Sunday, June 29, 2014

Logger's Revenge (1977)

For over 100 years the family owned Santa Cruz Sentinel faithfully reported on goings-on in the area, with particular emphasis on items of local interest like surfing and agriculture, so it's natural that they would proudly report on activity at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which opened in 1907.

Today we're looking at a particularly large and lavishly photographed 1977 article by Dale Pollock, detailing the construction of the Logger's Revenge flume ride, which opened that season.

It is interesting to note that the Morgan mentioned in the article is Ed's son Dana, who had left Arrow in 1974 to became the general manager of the Boardwalk. When Huss purchased Arrow from RGI in 1981, Dana was appointed president of Arrow-Huss. Two years later, he would start D. H. Morgan Manufacturing. DHM's first order was to build new trains for the Boardwalk's Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

The article also mentions that there were forty other Arrow flume rides at amusement parks around the world, so the break from Disney hadn't hurt cash flow too much over the previous several years.

Additionally, in November of 1977, Arrow would announce their plans to produce a whole new type of ride; the suspended roller coaster, the first of which was The Bat at King's Mountain, so the little Arrow train still had plenty of steam left in her. (The article's proclamation of the death of the Wild Mouse, which ran from 1958 to 1976, was a bit premature, as Wild Mouse style coasters would continue their runs at Santa Cruz, at least thru 2014.)

More than 24,000 gallons of water per minute will flow thru the fiberglass flume set atop steel pillars 55 feet above the beach.

Santa Cruz Sentinel - Thursday January 27, 1977

A Million Dollar Splash

Logger’s Revenge Taking Shape at the Boardwalk

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Wild Mouse is dead. Long live the Logger’s Revenge!

Rather than a fantasy from "Alice in Wonderland,” the above slogan might serve to announce the fact that the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a new ride, an expensive flume contraption that will cause a $1 million splash.

The Logger’s Revenge will take patrons on a wild and wooly trip 55 feet above the beach, riding a jet stream of water coming out at the rate of 24,000 gallons per minute.

To add to the verisimilitude of the experience, a replica of an old saw mill will be used as the loading platform, and the boats themselves resemble huge hollowed-out logs, albeit made of fiberglass and foam padding.

“We feel this will be a real natural for this area with its logging history’, observed Dana Morgan, supervising the 27 construction workers who are busy completing the ride for its April 1 grand opening.

The decision is never as easy as saying, “Let’s have a new ride,” explained Don Theobald of the Seaside Company.  There are 40 editions of the logger’s ride at amusement parks around the world, all manufactured by the Arrow Development Company of Mountain View.

A replica of an old Santa Cruz Sawmill begins to take shape at the Boardwalk 
"It has been the largest volume ride at Marriott’s Great America,” Theobald admits, but he stresses that the Boardwalk has been eying the attraction for some time, especially as the wild mouse was turning gray after 18 years.

Morgan, who used to work for the Arrow ride wizards, points out that no two of the logger rides are the same.  The Boardwalk is also distinguishing it’s version with the realistically-furnished sawmill, which will have a working 14-foot water wheel, and a heap of logging artifacts, thanks to the advice of Bud McCrary from Big Creek Luber.

Its the ride itself that grabs the boardwalkers, of course, and the flume experience should be one they will not easily forget.  The log boats will leave every 10 seconds on their twisting path up the fiberglass flume, which towers above the beach on heavy steel supports.

That means over 1300 riders per hour who will ride the 2 1/2 minute excursion, from the rough-hewn station over the Southern Pacific railroad tracks, and then down a perilous 45-foot hill until the logboats  hit the water with a resounding splash.

For all the thrills and chills, both Morgan and Theobald stress that the Logger’s Revenge is a very safe ride.  When loggers would actually ride logs down a flume, it was extremely dangerous,” Theobald notes.  “This ride is extremely safe, since the safety factor is our prime concern.”

Construction has been under way since Oct.15, with giant cranes hoisting the immense support pillars up, along with setting the supports in heavy concrete bases.  All the materials have been painted green to blend with nearby foliage, and Theobald and Morgan proudly cite the fact that nary a tree was cut down to install the ride.

Steelworkers ready the large supports for the fiberglass flume sections.
(Note the distinctive Arrow styling.)

