Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Autonomous Guidance Under the Hood

Luigi's Rolickin Roadsters at DCA

These days most automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are built for industrial use. A typical application might be in an automobile plant moving parts or materials around the factory. In an industrial environment, safety primarily means preventing the vehicle from running into another vehicle, an obstacle, or personnel.

Early Guide by Wire Patent Details

Control design for Dark Ride systems has its roots in industrial automation technologies. Initially, the two big players in Themed Entertainment (Disney, Universal) had to develop their own standards and safety systems. In the 1960's these were similar to systems developed for railroads (ie; block control) and often used relay logic. As safety became more important, and markets began to spread, industry, professional organizations and governments began cooperating in developing standards with a goal towards globalization.

The parallels between controling Themed Entertainment and Industrial Automation are obvious, but in two areas the requirements and tolerances are very different; Timing and Safety. Show Timing can require "frame rate synchronization" of events and both acceptable injury thresholds and frequency of occourance are much lower, particularly at the highest SIL (Safety Integrity Level) or PL ratings.

Logan Industrial AGV

Back in 2014, Prism Systems was contracted develop an AGV for an Orlando area theme park. Unlike industrial material movers, the cargo would be people and the primary function was providing an “experience” while moving them thru a show. This presented a number of significant challenges in both software and control system design.

Prism initially chose to use Programmable Logic Controllers for safety functions; and monitoring to protect the guests and operators from injury or death. Safety PLCs, EthernetIP, laser scanners, video cameras and light curtains provided multiple layers of protection. The final solution had several features combined to achieve a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 rating, which equates to one failure per 1 to 10 million hours of operation. For one system that would be nearly 150 years of operation, 18 hours per day.

Obtaining that level of safety required the use of Safety Rated PLCs communicating with Safety Point I/O, modular programming using standard and safety Add-on Object Instructions (AOIs),
EthernetIP communication using a Safety Layer Protocol, safety rated laser scanners, light curtains, vision systems to detect intrusion in forbidden areas and produced/consumed tags to other Safety rated PLCs communicating over an EthernetIP Safety Layer.

Arrow's Wire Guided Vehicle; Danny the Dragon (1960)

Designing Safety into Free-Range AGVs

Autonomously Guided Vehicles historically have navigated in one of two modes: free range or fixed path. Fixed-path AGVs have followed buried wires (Danny the Dragon, Tower of Terror) or magnetic tape, with or without modulated RF.  Fixed path is similar to traditional tracked dark rides in that the vehicles are constrained to specific routes and speeds.  Some vendors have chosen to call fixed path "Trackless" technology, even though the vehicle's path(s) are fully planned in advance.

Free-ranging AGV's may use a combination of inertial navigation, laser scanners, optical encoders and sensors, buried magnets and RFID tags. They typically also refer to an onboard electronic map. They may have onboard or wayside vision systems monitoring for obstacles. RF tracking and ranging systems using WiFi and indoor GPS have also been developed.

2getThere 3rd Generation Autonomous Vehicle
One recent development in the human transporting AGVs is the 2getThere ParkShuttle, which currently carries over 2,400 passengers per day.  In 2017, 2getThere signed a long term agreement with Oceaneering International, parent of dark ride vehicle maker Oceaneering Entertainment Systems, "to collaborate in the design, development and advance of automated people-mover systems serving the US markets and entertainment venues worldwide."  The 2getThere guidance system uses both buried magnets and RFID tags. In 2014 Oceaneering's Advanced Technology Group acquired FROG AGV Systems.  That same year, OES won the 2014 Thea Award  for Breakthrough Technology for it's Dynamic, Tru-Trackless™ ride vehicle system. That is the technology behind the Sea World Antarctica Empire of the Penguin ride system.

Sea World - Empire of the Penguin

Disney has been developing AGV technology for over 40 years and Universal recently dipped its toe in the water with the Kong - Skull Island attraction. Disney AGV systems include Aquatopia, Pooh's Hunny Hunt and Mystic Manor in Tokyo, Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris and Luigi's Rockin' Roadsters at DCA.

