Friday, March 26, 2010

Disneyland - Mr. Lincoln - Thanks

Dear Disney:

Congratulations! You definitely got this one right. The family and I recently visited Disneyland and saw the re-opened Opera House and "The Disneyland® Story featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln." We at "Jungle is 101" (okay, ME at "Jungle is 101") have long called for Mr. Lincoln's return to Main Street.

Well...he is back.

Fabulously back.

The entire attraction lobby area has been renovated beautifully and spills over into the new Disney Gallery next door. The homage to Disneyland's history that fills the main entrance area of the lobby is well done---with a fabulous model of the Park as it looked on Opening Day, a focal point.

In the large room where the entrance doors to Lincoln Theater are located, you find another gem: a detailed model of the United States Capitol building, complete with tiny lights, windows, columns---the works.

Most importantly, the Lincoln show itself has been redone to great effect. Mr. Lincoln looks downright dapper in his coat and tails. His famously tousled hair is a bit unruly, but not so much as to be a distraction. His eyes are one of the major improvements I noticed. In the past, they were shadowed (intentionally, I would think, since making convincing eyes is one of the trickier elements in animatronics, so keeping them a bit shadowed made them less noticeable). Now, he scans the audience and the eyes are much more visible. The excerpts of his writings and speeches that have been amalgamated for the show still raise hairs and goosebumps. The content of his speech timeless---but amazingly fitting for the times in which we now live.

"At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, that if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its authors and finishers. As a nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die by suicide."

Strong words for trying times---be it 1863 or 2010.

My sincere thanks to the folks at Disney for an amazingly well done revamp of this classic attraction. Dear reader, if you have not visited Mr. Lincoln yet, make it a point on your next visit to the Park.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Disneyland - 1987 - A Flashback Video Montage

Today, we offer you a compact video tour of 1987 Disneyland, direct from Youtube. Check it out.

The clips of 1987 Tomorrowland (including Captain Eo) and the "Gift Giver Extraordinaire" that graced the Main Entrance as a holdover from 1985's 30th Anniversary celebration are great. Also, get a load of the grand Gray Lady---Disneyland's old main parking lot (now rumored to have been replaced with some sort of California-based theme park)---as seen from the Monorail. There are many nuggets crammed into this clip---the Tomorrowland stage at Coke Terrace, the Rocket Jets, the People Mover, the newly-painted yellow Subs, America Sings, the old Bubble-top Monorail, big 80s hair, the Main Street Electrical Parade, Storybookland Canal Boats, Mission to Mars, Big Thunder---but, sadly, my Jungle didn't make the cut.

In any event, it is a great montage and a nice bit of time travel. Thanks to whomever posted this originally! Glad you saved your videotape!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Disneyland - Jungle Is "101" - A Brief Hello To Our 4 Readers

Good day, Jungle fans and Disneyland patrons.

We hail our blog followers today, be they from San Rafael, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah or Mililani, Hawaii. Indeed, greetings are sent to visitors from as far away as Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, Colombo in Sri Lanka and the primeval forests of Florham Park, New Jersey.

How you all managed to find your way here, I'll never know. Of all the blog joints in all the towns in all the world, you walked into mine. Most stumble here, I suppose, from wayward Google and Yahoo searches.

An orthopaedic surgeon looking for a deal on "casts" gets directed here because of our frequent reference to "cast members" at Disneyland.

Many happen upon one of our many photographs of the Park and its Cast Members through a search of Google Images.

Others are looking for serious jungle tours and eco-adventures and get this site in a search result.

Oops. (But, we DO have piranhas. Strangest thing.)

However it was that you arrived in this corner of cyberspace, this much I can say to you without reservation:

Um, hi.

Come on in.
Can I get you anything?
A drink? A snack?
Make yourself at home.
It's good to see you.
How is your family?
My how you've grown!
Have a seat anywhere.
Sorry the place is a mess, but you would not believe the week we've had around here.
How long are you in town?
When is the last time you made it to Disneyland?

Seriously, we love our readers---especially our four (4) loyal readers (Hi, mom!).

You know who you are.