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes at the Boardwalk with the new attraction. Three other rides had to be adjusted to make room for the newcomer. Now the Cave Trains will wind their way around the basement support pillars, while th eAuto-Rama will have a few poles to navigate around, too.

The water is what makes the flume ride work and this particular model has a reservoir built into it that will hold 60,000 gallons of water, constantly filtered and recycled.  Two 250 horsepower pumps will push the water up the flume, at which point gravity takes over to circulate the liquid propulsion and return it to the reservoir.

The boats are actually  slowed down by their impact into the water at the end of the 45 foot drop, where a large pond will be constructed to catch the overflow.  Electronic controls will make sure the boats don’t run into one another and there’s even a trouble-shooter to check the troubleshooting equipment.

The major difficulty in setting up a new ride, Morgan relates, is to jibe all the different plans, factors and space limitations.  Almost a year of designs preceded the start of construction, in which “we had to sandwich all the required components together to meed the requirements of capacity and length.”

In other words, there isn’t much room for new rides at the Boardwalk. As Theobald notes, looking up at the the venerable Giant Dipper.  “Now we’ll see if steel and fiberglass will last as long as the Dipper’s wood frame which has been here for 52 years and 21 million rides.”

The Giant Dipper doesn’t have to worry, but the poor Wild Mouse lies dismembered and forgotten in a nearby parking lot.  Now the Logger’s Revenge is the new king, silently waiting for the screams and squeals of its future passengers come April 1.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Coasters & Flume 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Karl Bacon's Footprints

Over the course of his career at Arrow, Karl Bacon was included on six shared and awarded five individual patents:

Shared Patents
3,006,286 (1959) - Amusement Vehicle Apparatus - K. W. Bacon et al.
DES 189,828 (1960) - Amusement Ride Car - Karl Bacon and Edgar Morgan
3,114,332 (1960) - Bobsled Amusement Ride - Karl Bacon and Edgar Morgan
3,167,024 (1960) - Bobsled Amusement Ride - K. W. Bacon et al.
3,251,595 (1962) - Air Car and Supporting Apparatus - Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon
3,404,635 (1968) - Boat Amusement Ride - K. W. Bacon et al.

Individual Patents
3,830,161 (1973) - Flume Boat Ride with a Double Downchute
3,865,041 (1973) - Rotary Platform Vehicle Passenger Loading System
3,853,067 (1974) - Boat Amusement Ride with a Spillway
3,889,605 (1974) - Amusement Ride with Helical Track Portion
3,972,527 (1975) - Passenger Powered Rotating Amusement Ride

A closer look at these reveals some interesting details, some of which should be obvious to many current amusement park guests and also offer a glimpse into the trajectory of Karl and Arrow's history.

3,006,286 isn't long as many patents go, only five pages containing eight claims and six figures, most of which detail the pivoting nose-wheel assembly which guides and powers the car. As far as the technology goes, it's clearly descended from railroad trucks, with the exception of the use of a layer of polyurethane on the wheels to quiet the ride.  

It is a complex mechanism, with six wheels of three types, a spring loaded electrical pickup, casters and pivots and plenty of machined parts and bearings held together with nuts and bolts.

Dark Ride Front Truck
(Snow White, Mr. Toad, Alice)

What came next stepped things up significantly in terms of scale and was contained in three patents;  DES 189,828 (1 page, 1 claim, 5 figures), US3114332 (13 pages, 13 claims 12 figures) and US3167024 (4 pages, 2 claims, 5 figures).

Whereas the Amusement Vehicle Apparatus was for a fairly sedate dark ride, the Bobsled Amusement Ride was a whole system comprising a mountain with significant elevation changes, cars running on twin tubular tracks with an active speed regulation system, including a water splashdown.

Matterhorn Mashup

As complex and innovative as the Matterhorn was, it paled in comparison to the detail and level of precision required to create the next attraction; US3,251,595 - Air Car and Supporting Apparatus, aka the Flying Saucers.

With 18 Figures spread over 14 pages and 11 claims, the Air Car and Supporting Deck had it all; Pneumatics, Hydraulics, Electromechanics and thousands of pressure sensitive valves which had to automatically open and close at just the right time to keep the saucers flying. Some might say that the Air Car was a bridge too far for Arrow. Karl and Ed knew how important proper valve operation was.  An entire section of the patent was devoted to them which began:

"An important element of our invention lies in the structure and mode of automatic operation of the valves which are closely spaced in each unit."