One of the primary industrial applications of Free Ranging AGVs has been in maritime container terminals, where they transport cargo from the dock area to conventional over the road trucks. Many of the current AGV Technology vendors have been developing this technology for three decades, so it's natural for their hardware to be tried in themed entertainment.

Port of Rotterdam AGV's

In our story, the free-ranging the AGVs moved in groups thru the themed environment, primarily guided by inertial navigation. Dual encoders on the wheels kept track of distance down the ride path.  Since errors accumulate over time due to wear and slippage, RFID tags embedded in the floor provided dead-reckoning points for positional corrections. Gyroscopes provided vehicle orientation, also called "pose".

Precision of Control

Each vehicle used a PC-based supervisory control system interfacing with subsystems that determined position and propelled the vehicle. Another PLC based controller provided external control of all the vehicles. 

Multiple AGVs moved simultaneously and each one only knew its own position. The supervisory processor communicated wirelessly with each vehicle from the wayside, tracking location and telling the vehicles where and when to go next. This "Mother may I?" approach has been typical of dark ride systems partly because of the need to integrate with existing wayside technology which controls the show.

WinAC RTX F Controller

Prism ultimately transitioned to a faster WinAC controller partly because it was safety rated. This was achieved by using a real-time operating system (RTOS) underlying Windows, which meant that the PLC software was also running on top of Windows, but still in the RTOS kernel.  This allowed separation of communications and errors in the operating system from the operation of the PLC, so if Windows had an fault, the safety code could continue to run. Network communications were also handled outside the operating system, which would also allow communications to continue if one of the other modules failed. This was made possible because multi-threading and memory protection had been developed for inductrial PCs. Processing times were about 20ms per operation, close to what is needed for "frame rate" synchronization.

Software Design

Safety related applications must mitigate all possible contingencies.  Prism chose unified modeling language (UML) which works well for PLC programming, especially when using state machines or sequence diagrams. The development team tried to uncover every possible scenario and response before coding began. This was accomplished with frequent and thorough reviews throughout the development process.

There were four main parts within the software:

· Vehicle interface manager
· Zone manager
· Vehicle manager (vehicle and group)
· Station manager

Each component is a logical section within the same PLC program, but running in protected memory and having segregated duties and communication channels to the other components.

The Vehicle Interface Manager handled all the logic and communications to the vehicles. Communication was wireless and used custom formatted IP packets. Messages were buffered and had extensive error checking. If malformed packets were received, or communications were not timely, the vehicle was stopped. This is another major difference between industrial applications, where the effort is to try to work through faults, and amusement parks where the default error response is a ride or vehicle stop.

The Vehicle Interface Manager was always requesting the vehicle's position. Its PLC queried each vehicle in the fleet, determined where it was, where it needed to be, and then sent commands back. Communication had to be low latency since the vehicle only knew its trajectory for the next block - which was usually about six to eight feet long.

The Vehicle Manager tracked both vehicle groups and individual vehicles and handled all associated functions. Multiple vehicles would travel through the attraction as a single group. Groups also had group-level tasks related to how they acted in each show scene.. Within a group, each vehicle also had different responsibilities and individual vehicles could respond independently.

The Station Manager primarily handled triggered functions (e.g., vehicles advancing, door movements, charging, station gates) but contained the highest level of safety components, such as pressure mats, laser scanners and vision systems, because it was responsible for knowing where people were.

The Zone Manager also kept track of all the vehicles and had all information about each vehicle in the attraction: where it was located, what group it was associated with and what route it was taking. It used this information to zone and block out different routes to make sure vehicles didn't collide with one another.

In amusement park rides (roller coasters, dark rides), zone blocking/protection is one of the oldest ways of maintaining a safe ride environment. It was perfected in the railroad industry and incorporated in Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds by Arrow Development in 1961. Tracks are divided into zones. When vehicle or group moves into a zone it “claims” that zone and no other vehicles can be commanded or allowed to move into it until the block is released.

The Zone Manager is a core element of ride safety. Although not a safety process itself, its algorithms ensure that vehicles never deliberately collide with one another.