You are people with discernment.
Unrefined discernment, but discernment nevertheless.
You have an odd interest in the perspective of Disneyland cast members.
You have plenty of time on your hands.
You enjoy long walks on the beach at night.
During a rainstorm.
Wearing flippers and a snorkel.
Perhaps little else.
You rummage.
Through the Internet.
Through garage sales.
Through pawn shops, thrift stores and trash bins.
Perhaps you live with several cats, say 30.
You mumble to yourself repeatedly on street corners.
Aluminum foil wadded into spheroids fascinates you.
Your mind wanders.
Often for days at a time.
Some days, you never get out of your bathrobe,
yet you still make it to the grocery store.
You don't remember where you put your keys or if you took your medication.
Many of you, for some strange reason, are engineers, and therefore you do not dress well and have difficulty communicating with others.
Some collect things.
Like dried glue.
Or Ivory Soap wrappers.
Or flavored stationery (we're not sure about you guys).
One or two of you have been known to frequent 7-11 stores (but only at 6:00 a.m and Midnight---just so you can prove them wrong).
You work for great and storied institutions like Amgen, Southern Methodist University or Del Taco.
You are vaguely aware that someone is watching you.
For several of you, personal hygiene is important, but not a priority.
Some favor the great thinkers: Herman (as in "Pee Wee"), Spears (as in "Britney") and Cyrus (take your pick: Billy Ray or Miley).
You are bold.
And oriented x3.
Your pupils are equal, round and reactive to light and accommodation (these last three are for you EMT and Emergency Room types) .
You reach for the stars.
You soon realize that they are enormous masses of incandescent gases, gigantic nuclear furnaces where hydrogen is made into helium at temperatures of millions of degrees and are light years away, so what the heck are you really reaching for here, hmmm?
You find yourself reading lengthy descriptions of you by random people on the Internet who do not even know you.
You are the future.
You are why we at "Jungle is 101" are paid so handsomely for these posts.

Thank you.
If you are on the Jungle side of the boat, stand up, turn around and you will be helped out by the rear.
Of the boat that is.
Ladies don't get agitated.
Those of you on the dock side, you'll be heading out the front doorway.
But don't go through our windows.
You'll get a window pain.
Trust me, it can be a shattering experience.
Heck, it could be curtains for you.
I "shutter" to think about it.
Bye now!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Disneyland - In The Bowels of Village Haus

A while back I made my way to Village Haus for a hamburger.
I recalled my sweeper days when I would enjoy a quick burger at the break room downstairs below the restaurant.
There is a service window for cast members at the far western end of the main counter (it is behind the wall, just inside the service door there).
A diet Coke, Village Haus burger and fries provided me with sustenance on many days.
It was hardly haute cuisine, but it was good enough.
Better yet, it was cool to wind my way through the corridor in the back area and down the stairs. There, in the bowels of the building, was another hallway that led to the break room on the left and restrooms on the right.
Breaks in that windowless room were fluorescent-filled and usually quiet. The room was a pretty good size, with tables and chairs and the obligatory TV set on the wall (usually out of service). Of course, sometimes we would arrange our breaks so that a few of us would head down there together. The company was nice. We always had a good time.

No, there are not tunnels under Disneyland everywhere (like at Disney World).
However, there are a few underground spots---beneath Tomorrowland Terrace and the old America Sings building in Tomorrowland, below New Orleans Square at the old Pit and under Fantasyland and the Village Haus, to name a few.
Lucky me. I have seen them all.

This is Mike, signing off. Enjoy your weekend Jungleteers!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Disneyland - Pirates Before the Bridge - Sweeper Peeps - Adventure/Frontier Attractions Saves the Lost Safari

Today is Post Some More Old Photos Day here at Jungle is 101.

Sadly, it is not a national holiday. It is, however, recognized as a half-day-without-pay in the Republic of Malta.

So we've got THAT going for us...which is nice.

Moving right along and to our immediate left, please note a vintage photograph of the Pirates' queue before "the Bridge" was erected. Must've been pretty early, as guests could practically walk onto the attraction. Based on costuming and guest clothing, I'm putting this one in the 1980s.

Next: the only known photograph of a failed rescue mission to save the Lost Safari in 1987. A host of Adventure/Frontier Attractions cast members somehow managed to find their way to this remote beach.

Sadly, not one of them seemed to notice the missing expedition, as the cast members' attention was distracted by my passing boat and camera crew.

Since the Lost Safari had long provided me with some of my best material, I was careful not to point them out.

How those folks from Thunder and the Sailing Ship Columbia made their way to this corner of the teeming jungle remains a mystery.

Finally: a few of my sweeper peeps from back in the day, yo. Looks like another tough day at Custodial Control. To the left of the photo, the poster board bears undeniable proof of the fact that we actually received training on how to sweep up trash and use a gum scraper as part of our "function and responsibilities."