Flying Saucers Air Table Valve
The operation of the valves isn't that complex, at least conceptually. The valve position is controlled by four things; There is pressure above and below the seal, (orange) a spring (66) and gravity. To move the valve up and close it, apply pressure to Port 2 and the piston moves up. Once closed, the plenum pressure, present everywhere in the chamber, tends to keep the valve closed. When the air car moves by, the increased pressure of the air trapped under the vehicle skirt tends to press down on the top of the valve, forcing it open. Once air is moving by Port 3, the local pressure begins to drop, which tends to reduce the pressure on the top side of the seal (in the blue area) and force the valve back up. (There is also a controlled leak at Port 1.)  If you can get the pressure balance right, all it takes is a little blockage above the top opening and things work. You don't even need to be in a fancy car, any flat sheet of plywood will do.

Karl and Walt contemplating levitating

However, things don't always work in the field the way they do in the shop.  When the system was designed in Mountain View, the volume in the chamber under the air table was larger than when the ride was built in Anaheim. This difference in size caused variations in the chamber pressure that caused the valves to spontaneously open and dump the the saucers and guests. (oops!) Changing the chamber volume was out of the question and the control needed to deal with the variations hadn't been invented yet.

The Flying Saucers attraction ran exactly five years, from August 6, 1961 to August 5, 1966. The patent was filed on May 11, 1962 and finally issued May 17, 1966, just three months before ride closed.

The last ride patent for Disney, 3,404,635, was filed on April 16, 1965 and issued October 8, 1968, almost two years after Walt's death. It illustrates most of the features used on Pirates of the Caribbean. Side by side passenger loading, conveyor belts moving the boats, a rectangular guide in the waterway, followed by a horizontal guide wheel. (9 pages, 7 figures, 12 claims)

Arrg... shift yer cargo, matey!

With the shift to in-house R & D at Disney and the sale of Arrow to Rio Grande Industries, Karl's direction and focus shifted to other things.  The patents from 1973 thru 1975 were for flume rides, corkscrew style track, the type of two level boat and water control system developed for Pirates and a rotary loading platform.

What is particularly interesting is the scope and scale of the last patent Karl filed; US 3,972,527; Passenger Powered Rotating Amusement Ride (1975), which was a continuation of a previous patent filed in 1974.

Karl's Last Ride
The primary object of the invention described in the patent was to provide an improved ride that was simple to manufacture and economical but one which still provides a thrilling experience for the rider. 

Reflecting back on the previous ride systems which Karl had created, some of which have never been matched, it's interesting to reflect on how one of the brightest amusement ride engineering minds of the last century reverted to a simple, manually powered swing for it's last patent.

Final Destination?
Maybe it's at least partly because we're all going to end up somewhere like this... someday.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Submarine Ride Under the Hood

Patent Illustration Side View
US Patent 3,114,333, Submarine Amusement Ride, was issued on December 17th, 1963 to J. W. Fowler et al.

Joseph William Fowler was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the Naval Academy and had a Master's in Naval Architecture from M.I.T.  Disney found him supervising the building of tract homes in the Bay Area and eventually coaxed him into becoming construction boss for Disneyland in 1954. Fowler acted as General Manager of Disneyland until 1965 and stayed on board to assist in the construction of Walt Disney World. With all his experience in the design and construction of big ships, Walt must have thought Joe was the perfect fit for Disneyland's fleets.

Fowler built Navy Gunboats in Shanghai.
The Submarine Voyage replaced the Phantom Boats attraction in 1959 and was part of a major expansion of Fantasyand and Tomorrowland which included the Matterhorn Bobsleds, an expanded Autopia, the Monorail and the Motorboat Cruise.

Motorboat Cruise

There are some fun facts about the submarines;  First is that they were built at the Todd Shipyards in San Pedro, with technical support from General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, which was at one time the only builder of submarines in the United States. 

There were eight ships in the fleet; Nautilus, Triton, Sea Wolf, Skate, Skipjack, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Ethan Allen, each with a capacity of 38 guests, forming what was then the largest civilian sub fleet in the world.

