Friday, February 11, 2011

Disneyland - Bits of Adventureland, Autopia ala Jungle, Ned and the Old Dock

The haunting figure above lurks within the tropical confines of Adventureland.  Any idea where?  Here's a pretty darn obvious hint.
A skipper and his crew approach the "first sign of Danger" in the Jungle.  They've just turned past the rain forest and are chugging toward the Monkey God and the Ancient Cambodian Shrine.  The Skipper is probably reminding guests to keep their hands and arms inside the boat and watch their small children.  A large part of any trip through the Jungle consists of the Skipper facing aft---completely unaware of what is ahead of him.  During a breakdown once, a Skipper, who was in mid-spiel and deeply enthralled with his own performance, did not hear the 6-shot signaling a derailed boat up ahead.  My boat was stopped just abreast of the African Veldt when the boat behind me rounded the bend.  The other Skipper, who shall remain nameless (way to go, Doug!), was pointing out the "Mother-In-Law" elephant and not looking ahead of him.  He realized, all too late, that my boat was stopped in front of his.  He tried to slam his throttle into reverse.  Nope.  Too much forward momentum.  He rear-ended us like an Autopia car.  Everyone in my boat lurched back and then forward in their seats with the impact.  I somehow kept my footing.  With hands on hips and much overacting, I proceeded to chastise him over the P.A.  We parried back and forth and the guests on our boats seemed to enjoy the exchange. 
"Why don't you watch where you're going!?" 
"What's the idea of stopping in the middle of the River?!  River hog!" 
"I hope you have insurance!" etc.  It was actually one of my better breakdown experiences, because we had two skippers and two boatloads of guests to pass the time until the attraction was up and running again. 
I worked with Ned, above, in 1987.  He was our closing lead for most of the summer until one day when we completely lost track of him.  He was last seen aboard the skiff, puttering around the bend on his way to help with a rumored native disturbance and uprising.  Ned started as a skipper in '55 and was one of the few cast members who could sport facial hair---having "grandfathered in" along with one of the original sweepers and a security guard or two that were permitted to keep their plumed mustaches.  Nice guy, Ned.  Good head on his shoulders.  Quick witted.  Sporting fellow, actually.  Favored hot tea on muggy days.  He always kept our boats loaded and cycling without a hiccup.  Sure miss him.

Drifting back to the Jungle dock in 1968 (with thanks from Gary Bowden who originally posted this one), we get a clear view of the loading area and one of the old striped-canopied launches.  Seat cushion, anyone?  You can see the quaint old queue, with its thatched roof of palm fronds.

A happy Friday to the four (4) of you (Hi, Mom)!