Yo Ho Yo Ho Chim Chim Cheree

There’s a stupid game that my brother and I sometimes play.  It’s called the Sherman Brothers Game.  In this game, the idea is to come up with a new title for a Sherman Brothers song by throwing nonsensical syllables into the song title.  As long as it rhymes, it’s a winner.  It’s really more of a Disney song game than it is a Sherman Brothers game (the Shermans were certainly not the only song writers to do this), but they’re the most famous, so they get stuck with it.  For instance, see if you can guess the fake Disney song among the real ones:

Higgitus Figgitus
Chim Chim Cheree
Yo Ho Yo Ho
Heigh Ho
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Bibbity Bobbity Boo

Come to think of it, this actually a really lame game.  I have no idea why we play it.

But I do have a point I would like to make regarding something pretty clever in Pirates of the Caribbean. It has to do with the ceiling, which is made to look like a nighttime sky.  When crafting a lead-in, I was down to either a witty Chicken Little reference, or the idiotic Sherman Brothers Game.  I went with idiotic.

But only because of their song about Chimneys!

“The sky is — wait, is that a hairy leg?”  
When in doubt, try to squeeze in both lead-ins.

Have you ever noticed just how vast that sky/ceiling truly is?  Those are some big rooms we’re sailing through, and a lot of times the sky has to span three or four show scenes before we can find a natural break, like a bridge to pass under that gives us a transition to the next room.

Think about it from a practical standpoint.  Something has to be holding up all that dark night sky above you.  Yeah, this may be a magic kingdom, but there are real construction problems at play here.  There’s no mythological figure or giant turtle with the world on its back.

Hmmm.  Is the world on his shoulders, or the sky on his feet?

That means some engineer had to either design the Disney World equivalent of the Hoosier Dome, or come up with an elegant way to hide the support beams.  It can actually be a fun game trying to spot them (but not much more fun than the Sherman Brothers Game, I guess).

My favorite occurs in the last giant room, in the section of town that is burning down.  Of course there’s tons to look at here.  The Stable Singers, the Pirate of Many Hats, the Infamous Hairy Leg.  But if you look deep into the recesses of the burning village, you’ll spot a building with a chimney rising up out of it.  Nothing unusual about that, and if you just glance at it all you’ll see is a chimney with a column of smoke coming out of it — exactly what you would expect in a burning village.

Well, that black column of smoke is made of iron, and takes a distinctive I-beam shape as it joins with the cloudy sky.  I don’t know why I like this so much, but it just seems so ingenious to turn a smoking chimney into a roof support.  Very difficult to spot because of the dark lighting.  There are other ones like this scattered throughout the other show scenes.  Have fun spotting them all.

1. Pirate With Hairy Leg
2. Secret Chimney Support Beam

Oh, and by the way, it was a trick question.  All of those songs above are real songs, but Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is not a Disney song.  It is, however, a Sherman Brothers song.  And so is Brungle Duggle Snork Snork.

Indian Curses are the Least of Your Worries

Forget about flooded ghost towns, howling bobcats, avalanches, steaming geysers, runaway trains, cave-ins, or shrieking flocks of bats.  If it’s grave danger you seek, you can start by looking in the loading area.

Legend tells of a Big Thunder Mining Company, which struck gold in this little corner of Frontierland. They expanded operations, riddled the mountain with mine shafts and ore tracks, and were soon raking in quite a fortune.  But apparently, nobody bothered to check with the Native Americans that lived in these parts.  As fate would have it, the miners dug straight into the heart of an ancient Indian sacred place.  The mountain rebelled, the gold dried up, the land was returned to the Indians, and Big Thunder became a Hard Rock Casino.  And if that sounds like the plot to Poltergeist, well, maybe that’s why the Imagineers planted all those Hidden Steve Guttenbergs around property.

Yes, the Big Thunder Mining Company dug too greedily and too deep.  You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum:

Balrog, in B-mode.

But also something much more dangerous.  I don’t know how familiar you are with mining practices and techniques (I’m an expert myself), but I do know that when you get down deep, ventilation becomes a problem.  The oxygen supplies tend to deplete, and methane gas builds up in the shafts (presumably because the miners lived on a strict beans-only diet).  This can make for a precarious predicament, especially since the gas might be odorless.  Your best indication that you had hit a pocket of bad air was that you would suddenly suffocate to death.  Needless to say, this was an accurate warning sign, but had a low survival rate.

