To all who come to this happy blog...
Friday, December 5, 2008
To all who come to this happy blog...
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Sorry for the slow posting this past week, but Thanksgiving and shifts at the Park have kept me off the computer.
Did I mention I am a Disneyland Cast Member again after 21 years?
If I didn't,
BACK in the Jungle.
I'm sure I'll have more to talk about...
...though a lot of the stuff I know is now suddenly "confidential" because I am once again a Disney employee.
Oh, and, by the way, it is simply great to be back.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Snow lovers: stick between the buildings on Main Street for your best viewing and participation. The snow drops daily at 7:30 p.m. and once again after the fireworks show.
Pedestrian traffic alert: the Hub.
With Fantasmic erupting nightly at 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., a 6:30 p.m. Christmas parade, 7:30 p.m. "snow" and 9:25 p.m. fireworks show ("Believe in Holiday Magic"), the Hub area in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle becomes...
...shall we say...
...busy. Guests are directed through a one-way traffic flow system that goes counterclockwise around the outside of the Hub (the brick walkways). Fireworks viewing is in the middle of the street, in front of the castle and down Main Street. Arrive early for a spot or enjoy marching around the Hub with 15,000 of your closest and dearest new friends.
Small World's open, too. It is decked out for the holidays and has new boats. Most of it has remained true to its original self---at least what we can see so far. Enjoy!
There's more to follow on the whole me skippering a Jungle boat thing.
Heck, I may take one of them out for a spin tonight!
Love and joy come to you!
And don't forget the wassail. Make mine a double.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Christmas officially arrived at Disneyland recently as well, with the big tree now up in Town Square and decorations everywhere else. The official parades and fireworks are scheduled to kick off on November 21, 2008, as I recall.
The Christmas music on Main Street is cool and does help set the scene, though I must admit it was a surreal scene during last weekend's fires in nearby Corona/Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills/Brea. A huge plume of black smoke and ash covered Disneyland last Saturday, literally blocking out the sun for most of the day. As I stood on Main Street I listened to Christmas music while baking in a hot Santa Ana (Santana) Wind and watching ashes rain down. There's a Southern California holiday scene for you.
Over on the Jungle Cruise, as our boat came round the bend into the Elephant Pool, I felt like we were in Apocalypse Now. The sky was orange-grey, ash was falling like we'd been napalmed and dense smoke surrounded us. I half expected to stumble upon Marlon Brando sitting in the tent with the gorillas and the overturned Jeep.
What made it most interesting, 101 fans, was that I was skippering the boat.
More on that later.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
There's not much to say these days.
We could talk about Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.
But what would we do when those fourteen seconds were up?
Perhaps our time would be better suited mourning the passing of Circle Vision.
This lovely attraction provided a fabulous 360-degree motion picture tour of the United States (and, later, China). It was air conditioned. It took a good number of guests out of the Park.
Or the loss of America Sings or the Carousel of Progress to Innoventions? Ack. Pphhhphth.
I've heard that the Peoplemover may be making a come back, but I'm not making any promises.
That would be a step.
Putting the Rocket Jets back where they belong would be good, too.
Updating the Star Tours attraction after 21+ years would be a nice touch. (I think we've attacked the Death Star enough already!).
A little more white paint on the buildings and perennials in the flower beds would go quite a ways.
Oh, I don't know, it'd be nice to ride the Skyway again.
At least we have (or are trying to have) a new Monorail. Hope they finish getting the bugs out. Funny, the other ones worked fine for over 50 years! Leave it to the 2008 model to be a clunker.
Mission to Mars? Okay, I'll give 'em that one. Why not stick Mission Space in its place? Beats a dirty, smelly old Pizza Planet any day.
Give us some primary colors on the Autopia.
My now familiar rant is now over for today.
Pax vobiscum, my friends.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The drink is cool and green, and comes with a cherry or two.
I could try to describe the flavor to you.
But I would fail to do it justice.
For whatever reason, from my very first mint julep, I have loved them.
I seek them out on almost every trip to the Park.
I love the little counter where they are served.
I love the canopy that spreads out like a fan over the French Market dining area.
I love the little song stage there where Dixieland Jazz bands play.
I love this corner of New Orleans Square.
I miss deeply those warm summer evenings in the days before Fantasmic,
when the West Side would slow down,
when the candles on the tables would glow,
when the Mark Twain would round the bend,
resplendent with lighted decks,
and a when a jazz ensemble would play to the guests seated around their small stage.
You folks who "get it" know what I mean.
As for everyone else: sorry there's no "wayback machine" for us to jump into for a spin. Nevertheless, you can still get a mint julep.
At least that's a start.
And jazz bands still appear on that little stage.Take a moment the next time you're in New Orleans Square and there's a jazz band playing,
sit down at the French Market.
Sip a julep and take a listen.
I'll wager that you'll find it's good for the soul.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
That never stopped me before!
To the right you will see (in absolutely no particular order), some classic mid-1980s pictures.