The design was straight-forward and simple; a tube with portholes just below the waterline and a motor at the stern. Guests would sit back to back along the centerline in two rows and view the passing scenes.

Of the four pages of thirteen figures, two were devoted to the passenger loading and unloading features.

Beginning at line 45, the claims specifically state that the ride simulates a submarine and is not actually submersible, but preferably comprised a completely buoyant craft. The operator had no control over anything but the speed. The illusion of ascending and descending was created by a "bubble producing means (29). The lack of steerage and manual speed controls would contribute to some interesting results.

There must have been some thought given to passenger load affecting how high in the water the boat rode, since the patent stated that different passenger loads would have no effect on the guide rail means because the cage was free to slide up and down on the steering column, which was itself held firmly to the rail by lead weights or springs.

The patent further goes on to state that the guide means was particularly well adapted to following the guide rail exactly, which was important to create the illusion of the operator steering the vessel extremely close to submerged objects without any danger of actually coming in contact with them.

Specifically mentioned was that each vessel was provided with a pair of guide means (see the detail view below) which rolled on the guide rail (22) through the lagoon and building (24).

Ah, yes.  The best laid plans of mice and men...

Ed Morgan told the story that Disney was having so much trouble with the guidance system that one day they just shut the ride down because the boats were coming off the guide rail. The wheels and rail are highlighted below in the patent figure.

Patent Guide Wheel Detail
As you can see, there was no provision to keep the guide wheel in contact with the rail, except the weight of the sub and compression of the spring (88). Sometimes the telescopic shaft would bind and the wheel would lift off the guide rail, allowing the sub to run into the coral. That could knock out windows and let water pour into the hull. The ride operators had special cushions they could use to stop the hole, till the repair crew could arrive.

Morgan said that Joe Fowler called Arrow and said; “Get down here, we’re going to shut this thing down. We’ll call it winter rehab, and by the time it goes back it has to have your guidance system in it.”

Arrow redesigned the guide stem to use two pneumatic tires, with the shaft passing through them. By controlling the air pressure in the tires, they could control the compliance and control the amount of sway. This created a system that would stay on the track and even-out any roughness in the ride.

That story about Fowler is interesting. Disney vice president Bob Matheison,  recalled a conversation between Fowler and Walt in the early days. They were looking at a performing stage that featured a waterfall, with a dressing room off to the side.

''Walt turned to Joe and said, 'I'd like to part the water and let the entertainers come out, and then have the waterfall close behind them.' ''Joe never batted an eye,'' Matheison recounted. ''He just said, 'Can do, can do.' I know he had no idea how he was going to part the water, but he said it without hesitation - 'Can do.' And, by golly, he went ahead and did it. He parted the water and closed it back up again.'' 

Fowler later recalled in an interview; ''Walt said to me a couple of days after I was hired, 'Now look, I will try to have the ideas, and you make the engineering realities of them.' ''

That probably characterized What's attitude towards Arrow as well.

D-305 Triton
Here are a few technical facts on the attraction and the subs, courtesy of;

Attraction Data
Length of guide rail - 1,365 feet
Ride Capacity - 1,410 guests/hr.
Water in lagoon and caverns - 9,000,000 gallons
Cost  - $2.5 Million
Filter system capacity - 3,000 gallons per hour
Filter system motors - (2) 25 hp electric
Highest Attendance - 20,976 - July 4, 1965

Sub Data
Displacement – 94,000 pounds
Length - 52 feet
Propulsion - 40 hp 4 cylinder diesel-electric motor running at 1,500 rpm
Propeller - 34” dia. 4 blades, bronze
Speed - 1.7 mph
Fuel consumption - 1.6 gallons per hour
Cost  -  $80,625 each

Arrow's fix may have cured the steerage issues, but the manual speed control remained. David Koenig, author of an unauthorized history of Disneyland called Mouse Tales, relates the story of an incident on Pearl Harbor Day in 1974 when two submarines collided, leaving 38 Japanese tourists standing on their seats, neck-high in water, before making their way onto the pilot's ladder, or climbing out the loading hatches and swimming into the lagoon. How do you say "Abandon Ship!" in Japanese? (Google says it's pronounced Fune o hōki suru!)

