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Why For? : What happened to the Geyser Mountain ride Imagineers hoped to add to Disneyland

Jim Hill returns with even more answers to your Disney related questions. This time around, he gushes about Geyser Mountain, puzzles over what was Disney's biggest missed opportunity (movie-wise) might have been, then offers up suggestions about which Disneyland Paris book to pick up.

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Geyser Mountain
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First up, DISNEYFREEK writes in to ask:

Jim,

LOVE the site, man. Great work and I love reading your articles / reports. Next time I go down to the states, I’ll take the (JHM) Disney tour.

I heard a rumor once regarding a geyser ride in Frontierland? Any truth to this?

Keep up the good work!

Yep, “Geyser Mountain” was a really-for-real project. A new thrill ride that the Imagineers had hoped to add to Disneyland a few years back. Out where the now-unused Big Thunder Ranch / the Festival of Fool arena stage area currently sits empty and unused.

So what exactly would this proposed new thrill ride for Frontierland have been like? Well, you know how Epcot’s “Body Wars” is really just a variation on the “Star Tours” simulator attraction? Using the exact same technology to tell a somewhat different story? Well “Geyser Mountain” was supposed to have been done pretty much the same thing with “Tower of Terror”‘s powered drop ride system. Only — instead of sending Disneyland guests screaming down an elevator shaft — GM would have its riders hurtling skyward. Supposedly powered by an unexpected geothermal eruption.

To explain: If “Geyser Mountain” had actually been built out back where Fantasyland and Frontierland meet, your adventure would have begun as you follow a trail out into a rough wilderness area that looked very much like a continuation of Big Thunder Mountain. So think lots more pine trees, scenic buttes as well as Bryce Canyon-like spires.

But bordering the queue of the attraction there would have been several steaming hot springs, many bubbling mud pots and some small sputtering geysers. So — as you moved deeper into the woods — you would have automatically thought: “Gee, there’s a lot of geothermal activity back in this part of the wilderness. No wonder they call this area ‘Geyser Mountain’.”

Finally, you come to a clearing in the forest. There — in front of you — is a tumbledown cabin with a barn attached. And behind this … the craggy peak of Geyser Mountain. Which would rumble ominously every now and then. And what’s that you hear in the distance? Could that be … people screaming?

Okay. Out in front of the cabin is a yard full of weird machinery. Which fills you in on a bit of the back story for this new Frontierland attraction. How the house that you’re about to enter is the home of this eccentric inventor. The guy who actually built the amazing mining rig that was used to dig all those tunnels through Big Thunder Mountain (so the miners could go in and harvest all that gold).

Once you enter the inventor’s house, you’ll learn that — prior to tunneling through the mountainside over at Big Thunder — this guy tried out his new invention by digging dozens of test holes in the side of Geyser Mountain. And — while he was testing his mining rig — this guy discovered many strange and wondrous things under the ground.

To re-enforce this idea, the inventor’s study would have been full of colorful crystals and enormous geodes that he’d recovered while tunneling under Geyser Mountain. There are also black and white photographs of some truly impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations that he must have encountered (and photographed) while exploring the underworld.

But the most intriguing (or should we say foreboding?) decoration in the inventor’s study is a hand-drawn map of the interior of Geyser Mountain. Which is pinned up to one wall and clearly shows the networks of tunnels that crisscross through the mountainside. There — at the very center of the map — is a drawing and description of this extremely fierce, totally unpredictable but extremely powerful geyser that intermittently erupts from deep down inside the mountain.

Also on this hand-drawn map is a note that the inventor has written to himself, reminding him about a certain bridge that he’d installed at the very heart of Geyser Mountain. The note reads: “Reminder to self: Temporary bridge has been taking an awful pounding from geyser eruptions. Must remember to make repairs.” The only problem is … this note is dated back in the early 1920s.

Okay. Exiting the study, we now find ourselves in the barn. Where — surprise, surprise — Disney officials have recently found the amazing mining machine that our eccentric inventor used for digging all those tunnels over at Big Thunder Mountain. Now the Mouse invites us to climb on board this lethal looking machine (remember the rig that Gaeten Moliere drove around in while he was tunneling under the Earth in “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” … well, this new Frontierland ride vehicle was supposed to look a lot like that) for a trip over, around and under Geyser Mountain.

So we do. And — with a teeth rattling rumble — we roar out of the barn for a trip that promises to replace BTMRR as the NEW “wildest ride in the wilderness.”

Okay. So how many of you out there remember the Rainbow Caverns sequence in Frontierland’s old “Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland” ride? Well, the initial portion of your trip through Geyser Mountain would have been a lot like that. Your vehicle rumbling through several very colorful sequences done with black light. Rolling by giant glowing crystals and fantastic underground waterfalls.

And — as your ride vehicle moved further and further up the side of Geyser Mountain — you would have encountered other little tributes to DL’s “Mine Train to Nature’s Wonderland” ride. Clever recreations and/or tributes to various vignettes from that late, great Frontierland attraction.

But as you reach the very top of the mountain and — after admiring the view from up there — begin to make your descent back to the inventor’s cabin … a recent landside has blocked our return route. The only way back down Geyser Mountain now is to go across that rickety old bridge. (Remember the one that we were shown back in the eccentric inventor’s study? That one that was shown in that hand-drawn map that was pinned up on the wall? That extremely old, in-really-rough-shape bridge that was in need of repairs?)

So our mining machine slowly starts across the rickety old bridge. The ancient span of timbers creaks ominously as this heavy piece of equipment chugs across the darkened chasm. The only light in this entire area is the sunlight that’s coming pouring in from above. (As further proof that this area is geologically unstable, the top of Geyser Mountain appears to have been blown off in some previous eruption. So think of this section of the ride as being set inside of the cone of some sort of dormant volcano)

As our vehicle reaches the center of the bridge, the span suddenly starts to sag in the middle. As the amazing mining machine tilts to one side, we all think we’re all about to fall to our deaths. Once the bridge collapses, we’ll be impaled on all those lethal looking stalagmites below. It all seems so hopeless. But then …

What’s that rumbling sound? Oh, no! This situation couldn’t get worse. Or could it? Geyser Mountain is about to erupt!!

