While searching through the Floyd Photo Archives (my garage) I’ll some times come across something special such as this little gem. It’s a color photograph from Disney past, and I’ll bet even you Disney history experts might have difficulty guessing the location of this interesting “fish tank.”

Where was this photograph taken, you might ask? Disneyland, perhaps. Or, maybe even Walt Disney Imagineering? You would be wrong on both counts because this photograph was taken by me on the Walt Disney Studio lot. You see, back in the late fifties the Old Maestro was still making changes and improvements to his theme park in Anaheim. In order to test the new additions, an underground water tank was constructed on the studio lot. No kidding. Walt’s guys actually constructed this special water tank on the studio back lot in order to test elements of the attraction. Naturally, this would have been the original submarine ride we were dealing with, right? Apparently, Walt wanted to test some new ideas, and that explains why the Disney team built this special tank. Doubt this tank existed, do you? I actually went down into the structure in order to take these color pictures with my 35mm camera back in the late fifties.

However, there’s more to this strange story. Walt Disney wanted to add additional mermaids to the attraction so he had his former animators - now sculptors, create new mermaids for the attraction. Perhaps you know the names of these guys. They were Jack Ferges and the Legendary, Blaine Gibson. Blaine and Jack actually sculpted the new mermaids in the Animation Building back in the day. Why weren’t they in Glendale, you ask? I’m not really sure. I do know for a fact that Blaine and Jack worked in 1B-1 on the first floor of the Animation Building where they created a beautiful sculpt of a Disney mermaid. You’ll never believe what happened next. While moving the finished sculpture to the backlot for casting, the movers accidentally dropped the finished piece smashing it into a thousand pieces. A priceless piece that had taken weeks to create. What eventually happened to those hapless movers is a Disney story I’ll save for another day. Anybody interested?

Walt Disney had this special tank constructed on the Burbank studio back lot. Don't believe me? I was in it!

Walt Disney had this special tank constructed on the Burbank studio back lot. Don't believe me? I was in it!

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AuthorFloyd Norman