Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Disneyland - The Skyway's Deserted Fantasyland Station - 2008

It is there on a hill at the far corner of Fantasyland, perched in the shadows behind tall and thickly overgrown pines. A fading, dusty and lifeless little chalet. It is still quaint and warm despite its dreary surroundings and mothballed status.

Pictured below are some very recent photographs of the Fanstasyland Skyway station taken by an apparently wayward guest who somehow stumbled up the chained-over stairway to get a glimpse at it. Join me in a brief review of what is and what was---the Fantasyland Skyway.
To get there, you go up the old entrance path and stairs (now cracked and a little overgrown). You can make out the chalet's form in the darkness above you.
The lighting fixtures for the attraction still adorn the entrance walkway (down below you will see Walt next to one of them at the attraction's grand opening).
The little Skyway terminal sits in a darkened forest, like Snow White waiting for a rescue.

Here are the main entrance and exit doorways----long since closed. The old drinking fountains remain, with leaves and pine needles building around their bases. There is also a "feeding station" (not pictured) for feral cats located just to the left of the drinking fountains. There are bowls of food and water on top of a cat shelter---please don't tell Timothy over on Dumbo!

Apparently, the cats are being fed (and housed) as part of Disney's "green" approach to keeping down the mouse population (except of course for those of the red-shorts-and-yellow-shoes variety) that must inhabit this part of Fanstasyland.

I use the term "mouse" in its broadest sense here. I vividly recall a night or two on the Jungle Cruise when I turned my spotlight on a "mouse" in the Jungle that was enormous and could easily have been mistaken for a tree rat. On those occasions, I made a quick reference to the creature being a relative of the guy who signed my paychecks and the guests just laughed and seemed to think it was part of the show.

Here is another view of the exit, along with the open windows of the "station" where your Skwyay To Tomorrowland car would launch onto the cable, enabling you to take a "one-way journey and enjoy an aerial view of the Magic Kingdom" (as the 1980 Disneyland souvenir guide described it on page 24---it was a "D Coupon" attraction back then).

The frames of the windows were stenciled with the following quote from the Dormouse (again with the mouse thing) of Alice in Wonderland: "Up above the world you fly, like a tea tray in the sky."

Here is a closer view.And if you look closely at the next photograph, you can peer into the dark recesses of the old loading area. This place hasn't seen much action since the ride went permanently "101" in November 1994 (whoa! It has been sitting up there waiting for rebirth for almost 14 years!).
I am willing to wager that Walt never envisioned that the building behind him would lie empty and forgotten some 52 years after this picture was taken. (Photograph from Disneyland: Inside Story by Randy Bright, Copyright © 1987 The Walt Disney Company).

If you look at the lamps in the photograph of Walt, you will see that they appear to be in their same locations today, with the one closest to Walt still lit (as seen in the photograph of the Skyway exit above).

Ken Pellman, another former Cast Member who seems to share my sensibilities, wrote the piece linked here about his last ride on the Skyway. Nice job, Ken.

And as to our dear departed friend, the Skyway, allow me, in conclusion, to quote "Little Leota" of Haunted Mansion fame:

"Hurry baaaack. Hurry baa-aaaack..."


Unknown said...


Great post.

Tell the wayward guest Thanks! for all of us readers.

I wonder what they could do with that space...

outsidetheberm said...

Thanks for the nice peek - it's appreciated.

Mike said...

It is my sincere pleasure to share what I can with all you like-minded Disneyland types.

I am most deeply indebted to those of you whose blogs appear on my list of recommended sites. I am amazed at the ephemera and minutiae that folks have been able to amass concerning the Park. I simply can't get enough of it!

Whenever I can add to the pile with something of potential interest, I certainly give it a whirl!


Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

Interesting stuff, particularly the before and after picture.
Lame that it's been gathering dust for so long.

Daveland said...

I am extremely envious of that wayward day I hope to do the same!

Cory Gross said...

Even if they don't bring back the Skyway itself, it's such a lovely little building that it should be put to some good use. If not an attraction, I'd certainly enjoy a half-decent meal or alcoholic beverage in the windowed patio, hidden amongst the trees.

John Rozum said...

Great, fascinating post. It's interesting to see a mothballed section of the park that wasn't removed or replaced by something else, but simply left where it is and closed off.

I agree with Corey that the structure should be repurposed, perhaps into a quiet getaway for a quick refreshment in the shade.

Anonymous said...

I was never much a fan of the Skyway in Disney World, mostly because I have a moderate fear of heights especially in situations where I'm dangling! But I never quite understood why Disney never did anything with the Fantasyland buildings. I believe the one in WDW is a stroller parking lot. Coming from a money angle, it just seems like it would be quicker and cheaper to clean it up and turn the building into something new.

Mike said...

Thanks for your thoughts everyone! Clearly something should be done with the old Skyway.

I'm obviously partial to restoring it to what it once was. I don't see why this should be difficult for a multibillion dollar company like Disney---and don't give me the old "Americans with Disabilities Act" song and dance. The Skyway can be made accessible for persons with disabilities.

Whatever happened to "If we can dream it, we can do it!?"

Plus, the Skyway gave you another means of getting across the parade route during a parade! Oh, sorry, that was back when there was a night parade in the Park. You know, that electrical thing they used to roll down Main Street. Whose brilliant idea was it to get rid of that????! They should be strapped to a Rocket Rod, or the Astro Orbiter, or Roger Rabbit's Toontown Spin, or some other fitting fate.

Ok. Getting down from soapbox.

Eric Scales said...

I tried to go check out the Skyway station not to long ago, just to see what condition it was in and if any of the interior was still accessible. The Park had just closed and I was making my way up the pine needle cluttered path when all of the sudden, my nose was inches from a giant spider on it's web which was stretched across the path. I could see the station from where I was and ultimately decided I didn't need to destroy this spider's web just to go check out the station (and possibly just run into more of his 8 legged relatives). Nice to see these pictures though.

Dean Brink said...

Wow... The skyway closed the exact year and month that I was born... I guess i just wasn't meant to ride it...