I don't recall there being anything in the pre-show commentary about your seat cushions serving as flotation devices in the event of need to evacuate the boat. Maybe I was distracted by the mermaids...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Arrow's Unsung Heros

While looking at Andy and Bill and Ed and Karl, we shouldn't forget that there were literally hundreds of others who contributed to the effort. Today we're going to bring a few of them out for a bow as well. We don't always know their names, but their contribution to Arrow and Disney's success is undeniable.

Unknown Vehicle Assembly Line Worker

George Montillier and Pat Everett planning a trip? 
Harry AuCourt arc welds a pony together

Future Equine Dentist?

John Jackson and Dick Ellsworth build 'em right!

Mal Darling

(Paul Harvey ended up tending Dumbo's Hydraulics on Opening Day)

Patient Painter adds Streamliner Livery

Two Totem Pole Painting Pals
Anonymous Aluminum Welding is NOT easy

The Phantom Tire and Wheel Man

The 1956 Polk Directory for Palo Alto shows three individuals who stated that they were working at Arrow Development:

David F. Dougal and wife Margaret J. - Welder
136 Abelia Way (Page 232)

Paul F. (Last name missing) and Margaret I. - Machinist
2672 Fordham (Page 298)

George Montillier  and wife Silvia - Machinist
4150 Abel Avenue (Page 413)

Adding to that, from the photos above:

Harry AuCourt

Mal Darling

Ed Clark

Dick Ellsworth

Pat Everett

Paul Harvey

John Jackson

We'll keep adding to the list as our research uncovers more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bill Hardiman - Secretary, Treasurer & Machinist

When William Joseph Hardiman was born on August 16, 1906, in Boise, Idaho, his father, Joseph, was 31 and his mother, Mary Eulalia Keegan, was 27. Bill had two younger brothers; Bernard and Paul.

In 1927 his father was a department manager at High and Fritschman Co. in Boise. The Boise City Directory shows William as single and living at 1311 North 14th Street and working as a bookkeeper for the Union Seed and Fuel Company. He married Evelyn Katherine Renk on October 12, 1933. They had two daughters; Patricia in 1934 and Sandra in 1938.  In 1939 the family moved to 612 Thatcher, which still looks pretty small for a family of four.

612 Thatcher Street, Boise
From 1943 to 1947 the San Jose City Directory shows them living at 235 North 12th Street about ten miles from where Bill was working as a machinist at the Hendy Iron Works.

235 North 12th Street, San Jose, CA
Ed, Bill, Karl and Andy in 1947
By 1949 the family had moved to a cute little adobe bungalow at 1016 Bonita in Los Altos while Bill was serving as the Secretary at Arrow.

1016 Bonita, Los Altos
The Anderson and Hardiman families were close. Marilyn and Carolyn were flower girls at Patricia's wedding and Pat taught them to play the piano. Pat and her husband Aiden Gough sold Andy Carolyn's first car, a 1956 VW bug.

Patrica and the Anderson Flower Girls

1956 Bug

Bill helps set up the McCormack assembly line in 1951

By 1954 they'd moved again, to 573 University in Mountain View. 

In the spring of 1956, he and Andy Anderson would leave Arrow to start their own construction company. 

Bill died on October 28, 1982, in Santa Clara, California, at the age of 76.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Andy Anderson - Troubleshooter

We've spent a lot of time looking at Arrow's rides and the technology behind them. Today, and over the next two weeks, I'd like to shift gears a bit and take a closer look at Arrow's founders and how their relationships framed the history and destiny of the company.

Andy and Carolyn Anderson about 1952


Angus Merlin Anderson was born Oct. 10, 1913, in Chetek, Wisconsin, a region known as "Indianhead Country," situated on a chain of lakes with over 130 miles of shoreline. One of it's more famous sons is Larry Walker, former Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals right fielder.

The son of Theodore Martinus and Mary Anderson, Andy was the fourth of six children. He was named for an older brother who died when he was a child and also had a younger brother named William who died from rheumatic fever as an infant. His two older sisters were Ruth and Marvel and he also had a younger sister named Ruby.

Ruby was a very talented and an accomplished singer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was engaged to Robert Wood, who was connected with a movie studio in Hollywood and was also an accomplished artist. Marvel and Ruby both died from TB in the 1940's.

