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  1. #16

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Quote Originally Posted by RegionsBeyond View Post
    I don't think I have posted this image yet, and worthy I think of it's own post...



    This is one ride I wish I had been able to see in person.
    You and me both Regions. I was 6 months shy of my 14th birthday .. when this closed. My parents never wondered over to this corner. When I was old enough to make some of my own decisions, the land of preference, all day, was Tomorrowland ... And now I regret it I could have had a few memories of this ride. But I think the Rainbow Caverns portion would have been really, really special.

    I apologize for being such a broken record ... But if Frontierland ever gets an expansion ... I'm so hoping on a faithful recreation of Rainbow Caverns, in either a queue, or portion of the ride. And what I mean by "faithful" ... employ the same effects as they were used. Right down to the faint "echoing" music it used. As Bob Weaver describes ... the fluorescent paints within the waters were the only real light to be seen, in the entire cavern. As the black-lighting reflected against those waters. And could barely make out the outline to anything else. Perhaps Bob can give a more specific account of what was illuminated.

    On a bright day entering the cave ... I'm sure it was pretty dark. But at night .. with our eyes more adjusted ... I can almost picture a little more illumination.
    Last edited by Tomorrowland_1967; 02-20-2011 at 04:25 PM.

  2. #17

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Dopey24 View Post
    what ride did that used to be called?
    Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland

  3. #18

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Thanks for sharing those photos. It must have been the highlight of many a Disneyland trip during it's time.
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  4. #19

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    This was posted a while ago ..... Always deserves a mention ..................

    Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland

    Plus .. the guy who's doing this I believe is a poster here ..... And if I remember Bob Weaver has made some contributions (?). Anyway ...... sooooo cool.

    I would imagine .. the most illumination that could be seen .. went something like this:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_csdueNlBcB...00/Caverns.jpg

    Even the purple haze against the rock is probably not exactly accurate for the real Rainbow Caverns. But this is probably as close as one could get.

    In other Disneyland attractions .... I believe the closest any other ride comes to this effect is the bat cave just prior to Big Thunder's first lift, and the "Laughing Place" portion of Splash Mountain. Laughing Place is probably the closest recreation of the effect. The shame is you pass through it in the blink of an eye. The great thing about the Mine Trains .... you had plenty of time to enjoy the sights!!
    Last edited by Tomorrowland_1967; 02-20-2011 at 04:48 PM.

  5. #20

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Thanks for the great thread, Regions, and the first photo in the thread is terrific... that's the clearest and sharpest scan of that photo I've ever seen. We should mention the legendary Imagineer Claude Coats in this thread, as the Rainbow Caverns was his design. Some engineer warned Coats and Disney that it wouldn't work, that the different colors of the waters would become hopelessly mixed together in a short time, but Walt famously replied, "We do the impossible here every day." So they went ahead and built it, with six independent plumbing systems, one for each color, and it worked for the attraction's entire lifespan. (Rainbow Caverns was actually built in 1956 and the ride was Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, then it was closed in 1959 for the expansion of the attraction into Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland, and opened in 1960, then closed permanently in 1977.)

    Looking back, Rainbow Caverns was what sold me on Disneyland at the age of 4. I still can't believe they tore it all down. They could have incorporated it into Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in some way, either at the beginning or end of the ride, or as the queue for it or even as a walk-through attraction in itself. I too hold onto some faint hope that they may someday rebuild this and use it in some way, for some attraction. They must still have the blueprints somewhere in their files.

    However, it was very dark, pitch black except for the fluorescent water and fluorescent signs, so as it was originally built, it was probably unusable as a queue or walk-through. There would be too many worries about people stumbling around in the dark. I can tell you that when it was in operation, it was almost totally dark... you would not see anything but the colored water and signs. There was no ambient light and no colored lights at all. It was too dark to see the train, the track, the ceiling or floor, that fan on the left, or even the rock formations... they were only seen in silhouette or by what feeble light was emitted by the fluorescent waters. Some of the light emitted by the water may have illuminated the rocks, but very dimly. The darkness is why there are so few good photos or films of the interior. Most photos and films have extra light added to show more, but doing that ruined the effect as intended by Claude Coats.

