Friday, February 04, 2011

Fish Tale!...Part Three

White or wheat?

Roll up your pant legs and let's wade out into the lagoon for one final visit with our favorite corporate mermaid and the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, a Disneyland landmark for 27 years.

Side elevation for the ship's attractive figurehead

 The blonde mermaid first began hawking canned albacore in 1952 .  Anyone out there know the name of the artist who created her?  A lot of us around here would love to know that bit of trivia.

In 1960, a fantastic tropical environment was added all around the Disneyland pirate ship, with waterfalls and the stoney face of Skull Rock.  To rededicate the restaurant, Walt Disney posed for publicity with the owners of the Van Camp Sea Food Company, Frank Van Camp Sr. and Jr. ...and the mermaid in person. 

Don't get your flash bulbs wet, Mr. Photographer!

By the 70s, the sponsorship by Chicken of the Sea had been canned, and the distinctive mermaid figurehead removed to places unknown (by me anyway).  Surprisingly, though, the mermaid adorning the stern remained with a few alterations to obliterate her corporate identity. Her familiar hair bun was sawed off and the diamond shapes on her bodice and tail were sanded away. I don't know about you, but the disguise doesn't fool me!

C'mon, let's step downstairs into the hull and see what the interior looked like in the 1970s. Except for the prices on the menu, very little had changed since 1955.

The serving line was still pretty much the way it had always been.  (Are you checking out those cool paper cups, too?)

One noticeable difference , however: the original three-paneled mural with its canned tuna and frozen dinners has given way to a waterless aquarium diorama.  Nicely done, but we all prefer the mural, right?

(Always be wary of anything under new management!)

Outdoors beside the gangplank, we could still encounter the original sign post from 1955, but repainted and naturally aged.  The smaller framed sign that hangs to the left read: "Captain Hook's Galley - A Pirate's Hearty Fare From Mr. Smee's Kitchen...Hot Roast Beef Sandwich, Hot Meatball Sandwich, Tuna Burger, Clam Chowder, Chef's Salad, Tuna Salad, Drinks and Desserts."  
Well, at least the Tuna Burger was still an option!

For our new Fantasyland Pirate Ship replica, we naturally chose to recreate the 1955 versions of the boat and sign, but, as you might imagine, some details, such as the restaurant's original sponsor name, were not permitted. (I know, I know. Not our call.)  Nevertheless, Jody and I did everything else we could to "capture the feel" of the original aesthetic.  We both were fortunate to visit the ship as kids, and hold happy memories of lunches with our families while dreaming of sailing out to sea under those red and white striped sails.

Our replica took six years to make, if you can believe it.  If you've already got one for yourself, I sincerely hope you are loving it as much as we thoroughly loved researching and working on it.


Major Pepperidge said...

I love the fact that they had a woman in a mermaid costume. Wonder if this was unique to Disneyland, or if she made in-store appearances elsewhere?

JG said...

Seems kind of risque for that time. What if the mermaid took husband's attention away from their wives who fabricating all those sandwiches?

Strange that I remember the diorama and not the mural. Must just be the age. But the shot of that stair brought back memories.

Thank You!


liako said...

I received my pirate ship last week and I LOVE IT!! GREAT WORK Kevin!

Rob Fendler said...

Did you know that Hook's hook from the Hook sign is still playing hooky in the park? Next time you're waiting to get on Peter Pan's Flight, look for it on the wall just inside the show building near the bend in the cue holding up a lantern.