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..."