In response to the interest in Disneyland’s Flying Saucers on the Institute’s Facebook page, I took a few minutes to gather these photographs from the Institute’s Flying Saucer Library (including two images that have, to my knowledge, never been seen before). I intend for this to be basically just a photographic celebration of the attraction, with hopefully a future essay by Todd or myself, on the Saucers (as interest is sure to grow due to the similar ride being installed in Cars Land at DCA). Since it is basically a “photo essay” I thought I’d give the photo album a try; as such, I am very interested to hear from Institute readers on if they like this format or not?
The first image features the original attraction poster for the Flying Saucers. The second and third images are the rare ones! (There is a pause button on the photo album for a longer look.) The second photo features “Saucer Walt” enjoying the future and giving the vehicle a test ride. There is a similar photo to this one that has been published a few times, but this DHI photo is slightly different (although both images are from the same trip to Arrow). I think this particular image never made the rounds for two reasons. First, Walt looks unhappy (I personally doubt that it’s a frown or reflective on Walt’s mood, but rather I think it is that trademark Walt Disney intensity, the result of putting the Saucer through its paces and undoubtedly thinking about ways to improve it). Second, this photo was taken by the Imagineer Roger Broggie, Sr., and most of that photo collection resides here at the Institute (and I have not used this photo before). The third photo is my favorite, and I am positive it has not seen the light of day since the day Broggie shuttered his camera to capture this moment in time. There is quite a bit of detail if you take the time to look, as it offers a rare glimpse of the inside of Arrow’s facility (basically an industrial warehouse — check out the Autopia frames in the background). Walt and the Admiral had gone up to check on the progress of the Saucers and other attractions (DHI has about 30 images from this trip), and a handful of individuals were along. The four people in the image are (in order of appearance): Walt Disney (and obviously very happy about the progress of the Flying Saucers and, I am sure, looking forward to seeing them in Tomorrowland; Admiral Joe Fowler (also in a good mood, and with his favorite hat!); Emile Kuri (this is my best guest, although Todd and I have no idea why Kuri would have been along for this trip, it should have been Bob Gurr); and the last individual we are pretty sure is Dick Nunis. I tossed in the next four images just for fun; they come from the patent papers for the Flying Saucers, filed on June 19, 1961. They give a nice look at the innovative technology that made the Saucers possible (and it was this same technology that had one major flaw that in the end created a lot of downtime for the attraction and ultimately resulted in the demise of the Flying Saucers). It was also this technology that gave the Saucers the dubious historical distinction of being the first Disneyland attraction to not open on schedule.