These core principles have worked well for over 50 years. What comes next will probably get a boost from the anti-collision technology being developed in the automotive industry, where all the major players are working towards self driving cars. That is built on a very different base than Themed Entertainment, which is more like a choreographed dance of elephants than a sprint to the finish line.

Given the change in philosophy hinted at in new ride systems in which guest input influences the story there are some big and rewarding challenges ahead.

GM Self Driving Car Concept

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

1958 Disneyland Attraction & Wait Times

Fantasyland Image by banannaphone5000

An Interoffice Memo from Jack Sayers, distributed to Walt Disney, Card Walker, Donn Tatum, Bill Cottrell, Ed Ettinger and Doc Lemmon in January of 1958 provides a fascinating reminder of how things have and haven't changed at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Compiled by Buzz Price's consulting firm, it estimated the time it would take to visit every attraction in Disneyland. It found that it would take 19 hours and 11 minutes to see and do everything including shopping, time out for eating and bathroom breaks. That was across three days, with daily park attendance between 1300 and 2000 guests.  Only a handful of attractions had wait times, with the Golden Horseshoe being 20 minutes, Richfield 10, the Disneyland Railroad and Moon Ride were 8, and a handful of others were 1 to 4.

With today's daily attendance figures of roughly 40,000, maybe maybe those wait times aren't as bad as we thought.

Survey of Time Required to See Disneyland Attractions in 1958 


Buy Tickets and Books;               10  minutes
Pass thru Gate;                               5  minutes
Go thru Tunnel;                              2  minutes
Total Entry Time;                         17  minutes


Train Ride;                                   12 minutes


Bank of America                           5 minutes
Bekins                                           5 minutes
City Hall                                       5 minutes
Castle Service                               5 minutes
Show Business                              5 minutes
Souvenir Stand                              5 minutes


Horseless Carriage                         5 minutes
Omnibus                                        3 minutes
Horse Cars                                     5 minutes
Surry                                              4 minutes
Fire Wagon                                    4 minutes


Wurlitzer                                        3 minutes
Magic Shop                                    5 minutes
Yale and Towne Lock Shop           7 minutes
Swift's Market                               10 minutes
Pen, Music & Card Shops              3 minutes
Eastman Kodak                              3 minutes
Silhouette Shop                              2 minutes
Carefree Corner                              5 minutes
Pablum Baby Station                      1 minute
Liberty Square Display                   5 minutes
Penny Arcade                                 20 minutes
Upjohn                                           15 minutes
Glass Blower                                   5 minutes
Candle Shop                                    5 minutes

Travel time along Main Street - 30 minutes
Time from Main Gate thru Main Street - 3 Hours 30 minutes



Autopia                                          4 minutes
Moon Ride                                    12 minutes
Astro-Jet                                        3 minutes
Satellite                                          3 minutes
20,000 Leagues                              4 minutes


Art Corner                                       1 minute
Crane Exhibit                                  5 minutes
Dairy Bar                                        1 minute
Richfield                                         19 minutes
WenMac Flight Circle                    20 minutes
Circarama                                       20 minutes
National Lead                                 10 minutes
Monsanto Chemical                        5 minutes
Kaiser Aluminum                           10 minutes
Monsanto House                             8 minutes

Travel time in Tomorrowland  -     30 minutes
Total time in Tomorrowland -         2 hours 46 minutes



Viewliner                                         4 minutes
Motor Cruise boats                          4 minutes
Midget Autopia                               4 minutes
Jr. Autopia                                       4 minutes
Storybook Land                               6 minutes
Mickey Mouse Theater                   35 minutes
Cups and Saucers                            3 minutes
Snow White                                    3 minutes
Carousel                                          4 minutes
Peter Pan                                         2 minutes
Mr. Toad                                          2 minutes
Castle                                              5 minutes
Dumbo                                            4 minutes
Casey Jr.                                         7 minutes
Skyway                                           5 minutes


Magic Shop                                    10 minutes
Pirate Ship                                      7 minutes
Toy Shop                                        20 minutes

Travel Time in Fantasyland -         30 minutes
Total Time in Fantasyland  -          2 Hours 46 minutes



