Archive for the ‘DL Tour’ Category

Disneyland Tour: Candy Palace

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Candy Palace

In terms of customers per square foot, Disneyland’s Candy Palace has been the most popular shop on Main Street since the interactive Intimate Apparel Shop closed in 1956. It often has to stay open up to two hours longer than the rest of the park just to deal with the massive press of customers who can’t even comprehend leaving the park for the day without some handmade peanut brittle, a bar of chocolate, or a giant Lollypop-Guild-style lollypop (even though the Lollypop Guild was in The Wizard of Oz which isn’t even a Disney film).

Guests standing beneath the Candy Palace’s awning may notice the subtle scent of peppermint or vanilla. This scent is piped in from gigantic tanks of compressed scent back stage and helps give the Candy Palace’s regular guests their bright aura of joyful, nostalgic addiction. People noticing this scent and wondering where it came from led to guests saying that around the Candy Palace something wonderful was “in the air” — giving birth to the popular phrase.

Coming up next: Candy Palace chef

Disneyland Tour: Penny Arcade jukebox

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Penny Arcade jukebox

This original 1853 Wurlitzer jukebox sits at the back of the Penny Arcade, completely functional but little used. It is activated by the insertion of a penny and the pressing of buttons “A” and “1” to indicate which of the jukebox’s one available song should be played. The jukebox has all four of its original music rolls available for installation by cast members, for a total of eight songs if the rolls’ “b sides” (which sound quite a bit like the “a sides” with their notes reversed) are counted.

Coming up next: Candy Palace

Disneyland Tour: Fakemeralda

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Fakemeralda

The Penny Arcade’s “Fakemeralda” machine is an electronic embarrassment — an attempt to update the original Esmeralda with electronics and disco lights. The effect is cold, artificial, and lifeless; the fortunes inexact and woodenly constructed.

As an experiment, we obtained fortunes from both Esmeralda and Fakemeralda. They can be summarized as follows:

Esmeralda: You are a special individual with hopes and dreams that you keep to yourself but dearly wish to see fulfilled. You have the capacity for great love even though you don’t always show it, and enrich the lives of those who place their trust in you. Today, you will experience clouds in the morning, leading to sunshine in the evening. There is $117.43 in your pocket. Your lucky lottery numbers are 14 12 62 41 6 28.

Fakemeralda: I am Eliza. How do you do. Please state your problem. Your fortune? You seem to be quite positive. Is it because you are that you came to me? Wikipedia defines “you” as a female, quadrupedal, ruminant mammal typically kept as livestock. The third digit of pi is 12.

Coming up next: Penny Arcade jukebox

Disneyland Tour: Pressed pennies (and other coins)

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Pressed pennies (and other coins)

Throughout Disneyland can be found “press a penny” machines that extrude U.S. currency into jolly Disneyland souvenirs in defiance of common sense, the laws of physics, and several Treasury Department statutes. The original Pressed Penny machines require the insertion of a penny to be mangled along with a pair of quarters to pay for the service. The penny is returned with a design of the guest’s choice imprinted on Lincoln’s monstrously elongated face.

The popularity of these novelty devices led to “press a quarter” machines (pictured here) that require the insertion of a quarter to be entertainingly devalued along with a pair of fifty-cent pieces to pay for the service. In 2001, Disneyland tested “press a Sacagawea” machines in which a dollar coin and two two-dollar bills were inserted, but these proved unpopular, as did “press a dollar” machines in which paper dollars were pressed to little visible effect.

In many places in the United States, pennies are considered good luck. Because of this, the original Disneyland devices came to be known as “press your luck” machines, giving birth to the popular phrase.

Interesting note: If you ask really nicely and/or have a hissy fit, pressed coins are acceptable as legal tender anywhere on Disneyland property.

Coming up next: Fakemeralda

Disneyland Tour: Mutoscopes

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Mutoscopes

Despite their cool-sounding name, mutoscopes don’t actually mutate anything, much to the disappointment of Calvin, Hobbes, and related small children. In fact, the only thing at Disneyland capable of causing mutations were the old x-ray machines you could put your head in to see how well your Mickey Mouse hat fit, and Tomorrowland’s iconic “glow churros,” both of which have been discontinued.

When activated by the insertion of a penny and the turn of a crank, mutoscopes flip through a series of photographs giving the illusion of a moving picture, much like big, iron, black-and-white flip books, but with a much higher construction cost and less resistance to rust. Disneyland’s mutoscopes feature films by Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Hopalong Cassidy, Ronald Regan, and other silent-era stars that mean as much to today’s youth as 78s, dime novels, and, well, mutoscopes.

In Disneyland’s early days, some guests complained that they spent a penny only to see a “lame little film” when they turned the crank. This is where the phrase “a turn for the worse” came from.

Coming up next: Pressed pennies (and other coins)

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

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

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