It was nearly music to Steve’s ears when his grandkids explained they were no longer entertained by the Thomas the Tank Engine track in his backyard. He immediately got to work, determined to outdo himself. The final results? Let’s just say Disneyland might want to watch out.
Steve was there from the start.
It was 1955, the year California’s most famous theme park was finally revealed. Once Disneyland declared they were open for business, 8-year-old Steve Dobbs practically moved in!
“I lived about 2 miles from Disneyland and watched it being built on our bicycles…” Dobbs explained. “The older brother of my friend worked at the gate and let us sneak in during the summer when it was it too busy, so for those first few years we played in Disneyland like it was my backyard.”
Spending nearly all his time there, Steve actually discovered his passion for mechanics.
“Ever since I was young,” Dobbs said, “I was interested in engineering.”
While the roller coasters were exciting and worth the adrenaline rush, Dobbs was more fascinated with the underbelly of the park. He wrapped his brain around the idea of individual components (the wheels, tracks, electricity, etc.) powered together as one mechanism.
.. and thank goodness. Otherwise, he would’ve had been able to build a pint-sized version of Disneyland.
The man’s first creation was actually something out of the famous nautical comedy, Pirates of the Caribbean. Using slices of cardboard, Dobbs designed and put together the massive boats seen in the film. In a pretty impressive feat, the grandfather even produced authentic cannonballs to atop the papered vessels.
Grandpa Steven was getting closer to the win, adding a Disneyland themed gift shop to the mix.
The lifelike structure had to be bigger and better than ever. Dobbs collected various board games, vintage children’s toys, and the popular Madame Alexander dolls to decorate the cardboard walls. The final results left the cardboard boxes completely unrecognizable.
Things started sounding great, too. The new tunnel featured a continuous soundtrack, the same one that played at Disneyland, Dobbs’ old stomping grounds.
Next Up: lights, camera, and underwater fun in Finding Nemo.
The creative grandpa managed to master the underwater theme using PVC pipe and bright blue, plastic tarps. Of course, he didn’t stop there. Other ocean swimmers, including mannequin scuba divers, and various fish were motorized. It truly was an ocean experience under there!
Then, Grandpa Steve really took it home. With the help of a colleague, he designed AND constructed an actual roller coaster.
While Dobbs of course wanted the ride to safely hold the family’s youngest generations, he made sure to guarantee the coaster could handle the stress of teenage and adult riders as well. As soon as the man’s former co-worker turned educator heard the predicament, plans were officially underway.
“I know some students who would love to make that their senior research project,” the professor replied.
In the blink of an eye, Dobbs had a full crew working night and day on the job. Nine students shuffled through building supplies and blueprints, creating Dobbs’ one-of-a-kind design.
Before any passengers climbed aboard, Dobbs certified the rollercoaster with Dynamic Testing Solutions’ chief financial officer. After hearing all the hype and commotion surrounding the project, the CFO was holding a pen and waiting at the office door. Dobbs was becoming quite the popular man.
Finally, the moment they’d all been waiting for: DELIVERY DAY. The team of young builders packed the truck and headed for Steve’s backyard.
Once the family had the thumbs up they needed, it was time to start the engine.
In honor of its creator, the mini backyard theme park was dubbed ‘Dobbland.’ Sunny Lee, a family friend, was quite impressed with the finished result.
“We couldn’t even fathom how it all worked out,” said Sunny Lee, “…The kids love it even more than they love the one at Disneyland.”
After that comment, we’re pretty sure Dobbs can count Dobbland as a success.
Check out the full tour of Grandpa Steve’s impressive little creation!