We shall begin with a photo taken behind Main Street (with the old Administration and Wardrobe Building seen in the background). We find Sleeping Beauty wide awake with her Prince on a rather unconventional carriage. [Thanks to Trish Gunzel for originally posting this photo of herself and Erik Gradias]. I offer this photograph because, though I never knew either of them personally, I saw them in the Christmas parade almost daily (when I worked Main Street) AND because I love the fact that old "Backstage" Main Street is shown in the photo. The dark squares located just above the parked cars and along the face of the beige Admin building are the windows where I would go to drop off my costume and pick up a fresh, clean one before my next shift. Ah, Wardrobe. Nothing like a crisp, clean set of custodial whites or the hideous orange of a Tiki Room polyester Hawaiian shirt!
Similarly, I offer the next photograph (with thanks to Bruce Nelson who posted it originally)---not because I ever personally met or knew "Paula"---("Miss Bear Country 1986"), but because I sat at the table on which she is posing many, many times during my breaks when I worked in Custodial in New Orleans/Bear Country. I think those same vending machines are STILL there! Some things at Disneyland never change. Besides, the photo also brings back fond memories of the Country Bear Jamboree and the costumes worn by the cast members who worked there in the 1980s.
Our next photograph shows a fellow Jungle skipper (Ed Pace) and his friend (Patrice Millard) [my thanks to Ed Pace for originally posting and sharing this photo!] in 1980s attire at the helm of a Jungle boat parked at the dock. You can see the costume we skippers wore back then. Love the leopard hat band! You can also see the gloriously colorful canopies and cushions that adorned our boats. Ed's costume is identical to the one I wore almost every day during my Jungle shifts.
I knew Curt Visca, the sweeper shown in our next photograph, at around the time this picture was taken. I love how the picture shows the old entrance to Pirates, along with the hostess' attraction costume from back then. [My sincere thanks to the fantastic Sandi Miller---who took tons of photos over the years!---for originally posting and sharing this picture]. I also like the old trash can and the Swiss Family Treehouse, which you can just make out in the background. This was photo was taken long before the "bridge" that now crosses over the queue to the Pirates main entrance.
We will close out today's "Memory Lane" post with a shot taken at the old Coke Terrace or Tomorrowland Terrace. I actually knew Tammy Irwin---pictured here with two of her co-workers, as she also worked with a friend of mine from school at the Terrace. Dig the cool, red Coke costumes! Better still---that register sure doesn't look "digital." Tomorrowland Terrace had not yet met Buzz Lightyear---or his horrific color scheme---and still had some groovy, Mary Blair-esque tiles in its decor! By the way, according to the menu board in the background, you could buy a Moon Burger for $2.15 or a Space Burger for $1.95. Nowadays, you won't see "$4.50" as your register total unless you're buying a churro or something.
Children of the '80's, UNITE!
You have nothing to lose but your big hair, headbands and Reeboks!***
***---with apologies to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The event comes at a time when it looks like the 2009 economy will be a gaping, smoking crater. Getting ANYTHING for free next year will sure sound good to a LOT of people, I'm sure.
You have probably heard about the promotion where Disney will pay for three days at WDW if you cover the first four. How's that for a promotion? Earlier this year, they offered to pay for our meal plan if we booked a Disney World trip. Have they gone insane? Disney, giving away money?
Something tells me we're in for a bumpy economic ride. Disney's offering steep discounts means we have all crossed over into the economic equivalent of The Twilight Zone. There's the signpost up ahead...
Friday, November 7, 2008
Nestled above the Riverbelle Terrace, at the intersection of Frontierland, Adventureland and New Orleans Square, are the manager's offices for Adventure/Frontier and New Orleans/"Critter" Country. A small conference room sits behind the second story porch pictured above---or at least it used to in the 1980s. Given that things "back stage" don't change much at the Park, I'll bet you the conference room remains.
After ducking behind a large door near the Bengal Barbeque, Adventure/Frontier cast members would make their way to a narrow staircase and up to a break area/porch. A door at the far end of this small porch led to the offices.
On rainy, cold days, a dash upstairs into the cozy office for a styrofoam cup of mediocre coffee was a small slice of heaven.
The Area Managers who worked there had their hands full with the wacky crews at Jungle and Thunder Mountain (and probably still do). It was cool to be upstairs and look out the curtained windows at the crowd along the Rivers of America.
I envied those managers.
They had radios.
They got to wear civilian clothes.
They always had an earpiece.
They looked like CIA and Secret Service all wrapped up in one.
They got called in for all the exciting stuff: an injury in the area, an attraction shutdown, a VIP in the Park, etc.
They were Disney cool.
When one of them stepped onto your Jungle boat, you prayed that the S.O.P. ("Standard Operating Procedure") version of your spiel would pour easily from your mouth---without accidentally letting out a non-approved joke.
Well, that is today's "remember when" cast member snippet.
Today's post has been brought to you by "Jungle Is 101," where dreams really do come true, if only occasionally and with some additives and preservatives.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Bring back Mr. Lincoln.
