Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dumped in Adventureland

Penny the Elephant was once a resident of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour on Main Street. My earliest photo of her there is from 2008. When it was remodeled back in 2012, Penny disappeared. Today, you can find her out in the open above the market in Adventureland.

More Adventureland goodies at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

Well that's a depressing turn of events. It's not just Disney but in a lot of facets of life I see today's people taking treasures of the past for granted and using them as bookends instead of trophies.

Chuck said...

I just dug into the history of the elephant and turned up this snippet, purportedly from the Disneyland Line cast member publication from this past June:

"With the recent refurbishment of the world-famous Jungle Cruise, you may have noticed the addition of a familiar face-- or shall we say trunk?-- keeping watch above Tropical Imports in Adventureland. The blue acrylic elephant is new to the jungle, but it's no stranger to Disneyland park.

The unpretentious pachyderm was originally created in the early 1990s for Disneyland Paris, but never made its way across the Atlantic. Instead, in 1993, it found a home here on Main Street, U.S.A.-- first at the Penny Arcade (where it became known as "Penny"), and most recently in the overflow seating area for the adjacent Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor."

Despite their best efforts, Imagineers couldn't find a spot for the elephant when both locations were remodeled in 2012. And the statue was placed in storage. That is, until the refurbishment of Tropical Imports presented the perfect perch, where 'Penny' is once again delighting eagle-eyed Guests."

Additional commentary in the same thread states "Penny is made from Lucite (Plexiglass), which is inert and shouldn't be affected by UV rays and exposure to the elements. She'll be just fine." Of course, that assumes regular cleaning and occasional repainting of her details.

Reading about this has caused me to do a bit of self-reflection. I have just the vaguest glimmer of a potential memory of the elephant in the Penny Arcade in the '90s, and absolutely no memories of it in the ice cream parlor. From a Disneyland history perspective, it seems "new" to me, and, thusly, for me its disappearance and relegation to an outdoor prop didn't mean a lot to me.

But I am a prisoner of my own experiences, and other people, being other people, have different experiences and different ideas of what is a Disneyland treasure. Penny was on display for nearly 20 years - longer than the tenure of many fondly-recalled attractions and Park details - in places that are perfect for developing fond memories, and the fact that I have none of this particular artifact doesn't make it any less valuable or worth preserving.

So...on reflection, I'm very glad that Penny is back on display again, and I will make an effort to find her the next time I'm in the Park. I just hope that Park management doesn't forget about her and her history and toss her into some landfill like she was the last remaining rockwork from the Living Desert. We Disneyland nerds need these little details to bore our families with when we visit the Park...

K. Martinez said...

I remember seeing Penny at the Penny Arcade. At least she's still hanging around Disneyland for guests to see instead of in a private collection never to be seen again or god forbid, a dumpster! Thanks, Dave.

Anonymous said...

This artifact is completely strange to me. Fascinating story. Also very much agree with Chuck, this is the kind of thing that would be one of my kids' reference to their childhood Disneyland.

It's too bad that the design team doesn't better understand the "psychic density" that the Park develops in visitors. We love these things not just because they are cool things, but because of all the fun we had with our loved ones in the presence of these things. Losing a place or a bit of decoration means those good times are a bit closer to oblivion, living now only in our memories. Disneyland becomes hallowed ground as a result of all this great karma accumulation. This sounds more New Age than I mean it to, but I'm not sure how else to phrase it. I find a peculiar kind of joy in standing in the exact spot at Snow White's Well where I stood with Mom and Dad. Not many of those spots left anywhere. If that's weird, then sign me up.

Also, lucite is not impervious to weather, temperature swings or UV light either. Permanent exterior exposure can result in clouding, checking, cracks and fading. Just saying.

Thank you, Dave.


Connie Moreno said...

I was glad to see the elephant in Adventureland. When she was in the Gibson Girl Ice Cream shop, I always thought she was out of place. She looks lovely in her new spot!

Major Pepperidge said...

I was surprised to learn that Penny is not glass, but acrylic (or lucite), thanks to Chuck's research. I also thought that she was an antique, but she only dates from the 1990's.

Janey said...

I remember the old version of the ice cream parlor and continue to miss it to this day. It was just dreamy. Especially since there were more mechanized amusements and more seating! Now the areas feel so rush-rush-rush-money-money-money.

However, I was overjoyed to see Penny return! I gasped and smiled the first time I spied her in Adventureland.


Starts With Story said...

I always thought that was a perfect fit for the ice cream parlor - reminding me of when the Zoo (sundae) at Farrell's had the plastic animals on it.
We will look in Adventureland tomorrow to see the new home.

Daveland said...

I used to love pigging out at Farrell's as a kid!

HBG2 said...

The new elephantine crypt in the old pet cemetery of the HM has a plaque saying it's for Penny.