Andy was also musical. He and Ruby would do concerts together. They both sang and Andy played a steel guitar which he had made.

The family lived in Chetek until 1927, when they moved to 290 North 10th Street in San Jose, California, where Andy attended San Jose Technical High School, which was located where the Engineering Building currently sits on the San Jose State University campus. He was president of the first graduating class, in 1933.

The 1936 San Jose City Directory lists his occupation as a Bakery Helper, but by 1940 he was working as an electrician.

Angus married Phyllis L. Newman, formerly of Chetek, on July 5, 1942. They had three children; a son, Eugene and twin girls; Caroline and Marilyn in 1949. Phyllis should probably get the credit for being Arrow's biographer, as it was her faithful collection of newspaper clippings and photographs which has made possible much of the telling of the rest of the story as related in this blog.

Carolyn, remembers that her dad had many wonderful stories of Disney and Arrow, which he loved telling and she loved listening to.  She also remembers standing in line on opening day and that her dad spent a month there afterwards, making sure everything was operating properly. Carolyn also insists that that Andy, Bill, Ed and Karl were equal partners in everything during the first ten years, including working together as a team to purchase the land and build the first shop at 243 Moffet.

Andy during construction of Arrow's first buildng.

Carolyn says that her dad would often mention that every partner had their own specialty in the business. Andy was known as the problem solver.  Many times, when they came up against a problem, they would go to him for the solution.  He would go home, think about it during the night, and come in with the answer the next day.

Patricia Hardiman with Flower Girls Carolyn and Marilyn Anderson

The Anderson and Hardiman families were also close.  Bill and Evelyn Hardiman also had two daughters; Patricia and Sandy. Carolyn and Marilyn were flower girls at Patricia's wedding and took piano lessons from her. Andy also bought Carolyn's first car, a 1956 VW bug, from Pat and her husband Aiden Gough. Carolyn says she loved that car and wishes she still had it. 

Phyllis and Andy initially lived in Mt. View, but moved to Los Gatos in 1947 and then Santa Cruz in 1959.

He appears in many of the photos that the local newspapers used in their stories about Arrow;

Andy adds a stack to one of the two Casey Jr. engines in March of 1955
Andy and Karl Bacon discuss Casey's testing prior to shipment to Diseneyand

Andy and Bill Hardiman left Arrow in the spring of 1956 to start their own construction company.

In 1970, Phyllis and Andy purchased a farm in Park Rapids Minnesota where they retired 1980. In 2004, they left the farm and moved to Prineville, Ore., to be closer to their children. After Phyllis died in November 2007, Angus moved to Milwaukie, Oregon.

He passed away on July 26, 2009 and was laid to rest in Mission City Memorial Park in Santa Clara, Calif.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A little "Price" Perspective

Chicago's Sherman Hotel
The December 4th, 1954 Issue of Billboard Magazine reported on a National Association of Amusement Parks Pools and Beaches Convention session held on December 1st, which was hosted by Harrison Price and C. V. Wood, for the owners of the four largest amusement parks in the country; William Schmitt of Chicago's Riverview Park, Pontchartrain Park's Harry Batt, Ed Schott from Coney Island and San Francisco's George Whitney, founder of Playland at the Beach. Gathering in a suite of rooms at the Sherman Hotel in Chicago with Price and Wood were Disney's Dick Irvine, Bill Cottreall, the President and Vice President of WED Enterprises, and Nate Winecoff, the man who had recommended Harrsion Price to Disney.

During the meeting, C. V. Wood disclosed some financial projections for what was coming to be called "Walt's Folly." Considering that the park was scheduled to open in seven months, it may have been more of a PR move than a sanity check.

Park Operators Hear of Disneyland Plans

Chicago, Dec 4th. - The new Disneyland, now under construction in California, will open in July with a layout differing from a usual amusement park in that it is not primarily to make money, according to C. V. Wood Jr., of Disneyland, Inc. He spoke at the NAAPPB convention here this week and showed colored slides of Disneyland plans.