Jungle Boats                                      7 minutes


Bazzar                                               15 minutes

Travel Time in Adventureland  -      8 minutes
Total Time in Adventureland  -       30 minutes



Mark Twain                                      12 minutes
Rainbow Mine Train                        8 minutes
Shooting Gallery                              4 minutes
Mule Pack                                        10 minutes
Conestoga Wagons                           4 minutes
Stage Coach                                      6 minutes
Tom Sawyer Island                           60 minutes
Keel Boats                                         8 minutes
Indian Canoes                                  10 minutes


Davey Crocket Museum                  10 minutes
Strawhatters                                     15 minutes
Black Light Exhibit                          6  minutes
Indian Village (War Dance)             30 minutes
Pendleton                                          4 minutes
Golden Horsehoe                             45  minutes
El Zocalo                                          5 minutes
Gun Shop                                         5 minutes
Trading Post                                     5 minutes

Travel Time in Frontierland     -      45 minutes
Total Time in Frontierland       -      5 hours, 22 minutes


Lunch Periods                                 2 Hours
Restrooms                                      45 minutes
Information                                    20 minutes
Shopping                                         1 hour,  30 minutes
Standing & Looking                      30 minutes

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Merry-Go-Round Co. Doing Defense Work

An article from the Sunday, August 26, 1951 edition of the San Jose Mercury-News gives some interesting insight into Arrow's pre-Disney years.  Authored by Central Coast Staff writer Dwight Mitchell, it declared; Merry-Go-Round Co. Doing Defense Work.

At this stage Arrow had only built three carousels and was building industrial production equipment for local companies like Hewlett Packard, McCormack, and Wells Goodenough. What they were doing for the DoD wasn't mentioned.

The reference to the use of magnesium in the horses has a connection to the story Karl and Ed told about the fire, as told in Rob Reynold's book;  Roller Coasters, Fumes and Flying Saucers.

One year later, in 1952, Arrow would exhibit for the first time at the NAAPPB Show in Chicago, the same show where Disney would visit Arrow's booth, which lead to the inquiry about the Lil' Belle riverboat and Arrow's reply letter from Bill Hardiman to Dick Irvine, on January 6, 1953.

PRECISION MACHINE - Precision coil-winding machine made by Arrow Development Co., Mountain View, for Hewlett Packard Co., Palo Alto radio engineering form, is demonstrated by Karl W. Bacon, treasurer of Arrow firm. Machine's job is winding induction coils of fine wire, varying tension on wire with each revolution.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Aug 25. - Under construction by Arrow Development Co., 243 Moffett Blvd., is an addition 50 by 48 feet, which will nearly double the square footage of the manufacturing firm's plant.

The firm, established by four men on Jan. 1, 1946, manufactures a wide assortment of metal products, including merry-go-rounds that have won wide acceptance for their sturdiness and serviceability.

"We will be able to assemble our merry-go-rounds under a roof after this addition is completed," said W. J. Hardiman, one of the four partners. The other three partners are Karl. W. Bacon, Angus Anderson and Edgar A. Morgan.

Merry-go-round production has slackened considerably this year because of shortage of materials. The firm is now doing subcontract work for the Federal Government and private industry. One of its products is a grid tamper for tamping concrete floors, produced for Wells P. Goodenough, Inc. a Palo Alto contracting firm.

Even as the new addition is under construction, it is being used for manufacture of an assembly line for loading pallets being produced by McCormack & Co., 680 Martin Ave. Santa Clara. It was designed by Morgan to speed production. Arrow Development men will also supervise its installation in the Santa Clara Plant.

Under Bacon's supervision is the manufacture of four coil winding machines for winding inductance coils produced by Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto radio engineers.

Catalog page for the 1951 HP 524A Frequency Counter

As an example of problems manufacturers face when materials are restricted, Hardiman cited the last three merry-go-rounds the company made. There was no aluminum available, so the horses were made of magnesium.

Although magnesium is lighter and stronger than aluminum, it is liable to crack when welded. Workers solved this problem by heating the horses to 500 degrees before welding.