On the shelf at the right of the photograph are various tools of the trade: boxes of Kimbies (paper towels sweepers carried like ammo), cleaning solutions, spray bottles of muriatic acid and a box of lye.

This had to be taken close to the end of the shift, otherwise I have no explanation for why these poor people look so flogging happy. Their demeanor could possibly be explained as some sort of after-effect of the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds from the cleaning solutions in Custodial's main offices. We can never know for sure. [I think I have to thank Robin Mora or Jerry Lofquist for originally posting this---not sure where I found it, but I'm glad I did].


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Disneyland Musings - Volume VII - Fantasyland, Mr. Toad and flower beds

It is late on a June night in 1984 and I am working in Fantasyland as a sweeper. By late, I mean it is the early morning and Disneyland has ended its normal operating day.

The last few stragglers have been walked out to Main Street by Security and I am alone in the bullpen for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

This was back when the statue of Toad, just inside the front window of the queue, still had its left arm and hand raised, with the fingers pinching his monocle. The monocle never survived being constantly swiped by guests. So for a period of time we would routinely find Mr. Toad holding in his pinched fingers a cigarette---usually with the ends twisted so as to look like an illicit substance often smoked by Cheech and Chong.

These unique cigarettes were placed there by some creative guests while waiting in line.

Later, as we see in the picture to the left, Toad's left arm appeared to have been taken off and put back on upside down so that it bent BEHIND Toad's back (in a pose reminiscent of someone hiding a bouquet of flowers before giving it to a loved one).

The statue in question used to look just like the "stone" statue of Toad that graces the attraction's entrance facade. Take a look. See the left arm and the monocle? Remove monocle and you have a magnificent spot for a "cigarette."

As always, I digress.

What was my point? Ah, yes...flowerbeds.
The closing shift for a sweeper involved spending the last hour or so picking trash out of the many flower beds in your assigned area. Fantasyland---especially the area in the heart of the realm---left me with the most pleasant memories of this otherwise mundane task.

Black, bulky, Disney-issued flashlight in hand, as I swept through the area during closing, I would shine the beam across the flower beds, illuminating cigarette butts, popcorn containers, remnants of Mickey balloons, gum, straw wrappers, cups, ticket stubs, Souvenir Guides, popcorn pieces, drink lids, cellophane, and other detritus that would find its way from the hands of guests into the beds. I would pick up these pieces or sweep them into my pan, one bed at a time, until I'd make a complete circuit. I would usually start this process by Dumbo's calliope and work my way around the flower beds, past Village Haus, Pinocchio, Snow White, Tinker Bell's Toy Shop, the Castle courtyard, and back up the other side---Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, the Mad Hatter and over to Alice and back along the Storybookland canal near Monstro.

Each of us sweepers would be going through this process in our respective areas. Our lead would meander through the area, checking on us and occasionally helping out. The area music remained turned on during the whole process and, of course, the area lights. What made it special was the fact that we became the only humans in the realm once the guests had been walked out by security. To be one of four or five people in all of Fantasyland---from Castle to Small World---was a pretty cool thing.

Dumbo's calliope would bounce out its happy carousel tunes in the background and I would find myself picking to the music on occasion. We sweepers developed a posture for attacking the flower beds. A foot would be slid under the painted wrought iron fence that surrounded the bed and the sweeper would lean forward over that leg to get at stuff closest to the fence line. If you walked through the area during a closing shift, you would see a virtual ballet of sweepers' rear ends in the air and heads down as they bent over their flower beds with flashlights.

Between flower beds, I would sometimes just stop for a moment and take it all in. The lights, the music, the flowers, the familiar attractions, the cobblestones. Once again, me and the Park. Maybe I'm selfish---who isn't at times?---but there are moments when the Park feels like it is there just for me. I wish each Disneyland-o-phile could have that unique opportunity: to be alone in an area of the Park, even for just a few minutes.

At the end of the shift, our area crew of sweepers would gather into a group and make our way back to the Custodial locker. We would then go to the locker room and Wardrobe, to turn in our costume, change and head home.

We were a closely-knit group. Indeed, this blog is a testament to the lasting impact that those precious few days as a Cast Member had on me. It is either that or some strange sort of mental illness that keeps me at the keyboard, posting this stuff.

As my dear friend Mr. Gump would oft impart, "That's all I have to say about that."