Friday, June 5, 2020

Night Maintenance at Disneyland - 1970's (and the Castle Moat Swans!)

Today, we have another vintage Los Angeles Times article, from my childhood collection. I didn't write the date on this one, but if I am remembering correctly, it was from just after the opening of the "New Matterhorn" in 1978.

Unfortunately, the park doesn't have swans in the Castle moat anymore! I wonder if it was a cost thing? I remember hearing somewhere, that they supposedly got rid of them because the swans were mean, but I've read that swans are only aggressive when defending and protecting their nests. Does anyone know if there were any incidents involving guests? After all, swans had been in the moat for decades, so I'm willing to bet that Disney management just didn't want to pay those rental fees anymore. Thank goodness the Tiki Room birds aren't rented!

I remember reading that part about it taking one man all night, to polish all of the brass on the Carousel and thinking how tedious that job would be! I have ridden the Carousel and noticed all the fingerprints and smudges on the posts. I wonder if they even bother to polish the brass anymore? Unless someone who is reading this knows for sure, the only way to find out might be to go to the park at opening and head over to the Carousel first thing to see if it is smudge-free.

For anyone interested in seeing footage of a Swan in the Castle moat, here is a link to some brief video footage I shot back in 1992. (There's some footage of Snow White's Grotto in between the shots of the swan.)


Chuck said...

I can't believe I'm the first to comment on a MTW post! I usually discover them a week or so after the other usual suspects.

No time to read the article right now, but thanks for posting the swan video - it's exactly what I needed this morning - the perfect companion to breakfast on the back porch. My favorite part was actually the background sounds - Snow White singing, the waterfall, distant crowd noises, the brass ensemble playing live somewhere. I get so used to looking at photos of DL that I forget part of why I loved going there was the immersive environment - the sights, the sounds, the ever-changing spatial relationships as you move through the Park.

Gotta run and finish getting ready for work. I can't afford to be late, and that 25-foot commute is a beast this time of day. :-)

DrGoat said...

Nice to see the swans Tokyo.
I agree with Chuck. Back then, the park was that kind of experience. We would travel from Tucson to bask in it...the whole thing. So different from our daily experience. Main Street, Adventureland, with Swisskapolka running through our brains. Everything else with it's own textures, smells and background sounds.
By the way, I think perhaps the Swans are safer not being there. And then there is the liability of course. Always loved them back in the older days.
Thanks Tokyo

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, congratulations on being first! I wish I had a prize to give you! I'm glad you enjoyed the video, despite my absolutely horrible video camera skills. I hadn't watched the video for a while, but when I watched it recently, I noticed all those sounds that you mentioned. There is a lot going on in the audio....even the splashing of the water coming out of the mouths of the three fish that are spinning around and the live birds chirping.

I hope you had a good day "at work" and that your commute wasn't too taxing!

TokyoMagic! said...

DrGoat, all the things you pointed out about sounds and smells is something that I don't always think about, once I am back home. But all you have to do is mention them and I can conjure many of them up in my mind. Of course, home video does help with remembering some of the sounds. Too bad there isn't something that allows us to "record" the smells!

And I think you are right about it being a safer situation for the swans, by not having them in the moat/park. A lot of people would be throwing popcorn and other junk in the moat for them, which is definitely not a good thing. I sometimes wonder how healthy the park's ducks and other little birdies are, after consuming all of that "people food" that gets dropped, spilled or thrown to them.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Ahhhh, the good ol' days! Those swans were a beautiful, "classy touch"! I really enjoyed your video - a mini trip to Disneyland. Please post more.

Thank you, TokyoMagic!


TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I'm glad you enjoyed the video, as bad as my videography skills were at the time. I have posted some of my Disneyland home video footage here in the past. I will try to post more of it in the future!

Andrew said...