MANUFACTURER EXPANDS - New section of Arrow Development Co., Mountain View manufacturing firm, is put to full use even before it is roofed. William J. Hardiman, secretary of form, lends a hand in building assembly line for pallet division of McCormack & Co., Santa Clara. Assembly line was designed by Edgar Morgan, partner in Arrow firm. He will also supervise its installation in Santa Clara plant.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A commemorative award from WED Imagineering to Arrow Development celebrates Arrow's 1970 Twenty-fifth anniversary with a Sam McKim drawn cartoon of Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan shooting the Arrow logo over Mickey Mouse's head while Mickey proclaims; WED Celebrates A Great 25 Year Start.

A close look at the signatures and inscriptions is a who's who of Disney leadership.

In the upper left corner Roger Broggie says "Best Regards."  Joe Fowler reminisces "After a wonderful 16 year association My Best Congratulations", just below the signature of Don Tatum.

Working around the matte; Top center is the signature of Roy O. Disney, flanked by John Hench, Dick Irvine and Bob Sewell. Down the right side are the signatures of X. Atencio, Dick Nunis and Card Walker. The left side has Bill Justice. Herb Ryman's is on the bottom.

This is in the personal collection of Dana Morgan, founder of DH Morgan, son of Ed Morgan, and legend in his own right.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Three Decades of Arrow's Cars

Fiat Toppolino

From the very beginning Arrow Development was working on and with cars. One of their first jobs was making hard to find replacement parts for a tiny Fiat Toppolino in 1948.  At the same time, Arrow was developing one of its first kiddie rides; a small portable carousel featuring tiny pill bug like cars, a few of which are still running in San Jose's Alum Rock Park. They weren't much more than bodies with fixed axels and wheels. The carousel turntable pulled them around and there was no way to steer or brake.

1948 Arrow Kiddie Car Carousel

Arrow "Pill Bug" Kiddie Car

One of their first powered cars was the ArrowFlite.  Not only did Arrow do the vehicles, they designed and built a gas station, complete with a pump and a lift. The cars featured twin steering wheels, although they didn't actually work, as the car ran on a single track which provided both power pickup and guidance.

Kiddie scale gas station

Anderson Family Cousins Showing Off

By 1957 there were a handful of the small ArrowFlite tracked car ride installations, mostly on the west coast.  Their add listed; Woodland Park in Seattle, Easbey Amusement (Arrow's Demo Park) in Palo Alto, Gold Coast Shows in San Jose, Suker's Kiddieland at the corner of Compton Avenue & Firestone Boulevard in Los Angeles, Disneyland (Midget Autopia) Nu-Pike in Long Beach, Elitch Gardens in Denver, Peppermint Parks in Houston and Ward's Kiddie Park at Coney Island, NY. Soon Arrow would expand further into custom fiberglass work, with the short run Kaiser-Darrin mini-replicar.

1957 ArrowFlite Advertisement

Kaiser Darin Mini Cars
The the center guide rail system Arrow developed on the smaller cars was adapted for use on their larger sports and antique cars - which caught Walt Disney's attention when the early Autopia cars and track were taking a beating at Disneyland. Arrow's steering system used a variable width center guide to keep the cars from running into the curbs. Walt visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to have a closer look. Soon thereafter Arrow was hard at work on the 1963 Mark IV Autopia upgrade. This was supplanted by the Bob Gurr Corvette like body in 1967, but the center guide remained and is still in use in Anaheim and Orlando.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk 1961
Autopia with center guide rail

At the same time there were plans afoot for antique car rides for the 1964 Worlds Fair. Arrow provided the vehicles and track for the Avis Antique Car ride, described in the official guide;

Open-topped antique cars, reproduced to five-eighths scale, provide a pleasant ride through an old-fashioned country setting. Each car seats up to five, and anyone 10 years or over can drive. A single pedal - accelerator and brake combined - controls the one-cylinder engine that pushes the cars along at a top speed of four miles an hour; the ride takes four minutes. Avis also operates a rental service for automobiles and power boats at the Marina landing.

1964-65 New York Worlds Fair AVIS Cars

By the mid-70's Arrow had provided antique car rides for fifty amusement parks. Their catalog featured full color images of the four models; A French Taxi, Flyer, Ford Touring and Cadillac.

