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Casablanca… The Plane and the Myth

…we were on the Jungle Cruise in March, and someone on the boat said that the plane from the movie “Casablanca” was in the jungle somewhere. I didn’t see it, and was wondering if that was really true, because I know the plane is in the Great Movie Ride, right?

OK… this is one of those “Urban Legends” that just won’t die… But I’m sorry to say, the Casablanca plane won’t be found in the Great Movie Ride, or anywhere in Walt Disney World… anywhere. In fact, you won’t find this famous plane anywhere… because it never existed in the first place.

Contrary to popular belief, the plane used in the final scene of the movie classic, Casablanca, where Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) say good-bye for the last time, wasn’t a real plane at all.

As filming of the movie took place not long after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the ability to shoot “on location” at airports was prohibited. Therefore, the entire movie was shot on sound stages at the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California . However, the soundstage used for the filming of this scene was too small to accommodate a full-sized airplane. Therefore, the studio built 1/2 and 1/4 sized replicas of a Lockheed Electra 12A out of plywood and balsa wood. Believe it or not, legend tells us that numerous “little people” were used as extras to make the plane appear full-sized, and fog was use to further enhance the illusion.

OK, so how does Disney get involved? Well, no one knows how or where the legend got started that the plane used in the Great Movie Ride was the “real” one from “Casablanca.” (I’ll give you one guess… what better way to help hype your new movie-themed park than to tell the world you have a one-of-a-kind, legendary movie prop?)

Anyway, Disney supposed bought a real Lockheed 12A plane and chopped it in half. The front of the plane is used in “The Great Movie Ride,” while it’s back-half was put on display in the Studios Backlot Tour. At one time, however, very few guests knew (or realized) that this half of the plane was also used as a prop in the dense forests of the “Jungle Cruise” in the Magic Kingdom!