Archive for April, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Esmeralda

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Esmeralda

Esmeralda — “Disneyland’s original Miss Fortune” — has been a Disneyland favorite since the park opened in (approximately) 1955. She is an Audio-Animatronic device capable of sixteen degrees of motion and fourteen points of temporal astral sensation, letting her divine uncannily accurate fortunes for guests of any age, birth sign, or degree of stubborn skepticism.

When the park opened, Esmeralda would tell fortunes for a penny. Later, when attraction coupons became available, she was an “A” attraction, but difficulties with the primitive forgery-protection devices available at the time (Esmeralda frequently accepted Monopoly money or folded $5 notes as if they were A coupons) led to the return of coin-based fortune-telling services.

Many guests have reported on Esmeralda’s uncanny ability to see into their hearts and predict their futures. A few examples from the many compliment form received by Disneyland Guest Services:

  • “I tried the Esmeralda fortune teller on Main Street and it told me that I am more sensitive than most people realize, I enjoy my hobbies, and I sometimes worry about particular things. All true! How could she possibly have known such deep truths about me?”
  • “Esmeralda said that I would visit a magical place and have a fine time. It even correctly predicted that I was on vacation or was taking time off work or it was a weekend!”
  • “Your Esmeralda machine took my quarter, moved a bit, but then didn’t give me a fortune. I was upset at first, but then nothing of particular note happened for the rest of the day, so it was right!”
  • “My friends told me that if I put a quarter in the fortune telling machine I’d get a piece of card stock with words printed on it — and I did!”
  • “I have to admit that I was skeptical of the Esmeralda machine, but I took a chance anyway. The robot Gypsy output a card that said if I would quit smoking, finally get the guts to ask my long-time live-in girlfriend to marry me, and make a clean break by admitting to my boss that I had been purposefully ‘losing’ some of the form 6A’s from department 12 just to keep my workload down, I would lose my job but then could go home with a clean conscience and find an old lottery ticket under my couch cushion that had numbers I should use on the subsequent week’s Powerball lottery. I did and I won $160 million, which I will invest almost entirely in Disney stock. Thanks!”

A bit of trivia, Esmeralda is so popular that the Gypsy character in Disney’s animated The Hunchback of Notre Dame was named for her.

Coming up next: Mutoscopes

New Disney shorts coming soon! (revised)

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Sorry to report that we made a little mistake yesterday when we reported that Disney had announced a series of all-new short cartoons. We said that the titles of the shorts would be shortened versions of Disney feature film titles, and this is not the case. In fact, it’s such a silly idea that we’re embarrassed not to have questioned it in the first place.

Instead, each of these parody shorts will share the title of a Disney feature film, but with one letter changed. For example, the "a" in "Tangled" is changed to an "i", giving us "Tingled."

Disney hopes that fans will enjoy trying to puzzle out what the original film was and what the parody will be like from its "slightly modified" title and then tune in to see what it’s like. Our revised sources deep within Disney report that titles currently in production include:

  • Alive in Wonderland
  • The Apple Rumpling Gang
  • The Arestocats
  • Atlantis: The Lost Umpire
  • Babes in Boyland
  • Beauty and the Feast
  • The Black Hope
  • Bombi
  • Brother Beer
  • Cabs
  • Candorman
  • Catatouille
  • Chucken Little
  • The Commuter Wore Tennis Shoes
  • The Country Beers
  • Dambo
  • Dolt
  • Dome on the Range
  • Fartasia
  • Fun and Fancy Tree
  • Funding Nemo
  • G-Farce
  • Gong of the South
  • The Great Souse Detective
  • Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Pest of Both Worlds Concert
  • Herbie Rises Again
  • Herbie: Fully Loafed
  • The Honkey’s Uncle
  • Hot Lead and Gold Feet
  • James and the Giant Beach
  • The Jungle Cook
  • Lady and the Cramp
  • Lilo & Snitch
  • The Live Bug
  • The Loon King
  • The Loving Desert
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Poof
  • Mars Feeds Moms
  • Mercules
  • The Mighty Docks
  • Milan
  • The Million Dollar Deck
  • Mobsters, Inc.
  • The Nightmaze Before Christmas
  • Old Teller
  • Operation Dumbo Drip
  • Pantasia 2000
  • The Parent Wrap
  • Pele’s Dragon
  • The Pocketeer
  • The Princess and the Grog
  • Punocchio
  • Robin Food
  • A Rug’s Life
  • Sandleshoe
  • The Sappiest Millionaire
  • The Shaggy Hog
  • The Sigh of Zorro
  • Sinderella
  • Sister Ace
  • Snow Whine and the Seven Dwarfs
  • The Strongest Fan in the World
  • Sweeping Beauty
  • That Yarn Cat!
  • The Three Limes of Thomasina
  • Tingled
  • Toe Story
  • Ton of Flubber
  • Toon: Legacy
  • Troy
  • Ug
  • Unidentified Frying Oddball
  • WALL-I
  • Wary Poppins