A truly classic attraction has been mothballed for far too long now at Disneyland.
Ostensibly removed "temporarily" so that its theater could be used for a showing of a film involving Disneyland's 50th anniversary (ahem, three years ago!), Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln has yet to return.
Abe never goes out of style. Indeed, whatever your politics, Mr. Lincoln has been called back into service by our president-elect, Barack Obama, and we can expect to see several more references to him as we press toward the inauguration, I'm sure.
Too many of our young students are unaware of the person who is quite possibly our greatest President ever.
The Lincoln attraction provided a historical context and a three-dimensional view of a President who would otherwise sit voiceless on pennies and five dollar bills. Walt Disney loved Lincoln and the Lincoln exhibit had Walt written all over it. The detail, the patriotism, the elegance---it was a pure and simple tribute to a great man.
For now, Lincoln has left the building. Sure, you can still catch him in Florida at the Hall of Presidents, but that leaves the entire West (Left) Coast without an opportunity to experience this attraction. Young and old alike would be well served to have Abe back in action at the Opera House at Disneyland.
This, of course, reminds me of another story.
The story of the cone.
And poor Honest Abe.
In the mid-1980s (aren't all my stories from then?) a certain sweeper was famous for pranks and shenanigans. No, it was not me. I was way too "S.O.P." (Standard Operating Procedure) for that.
Anyhow, this sweeper friend of ours was the kind of guy who would, after hours, somehow make his way into the Submarine lagoon and come out with a fish or other memento (seriously).
He was the one who led the "choir practice" at America Sings.
If you got hit with a water balloon backstage on a hot day...this is the guy you would first suspect.
He was always up to something, but was good at covering his tracks. To my knowledge, he was never caught.
He found himself a nice orange parking lot cone one day while he was working a sweeping assignment on Main Street.
The joy of custodial is that, with our sweeper whites, we were pretty much able to go most anywhere in the Park and not appear out of place. Try doing that in a Pirates costume (the striped socks and floppy hat were dead giveaways). This included the "back areas" of attractions.
Sweepers would buddy up with attraction operators, or, better yet, with attractions maintenance personnel. They would learn where to get in and how to safely access "backstage" areas.
Our friend with the parking lot cone had such prized knowledge---and an intent to use it.
He stole away back stage at Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln between shows.
He placed the bright orange cone on the head of the Lincoln audioanimatronic figure as it was seated in its chair.
He then left the premises.
The young female ride operator followed guests into the theater for the next performance.
She gave her welcome and safety spiel into the microphone as the stage remained curtained.
After reminding guests of the ever-present prohibition against flash photography, she welcomed them to enjoy "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" and hit the show's start button.
The music queued up.
As did the narrator.
After all the intros, the fanfare blared and the curtain raised elegantly and majestically,
revealing Mr. Lincoln's feet and legs as he was seated in his chair.
It raised further to reveal his torso and neat black suit.
Finally, it raised above his head.
The audience (and the ride operator) were presented with our 16th President, seated in his beautiful antique chair, wearing a coat and tails.
And an orange parking lot cone.
Probably not the "Great Moment" everyone was expecting,
but yet another great moment in the history of sweeper pranks.
The show was stopped, I hear, and the cone removed.
I think the young ride operator is still laughing.
If you were part of the audience, I'm willing to bet that you've never forgotten that show either.
Monday, November 3, 2008
2007, I believe, but the year matters little.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
During parades and the evening fireworks show, a small army of Disneyland cast members is called into action in order to keep the crowd moving (and safe).
In today's Park, the area around Main Street is changed into a pedestrian traffic flow system by means of ropes, poles and cast members.
If you are a guest visiting the Park in the time before an evening parade or the fireworks show (presently scheduled on Friday - Sunday, at approximately 9:25 p.m.), you will encounter this system.
You will be made a part of it.
You see, for safety purposes alone, an unobstructed pathway leading from the West Side of the Park to the East Side (and Central First Aid) is mandatory. At the "Hub" (the circular park at the top of Main Street directly in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle---for those new to Disneyland), a pedestrian crossing is set up about an hour to an hour and a half before the evening festivities scheduled start time.
The main pedestrian crossing runs from the Frontierland entrance, across the street, across the top half of the walkway located in the center of the Hub (i.e., right in front of the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey), across the street on the Tomorrowland side of the Hub and to the entrance of Tomorrowland.
Before and during the fireworks, cast members assigned to parade duty will put up the ropes and poles that delineate this pathway across the Hub. They will also move the green benches and make them into parade seating or use them to form the outer edge of the walkway.
If you are seated anywhere along the top half of the central planter in the Hub (where the Partners statue is located), you WILL be asked to move to another location.
No one is permitted to sit in this area prior to the fireworks show.
Is this because Disney wants to ruin your family's day at the Park?
Is it because your personal rights are of no consequence within a Disney theme park?
Is it because Disney cast members just KNEW you had traveled all the way from _________ (fill in state, city, county or country location of choice here), had actually paid to get into the park (you're kidding!), and had found the "perfect" seat, but (said cast members) simply could not resist the overwhelming urge to harass you and your family AND ask you to move?