And — with that — seemingly heaved up off the collapsing bridge and into the air by the power of the geyser, our mining rig is thrown straight up into the sky. We literally seem to bounce up and down on top of this powerful stream of super-heated water. For just a moment, our vehicle pops out of the top of Geyser Mountain itself. We get a brief glimpse of the Rivers of America below us. The top of Splash Mountain off in the distance.

Luckily, the force of that geyser has heaved us out of the chasm, away from that collapsing bridge. We land safely on the rim of Geyser Mountain, then quickly rumble back down to the barn. We climb out of our ride vehicle and stumble into the nearby gift shop. Happy to have survived our recent brush with death.

So do you get the idea here, DISNEYFREEK? Where “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” uses powerful elevator motors to send guests hurtling toward the ground at faster-than-gravity speeds, “Geyser Mountain” would have used this same technology to send you soaring into the sky. Supposedly bouncing in a super-heated stream of water that was being expelled by this massive geyser.

Sounds like a neat ride, doesn’t it? Well, the Imagineers certainly thought so. Which is why they had models made of Geyser Mountain. (I just saw one — not too long ago — when I was visiting friends at WDI.) Then they talked to Team Disney Anaheim reps about how this project was the obvious way to re-energize DL’s tired old Frontierland. Which has gotten increasingly tame (and lame) over the past 10 years. Not to mention being a way to take the “Tower of Terror” incredibly-expensive-to-develop ride system and using that technology to create a whole new attraction for the corporation’s West Coast sort for about a 1/3rd of what the original TOT attraction cost.

But — of course — cost ended up being a decisive factor in the Mouse’s decision to ultimately hold off on adding “Geyser Mountain” to Disneyland’s roster of rides. Mind you, GM did look like it was going to get greenlighted. At least for a little while.

That’s why DL officials let the Imagineers do some prep work for the project. Which is why Cascade Peak (which had been a Frontierland landmark since 1960) got pulled down in October of 1998. Because WDI had hoped that — once this aged structure was out of the way — it would be that much easier for Walt Disney Company management to officially greenlight construction of this new DL thrill ride.

Sadly, that never happened, DISNEYFREEK. Had everything gone according to plan, “Geyser Mountain” would have been up and running at Disneyland by this past summer. It was supposed to have been the attraction that would have lured visitors away from the wonderful new theme park that had been built next to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disney’s California Adventure.

But since it turned out that DCA was going to need all the help it can get in order to lure DLR guests to come through its turnstiles, that’s why the Walt Disney Company ultimately decided to bag the idea of building a “Geyser Mountain” in Anaheim and opted instead to bring a clone of that already-established-hit-thrill-ride, “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” to California Adventure instead. With the hope that a Southern California version of this Disney-MGM favorite might help DCA from going DOA.

But — by doing that — Disneyland officials pretty much snuffed out any chance of a version of “Geyser Mountain” will ever get built in Anaheim anytime soon. After all, you don’t want to build too many attractions that use the very same technology too close together at the same time. Otherwise, they undercut the effectiveness of one another.

I mean, look what happened over at DCA when “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” and “Kermit the Frog Presents Jim Henson’s Muppetvision 3D” opened up on the very same day in the same park. While both of these shows — which skillfully mix 3D film, in-theater effects and Audio Animatronics to create some memorable entertainment — were huge hits in Central Florida at their respective theme parks (I.E. “Muppetvision” in MGM, “Tough to Be a Bug” in DAK), these two show were greeted with a collective shrug when they both opened at DCA in January 2001. Too much of a good thing. Or should I say “Too much of the same thing?”

Anyway … with construction of “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” now nearing completion at Disney’s California Adventure, it now seems quite unlikely that “Geyser Mountain” will be erupting from out behind Disneyland’s Frontierland and Fantasyland area anytime soon. Which is a shame.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean that this ambitious sounding thrill ride is totally dead in the water. After all, good ideas never really die at WDI. So — with luck — this proposed Frontierland ride could (several years down the line. Once the Mouse stops being so stingy about what the corporation is willing to spend on new theme park attractions) could be resurrected as a possible addition for WDW’s Frontierland. Or DLP’s Frontierland. Or TDL’s Frontierland. Or even HKDL’s Frontierland. You get the idea, right?

Me personally? I remain ever hopefully that — someday, somehow — this dynamite-sounding ride will actually make off the drawing board and out in the real world. In a theme park near you very soon.

And I’m guessing the Imagineers feel the same way too. Otherwise, why would they keep that “Geyser Mountain” model out in the open on display? If not to remind themselves that, occasionally, they can still come up with killer ideas for new Disney theme park attractions.

Now if the Mouse House managers would allow WDI to actually get around to building these things.

Next, Loose Eel Ball (Funny pseudonym there) writes in to ask:

Dear Jim:

Since your site seems to love to celebrate all the really bizarre and obscure things that the Walt Disney Company has tried to get off the ground over the years, I was wondering: What’s your favorite lost cause? The Disney project that you wish with all your heart had actually been realized as it was originally planned?

Dear Loose Eel Ball:

Jeese, that’s a tough question to answer. I mean, there are literally dozens of intriguing ideas that never made it off Disney’s drawing boards for one reason or another. Or truly promising projects that wound up being botched for one reason or another.

Take — for example — Disney’s live action version of “Babes in Toyland.” This 1961 Walt Disney Studios release is generally regarded as one of the company’s lesser features. But still, I can’t help but wonder how differently this film would have turned out if the picture’s original director — veteran animator Ward Kimball — had actually been allowed to helm the project. Sadly, Ward and Walt had a falling out just before the start of production on that picture. So Disney replaced Kimball with Jack Donohue. And the end result was one fair-to-middling film fantasy.

Given Ward’s wonderfully weird wit and imagination, I’m fairly certain that any version of “Babes in Toyland” that Kimball had ended up directing would have been infinitely more entertaining that the one that we ended up with. But I guess we’ll never know now.

