Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Saucers Are Coming!

Before the August 1961 arrival of the Tomorrowland Flying Saucers, a technical drawing was needed. To build excitement about this new attraction, the Disney publicity machine created this sign to stir up the emotions of guests"

Thank goodness they were able to translate the Astrogram for us mere earthlings! Once it was available for guests to enjoy, it appeared to be a lot of fun...when it was working.

Apparently a nightmare because of their technical difficulties, more often than not guests found themselves stuck in a corner or unable to get the durn things to work the way they should.

Have to zoom-in to get a better view of the decal on the saucer:

From the Disneylander Employee Newsletter, September 1961:


It took a little longer than anticipated by the Disneyland Flying Saucers finally went to work the middle of last month and started to tak in some "E" coupons

After a period of testing with many Disneylanders having the opportunity of playing like an Astronaut, the latest Magic Kingdom attraction opened with the proper ceremonies. On hand to celebrate the occasion were the Disneyland Band playing "Come Josephine in My Flying Saucer" and other appropriate tunes, the Space Man and the Space Girl and, of course, Pluto in the person of Tony Barksdale. (Honest)

Without taking anything away from the other celebrities who were on hand, it must be admitted that Pluto was the hit of the show. Jack Lindquist, Eddie Meck, Marty Sklar and Bud Nagle gave him constant insturctions as to which way he looked best for the flock of photographers who were on hand and he took it in stride, never missing a flash bulb.

Donna Fox, the Space Girl who landed in Tomorrowland after a short flight from Coke Corner recently, never looked more raidant or charming with her long blonde hair cascading majestically over the seltzer bottles she wears on her back. The Space Man costume was ably filled by handsome Gordon McClymont and both he and Donna ran a good second to Pluto to see who could use up the most Kodak negative.

Also on hand for the first official Flying Saucer flight were children of some of the nation's finest jet pilots who are stationed at El Toro Marine Base and Los Alamitos Naval Air Station. Two of the pilots also came along for the ride. They were Lt. Comdr. Larry Hauser and Lt. Col. Jay Willcox. The wives of the flyers also came but declined Pluto's invitiation to take one of the first rides. Either they couldn't understand what he was saying or they were wearing full skirts.

Disneyland guestrs practically ringed the entire Saucer area while the edication was going on. They thoroughly enjoyed the thrilled expressions on the children's faces as well as the puzzled looks on the faces of the two jet flyers who were both overheard to say to themselves, "Now how do you suppose they make this thing work?"

As an added attracition for the guests as well as the participants was the few minutes that the Band rode the Saucers and played one of their famous tunes at the same time. Jim Whitsett, who was directing because of Vesey Walker's absence, had no trouble leading the Band as they turned and skimmed in their Flying Saucers. After all, he's had years of experience on the Fantasyland Tea Cups.

It was a great dedication, according to all the spectators, and the Flying Saucers were successfully on their way.

The Saucers didn't survive the New Tomorrowland makeover and were replaced by the Tomorrowland Stage:

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more vintage Disneyland Flying Saucer photos on my Flying Saucer web page.


Unknown said...

Have you ever notice how similar the Flying Saucers are compared to Space Mountain?

K. Martinez said...

That Astrogram photo is one of the coolest images I've seen related to the Flying Saucers. I love it!

btw - image 3 is broken.

Daveland said...

Felipe - I had not noticed that, but now that you mention it...

K. - They all look good here. Hit refresh and see if that works on your browser.

K. Martinez said...

Dave - It must be my browser because I still get an "X" in a square (broken link). No big deal. Thanks for checking.

K. Martinez said...

Of course it would happen this way. Just as I posted another comment stating the link is broken, I tested it again and now it works.

Daveland said...

Don't worry about it K. - I just added a little bonus to the post for your troubles!

JG said...

Fun post. I only recall riding once, but it was a good time.

The saucers do look like miniature Space Mountains. I thought the mural was cool, too, where multiple spaceships shaped like Space Mountains are flying in formation.

Cool mural, but not cool enough to have replaced the Mary Blair mural.

Thank you Dave, for the look back.


Anonymous said...

Some of my best memories are of those Saucers. What a cool ride. What a long wait! - KS