Each of these reasons seems more than plausible.
But, nevertheless they do not quite trump the REAL reason for the imposition: having an unobstructed means of egress through a crowd of 10,000 to 25,000 people bunched along Main Street.
You see, dear Guest, if you and your family are permitted to sit in this pathway,
you become an embolism,
in a traffic artery.
Like plaque in a vein, you constrict the vital flow of humanity through this narrow passage.
And, if your group of four or five is permitted to sit there, the next group that comes along is going to want to sit there with you.
And so on.
It's like the children's book If You Give A Moose A Muffin.We'll call our version: If You Give A Guest The Seat They Demand At The Hub.
It goes like this:
If you give a Guest a spot to sit in a pedestrian walkway,
they'll ask if their 20 friends can sit with them.
And if you let their 20 friends sit there,
they'll want to sit there with their kids' strollers.
If they sit there with their kids' strollers,
their kids will probably want to get out of them.
If the kids get out of them,
they'll probably want to wander and play in the middle of the nearby walkway.
And if they wander and play in the walkway,
they'll probably get trampled by the pedestrians bulling through there.
If the kids get trampled,
they'll probably need medical assistance.
And if they need medical assistance,
someone will have to call 911.
If someone calls 911,
a paramedic crew will be dispatched.
And, if they are dispatched,
they are going to want to get to the injured person(s).
If they want to get to the injured person(s),
they are going to want to bring a wheelchair or a stretcher across the crowd at Main Street.
If all the people on Main Street are permitted to sit wherever the heck they please,
there'll probably be no room on Main Street for anyone to move.
If no one can move,
the paramedics can't move.
If the paramedics can't move,
they can't get to the trampled children to help them.
If they can't help the trampled children,
the children might not survive.
If they don't survive,
their families will be upset.
If they are upset,
they will stand up from their seats along the walkway to be near their children.
When they do,
they will completely block the walkway so that absolutely no one can move.
If no one can move,
no one will be able to see the fireworks show.
If no one can see the show,
they will get mad and storm out of Disneyland.
If they all storm out,
many other people will get trampled on Main Street.
And the paramedics won't be able to get to them either.
[With apologies to Laura Numeroff].
Besides, even if you were somehow permitted to sit in the walkway, you really wouldn't enjoy it.
Of course, you might be the type who enjoys sitting down while an endless flow of people and cast members walk, crowd and/or stand directly in front of you, obstructing your view.
If so, I'm guessing you are in a very small (and definitely misguided) minority.
If not, here's a helpful hint from Heloise for those who want to plop at the top of the Hub for fireworks:
You know, Main Street, by it's very name, is a STREET!
From the Hub, through the Plaza, down the middle and all the way around Town Square, you and your family will find an almost infinite variety of seating possibilities.
And try them well BEFORE the parade or fireworks are scheduled to start.
No, you are NOT going to walk onto Main Street at 9:24 p.m. and plop down in front of that nice family who scoped out a fabulous viewing location AN HOUR AGO!
Sure, an amazing number of you will rudely try.
Good luck with that.
Oh, and as for you, the family who scoped out the great seats and have waited patiently for an hour to see the fireworks (or parade)...
you have my permission to do what you must to get those "late arrivers" to move elsewhere.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
He left the employ of this great company in a style so uniquely "Jungle," that I felt obliged to share it with you.
His exit---quite literally by the way---involves the recently departed Aladdin show (whose back stage entrance shared the narrow "break area" where Jungle Skippers lounged and/or clocked in or out for their shifts).
In the show, the "Cave of Wonders" (depicted above) played a role, as did a certain old lamp.
From the lamp, of course, appeared the Genie, who added comic relief to the show. Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie had prominent roles in front of a small audience seated quite near the stage area. This photograph shows you what I mean.
Anyhow...it seems our Jungle Skipper hatched a plan for his final departure. He enlisted an accomplice to videotape his exploits and stationed the accomplice in the Aladdin show's audience.
I have not seen the tape, but the legend goes that, during the show, and to the complete shock and surprise of its leading stars, the Skipper burst from the mouth of the Cave of Wonders, grabbed the Genie's lamp, held it aloft and loudly announced to the audience:
"This piece belongs in a museum!" (ala Indiana Jones).
The Skipper then dashed toward the exit, holding high the lamp, and burst from the scene---to the continued shock of our Aladdin show cast members. [By the way, the cast apparently failed to ad lib or go along with this interruption and were later, according to legend, reprimanded by Disney for failing to play along].
Not sure where the Skipper went after that, but word is that the lamp he purloined from the Aladdin show was long kept as a prop (and trophy) in the Jungle office show scene located on the second-story of the Jungle Cruise queue. It wasn't there at last check, but something tells me it is still safely in the hands of our friends over at Jungle.
History will note that the Jungle Cruise has outlasted the Aladdin show (at least the one that took place at Aladdin's Oasis).
