Wednesday, June 17, 2020

River Construction And More

GDB friend Huck Caton has come through again, with more neat photos of the Rivers of America (from October 9th, 1991) - sans river, as well as a little bit more construction on Tom Sawyer Island.

We can see just a bit of the Mark Twain to our right, which was at rest near the Canoe landing (as seen in these photos). Across the riverbed is Fort Wilderness, tucked behind trees and shrubs. It would be easy for a nefarious person to climb a nearby tree, and drop into the fort at night for a scalpathon! 

The Hungry Bear restaurant is to our left - one of my favorite places to eat, or at least it used to be. I haven't been since they widened the walkway so that folks can walk to Galaxy's Edge. That poor bear looks like he could use a hot meal and a soft bed. 

I'm not exactly sure where this was taken, to be honest. I think it is more toward the southern end of Tom Sawyer Island, where so much work was being done in preparation for the Fantasmic show. Look at all those wooden pilings, holding back the hillside. 

Here's another odd view that I can't quite place - I think the Mark Twain landing is in the distance, with the flags on top as always. A few vehicles are parked in the dry river, and hard-hatted fellows are talking about their favorite beef jerky. 

Huck had only a single photo from Tomorrowland, and I wasn't sure where to put it, so I am just including it as an extra goodie today. Mission to Mars was closed at this time, though it's permanent closure wasn't yet announced. There's the Peoplemover, and we can see a sign for "Captain EO" (sponsored by Kodak). Trash cans seem to be blocking the Speedramp up to Space Mountain's queue. And hey, pay phones to our left! Are there any pay phones in Disneyland these days?

Thanks a million to Huck for sharing his personal photos with us!


TokyoMagic! said...

I'm sure that bear could use a hot meal, but not too hot, and also not too cold. One that is just right!

I think you are right about the third pic. Isn't that Tom and Huck's Treehouse that we are seeing? And that might be a little bit of the rockwork around the entrance to Injun Joe's Cave, that we can see through the brush along the shore.

Thanks Huck, for sharing more of your personal pics with us! And thanks to the Major, for posting them!


Major: I think that unidentified section is as you speculated the south end of the island. The original mill has been removed and they are constructing the infrastructure for the “dragon pit” and it’s control room that will be disguised as a Cider Mill ( now a out -of -place and out -of -period Pirate Tavern) The Cider Mill facade was a salute to the Cinder Mill and apple trees on the model of Discovery Bay ..... situated between Frontierland and the Big Thunder Trail (Model) This in reality would have been a shady area that served apple ciders and fresh apple juice to Frontierland guests. The Cider Mill was also proposed in another unbuilt land Disneyland’s LAND OF LEGENDS - a area proposed north of Bear Country. This land included a WIND WAGON SMITH and ICHABOD & THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN dark rides among others. And Johnny Appleseeds Cider Mill.

That fantasmic cider mill was only a facade and never served anything.

Chuck said...

in the fourth photo, could some of that dirt expanse to to right be the terracing that was done to the levee to facilitate Fantasmic! watching? Maybe not; this is the widest part of the river, and that dirt vehicle ramp at the extreme right looks like it might be originating at the clearly-defined edge of the river.

Thanks again, Huck!

Andrew said...

Mission to Mars: sponsored by M&Ms

stu29573 said...

That poor bear is wondering where the heck his river went! I love the Tomorrowland shot, even though there's not much going on. I think I need a quick spin on Space Mountain...

zach said...

Tomorrow land wasn't very crowded that day but it looks like most people got tired at the same time. Two women are carefully reading the SM warning. Think one of them is pregnant? A mailman is entering from the left, checking his cellphone prototype. I really want to visit on a day like this.

Thanks Major and the GDB community for our daily dose of DL.


JC Shannon said...

I am amazed every time I see the ROA drained. The illusion is so complete when water is added, I never think of it as only four feet deep. Every time they mess with ROA, I get mad. So glad for all the photos here at GDB, and all my great memories. They can't screw those up. If you bribe the bear with waffles and maple syrup, he will let you play on the river bed. Thanks Huck and Major.


Andrew: I don’t know if you are aware that M&M-MARS (candies) did sponsor Disneyland’s STAR TOURS for a time.

DrGoat said...

Not only miss the Hungry, but is that restroom and sitting area still there? Used to be a favorite spot to chill out and take a break. That second pic is kind of a heart breaker.
Going back to the last post, we watched Disney Security take away some guy that had too much to drink somehow, through a door just west of the Bazaar in the Bengal BBQ area. About 1996 or somewhere in there. Substantial door tucked away behind the BBQ.
Thanks Major, pics to ponder.

