were?) drained for reasons unknown. Some say it has to do with strange lights seen over Anaheim - triangular red shapes that pulsed and moved erratically - a few people claimed that they emitted a hypnotic hum. There were mysterious burn marks in the Disneyland parking lot - at least they appeared charred; they were ice cold, in fact. Workers in the parking lot experienced several lost hours of memory. But I'm sure it was nothing! Weather balloons, probably.

Those poor ducks can't believe their beady little eyes... "Wha' happen?", they said, quackily. You can see that the track for the large boats rests on concrete piers, one of which has been knocked out of place somehow (probably an enraged duck). 

It's interesting to see the Mark Twain at rest near where the Keel Boats were sometimes berthed. Since it rests on the bottom of its hull, the lady is practically eye-level with the 2nd deck (boiler deck?). Presumably the bit of shiny red-brown painted wood is part of the Columbia (to the left)? That ship debuted in June of '58, so it seems strange that it was out of commission already. Perhaps the river was only empty for a few days.


TokyoMagic! said...

The Moonliner is playing peek-a-boo with us in that first pic. And is Scarlett O'Hara in the gazebo, or is that a piano? Or neither?

I kind of feel sorry for those ducks. They look a little lost without the water. But I guess they could go play in the Jungle Cruise, if they really wanted to.

Nanook said...

Definitely, some unusual views. By 1958, the pink building poking its head above the bandstand, would be the home of Don DeFore's Silver Banjo Barbecue-! (I'll have the complete 'Chicken Plate Dinner' for $1.75).

Thanks, Major.

Andrew said...

Random thought for today: they should drive the Columbia and Mark Twain around the river sometime, one right behind the other. Maybe throw in the Fantasmic floats while you're at it; that would be a grand parade!

DrGoat said...

I was thinking the same thing. Those ducks will have to brave the dangerous waters of the Jungle Cruise! Actually, it might be a great place for a duck, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
Come to think of it, I can't remember seeing ducks in those waters, but it's something that could be easily missed with all the jungle madness going on.
Interesting pics, thanks Major.
Would love to get a look at the underside of the M. Twain and the Columbia, and check out the attachment to the rail, etc.

"Lou and Sue" said...

It's Water Fowl Week in Disneyland!

I love the ducks walking on the river bed. They probably feel the same way all of us have felt when we discovered a favorite Disneyland attraction had been removed.

Thank you, Major!


JC Shannon said...

Major, don't you know it's always swamp gas? TM, It took me 10 minutes to find the Moonliner in the first pic. You would have made a first rate intel analyst. Maybe the thing in the gazebo is Walt's after hours BBQ. "Another hot dog Lilly?" Thanks Major.

zach said...

They drain the river whenever someone loses a contact. I read it on the internet when I was looking up mysterious parking lot phenomenon.

I always enjoy behind the scenes stuff like Space Mountain with the lights on and empty rivers and bewildered ducks. Where did the ducks pin their cast member name tags?

Thanks, as usual, to the Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I sure didn’t notice the rocket… it is much further to the right than I would expect! I wonder if the castle moat was empty as well? But you’re right, the Jungle Cruise was all ready for ducky shenanigans.

Nanook, silver banjos taste better when they are allowed to simmer for hours. Barbecuing makes them tough and chewy.

Andrew, I like your idea only you forgot one thing - SPEEDBOATS.

DrGoat, it seems like the Jungle Cruise would be a better place to have a nest full of eggs; as you say, it is full of nooks and crannies, just like a Thompson’s English muffin. I have a few pictures of ducks in the Jungle Cruise, my favorites are when they take a nap on the back of a crocodile.

Lou and Sue, for all I know, it could be “International Waterfowl Week”. It could happen! I wonder how long the river was dry? Those ducks must really have been confused.

Jonathan, I thought it was weather balloons, or ball lightning. But swamp gas works too. And now I wish that Walt had chosen a few days to cook hot dogs on the grill for guests. It’s not like he had anything better to do!

dzacher, mmmm, just think of all the nasty things living in that water! If you lost a contact, you’d be better off saying goodbye and finding closure somehow. “Mysterious parking lot phenomenon”?? The ducks had those metal tags around their legs, since they molted their feathers regularly.

Anonymous said...

The MT should be resting on wood blocks...not on the bottom of the 'river'. KS

Clyde Hughes said...