I will lay odds that Jungle will soon outlast Aladdin's Oasis, too.
So put that in your lamp and smoke it.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
So let's get started, shall we?
The photograph above shows you a rare glimpse "back stage" behind the West Side of Main Street U.S.A., looking north toward the back side of the Plaza Pavilion/Aladdin's Oasis/Tiki Room building. To the left side of the photograph is the storage area for the Jungle Cruise boats when they are not "on line" cruising the Jungle. You can see one of the smokestacks of a Jungle boat if you look carefully into the opening below the large, green storage structure on the left. And I believe you will get a sense as to how your Jungle boat stays on course if you look closely at the wheeled guides on the left in the foreground. By the way, if you were to climb up and over the structures to your left, you would find yourself in the vicinity of the headhunters' village scene of the Jungle Cruise. Cast members in this back stage area get to enjoy the incessant chanting of the natives throughout their work day.
The right side of the photo shows the rear of the Main Street shops, including Cast Member lockers---where we stored our backpacks and stuff during our arduous shifts. At the far end of the photograph, you can see the construction of the kitchen area of the Plaza Pavilion. This is a loading dock located there, where food and other supplies will be delivered. The opening you see is for the main doors that will lead to the kitchen/food preparation area.
In fact, why don't we zoom in for a closer look. In the photo above you can see the back "porch" or loading dock for the Pavilion food service facility. The steel framed structure looks like it will be a second-story porch or storage area of some sort. The plastic covered doorway will also lead to the food preparation area.
Moving around to the front of the Plaza Pavilion, we see a photograph from about 10 days ago showing the status of the rehab work. Keep the paint spreading! This area has always been one of my favorites. It is always shady and cool. It's also a great place to enjoy a Coke Corner hot dog and catch a parade.
The photograph above gives you another view of what is going on behind the construction wall. It looks like the rehab is on schedule folks, so we'll be enjoying the Pavilion again soon.
These backstage areas are regularly opened to guests as part of a crowd "overflow" traffic device. Guests are actually led down the walkway depicted in the photograph as another means of getting people out of the Park. You may have walked through here yourself as a guest if you ever ended up in such a traffic diversion.
Stay tuned for more Disneyland updates. I promise we will continue with our simple trip plans for simple-minded guests soon!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
First, please see last Friday’s post for “The Basic, Basics,” and follow those religiously. Now proceed to the list below.
1. Proceed Directly To Fantasyland. If you have young children who MUST see Dumbo, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad,
2. Ride Peter Pan. There should be no line or a very short one. If the theme park gods are against you and there is a line that fills most of the bullpen (Disney speak for the “queue”), you may want to forget Peter Pan for now. It is pretty unlikely that the line will be long enough, though, to justify bailing on old Peter, so ride it with your little one(s) and enjoy.
3. Ride Dumbo. Exit Peter Pan and move promptly to your right (it will probably be around 8:15 a.m.). Go directly to Dumbo (leave your stroller---if you have one---wherever you left it when you got on Peter Pan; don’t worry, we’ll be circling back to pick it up later). Get in line---it should still be short. Get on and enjoy! It should be around 8:20-8:25 a.m. when you get off. If your little one loved it, jump in line again, otherwise, move onward!
5. Ride Casey Jr. Circus Train or
Go back to Peter Pan and pick up your stroller (if you haven't already) and head toward Storybookland and It's A Small World.
Or if your kid(s) are of a temperment to tackle Snow White and Pinocchio and Mr. Toad---well then hit these attractions up NOW before heading eastward toward Storybook and Small World.
Now, as for Storybookland, a lot of smaller kids are afraid to ride this one because they don’t want to be eaten by Monstro the whale. This makes some sense. Kids see people going into his mouth in little canal boats, but they don’t see anyone coming back out. Fear of Storybookland is not uncommon. I wouldn’t force the issue, but that’s up to you. The reason we recommend going on Casey Jr. and/or Storybookland at this juncture is because their line cycle times are syrup-like slow. Ride them NOW before a big line forms (and before it gets hot outside). By the time you are at this point in the tour, it should be around 8:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
6. Ride It’s A Small World. This, too, is not a must at this stage (since the line cycles well throughout the day), but since you are over here in Fantasyland and you’ve seen most everything else, why not jump aboard this attraction? Kids dig it---always have. Especially the younger ones. It should be around 9:00 – 9:15 a.m. when you are through riding this one. Look at all you’ve accomplished!! You have conquered Fantasyland and we’re only about an hour into our day! Give yourselves a pat on the back and KEEP MOVING! No plush toys, Mabel, and put that #@%*! Camera down…we’re off to the next part of our tour.
7. Ride the Autopia. Stroll from Small World toward the
9. Ride The
10. Walk From The Frontierland Station To Critter Country and Ride The Winnie The Pooh Attraction. I still haven’t forgiven them for taking out the Country Bear Jamboree, but I have to accept that Winnie The Pooh has taken over. It is one of those rides that works for smaller kids. Again, some may be afraid because it is a “dark ride,” but most of the scenes are bright, happy and hardly scary. The Heffalumps scene may get a bit psychedelic, but most kids do just fine. Come on, this is Winnie The Pooh, after all. When you get off this attraction, it is probably going to be somewhere close to 10:30 to 10:45 a.m.