Disney history is littered with projects like this. So you have to wonder if “The Rainbow Road to Oz” (that Oz picture that Walt tried to get off the ground in the mid-to-late 1950s, which was to have starred the Mouseketeers) would have been any good if Walt had actually put the thing into production. Or — for that matter — if “Return to Oz” (Walt Disney Pictures’ 1984 attempt at revisiting and revitalizing the colorful world that L. Frank Baum so carefully mapped out in his series of “Oz” books. If you haven’t seen this much maligned Walter Murch film for a while, make an effort to do so. Disney’s “Return to Oz” doesn’t deserve the reputation that it has. The movie really is quite entertaining and much more faithful to the actual style and the tone of the Baum books than its more acclaimed predecessor, MGM’s 1939 Academy Award winner, “The Wizard of Oz”) hadn’t had $5 million cut out of its production budget just weeks before shooting was due to begin by then-Disney execs who were suddenly getting nervous about “Oz”‘s enormous price tag.

Even today there are Disney projects that seemingly miss greatness by inches. I may be one of the only people on the planet who actually liked “Geppetto,” that Stephen Schwartz musical that the Mouse presented on “The Wonderful World of Disney” back in May 2000. But even I admit that this made-for-TV project would undoubtedly been infinitely more entertaining if the Mouse had been able to land the actors that they originally wanted for this film.

I mean, instead of Drew Carey in the show’s title role and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Blue Fairy, how about Dick Van Dyke as Geppetto and Julie Andrews as the magical creature that gave Pinocchio life. That’s right. The stars of “Mary Poppins” reunited some 35 years after the fact. Wouldn’t that casting coup have made “Geppetto” appointment television during the May 2000 sweeps period?

Sadly, Disney offered this role to Andrews just months after she had had that surgery that had so badly damaged her vocal cords. So Julie reluctantly had to take a pass on the project. Dick Van Dyke, however, was supposedly very interested in playing the part of Geppetto. So much so that — for a time — the Mouse tried to convince Dick’s other famous co-star — Mary Tyler Moore — to come play the Blue Fairy in this made-for-TV musical.

Unfortunately, this “Dick Van Dyke” reunion (for some reason or another) fell through. Which is how we ended up with Drew Carey and Julie Louis-Dreyfus in “Geppetto.” Which was a lot of fun with a number of very charming songs. But it wasn’t really as good as it could have been.

Yeah, the history of Walt Disney Pictures is littered with stories like this. What if “Bedknobs & Broomsticks” had starred Julie Andrews and Ron Moody instead of Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson? What if “The Watcher in the Woods” (in its original form) hadn’t been so rushed during the final phases of its production? Would this suspense thriller have been more of a success if it had just stuck with its original out-of-this-world ending.

It’s so hard to choose just one story, Loose Eel. So I guess I won’t.

Mind you, when it comes to choosing just one Disney history book, I never have that sort of problem. Particularly when it comes to the Disneyland Paris resort. To explain: Claire T. wrote in this week to ask:

Jim:

I’m please to see that you’re looking to expand your website’s coverage. In particular to start doing stories about both Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. And I’ll look forward to reading those articles whenever they turn up on your site.

My problem is … I’m heading over to DLP sometime in the next few weeks. So I’d like to be able to read up on that resort. Learn more about the history of its two theme parks and their back story.

So is there a book that you could recommend me? Something that would allow me to get up to speed quickly? Or should I just wait ’til those DLP articles start popping up on JHM?

Thanks in advance for your help here, Jim. Keep up the great work at your site.

Dear Claire:

Well, those articles about Disneyland Paris SHOULD start popping up on JimHillMedia.com in a week or so. But — until then — if you’d really like to read a great book about Disneyland Paris, then I suggest you pick up a copy of Alain Littaya and Didier Ghez’s “Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality.”

This full color, 320 page volume is something that every serious Disneyana fan should have in their library. Profusely illustrated, this book is filled with dozens of never-seen-outside-of-WDI drawings and paintings which reveal many abandoned ideas for the Parisian theme park. Including a late 1920s / early 1930s version of Main Street U.S.A. where gangsters and flappers would rubbed elbows with DLP’s guests.

There’s lots of great stuff like that to be found in “Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality,” Claire. Early concepts for the castle (including an art deco whatchamacallit — which is topped off by a Sorcerer Mickey — that has to be seen to be believed). Numerous peeks at Nemo’s hidden base (back when the bottom floor of what-was-then-known-as Discovery Mountain would have featured a secret lagoon where a fullscale version of the Nautilus would have sat). Littaya and Ghez’s book is just loaded with stuff like this.

Speaking of Didier, I just heard that Ghez is selling off some of the collector’s editions of “Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality” at reduced prices. Given that this version of the book features four reproductions of concept paintings that were done for this theme park, now might be a great time to take Didier up on his offer.

For more information about how you can pick up a copy of the collector’s edition of “Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality,” Claire T., I suggest that you get ahold of Ghez by sending an e-mail to this address: dghez@hotmail.com. He’ll then pass along the particulars about how you can got about picking up an autographed copy of his great DLP book.

Trust me, Claire. This is the one you really want to read before you head out for that theme park.

Speaking of heading out … that’s it for this week, folks. I hope you enjoyed the assortment of stories that we had up on JHM over the past five. Our aim is to amuse and inform you. If we just ended up annoying you … sorry about that. We’ll try to do better next week, okay?

Til then, you take care, okay?

jrh

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Theme Parks & Themed Entertainment

“House of the Future” – The Plastic House in Disneyland

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Monsanto Disneyland House of the Future with Paper Bag
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I was down in Massachusetts the other day doing some shopping at the Target in Framingham. And as I completed that transaction, I was somewhat surprised to see my groceries being loaded into … Well, not the usual Target bags (i.e., those white plastic ones with the bright red circular Target symbol on the side). But – rather – some plain jane brown paper bags.

Of course, that was because the State of Massachusetts (along with California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, Vermont & Washington State) has banned the use of plastic bags within the borders of that state.

FYI: The State of New Jersey put its own statewide ban of plastic bags in place earlier this year. On May 4, 2022, to be exact.

Which – if you’re a child of the 1960s – this is kind of an ironic development. Given that – back when we were kids – the world-at-large seemed to be actively looking for even more ways to incorporate the use of plastic in our day-to-day lives.

Which reminds me of one of the odder walk-thru experiences that was ever built at Disneyland Park (Which – given that Happiest Place on Earth was once home to the Hollywood-Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel Shop [This Main Street, U.S.A. store used to feature – no lie — a “Wonderful Wizard of Bras” show] – is really saying something). That was the “House of the Future,” a 1,280-square-foot structure  that the Monsanto Corporation proudly proclaimed was made out of 14 different types of plastics.