Alonzo P Hawk said...


Mrs Alonzo P Hawk works as a marketer for M&M Mars. Don't give them any ideas, they'll do anything. I can see a Kyle Busch car parked out front in a heartbeat. It would be more likely to rebrand from pizza (port/planet)to Mars due to upcoming exploration. More likely sponsor would be Tesla/Space X.

The lonely last photo looks like a new social distancing guideline photo.

Thanks Huck and Major.

Anonymous said...

I usually enjoy construction pictures, but these are pretty hard to see. The beginning of destroying my childhood Disneyland.

Like JC Shannon, the shallow channel of the dry River is always a surprise. Seems like you could just wade across. I wonder if there is a special imagineering recipe for the mud in the water, to make it look like the Big Muddy?

Thanks Huck and Major.


Anonymous said...

Give Disney credit: the riverbed is actual dirt and not concrete. Makes the overall rustic aesthetic all the more realistic.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, yes, there is nothing worse than porridge that is icy cold or hot as lava. I guess that could be Tom and Huck’s (the other Huck) treehouse, I thought maybe we’d be able to see the actual house part and not just tree. But it seems like it’s in the right place, and it stands out a bit due to its color.

Mike Cozart, more great info! I’ve made my dislike of the TSI redo well-known here, so I don’t need to go into that again. Maybe I knew that the too-big building was supposed to be a cider mill, but it feels like new info to me. Just out of curiosity, I seem to remember a rumor in which they would have put a “mine car drop” on the island, something akin to Tower of Terror, only your mine car would drop underground. I thought it sounded kind of cool, but have no idea if it was ever really a consideration. I’m still so bummed that we didn’t get a headless horseman ride! But as they say, no idea at Disney ever really goes away, maybe one will be built when I am 80 years old.

Chuck, I assume you are correct about the terracing for viewing Fantasmic!… the changes to the Frontierland shoreline might bother me even more than the changes to Tom Sawyer Island, and that’s saying something.

Andrew, I’m trying to imagine how they would shoehorn a mention of M&Ms into the ride spiel!

stu29573, don’t worry bear, at least you don’t have to eat slimy cold fish, you can just amble over to the Hungry Bear restaurant for a chiliburger.

zach, those ladies are clearly worried about something. the pregnancy theory is as good as any. Or else they have some young kids nearby and they’re trying to decide if Space Mountain is too scary. I think 1991 was before the insane daily crowds, so yeah, what a good time to go.

Jonathan, I agree, I expect the river to be a good 10 feet deep, maybe more in some places. They should add a big animatronic snapping turtle at some point - all it would need to do is move its head a little bit. Those things are scary, so it would be a good thrill. Disney, you can have that idea for free, but you can send me a few thousand if it will soothe your conscience.

Mike Cozart, I didn’t know that!

DrGoat, the Hungry Bear used to be one of my favorite places to eat. Even on a busy day you could often find a seat that was right on the river. Eat your food and watch the Mark Twain pass, wave to the people, etc. It was very pleasant! Wow, I wonder how a drunk guy got into the park in 1991? Maybe he had a flask. Or two, or three. Sad that anybody needed a drink that bad.

Alonzo, oh boy, do you get free samples? Send some my way! Who is Kyle Busch? It would be interesting to see if Tesla ever becomes a sponsor at a Disney Park, but Elon Musk, who is very smart, is also kind of a weirdo. And yes, that last photo is probably very similar to how the park will look when they reopen with “reservations only”!

JG, I know you have a lot of construction knowledge, so you can probably glean things from construction photos that others can’t. I’ve heard that they dumped in some sort of dye to make the river water turbid, I liked it better when it really looked like sort of brownish-green muddy water, instead of the blue-green look of today.

The Magic Ears Dudebro, I thought I had read that the riverbank had been sprayed with concrete (much like a swimming pool), but those tire ruts sure look like they are in mud to me.

Kel said...

I still prefer the more tropical look and solid pavement in Tomorrowland. They should go back to that.