Mid 70's Antique Car Catalog
There is interest in preserving and restoring these vintage rides, both antiques and sportsters. It is often a daunting task of love moving from a rusted chassis to a restored work of art and auction prices can reach - and sometimes exceed - those of a new, much more modern automobiles.

Sport Chassis Restoration

Restored Sport Coupe

Restored Hamburg Antique

An upcoming auction at Barrett-Jackson features an AC Cobra inspired Autopia car restoration. 

Note the information sheet is headlined by our blog banner (!)

Cobra Inspired Autopia Car Restoration

Interior shot with our Blog Banner (!)

Today Arrow's fingerprints, or perhaps shadow are still on the Autopia. 

I'd love to see Disney partner with Tesla and convert the attraction to all electric, with solar panels on the roof, of course, rather than running single cylinder gasoline engines. That would be both future and retro, as Arrow had battery operated versions of it's cars too, some of which were built by Morgan Manufacturing when Ed Morgan's son Dana started his own company.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

King Arthur's Carrousel

The story of the creation of the King Arthur's Carrousel, like the story of its namesake king, is the stuff of legend. Thanks to a recently disclosed document, we also have a better idea of how much Disney paid Arrow Development for their engineering work, which involved completely renovating and enlarging the carousel from Sunnyside Park in Toronto, Canada.

1897 Dentzel from Woodside Amusement Park
Note that the outside row are all "standers"

The Sunnyside Park Dentzel carousel operated from 1922 to the mid 50's. Although some sources claim it was built in 1875, there are no records confirming that. Originally a three row model, with the outer row all "standers" it became the foundation for another piece of Walt's dream.

Griffith Park Carousel

Without increasing the diameter of the turntable, Arrow Development added another course and converted all the horses to jumpers, like the 1926 Spillman carousel which Walt loved at Griffith Park.  This doubled the mechanical load on the drive mechanism, as every crankshaft had to be lengthened and modified to drive two added rows of jumping horses.  By this time Arrow had plenty of experience, having built several other carousels, up to 45 feet in diameter.

Arrow Ponies at Roeding Park

Five of King Arthur's horses came from the carousel from San Francisco's Playland at the Beach, just a few miles up the peninsula from Arrow's shop in Mountain View.  Four of those - the ones with the broomstick tails - ended up on King Arthur's and one was given to Disney Imagineer #1; Roger Broggie. That makes the King Arthur figures a mix from Sunnyside, Ward's Kiddieland from Coney Island, and Loof and Dentzel horses from Playland in San Francisco.

1907 Seattle Luna Park Looff Carousel (note the crouching tiger)
Note the tiger and the starburst medallions.
Marianne Steven's family kept the tiger when
they sold the carousel to San Francisco

Playland Looff about 1940 - Outer row standers and leapers

The Playland Carousel was built in 1906 by renowned designer and craftsman Charles I.D. Looff and intended to be installed in San Francisco, however the great 1906 earthquake and fire put that plan on hold.  In 1907 it was installed at Luna Park in Seattle. It finally made it to Playland-at-the-Beach in 1913, where it operated for nearly 60, years, until 1972. The carousel was next purchased by a private collector who put into storage.  In 1998, it was purchased by the City of San Francisco.

Marianne Stevens with friends

There appears to be some confusion about provenance because there were two Luna Parks, one located at Coney Island and the other in Seattle. The Looff Coney Island, Luna Park, Broadway Flying Horses Carousel was built in 1890 and ended up at Shoreline Village in San Diego.

Roger Broggie's Dentzel Pony

Arrow converted the third row standers on the Sunnyside Park Dentzel to jumpers by removing their legs and carving new ones. The chariot benches were removed and their woodwork was re-purposed to decorate the "calliope" tenders and passenger cars of the Casey Jr. Circus Train.  A Wurlitzer #157 Band Organ face was used as decoration, and motifs from  Sleeping Beauty were also added.

