Monday, May 29, 2023

19 Trips Down the Mountain (Splash Mountain)


From the archives of The Imagineering Fan Club, that time I rode Splash Mountain 19 times to try to find out what this sign said (I wouldn't see and photograph it until later the next year)...

The Walt Disney Imagineering Fan Club Annual Splash-a-Thon 2000
Sponsored in Part by Disney's FastPass™

You know, some people walk up to us and asked us, "Are you guys crazy?" Actually... that's not true, no one walks up to us. Maybe that's because we are crazy. Nothing can even come close to illustrating this as good as our annual Splash-a-Thon.

Inspired by our good friend Ernest P. Worrell… we decided to join the very elite group of "Splashtranauts" who has conquered the mountain! What defines a Splashtranaut? Well honestly I don't know...but I'm sure we qualify now.

The day was January 26, year and one day after our previous Splash meet. Our day began at Splash Mountain at 3:00. It was sunny that day. Since it was just a weekday in January, there were no crowds and the wait time for Splash Mountain was a comfortable 5 minutes.

Don't be deceived, however...this wasn't just all fun and games. We were on a fact finding mission. Because of a rumor we had heard from the Internet (actually from a comment Bruce Gordon made in a chat), we decided to find if there was in fact a sign at the bottom of the final drop and were determined to find out what such a sign would say if it existed.

Our first trip went off without a hitch. We were amazed at the colors and the sounds of Splash Mountain, almost as if it were our first trip through. We marveled at the characters, screamed during the drops, and pointed out some of the natural plant life appearing along the river. And then finally as we reached Chickapin Hill we prepared ourselves for our mission. The log hit the bottom, the wheels started skidding, and as we slid down the flume we peered down into the depths of the Briar Patch to see… mist! Unfortunately for us the misters would actually be working today. But then as we dove under the screen of mist we saw it off to the right! Success indeed! The sign did exist! Now to find out what it said.

Our next few rides through produced no answers. Four more times we plunged into the Briar Patch and each time the log moved too fast to get a fix on the words on the sign. This was not going to be easy. Of course we realized that if we were meant to read the sign, everyone would already know what it said. But we were just having fun riding Splash Mountain. How could you not? It's an Imagineering classic!

Unfortunately tragedy would strike on our 6th trip through. Our log was overloaded and made for a horribly tight squeeze. The ride seemed a lot longer than the nine and a half minutes the trip usually took.

Our following trips would not be so bad though. Time just flew by as trip after trip down the five-story plunge was made. A debate was sparked about the layout of the mountain. Strangely we just couldn't figure out where the final lift is in relation to the finale. Maybe someday we will find out. We also discovered another nifty bit of trivia. Seems that as the logs come down into the Briar Patch, they're supposed to dive under the water. Well if you're lucky enough to be right in front of the drop when another log is coming down, you'll notice a trail of splashes made in the water by the falling log! What a great detail!

Finally, on our 12th trip through the mountain, we were recognized by a Cast Member! We thought it funny that it would take twelve trips through before actually being recognized...especially since the lines were so short. But we knew that time was running out for us and our mission. Twelve times through and it was closely approaching 6 PM… sunset. And we both knew that there was no way to see the sign if the sun went down. So far the only thing we could make out was an L. The other letters of the sign appeared worn by years of Splash Damage. Then finally on our 14th trip through, the sun had finally set and night enveloped the mountain.

We decided to break for dinner. So for the first time in hours, we left Critter Country. But after dinner we came back for some more Splash fun. It was Splash-tacular! With our mission behind us we felt more relaxed. On our 15th trip we finally noticed the Bluebird was missing. On our 16th trip we peered up into the inside of the tree stump at the top of Chickapin seems there is a small little hole exposing the superstructure and they have a worklight on inside for some reason.

Finally, our last trip through the mountain arrived...our 19th trip. Suddenly a bright idea hit us! Our first of the day! We asked the Cast Member on the platform if she knew what the sign said! Unfortunately she didn't and gave us a rather less than enthusiastic answer. But that's ok...we were waiting there and making them stay late anyway. Our 19th trip through the mountain would be our last of the night, and we would be the last guests to leave Splash Mountain on January 26th.