Given that this Tomorrowland attraction wasn’t designed by the Imagineers … Well, how the “House of the Future” wind up being built right off Disneyland’s Hub to the left of the entrance of Disneyland?

Disneyland's House of the Future
Credit: D23

Post World War II – Moving Out of the City

Well, to tell that story, we have to jump back in time to the years right after World War II. Where – thanks to the G.I. Bill – hundreds of thousands of veterans decided to pursue college degrees. Which then allowed these former fighting men to land positions that paid much, much better than the jobs that their parents had held years previous.

And since these newly affluent veterans could now afford to move out of the city … Well, that’s just what they did. Which we saw places like Levittown (i.e., America’s very first planned community. The prototypical suburb, if you will) get founded in New York State’s Nassau in 1947 and – in just six years time – become the home of more than 70,000 residents.

Mind you, the downside of this sort of building boom is that – by the mid-1950s – America began to experience sort of a shortage when it came to the supplies necessary to continue to build all these new homes for would-be surburbanites.

Monsanto and Plastic Homes

Which the Monsanto Corporation – which was actively looking for additional way to market the plastic that that company produced – saw as an opportunity. Which is when Monsanto executives reached out to Marvin Goody & Richard Hamilton, who were members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that taught the principles of architecture to students attending that prestigious university. And those execs then asked Goody & Hamilton two intriguing questions:

  • Would it be possible to build an affordable modular home entirely out of plastic?
  • And – if so – what would that structure look like?

These two MIT professors then went off and considered this problem. And the concept that Goody & Hamilton eventually came up with was … Well, this prefabricated plastic structure that consisted of four cantilevered “wings” that would then rise up off of a concrete slab, which would then as the foundation for what Monsanto was now calling its “House of the Future.”

Designs of the House of the Future
Monsanto’s Marvin Goody (standing) along with Floor Plans and Designs for the “House of the Future”
Credit: ModernDesign.org

And the executives at Monsanto just loved what Goody & Hamilton had designed & developed. They knew that – if this prefabricated plastic home prototype were promoted properly and if enough consumers then indicated to home-builders that they’d be interested in purchasing & then living in this sort of modular structure – the “House of the Future” could turn into a significant new revenue stream for that corporation.

Which is when Monsanto then began casting about for a very prominent spot where they could then build a “House of the Future” prototype. Some place where thousands of people could then tour this prefabricated plastic home every single day.

Walt Disney and Problems with Tomorrowland

Which brings us to Walt Disney. Who – in the mid-1950s – has a few problems of his own. Chief among them being that his then-newly-built Disneyland Park desperately needed some new attractions. Especially in the Tomorrowland section of Walt’s family fun park.

What’s genuinely ironic here is that – in spite of the fact that “Man in Space,” “Man and the Moon” and “Mars and Beyond” (i.e., A trio of “Tomorrowland” themed episodes of the “Disneyland” TV show which then aired on that ABC anthology series between March of 1955 & December of 1957) were among the most popular episodes to air on this program … The Tomorrowland section of Disneyland Park was this under-developed hodge-podge of pseudo-futuristic elements.

I mean, sure. This side of Walt’s family fun park had the “Flight to the Moon” ride. Likewise “Space Station X-1.” But right next door to these two genuinely forward-looking attractions were shows that had absolutely nothing to do with the future. Walk-through exhibits like the Dutch Boy Color Gallery, Kaiser’s Hall of Aluminum and Crane’s Bathroom of the Future.

Monsanto Corporation Partnership with Walt Disney Productions

Now it’s important to note here that the Monsanto Corporation and Walt Disney Productions already had a working relationship at this point. After all, Monsanto was already sponsoring an attraction at Disneyland, the Hall of Chemistry.

And it’s about this same time (we’re talking late 1956) that some enterprising executive at Monsanto thinks: “No wait a minute. Disneyland gets thousands of visitors every day. And if we build the prototype of our prefabricated plastic home there, our ‘House of the Future’ project would then virtually be guaranteed to get plenty of foot traffic.”

“House of the Future” in Disneyland

So they then reach out to Walt. And as the story goes, the executives at Monsanto hadn’t even finished their pitch for this prototype-prefabricated-plastic-home-to-be-displayed-at-Disneyland idea when Disney said “Yes.” In fact, according to what Disney Legend John Hench once told me, Walt was so enthusiastic about Monsanto’s “House of the Future” that he proposed that this prototype of a prefabricated plastic home not just be built in Tomorrowland but that it be built right at the entrance of Tomorrowland. As in: That the “House of the Future” would be one of the very first things Guests would see when they arrived at Disneyland’s Hub.

More importantly, that Monsanto’s prototype of a prefabricated plastic house be built right across the way from the most photographed thing in Walt’s family fun park. Which was – of course – Sleeping Beauty Castle.

To say that this project was fast-tracked is an understatement. Within weeks of signing the deal with Monsanto, the folks at Disneyland were already pouring the concrete slab that this 1,280-square-foot house would then sit on.

Credit: Disney Avenue

By the way, to make sure that virtually every Disneyland Guest would be able to tour the “House of the Future” when they visited Walt’s family fun park, this new Tomorrowland attraction was heavily hyped as being a freebie. As was Monsanto’s Hall of Chemistry, by the way.

Credit: SuperRadNow.com

Opening Monsanto’s “House of the Future” at Disneyland

And Walt … Of the heels of construction of Monsanto’s “House of the Future” beginning, he decided to double down on expanding & upgrading Disneyland’s Tomorrowland section. Which is why — just two days before Monsanto’s prototype of a prefabricated plastic home opened to the public on June 12, 1957, Walt cut the ribbon on the Viewliner. Which was advertised as the “Train of Tomorrow.” Though –truth be told – WED’s resident mechanical genius Bob Gurr had cobbled together this futuristic-looking narrow gauge train out of parts he’d harvested off of various Oldsmobiles & Jeeps.

Anyway … Monsanto’s instincts when it came to building its “House of the Future” at Disneyland Park translating into lots of foot traffic for its prefabricated plastic home prototype turned out to be dead on. Within the first six weeks that this new Tomorrowland attraction was open to the public, over 435,000 people toured the “House of the Future.” That’s over 10,000 Guests per day.

