Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - Aladdin Hijack - An Addition To The Lore

There's a tale---true I tell you---of a Jungle skipper in the not too distant past whose last day came to pass (at least with respect to his Disney employment).

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. 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

Disneyland - The Backside Of Main Street And The Jungle Cruise - Plaza Inn Construction Shots

Greetings, Jungle fans, Disneylanders, Adventurers and Adventurettes! Today's episode features an exclusive behind the scenes look at---the backside of Main Street! You can't get this kind of riveting entertainment just anywhere, folks. Nope, only here at Jungle Is "101."

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

Disneyland Touring Plan - Part II - One Day With Small Kids

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, Alice In Wonderland and King Arthur’s Carousel, then you, my friend, will make Fantasyland your first destination of the day. So go to Fantasyland (you should arrive around 8:05-ish if you march there from Main Street immediately after “rope drop”).

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!

4. Ride Alice In Wonderland or Mr. Toad or King Arthur’s Carousel. I know that some of you may have youngsters that are afraid of Alice or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. For you folks it is best to jump on the Carousel and be done with this area of Fantasyland (because a kid that can’t take Alice or Mr. Toad will have no chance against Snow White’s Scary Adventures or Pinocchio---trust me on this one. So, your trip to Fantasyland is pretty much over for the time being---unless you want to hit Storybookland or Casey Jr. Circus Train---see next section). It should be around 8:30 - 8:35-ish when you are finished riding one of these attractions.

5. Ride Casey Jr. Circus Train or Storybookland Canal Boats. Again—do this if your child is not too keen on scary skeletons in Snow White, going to hell with Mr. Toad or the somewhat surreal “dark ride” aspects of Alice in Wonderland. Casey Jr. is pretty harmless for any child. If your kid is afraid of this attraction, go back to Peter Pan, grab your stroller, get your stuff together and…HEAD HOME! There is not much left for your child to enjoy, as all other attractions are going to be way too intense!

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 Matterhorn, past Finding Nemo and into the line for the Autopia. This line should still be quite manageable. Believe me, later in the day this line is a killer! Think how long it takes to get two or three adults and kids into and out of a single Autopia car. Now multiply that by everyone ahead of you in line. Ugly. My feet hurt just thinking about it. Worse yet, try tackling this attraction when it is noon or later. You’ve now added about 90 degrees to the equation, so you get to stand AND roast with your cute little traveling companion(s). By the time they get into a car---assuming they have not completely lost control of their emotions up to that point, they will be but a shell of their former selves and certainly no fun to ride around with. For that matter, you won’t be much fun either. If you’ve followed the plan, you will be getting off the Autopia some time around 9:30 a.m. At this point---unless you are Miley Cyrus and daddy rented out the Park for your birthday---you will notice that thousands of people have showed up to join you for your day at Disneyland. I am afraid they are here to stay and, in fact, more of them will be arriving shortly.

9. Ride The Disneyland Railroad. From the Autopia exit, head back toward the old America Sings/Carousel of Progress building (now home to Innoventions---quite possibly the largest waste of space since the appropriately named Festival of Fools made its debut, but that’s another story). Hang a left and get on the Disneyland Railroad (CAUTION: if you have a youngster that does not enjoy dark rides, FORGET about riding the train from the Tomorrowland station; from there you enter the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World, where you go into a dark tunnel past noisy scenes of animals and---later---enormous dinosaurs. If your kid couldn’t hang with Alice or Snow White, chances are good they’re going to lose it when they go in here! If you fall into this category, ix-nay on the ain-tray for now---you should probably just start walking across the Park toward Critter Country and the Winnie The Pooh attraction). For those with more adventuresome youngsters, hop on the train, sit down and enjoy the leisurely click, clack ride from Tomorrowland, past Main Street Station (stay ON the train here!) to your final destination, Frontierland station (which some people refer to as New Orleans Square station). GET OFF THE TRAIN HERE! It should now be around 9:45-10:00 a.m.