MAJOR: there were several variations of a free fall mine shaft drop type attraction planned for Disneyland’s Frontierland In the 1990’s and up till around 2005. I may have snuck a model photo in of one of those proposals on one if my old blogs , COZART DESIGN AND MODEL. I am not aware of any of those plans having been located on Tom Sawyer Island however. A version I worked on placed the double mine frame tower on the vacated Cascade Peak location. The premise was a mining venture that had to be temporarily abandoned because of increased volcanic geyser activity in the area and was now being prematurely re-opened by the mine’s greedy conglomerate back East. While the attraction ended in a giant geyser “blast” shooting a combination mine car/ elevator vehicle and its passengers up and out of its main shaft ,the attraction featured a thrilling tour down into the re opened mine’s various tunnels and its beautiful and giant “Rainbow Caverns” . The idea was a sort off combination of The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train / Calico Mine Ride / The Tower of Terror. Once the DCA tower of terror opened , this “ Geyser Cascade “ idea lost most of its backing. A similar version was also proposed for Hong Kong Disneyland but its setting was a British Colonial mining theme with the mine shaft tower and buildings being of “bamboo “ and “corrugated steel”. This tied in Mystic Manor as being the mining operation president’s home. The mine drop area was then America West Themed and the design process gave way to GRIZZLY MOUNTAIN attraction.

Imagineer Bruce Gordon once proposed a revised Discovery Bay for Disneyland that placed most of it on Tom Sawyer’s Island and parts of it on the mainland - but I think this was a WDI Employee Forum proposal and not a actual green lighted development project -I think some concept sketches have leaked out over the years of that.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Plano Jerky from Porterville, CA. I've never had better, personally.

Anonymous said...

@Mike Cozart, thanks for the interesting insight on Geyser Cascade. I have never heard of this before, and it sounds great. The drop would be right in line with the theming. I think this would have been a much better application of the free fall drop tech than the Tower of Terror schtick. And we would get Cascade Peak back.

That TT backstory always sounded fake to me, even though the art direction was extremely good. It seemed like an excuse to use the drop effect, and not much more. Who has ever been in a hotel elevator with strap-in seats?

I can't even imagine how they try to integrate a Guardians of the Galaxy story around it. I'm boycotting that attraction since it just sounds goofy.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Speaking of the (Twilight Zone) Tower of Terror, Disneyland got the bad end of the deal - compared to WDW's Tower of Terror attraction, in my opinion. The WDW version seems twice as long as DL's - and the elevator "cars" (for the WDW version) roll out of the elevator shaft and move all around the "hotel" floor for all kinds of cool effects - before rolling back into the elevator shaft for the free-falls. DL's version just goes up and down and the ride is over. The WDW version was/is our favorite 'Disney MGM Studios' / 'Hollywood Studios' / 'Disney Studios' (whatever the heck they now call the ruined park) attraction. (If I sound a bit sour, it's because I LOVED the old Disney MGM Studios for many reasons.)

In December 1994 or 1995, my dad (Lou) was able to get a sneak peek into the WDW Tower of Terror's "inner workings" - because he knew someone at Otis Elevator (the company that specially designed the elevator equipment for that attraction). I guess, at that time, Otis didn't want anyone to see their mechanical secrets - as they had specially designed the Tower of Terror elevator system to do more than just let gravity pull the elevator cars down. The elevator cars are pulled down mechanically - faster than gravity will pull you down. Maybe now it's no longer "top secret" elevator-workings, but, at the time, my dad had to wear an Otis Elevator Mechanic worksuit and pretend to be an Otis employee - and he was "snuck" into the building around 4:00 a.m. He said it was amazing to see and that the special equipment took up most of the building. Unfortunately, he could NOT bring a camera inside. Darn!

Mike Cozart, that 'free fall mine shaft drop' sounds fun! Too bad it didn't happen! If you know more about the Tower of Terror elevator info, please comment. Thanks!

Thanks, Huck & Major, for today's interesting pictures!


"Lou and Sue" said...

JG, I meant to comment that I agree with you . . . Guardians of the Galaxy sounds goofy to me, too. I have no desire to stand in a long line for it. If anyone of you Junior Gorillas have been on that ride/attraction, please tell me if you enjoyed it (then maybe I'll re-consider). Thanks!


Omnispace said...

It looks like we are really getting the DIRT on Rivers of America today!!

I miss the Speedramps for Space Mountain, and the restaurant with the upper terrace overlooking the open stage area. I guess it just never worked the way they intended it. Even so, the front of the Space Mountain complex now feels like something is missing, and entering through the old restaurant seems very weird to me.

Major Pepperidge said...

Kel, I don’t even know, is Tomorrowland all pavers now? Maybe they like those better because they can just replace a relative few if any get damaged.

Mike Cozart, I went back and looked at your blog entries, and I think you had at least two posts featuring a mine shaft drop attraction! I may be mistaken about the rumor that the mine shaft drop ride being placed on Tom Sawyer Island, but I think I read it on one of the more popular message boards, and we all know how reliable those can be. Somehow locating it on the site of the former Cascade Peak seems more doable. And of course I am all for anything that approximates Rainbow Caverns! Sounds very much like they could have used a ride system similar to the Tower of Terror in Florida, in which the elevators can move forward as well as up and down. Maybe the Bruce Gordon concept is what I read about? THANKS!