11. Now What? What do you want to do now? Rest? Go ahead---though your kid probably has a stroller and shouldn’t be too tired. Of course, with all the attractions you’ve just seen, there may be a bit of sensory overload kicking in. You can recognize this by some or all of the following symptoms:
- your child is wailing unceasingly and has just vomited;
- your child is wailing unceasingly and you have just vomited;
- your child is not wailing, but is sitting scarily still in the stroller with a vacant look in his or her hollow eyes and is unable to formulate speech---i.e., not quite catatonic;
- your child is wailing unceasingly AND has managed to climb on top of Tigger, who is standing in the character area trying to get photographed with everyone else’s much more well-behaved children;
- your child has climbed from the stroller and is determinedly marching toward Main Street and the Main Exit gate;
- your child is muttering things to him/herself that are not quite comprehensible, but disturbing nonetheless;
- your child is wildly hurling all objects within reach at the child in the stroller next to yours;
- your child has suddenly started to look almost exactly like Marty Feldman [of Young Frankenstein fame----“What hump?”]; or
- your child is offering to share their Ritalin with you and is strongly suggesting a “double dose” for each of you.
I say you might want to grab an early lunch, even if your child has not exhibited any of the foregoing symptoms.
12. What’s Left? Well, by now, Toontown has opened. It is completely devoid of shade and should be avoided from 11:00 a.m. until dusk, but you won’t listen to me and you’re going to go there anyway, so go ahead. Check out Mickey and Minnie’s houses (along with all those other people and children who have now flooded into the Park). Maybe wait for Gadget’s coaster (quick, before it finishes falling apart completely!---this attraction, indeed this entire Land, demonstrates “Eisner-ization” and “Pressler-ization” at their finest; here age can marvel at the fading and peeling paint, while youth may savor the challenge and promise of a dirty-looking fishbowl and dripping grease from the coaster’s chain drive). If you want to take a crack at Roger Rabbit’s Car-Toon Spin, get in line or grab a Fast-Pass. This is not an attraction that the very young will find enjoyable. Again, if they couldn't handle Snow White, Alice or Mr. Toad, then Roger Rabbit is not going to foot the bill either.
13. If You Wisely Choose to Avoid Toontown, You May Instead Elect To Jump Aboard the Rafts To Tom Sawyer’s Island---After You’ve Had A Little Lunch Or A Snack (I Suggest Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, hosted by La Victoria), Of Course. Eat at 11:00 a.m. Go to the Rancho del Zocalo if you are still on the
14. Enjoy The Air Conditioned Splendor of the Tiki Room. After you get back from the
15. Ride the Jungle Cruise. I know, it’s mid-day (1:30 p.m.-ish), but go ahead and jump in line for the Jungle Cruise. The line moves quickly, even if it appears really long. Young children like animals. There are animals. They will enjoy this attraction (the kids, that is, not the animals).
16. Do Some Shopping, Find Some Cool Places To Hang Out, Grab a Snack or Take In Tarzan’s Treehouse. If you just read this heading, you know what to do. It is the hottest part of the day. You’ve been up since the crack of dawn. Your kid is a mess. Go sit down someplace quiet and cool. Try New Orleans Square or the Hungry Bear restaurant in Critter Country (sit on its shady deck by the Rivers of America and let your child watch the ducks swim by) or go to the Plaza Inn on Main Street and grab a drink or a dessert item and sit in the air-conditioned seating area. Again, maybe your child will nap. Not mine, of course, but maybe YOURS will. Relax. Sit. Drink some water. Cool off. Mellow out. Look what you’ve been able to see so far!! Look into your child’s face. Watch their eyes taking everything in. You might find yourself overcome by the urge to hug or kiss them. I understand from the manual that this is completely acceptable, so do it! Remember, you are at the
17. Ride The
18. Now It’s Up To You. I won’t detail every remaining step at this point. You can decide from here what you would like to see with your youngster---or see again. Head back to Fantasyland. Look at the line for Peter Pan and smile smuggishly at those poor folks (and screaming children) sullenly trapped in the hot queue. Remember you WALKED onto that one earlier today? If your child wants to ride something, suggest the Carousel. Do NOT let them make eye contact with Dumbo. Its line is insufferable at this point. If they act like they want to ride Dumbo again, fake an illness, create a distraction, throw a blindfold over their small eyes, do ANYTHING to get their mind off of it. You do not want to get into that line, trust me. But the Park is now your oyster. Take your kid over to the Thunder Ranch area and see if the petting zoo is happening. Ride Small World again---if the line isn’t too long or hot. Look for characters to photograph---go over by Carnation Plaza Gardens or on
I hope this little plan might prove helpful to a few of you with younger children. We will introduce a plan for adults and “older kids” in a later post. Notice how I've left out Pirates, Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, all of the "mountains," and even Buzz Lightyear? Most really small ones don't get a big kick out of these attractions, so I've steered you clear of them. If they can handle them, then you can add them to your trip plan at the end. Most of them won't meet the height requirements for the coasters, so I think you'll find that the plan works pretty well in any event.