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 West Side of the Park (and you should be if you just got off of Winnie The Pooh). After you eat, it should now be approaching high noon. Most of the crowd will be sheepishly herding toward lunch while you and your youngster(s) are stepping onto a raft to Tom Sawyer’s Island. The Island has shade and lots of places to let the young ones run around and explore. This will help burn out some of the after-effects of the “sensory overload” illness we discussed earlier. You might even find yourself a bench to sit down upon while your kiddo(s) scamper nearby. Don’t miss the Treehouse and, of course, the barrel bridge and suspension bridge. You’ll be here for anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour (or more if your kids really enjoy running free). At the end of your stay here, your child might even nod off in their stroller in the shade. This would be a good thing. However, if your kids are like mine (were), they REFUSE to sleep in a stroller, so a nap is probably out of the question. I am hoping, for your sake, that YOUR kid likes to nap.

14. Enjoy The Air Conditioned Splendor of the Tiki Room. After you get back from the Island, head over to Adventureland and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Grab a Dole whip in the lanai area while you are waiting. You can take it into the show with you. The show is air conditioned and has one scary lightning sequence at the end. Don’t tell your kid. Tell them they are going to see singing birdies. They will love the show. You will love the air conditioning. Then the lightning and thunder effect will occur. Your youngster will freak. That’s o.k., the show is over, so you can head out the exit. They will get over it. At least everyone got to enjoy a nice show up to that point and, most importantly, an air conditioned respite. It should be between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m. when you get out.

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 Magic Kingdom to touch the child in each of you! Now is a good time to enjoy that feeling. If your child is losing his or her mind, despite your efforts, well…that goes with the territory, too, I’m afraid. No one said parenthood is a walk in the Park.

17. Ride The Main Street Horse-Drawn Trolley (or other Main Street vehicles) Or Take In A Parade. After relaxing for a while, head out onto Main Street and grab a ride on the trolley, or the fire engine or the Omnibus, if they are still running (most days there is an afternoon parade, so the Main Street vehicles might not be running). If the vehicles aren’t around and you see ropes have been set up for a parade, grab a seat and enjoy the parade with your child. It should be around 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. now. After you’ve watched the parade, it should definitely be around 3:30 p.m-ish.

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 Main Street near the Mad Hatter---you’ll probably run into a character or two. Ride the train again. Step aboard the Mark Twain. Go shopping. Head home. Whatever. Again, you now have the luxury of picking and choosing where you go. You might even want to try Nemo (though the line will take you 2 hours to get through and it is pretty scary for small ones), though I wouldn’t recommend it.

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 “Happiest Place on Earth!”


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Disneyland - Stuff Off The Beaten Path

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.
Go figure.
Big Thunder the waterfall is gone now, along with Cascade Peak, but the old tunnel remains. And so does this one.
This tunnel once had a large tressel located at the end we see in the photograph. The tressel crossed the water feature in an area of the Mine Train attraction known as Bear Country (maybe you've heard that term somewhere before in Disneyland).
Bottom line: if you look in the water in this area you will see fish jumping. Holdouts from Bear Country? I can't say that for sure, but they are a nice hidden touch that most folks walk right past without ever noticing.
I know, I know. You old timers say this is old news.
we are OLD, so sometimes we repeat ourselves. For those of you who never knew: you heard it here at Jungle is "101."

We'll do this again sometime soon. Bye now! Bye now.
By now you should be off my boat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Disneyland Musings - A Quick Touring Plan For Disneylanders - Part I

O.K., this is not scientific, but is based upon years and years of experience moving through Disneyland as a guest and as a cast member. I offer you a touring plan that should maximize what you ride and see, especially if you are a first time visitor or have only a single day to get as much in as possible. We shall break our plan up into several posts (to save your eyes, if nothing else). Plus, my attention span is not what it used to be.

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).

Let us begin:



If the bold, underlined, italicized words did not fully grab you, I will repeat:




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.


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.


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.


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!


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

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - Skulls - Idaho?

I don't know, something about human skulls at the main entrance to your attraction's queue makes it seem more...


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...

Today, however...

...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?

Sanitize please.

