Monday, January 4, 2016

Walt's Tribute to Arrow


An article written Thursday, July 14th, 1955, and a video clip from the Disneyland TV show broadcast just a few days before the opening of Disneyland details some of the last minute preparations.

Particularly interesting is the last paragraph which reveals when Dumbo left Mountain View for Anaheim. Compared to today's year long Install - Test - and Adjust periods, Dumbo was *really* flying fast and low!




"Amusement rides built in the local area and based on the famous Walt Disney animated cartoon characters were featured on “Disneyland” television show last night on Channel 7. (KGO TV San Francisco -df)

Arrow Development Co., located at 243 Moffett Blvd., Mountain View, engineered and constructed five rides which were shown in the narrated film, along with other parts of Disneyland equipment in various stages of completion by other manufacturers.

"The film was made in April when we were in the process of re-assembling an old Merry-Go-Round and refinishing the carved wooden horses.” William Hardiman, company supervisor for the Disney work, said yesterday. (Wednesday July 13th, 1955 -df) “A camera crew and script man spent one day taking pictures of us at work.”

Five Rides Featured

The Mountain View company’s rides to be featured on the TV program will be the Merry-Go-Round, decorated as a tent of King Arthur, complete with charging horses, Casey Jr., a nickname for “The Little Engine That Could”, a whirling ride called the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”, and two others called “Mister Toad’s Hotrod” and “Snow White.”

All decorations on the pieces were done at Disneyland. Only the design and construction of the basic pieces was done by the Arrow Development Co.

“Disney told us what he wanted and we had to get busy and engineer it.” Harriman said. “Sometimes we had a sketch, but more often he just described what he had in mind and left us to really put it in some form.”

Casey Jr.

Casey Jr., a replica of a cartoon train engine, has bulging eyes which give the illusion of looking right at you. By using a chain pull, Casey Jr., will pull a six car train full of children up a 50 percent grade in Disneyland. His smoke stack is designed to roll back with the apparent strain of the pull up the hill, characterizing the story of "The Little Engine That Could.”

The "Mad Hatter” ride has six huge whirling cup and saucer “seats,"on each of three platforms which also rotate. The entire base of the ride goes around in the opposite direction, throwing the riders by centrifugal force against the sides of the teacups. This was designed completely from scratch by the Mountain View Company, on the basic idea of the tea party from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Figures of the Mad Hatter and other characters fill in the center of the basic platform.

"Mr. Toad’s Hotrod” is based on the Disney film “Wind in the Willows.” People sitting in replicas of the hotrod, vintage about 1902, will ride through a dark tunnel illuminated with black light to produce such sensations as crashing through a fence into a hay field and colliding with a train. Another ride on the same idea is designed on the theme of “Snow White”, with conventional seats.

The last ride the company built for Disney, a “Dumbo Ride” left for Disneyland in Anaheim by truck late last night and will be decorated and installed there in time for the public opening Monday. Dumbo seats, flying ears and all, are attached to 10 rotating arms which also go up and down. The Arrow Development Co. designed and built the mechanism.

Representatives of the company this weekend will test all the equipment they built, which is now installed in the park."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Down to the Wire

Casey waits for Disney's Finishing Touches
From the internal references, this article was written Thursday, July 14th, 1955, the day after the Disneyland TV program on progress at the park was broadcast on Wednesday, July 13, 1955. Disneyland opened three days later, on Sunday, July 17th, 1955. 

Amusement rides built in the local area and based on the famous Walt Disney animated cartoon characters were featured on “Disneyland” television show last night on Channel 7. (KGO TV San Francisco -df)

Arrow Development Co., located at 243 Moffett Blvd., Mountain View, engineered and constructed five rides which were shown in the narrated film, along with other parts of Disneyland equipment in various stages of completion by other manufacturers.

"The film was made in April when we were in the process of re-assembling an old Merry-Go-Round and refinishing the carved wooden horses.” William Hardiman, company supervisor for the Disney work, said yesterday. (Wednesday July 13th, 1955 -df) “A camera crew and script man spent one day taking pictures of us at work.”

Five Rides Featured

The Mountain View company’s rides to be featured on the TV program will be the Merry-Go-Round, decorated as a tent of King Arthur, complete with charging horses, Casey Jr., a nickname for “The Little Engine That Could”, a whirling ride called the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”, and two others called “Mister Toad’s Hotrod” and “Snow White.”

All decorations on the pieces were done at Disneyland. Only the design and construction of the basic pieces was done by the Arrow Development Co. 

“Disney told us what he wanted and we had to get busy and engineer it.” Harriman said. “Sometimes we had a sketch, but more often he just described what he had in mind and left us to really put it in some form.”

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Casey Jr.

Casey Jr., a replica of a cartoon train engine, has bulging eyes which give the illusion of looking right at you. By using a chain pull, Casey Jr., will pull a six car train full of children up a 50 percent grade in Disneyland. His smoke stack is designed to roll back with the apparent strain of the pull up the hill, characterizing the story of "The Little Engine That Could.”

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The "Mad Hatter” ride has six huge whirling cup and saucer “seats,"on each of three platforms which also rotate. The entire base of the ride goes around in the opposite direction, throwing the riders by centrifugal force against the sides of the teacups. This was designed completely from scratch by the Mountain View Company, on the basic idea of the tea party from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Figures of the Mad Hatter and other characters fill in the center of the basic platform.

