Archive for March, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Walt Disney’s apartment

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Walt Disney's apartment

It is well known that Walt Disney had a private apartment above the Fire Department on Main Street. What is much less known is that he didn’t.

Disney knew that both guests and cast members took a great interest in him and what he was doing, but at the same time he sometimes needed privacy to work out a problem or just take a well-earned nap. With this in mind, he had a highly visible apartment built on Main Street where he could pretend to go when he needed some privacy, and which would act as a decoy, drawing those who wanted to see him away from his real in-park residence (which we will discuss later in the tour). Very often, when asked to make a difficult decision, Disney would indicate that he had to go to his apartment to take a nap and think about it (which is where the popular phrase “I’ll sleep on it” comes from).

To maintain the illusion that this was Disney’s apartment, the rooms were fully furnished and were granted a separate “999 year lease” by the Disneyland park holding company. One side effect of this lease is that the apartment is technically a private residence and not zoned for business or tourist trade, which is why guests are not allowed to visit or photograph it. The apartment is decorated in Main Street’s turn-of-the-century style, and a gas lamp is always kept burning in the window to remind guests that it has no electricity.

Coming up next: Vehicle entrance

Disneyland Tour: Fireman’s pole

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Fireman's Pole

Within the Disneyland Fire Department is a traditional firefighter’s brass pole, leading to a circular hole in the ceiling. At one time, this pole could be used to quickly enter the Fire Department building from the second-floor apartment. Visitors to the apartment had to be particularly careful before sliding down, lest they land upon the head of a guests visiting the Fire Department below, and sometimes they would have to stand in “pole position” for several minutes waiting for an opportunity to slide. Walt Disney found the delay unacceptable, and rather than have a disappointing attraction in his park, asked that the hole be sealed with wood and cement, carpeted over, and have a safe filled with lead bricks placed upon it, surrounded by electrified barbed wire to help visitors resist the temptation to slide down.

Coming up next: Walt Disney’s apartment

Disneyland Tour: Disneyland Fire Department

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Disneyland Fire Department

Like the other buildings on this side of Main Street, the Disneyland Fire Department is exactly what it appears to be — a real fire department. In Disneyland’s early days, the Fire Department was staffed with actual firemen who would spring to action, hook up their horses, fill the fire engine’s boiler, and race to the scene whenever anything in Disneyland was in danger of burning down (which it generally did before they had a chance to arrive). In the 1990s, in an attempt to increase response time, the Disneyland fire department was moved to a new building behind the Main Street Opera House (where they could be closer to their mascot, “Chief” Animatronic Abe Lincoln). But the old Fire Department building remains on Main Street, and although it is no longer in service, it is still filled with firefighting equipment such as helmets, extinguishers, axes, ladders, jaws of life, and cutting torches that kids are welcome to “play fireman” with.

In addition to being a real firefighting building, the Fire Department once served as the base of operations for the Firehouse Five Plus Two, a Dixieland jazz band composed of moonlighting Disney animators. The band was the third to be formed by Disney employees; its predecessors being the City Hall Three and the Main Street Restrooms Two and Two. The Firehouse Five Plus Two was eventually replaced by the Emporium Six For a Dollar.

Coming up next: Fireman’s Pole

Disneyland Tour: Main Street restrooms

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Main Street restrooms

The Main Street restrooms (technically Disneyland Main Street Town Square West Guest Restrooms M and F) are some of the largest in the park. They’re adorned in turn-of-the-20th-century style, with newfangled flush toilets, lead-pipe plumbing, attendants who will actually smile at a nickel tip, and (for the ladies) corset stands and baby-changing stations with cloth diapers and pins.

When Disneyland first opened in 1955, this location was a small stage on which musical numbers and short humorous skits were performed. The park did not have any restrooms at that time because Walt Disney thought that such base facilities were not “magical” and tended to detract from the park’s overall show. “Nobody comes to Disneyland to go to the bathroom,” he is rumored to have complained, to which his wife is said to have replied, “The park can survive a little reality. Give it a restroom” (from which we get the phrase “give it a rest.”)

Coming up next: Firehouse [check]

Downtown Disney 3D surprise!

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Remember those “magic eye” pictures that were so popular in the 1990s? The ones that, if you stared at them just right, turned from graphic noise into a three-dimensional picture? Well, Ariel — an observant DisneyLies reader — sent us this picture taken from within a Downtown Disney bathroom stall, and guess what she found?