    In the first photo of this thread, you can see the many jagged shapes hanging from the ceiling, but on the ride if you noticed them at all, those were only silhouette shapes partially blocking your view of some color water feature before you got to it, giving you the illusion of going through different "rooms" of the caverns. (The color photo in post #16 was staged for National Geographic magazine, and they added flash to illuminate the train. In actual operation the train would be just another dark figure moving through the shadows.)

    In the middle of the first photo of this thread, the black-and-white photo "with the lights on," you can see one of the water channels going right below the track; as I recall there were several channels side-by-side, of different colors and you could peer straight down at them as you passed over them. It was also noisy in there, due to all the falling and splashing water. In spite of the noise, they played music in addition to it. The music was played continuously and was the same piece of music heard in this video:


  6. #21

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Hey Bob .. did the train come to a stop in the cavern? Or was it always in constant motion .. even if "snails" pace?

    ( Another great topic - on the same subject - for reference:
    The Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and Rainbow caverns )

    ( Though not the real thing, this model recreation is probably as close as we'll ever get to the vibrant colors - http://www.flickr.com/photos/2988305...7615403737205/ )
    ^^^^^^^^^^ ______ actually .. a bit confusing. Some images are apparently the real deal, some, model recreations.

    I stumbled on this .... quite interesting:

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/N...g?t=1268830183
    Last edited by Tomorrowland_1967; 02-20-2011 at 06:06 PM.

  7. #22

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Nope, the train never stopped throughout the entire ride. The train operator was instructed by the operations manual to keep a certain pace, so that the recorded narration was in sync with the features seen in the ride. There was no narration within the Rainbow Caverns, except for a little bit as you first entered the caverns, and one last little bit as the train left the caverns and entered the load/unload area. The train did not stop inside the caverns.
    I have read that in later years, the train operators were allowed to turn off the recorded narration (by the late Dallas McKennon) and give their own live narration, similar to the way the Jungle Cruise is narrated. However this never happened on any of my trips on the attraction.
    I have also read that in later years, the train operator could stop the train in the Living Desert area, if they happened to be there while the nightly fireworks were going off, as apparently that was a great viewing spot for the fireworks. (In those days they were all fired from an area outside the park just north of Fantasyland; they had not started doing fireworks off the castle yet.) The train would stop there just long enough for the guests to watch the fireworks, then continue with the trip. However I never saw that happen on any of my trips on the attraction either.

  8. #23

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    I can only imagine the glow of the fireworks over the living desert.

    Anyway ..... in this artwork .. every element of Rainbow Caverns is shown:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...ernsdetail.jpg

    But were they that prominent and illuminating throughout the cavern?

    All old photos seem to just show 2 or 3 elements .. but never the full gamut .. as shown in that map.

    Artist Chris Merritt did an excellent job copying Sam McKim's style for Nature's Wonderland - Full photo here - http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4025/...3549ee61_b.jpg
    Last edited by Tomorrowland_1967; 02-20-2011 at 06:35 PM.

  9. #24

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    I would love to see a portion of this ride come back. I think that they could add some of those scenes along the main Disneyland railroad in the north end of the Rivers of America. A showroom made to look like caves could be used to do the indoor portion. It would give the whole family something to see especially since the only tribute to this old attraction is a roller coaster that some can not ride
    Last edited by Baloo; 02-22-2011 at 02:55 PM.

  10. #25

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    duplicate post

  11. #26

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Quote Originally Posted by JerrodDRagon View Post
    Now I see why people want this ride back....looks soooo beautiful
    I agree, I never knew it was this cool.

  12. #27

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    There were no signs in front of each feature, naming that feature. There were a couple of fluorescent signposts inside the caverns, one that had 3 signs, pointing the way to Gyser Grotto (misspelled on sign), to Paint Pot Falls, and to Witch's Cauldron. That one always scared us, but fortunately the witch was never on duty. There was another sign that said To Bridal Veil Falls. But these were just signs pointing the way to those features, not necessarily in front of the feature that was mentioned. Those signs were painted in fluorescent paint, and were not particularly bright. The only source of light in the Rainbow Caverns was the fluorescence of the colored water and the fluorescent paint on those signs. It was all under black lights; there were no spot lights, colored lights or ambient lighting at all. The pictures you see now may have had their brightness or saturation artifically enhanced in Photoshop or whatever. They were dim, however if your eyes were adjusted to the darkness you could see them easily. The first 20 seconds or so of the caverns was nothing but total darkness, to give your eyes a bit of time to adjust from the bright sunlight of outside, if you were riding in in the daytime.