Steve DeGaetano, I haven’t had that, but we have had a family tradition of buying jerky from Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop, California. Sometimes I’ll mail order some when they have a sale! It’s still pricey, but I’ll do it as a special treat.

JG, looking at Mike’s models, it appears that the drop would be a lot more “above ground” than I expected - I really thought that they were going to have to dig a shaft (or several) 100 feet deep. Which I’m sure would have presented all kinds of problems. Still, the idea is intriguing. I liked the Tower of Terror, and have not experienced the Guardians of the Galaxy replacement.

Lou and Sue, yes, that “4th dimension” part of the Florida “Tower of Terror” sounds incredible, I am very disappointed that DCA got a less-good version. I am not aware of the ride system being problematic (maybe it is?), why not use something that has already been established? Sounds like Lou had some good connections, it would have been cool to go backstage and see the mechanical works. As you said, bummer that he couldn’t bring a camera.

Lou and Sue, I don’t know, maybe the Guardians of the Galaxy thing is fine; I’ve seen photos of The Collector’s stuff, it’s kind of fun. The old Matterhorn yeti is in one case. But I have no personal experience, so I’ll have to rely on other people.

Omnispace, I wish I could play a rimshot! I remember that even when the speedramps worked, that they sometimes got backed up with too many people. They might have just been a victim of the ride’s extreme popularity.


Those early models of Geyser Cascade were from about 2003 - but posted much later. The ride system and vehicle was different than that of the Tower of Terror. A suspended tipple ore car like railway system was planned ( Picture Calico Mine Ore cars suspended like Horizons) guests were riding in a miners transport or mine inspection version. The track attached to the decoration only square frame timbering. Guests would feel the rolling sensation as they gently rolled down into the depths of the mine. When the vehicles entered the main “blast shaft” they were at the lowest part of the attraction - they are stopped in a mining cage shaft elevator where the ride vehicle is clamped and locked into place ( without them knowing it) eventually when the steam and geyser blast went off the psssengers feel the mine gondola shooting upward in the “steam” and dark until they rise a above ground up the framing of the mine shaft head ( the part above ground) as the vehicles are pushed to the top ( kinda like a strength test machine at a carnival) guests see and hear SFX of splitting beams bolts pushing out. The geyser’s power holds the guests and the gondola at the top for a short overview of Frontierland , then cuts off leaving the guests to their free fall plummet back down into the shaft. The shaft was double so at times two gondolas might be blasted to the top.

Somewhere I have pictures of the ride vehicles but it would be some time before I could find them.
This ride system has never been used in any other attraction by Disney .... yet.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, wow, more great info. I have to admit that your description of the ride is nothing like I imagined! I thought it would be something much less elaborate. Would any portion of the ride actually have gone underground? Or would it actually have started several stories above ground level, so that there was an illusion of going underground? I think it’s so cool that they actually wanted to do something with so many effects - the steam and geysers, the splitting beams and popping bolts… now I wish I could ride it! But I’m also sure it would have been VERY expensive to build and operate. Oh well, I guess it’s just one of those “things that never were meant to be”. Thank you again for all of the wonderful stuff.


MAJOR: yes a show building heading back towards Thunder Ranch would have been disguised from the river and Big Thunder Trail. Basically you coasted downward seeing the mining operations and natural wonders discovered amid the now-and then dangers of the hot steam and geyser outbursts. Some of the ride vehicles were painted yellow and red ( a natures wonderland salute) while others were more worn wood finish with black “ cast iron “ fittings with red highlights. While it was a thrill ride, it wasn’t a fast roller coaster - very scenic for the most part. A few short drops where the mining gondola structure had been damaged or went thru a drastic elevation change.

There had been a few concepts of continuing the big thunder high desert landscape , but it was decided to keep the Colorado High Country feel as it had during Nature’s Wonderland - with the ponderosa pine and aspen trees. The attraction went by many working names , Silver Plume Plummet, Geyser Plume, Calamity Canyon, Calamity Gorge..... Cascade Gorge were just some .

One proposal featured steam piping all around the mining facility in a Jules Verne / Steam Punk fashion with some of the smaller geysers and steam vents “capped” to show the mining engineers had figured out a way to power the mining equipment with the captured steam. But it was decided to be too much of a cluttered back ground story.