Archive for February, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Entrance

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Entrance

The entrance to Disneyland is reminiscent of the top two-and-a-half feet of the longest, thinnest house in Marceline, Missouri, perched atop the gates to the Marceline Cemetery, with turnstiles added. Though lines may seem long, they move quickly because the entrance is designed to provide orderly entry for up to 500 guests per second when operating at full capacity. In fact, the entire population of China could pass through these gates in just 31 days, assuming that they all had valid tickets, minimum strollers were used, and nobody was trying to park hop illegally, but this would put a significant strain on Disneyland’s infrastructure, particularly its delicate churro-supply chain.

But the entrance is more than just a friendly place where your pathetic attempt to forge official Disney documents using rudimentary Photoshop skills and a home printer are instantly seen through, leading to your detainment, arrest, humiliation, and eventual drunken homelessness. It also has park maps and schedules conveniently available.

Coming up next: VIP entrance

Disneyland Tour: Palm trees

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Palm trees

The Disneyland entrance plaza is lined with huge palm trees. These are some of the few trees remaining from the orange grove that was demolished to make way for Disneyland (the trees were converted by the landscaping department from orange to palm to better fit the area’s theming).

Trees that were cut down before construction did not go to waste. The oranges were preserved in concentrate form to be served to guests, and their orange color was similarly stored and used to color Tiki Room bird feathers and fake flames in Pirates of the Caribbean. Leaves were separated, stored, cured and served as exotic salads. And the wood was formed into boards and used to construct Adventureland’s Shrunken Head-Stand and Tomorrowland’s Hall of Achievements in Postage (both of which collapsed during moderate-to-high winds in 1956).

Coming up next: Entrance

Disneyland Tour: Guest Services

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Guest Services

Next to Disneyland’s entrance is the Guest Services building. This is where group sales are handled, guests of Club 33 members receive their required fitness exams, lost children can be claimed from long-term storage, and guests could pick up courtesy tickets for free entry into the park if such things existed. Guest services is also where bizarre, inexplicable or nonsensical complaints are delivered by people almost coherent enough to form a sentence and threaten to sue but not competent or resourceful enough to figure out how to get into the park and complain to City Hall.

Coming up next: Palm trees

Disneyland Tour: Ticketing

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Ticketing

Disneyland’s ticketing booths are mere shadows of their former selves. At one time, guests looked forward to the thrill of handing over a few dollars of hard-earned cash to receive a delightful character-covered ticket and a colorful book of A through E tickets. Today, Disneyland tickets can be purchased online, in grocery stores, in Disney stores, or through other ticketing outlets, those few hard-earned dollars have transformed into the equivalent of an average mortgage payment, and A&E is a channel on basic cable.

Today, the ticket booths operate as a reminder of simpler times, and as a place for people who left their tickets in the car to purchase replacements because they can’t stand the thought of walking all the way back to the parking structure.

Coming up next: Guest Services

Disneyland Tour: Security checkpoint

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Security checkpoint

After leaving the tram, guests have a short walk to the first security checkpoint. Many guests think that this is not only the first but also the only checkpoint, and they would be wrong. It is actually the third of twelve specially designed, high-tech checkpoints, the other eleven being carefully camouflaged into walkways, buildings, and turnstiles.

Even this most visible of checkpoints is more than meets the eye. The tables on which guests place their purses, backpacks, coolers, and unopened packages covered in foreign postage hide sophisticated x-ray devices. The bag checkers are schooled in facial analysis and body-language reading to help them distinguish guests seeking a magical day from nefarious villains and obnoxious, Six-Flags-style teenagers. And to top it all off, the canopy is full of contraband-sniffing police dogs, ready to be released at the push of a button.

Disneyland Resort security also makes extensive use of the full-body scanners that are used in many airports, but has managed to avoid the controversy associated with those devices by combining the scanners with simple electroshock devices that painlessly remove 30 seconds of guests’ short-term memory.

Coming up next: Ticketing

Disneyland Tour: Goaway green

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Goaway green

Years ago, Disney Imagineers discovered that guests tended to ignore anything that was painted green. That’s why many things at Disneyland that you aren’t supposed to notice (trash cans, show buildings, velociraptors, mold) are green.

In this picture of some of the scenery visible from the parking lot tram, the Monorail track and a lamp are clearly visible, as is the sky. But if you look carefully, you’ll see that there is something else in the picture — trees! That’s right, the picture is full of trees, but you didn’t notice them at first glance, did you? That’s because they’re “goaway green” in color! If there was a show building, a fence, or something else in the picture you weren’t supposed to see, that would have been painted green, too — and you would never have known the difference!

Coming up next: Security checkpoint

Disneyland Tour: Tram

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Tram

Guests riding the tram are given a large number of instructions both before and during their ride. Some of these make sense (no leaping from the tram, don’t hold an unfolded stroller on your lap, no yelling “fire”), while others are more obscure (keep your toes off the magic yellow line, no chair dancing, mantenga el comedor de la hamburguesa de mi poncho). One recent rule — “keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times” — was instated after the traditional “put your hand out and give everyone in the tram that’s heading the other way a high five” game turned tragic due to the presence of a joyriding Captain Hook.

Coming up next: Goaway green

Disneyland Tour: Aboard a tram

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Aboard a tram

Disneyland trams are comfortable, convenient, and powered by a clean-burning biofuel distilled from leftover churros and turkey legs. Although Disney tries to keep the tram-riding experience unique and entertaining, cost-cutting has reduced available amenities over the years. No-longer-available tram conveniences include beverage service, in-ride movies, pillows, bathrooms, tray tables, reclining seats, upper berths, and roll cages. Trams are still free, but in 2009 Disney began imposing a $25 fee on riders with excess luggage.

Coming up next: Tram

Disneyland Tour: Trams

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Trams

Since opening day Disneyland has been famous for its easy parking and convenient parking lot trams. From the Mickey and Friends parking structure, the vast fleet of trams can be seen. Guests exiting the parking structure simply get on any of these trams that strikes their fancy, and the polite, courteous driver takes them to Downtown Disney, the theme park’s entrance, or any of more than 500 local businesses and places of lodging, on demand, free of charge, and never at more than 14 miles an hour.

Trams run from one hour before park opening to one hour after the last teenager trying to hide out past closing on Tom Sawyer Island has been located and ejected from the park.

Coming up next: Aboard a tram

Disneyland Tour: Mickey and Friends parking structure

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Mickey and Friends parking structure

The Mickey and Friends parking structure is an enormous five-story building designed to hold the vehicles of guests visiting the Disneyland Resort. It was built to handle the cars that once parked in Disneyland’s parking lot when that area became overcrowded by increasing guest numbers and the fact that much of the lot was inconveniently full of California Adventure. The new structure does not hold more cars than the old parking lot, but it does allow five-tall car stacking without the inconvenience of guests complaining that their car has tire tracks on its roof.

As you can see from the photograph, the parking structure was empty when we arrived. This is because we know that most guests do not show up for park opening, and that the parking structure opens an hour before Disneyland, and that guests “in the know” line up for parking an hour before the structure opens, so we got to Mickey and Friends an hour before that. Just to be sure you get a perfect spot, we suggest you show up an hour earlier than us.

The Mickey and Friends structure gets its name from the fact that the construction crew that built it was required to do so in character costume. Parking is $15, which is quite reasonable when you remember that it is very expensive to maintain a huge, open-air concrete building with nothing in it. In fact, Disney may be losing money.

Coming up next: Trams