I must say we accomplished a lot. Thanks to our undying efforts we can now call ourselves "Splashtranauts" without feeling guilty. And of course our next Splash-a-Thon will be even better! And this was all made possible by the magic of Walt Disney Imagineering!

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Announcing the Parkendium Public Archive

The time has come to unveil the first version of the Parkendium public archive, a digital Disneyland collection.

Starting small with just 65,000 digital assets from the 1950s to the present.

Learn more in this blog post.

What will you find on Parkendium right now?

36,000 of my photos.

3,600 photos from the incredible collection of Patrick Jenkins, including fantastic 1950s/1960s signage documentation.

The entirety of Stuff from the Park and Gorillas Don't Blog thru 2021—indexed.

And more!

My first highly recommended top tip is to first click "Request Access" at upper right so I can create a free account for you.

You don't have to do this, but if you do you will be able to see more metadata and search directly on the keywords (which is the core of findability).

When you visit, you'll see two links: the Parkendium Public Archive (where all the digital assets are) and Documentation.

The only document currently in Documentation is the start of a chronology of updates to the site.

I need your feedback regarding what's unclear to you!

The Help button at upper right is generic to the hosting service (MediaGraph), but could assist you in navigating Parkendium.

To understand how to find digital assets on Parkendium, it's important to understand my keywording process.

Most of them are photographs, and my subject indexing has been focused on these.

These are the core categories I try to apply to each photo as a base. Let's look at each.

 The first thing I do is to assign a date, which is often approximate for the vintage shots.

The "created date" needs a date certain, but I address uncertainty through keywords:

1950s (unspecified)
1955 (unspecified)
1955-08 (unspecified)

can all be valid.

Next, I keyword whether an asset is a photograph and, if so, whether it's color or black and white.

That distinction is less significant now than in Disneyland's early years, but trust me when I tell you it comes in handy.

 Another basic keyword category for photographs is to determine whether a photograph is an exterior view or an interior view.

 The next keyword category is the time of day. (For exterior views; interior views are keyworded as "notimeofday" as it's not relevant.)

The primary distinction is daytime or nighttime, but I sometimes use morning, sunset, dusk, or crow o'clock as appropriate.

Next up is whether a photograph fits in "environmental photos" or "photographic portraits."

Environmental can contain people, but the focus is more on the setting.

Portraits are focused on people (though still may contain interesting details in the background!). 

The perspective keyword category is assigned for unique viewpoints.

Want to see "photographs from Skyway"? There are 987 of them currently in the Parkendium public archive.

What about "photographs from Frontierland rivercraft"? 2,263 photographs.

 Now we get into the fun stuff! Does the photograph show any construction? I lump in destruction.

Sometimes I create specific keywords for significant projects ("1959 expansion construction") and other times use something generic ("Disneyland Park construction (unspecified)").

This next keyword category won't surprise you: does the photograph show or document a sign?

Aside from my own obsession, the Parkendium public archive includes vintage Sign Shop documentation photos collected by Patrick Jenkins—many never before on the Internet.

The last essential keyword category is a land association. This doesn't mean a photograph was necessarily taken in the land. For example, an exhibit in the Opera House about the Haunted Mansion would get keywords for "Main Street U.S.A." and "New Orleans Square."

Many photographs go beyond these keyword categories, to include attractions, restaurants, and stores, or Park characters, or events.

But these categories are a baseline that can then help me more efficiently assign additional keywords.

With these keyword categories applied, we can start to discover assets by combining them.

For example, we can search for color 1950s photographs from Frontierland rivercraft showing construction by combining the appropriate keywords.

If you create a free account by requesting access at upper right, when logged in you'll see a Tag Tree in the left panel.

This is where you can discover the keyword hierarchy of all keywords applied in the Parkendium public archive.

 One other tip is to change the sort order through the arrows at upper right.

It will default to most recent upload first, which I rarely find helpful. Sorting by capture time (oldest or newest first depending on what you're looking for) or name of file can be better.

Big thanks to Peter Krogh for reaching out and MediaGraph for hosting this implementation of the Parkendium public archive!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Review: David Koenig's The 55ers: The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland

The 55ers Cover
I've only reviewed one book previously on this blog (Chris Strodder's The Disneyland Encyclopedia, in 2008). That shouldn't indicate, of course, that I haven't found many worthwhile Disneyland books published in the last decade (Todd James Pierce's Three Years in Wonderland being one of the best).

