Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

More Construction Mysteries – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

The last couple of months have been spent unraveling some mysterious (for the time) construction that was taking place out in the parking lot to the west of the entrance to Disneyland. Early in 1994 all was revealed when the construction of the Indiana Jones Adventure was officially announced, and a big construction wall went up in Adventureland.

The location of that wall did create something of a new mystery, though. How in the world would they be able to get anyone into the new attraction? The Jungle Cruise and its entrance queue took up most of the real estate to the south of Adventureland. And what was left was occupied by the Swiss Family Robinson, comfortably ensconced in their lavish tree house.

The wall, and another sign, kind of answered that question. The Robinsons were off on an adventure, and would be returning in the spring. But there was something going on in their absence, at least based on the amount of noise coming from behind that wall!

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And where there’s a construction wall in Disneyland, there’s usually a way to see at least a part of what is going on behind it. In this case, there was a glimpse to be had from the steps leading up to the Disney Gallery above the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean. Based on this view, there didn’t seem to be much work on the treehouse itself.

Higher up, and from a different angle, it was even clearer that the Robinson family home was not undergoing any kind of renovation. So what was going on back there?

Today, of course, we know the answer to that question. Disney was busily creating an opening between the Jungle Cruise and the Treehouse to create an entry for the Indiana Jones Adventure. It would be easy enough to move the queue line for the Jungle Cruise. But the Treehouse had to remain in place. What was requiring extra work was altering the course of the river.

Since 1955, skippers aboard Disneyland’s fleet of flat bottom boats had taken guests on a trip that started with a sharp turn to the right, where they immediately disappeared out of view of the dock. This was followed by a turn to the left that carried the boats around a horseshoe bend in the river and on to the Cambodian temple ruins. This also carried the boats under the canopy of the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, where guests climbing above could look nearly straight down at the river.

The renovations underway would take away the bend of the river, and send boats through a gentle curve and then left to the temple ruins. It also eliminated the portion that carried the boats under the treehouse, and freed up the necessary real estate to start guests on the long journey to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. After all, the temple itself was being built out in the parking lot, remember?