Did we miss any? If you’ve heard of any additional titles in this series (or if you hear that we got one wrong), be sure to immediately let us know in the comments!

Disneyland Tour: Penny Arcade

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Penny Arcade

Named for silent movie star Penny Arcade (sister of Crystal Arcade), Main Street’s Penny Arcade was originally home for many coin-operated diversions from days of yore. These included various mutoscopes, “love” and “strength” testers, pinball machines (the kind with real pins), and such classic mechanical amusements as Ping Pong, Pac-Gentleman, Street Brawler, Perilous Combat, Mule Ape, Cannonball Command, Automatron 1984, Pencipede, Turncoat Hunter, Aether Invaders, Luna Lander, Bicycle Newsie, Celebrated Jumping Frogger, Waltz Waltz Revolution, Penultimate Fantasy, Jug Band, Grand Theft Velocipede, and Super Sacco and Vanzetti Brothers.

Years later, the adjacent Candy Palace expanded during the middle of the night as part of a hostile takeover action, annexing much of the Penny Arcade’s floor and wall space for the sale of taffy and Goofy Candy Company merchandise. At first, these new items were all sold for a penny to help them better fit with the remaining penny entertainments, but this policy was adjusted when it was made clear that the park was losing millions of dollars a day by selling candy at below cost, and that increasing sales volume was unlikely to solve the problem.

Coming up next: Esmeralda

New Disney shorts coming soon!

Monday, April 11th, 2011

To the joy of all, Disney has announced that beginning this summer it will be running all-new short cartoons between main features on the Disney Channel. Each of these shorts will be a parody of a Disney feature film with a "short-ened" name — that is, each short’s title will be the title of a Disney film with one or more characters removed. For example, "Tangled" loses its first letter and becomes "Angled."

Disney hopes that fans will enjoy trying to puzzle out what the original film was and what the parody will be like from its "short" title and then tune in to see what it’s like. Our sources deep within Disney report that titles currently in production include:

  • 20,000 Legs Under the Sea
  • Angled
  • The Apple Dumping Gag
  • Babs in Toyland
  • The Back Cauldron
  • Beauty and the Beat
  • Bedknobs and Boomsticks
  • The Black Hoe
  • Blackbard’s Ghost
  • Bot
  • Brother Ear
  • A Bug’s Lie
  • Chanted
  • Chick Lit
  • The Computer Wore Ten Shoes
  • Condoman
  • The County Bars
  • Darby O’Gill and the Little Pope
  • Davy Rockett, Kin of the Wild Frontier
  • Dumb
  • The Emperor’s New Grove
  • Escape to Itch Mountain
  • Fatasia
  • Fay Friday
  • Finding Emo
  • Fun and Fancy Fee
  • The Great Muse Detective
  • The Haggy Dog
  • Herbie Goes Baaa
  • Home on the Rage
  • Hot Lad and Old Feet
  • The Hunted Mason
  • The Incredible Joey
  • The Inedibles
  • The Ion King
  • The Island at the Top of the Word
  • James and the Giant Pea
  • The Jung Book
  • Lady and the Trap
  • Lice in Wonderland
  • The Lite Mermaid
  • Liver & Company
  • The Man Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • The Mare For Christ
  • Melody Tim
  • Met the Robinsons
  • The Million Doll Duck
  • The Money’s Uncle
  • Natal Treasure
  • The Nom-Mobile
  • The Ox and the Hound
  • Oy, I Shrunk the Kids
  • Pates of the Caribbean
  • Peter Pa
  • Pets Dragon
  • The Princess and the Fog
  • The Princess Dares
  • Rare Island
  • The Reluctant Rag
  • The Rent Rap
  • The Rocker
  • Ron
  • The Santa Case
  • The Sin of Zorro
  • Snow White and the Even Dwarfs
  • So Dear to My Heat
  • Son of Lubber
  • Song of the Sot
  • Squato: A Warrior’s Ale
  • The Strongest Ma in the World
  • The Tiger Movie
  • Treasure Plant
  • The Tree Caballeros
  • Tron: Lacy
  • U
  • Unidentified Lying Oddball
  • Urn from Itch Mountain
  • Victory Through AI Power
  • WALL
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbi
  • The Word in the Stone