Credit: SuperRadNow.com

And the Disneyland hosts & hostesses (That’s what Disneyland employees were called back in the late 1950s / early 1960s. Not Cast Members. But – rather – hosts & hostesses) who led tour groups through the prototype of Monsanto’s prefabricated home proudly talked about the 14 different types of plastic that had been used in its construction. They also pointed out the cutting edge tech that had been incorporated into this house’s design. Things like a microwave oven.

The Future of Plastic Homes

But while over 20 million people who trooped through Monsanto’s “House of the Future” during its decade-long stay in Tomorrowland (and then “Ooohed” & “Aaahed” at things like this home’s ultra sonic dishwasher. Which didn’t use any water to clean the all-plastic dishes & utensils that were used in its kitchen) … Unfortunately, Monsanto got very few takers for its prefabricated plastic homes.

Which is why – by the early 1960s – the Company had all but abandoned its original idea of making the manufacture of prefabricated plastic homes a new division for the Monsanto Corporation. Which is why – when Walt approached Monsanto around this same time and said “Hey, we’re thinking of redoing Disneyland’s Tomorrowland area. Do you want to stay on as a sponsor of something on this side of the Park?,” Monsanto’s response was “Yeah. But we want something new. Pull down the ‘House of the Future’ and close the’ Hall of Chemistry.’ This time around,  we want some sort of Tomorrowland attraction that the Guests can ride on.”

And that’s exactly what the Imagineers did. They gutted Monsanto’s “Hall Of Chemistry” and then placed an Omnimover inside of that Tomorrowland show building. And that became the ride system which then took Disneyland visitors on an “Adventure Thru Inner Space.” Which first opened to the public on August 5, 1967.

What Happened to Disneylands “House of the Future”?

As for the “House of the Future” … Given that that structure was constructed out of 14 different types of plastics, pulling down this Tomorrowland attraction proved to be problematic. What was supposed to be completed in a single day eventually stretched out into a two week-long ordeal. Largely because this prefabricated plastic house stymied all of the usual methods that Disneyland employees used (i.e., wrecking balls, bulldozers, etc) when they were leveling a show building. In time, they had to go at this futuristic structure with hacksaws & chain pullers. Because that was the only way to reduce the “House of the Future” to small enough pieces that it could then be hauled away.

Mind you, the concrete slab that had served as the “House of the Future” ‘s foundation stayed in place. As did the vaguely futuristic-looking landscaping that Morgan “Bill” Evans and the rest of Disneyland’s horticultural team had planted around this Tomorrowland walk-thu.

Jump ahead a few years. And now that landscaping (which had been originally planted back in 1957 to give the “House of the Future” a lush, green frame) had grown up so much that this section of the Hub was then redubbed this theme park’s Alpine Garden. With the idea now being that this chunk of greenery would now serve as the forested foothills of Matterhorn Mountain.

Credit: BubbleMania & Flickr/Neatocoolville

That was done in the early 1970s. Nearly 15 years after that, someone else moved into the neighborhood: The Little Mermaid. Which is why – in 1996 – Disneyland’s Alpine Garden was renamed King Triton’s Garden. Then in 2008, this part of that theme park (which had been changed into a place where Guests could then meet & greet with Ariel) was reimagined as Pixie Hollow. Which then gave Disneyland visitors a place where they could go interact with Tinker Bell.

This meet & greet is still operational at the Happiest Place on Earth. That said, if you look off the right of that oversized teapot which Tink calls home … Well, you can still see that concrete slab which – over 50 years ago now – once served as the foundation for the “House of the Future.”

FYI: If you’d like to learn more about this Tomorrowland walk-thru, Dave Bossert – the author of “Kem Weber: Mid-Century Furniture Designs for the Disney Studios” and “Claude Coats: Walt Disney’s Imagineer—The Making of Disneyland, From Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond” – is in the process of writing a brand-new book, “The House of the Future: Walt Disney, MIT, and Monsanto’s Vision of Tomorrow.” Which is due to be published sometime in 2023.

This article is based on research for The Disney Dish Podcast “Episode 379”, published on June 20, 2022. The Disney Dish Podcast is part of the Jim Hill Media Podcast Network.

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Fort Wilderness – What Might Have Been

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Fort Wilderness Campground Walt Disney World Vintage Map
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The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Campground has been silent for 27 months. On June 23, 2022, Pioneer Hall will come roaring back to life with three nightly presentations of this beloved musical dinner show (4 p.m., 6:15 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.)

Hoop Dee Doo Revue Chair
Credit: Flickr/JeffChristiansen

Building Fort Wilderness Campground

Just 9 months prior to the October 1971 opening of the WDW Resort – Dick Nunis (who had just been placed in charge of getting Disney World open on time) had just learned that little to no work had been done to date on the Disney’s Fort Wilderness resort’s campground.

Dick turned to Keith Kambak – a veteran Disneyland employee who had a degree in recreation – and effectively said “You’re coming to Florida with me. And you’re going to build a campground.”

When Keith pointed out that he had never built a campground before and began to ask questions like “What sort of budget am I working with?,” Dick growled “Don’t bother me with questions. Just go build that campground?”

Kambak gets on the ground in Orlando and then discovers why Nunis didn’t tell him what the budget was for Fort Wilderness.

There is no budget.

Disney World is so far over-budget at this point that there’s a real question – in the late Winter / early Spring of 1971 – whether the Resort will be able to find the funding necessary to complete construction of the Contemporary and/or the Polynesian Village Resorts. Let alone get started on building a new onsite campground.

But the PR material for Walt Disney World has been talking up camping at the Vacation Kingdom for over 5 years now. Saying things like …

Walt Disney World will offer a whole new vacation way of life. In addition to exploring the Magic Kingdom theme park, Guests will have the opportunity to frolic in Bay Lake & Seven Seas Lagoon. This 650-acre expanse of water, lined with four miles of white sand beaches, will ideal for swimming, sailing, fishing and water skiing.

Meanwhile over at Fort Wilderness, visitors will find 600 acres of campgrounds, boating, nature trails, park-like recreation areas and the Tri-Circle D Ranch, where saddle horses are available.

People have already booked trips to Disney World because they wanted to go camping at that Resort. Go swimming in Bay Lake. So Disney now has to figure out how to deliver on what it said in all those press release.