But David Koenig's forthcoming The 55ers: The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland (available everywhere September 2019) is right in line with the Disneyland research work I am doing. With so few people doing research on the Disneyland Cast, I am perhaps best-positioned to review the book, which I received this week because I pledged to the Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.

If you're familiar with books on Disneyland, you very likely already know David's name. His first book, 25 years ago, was Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland. He wrote follow-ups in a similar vein (Mouse Under Glass, More Mouse Tales), about Walt Disney World (Realityland), and most recently The People v. Disneyland: How Lawsuits & Lawyers Transformed the Magic. David was instrumental in bringing to publication the memoirs of two early Disneyland Cast Members: Club 55er Bob Penfield's The Last Original Disneylander and Bob D'Arcy's A Walk in the Park: Reflections from Disneyland's First Host. Additionally, since 2000 David has had an online column about rumors and news about the Disneyland Cast, first on MousePlanet and now on MiceChat.

If there is one person with a reputation for writing the stories of the Cast, it's David. I felt that while his earlier books on Disneyland sometimes relied heavily on Cast Member stories in a way that wasn't easy for an outsider to verify, both The People v. Disneyland and The 55ers are better cited.

So what is the aim of The 55ers? In the Introduction, David explains that when he was first interviewing Cast Members about Disneyland, he was so focused on their Park stories that he wouldn't bother to ask about their non-Disneyland life experiences. But as he continued these conversations, with particular prodding from Disney University founder Van France, he came to understand the importance of the people. As he put it, "I continued interviewing cast members, but now with an eye toward who they were, rather than just the tales they could tell me." Disneyland would have been a very different place if different people worked there in 1955. The 55ers is "[David's] attempt to pay tribute to all of these brave adventurers."

The 55ers profiles 743 first-year employees(!) and names another 325. For most of you, this is an astonishing number of profiles of people you have never heard of. The book is as much about the people as it is about Disneyland, so you'll read stories of wartime service, Midwestern couples relocating to Southern California and both ending up at Disneyland, and post-Disneyland stories (including all those who followed C. V. Wood on his endeavors). I think David has produced a beautiful tribute to the Disneyland pioneers. If you collect books on Disneyland history, your shelf is now impoverished without this book. You will find information you didn't know, and see unique photographs of things you have never seen. This is not in any way a rehash of the 1975 Club 55 book (the only comparable work.)

In his Acknowledgments, David gives special thanks to Bob Penfield, the last to retire of the first to be hired. An early idea for The 55ers was that some profiles could be sprinkled throughout Bob's own memoir. Bob has always been the one who cared the most about the Club 55 legacy. I owe thanks to Bob, too. I first met him as a teenager in July 1997 at his Main Street window dedication ceremony, awarded to him upon his retirement. I was wearing my "Ask Me About My Disneyland Website" button and he did. (He asked that I only print nice things.) He helped me and Kevin Yee out with our trivia books and answered some detailed questions when I first began work on the thesaurus. He put me in touch with early Cast Member Earl Archer, whose collection of Cast publications has been integral to my research. Thank you, Bob!

Bob Penfield's Main Street window dedication ceremony

How does one put together a book like this? Talk to a lot of people over a long period of time, to start. He's been doing research in this vein for 30 years. He also reviewed early directories and Cast publications over a long period of time. Unfortunately, the book does not include a comprehensive index of all the sources he consulted, but just the "most relied-upon of the tens of thousands of records," as well as the people he interviewed, the families he interviewed, and interviews conducted by others which he was able to use. The book also includes a Personnel Index to all of the 55ers he names or profiles. David laments that he was "unable to find names for a great many of the 800-some people who worked for lessees in 1955." This is an area where I can't use my thesaurus to identify omissions, as I only group work history by decade. Brad Abbott has done in-depth research on the lessees, and hopefully his book on that subject can fill in some gaps David has identified.

As somebody steeped in the terminology of Disneyland at various points in its history, I've found David's use of nomenclature to be spot on in both official and unofficial terms. That's often my first clue that somebody knows what they're talking about.

