Yesterland.com

“C” Ticket

Swiss Family Treehouse

See the Swiss Family Robinson’s
tree-top home and enjoy
an aerial view of Yesterland


 
Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1964, courtesy of Robin Runck

Father, Mother, Fritz, Ernst, and little Francis invite you to visit their home. You may have seen this family at your local movie theater in 1960. You probably thought their treehouse was on a far-off-tropical island. But it’s actually right here in Yesterland.

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1964, courtesy of Robin Runck

Why there is a treehouse here

After their shipwreck, the family managed to save furniture, supplies, and ship parts. So the Treehouse is an intriguing combination of European goods and primitive jungle products.

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1964, courtesy of Robin Runck

Have your ticket ready

If you need to present an attraction ticket at Yesterland, it’s usually for a ride or a sit-down show. But, in this case, it’s for a walk-through. There’s another example of this not far away; it’s the Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through.

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1995

Ready?

This is Adventureland, so get ready to climb to adventure. As treehouses go, this one is a palace.

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1995

Not your average treehouse

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Leslie N. Herschler, 1998

Water system

This Treehouse has a clever and functional plumbing system. A water wheel drives a continuous supply of scoops, lifting 200 gallons of water per hour high into the tree. The water dumps into a system of bamboo gutters that use gravity to provide clean, running water to every room.

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photos by Allen Huffman, circa 1997

Treehouse rooms

Start by touring the kitchen and library on the ground floor. You don’t mind climbing stairs, do you? As you ascend and descend, there might be an extra bounce to your step as you hear the catchy theme tune, the “Swisskapolka.”

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1964, courtesy of Robin Runck

Boys’ bedroom at the top

Take a look into the rooms of the shipwrecked family. Pick your favorite—the one where you could imagine yourself living. No matter which room you pick, you get elegant furnishings salvaged from the ship, along with some terrific views.

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1964, courtesy of Robin Runck

View toward the Haunted Mansion and the Rivers of America

Swiss Family Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1964, courtesy of Robin Runck

View into the Jungle Cruise

Count the steps. There are 68 going up, but 69 coming down. This isn’t just an attraction; it’s an exercise apparatus too.


The Swiss Family Treehouse opened in Disneyland in November 1962, almost two years after the December 1960 release of Walt Disney’s hit adventure movie, Swiss Family Robinson, which was based on the 1812 novel of the same name by Johann David Wyss.

That wonderful Disneyland history book, Disneyland, The Nickel Tour (Camphor Tree Publishers, Santa Clarita, Calif., 1995) by Bruce Gordon and David Mumford, explains who wanted the Treehouse:

All little kids—and a lot of big kids too—want a tree house of their own, but not everyone can have one, especially one that’s seventy feet tall. There was, however, one who could. In fact, if he wanted to, he could build the biggest treehouse in the history of the world.

And that’s exactly what Walt did.

After providing details about the construction of the faux fig tree, the book explains the reaction at WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering or WDI):

Apparently there hadn’t been a lot of tree climbers at WED, since most of the designers thought the treehouse would be a waste of time and money. No one would climb all the way to the top, they moaned, only to have to negotiate their way back down.

But, as usual Walt was right, and after the opening of the Treehouse, the adult climbers outnumbered the kids three to one.

Yes indeed, everybody wants a treehouse.

Although the walkthrough required a “C” ticket when it opened in 1962, it was demoted to a “B” ticket in 1966.

Guests enjoyed Disneyland’s Swiss Family Treehouse for more than 36 years.

Tarzan's Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2004

Tarzan’s Treehouse

In early 1999, Disneyland evicted the Swiss Family from their Treehouse to make room for Tarzan. The giant artificial tree received a massive makeover, including thousands of replacement vinyl leaves and a new suspension bridge entrance from a new neighboring tree. In June 1999, Tarzan’s Treehouse began welcoming park guests, just as Disney’s animated Tarzan premiered in movie theaters.

Here’s how the New York Times described the change on August 22, 1999 (“At Disneyland, Same Tree, New Tenant”):

Call it This Old Treehouse. A familiar attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., the Swiss Family Treehouse, has received a new look to take advantage of the success of Disney’s latest animated film. Tarzan’s Treehouse, part of Adventureland, begins with a trip up a wooden staircase made of items salvaged from a “shipwreck.”

After crossing a rope bridge, visitors enter the homes of Tarzan’s human parents and his ape foster mother, Kala. Live animals and costumed characters from “Tarzan” will visit the treehouse as well.

Does anyone remember live animals?

Tarzan's Treehouse, Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Gramophone in Tarzan’s Treehouse

Guests were delighted by the new attraction’s hands-on interactivity. And what tune do the guests hear coming from the old gramophone? Why, it’s the “Swisskapolka”!

Don’t feel bad for the evicted Swiss Family. They still have nice homes in Florida, Japan, and France. For example, you can visit the Swiss Family Treehouse at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, where it was one of the park’s original attractions on opening day, October 1, 1971.


Disneyland: The Fan Driven Time Machine
with Sam Gennawey, Jeff Kurtti, Todd Pierce, and Werner Weiss
at The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco,
Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Theater at the Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco

Photo by Jim Smith, courtesy The Walt Disney Family Museum

The Theater at The Walt Disney Family Museum

Disneyland: The Fan Driven Time Machine

On July 17, 1955, Walt Disney proclaimed, “Disneyland is your land.” Little did he realize that the public would take him at his word, creating a new cottage industry driven by the fans themselves. Today, people can access Walt’s Disneyland of 1955 to 1966 easily through books, magazines, DVDs, websites, blogs, mobile apps, and podcasts—often products made possible by new technology and an online world that allows people to find and obtain these resources. Whether for reasons of nostalgia, scholarship, the desire to experience something from a time before they were born, or to understand the foundation of something they enjoy today, fans can relive the park through the work of people like themselves. How did all of this begin? And who will be responsible for separating the facts from the fantasy?

Join author and Disney historian Sam Gennawey as he moderates a discussion about this amazing cottage industry with guest panelists Jeff Kurtti, Todd Pierce, and Werner Weiss.

Tickets are limited to the capacity of the theater and are expected to sell out.

For tickets, see: TALK | Disneyland: The Fan Driven Time Machine.

For more about visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum, see: the official website of The Walt Disney Family Museum.


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Updated May 16, 2014.