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0836270207/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wordsonus-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0836270207″>magic eye</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=&l=as2&o=1&a=0836270207″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

That’s right –although there really isn’t enough resolution in the photo to do it justice,  it’s clearly one of those magic eye puzzles built right into the pattern on the inside of the bathroom doors!

According to the Ariel, in order to see the image you have to stand (or, if you’re too tall, squat) with your nose just four or five inches from the panel. Then cross your eyes ever so slightly, as if you were trying to focus on something about a foot away on the other side of the door. It helps if you don’t blink and ignore people banging on the door asking what’s going on in there.

In three or four minutes, the surprise picture should appear like magic right before your eyes!

Ariel said that after a little trying she was clearly able to see the image of Mickey Mouse in Sorcerer’s Apprentice garb, standing atop a mountain, commanding the waves below! Just like in Fantasia 2000 3D!

Go ahead and give this a try yourself. If you can’t make it work, you are likely not trying hard enough, are in need of a visit to the optometrist, or are trying this in Florida instead of in California. Let us know what you see!

Disneyland Tour: City Hall

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: City Hall

City Hall is the managerial and administrative guest-facing nerve center of Disneyland. Many guests begin their day here so they can clear up an issue with tickets, because they want to know when and where a certain character can be found, or because they saw the line and thought it was a ride. Guests who think that they should not be made to wait in lines or stopped from cutting in line in front of other guests and should be given a free motorized wheelchair and a private tour guide because they are particularly susceptible to hangnails and other insurmountable physical trauma are also welcome to plead their case at City Hall while crippled children in wheelchairs and older guests who need a pass to help them navigate staircases patiently wait their turn.

Buttons are available at City Hall for guests who are celebrating a special occasion, with messages such as “Happy birthday,” “First visit,” “Family reunion,” “Recovering alcoholic,” “Newlyweds,” “Easily fooled and illiterate,” etc. Buttons commemorating memorable events that occurred in the park such as “Lost my first tooth,” “Just born,” “Possibly abandoned,” and “Was chloroformed in restroom by white slavers who dyed my hair, but Mom recognized my shoes” are also available at no charge. Note that some buttons that had been available at one time have been continued (in particular “Newly paroled,” “Just entered witness protection program,” and “Eisner-Katzenberg ’92”).

“Happy birthday” buttons are by far the most popular, and are available to any guest on one particular day each year (this day varies by guest; contact Disney guest services for details). A guest services cast member will happily write the birthday person’s name on their “Happy birthday” button, using the spelling of their choosing with the limits of good taste. After receiving the button, the lucky birthday boy/girl/fanatic/codger is directed to an ornate phone where he or she will receive a special birthday greeting from Goofy (or, on his day off or after hours, another Disney character such as Figaro, Dopey, or Abraham Lincoln). Guests wearing “Happy birthday” buttons may receive special treatment from cast members, such as birthday greetings, cake and ice cream on the Jungle Cruise, or an opportunity for their parents to purchase a Disney timeshare for a surprising buy-in charge and reasonable-ish annual fee.

City Hall is also the place to go if you lose a child, lose a parent, want to file an official complaint or compliment, or want to complain that you can’t lose your parents and they’re embarrassing you.

Coming up next: Main Street restrooms

Disneyland Tour: The view down Main Street

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: The view down Main Street

Looking down Main Street, it’s impossible not to feel drawn deeper into the park by the majestic majesty of Sleeping Beauty castle. For reasons known only to himself and his psychotherapist, Walt Disney referred to such visually compelling structures as “weenies.”

As originally constructed, Disneyland had a weenie for each land visible from the park’s hub. Fantasyland had the castle, Tomorrowland had a massive moon rocket, Frontierland had the Mark Twain sailing the Rivers of America, and Adventureland had a rock in front of a public restroom. Over the years, only Tomorrowland’s weenie has been updated (currently, the Astro Orbitor obscures the view of the Observatron which replaced the Rocket Jets that blocked the view of the moon rocket that has been replaced with a scale reproduction of itself).

Such tricks of crowd psychology were (and are) very important to Disneyland planning. For example, did you know that:

  • Disney emergency vehicles are slightly off red so as not to induce as much panic.
  • On days when the park is particularly crowded, cast members are required not to yell “Fire!” if there isn’t one and they’re not setting off a cannon.
  • The water in the Rivers of America is dyed red so that when it reflects the sky it appears a calming green.
  • Rooflines are set atop buildings so that guests have to look up to see them.
  • Every cast member has his or her own distinct scent.
  • Churros seen in mirrors may be larger than they appear.

