Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Peoplemover & Skyway, April 1974

I'm presenting two more scans from a batch of "too dark" slides, circa 1974. And in spite of their murkiness, they are still worth a look.

We're aboard the Peoplemover, and as the track curved to the left to enter the building that housed "Adventure Thru Inner Space", our photographer had the good idea to take a picture of the train in front of him. To this day I love the graceful track supports (are they pylons??), I'm sure it would have cost considerably less money to make them vertical columns. Down below - a trashcan! And a kid with a blue Mickey ear balloon. The Plaza is mostly obscured by trees.

Now for a Skyway view; I truly wonder why these slides turned out so dark, when you know that the scene was bright and sunlit. I blame cigarettes. Four kids pass us in the yellow gondola, with one throwing us a friendly wave. An ice cream vendor is set up with a trash can right in the way, which is weird. Beneath the yellow gondola we can see the pathway to the dining area behind the Pirate Ship, along with a bit of Skull Rock waterfalls.


JB said...

I think the kid with the Mickey ear balloon is also wearing a Mickey ear hat; not sure. Is that guy in white a CM? He's carrying a large bag-o-somethin'. Trash? Ice cubes? Drink cups? There's a rooster weather vane in the background. What structure is it planted on? Can't be the HM, can it? I thought it had a sailing ship design.

Major, the kid isn't "throwing us a friendly wave". He's casting a spell on the photographer's camera; that's how the dark, murky photos came about! (The kid was heavily into Dungeons & Dragons.) I tried zooming in a whole bunch (700%) to see if I could see the Pumpkin Coach below Cindy's Castle... nope. Either it isn't there, or it's the wrong angle, or the image isn't clear enough. It looks like our ice cream vendor might be positioning the trashcan, just so? I know that Bu gave us a treatise on ODV positioning a while back, explaining the various reasons why it's done a certain way.

Murky, but still good, Major. Thanks. (Maybe the slides were dipped in chocolate syrup?)

Melissa said...

Nothing wrong with a little good, clean murk.

The red Peoplemover cars always make me think of a little column of ladybugs on the march. JB, I was wondering the same things about the little Mickey fan and the gent in white. The track supports are pretty cool; New Tomorrowland made great use of negative space in its architecture. It made everything look all light and airy.
Hey, kids! Yeah, I'm talking to you. Keep your arms and legs inside the gondola at all times! Are you trying to give your Aunt Melissa a heart attack fifty years in the future?

Bu said...

Please obscure the Plaza with trees as they have no scale. Thank you. Guy in white is a sweeper: probably on potty duty, headed there with his trash bag. That he doesn't have a dust pan and broom indicates he has other tasks for today. Sweepers kept their assigned dust pan and brooms in their lockers: which I always thought was a little "ew", but I suppose engendered some "ownership" to their personalized equipment. Bring back the graceful lines of the PeopleMover track: now obscured by a "refreshed" paint job. Don't get it, don't want to get it, will never get it. If I were to gander a guess: the Ice Cream vendor is just setting up shop. I can see a blond employee crouched down in their "yellows" perhaps to put blocks on the wheels to keep it in place. The trash can would ultimately end up on the back side of the wagon to prevent people getting near the money: which is in the white box which is attached to the back of the wagon. The trash can being there was SOP. Excess money and change fund were kept in a money back INSIDE the when you got your bundles of 1's, 5's and other "excess" bills you would place them in the bag just in case you were robbed they would only get so much $$. These things happen. I do not remember ever being at this particular location, but I'm sure it still existed in my day. The wagon had brass decorations that were polished every morning before the wagon went out. The formica was also scrubbed every morning. Getting to this location was a long journey through Tomorrowland around the Matterhorn, etc. Not as far as Bear Country: that was the furthest away...but Fantasyland was taxing to get to: as the crowds were thick generally. Some of the more delicate ladies got helpers: the likes of me: did not. Pushing that heavy wagon to Bear Country up and down hills with a full wagon, AND wearing those basically high heel boots was kind of brutal. Thanks for the morning memories Major.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Major, I think I'd call those PeopleMover structures, "cantilever supports."