The book is organized along two parallel tracks. As David describes each division, department, and location, telling the history and weaving in anecdotes from those he's interviewed, he also uses extensive sidebars to profile or name the people who worked in those places. By displaying this information together, the book constantly reminds you of the importance of the people. I don't know that David considers this a Disneyland reference work, but I definitely do. If you wouldn't want to buy a Disneyland reference work, please don't let my categorization dissuade you—$55 is a bargain for the amount of information he's compiled and published as a very attractive, photo-filled hardbound book.

The amount of information in each biographical entry can be uneven and doesn't necessarily track with their length of service to the Park. I found an example of this in the Finance section. Jim Quigley, a Club 55 member who retired in 1994, received only half as long an entry as Denis Scallen. David describes Scallen's time at Disneyland as brief, before describing a number of activities he pursued as a charlatan in later years. The example also shows how much it is about the people and their stories beyond Disneyland.

Biography is tough. Before we realized that, Kevin and I had planned for one series of our encyclopedia series to be a Pantheon. Which is why it's all the more remarkable that for nearly everyone he's profiled, David has found their full names, their dates of birth, their dates of death (as applicable to a large majority of the 55ers), and details of their lives. Although I have gone through Cast publications and directories meticulously, I am very often seeing new middle or maiden names, and nicknames that have helped me consolidate a few terms into one person. There is no central place he could have found this information, which demonstrates the incredible amount of work he put into it.

If I had a "wish list" item that could have been incorporated into the book, it would have been the employment dates with Disneyland listed like the birth and death dates, so you could see who was only there a short time and who stayed. But in addition to being perhaps an impossible thing to find for so many people, David's focus clearly is 1955 and what happened that year. In that sense, it doesn't matter as much if somebody built a career at Disneyland; what matters is what they were doing the opening year. The book does include in the profiles separation and retirement dates (when known).

I haven't been fact checking every statement I've seen in the book, but everything shows it to be very well researched. All of the new information I'm finding matches up with what I've already recorded and additionally fleshes it out. For example, I already knew that Costumer Ed Carnegie lose his Ticket Seller wife Sally in 1960. I didn't know that she had been killed in a car accident while driving to Yuma, Arizona. Additionally, while I had a Sally Carnegie in the thesaurus, I hadn't realized that she was also the person who I had in the thesaurus as Sally Wray (from references to her in the directories and the Disneylander).

So far, I've already had some amount of information on 80% of the people in The 55ers. Usually the book has a fuller name than I do, such as Dorothy Mae Donaldson Humphries instead of Dorothy M. Humphries. Occasionally I've found that I have a part of a name he doesn't, and I've tracked those to a May 28, 1956 telephone directory I don't think he used. It's understandable that it wouldn't have been a starting place for his research, but does have a tiny amount more detail in a few cases. (He mentions using November and December directories, which I don't have. Hey David, let's trade!)

What it all boils down to is that if you combine The 55ers with Three Years in Wonderland, Jim Korkis' The Unofficial Disneyland 1955 Companion, Marcy Carricker Smothers' Eat Like Walt, and Jason's Disneyland Almanac, and you have an astonishing level of detail about 1955 Disneyland that was unavailable even ten years ago. Kudos to David for the exceptional book he was able to put together, which would have been difficult 30 years ago, let alone today.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

50 Years of the Disneyland Line

Can you believe that the Disneyland Line debuted 50 years ago today? I don't know what the University of Disneyland employees expected this publication would cover or how long they thought it would last. It was part of a series of Cast communication tools which essentially began with the Disneylander periodical in January 1957.

The Disneylander only lasted until November 1961. The Backstage Disneyland magazine began in Winter 1962 (under the editorship of Disney Legend Wally Boag).

Backstage Disneyland continued until the summer of 1980 and throughout the 1960s published at least twice a year. But it didn't appear that this was frequent enough. By late 1964, the Park was sending out a small brochure known as the Tencennial Newsletter, of which a few other editions were published in 1965. By January 1966, this was going out monthly as the University of Disneyland Newsletter. From October 1966 through around April 1971—when the redundancy to the weekly Disneyland Line was surely evident—this monthly publication continued as Inside Disneyland.

The Disneyland Line debuted on April 4, 1969, as a two-page publication. For the next year it fluctuated between a two-and-four-page publication. On this blog, I've talked a bit about the Disneyland Line publication, including a reproduction of the second issue and my own (and only) appearance in it. I have a very robust collection of digital surrogates of Disneyland Line and Disneyland Resort Line (the new name as of December 31, 1999) issues. But for a long time I was missing many of the issues from 1969 and 1970.