Best wishes for many safe and happy trips to the “
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
If you read this Blog frequently I imagine you are somewhat familiar with Disneyland and more than likely presently on parole or residing in a half-way house.---which is perfectly fine, I'm not passing judgment. I would, however, caution you to stay on your best behavior, resist the urge to take the easy way out, and check in with your parole officer frequently. Oh, and keep being a faithful "Jungle is 101" reader while you're at it.
Anyway, we've established you're pretty knowledgeable about Disneyland and a reformed criminal. Again, that's perfectly fine.
Let's talk about what I will term "stuff off the beaten path."
The "road less traveled" that Robert Frost so eloquently captured in verse.
Things that not everyone notices or picks up on.
You get the picture.
First up, Frontierland, along "Thunder Trail" at the back side of the attraction. Long time Disneylanders know this area used to be part of the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and the Rainbow Caverns. There are plenty of reminders of this old attraction back here (my thanks to Yesterland for the great compendium on extinct attractions like this one). As you exit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and look to your left across the path, you'll see a rounded tunnel in the side of a hill, that appears to have been boarded up.
Through this tunnel passed the trains of the old Mine Train attraction, and, on the other side was Cascade Peak, with its enormous waterfall.
The name of the waterfall?
Big Thunder the waterfall is gone now, along with Cascade Peak, but the old tunnel remains. And s
o does this one.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Know, first, that this is NOT by any means the only way to do Disneyland. The touring plan I am suggesting can also be adapted for your own personal preference. It is for people who are not staying at a Disney hotel and who do not have reservations for a Character Breakfast (those folks know who they are and they sure as heck aren't sharing their secrets).
PART I, THE BASIC, BASICS
1. GET THERE EARLY.
If the bold, underlined, italicized words did not fully grab you, I will repeat:Get.
This means, at a minimum, that you should be parked when the parking lot opens. The lot generally opens one (1) hour before official Park opening time. If the Park opens at 8:00 a.m., the lot will be open at 7:00 a.m. Oh, and check the Park's operating hours a couple of days before you plan on going there---sometimes they change. In the summer, the hours are pretty constant, but during the off-season, you can get occasional hiccups in the schedule---including random private party events like Miley Cyrus' birthday. I feel for the family from Cleveland who found out that the Park was shutting down at 5:00 p.m. so that a private party could take place.2. Eat Breakfast Before You Get There. If you want to get on a lot of attractions, especially on a crowded day, you won't be eating between 7:30 a.m. and probably 11:00 a.m. If your are diabetic, hypoglycemic or have other special needs, bring a backpack with food to tide you over. This tour ain't for food sissies.
3. Generally, Avoid The Weekend.
If possible, try to hit the Park on a weekday. If not, GET. THERE. EARLY. Another tip: even if you are not an Annual Pass holder, look at the blackout date calendar (at the official Disney website) and REALLY, REALLY try to avoid Fridays or other dates where ALL the AP holders are able to go to the Park (i.e. dates that AREN'T blacked out). Days where everyone can get in are usually going to be very crowded.
Oh, and this just in...Disneyland is almost always crowded. Get there early.
4. Know What You Want To See.
Sound silly? The guest without a plan gets: trampled by the (original) Magic Kingdom, buried in long hot lines (for everything from churros to Mad Tea Party teacups), plagued with crying children, irritated at every turn, surrounded by 55,000 or more of their fellow Park goers---shall I go on? O.K. So, know what you want to see and experience before you get there. For most folks, the big rides fall within this category. What? You think you're the only person who wants to find Nemo? Or explore with Indiana Jones? Come on.
Here are the biggies: Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Finding Nemo (Submarines) and, for some, the Autopia. Other very popular attractions have pretty good cycle times and their lines move pretty well (i.e., Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, It's A Small World).
The main exception: Fantasyland. The rides here (except for King Arthur's Carousel, Snow White and sometimes Pinocchio) have long waits and slow cycle times (Dumbo? Peter Pan? Storybookland Canal Boats?). If you have young children that wish to experience any of these rides, you MUST go to Fantasyland FIRST.
If you intend to ride every major attraction: bless your heart. Let's hope you are a committed Disney park enthusiast and in pretty good physical shape. In that case, you might as well start with the biggies (unless you have small children---see Fantasyland above), I'd suggest the following order: Finding Nemo (get there first and avoid the nine-hour line and ridiculously slow cycle time), Matterhorn (it's not far from Nemo), Space Mountain, then burn across the park to Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder. By the way, you are almost running (we call it the "Disney walk") from attraction to attraction in order to get in as many as you can within the first 45 minutes after "rope drop" (i.e. when the whole Park is officially opened for guests). After riding Big Thunder, you can hit the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and maybe make a dash for the Autopia after that.
