Banjo Lessons and Nautilus Plans
There are two places in the Disneyland Resort where you’ll find advertisements for banjo lessons from a Mr. Harper Goff. One is on an upstairs window across from the entrance to the World Famous Jungle Cruise, the other inside Trader Sam’s, under the biggest window box (the one with the Orange Bird).
It’s fitting, because Goff designed the Jungle Cruise – or, rather, the Jungle River Boat Ride. He based it upon the Humphrey Bogart/Katherine Hepburn classic The African Queen, and the name of each boat is a pun on a famous river. When we get ours for our backyard, Noe’s going to call it the Sassagoula Shelly (the Sassagoula being the river that goes from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney.)
Original plans called for a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea adventure to be built there, not a Jungle Cruise. On a trip to the Walt Disney Archives a few years back, I found some of these original plans. It was also fitting, because Harper Goff designed the gorgeous submarine The Nautilus for the film.
Harper Goff’s love of trains led him to work for Walt Disney, as they met in London upon both bidding on the same model engine. Walt took Goff on as an artist, and he designed not only attractions for Disneyland, but later for EPCOT Center, my favorite defunct theme park. He also played banjo with The Firehouse Five Plus Two, which explains the advertisements.
He is lauded for his boats and submarines, but not many people know that he’s also pretty much responsible for Main Street, U.S.A.
The tale that Main Street, U.S.A. is based upon Walt’s hometown of Marceline, MO is more an invention of imaginative writers than one based upon fact. Goff came from Fort Collins, CO, and if you look at photos of early Marceline, early Fort Collins and Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland, the resemblance is very, very obvious.
Have a great weekend!