Because the Walt Disney Archives wasn't established until 1970—and the Disney depository system including the Anaheim Public Library not instituted until sometime later—I hadn't immediately inquired with the Anaheim Heritage Center as to what Disneyland Lines they might have. I was quite pleased to discover, upon asking, that they had about half the issues I was missing from that early timeframe, including the very first issue.

So, on this 50th anniversary of the publication, I am pleased to share the Heritage Center's copy of this enduring publication. I'm not sure my Disneyland interest would be what it is without having had access to copies of issues from the 1970s. I can't wait to see the issue documenting the 100th anniversary of the Disneyland Resort.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Disneyland Thesaurus 2018 Year in Review

Although I have been quiet on the blogging front, this year has been the most productive on the thesaurus itself since it came into existence on August 19, 2007. In raw numbers, in 2018 I added 32,471 terms, or 32% of the 101,868 terms of the current total. The number of relationships has more than doubled, from 216,414 to 434,653. But adding terms and relationships is only one aspect of the overall project. The following summary stretches back to the last quarter of 2017, when I resumed work on the thesaurus in earnest.

Identifying and Acquiring Sources
The thesaurus is built around information from reputable sources, so it's always been driven by a need to first build a bibliography of Disneyland sources and then acquire them (mostly as digital surrogates). In years past this has involved a lot of scanning (of Disneyland Lines in particular). This year has been much more focused on acquiring digital objects—tens of thousands of them, in fact.

I maintain two Excel tracking spreadsheets to document my work with sources, one titled Publication Tracking Spreadsheet and the other Web Material Tracking Spreadsheet. Web Material had been stagnant, with only a few of the vintage Disneyland blogs listed and only a little work done years ago to locally save the files. So, one project was to not only expand the index (by copying and pasting blog links and titles and then filling in the dates), but also to save the content for when it eventually goes offline. I am pleased to report that I saved all the Disney-related content from the "big three" vintage Disneyland blogs: Stuff from the Park, Gorillas Don't Blog, and Davelandblog. This involved saving each individual relevant post as an MHT file (which combines the HTML and graphic elements), but also each of the photos individually. I did this for a number of other blogs as well.

I have saved 10% of the Disney Parks Blog posts I've identified as relevant to the Disneyland Resort (4,914). This endeavor is a bit more complicated because of the frequent inclusion of videos, which have to be saved through a separate process. I had initially relied on the sketchy sites where you input the video URL and, after presenting you with some ads and viruses, you get a download link that often didn't work. I researched and found a program called YouTube-DLG which has made it much easier to download videos in bulk. (It is still a chore, however, to extract the video URLs and associate the downloaded files with my saved blog posts.) This blog-saving activity has yielded 54,895 files, totaling 35GB. The volume will rise rapidly as I save additional videos.

Another aspect of digital collection has been with newspaper articles. For the first time since 2010 I made an effort to augment and bring this source type up to date. In 2018 I saved an additional 1,639 newspaper articles. I now have 18,007 newspaper articles and advertisements (with the bulk being from the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, and still needing to save the Times from 2001-2018).

Finally, I had long neglected researching in the Anaheim Heritage Room's collection of Disneyland Lines, which they have as a Disney depository of the Walt Disney Archives. Since the Archives wasn't founded until June 1970, and the Lines I was missing were mainly in 1969 and 1970, I didn't think the collection would contain what I needed. I was pleasantly surprised to find how wrong I was. I added images from 21 Disneyland Lines from 1969-1971 and input information from them in the thesaurus.

Thesaurus Work
The bulk of the new terms has come about from two activities. The first is that I decided it would be valuable to include information on the broader Disney universe, both to contextualize existing terms and because you never know when synergy will bring what I call "general Disney" terms into direct Disneyland relevance. (Did Evinrude ever appear at Disneyland prior to Kevin and Jody integrating him into Mickey's Soundsational Parade?) I began this work with the 2016 edition of Disney A-Z and then started fresh with the encyclopedia found on (Although you would expect the online version to be the most complete and up-to-date, I have found in some cases that the 2016 print edition was more thorough. I've been keeping a running tally for a future blog post.)

