Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walt, Eels, and The Flight Circle

Today's first photo shows the publicity machine working hard to promote the new upcoming attractions for 1959. What a year! 3 major attractions that are still beloved and in operation today: The Monorail, The Matterhorn, and The Submarine Voyage. From the publicity caption:

Walt Disney has his hands full with a "squirming" moray eel, one of hundreds of deep sea denizens that will be in view during an exciting submarine cruise beneath the Seven Seas of the World at Disneyland beginning in early June of this year. One of three new major attractions in a $5.5 million development, Disneyland's greatest expansion program since its opening in July 1955, the undersea voyage will be available to visitors aboard eight air-conditioned submarines, each carrying 40 passengers.

This photo shows the same eel (or possibly a cousin) in September 1965 posing with Tomorrowland Flight Circle employee Bart Klapinski. Daveland reader and contributor Cox Pilot sent this image that he snapped shortly before he left his job at The Flight Circle. As he describes it:

It was a cold day in September, thus the coats we had. The park had only a few visitors so we spent a lot of our time goofing off. We decided to finally find out what was behind the scenes at the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea exhibit, so we went around back by the train tracks and slipped into the maintenance area. The subs were closed that day, so we also walked the cat-walks above the water inside the "cave" of the ride. We were surprised how messy and dirty the whole thing was, and how the illusion was created. A lot of wires were supporting things that were under water too.

Here's a photo I took of Bart with all the airplanes in the circle just after the last show in September 1965:

This is the same shot that he took of me from the top of the center stand where the gold thimble was:

After Bart left the Flight Circle, he went to work for WED merchandising at the hobby corner. He eventually worked his way up to Main Street merchandising head. For some reason I don't recall he left and went to work for the phone company after 15 years. I went to work at L. M. Cox Manufacturing as an illustrator (they ran The Flight Circle).

Many many thanks to Cox Pilot for supplying the photos for today's post and tying all the loose ends together! Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter. See more vintage & current Submarine Voyage photos on my Submarine Voyage web pages.


Connie Moreno said...

That was neat!

JG said...

Good to see those.

News from Cox Pilot is always welcome.

I guess I went to the Park just a couple of months before the Circle closed. I sort of remember the little planes.

I got one for a gift at some point. I think it was cross-marketed with GI Joe, the plane was a US Army marked Piper Cub. Dad was an aviation buff somewhat and later got his pilot's license, just for fun...1967 I think, when it was more like hot-rodding than flying.


CoxPilot said...

Thanks Dave and JG for all the kind words. That Piper Cub you mentioned is the same plane we used for the combat (cutting each other's paper streamers). It is shown in the photos as the third plane from the bottom (red). It was later issued in camouflage colors, which is the one you had. A great flying little plane for it's size.

Disney Nametags and More said...

CoxPilot, when you worked at Disneyland did you know a cast member named Jim Warrick? He was the Department 41 (Maintenance Management) supervisor at the same time you worked at the park.

CoxPilot said...

Nametags: Yes, I seem to remember him. The Circle was always difficult to keep clean, and we were always requesting hose-downs at night, and re-painting of the slurry. (The planes used castor oil in the fuel as a lubricant, and it was everywhere.) Maintenance would always tell us that it was a financial problem, and that our company (L.M. Cox) would need to pay for it. It alway seemed to be a stand-off. We took to using a lot of ammonia, and got complaints over that.

That last summer we did get a complete paint and scrub before the summer season, but then nothing after that. We all knew that it was the last year.