|The Peter Pan Fly-Thru was one of the most original rides at Disneyland (Artwork © Disney)|
Walt Disney's Peter Pan was still showing in bargain theaters in May 1953 when Marvin Davis joined Dick Irvine to get serious about designs for a 45-acre Disneyland. When Bill Martin joined them in June, he was assigned to the fantasy, children's section where a Peter Pan attraction of some sort was a given. All three men were film art directors from 20th Century-Fox who thought in terms of sets for a live-action version of the animated feature. Artist Bruce Bushman, who would create and manage the implementation of many innovative rides, was not yet working on Disneyland.
|Looks like Herb Ryman, circa October 1953, before Bill Martin's expensive Londontown architecture was eliminated. (Artwork © Disney)|
The clever answer was a miniature galleon. Bruce Bushman designed its final form, with assistance from Don DaGradi and Ralph Hulett (and others, no doubt). But the idea of a flying galleon came first, and we don't know who proposed it. A suspended dark ride with a swaying galleon was one of the most original concepts at Disneyland, and its development is unknown.
|Unlike the other dark rides, Pan used only a few, large rooms. (Artwork © Disney, Photo by Stuff From the Park blog)|
The next hurdle was the mechanism to move the dangling bench through the ride. The WED team, led by Nat Winecoff, worked with General Conveyor of Vernon, a city south of downtown Los Angeles, the dealer for a time-tested material handling system by Cleveland Crane and Engineering of Wickliffe, Ohio. Founded in the 1920s, Cleveland Crane had installed a much-publicized solution for moving heavy mailbags at the Cincinnati post office in 1931. The system was called "Tramrail," and General Conveyor specified an Arch Beam monorail, which could twist, turn, elevate, and descend as the design required. Each vehicle would be powered by a one-horsepower electric motor at the rail.
|The 2.45-person galleons designed by Bruce Bushman|
The galleons were sculpted by Chris Mueller, then cast in fiberglass by ex-Disney model maker Bob Jones in nearby Glendale. Jones told E-Ticket (#37) that the fiberglass sails required the development of new kinds of forms and release agents. The Disney studio welded the steel bench frames.
Originally, the finale was a little person dressed as Mr. Smee, pointing a blunderbuss loaded with ping pong balls at riders. That sort of live entertainment was quickly replaced by more automatic systems throughout the park.
|Pirate galleon ready to be boarded. (Photo: Life magazine, August 1955)|