Most Micechat readers probably know what happened on Sunday July 17, 1955 in what had been, up till then, a remote orange grove near Anaheim, CA. Of the available attractions on Opening Day five had Arrow’s fingerprints all over them: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, King Arthur’s Carousel, Mad Tea Party, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Snow White’s Scary Adventure. Over the next five years, Disney applied Arrow’s skills on five more ride systems; Casey Jr. Circus Train, Midget Autopia, Motorboat Cruise, Alice in Wonderland and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Then, between 1960 and 1970, Arrow worked on seven more; Tomorrowland’s Flying Saucers, It’s a Small World, Space Mountain, Adventure thru Inner Space, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight (WDW) and the Haunted Mansion. They also worked on the parking lot trams. All told Arrow was involved in eighteen Disney ride systems and there is a rumor they also worked on Big Thunder Mountain.

This wouldn’t be obvious to the casual park visitor, but the evidence in the US Patent and Trademark office is incontrovertible and a look at the illustrations from some of these reveals details which should be obvious to any current Disney Park guest.

  • US 3,006,286 (1959) – Amusement Vehicle Apparatus – K. W. Bacon et al.
  • USD 189,828 (1960) – Amusement Ride Car – Karl W. Bacon and Edgar O. Morgan – Assigned to Disney
  • US 3,113,528 (1960) – Boat Ride Apparatus – E. A. Morgan et al.
  • US 3,114,332 (1960) – Bobsled Amusement Ride – Karl W. Bacon and Edgar O. Morgan – Assigned to Disney
  • US 3,167,024 (1960) – Bobsled Amusement Ride – K. W. Bacon et al. – Assigned to Disney
  • US 3,251,595 (1962) – Air Car and Supporting Apparatus – Edgar Allen Morgan and Karl W. Bacon – Assigned to Disney
  • US 3,404,635 (1968) – Boat Amusement Ride – K. W. Bacon et al. – – Assigned to Disney
  • USD 204,282 (1965) – Passenger Carrying Boat – Edgar A.Morgan – Assigned to Disney
  • US 3,830,161 (1973) – Flume Boat Ride with a Double Downchute – Karl W.Bacon – Assigned to Arrow
  • US 3,843,192 (1973) – Standing Passenger Support Structure for a Moving Vehicle – Edgar A. Morgan
  • US 3,865,041 (1973) – Rotary Platform Vehicle Passenger Loading System – Karl W. Bacon
  • US 3,853,067 (1974) – Boat Amusement Ride with a Spillway – Karl W. Bacon
  • US 3,889,605 (1974) – Amusement Ride with a Vehicle Track Portion Following the Shape of a Helix – Karl W. Bacon
  • US 3,972,527 (1975) – Passenger Powered Rotating Amusement Ride – Karl W. Bacon

Here’s a little Quiz; Match the Patent Picture with the Attraction. (We’ll publish the answers next time.)










There are a couple of interesting things about this list; First is that Ed Morgan is absent from 1973 on. That’s because he and Karl sold Arrow to Rio Grande Industries in 1971, after Disney built Central Shops in Orlando.  Although both Karl and Ed were still available as advisors, based on the evidence, Karl was probably doing the designing from then on.
The second thing to note is the nature of the ride systems after 1971; Most are flume style rides, with the exception of the corkscrew (helix) roller coaster patent in 1974. Parting ways with Disney didn’t put Arrow out of business – by then they had literally hundreds of rides at dozens of amusement parks all around the world and would continue in operation for another thirty years. The roots of Arrow’s ultimate demise came from another source, much farther away.
The very last patent Karl filed; US 3,972,527, the “Rotating Ride” is so different than anything before, it deserves it’s own, much closer look – which we’ll take next time, along with the answers to today’s quiz.



For more of the story on Arrow Development, pick up a copy of Building Disney’s Dream on iTunes, or directly from the author (in .pdf format) at [email protected].