Did we miss any? If you’ve heard of any additional titles in this series (or if you hear that we got one wrong), be sure to immediately let us know in the comments!

Disneyland Tour: Green elephant

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Green elephant

At the back of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor is a five-foot by four-foot green, glass elephant. The elephant — named Penny because it was originally filled with hundreds of dollars worth of 1943 copper pennies — was originally the property of Disneyland Paris but was sold to Disneyland as part of a huge “garage sale” intended to help the European park excise some of its mounting debt.

When Tarzan’s Tree House was being constructed, a cast of Penny was taken and used to create an animatronic baby elephant that was placed beneath Tarzan’s tree. It was subsequently moved to the Jungle Cruise after several incidents in which guests mistook the animatronic baby for Penny and attempted to insert coins into it.

Guests often ask what a green glass elephant has to do with ice cream, but are often too afraid of looking stupid to ask cast members about it. This is how something that stands out but nobody wants to talk about came to be known as “the elephant in the room.”

Update: We have been informed that the elephant is not actually named Penny. Apparently, it is named “Lucy” because it is not made of glass but of lucite. Also, it wasn’t purchased from Disneyland Paris, but was a green “white elephant” gift to Disney from an Arab sheik.

Update: A further correction has been received, letting us know that the elephant is named neither Penny nor Lucy, but “Holly” because it’s hollow, and it wasn’t a gift to Disney, it was a gift from Disney — namely an anniversary gift from Walt to his wife Lillian, which she couldn’t find room for around the house and subsequently donated to Disneyland.

Update: It turns out that it wasn’t the elephant that was an anniversary gift, but rather a petrified tree (which we’ll talk about in a future entry). Also, it was indeed filled with pennies, and its name was “Abe” because of them, implying that it’s also a boy. And it’s a plastic replica of the original, not lucite.

Update: Sorry — it’s the Indian on Main Street that’s a duplicate, not the elephant. The elephant in the Gibson Girl is indeed the original, and according to an expert who contacted us, it’s glass, was filled with pennies, is a girl, was transferred (not purchased) from Disneyland Paris, and is named Penny (not because it was filled with pennies but because it used to be in the Penny Arcade), but it’s technically not green — it’s opalescent blue-green.

Update: Our elephant-related mail box is full. You’re officially welcome to stop writing to us about this page now.

Coming up next: Penny Arcade

Disneyland Tour: Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor was originally named in honor of the women popularized in drawings by artist Charles Dana Gibson in the early 20th century. But soon after the park opened, the Gibson Appliance company offered to sponsor the Parlor, providing a number of its famous ice boxes for the storage of ice cream. When the ice boxes began to fall into disfavor (due to the increasing difficulty in obtaining huge blocks of ice), the descendents of Orville Gibson offered to sponsor the Parlor, necessitating the addition of the first part of the Gibson Guitar brand name to the Parlor’s moniker. But the association of guitars and ice cream never really clicked with guests, leading to a brief “sister city” sponsorship with Gibson, Iowa, that ended when cowboy-film star Hoot Gibson offered to donate a sum of money to the park in exchange for the Parlor being rechristened in his name. That sponsorship lasted until 1990, when actor Mel Gibson — flush with success from his recent adaptation of Hamlet — decided to use some of his profits from that film to have the Parlor’s name changed to honor his daughter. When Mel Gibson’s reputation started to, shall we say, go down hill, Disney expressed an interest in breaking their relationship. This might have led to a lengthy legal battle had author William Gibson and astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson not decided to join forces and purchase the contract from Mel Gibson, asking Disney to return the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor to its original name and styling. And thus it remains to this day.

