Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jungle Cruise, Disneyland & Villa Park Elementary

Warren Asa was one of the first Jungle Cruise skippers when Disneyland opened in 1955. In an interview with CSUF graduate student Mark Wenger (for the Center for Oral & Public History's 10th Mountain Division Oral History Project,) Asa made some brief but interesting comments about his time at the park:
"...Disneyland was fun the first year, because they weren’t really very well organized and we did a lot of things that were a little bit off the record. For example, we had an employee card that said we were a justified employee, and we could stay and ride the rides after hours, although they weren’t real keen on that. So, you would meet a girl during the day that worked in Disneyland, and you’d say, 'Hey, you want to dance a little bit this evening?' 'Sure,' she would say. So, you’d meet her after work and you’d go dancing, and we’d get a snack, maybe take in something we haven’t seen before, or some new ride, or some new exhibit, and so forth. And it was fun. On the jungle boats, we picked our own costumes and made up our own spiel. We all had really crazy spiels. One thing I did that was totally ridiculous, we’d be coming towards the waterfall and I would say, 'Oh my gosh the steering wheel’s come lose. We better get out of here.' And I’d start to jump on one of the islands. Well, half the boat was ready to jump with me. So, I put the steering wheel back on. We didn’t steer anyway. They [the boats] are on rails."
Today's photo shows the Jungle Cruise in 1955 - the year Disneyland opened. It comes from the Disney & More blog. (Special thanks to Stephanie George for alerting me to Asa's quote.)
Jason Schultz (of the ever-informative Disneyland Nomenclature) has weighed in with the first review I've seen of Chris Strodder's new Disneyland Encyclopedia. Jason freely admits his biases and points out that he's working on a similarly themed book. But it's interesting to get a sneak preview of a book that might be worth having on the shelf.
The Orange Unified School District voted last week to delay a decision on whether to demolish the only historic structures in the City of Villa Park: The two buildings that make up the old Villa Park Elementary School. The vote came in the wake of the County's offer of $100,000 in matching funds to help either salvage or mothball the buildings. You can read the rest of the story in the Register.


outsidetheberm said...

What a great little Jungle Cruise story. Thanks, Chris.

Unknown said...

Great shot. I have seen similar pictures in The Nickel Tour. I wonder if the photographer is standing on the Plaza restaurant.

Great story...

crazicollector said...

I have some original shots of the rail being built. Wondered if anyone knows who Miller Iron Works is? The company who built the rail for the junglecruise. Sure would like to know.

Chris Jepsen said...

Miller Iron Works was in Santa Ana and was owned by Bill Miller. I believe they went bankrupt in the mid-1960s.