Coming up next: City Hall

Disneyland Tour: Flagpole

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Flagpole

Disneyland’s Main Street flagpole is used for many things, including (but not limited to) keeping the flag from dragging on the ground. There is an interesting story about how Disneyland came to possess this particular flagpole, involving a massive traffic accident, several near deaths, incredible strokes of luck, cunning problem solving, and a hair-raising chase over London rooftops, but this paragraph is already a bit too long.

At the base of the flagpole is a brass plaque on which is transcribed, word for word, Walt Disney’s opening-day dedication speech. It is a beautiful speech, bringing a tear to the eye of any sincere lover of humanity that reads it. The speech also, interestingly, does not mention Hitler even once. Walt Disney, like many men of his era, really, really didn’t like Hitler. That is one of several reasons why Disney saw no reason to mention Hitler in his opening remarks, and why to this day there are no depictions of or references to Hitler anywhere at Disneyland.

Coming up next: The view down Main Street

Disneyland Tour: Hitching post

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Hitching post

Main Street, U.S.A., has a number of elements that are authentic to the time they depict, from century-old railings, to lovingly restored antique machinery, to asphalt made from billion-year-old petroleum, to octogenarian guests. These hitchhiking posts — cast from life masks of real, turn-of-the-century miniature ponies — are an example of just such an attention to detail. They were originally created in 1920 by a blacksmith who went on to fall into despair over bankruptcy brought on by the rise of the automobile and fling himself into the street where he was, ironically, run over by a horse.

The hitching posts on Main Street were in active use for many years, first by guests (until the parking-lot corral was completed), then by Disney Animal Care until they successfully lobbied for a backstage place to keep the horses when the animals weren’t on duty. After that, the posts were used in elaborate Disneyland weddings, in which bride and groom would arrive in separate horse-drawn carriages. Before the ceremony, the couple would dismount and their steeds would be roped to a hitching post so that they didn’t wander about during the nuptials. (This is, by the way, where the phrase “getting hitched” came from — and couples who came together to tie their separate steeds to one post were said to be “tying the knot.”.)

Today, the posts are seldom used for horses, although they are often found useful by parents who have their children on “toddler leashes” and want someplace to fasten the little ones so Mommy and Daddy can have a little grownup souvenir shopping time.

Coming up next: Flagpole

“it’s a small miracle cure”

Monday, March 7th, 2011

When Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction was officially dedicated, Walt Disney himself was on hand to oversee a ceremony in which children poured jugs of water from all the world’s rivers into the attraction’s canal. At the time, this was considered to be a largely symbolic gesture. Little did anyone realize its far-reaching implications.

The science behind what happened next is subtle and complex, so instead of trying to explain it ourselves we present a direct quote from a recent press release by Pluto Minimax, Director of the International Center for Promotion of Complementary and Alternative Medicalish Treatment-Style Interactions to the Fullest Extent Allowed by Law:

In 1966 when Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction opened, its rivers flowed with water taken from the rivers of the world. Each of these waters had its own specific properties and teemed with indigenous bacteria and their resulting waste products. Over the years, water was added to the river to account for loss due to evaporation and splashing, and the attraction has been completely drained several times as part of scheduled refurbishments. However, even when drained a certain amount of the original water clung to the walls of the fiberglass attraction trough, inadvertently mimicking the Korsakoff method of dilution.

The consequence of this is that the water in Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction has, without any conscious guide, become a medicinally active 20C homeopathic dilution of the water from every major river on the planet. Because homeopathic treatments cure those conditions their ingredients cause, the Disney “iasm” 20C preparation should prove to be powerful protection against botulism, cholera, E. coli, dysentery, typhoid, and a whole host of other malaise.

An additional benefit of “iasm” 20C is that, by a 1938 United States law, homeopathic medicines don’t have to go through all the trouble of FDA approval and need not meet any standards for safety or efficacy, so it’s available to start curing guests’ exotic waterborne conditions immediately.

There may be some concern that once the powers of this water are publicized the liquid will quickly be depleted. However, so long as Disneyland continues to add water to the “it’s a small world” system, this natural preparation’s potency will not decrease, but will in fact increase over time.

In a follow-up to this research, calculations are being conducted to discover whether the Submarine Lagoons’ water is ready to be used for its 1960s-era mermaid power.

Although we are intrigued by this announcement, we recommend that you ask Disneyland management’s permission before you begin filling jugs with “it’s a small world” water and giving it to your children.