I’ve got the black lung, Pops!

Because miners were also expert biologists, they soon figured out that some animals possessed a particularly sensitive metabolism when it came to methane.  One such animal, the canary, not only had a lovely singing voice, but it would drop dead at the first sign of methane, alerting the heartier mining crew that perhaps they should head to the surface for a bit, and skip the double helping of beans.  It was sort of like a fire alarm in reverse.  Once it stopped tweeting, that meant something had gone wrong (just like teenagers today).

In Big Thunder Mountain the loading station on the right (as you come down the stairs) is most susceptible to the gas problem.  There’s a canary hanging in a cage on the exit side of the platform.  It’s off in the corner, and very easy to miss, unless you’re part of a wheelchair party, in which case you can get an up close view of it.  The bird doesn’t sing, but neither does it look dead, so I guess everything’s still okay.  But just to be safe, take the left tunnel, Indy.

Also useful in spotting puddy tats.

P.S. – Speaking of Guttenbergs, am I the only one that is fascinated by his legs?  Seriously, they are abnormally thin.  Like chicken bones.  I can’t not look at them every time I ride Spaceship Earth.  I feel like those things are gonna snap if he accidentally kicks the printing press.

Protecting Your Treehouse From Deadly Swans

If Hans Gruber wanted to attack Adventureland, he’d stand a pretty good chance at turning that Tiki Room pagoda into the next Nakatomi Tower, but everything is else is too much work.  The Magic Carpets are guarded by spitting camels, the Jungle Cruise is too spread out, and the Pirates of the Caribbean has all those cannons lining the walls.

But none of these places holds a candle to the Swiss Family Treehouse.

That place is locked down tighter than the Kremlin:  cannons sticking out everywhere on the walkway, stacks of mortars piled up like the pyramids of Giza.  There’s even a gun pointed straight down the throat of the eggroll cart, for crying out loud.  Say what you want about Robinson family values, those dudes were poster children for the NRA.

Yippee-kay-ay, Swisskapolka.

Apparently the Robinsons once had a real problem with Swan boats.  In the 1970s, these giant creatures went out of their way just to run laps around the Treehouse.  Because they could.  Who was going to stop them?  A family of cuckoo clock makers?

The Robinsons set up a cannon nest right on the edge of their property, facing the river, where any swan coming down the pipe could eat a face full of lead if it so much as squawked at them sideways.  In the event that the swan brought his buddies, there was a warning bell on hand for the Robinson guard to sound the alarm.  In about thirty seconds, he could have an entire gang of Swiss mercenaries on the riverbank, armed to the teeth and thirsty for swan blood.

So much for that vaunted Swiss neutrality.

Of course, thanks to budget cuts, the swans are no longer a threat.  The treehouse cannon nest is abandoned, but it’s still there.  It gets overlooked, because the point at which you can first see it is also the same point at which you first begin climbing the Treehouse, and most people are too focused on that.  But as you mount the stairs, look down and to your right, and you’ll see the steps leading to it.

Some people throw pennies down there, which are collected and placed into a Swiss bank account.  Har har.

The funny thing is, I am reasonably certain that this was once a guest accessible area.  There’s still a gate off the main treehouse path, but it’s now for Cast Members only.  It’s easy to see why they don’t want you down there.  The steps leading down are really more ladder-like, and there are drop-offs along the edges of the platform.  Nevermind the gunpowder, it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

See that odd post to the right of the cannon, which is not part of the railing?  I think that post was actually once on the other side of the cannon, directly over that tiny stump.  It’s attached to a rope, and I think this was meant to function as a railing over the cannon.  You can see another rope trailing down out of sight, and I believe this end would be attached near the bell.  There are pictures of a similar cannon in Disneyland’s old incarnation of the Swiss Family Treehouse, with a rope netting that acted as a rail.

Unfortunately, I cannot turn up photographic proof of guests climbing down here.  I’ve looked all over the internet, but everyone seems more interested in snapping pictures of that water wheel than in keeping a lookout for deadly swans.  But if any of you older parkeologists have memories of ringing a bell while pretending to fire at a Swan Boat full of tourists, feel free to chime in with a comment.