Archive for the ‘DL Tour’ Category

Disneyland Tour: Emporium dental scene

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Emporium dental scene

Originally, the Emporium was going to be a two-story building with a large shopping area downstairs and a suite of rooms for Walt Disney’s family upstairs. Other projects kept getting in the way of completing the second story, and after Walt Disney passed away the upstairs apartments were abandoned and the second story’s floor removed to increase the Emporium’s air circulation. Several of the rooms had been nearly completed by this point, and portions of them were left intact during the remodeling. They can be seen overhead by Emporium visitors, each decorated as a different scene from typical turn-of-the-century America.

One of the most striking scenes — the dental or “Sweeney Todd” scene — depicts a nicely dressed dentist in his “modern” office approaching a fear-stricken youth with some kind of medieval-torture-device-looking dental implement. This was not an uncommon sight back in those days because pain killers and anesthesia were rare and dentists who wanted to numb their patients generally had to resort to bludgeoning.

At one time Disneyland guests could actually reserve this area for real dental appointments, but the practice was discontinued because the ladder used to reach the “dentist office” was not ADA compliant, and the dentist — although using authentic techniques and operating with historical accuracy — was found to be working under an assumed name with a forged medical degree and a propensity for giggling at the sight of blood.

An interesting bit of trivia: the scenes in the Emporium generate no revenue and are significantly expensive to keep in repair. The maintenance cost came to be known in the industry as “overhead” because the scenes were, in fact, “over everyone’s head.” In addition, although the items in the scenes are not new, they are all for sale. When a guest purchases one of them, a cast member must climb a latter, retrieve the item, and hand it down to another cast member on the sales floor. This is why used items given to someone are often called “hand me downs.”

Coming up next: Autograph book

Disneyland Tour: Emporium windows

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Emporium windows

For many years, every time Disney produced a new feature film, the windows of the Emporium would be redecorated with animated dioramas depicting notable scenes from the film. The practice ended when Disney began to branch out, making a wider variety of films, and the Emporium window dioramas for Pretty Woman caused a bit of an uproar.

Today, the Emporium’s windows contain a mixture of scenes from classic films with displays of current products. For example, pictured here are characters from Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast along with some kind of themed ribbons, or decorations, or jewelry, or overstock items (or something like that).

Coming up next: Emporium dental scene

Disneyland Tour: Emporium

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Emporium

According to the dictionary, the word emporium is “Latin, from Greek emporomos, from emporimonos meaning traveler/trader/bum, from em- en- + poros pour/dump + um huh.” But if you ask Wikipedia, the term “emporia” refers to “trading, exchange, and commerce settlements which unilaterally emerged in north-western parts of central Europe in the sixth, seventh, and part of the fifteenth centuries, and persisted into the fourth century. Also known to the English as ‘boots’, the emporia were stereotypically characterized by their antecedent locations, usually on the shore at the edge of the border of a feature near a kingdom, their lack of internal architectural infrastructure (typically they contained no supporting apparati) and their short-lived nature, since by the year 1000, the emporia had been bodily replaced by the reticular revival of European semi-independent collectivist self-governing towns. Examples of emporia include Qoresvad, Guentowic, Hipesmic, Lamnic, and Dundentic (the role of which in Anglo-Saxon London’s economic viability as part of western Europe remains debated). They have been featured on an episode of Scrubs.

In other words, the Emporium’s a big store.

Coming up next: Emporium windows

Disneyland Tour: Vehicle entrance

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Disneyland Tour: Vehicle entrance

Between the Fire Department and Emporium are large, modern gates cleverly disguised as large, old-fashioned gates. Occasionally, Main Street vehicles can be seen passing off stage through these gates, but observant guests who have both a map and a lick of common sense will notice that the gates appear to lead to the back of the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. This is because all Main Street vehicles (including the trains — as indicated by the obvious tracks leading to the gate) are stored in the Jungle Cruise at night or while being serviced. Guests riding the Jungle Cruise don’t notice the vehicles because they’re mostly only there when it’s dark, and even when they’re stored there during the day, they’re hidden behind trees and such. The horses used to draw some of the vehicles are painted with black-and-white stripes to help them better blend in with their Animatronic brethren.

This may seem like a silly arrangement, but Disneyland is really not that large a place, so many such compromises had to be made. This is why Abe Lincoln can sometimes be faintly heard by those riding Space Mountain, the Frontierland Shooting Exposition stopped using real bullets after several Plaza Gardens Stage performers were accidentally shot, the Hungry Bear Restaurant and Toontown food stands share a kitchen, and Splash Mountain drains into the Haunted Mansion’s basement.

Coming up next: Emporium

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]

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