Original Concept Drawing of Disneyland
Disneyland is owned by Walt Disney, the American Broadcasting - Paramount Theater organization and the Western Printing and Lithograph Company. It will be used as the site for telecasting the “Disneyland" TV show. The printing company expects it will increase comic book sales. In addition, about 35 major national companies will have promotional and advertising arrangements with the park. Wood said it was seen as more of an exploitation medium than a direct money maker. A survey, he said, showed world’s fairs have "too many” exhibitors, and visitors do not see all the displays. But Disneyland is planned so that 5,000,000 visitors there will equal 50,000,000 at a world’s fair.

Walt Disney, CV Wood and Harrison Price
Disneyland expects $5,000,000 <annual> gross. About 55 percent will come from rides and other park operations, with 25 percent from leased food concessions and 20 percent from novelty and merchandise leases. It will take a family of four about four hours to tour the spot and they will spend about $2 per capita. Wood said if that figure goes up, prices will be cut, so Disneyland will not be termed too expensive for families.

1955 Ticket Book

There will be 29 rides with an hourly capacity of 18,000 persons.  Tickets will be 25 cents for the gate, 10 and 20 cents for some rides and and 15 and 25 cents for others. Parking for 5,000 cars at 25 cents is to be provided.  Food facilities will handle 6,500 hourly. Employees will include about 350 for Disneyland, 300 for concessions and merchandizers and 350 for exhibitors.

Those cost and revenue projections were probably developed by Buzz Price, who went on to do hundreds of feasibility studies for Walt on a wide range of project proposals.

The average wage in 1955 was about $4400, roughly $17.50 per day. So, a family of four was projected to spend $8, on a  four hour long visit to the park, or 45% of a day's wages, for access to 29 rides.

Let's compare that with current ticket prices and attractions;  

The average wage is currently about $250 per day. A one day, one park pass costs $104, children are $98 and parking is $25.  For a family of four, that $429 gets 10 hours of access to 53 attractions.

That's two day's wages for four people to get access to 182% more show - and the attractions aren't what they were in 1955.  Galaxy's Edge, Space Mountain, Pirates, Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Railway make the opening day offerings seem like "A Tickets".

Clearly, times have changed. Perhaps you think that we're not getting twice the fun that we did in 1955. Imagine going to the park and finding that all of today's E-Ticket attractions were down for refurbishment. No Space Mountain, No Pirates, No Indiana Jones, No Haunted Mansion, No Big Thunder Railway or, in Orlando, no Incredicoaster, Tower of Terror or Cars Land. What would you be willing to pay for that experience?

Remember too, inflation made one 1955 dollar worth $9.56 today.
Maybe things aren't quite as bad as they seem.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's get Really Wet!

Arrow's contribution to the Log Flume ride is often traced to El Aserradero at Six Flags over Texas, which opened in 1963. However, the essential elements of the log flume had been under development for many years before that.

As early as the mid-50's Arrow had kiddie boat rides in its catalogs.  The first could be described as water carousels. They had a circular pool with the same central drive system used on their carousels.

Kiddie Boat Ride @ Happyland demo park in Los Altos
By the late 1950's Arrow had expanded the concept to fully landscaped boat rides with serpentine guide rails. Note the lead boat in the lower left corner of the image below. There appears to be a small gasoline powered motor in the lead boat. There also appear to be power cords entering the boats hulls on the port side, about two feet back from the prow and a foot above the waterline.

Anderson twins and cousins at Playtown in Palo Alto

US Patent 3113528, dated December 10, 1960, describes a Boat Ride Apparatus which uses a submerged guide wheels, running on one or more guide paths using  "fixed guide and boat-mounted cooperating means, free of complexities and complicated controls, wholly automatic in operation and beyond change or adjustment by the boat passengers."

US Patent 3113528 - Boat Ride Apparatus

But first they had to be called in to fix the guide system for this;

D-305 "Triton"

Having mastered the technique of automatic submerged guidance, it was an easy deployment at the 1964 World's Fair.

Prototype It's a Small World flume at Arrow's 1555 Plymouth site
And from there to add a little rise and drop...

Walt and staff enjoy a little pre-Pirate dip

And bigger rises and drops...

Knotts Berry Farm flume ride
(Source: Wikipedia)

and even Bigger rises and drops...

I wonder what the guy in front is holding onto...

until you get one of these...

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Logger's Revenge

Until, by 1979 you have all these, all over the world;

Arrow's 42 Flume Ride Locations in 1979
Ready to get really wet, yet?