New framework from Brass Ring Entertainment under construction - 1955

According to an article in E-Ticket Magazine King Arthur's current horses are all "outside row" quality.  There are mounts for 72, which enables a rolling maintenance schedule of four-on-four-off, which also explains why horses will appear to change location from time to time.

Spiffing up ponies in Burbank
(Yes, that's "Jingles" on the right.)
A Disney expenditure authorization document dated May 5, 1955, gives some added details regarding the level of effort involved in the creation of the King Arthur Carousel;

Disney Expense Authorization #236, signed by George Whitney
who founded Playland and attended Disney's pitch at the NAAPPB
Convention in Chicago in 1954.

The text reads; 

To cover the additional amount of $5000.00 in authorizing the total amount of $20,000.00 for modification work being accomplished by Arrow Development Co. on the Carrousel for Fantasyland.

The work previously authorized by E. A. No 40, dated 11/10/54, in the amount of $15,000.00. 

This increase is based on re-estimations of the "Estimated cost to complete",  per Arrow Development Co. of 5/1/55.

This increase covered by a budget increase of $5,000 on 1/1/55.

These figures and dates add some fascinating details to our understanding of both Disneyland's development costs and schedule and the history of Arrow Development. Changes to one of the anchor attractions were still under way as late as May and the budget for it had grown by 1/3, with two months of work still remaining. 

In today's dollars, the King Arthur's cost, just thru May 1955, would be $1.82 million. As a point of reference, Brass Ring has advertised a fully restored 1890 Looff at $2.75 million.  

Fortunately the Playland Carousel has been restored and is operating again in San Francisco at the Children's Creativity Museum. Its still not clear where the five Dentzel horses which made it to Disney came from.  Perhaps the good folks at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach can shed some light on the matter, as they have much of the documentation from Whitney's Playland.

Four white steeds prancing in the California sun.

By the way, for some absolutely stunning Illions carousel horse images visit the Carousel History page.  Thanks to Patrick Wentzel for additional research and corrections - df

Monday, February 6, 2017

Arrow Homage at Big Thunder Mountain

Look for this on your walk up to the Big Thunder pre-show building

Disney Imagineers are noted for their painstaking attention to detail and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Walt Disney World is no exception. The preshow que area is filled with real and Imagineered artifacts, but this one caught my attention because of its association with Arrow Development.

Before Andy Anderson, Karl Bacon, William Hardiman and Ed Morgan founded Arrow, they worked together at the Joshua Hendy Iron Works in Sunnyvale.

Hendy Factory in Sunnyvale

The Joshua Hendy Iron Works was founded in San Francisco in 1856, initially to supply equipment to the placer miners hoping to strike it rich in the California Gold fields. The Hendy factory would become leading supplier and manufacturer in the mining industry, supplying ore carts, crushers, stamp and ball mills to mines around the world.

Hendy Stamp Mill @ WDW

Upon Joshua Hendy’s death in 1891, the company was taken over by his nephews Samuel J. and John H. Hendy.  Samuel died in March 1906 and the Great San Francisco Fire and Earthquake destroyed the factory in April.  Hendy relocated down the penninsula, to Sunnyvale, lured by an offer of free land.

By the late 1930s, the company was in deep financial trouble,  with only 60 employees. Hendy was in receivership when Charles E. Moore established a controlling interest in 1940 and started to land contracts with the US Navy for torpedo tube mounts and marine steam engines.

Hendy Marine Engine Ad

Eventually Hendy’s employment rolls would swell to over 11,000, as crews worked around the clock to fill the wartime orders. By June 1943, the unions were pressing for reduced overtime and threatening work slowdowns, which Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan would recall as part of their reason for striking out on their own, starting Arrow Development, initially as a machine shop and used machine tool vendor.

Karl Bacon is third from the left, arms folded, in the second row.

Their jobs at Hendy provided Karl and Ed valuable experience in welding, casting, machining and design, which would prove useful on their carousels, boats, miniature trains and kiddie car rides. Even Hendy’s stepped, mansard style roof would be  reprised on Arrow’s first building at 243 Moffett in Mountain View.

We don't know the name of this wartime Hendy "Rosie" installing steam turbine blades, but she has remarkably well developed - and hairy - forearms! (;-)