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?

Again, no.

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 water.

And a weapon.

On second thought, maybe I'll buy more Disney stock.

On margin.

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."]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Disneyland - Cast Member Photos - Pirates, Thunder, Hatmosphere, New Orleans Square - Ringo Starr

Salutations, "Jungle Is 101" followers! I promised you more Disneyland cast member photos and I am now delivering.

We start with a 1980 shot from long-time Disneylander Sandi Miller, who originally shared this little number on the left. It shows Pirates of the Caribbean cast member Bernie Francis doing a "Stevie Wonder" on the harpsichord in the Cap'n's Quarters (with a row of empty Pirate launches in the background). Groovy, baby. Love the shades, Bernie!

Next, we travel a bit deeper into the Pirates (and leap ahead in time to the "modern" era), and find ourselves with many more "wenches" to choose from than normal. [Thanks to Jose Gracia for originally sharing this photo on the left]. We're not sure how those Disneyland Railroad ladies go into this predicament---though the Frontierland station is not too far from here.

Moving over to Frontierland, we find that Ryan Batcheller is joining a quadrupedal friend in consuming a little TNT roughage. Talk about setting yourself up for a nasty episode of explosive diarrhea! Further proof that Disney employees have way too much time (and fun) on their hands when an attraction breaks down. [Our thanks to Ryan for originally sharing this picture].

Next we will bounce back in time (to the 1970s) and over to New Orleans Square, where a familiar member of the Beatles is partaking of a VIP guided tour (thanks to the lovely and talented Linda Allan - who also supplied the photo). Love the hat, Ringo---did Yoko make it for you? Looks like one of her "art" pieces. Even better is the outfit on the guy in front of the Blue Bayou. He stepped right out of Central Casting for the role of "1970s Male."

Let us say goodbye today by taking a look at the farewell photo of the Hatmosphere over in Tomorrowland. This picture shows the last day of this merchandise location (it was demolished the day after this photo was taken)---and the members of its final crew of cast members. I imagine this was not long after the Skyway had ceased operations overhead. [Thank you to Carlos Porras for sharing this picture]. What color were those costumes???

Besides, perhaps, the Vice Presidency, what other job in the world allows you to dress up in a costume every day, occasionally meet celebrities, chew dynamite and play in a haunted Pirates' cave?

The few.
The proud.
The Disneyland cast members.
We do less all day than most people do by 7:00 a.m.

I'm not sure if that's the exact slogan, but---you get the picture...

If you enjoyed today's post, my name is Mike and this is the Jungle Cruise.
If not, my name is Nancy and this is the Storybookland Canal Boats!
Have a wonderful day in this happy and magical place we like to call...


Monday, October 13, 2008

Disneyland - Status Report - Yesterday - Plaza Pavillion Rebirth

Hi Ho, Everyone! Just back from the Park after a busy week that kept me from posting. Bad Mike!

Yesterday was a busy day at Disneyland with an estimated 55,000 or so guests enjoying HalloweenTime. We had some strong winds toward the late afternoon and throughout the evening. The wind was strong enough to blow out one of the gas torches at the entrance to the Tiki Room. Indeed, if there still were a Skyway attraction, it would have been shut down.
Over at the Jungle Cruise, things were hopping during the early afternoon! The queue was long enough that the upstairs queue area was opened and filled with guests. It warms this old skipper's heart to see that the attraction can still pack 'em in after all these years. Even at its longest, the line rarely takes more than 15-20 minutes to get through, since experienced boat loaders can get about 40-45 people per boat (not including lap-sitters). This makes the line progress well.

The Park looks nice with its HalloweenTime decorations. Mickey and Minnie were actually quite dapper when I saw them on Main Street just north of the Mad Hatter shop. Minnie sported a purple witch's hat and matching dress. Her beaux, of course, matched her, with a nice purple coat and a smart top hat. As always, the guests were anxious to say hello to them.