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Dexter Francis is on the trail of the story behind the story of Walt Disney Imagineering and Arrow Development. A peculiar blend of artist, engineer, storyteller and business analyst, he loves uncovering the hidden connections between seemingly unrelated events which lead to breakthrough innovations. Rob Reynolds, the author of "Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers" described Dexter’s latest book as a “…precisely detailed account of Arrow Development, based on extensive research that has uncovered many gems from the early days of Disneyland and the development of the tubular steel roller coaster. I highly recommend Building Disney's Dream as a valuable addition to any history of Disney or the theme park industry."
  • Disneykin Kid

    Did they work on Carousel of Progress? It seems like another ride system that would require their type of expertise. If Arrow owns the patent, what does that mean? That no one else can use that ride system? And if they are out of business, what does that mean for the patent?

  • Dexter Francis

    Disneykin – Great questions! At the time (1960’s) United States Patents were issued for a period of 17 years, so until about 1975 to 1980 no one else could use/copy the features described in the patents (the “claims”) without permission of the patent holder. With regard to the Arrow patents, you’ll also notice that the ones for Disney rides were “assigned” to Disney. If Disney had wanted, they could have licensed the features for use by others. Today that sort of intellectual property ownership is big bu$ine$$. With regard to a company going out of business; the patent rights can be bought and sold or transferred to another person or company. The Carousel of progress opened in 1967, but as far as I know was a WED project, but given the closeness of Arrow and Disney in those days, there may have been a bit of cross fertilization of ideas going on.

  • muppetaz

    A: Matterhorn Bobsleds
    B: Flying Saucers
    C: Matterhorn Bobsleds
    D: Pirates of the Caribbean
    E: Pirates of the Caribbean
    F: Space Mountain
    G: Alice in Wonderland

  • Dexter Francis


    Pretty close! You got 4 out of a possible 7.

    Look closer at the images for D and F in particular.


  • muppetaz

    D: Motor Boat Cruise
    E: It’s A Small World
    F: It’s A Small World

    Is this any better?

  • Dexter Francis

    muppetaz – Learned well you have, yes. Searched the images you did.

    Many of the features in the patents were used on more than one ride. There are many similarities between the boat guide system used on It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean. The tip off is the date of filing of the patent. DES 204,282 (Item E in the quiz) was filed on March 8, 1965. US, 3,404,635 (Item F) was filed April 16, 1965.

    You can’t file for a patent on something which has already been published or offered for sale for over a year. The ’64 World’s Fair ran for two six-month seasons; April 22 – October 18, 1964 and April 21 – October 17, 1965, so both of these patents were filed prior to the opening – just barely. Pirates of the Caribbean opened March 18, 1967. There were some very cool features and stories about Pirates, BTW. The water control system was very sophisticated.

    You have learned well, young padawan. Contact me at [email protected] for your reward.

  • Concrete Enchilada

    My guess,

    A- Matterhorn
    B- Flying Saucers
    C- Matterhorn
    D- Phantom Boats Motor Cruise
    E- Pirates of the Caribbean/ It’s a Small World
    F- It’s a Small World (never seen a split unload/ load station on Pirates)
    G- Alice in Wonderland/ Snow White

    Just curious, are there any patents related to Peter Pan’s ride system? I am trying to fiqure out the track design (a monorail?). Also, did Arrow do any work on Peter Pan’s Flight at Disneyland? I know they worked on the Disneyworld version, as I seen a copy of the Arrow blueprints backstage. I was thankful to worked an unique Arrow ride.

    Dexter, keep up the excellent work on the Arrow blog. I read it everyday.

  • Dexter Francis

    CE –

    Its my current belief that they did not do Peter Pan in Anaheim. They were used for ride construction on some systems in Orlando that they did not do at Disneyland, like Big Thunder.

    I haven’t looked for the Peter Pan patent specifically, but not everything Disney did in those days was patented. As I recall PP is a suspended monorail design.

    I’ve just become acquainted with Linda Cooper, daughter of Walter Schultze. She also worked at Disney and has some new and very interesting information that clears up many unanswered questions I had about the years between 1956 and 1972 and will be posting that on the blog and adding to the material in Building Disney’s Dream over the next couple of weeks.

    Forgive the dry spell on the blog currently. My wife and I are in California – she’s attending Stanford’s K-12 workshop and I’m just enjoying the great California weather.

    Drop me a note directly at [email protected] and I’ll send you a promo code for a free copy of the eBook since you took the time to guess and got all the answers right!

    • Concrete Enchilada

      Thanks for the information. No worries about the “dry spell” on the blog. No one should expect constant updates on a blog. I’ll patiently wait for the next article. Enjoy California.