Did/does the river have a sealed bottom (concrete under the dirt), or is it completely 'natural'? Just wait, the sealed vs natural bottom debate may cause controversy!
I think that "duckily" needs to become a word of the day somewhere. Just reading it makes me feel like a duck...wandering around, wondering what happened to that darned river!
The colours of the buildings in the first photo are gorgeous! It's interesting to see the 'non-river' part of the photo, in which life goes on as usual, contrasted to the 'crime scene' in which the ducks are looking for the purloined h2o.

Chuck said...

I recall riding the Jungle Cruise in the mid-'90s when the skipper suddenly pointed mid-spiel and yelled "DUCK!" After we all looked, he said in his normal voice "See - it's a mallard." And it was.

Clyde Hughes, after losing the river to the sandy soil pre-opening, they originally sealed the riverbed with clay. At some point (I want to say in the '80s), they re-lined it with concrete.

Daveland has a really interesting article about the 1961 draining of the river atthis link.

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, I didn't literally mean that the hull was resting on the mud, but I also didn't make that clear, so... point taken!

Clyde Hughes, my understanding is that for many years the river was lined with clay that prevented the water from draining away (or at least slowed it to an acceptable amount). And then at some point the river was sprayed with cement, probably much like a swimming pool. Maybe this was done during one of SoCal's many droughts? I am still not really sure what reasons they needed to completely drain the river - it seems like it would have to be a pretty big reason. Just cleaning out the dropped cameras, hats, and dark glasses doesn't seem like a worthy excuse.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Speaking of name tags for ducks, check out this article regarding Donald Duck's 50th birthday ducks (and they ARE wearing name tags around their necks):

A few years back I read a book with lots of details about these birthday ducks, but darn if I can remember the name of the book or the author (old age). What I do recall reading is that these ducks, while growing up, had to be trained to wear the necklace name tags and the birthday hats. At first, when the trainer would put a name tag or hat on one duck - the others would get jealous and instantly attack that one. To stop the attacks, they made two duck pens - side by side. The trainer would put the name tag and hat on one duck - and then instantly place it in the 2nd pen. This would continue until all the ducks were in pen #2 - dressed (and happy) and ready to go.

These ducks were in a daily parade for a year or so, if I remember correctly. Maybe someone else remembers more of the details and can share them with us. The ducks would be on a float with Donald Duck part(?) of the time, and walking and waddling and following Donald part of the time, too, I believe. The music for the float was the Happy Birthday song with quacking (not singing). Since the ducks' bills were always moving, it looked like the ducks were actually quacking the Happy Birthday song - and some guests were amazed that Disney could train them to do that. :)

Pairs of the ducks eventually went to live at different zoos throughout the country, after the year of celebrating was over.


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I have seen the ducks in the Jungle Cruise and yeah, it is funny to see them nestled on the back of one of the crocodile figures. I've also seen them in Storybook Land, throwing off the scale of the houses. When I was a kid, and even as a teenager and young adult, I don't ever recall seeing the ducks in the Jungle Cruise, Submarine Lagoon, or Storybook Land waters. For me, it seems like a newer thing. Well, newer, like within the last 25 years or so. I wonder if they ever did anything to discourage them from getting into the other bodies of water?

Sue, that thing with the ducks walking down the parade route sounds very familiar, so maybe I saw footage of it. From that article, it sounds like that was done only at WDW and just for one day. Maybe they did that on the actual day of Donald's 50th birthday? They should have tried that with mice on Mickey's 50th birthday, back in 1978!

"Lou and Sue" said...

TM! Yes, the corn birthday cake at the castle (with all the ducks) was a one-time thing, but I thought the 50th birthday parade was for a year or so (with the ducks) - but I truly could be mistaken. Maybe someone out there will know more details, as the duck stories from that celebration were really funny. I LOVE your idea about the mice for Mickey Mouse - great idea for his 100th, in a few more years! Little mice with little Mickey-Mouse-ear hats with their names embroidered on the back.


TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, and the mice should all be wearing little red shorts!

I saw the parade for Donald's 50th, quite a bit that year at Disneyland. I never saw the ducks used there. But maybe they did use them on a daily basis in WDW's version of the parade. I always liked the song they used in that parade and also the song that they used in Disneyland's 30th birthday parade, the following year. They were both very catchy tunes!