If you have been to Disneyland before and DO NOT intend to ride every one of "the biggies," pick the ones you want to ride---make the one with the longest typical wait time the FIRST attraction you go on. For most folks, this would be Nemo. If you can do without Nemo, make it Space Mountain, if you don't want that, go to Indiana Jones, etc. The more rides you can eliminate from your list before you start your day, the more effective your "trip plan" will be.
Again, if you want to ride EVERYTHING, you are ambitious and so is this plan.
5. EYES OPEN: TAKE THE SHORTEST LINE.
During your tour, keep your eyes open. Move to the open space. If you are walking/running from attraction to attraction, look ahead of you and find the spaces between the slower moving guests ahead. If you have reached your attraction and both lines are open, get into the shorter line.
Repeat: get into the shorter line.
Crowds follow each other. Followers love to hang out with other followers. When followers see that a line has formed on the right, they will keep adding to its length, totally ignoring the emptier (but still open) line on the left. Why? Who cares? Get in the shorter line and wave goodbye to the followers behind you.
Oh yeah, don't forget to keep moving. Hit your attractions hard during the first two and a half hours and you will actually get to see a lot. If you tire easily or aren't committed, what the heck are you reading this plan for? Go and leisurely enjoy your day at the Park. Stand in line. That is certainly your choice.
6. TRAVEL LIGHT.
Bring a back pack. Put some stuff in it. Not too heavy. Now get to the Park and GO. Each person should carry their own stuff---to the extent possible. This does not mean that your 4-year old must become a Sherpa guide, but he or she can certainly handle a fanny pack or a small back pack with a bottled water and some snacks. Don't be the mom who carries the entire family's belongings in her purse. You will end up resenting them---and this is unhealthy. I have never met a Dad who carries the entire family's belongings in anything, so dads, I'm leaving you out of this. You want water? Bring it. A snack? To each his own. Sunscreen? Why didn't you put that on BEFORE WE GOT TO THE PARK? Carry your own for "reapplication" when necessary.
You get the picture.
The more stuff you have, the slower you move. The harder it is to get in and out of bobsleds, and rockets, and other ride vehicles. A small pack is about the most you should have on you.
7. NO SHOPPING, SIGHTSEEING, PHOTOGRAPHING OR LOLLYGAGGING!
Dad wants to check out the Emporium? Let's do that later, o.k.? Need a darling photo in front of the Castle (for the umptieth time?)---NOT during the first two and half hours!! Later! New figures in the Emporium shop windows? THEY'LL BE THERE ALL DAY! Come back when it's dark!
Get it? If you can't see it as you are motoring from attraction to attraction, it ain't gonna be seen and it ain't worth seeing (at least not now). Later. AFTER you've hit "the biggies" and bought yourself some value attraction time, THEN you can mellow out the pace and do the "tourist" stuff. Got it, shutterbug??! Put down the plush toy, Mabel, we're hitting Space Mountain!
8. GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOUR ENTER THE PARK!
Seem obvious? You'd be surprised. Why did you get up at the crack of dawn, pile into the car, rush into the parking lot, fight for a spot on the FIRST tram, scamper through security and get near the front of the line at the Main Gate only to make the first attraction of the day the bathroom next to City Hall? Are you serious!? We just lost seven precious minutes. Thanks for that. The rest of us will be in Tomorrowland by the time you're starting to wash your hands. Way to go, Minnie bladder!
NOTE: There is more of this plan to follow. In the interest of getting something posted before all my devoted readers leave me in droves (can four people constitute a "drove?"), I'm hitting "Publish Post" as we speak!
All my best to you Adventurers and Adventurettes!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
In 1987 you passed by an assortment of skulls as you entered the thatched queue of the Jungle Cruise.
You were struck with anticipation of the possible perils you would face.
You were taken aback by such stark reminders of your own mortality amidst the fun of a theme park.
You were intrigued by the mystery of venturing into dark, overgrown regions...
...not so much.
Oh, sure, there's still adventure, but perhaps we're missing something.
Why is it that the Park has to be so darned sanitized?
Sometimes in all the wrong places.
O.K., they should be sanitized.
Jungle Cruise entrances?
Not so much, thanks.
Food service locations?
The Pirates of the Caribbean?
Main Street, where the horses pee at the top of the Hub?
This you can sanitize.
The rain forest scene from the Small World?
Of course, real life just keeps getting more adventuresome (and less sanitary) by the day!
One more wild stock market swing and I swear I'm investing in canned goods, a shotgun, potable water and a compound in Idaho.
At least when it all goes down, I'll be in Idaho.
With canned goods.
And a weapon.
On second thought, maybe I'll buy more Disney stock.
With money from my home equity line.
After cashing out my 401k.
[Editor's Note: We apologize for the random nature of today's post and are working to rectify the technical difficulties which have brought it to you. In other words: "Playful spooks have temporarily interrupted our tour. Please remain seated in your Doom Buggy. Our tour will resume momentarily."]