Plaza Pavillion is in the midst of a rehab. Its kitchen is being updated so that it may soon be serving food once again! This is cheerful news. More importantly...could this new kitchen also be used for a Tahitian Terrace restaurant facility??? Stay tuned Adventurers and Adventurettes! If you follow this blog at all, you'll know we're kinda partial to the old Tahitian Terrace around here and it is terribly missed.
Now I'm not saying it is coming back, but the chances have gone up slightly with the attention being given to the Plaza Pavillion kitchen. So there.
And, finally, speaking of rehabs, I can only imagine what the heck is going on with the Small World. Let us keep our collective fingers crossed that this beloved attraction remains as true to the original as possible when it reopens.
Well, I am outta here for now. I'll try and get you all some new cast member photos this week!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today we dig up an illustration of yesterday's "C-Ticket" reference to the Adventureland Shooting Gallery. I give you an actual photograph of the "Business End" of the gallery. Disney chained the guns down so that guests couldn't turn around and start picking off skippers over at the Jungle Cruise across the way. Those wood-stocked rifles were serious business. They felt good on the shoulder, but the BBs wouldn't always go where you were aimed them.

I miss the nonstop patter of BBs against the back wall and the sounds of the rifles discharging. There is no way this attraction could ever fly in today's Disneyland---too much maintenance, too many BBs, way too many chances for injuries from ricochets, too noisy and it would require more staffing.

Too bad, it sure fit Adventureland's theme!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Disneyland - "C" Ticket Attractions - The Westside Diner (the "Pit")

Today we stray from the 1980s back a bit and into the 1970s.

Consider, if you will, the lowly "C-Ticket" and its attractions---forced to live in the shadow of "E-Ticket" attractions like Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Only the older timers will remember that a "C" would have gained you a round at the Big Game Shooting Gallery in Adventureland. This was quite the shooting gallery, too, with none of this electronic eye stuff of today. I'm talking live BB ammo here! It was plenty loud, too!

Can you believe the Autopia only rated a "C"? Of course, this was the Tomorrowland Autopia. Fantasyland's was way better.

C-Tickets paved your way through Fantasyland, however, allowing you to ride attractions from Peter Pan to the Fantasyland Theatre. I loved the Theatre. It was a welcome, cool spot to mellow out on a hot, crowded day. You could take in some fabulous old Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony classics! It has since gone the way of the Dodo (and the Skyway, for that matter).

And over in Frontierland, there was no way to board a Keel Boat without a C-Ticket. Rather sad, is it not, that the Gullywhumper served honorably for many, many years---only to end up a rotting prop along the Rivers of America?

Vintage Disneyland Tickets could tell you all you want to know about ticket books (check out Vintage's blog over on the sidebar).

I'll finish today with a mention of the Cast Member dining location beneath the Pirates over in New Orleans Square: The Westside Diner. A friend of mine dined there recently, enjoying a turkey meatloaf entree, with mashed potatoes and broccoli. Mmm. This dining location has for years been known as "The Pit" by cast members. It is in the bowels of New Orleans. And, oddly enough, it was famous for getting one's bowels moving.

But that's another story entirely.

Currently, the Westside Diner is most easily accessed by walking through the Indy queue, through some double doors in the back stage area and down a long ramp. As I understand it, it is actually much brighter and inviting than it was in the 1980s---when one-eyed, hunch-backed cast members in scraggly hair nets manned its steamy kitchen. Today, they have both of their eyes (but they work for Sodexo, not Disney) and there are flat panel TVs adorning the walls.

During the course of a long shift, a visit to "The Pit" was a unique experience, if nothing else. It was a change from the Inn Between (and a necessity for most "West Siders" who didn't have time to bolt to Main Street and back for their lunch break). It was kinda cool to know that you were eating underground, like a rodent or something.

I bid you adieu for today, having scrapped together this post with two of my remaining three brain cells. As I review it now, I see that it reads a bit like a railway time schedule, only without all the drama and emotion.

What do you "Jungle" readers expect? Jacques Maritain?

C'est la vie.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Disneyland - Cast Member Photos - Autopia, Old and New

Today's post is, thankfully, brief. We explore anew the unique (unpaid) benefits of being a Disneyland cast member.