1971 Walt Disney World Map of Fort Wilderness Credit: Imaginerding / Story of Walt Disney World Guidebook

Luckily, Keith Kambak is clever, resourceful and slightly dishonest. He becomes famous for waiting ‘til the construction workers go home at 5 and then sending trucks into the Magic Kingdom worksite to steal lumber & bags of cement. Which is what Keith then uses to build Fort Wilderness’ original reception center and the first 200 campsites.

Opening Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground

Mind you – Fort Wilderness isn’t ready for opening day.

Hell, this campground really isn’t ready when in finally throws open its doors on November 19, 1971seven weeks after the first group of Guests pushed through the turnstiles over at the Magic Kingdom.

But even if Fort Wilderness isn’t really ready for prime time, campers absolutely love the place right out of the gate. It initially costs $11 a night to stay there.  And the people who stay there are really excited that – as part of that $11 fee – they get access to the entire WDW transportation system. The monorails, the launches, the motor coaches.

And given that demand for those 200 campsites far exceeds the available supply, Walt Disney World quickly begins to expand Fort Wilderness. In October of 1972 (just in time for the celebration of the Resort’s grand opening a year previous), it is announced that Disney World’s onsite campground will more than doubling in size. Adding an additional 300 sites.

By now, WDW managers have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Guests who are staying at the Contemporary & Polynesian Village will make a special trip over to Fort Wilderness over the course of their WDW vacation just to check the place out.

Mind you, there isn’t much to see at this point. A handful of campsites and a trading post. But the Imagineers make note of the steady stream of daily visitors that Fort Wilderness has been experiencing and then decides … Well, let’s give them something to see.

Fort Wilderness Railroad

So a plan is formed. First and foremost, the Imagineers decide to build a transportation system that will take Guests from Fort Wilderness’ reception area to the south all the way up to the campground’s recreation area along Bay Lake. This 3-mile-long round-trip narrow gauge rail line (which will be serviced by four steam trains with 5 cars each – capable of carrying 90 passengers at a time) will carry Guests from their campsites to the reception area and then down to the waterfront.

Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness Railroad Attraction Poster, Railroad in action, and remnants of old track.
Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness Railroad Attraction Poster, Railroad in action, and remnants of old track.

That rail line gets installed over the Summer of 1973. It’s field-tested in the Fall of that same year and finally fully operational just time for Christmas Week 1973 / 1st week of January 1974.

Tri-Circle D Ranch

There’s another reason that the Imagineers built that rail line. That’s because they’re looking to develop the middle-most section of Fort Wilderness. This area – known as the Settlement – initially holds just the Tri-Circle D Ranch (which is where the horses that pull the trolleys on Main Street over at the Magic Kingdom spend their days off. Likewise Fort Wilderness’ petting zoo).

But because so many Guests staying at the Contemporary & the Polynesian Village are making a special trip over to Fort Wilderness as part of their WDW vacation just to see what there is to see over there … the Imagineers give them something to see.

Pioneer Hall

The first thing up out of the ground is Pioneer Hall, which is constructed out of 1,283 hand-fitted pine logs from Montana and 70 tons of stones from North Carolina. This venue first opens its doors on April 1, 1974. And initially there is absolutely no mention of the “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.”

Instead, Pioneer Hall is described as having “ … a 250-seat steak house where ranch-style barbecues will be offered, plus a 150-seat snack bar, theme shops and an arcade for after-hours recreation.”

Mind you, if you dig down in the original Pioneer Hall press release (which initially says that this complex will be up & running by February of 1974), there is mention that this “new service-oriented campground complex” would be fully equipped when it came to the presenting of musical stage shows.

But at this point (The Spring of 1974), there’s honestly no talk of the “Hoop-Dee-Doo.” There is – however – all sorts of talk of the other components of Fort Wilderness’ Settlement project. Which are supposed to begin construction shortly.

By next summer, Fort Wilderness’ steam train system will connect the campground’s reception area and its waterfront recreation facilities with the Fort Wilderness Stockade and Western Town. Where complete dining, shopping and entertainment facilities are being built in phases.

And a year or so after Western Town opened at Fort Wilderness opened, the Imagineers then wanted to build (this is from the Company’s 1973 annual report) …

… the Fort Wilderness “swimming hole,” a major recreational facility.

The Roost and River Country

Wait. It gets better. WDW managers – at this point – were actually talking about building a fun house onsite at Fort Wilderness. One that would feature show scenes designed by Marc Davis and would be housed in an eccentric-looking mansion that would be called “The Roost.”

River Country Wagon
Credit: Flickr/Auntie Rain

Once “The Roost” was opened (This project was projected to be completed by the Summer of 1977, with Fort Wilderness’ swimming hole – eventually called “River Country” – opening the previous year. Just in time for America’s bicentennial), WDW officials eventually envisioned selling visitors to their Florida vacation kingdom a special Fort Wilderness ticket book. Which would then give Guests a full day of fun at Fort Wilderness.

  • Take the bus over to Fort Wilderness’ reception area
  • Then take the train down to that campground’s settlement section
  • Swim in the morning at River Country
  • Spend the afternoon exploring the Roost, hiking Fort Wilderness’ nature trails, visiting the petting zoo and/or go horseback riding
  • Catch a performance of the “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” at Pioneer Hall
  • Do some souvenir shopping in Frontier Town
  • Walk down to the waterfront at Bay Lake after dusk and then catch a presentation of the “Electrical Water Pageant”
  • Grab the train and head back up to Fort Wilderness’ reception area
  • Take a motor coach back to your hotel

1973 Arab Oil Embargo Impacts Fort Wilderness Development

This was the plan as the Fall of 1973. Which then – of course – is when the Arab Oil Embargo got underway. And attendance levels at Walt Disney World suddenly fell off by 20% because of the odd / even gas rationing that was going on at that time. So many Guests were worried that – if they began driving down to Walt Disney World – that they then wouldn’t be able to find enough gasoline en route to complete their journey to the Resort.

The Arab Oil Embargo obviously had a huge impact on Fort Wilderness’ previously-stellar occupancy levels (Typically at 100% capacity from Christmas Week through Labor Day) because of the number of people who’d drive down to Disney World pulling a trailer. Occupancy levels dropped to 70% and managers there got scared.

The other components of the Fort Wilderness’ Settlement area – the Stockade and Western Town, to be specific – that were to follow Pioneer Hall got placed on hold. As did Marc Davis’ The Roost project.