Toady Ride Vehicle


"Mr. Toad’s Hotrod” is based on the Disney film “Wind in the Willows.” People sitting in replicas of the hotrod, vintage about 1902, will ride through a dark tunnel illuminated with black light to produce such sensations as crashing through a fence into a hay field and colliding with a train. Another ride on the same idea is designed on the theme of “Snow White”, with conventional seats.

Early Dumbo Concept Art

The last ride the company built for Disney, a “Dumbo Ride” left for Disneyland in Anaheim by truck late last night and will be decorated and installed there in time for the public opening Monday. Dumbo seats, flying ears and all, are attached to 10 rotating arms which also go up and down. The Arrow Development Co. designed and built the mechanism.

Representatives of the company this weekend will test all the equipment they built, which is now installed in the park.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Trolley




One of the unsolved mysteries about Arrow's early ride systems was the nature of the "San Francisco" style trolley. Thanks to Bill Hardiman's grandson Michael, we now have pictures. 

It's very different than what I'd imagined, appearing somewhat like the streetcars which have served the City By the Bay for decades, but on a miniature scale, matching that of Arrow's streamline locomotives. 

Note also the names Mickey, Donald and Limited on the side of the cars, which may be more evidence of Arrow's tight relationship with Disney. These images were shot at an Arrow Playland demonstration park in San Lorenzo Village, in the East Bay. The fire station is visible across the street in the third image.




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pacific Ocean Park Banana Train

Much to my surprise and delight the Summer 2002 Issue of The "E" Ticket Magazine has a ten page article in it about Pacific Ocean Park with some nice photos and text with a scene by scene description of the ride;


"Rolling thru the Longhouse area, the six plantation type Banana Trains (build by Arrow Development) were beautiful ride vehicles. The open passenger cars had exteriors authentically faced with bamboo, and carried fifteen passenger each. The trains had a very different appearance because the cars were pushed from behind along the spindly track by the little thatch-roofed locomotives. The down sized "steam engines” were actually electric, but were convincing enough with their self contained water tenders, copper boiler jackets, diamond stacks and operators shaded from the sun by palm branch cab covers.


One after another, the Banana Trains loaded passengers, then “steamed” from the high-roofed longhouse and int the tropical “South Seas” jungle ahead. The track to be followed on this tropical fun trip, run by a beachcomber, around the island from one thrill to another was a figure eight, with the return track descending from the mountain and crossing above the outbound section. The railroad’s light rail was crudely laid on thin, wide spaced ties which inspired very little confidence as you looked down from the first car, and watched it flex under the weight of the train.



The track led a winding path through and under native thatched huts on stilts (where a few menacing "New Guinea Headhunters” threatened from the rafters. Then it plunged into the “authentic South Seas vegetation" ahead. A display of tribal dancing in a bamboo fenced village was then seen along the right before the tracks began their climb up the rocky slopes at the base of the volcano. As the Banana Train ascended, it passed a group of “carnivorous vultures,” nesting among the rocks, which glared with hunger at the passengers.


The train then entered the first several dark tunnels in the mountain. Out in the sunlight, framed by the curving spiral of track, the “live” volcano’s pots of bubbling lava could be seen within the cones of the cauldrons below. Twittering bats, thunder and lightning, a noisy “tropical rainstorm” and an “earthquake” were among the excitements enjoyed by the passengers before coming out into the sunlit center of the volcano, thru a short tunnel, then out again in the fresh ocean air, the Banana Train creaked over the spindly track and trestle onto a short section directly above the Pacific Ocean.


You weren’t out there long, but there was time to stare down at the water, towards the lights of Santa Monica Pier, then back into the tunnel ahead. The train then descended past the huge nest and broken eggshells of the Gooney Bird, who flapped and shrieked “Hello… hope you enjoyed your trip.” at the passing trains."




Saturday, August 22, 2015

Arrow Trams!

Over the past three years of research I've come a cross a handful of references to Arrow having done the parking lot trams for Disneyland and Walt Disney World as well as propane powered trams for  Yosemite National Park. Last week I stumbled across an item on eBay that helped filled in some blanks.

TRAMS MOVE YOUR GUESTS QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY

About 1973 Arrow published a four page supplement to Amusement Business magazine that contained this image of one of their trams. I'll leave it to others to figure out where this image may have been taken and how similar it is to Disney trams of that era.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rainbow Express at CrayolaLand?

Sometimes its fun to speculate on what might have been.

Here is an image from an Arrow Dynamics brochure illustrating a roller coaster vehicle concept for what we can only speculate may have been for a Children's Coaster at somewhere called CrayolaLand.

Arrow Dynamics Rainbow Express

Saturday, August 15, 2015

1986 Arrow History and Ride List

As Arrow was emerging from the bankruptcy reorganization in 1986 they published a list of attractions they had "gone around in." This was probably intended to reassure the public and former business partners that Arrow was still alive and kicking.

14 Standard Corkscrews, 7 Launched Loops, 12 Custom Coasters, 6 Standard Loop Coasters, 2 Suspended Coasters, 2 Steeplechases, 12 Runaway Trains, 2 Special Coasters, 52 Flume Rides, 2 Shoot-the-Chutes, 8 Merry-Go-Rounds, 5 Space Whirls, 4 Rub-a-Dubs, 8 Dark Rides, 2 Magic Rooms, 47 Special Systems, 53 Antique Cars and 25 Sports Car attractions.

Over 260 ride systems in America, Europe, Japan and China.
The story and list was impressive then and still is today. 
Look closely, and you'll find some surprises.







Many Thanks to Shane Huish for sharing his archive of Arrow documents and materials.