    Other than the features on those signs, (and the Geyser Grotto and Witch's Cauldron were mentioned on the recorded narration), I never realized the different features inside the caverns had specific names. I remember the formation named Staircase Falls, but I never knew it had a name... same with Angel Falls, Red Devil Falls, Dance of the Seven Sisters, Silver Threads Among the Gold, and Rainbow Falls, which was the last water feature before leaving the caverns and going back to the load/unload platform. I did not realize those had specific names until many years later, when I saw that map you linked to. That map was drawn by Imagineer Chris Merritt, after the attraction was long gone.

    I clearly remember the Rainbow Falls, the last thing in the caverns, because it was a wall with 6 narrow waterfalls going down it, in 6 different colors. But I never knew until studying that map years later that it had that name. And to be honest, I don't even recall Angel Falls, Red Devil Falls, Silver Threads Among the Gold or Dance of the Seven Sisters specifically. Maybe if I saw a photograph of each of those it would come back to memory, but just hearing the names alone means nothing to me now.

    In my recollection, the caverns all sort of blended together into one continuous cave with colored water features wherever you looked, rather than separate features. So no one feature was more prominent than any other. The signposts were not very prominent, in fact if you were looking the wrong way as you passed them, you might have missed them completely. It was all pretty well balanced now that I think back about it. But as a kid, you don't analyze things in this way, you just experience them and take everything at face value. It was more about the experience of being in the cool, breezy, dark cave, with glowing colored water all around you and the ethereal music, it was like being in another eerie world for one minute. Never really analyzed it in those days.

    Other than that couple of signposts inside the caverns, I don't believe there were any signs at all along the train's route. Of course the storefronts of Rainbow Ridge had signs (and most are still there today by the loading area of Big Thunder). But along the route the train took, there were no identifying signs. Only the recorded narration offered names of anything, and even then, it only named general sections of the trip (Beaver Valley, Bear Country, Living Desert, Balancing Rock Canyon and Rainbow Caverns) and selected features were named (Big Thunder, the first waterfall, the Twin Sisters waterfall, Bear Creek, Natural Arch Bridge, saguaro forest, Devil's Paint Pots, Old Unfaithful were all mentioned on the soundtrack, along with many of the animals mentioned by their common names.

  13. #28

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Weaver View Post
    In my recollection, the caverns all sort of blended together into one continuous cave with colored water features wherever you looked, rather than separate features. So no one feature was more prominent than any other. The signposts were not very prominent, in fact if you were looking the wrong way as you passed them, you might have missed them completely. It was all pretty well balanced now that I think back about it. But as a kid, you don't analyze things in this way, you just experience them and take everything at face value. It was more about the experience of being in the cool, breezy, dark cave, with glowing colored water all around you and the ethereal music, it was like being in another eerie world for one minute. Never really analyzed it in those days.
    .
    Really great post, and thank you for sharing this info...sounds like it was very atmospheric indeed, and kind of designed to be "naturalistic" sort of, without any directional lighting and staged in a way like it was a real cave...more random and things on all sides. I would have loved to see it for myself.

    Random sidetrack...only thing near to Rainbow Caverns I have experience outside the small tribute in Big Thunder is the climax of Knott's Calico Mine ride (though that has no prominent water features), but it seems to go for the same kind of ethereal, blacklit vibe and borderline surrealistic musical accompaniment. Do you enjoy/have memories of this ride also (of course expecting it wouldn't compare to Rainbow Caverns).
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  14. #29

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Those photos really are gorgeous. Like what others have said, I really wish I could of seen this in person when it was still around. I was born more then a decade after this shut down, so I really did miss out on something spectacular. BTMR is fun for its thrills, but its theming and immersiveness don't seem to get anywhere close to what Rainbow Caverns and the rest of Nature's Wonderland had to offer, and that's just judging by the photos I've seen of the old attraction.

  15. #30

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    Re: Rainbow Caverns with the Lights On

    Correct me if I'm wrong someone ... But isn't Big Thunder's first lift suppose to be a nod to Rainbow Caverns?

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