As for “River Country” … I’m told that the only reason that project went forward is because the Company had already ordered the 2500 feet of flume that would eventually be used to build Whoop-n-Holler Hollow.

Fascinating to think what might have been around Pioneer Hall if the Arab Oil Embargo hadn’t tripped up WDW’s executives to turn Fort Wilderness into a day-long destination for Disney World visitors to experience over their Florida vacation.

One final stat from a Disney annual report from 1974 that just fascinated me:

“Pioneer Hall,” a major entertainment, restaurant and arcade facility, opened in March and soon established itself as a popular guest attraction and profitable operation. Twice as many guests come from the resort-hotels to attend the dinner show in Pioneer Hall than from the campgrounds themselves.

Just so you know: WDW didn’t entirely abandon its plans to turn Fort Wilderness into a day-long vacation destination.

Opening River Country at Fort Wilderness Campground

River Country opened at Fort Wilderness on June 19, 1976. This five-acre water park quickly started drawing – on average — 4,700 Guests per day during the Summer months of 1976. Interestingly enough, there is no drop in attendance levels over at the Magic Kingdom after the opening of River Country. Which means that this new water park is drawing an additional nearly 5000 people to the Resort every day. Which means that River Country immediately became a huge new profit center at WDW.

Downside … All of these additional people coming to Fort Wilderness every day needing to get down to the water park just as most people staying at WDW’s campsite want to get over to the Magic kingdom overwhelm the campground’s steam train line / eventually causing the system to fail.

Imagineers immediately begin looking for ways to expand Fort Wilderness. Company’s 1976 annual report mentions plans for “ … more water rides, an additional raft ride or a two-man boat ride.”

Likewise, to try and handle the crowds who are now pouring int Fort Wilderness each day, the Imagineers revisit the idea of building Frontiertown in the stretch of land that exists between Pioneer Hall and River Country.

Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

But then the Company gets serious about going forward with construction of EPCOT Center. And all available funding for future expansion at the WDW Resort – including the funds that had been set aside for Fort Wilderness – gets funneled into WDW’s second gate.

This article is based on research for The Disney Dish Podcast “Episode 378”, published on June 13, 2022. The Disney Dish Podcast is part of the Jim Hill Media Podcast Network.

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Steam Trains & World’s Fair Attractions: Speed of Construction at Disneyland in the 1960s

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Walt Disney Standing with Attraction Posters
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Steam train fans rejoiced in May 2022 when photos appeared online showing crews prepping the rail bed for the Walt Disney World Railroad. This Magic Kingdom favorite was temporarily shut down in early December of 2018 so that site prep could then begin for Tomorrowland’s next thrill ride, TRON Lightcycle Run.

Three years and 5 months later (which – let’s be honest here – is a pretty relaxed definition of “temporarily”), what with the rail bed being regraded … It’s only a matter of time before the ties that the rails sit on get put in place. Which means that we’re only months out from the Walt Disney World Railroad once again making a Grand Circle Tour of the Magic Kingdom. 20-minute-long experience / rolling along 1.5 miles worth of track.

Early Disneyland Attraction Downtime and Maintenance

I have to say that Walt himself wouldn’t have tolerated the idea of Disney World’s steam train being out of commission for 3 & a ½ years while a single attraction was added to the Magic Kingdom. He could barely tolerate it back in late 1965 / early 1966 when Disneyland’s railroad had to be shut down for a few months so that FOUR new attractions could added to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Mind you, Walt had an advantage in Anaheim back in the Fall of 1965 / Spring of 1966 that the folks who operate the Disney theme parks in Florida never got to enjoy. Which was — for much of the first 30 years Disneyland Park was in operation – that theme park was closed on Mondays & Tuesdays during the slow season. Which was the early Fall and late Winter months.

Which meant that – during those two-days-a-week the theme park-going public wasn’t wandering around the Happiest Place on Earth, getting underfoot – construction teams could get a crazy amount of work done.

More to the point: This was right after “Mary Poppins” had first opened in theaters (Its Hollywood premiere was held in late August of 1964, with the film itself going into wide release just three weeks later). And given that this Walt Disney Productions release would go on to be the highest grossing film of 1964 … Well, Walt now had a money fire hose in his hand and wasn’t afraid to use it.

World’s Fair Attractions Moved to Disneyland

So the first season of the 1964 – 1965 New York World’s Fair ends on October 18, 1964. Walt immediately has the Lincoln animatronic pulled out of the Illinois pavilion and brought back to Glendale. Where the Imagineers not only build a brand-new version of Honest Abe (one that will then address all of the operational issues that this Audio Animatronic had during its first year in Flushing Meadow where it was then constantly dealing with the Fair’s flukey electrical system), they built a second animatronic Lincoln.

Which is how the “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” show was able to open in the Main Street Opera House on July 18, 1965 (just as Disneyland was celebrating its tencennial. As in: The 10th anniversary of the Park’s opening to the public).

Changing Disneyland’s Anniversary

Interesting side note: While Walt was still alive, Disney’s anniversary of Disneyland’s opening was always celebrated on July 18th (which was when the public was first allowed into that family fun park). After Walt died in December of 1966, the date of the celebration of the anniversary of the opening of Disneyland Park eventually got shifted one day forward to July 17th. Because – if the Company used that date instead of July 18th – it then became possible to reshow that 90 minute-long “Dateline: Disneyland” special that aired live on ABC. Not to mention share all of those pictures of celebrities who visited the Park on July 17, 1955.

Disney’s done the same thing in the past. Mickey Mouse’s birthday used to be October 1st. Walt Disney himself – back in 1933 – announced that was the Mouse’s birthdate. But in 1978, then-Disney archivist Dave Smith issued a correction. Given that Mickey’s first cartoon with synchronized sound – “Steamboat Willie” – debuted at New York City’s Colonial Theatre on November 18, 1928 … Well, from that point forward, November 18th would be considered Mickey’s birthday.

Long story short: To borrow a phrase from “Doctor Who,” when it comes to the timey-wimey aspects of Disney Company history, things can get a little slippy-slidey.