Thanks for a fun post, Tokyo. I was just thinking yesterday that it was time for you to update (not kidding). The fact that Disneyland changes its lightbulbs before they burn out has always been so amazing to me. When I saw my first pictures of Main Street, that was one of the first things I noticed. Kennywood has a section loosely themed to "electric parks" like Luna and Steeplechase from the turn of the 1900s and tries to do the "popcorn light" display, but it never works well because the lights are dim and 25% of them seem to always be burnt out! Anyway...

I'm glad that they fixed those ballast problems on the Bertha Mae! I guess they didn't keep up with the Gullywhumper as well. :-d It also mentions a "Disney Story Theater;" I guess that that was just the one in Fantasyland.

Also... "He talks of "trimmers" and "ratchet dogs" and "chain guides" with intimacy." I really wonder if they asked the mechanic about writing that first because that seems like the type of line that a lot of people would respond with a "What the heck??" if it was written about him or her. Thanks for the post!

Chuck said...

Finally got around to reading the article. "The place is a marvel of modern technology:...literally dozens of computers..." And it was for the time. I still think of it in those terms, even though there are literally a dozen individual computers in the room I am sitting in and probably 25 or more in the four rooms that make up the top floor of my house, mostly in stuff we don't think of as containing computers (clocks, watches, TVs, phones, cameras, a VCR).

I always loved reading stuff like this about "behind the magic"...and the commitment to quality and show that Disneyland was famous for. Here, though, we can see the beginning of that slide that led to things like painters' scaffolding on Main Street during the 40th birthday year and other cost-cutting efforts that have diminished the quality we grew to love over the years. It hasn't degraded to the level of a regional amusement park, but it doesn't seem like it used to be.

TokyoMagic! said...

Andrew, I usually update/add a new post once a month. It often turns out to be the first Friday of the month, unless the post is tied in with a specific anniversary or other date.

I'm guessing that the policy of changing the light bulbs before they burn out has been dropped. I say that because for the last 20 years or more, I have been able to spot PLENTY of burnt out light bulbs on Main Street.

That's a good question about the "Disney Story Theater." I have never heard of a theater in DL, with that name. You are probably right, the writer must have just meant the Fantasyland Theater.

Ha, ha! That is a funny line about the mechanic talking about those things "with intimacy." I guess they could have said "passionately" instead!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, you are right. The park definitely doesn't seem like it used to be as far as maintenance and even cleanliness.

To cite only a couple examples of things I have seen within the last 10 years or the queue for Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, the rubber flooring was coming up at one of the seams. It was so bad that you could literally catch your foot under it and trip. I thought that it would be fixed immediately, but it remained that way for months, although on return visits, they had taken some electrical tape and tried to tape it down. It looked really tacky and you could tell that they had to keep changing the electrical tape because of all the guests walking on it each day. In the old days, I'm sure that section of flooring would have been replaced overnight.

Another example is a broken board in the queue for the Matterhorn. It was one of those boards in the low walls on the sides of the chalet...the ones with tulip shapes cut out of them. Someone had obviously kicked out one of the boards, so it was broken and jagged. That remained that way for at least a couple weeks (this is back when I was going to the park on a weekly basis). After a while, someone removed the jagged board, but there was a gap/hole in the wall where that piece had been and that remained that way for many months before they replaced it.

Yep, unfortunately, things are not maintained like they used to be at The Happiest Place On Earth.

Major Pepperidge said...

I am almost positive that I saved this same article… there was a period where I would clip any Disneyland articles that I found. A lot of those facts about the maintenance and care at the park seem very familiar, though I also thing that they were used in different articles. Maybe in “Disney News”? I was a subscriber for years.

I think it’s articles like this that made people especially upset when maintenance started to decline. Not sure if that started with the Pressler era, though it wouldn’t surprise me. Yes, polishing brass is an awful chore, my mom used to have these brass “hurrican lanterns” (that’s what she called them anyway) and she would have me and one of my siblings use some stinky brass polish goop. Anyway, the attention to every little detail was one of the things that people were always so amazed by. Remember all the photos on various websites showing burned out lightbulbs, rotting woodwork, peeling paint, and so on? It was heartbreaking to people who loved the park.

