Sunday, March 18, 2012

TPE: Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

The 60' tall with 40' “roots” (or 80' tall, depending upon which Disney source you read) Swiss Family Treehouse was based on the 1960 Disney movie “Swiss Family Robinson.”


Guests could look into the rooms of the shipwrecked family and see their furniture, supplies, and ship parts. The Treehouse was a combination of European goods and primitive jungle products, and even included plumbing! A water wheel drove a continuous supply of scoops, carrying water to the top of the tree. The water dumped into a system of bamboo gutters that provided running water. This was probably my favorite part; for some reason it just fascinated me. I guess I was a Rube Goldberg kind of kid, inspired by the game Mousetrap.

Guests could hear Buddy Baker's composition, The Swisskapolka, playing from The Treehouse organ. To read what happened to this prop, go to Kevin Kidney's blog.

Fortunately, there was a photographer in June 1966 who liked signage as much as I do.

This guest realized that the views from the top of the Treehouse were pretty impressive.

The Castle & Matterhorn on one side:

The Mark Twain on the other:

And New Orleans Square/Frontierland:

Zooming in for the signage and trashcans:

A shot over the rooftops of Aunt Jemima's:

In early 1999, the giant artificial tree received a massive makeover, including thousands of replacement vinyl leaves (originally there were 300,000) and a new suspension bridge entrance from a newly constructed neighboring tree. Unfortunately, the Swiss Family Robinson was evicted and Tarzan moved in, just as Disney’s animated “Tarzan” opened in theaters. Although guests can still hear “Swisskapolka” on the old gramophone, it's just not the same. I miss the original Swiss Family Robinson.

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Thufer said...

Man do I remember those views. I always enjoyed the freedom of exploration that this attraction provided. Yes, I always thought how wonderful life would be living in this astonishing tree house.

Connie Moreno said...

I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the Tarzan movie, they never should have changed the tree house. I know they wanted to make it relevant to today's audience but they didn't have was way cool the way it was. Guess what? I've never seen the Swiss Family Robinson movie - but I still loved the tree house!

wacky tacky said...

I'm sure most of your readership is in the "I like the way it used to be" camp, and I am no exception! The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse was so much fun. It used to be on the "must do" list every time we went to the park. Since it underwent the change, I know that I have only been up once just to see what they had done. I just don't think the animated "Tarzan" has the lasting power of Dorothy McGuire, John Mills, Janet Munro, Tommy Kirk, et al. The actual, living tree that inspired the Imagineers still stands in an historic section of Anaheim (Kevin & Jody will have to show it to you if you have not already seen it)! Thanks for all of the great pictures! Connie, you MUST watch the movie - it is one of the all-time best, live-action, Disney movies!!!

JG said...

A perennial favorite, until Tarzan moved in.

One of the best live-action Disney films, noted for James MacArthur who went to "book 'em" as the original Dano in Hawaii Five-O.

The waterwheel was a never-ending source of fascination. My Dad and Uncle stood for what seemed like hours watching this apparatus, which I don't even recall in the movie. Just a great example of a 3-D imagineering environmental art piece.

The revised version has all the juice taken out and just makes me sad. I still go up every time, because enough remains to spur a memory of Mom and Dad and Uncle here.

thank you Dave.