Nanook said...

@ JB-
Thaat weather vane is atop the Plaza Inn.

Thanks, Major.

Omnispace said...

Major, that's my favorite part of the PeopleMover - Adventure Thru Inner Space is just around that corner! I love those sculpted supports as well. Pylons? Why not Trylons? I've racked my brain and can only come up with "open splayed column". (Ugh) So much for five and a half years of college!

I've never seen such an up-close view of the Skyway. It feels almost claustrophobic. The intense shadows only reinforce the feeling. Have you ever watched someone try to load a camera while holding a cigarette? I wonder if they forgot to adjust the ISO for the film. I think some cameras with the built-in exposure meters would also simply malfunction.

JG said...

Major, my vote goes to the “pylons”, as elaborate as possible without being overdone. My limited structural training makes me doubt there was any real reason for these complex curved “brackets” other than sheer joy in showing off design talent. The PM track is supported elsewhere on fairly plain pylons (or columns, if you prefer) otherwise, but here at the entry they make a show of necessity.

Mike Cozart used to have some drawings for these structures on his blog, the dimensioning is wildly complex, and all done by hand, both drafting and formwork, long before CAD and CNC milling. Truly works of art that should be enjoyed in the original monochrome white. I’m sure Mike has the paint color number on file.

Ladybugs indeed, a perfect analogy… and a lone silver trash can. Peak Tomorrowland until the advent of Space Mountain.

I misread your commentary on the Waving Kid, thought for a moment he was throwing “up”. All this talk of sweepers etc. I’m sure that happened off-and-on. I remember the gondola interiors were molded in one piece, easy to hose out.

Bu, thanks for the ODV perspective on the cart, I can feel the heavy thing now. Seeing your description, farming sounds easy by comparison,

Three striped trash cans, very close together, for the convenience of guests departing the Tuna Grotto, my second favorite Disneyland Grotto, and third overall. Major, you’re right, there was a seafood grotto in SF, but I can’t recall the rest of the name.

I don’t mind these being dark, Major. Memory is filling in the gaps for me. Thank you.


Melissa said...

I've decided to call them "Y-lons." (Pronounced "why-lons.")

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, I think you might be right about the hat, though it’s a little hard to tell for sure. Maybe the kid just has big ears? The guy in white is almost certainly a sweeper, but again, it’s hard to tell what he’s carrying. An empty trash bag? The weather vane is from atop the Plaza Inn, leftover from when Swift sponsored the Red Wagon Inn (which was the Plaza Inn’s previous iteration)! Wow, casting a spell is rude, I’d report that kid to my local authorities. Does he have a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead? I think these slides were dipped in old motor oil.

Melissa, your comment reminds me of a recent conversation I had with an acquaintance who went hiking in the nearby hills and saw BILLIONS of ladybugs - a “ladybug bloom” he called it. I wish I’d seen it for myself! You’re wasting your breath on those kids, all they think about is video games and twerking.

Bu, confirmation on the sweeper! GDB friend Huck was a sweeper, and he quite enjoyed his job, being able to visit all the pretty girls. Potty duty - well, I guess it is a necessity, but that’s not a job I want when I work at the park. I want “Grand Poobah”! Assigned dustpans, hmmm. A little weird. Do they sanitize them at the end of the day? I was recently looking at those same Peoplemover arches, and thinking A) they look smaller than I remembered, and B) it is criminal that those tracks will apparently remain unused forever. I wondered if you would have anything to say about that trash can position, maybe you’re right about the vendor just setting up shop. Did anybody ever rob a vendor?? I realize that back then it was all cash, but still, not a great place to escape unnoticed. I’m sure there is no more scrubbing each night, my friend Mr. X used to work as a popcorn vendor around 1970-ish, and he observed that the popcorn carts looked “filthy” to him. Yuck!

Steve DeGaetano, oh I like that much better!