Moving “it’s a small world” to Disneyland

Getting back to Walt and his money fire hose … While the New York World’s Fair was shut down for the Winter between October 1964 and April of 1967, Walt had the 27 technicians that he’d sent out from Disney Studios out to New York to keep all of the shows that the Imagineers had built for the Fair up & running … Well, Walt first had these folks retool the load / unload area for “it’s a small world.”

it's a small world at New York World's Fair

That sponsored-by-Pepsi-Cola attraction was a people-eating machine. On average, 4500 people a hour were able to experience “The Happiest Voyage That Ever Sailed.” Which meant that 80% of the people who went to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 & 1965 were able to experience “Small World.”

But Walt thought that they could do even better. Which is why – during the off-season – he had the Imagineers reworked that attraction’s load/ unload area so that it could be even more efficient. With the goal of getting an additional 500 people an hour through “it’s a small world.”

World’s Fair Closing and Final Move

Of course, once the New York World’s Fair closed for good on October 17, 1965, the race was on. The Imagineers partnered with the Mayflower Moving Company to get all of those sets & animatronic figures packed up as quickly as possible and then set back to Glendale for refurbishment. That’s what happened to the 32 animatronic figures in “General Electric’s Progressland” pavilion. Likewise all of the mechanical dinosaurs that used to menace fairgoers as they rolled through “Ford’s Magic Skyway.”

Now the genuinely crazy part of this story is that – just seven months later – the Disneyland versions of these New York World’s Fair shows began to open in Anaheim. “it’s a small world” opened on the West Coast on May 28, 1966. And this wasn’t just the exact same show that had played in Flushing Meadow for the past two years. Walt insisted that it be plussed & improved prior to installation. Which is how the Anaheim edition of “it’s a small world” wound up with two additional scenes – the Pacific Islands and the North Pole.

Credit: Disney History Institute

“The Primeval World” Diorama

And just a month or so after that, “The Primeval World” – which, at that time, the Company’s PR team described as “ … the world’s largest diorama featuring life-like recreations of some of the largest creatures to ever roam our planet” – opened on July 1, 1966.

Now what’s kind of intriguing about the “Primeval World” diorama is what’s to either side of this structure. Which is the old Disneyland administration building. This three story structure – which was also built in late 1965 / early 1966 as part of what was then supposed to be the biggest building program in Disneyland history – was built in such a way that half of this 450 foot-long structure was built on the outside of the berm and the other half of this 450 foot-long structure was built on the inside of the berm. With the structure that the Disneyland steam train passed through, that lengthy glassed-in room full of animatronic dinosaurs then serving as … Well, if you think of Disneyland’s new Admin building as an enormous Oreo, the “Primeval World” diorama then served as this 100,000 square foot structure’s creamy center.

Kind of a funny side story here. Everyone who worked in the 200 offices who were housed in Disneyland’s new Admin building would tell the same story. How – for the first few days you worked in this three story tall structure – you couldn’t help but notice how the Admin building would rumble as the steam train passed through the giant diorama in the middle of that structure. Or – for that matter – how the roar of the mechanical dinosaurs below would endlessly faintly echo center through the building as long as that ride was running.

Conversely though, after a few days of working in the Disneyland admin building, the rumble of the steam train and the roar of the dinosaurs just became white noise. That’s how you’d then know if you were dealing with a new hire at the Park. If someone who had just been assigned to the Admin building would then turn to you and say “What is that noise?” And – as a Company vet – you could then say “Oh, yeah. About that.”

“…a Disneyland without its steam trains just isn’t worth the full price of admission.”

Getting back to all of the construction that was going on at Disneyland in late 1965 / early 1966 … You  have to remember that – if we’re talking about “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “it’s a small world” – we’re talking about two attractions with huge show buildings that were built outside of the theme park. Which meant – in order for these two boat-powered rides to take Guests under the berm and then out to their main show buildings and then back into the Park to their off-load areas … That meant digging a passage under the track bed of the Disneyland Railroad. Several passages, actually.

But again, because the steam train at Disneyland was Walt’s personal property at this time (along with the Mark Twain steamboat AND the Alweg Monorail), Walt just wouldn’t tolerate the idea that the steam train at the park would be shut down for a year or more to allow construction of these four new major attractions. As Disneyland’s tencennial celebration began to wind down in the late Summer / early Fall of 1965, Walt turned to the Imagineers and said “I’ll give you five months. Figure it out.”

Mind you, Walt reportedly got furious with the Imagineers when – due to the enormous construction challenges this $23 million project entailed — …

… That – by the way – is what it cost to building the Disneyland version of “it’s a small world,” New Orleans Square, Pirates of the Caribbean, Primeval World AND the Park’s new administration building. Just $23 million total .

… Anyway, Walt reportedly got furious when – due to a very wet Spring (By the way, that Albert Hammond song from 1972 – “It Never Rains in Southern California” – lies through its teeth) – work on getting the Disneyland Railroad fell behind schedule by one entire month.

John Hench once told me about how – when they had to tell Walt that the opening of Disneyland’s railroad would be delayed by a full month in the Spring of 1966 – he’d never seen his boss so mad. Walt reportedly went on & on about how a Disney theme park without a steam train wasn’t worth the price that they were then charging people to get into Disneyland (a then-whopping $5.00 for adults, $4.50 for juniors – ages 12 – 17 – and $4.00 for kids 3 – 11. That would have gotten you the park’s Deluxe 15 Ticket book). Walt reportedly turned to John and said “If people ask, we’re going to have to agree to issue them a refund. Because a Disneyland without its steam trains just isn’t worth the full price of admission.”

I wonder what would happen if someone today went into City Hall at WDW’s Magic Kingdom and shared that story from the Spring of 1966. What a Cast Member who was working in Guest Relations at that theme park would have to say in response.

Walt Disney World Railroad Downtime

I mean, I get that it’s not their fault that the Walt Disney World Railroad has been out of commission since December of 2018. And we also have to acknowledge that much of the Resort was shuttered for months in 2020 during the early days of the pandemic.

Walt Disney World Railroad

But even so, at a time when the Florida parks are continually struggling to keep the rides, shows & attractions that they already have up & running on a reliable, regular basis, to have a people eater like the Magic Kingdom’s steam trains shut down for 3 & a half years … That’s just inexcusable.

This article is based on research for The Disney Dish Podcast “Episode 377”, published on June 6, 2022. The Disney Dish Podcast is part of the Jim Hill Media Podcast Network.

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