Forget Shamu, because whether it’s a retelling of Jonah and the Whale, Pinocchio’s Monstro or Moby Dick, many kiddie parks consider a big ol’ whale a centerpiece of their park’s landscape. We’re going to take a look at a few of these whales and try not to tell any fish tales in the process!
One of the best known (or at least most visited) whales is Disneyland’s Monstro from Pinocchio. Monstro is the finale to the Storybook Land Canal Boats, and original 1955 attraction built based on Walt’s concepts. Riders board a boat #2 and travel through miniaturized versions of fairy tale settings made famous by Walt Disney Studios. This is still one of the most relaxing rides in the park, and its simplicity is its strongest point. There are no special effects, no 3D glasses, and no loud noises. Just you, the calm water, and ultimately the whale! Monstro has had a few different paint jobs over the year as seen in image #1, 3, 5, and 8. It looks like once upon a time, Monstro actually bore the black and white markings of a Killer Whale #1. He’s since been softened and now has more of an appearance of a sperm whale #5. In actuality the story tells of a killer dogfish, but I’d say the blue/grey color today is more accurate to the film version of our villain.
Whale #4 is Willie the Whale a sweet little friend from Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, California. This postcard from the 1950s shows what a draw it was for children. It seems like the entire group can’t wait to be swallowed whole! Willie still stands today, and he still blows water out of his blowhole and invites brave children to step into his mouth. In all honesty, he doesn’t look very different than he did 60 years ago! Lookin’ good, Willie! However, you can see what a difference a paint job can make, as #10 appears to be a very similar same mold, but with the addition of some terrifying eyebrows. Our #10 Whale hails from New Jersey’s Storybook Land, and he is somehow just not as friendly as his California Cousin Willie! I’m a big fan of this creepier paint job, but then again-I’m an adult who doesn’t have nightmares about being eaten alive by whales.
Whale #7 comes to us from Storyland in New Hampshire, and is probably our most adorable widdle whale. He is much smaller than most whales, and is actually in an itty bitty bath tub. Awww! Don’t you just want to take him home with you? ahem, moving on.
Photos #12 and #13 are two shots the same whale at Conneaut Lake Park’s now defunct “Fairyland Forest” I don’t know about you, but I am sure that as a kid, I would have run up to that mouth and immediately yelled something stupid to hear my own echo inside. This guy is impressive and though its a little tough to see from these images, his tail pokes out on the other side of the lake, indicating his large body is submerged across the entire distance. A great use of perspective, making him seem simply massive!
Not to be forgotten is another “Willie the Whale” at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA. This Willie (What’s with whales named Willie?) sailed from 1963-1967 and has since been out of commission. One can still be seen at Dutch Wonderland near the Fun Slide. Once a leisurely boat ride around the moat, Willie was later replaced by Swan boats in 1967. The swans sailed from 1967-1975, and the area is now home to “Dragon’s Lair” boat ride which uses log boats installed in 1975. Dragon’s Lair features an animatronic Duke the Dragon mascot poking his head out of a giant rock.
I saved my favorite whale for last, and that is simply because of the absurdity of the image where I initially saw him. Whale #6 is at Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH. He once had some underwater friends like an octopus, a clam, and a few fish. He is enjoying a snack of one of Santa’s Helpers, while Santa and the kids stand by. Another helper can be seen surfing the whale’s tail! I loved this image so much, but when I went to see the whale, it just somehow wasn’t the same. See a bad side angle of our whale friend in #9. He seems to be recoiling in shame, now relegated to a spot behind a building, he has lost all of his friends, and now he just wants to be left alone! However, if you walk around the building a little bit, and you are patient with him, he will still give you a show.
And if you still can’t get enough whales, I dare you to get this tune out of your head, since its been swimming around my brain since I titled this post.
Happy Whale Watching until next time, and do try not to get swallowed up!