Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"The Sounds of Air Blowers and Wind Blowing Upwards"

2719 Hyperion reader Mike Bronstein recently contacted me and to share some of his early Disneyland memories. I was especially excited when Mike described his experiences with the Tomorrowland Flying Saucers attraction.

The Flying Saucers opened in August 1961,and while popular, the attraction was not without problems. Randy Bright discussed the Saucers in his book Disneyland: Inside Story:

When the Flying Saucers debuted at Disneyland, the complicated system sputtered its way to operational readiness. Giant fans located underground blew huge amounts of air up through little openings in the Saucer arena. The force of the air lifted the saucers a few inches above the floor, and held them there. Employees were "volunteered" to act as the first test pilots, and as they shifted their weight to the left or right, the saucers started careening crazily across the arena.

Despite the attraction's ongoing maintenance issues, it still was able to impress one young Disneyland guest. Mike relates:

". . . and then the Flying Saucers. This was fantastic. I have never seen anything like this since. It's really hard to explain what they did to pull this one off.

I remember blue--the color of the air baffled area, the sounds of air blowers and wind blowing upwards. White Saucers floating on an air jet with jet sounds all around from the air machine. They would move this rolling gantry across the rectangular area corralling saucers into the loading area. In this part of the 'space' the air baffles were closed and the cars were stationary. You would climb in and hook your waist belt on a protruding metal pin. Then when it was your time, the gantry would move the saucers that were skidding around over on the other side to the edge where the air ducts would close, causing the saucers to stop floating. I remember sitting in a saucer and trying to get it to move. I was a skinny kid and the damn things moved by throwing your weight one direction or another. They had hand holds that helped to control you body, but I just couldn't get them to go the right way!"

According to Randy Bright, ". . . the system that made the saucers fly continued to be a maintenance nightmare. Finally, in 1966, the saucers disappeared, never to be seen again."

Thanks to Mike for generously sharing his memories of Tomorrowland with us, and a big thank you also to Dave from Davelandweb for providing the accompanying photographs.


Unknown said...

I guess that ride would've been the closest one could've gotten to feeling like an air hockey puck

Anonymous said...

I've got to say this is one of those things that I was interest in hearing about after I was given the Disneyland Treasure dvd. They touched on the subject of the what ride they miss the most. Have to say they didn't spend enough time on it. Thanks Jeff.