Nanook, great minds think alike!

Omnispace, I never really thought about what my favorite part of the Peoplemover was, but being a HUGE fan of Adventure Thru Inner Space, I’m sure that I loved going through that part as well. All those Atomobiles! There was a Trylon at the 1939 World’s Fair, it looked very different from those things at Disneyland. That yellow Skyway gondola does look very close to us! Not sure I’ve watched somebody load a camera while smoking a cigarette, but I knew a lot of smokers back then, so I probably did.

JG, I agree, while those supports probably did offer some structural purpose, they looked that way because it was COOL. And it is cool. I appreciate that they took the extra trouble where it mattered the most. I’ll have to look for photos of the other Peoplemover columns, I think they are still sort of Y-shaped? Maybe I’m wrong. Not as fancy as the entryway examples, however. It is pretty amazing to think of all those designers accomplished without the aid of computers, and so much is still standing 50 or 60 years later. Of course the Rocket Rods apparently damaged the trackway so much that it is now unusable, but you can’t blame the original designers. You should definitely have more trashcans right outside of restaurants, it only makes sense!

Anonymous said...

Major, 90% certain the angled bits under the tracks were mostly for show, since there were other, greater spans of the PM track elsewhere (the part crossing the Skyway, for instance) and the tracks were supported there with plainer columns that resemble those for the monorail beam.

I imagine that these longer spans between supports were enabled by placing more reinforcement steel into the cross-section of the concrete track itself, without changing the outside dimensions of the track casting. I'm sure this was done for the monorail beam also. I don't know for sure how much of the PM track was pre-cast, and how much cast-in-place. The parts with the embedded motors might have been cast-in-place, but that's only speculation on my part. Maybe Mike Cozart will know.

Also very much liking everyone's terminology coinage for these items, from "cantilever supports" to "Whylons", very nice.

Structurally, these tracks and their vertical support columns function as "inverted pendulums" when subjected to lateral forces (earthquakes, high winds, or G-forces of the vehicle travel, especially on curves). The track and the column together swing under load like a pocket watch on a chain, excepted upside down, hence the name.

Since structural design analysis of this movement was not common before the Northridge Quake, it's likely that the columns were not specifically designed for inverted pendulum forces and that might be part of what the Ripoff Rods damaged during their short, unlamented run. The connection point between the column and the track is subjected to the most stress due to lateral out-of-plane (of the track direction) movement. We have seen a lot of freeway overpass column reinforcing since Northridge, and code changes subsequent are the reason.

Sorry for the lengthy diatribe here. Hope it was useful.


Anonymous said...

John Hench called it “Cartilaginous Architecture”, but it was designed by Imagineer Mitsuo Natsume, always known as Mitsu

Still beautiful. I’m glad PM tracks can still at least serve as a shade structure down the spine of Tomorrowland (though I’d add some draping plants along it).

I thrilled to see another peek at the swirling marigolds.


JB said...

I think Melissa wins the prize with "Y-lons" for the naming of the PM supports. Perfectly descriptive, and evokes "pylons" at the same time.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, awesome! :-)

JG, now I am doubting my own memory, but I thought that some of the Peoplemover suports (near “Buzz Lightyear” for instance) were still y-shaped, but I’ll have to look at photos when I have time. I’m sure you are right though, there was no need for the added expense of crazy-looking supports along most of the track. I always assumed that the track was pre-stressed concrete, poured in place, maybe I need to dig out yet another issue of “The E-Ticket” magazine. I was wondering what kind of allowances they had to make for earthquakes back in 1966-67, sounds like they were already coming up with good plans to allow for movement. Ha ha, it’s OK, this is your area of expertise, you are allowed to go on a diatribe!

MS, ah, now that you say that, I think I remember reading that term before. It’s pretty great! Makes me think of H.R. Giger. Thanks!

JB, yes, Melissa is good at that sort of thing.


The PeopleMover guideways and supports are painted DISNEYLAND TECH WHITE #16.