Backstage at the Pavilion

In a "Long Run" show like the Ford Motor Company attraction at the New York World's Fair, sometimes the action in the wings is as exciting as the show itself.

Take the day, for example, when one of the 146 convertibles carrying Ford visitors on the Magic Skyway ride developed a slow leak in a tire. With no provision for "pit stops," Ford maintenance crews came up with a novel solution. Each time the car with the leaky tire entered the service area between debarkation and embarkation points, crewmen used a portable air pump to inflate the tire. Thirty-five times they serviced the car on the move -from mid-afternoon until closing time shortly after ten p.m. and the show went on without interruption.
Ford engineers estimate the Magic Skyway convertibles, traveling a combined distance equal to 34 times around the world, absorbed the equivalent of 15 years' normal usage in six months last season. At the end their doors still closed with a solid click after 3,276,000 slams. Their seats still sprang back after more than 6,600,000 passengers. That's more people than the all-time record-holding Broadway musical, "My Fair Lady," played to in its entire run. When an overheated transformer finally forced the show to shut down one evening, a new transformer was flown from Chicago to Newark Airport, delivered to the pavilion by helicopter and installed before opening time the next day. On another occasion, while the show went on, crews worked just as determinedly to free the finger of a Ford host from a brass ring used to attach a safety chain to a wall. While giving directions to crowds of visitors, the host had slipped his finger inadvertently into the ring and . . . it stuck. Using chisel and hammer, brawny millwrights "operated" on the ringbound finger as delicately as might a surgeon, and soon the finger was free and the host was back at his post undaunted. Pinkerton watchmen who man safety stations all along the Magic Skyway ride grew fond of a sparrow that ventured into the pavilion and stayed for weeks. They contributed bread crumbs from their lunches and had the bird almost trained to eat out of their hands before it disappeared one day - apparently having found its way through a public exit. Even more mysterious was the appearance of two tiny goldfish in one of the pavilion's reflecting pools. Maintenance men discovered them late one night as they were draining and scrubbing the pool. They saved them from going down the drain and reinstalled them, with fish food, in a fountain area from which they later disappeared-perhaps into the pocket of the youthful prankster who had first brought them to the pavilion. Pools throughout the pavilion proved a popular target for pennypitchers. Night crews collected over $2,800 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters donated by Fair visitors. Ford saved the entire amount for a charitable contribution. Some of the prehistoric figures in scenes along the Magic Skyway lost their heads over the winter, as the complicated mechanisms that serve as brains controlling their movements were sent back to Walt Disney's WED Enterprises, Inc., at Glendale, California, for adjustments and minor repairs. All heads and all hands, however, are in place in time for the opening of the World's Fair on April 21.

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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