Gibson Girl is famous for offering unusual flavors of ice cream. For many years, you could purchase “Fantasia” ice cream here — a Neapolitan-style treat with stripes of ice cream flavored to honor Fantasia stars Leopold Stokowski, Mickey Mouse, and Chernabog (the flavor was discontinued in 2004 because it was, though fascinating, frankly kind of disgusting). During appropriate holidays, Gibson Girl might feature seasonal flavors such as gingerbread, candy cane, Peeps, candy heart, shamrock, pumpkin, mincemeat, apple pie, barbecue, and Martin Luther King.

Coming up next: Green elephant

Disneyland Tour: Blue Ribbon Bakery

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Blue Ribbon Bakery

When it originally opened, the Blue Ribbon Bakery carried nothing but baked goods that had been awarded blue ribbons by nonpartisan state bakery judge officials. Unfortunately, the time it took to judge each item as it was baked proved to be inconveniently high, resulting in many items not being available to customers until they were well past their recommended “sell by” date. It was decided that the restaurant’s policy would be changed such that only recipies that had won blue ribbons would be used, but that the actual foodstuffs themselves were on their own.

In 1986, one of the Blue Ribbon Bakery’s chefs came up with the idea for “dough-center cookies” that were still raw in the middle, with the intent of delighting those who enjoyed cookies but also liked to eat raw chocolate-chip-cookie dough. The cookies proved popular, but unfortunately led to a number of cases of minor food poisoning due to their ingredients including a certain amount of uncooked eggs. The cookies attained Edsel-level fame after that, and they are in fact where the phrase “a half-baked idea” comes from.

Coming up next: Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

Disneyland Tour: Carnation restrooms

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Carnation restrooms

The restrooms discreetly hidden behinds the Carnation Café are simple, elegant affairs, decorated with an air of unpretentious quality and class. In keeping with the park’s relaxed, tourist-friendly atmosphere, they are black-tie optional.

As indicated by their gender-indicating signs, this location has facilities available for gentlemen and ladies only. Animals, children, slobs, and the generally rude or uncouth are explicitly unwelcome. No solicitors.

Coming up next: Blue Ribbon Bakery

Disneyland Tour: Carnation Café

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Carnation Café

The Carnation Café is a restaurant specializing in sandwiches, soups, and salads made with locally grown carnations. It is unique among Disneyland restaurants in that it is the only table-service restaurant without a roof (which is why some aficionado scallywags refer to it as “the topless restaurant on Main Street”).

Here’s a trivia question you can try on your friends who claim to be Disneyland experts: Can you list the eight Disneyland restaurants that have an accent in their name? Answer:

  • Carnation Café
  • Bengal Barbecü
  • Café Orleans
  • Blü Bayou
  • Stage Door Café
  • Village Haüs Restaurant
  • Tíki Juice Bar
  • Rédd Røçkett’s Pïzza Pœrt

(Note that the Bedouin Bakery — commonly misspelled with an accent — not only doesn’t have an accent, but it’s in DCA, not Disneyland.)

Coming up next: Carnation restrooms

Disneyland Tour: Custom watches

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Custom watches

At this desk, Disney artists create customized watches for guests who are willing to pay a little more to have a timepiece created to their specifications. Customization options include:

  • Size : micro, mini, women’s, men’s, pocket, bedside, rapper, grandfather
  • Case : in a variety of styles and materials (e.g. silver, gold, copper, platinum, radium, teak, and ancient petrified Frontierland redwood)
  • Works : battery powered, wound, self-winding, solar, fuel cell, atomic, or hybrid (with a selection of gear types and arrangements)
  • Hands : in more than two thousand styles, including equal-length, backwards-running, and made-of-string
  • Face : any text you desire within the limits of taste and intellectual property law, and your choice of Disney character or characters in the position of your choice drawn (whenever possible) by the animator that made that character famous on the big screen
  • Number style : Roman, Arabic, binary, hexadecimal, Atlantian, invisible, or braille, in any font desired (other than the Disney Corporate Font©)
  • Cover: plastic, glass, crystal, or diamond; hinged or unhinged; in a rainbow of colors from completely clear to goth-friendly impenetrable black
  • Band : cloth, kevlar, or any of a variety of leathers (cowhide, goat, calf, kid, snake, alligator, lizard, muppet, duck)
  • Presentation : bagged, boxed, gift wrapped, framed, misplaced

Depending on the options chosen, production time for a custom timepiece varies from as little as 30 minutes to as much as forever.

Coming up next: Carnation Café