Working there is great because:

A. There's always plenty to drink.

B. Sometimes you get to DRIVE! (Or at least help a dead guy to steer). [Thanks to Bruce Nelson and "Molly" for originally supplying this picture].

C. You get paid HUGE, PILES OF MONEY (or at least get to stand by a dead guy in a pile of loot). [Thanks to Bruce Nelson for originally supplying this picture].

D. The Autopia cars are just so darn colorful---what's not too love!

Oops. Sorry, they got rid of the colorful ones on the right (from 1984)...and replaced them with...



Sunday, October 5, 2008

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - What Would It Be Like?

If you've never skippered a Jungle boat, you don't know what it's like to miss the Jungle. Some old skippers might not give it much thought, but I'd say the majority of us get a pang inside every so often.

You think back to the happy shifts---jumping into your assigned boat, pushing the throttle forward, throwing it into reverse as you reached the "load" area of the dock; Idling while guests entered. Spieling into your microphone; Taking it all in as you surveyed your latest crew; Teasing your fellow cast members over the PA as they loaded the boat; and then throwing the throttle forward with "Hit it, skip!" Off into the Jungle, just you and your crew.

Those days seem pretty real---even as memories today. I guess because they were each different, but very much the same. Each crew brought new faces, but the scenery remained the same. You'd mix up your spiel, but the core elements had to stay. The routine burned the experience into a deep part of your consciousness. Disney has a way of doing that to people, I guess.

What would it be like to return as a cast member today?

Things are somewhat different, but deliciously the same at the World Famous Jungle Cruise. The dock is a little different, but actually a bit improved from its past iteration. There are female skippers now, but they seem to fit right in with the guys. The Jungle is its own family. Adventure/Frontier Attractions is its own little community within the grander community of Disneyland itself.

The job is still fun.
Oh, to grab the mike and throttle just one more time.
To don that name tag and costume and walk through Adventureland.
I think it would still be pretty cool.
I know it would be enjoyable.

Until then, we old skippers blessed with good memories have plenty of loops around the Jungle to fall back on!

Well, I'm off like a dirty t-shirt, so---wave goodbye to the folks on the dock! Make it look like you're having fun! You'll never see them again...


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Disneyland - Beats A Global Economic Collapse!

The financial news of the past year---particularly these past few weeks---is enough to make you want to stop blogging, dive into bed and pull the covers over your head.

But since it was getting hot under there,
I decided to zip out a post to all four (4) of you fabulous readers of Jungle is "101" (Hi, Mom!).

Here goes.

I'm not saying the economy is bad, but for the first time in our lifetime the Disney parks are offering free admission next year to each of us on our birthday.

With today's admission prices, what is that, a $400 value?
[I engage in hyperbole here, so don't go wacky on me and deluge my in box with emails about the REAL current admission price for adults (one day, no Park Hopper)].

The Bank of Main Street was recently taken over by the Federal Reserve.

Minnie's house in Toontown has a lockbox on the front door and a foreclosure notice written in crayon.

Chip & Dale's tree house property has been vacant for about three years---which is no big loss to the Toontown real estate market because there's nothing to see in there anyway.

Sleeping Beauty apparently just received a notice that the equity line on the castle has been shut off by her bank.

Is there a silver lining?

Will this downturn mean less folks at the Park?

Chances are good that there will be a lot more room, however, the locals may flock there to escape the drudgery and fears generated by the wonderful state of our economy.

In the last Great Depression, people spent their money to go to the movies in record numbers in order to escape the drab darkness of everyday life.

Will Disney theme parks become more popular escape mechanisms than they are already?

We shall see.

The parks are still pretty expensive, even if you hold a valid annual pass. Unless you pack a lunch and drinks for your whole crew, the food prices alone are going to drag you down.

Still, nothing says, "Hey it's okay that we lost the house and now have to live in our SUV!" like a walk down Main Street or a Matterhorn bobsled run.

I'll end with this:

Global economic collapse??

I'm going to Disneyland!

Pax vobiscum