Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 11: No Cryogenically Frozen Heads, Though

I think yesterday's post about our first family trip to Disneyland came out a little wan. I wanted to write a celebratory post, of course--it was truly a wonderful day--but when I got home and turned on the computer there was an e-mail saying that my dear friend's mother had died that morning. I was overwhelmed with sadness--I have known my friend since I was 17, and her lively, funny mom almost as long--and I just couldn't believe she's gone, even though she's been battling an ongoing illness for years now. I don't want to give too many details, out of respect for my friend's privacy, but talk about strange...I just can't believe she's lost her mom.

Since it's hard for me to concentrate today, I thought I'd continue with the Disney theme from yesterday, especially since I really didn't do it justice the first time. One thing I didn't explain is that we felt like VIPs in the company of our friend, Robyn, who was a high-powered employee of Disney for many years before she had children, and really knows the park like the back the back of Disneyland. Throughout the day, she treated us to fascinating little bits of trivia about the rides and the park itself, and I found it utterly delicious to learn new things about a place I thought I already knew inside and out.

Here are a few fun facts that Robyn shared with us:

1. The names painted on the windows of the Main Street shops are those of actual, important people in the park's history, and their purported businesses often contain an inside joke.

2. There is a real apartment over the Main St. firehouse that belonged to Walt Disney himself, and it's kept as a Victorian shrine to him.

3. The short, squat robots on display in the line for "Star Tours" are the stripped-down metal bones of the former singing geese from "America Sings," an attraction from my youth. If you look closely, Robyn showed us, you can see they still have webbed feet.

4. In New Orleans Square, there is an unobtrusive door (she pointed it out) labeled CLUB 33, which leads to an exclusive French bistro/private celebrity hang-out that costs big bucks to join, after you've slogged through like a 10-year waiting list. It's the only place in the park that serves alcohol.

5. If you look up during the Winnie the Pooh ride (at a very odd moment when I don't know why you would look up unless someone had instructed you to) you can see in the shadows the three unmistakable heads of Buff, Max and Melvin--mounted buffalo, deer and moose from "The Country Bear Jamboree" show, former tenants of Winnie's home.

And here are a few more I turned up on the internet, by which I intend a disclaimer in the sense that Robyn might read this and comment "What you talkin' 'bout, fool?"

1. This one blows my mind--can it be true? There's a basketball court (!) in the hollow space at the top of the Matterhorn which is part of an employee break room (!!)

2. Many, many feral cats that come from who-knows-where roam the park after the guests leave at night.

3. A plumber's strike on opening day in 1955 meant Walt had to choose between drinking fountains and bathrooms. He chose the latter because "People can buy Pepsi-Cola, but they can't pee in the street."

4. When it opened in 1967, "The Pirates of the Caribbean" featured real skeletons obtained from UCLA Medical Center because the imagineers felt that the fake skeletons didn't look believable enough. They were later replaced (and buried.)

5. For some reason, so many women enjoy lifting their shirts for the souvenir photo cameras on Splash Mountain that there is a website dedicated to the results. I'll let you guess the name--I don't traffic in smut here. But I did follow up, and it's real (if not spectacular.)

Care to share your own fascinating factoids about Disney, Readers?


Logical Libby said...

I am so sorry for your friend, and for you. I am glad you had a good day at the park though. And thank goodness you didn't have to pee in the streets.

Stephanie said...

okay, I had to look.

Anonymous said...

My condolences to your friend.

I knew all those tidbits except for the goose robot one. :) I was a geek for Disneyland in the mid-1990s, especially enjoying the darker side and behind the scenes tidbits. There was a book at Barnes & Noble (my employer at the time) called Mouse Tales: A behind-the-ears look at Disneyland that my coworkers and I just about studied. We probably made it unsellable due to our manhandling. :)

It would be blast to go with someone who knew all the dirt. I'm glad you had such a great time.

~Caroline B

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I knew about the underground holding cells from my ex-husband who'd had first-hand experience with them before I met him for drugs and shoplifting. So-o-o many warning signs... (sigh) But he looked like Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles! :)

Jen said...

I love learning all of those tidbits! I feel like I knew some of them once upon a time (when I, too, practically lived at Disneyland while in college!). My college boyfriend once hid with some friends on Tom Sawyer's Island and ran around the park after it was closed. They got caught, though. Bummer.

And don't you love the restaurant in Pirates of the Caribbean?

I've been telling Sage about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (she's fascinated with his stealing of cars and having to go to jail). Wish we were close enough to take her there!

I, too, am sorry about your friend's mom. That is so sad.


Sam said...

@C: Oooh, must get that book!

@Miss J: I do love that restaurant. Only been there once, but I have great memories of it.

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts. :)

The Wades said...

I have never been. What a deprived person, huh?

The thought of dragging our four children through sounds so exhausting.

Sorry about your friend's mom.