My friend Mr. X used to call somebody at the park to complain about waterfalls that were never working (like a small one on Storybook Land), and other things that made him nuts, but I think he finally got the message: they were never going to fix them.

I love the interviews with the old-timers, mechanics who could probably diagnose a problem with a machine just by touching it. Like the Fonz!

Thank you for the footage of the swans, I agree with everything Chuck and DrGoat said about it. Hearing Adriana Caselotti’s voice in the background is my favorite thing.

Sorry I am so late to the party!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I think you are right. I remember reading some of those facts elsewhere...especially the part about the shooting gallery targets being repainted, the light bulbs being replaced, and the brass being polished.

I wonder if the brass cleaner your mom had was "Brasso." I have used that before and yes, it stinks. And if you don't wear gloves when you use it, it soaks into your skin and makes it stink, too.

I remember seeing those pics of the park falling apart, on the internet. Remember when the roof on the Enchanted Tiki Room was literally crumbling away? It was very sad to see.

That footage from the Snow White Grotto area was filmed back in the nineties. I wonder if they still use that same recording of Adriana Caselotti? I seem to remember hearing that they had her re-record it in 1983, right at the time of Fantasyland's big remodeling. It's amazing that she still sounded the same, all those years later!

JG said...

Tokyo, thank you for the wonderful footage of Snow White's Grotto! The sights and sounds are perfect.

The grotto was always a special place for our family. Dad took Mom on their first date to watch the Snow White movie when it came out. They always stopped at the grotto and smooched. I would be mortified and try to hide, of course. Now, its still a must-see for me. One of the few places left in the Park where I can stand exactly in the same spot where my parents stood, so long ago.

I hope they don't take it out, especially in light of all the rumors about eliminating the SW dark ride. There has to be someplace in the Park to commemorate the film that started it all.

Thanks for this post. I am trying to get better about visiting.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, that is a great story about your parents! I think the Snow White attraction at DL, is safe for a while. I believe they are currently giving it a makeover and finally adding a proper ending. WDW's version used to have a proper ending, before they ripped out the entire attraction. I'm not sure why DL's version ended with the Witch pushing a boulder down on top of the Dwarfs and then a giant sign after that saying, "And they all lived happily ever after!" Someone was NOT thinking, when they designed that one!

Anonymous said...

@Tokyo, now that you mention it, the current ending is a tad abrupt.

I've read so many people's memories of the old version and how scary it was for kids, and I can't remember it at all, other than that I knew I went on it many times.

The only old dark ride bit that I have any memory of is the Mr. Toad trip through Hades. In general, I think all the updated dark rides are pretty good. I wasn't keen on the projection tech added to Alice, but that has been taken out again, so OK.

I would be so happy to see some updating again, if they can keep the old-school feeling and not add Johnny Depp to anything.

Thanks for responding.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, I didn't realize that they had gotten rid of the newer digital projections in "Alice." When did they do that?

Ugh....Johnny Depp! Wasn't there a rumor that they were going to stick a figure of him (dressed as the Mad Hatter) into the Alice attraction? I'm glad THAT didn't happen!

Speaking of "Alice"....please check back next Friday! My next post will be about the 1984 reopening of the "Alice" attraction!


Tokyo: the 1983 to current Snow Shite has the finale of the dwarfs chasing the wicked witch up into the forest mountains , she attempts to push a boulder down onto the acceding dwarfs , but lightning strikes her and she fall back ( presumably down the other side of the ridge)
Most of the scenes that will be in the “sweetened” version involve the forest , dungeon and lightning strike. The exterior will also receive a brighter - cheerful color scheme . Basically all the SCARY is being removed or covered up.

Emily Peterson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.