As of today, the thesaurus has 9,993 General Disney terms. I've tagged them so they can be stripped from any thesaurus outputs, as needed. I still have 3,399 entries to input (which will yield many more terms than that).

The other activity—which contributed to the service anniversary milestone detailed here—has been adding in Cast Member names from lists in Disneyland Resort Lines of recent years. Well, two type of lists. One is the service anniversary list published every month. After five years, the service anniversaries for 15 years and above should be duplicative, but the 10 year names are almost always new to the thesaurus. As of today, the thesaurus has 29,249 Cast Member names. I'm going to go out on a limb to suggest that it is the largest such list outside of a Disney HR system.

I was unfortunate enough to discover that the July 17, 2005, edition of the Disneyland Resort Line contains the names of 18,700 Disneyland Resort Cast Members as of June 11, 2005. In the print edition, you could barely make out the names. But if you had access to an electronic version, you could copy the names and run some find-and-replace actions to end up with an Excel spreadsheet sorted alphabetically by last name. I tried various ways of automating the input of this information, but because I already had so many names in the thesaurus, the tedious prep work led to too many errors for my comfort. I've made use of a program to expand the Windows clipboard (Ditto) and at least make the entry as painless as possible. I've input information on 9,775 people I have linked to a "50th Anniversary Cast Members" term. Many of these people have additional citations from service anniversary lists or telephone directories, or mentions in the Disneyland Line.

I tried a new way of putting the thesaurus to use. One goal is that it could be used to index digital objects, be they photographs or documents or blog posts or what have you. I created a new field (IDX) to try applying the thesaurus in this manner. I indexed photos from 116 posts from Gorillas Don't Blog and 101 posts from Main Gate Admission. It was an interesting exercise, but I want to put more thought into it before continuing further. It did reveal the need for additional terms, such as construction (activity), photographs from Frontierland rivercraft, and photographs from Skyway.

I also took a step toward improving the possibility that I could "complete" the thesaurus. The first was in defining for myself what "complete" means, which is going through a defined set of materials to draw out terms and relationships. In rough terms, that includes going through the entire run of some internal publications (chiefly the Disneyland (Resort) Line), all newspaper articles and advertisements, a sampling of Park guidemaps through the years (preferably at least one per year), Disney A-Z, the Disney Parks Blog, and some other publications and web material. There would certainly be missing information, but I'd be comfortable that I had made a legitimate effort of comprehensively examining a substantial collection of reliable sources. (And, of course, if I reach that goal, I would be more than happy to add from other sources.)

When I first started the thesaurus, I did not source where particular information came from. I quickly realized the problem with this approach and reoriented my work to include this information—both for the term itself and the substantive information about each term. This acted sort of like a citation file a lexicographer might use, but with more encyclopedic-type information. The obvious downside is that this takes a very long time. I have come to a compromise that preserves two essential components of the thesaurus: firstly that it contain terms and relationships covering all aspects of Disneyland from the earliest days to the present, and secondly that the source for terms is documented, as a nomenclature reference.

Now as I go through a source I will add its title to the SRC field for any terms which are mentioned. This project is by-and-large about proper nouns, so I wouldn't necessarily SRC the word food every time I saw it. But I would for Ron Dominguez (or R. Dominguez, or Ronald Dominguez, or Ronald K. Dominguez, as I have also found). Where there is substantive information about a term, I will also include that information in a newly created field titled (for now) TT ("to thesaurus"). As of right now, all the sources I haven't used are essentially closed. For the 1,400 Disneyland Lines I haven't yet gone through, I wouldn't be able to tell you which might have an article on the Main Street Magic Shop or on Fantasmic! This new approach promises to make it possible for me to dramatically decrease the amount of time I spend with each source, but still make the information findable.

When we published Jason's Disneyland Almanac in 2011, we were missing Park hours from 773 dates during that time period. I am pleased to report that the number of days missing Park hours is now down to 34, between January 5, 1997, and June 30, 1999. Having access to the Los Angeles Times through allowed me to see the Calendar section from the 1980s and 1990s, which frequently contained the Park hours and is not available in the paper's text database. For more recent years I went through all the Twitter posts of @DisneylandToday. In addition to being a reliable source publishing hours day-of (always preferred to far in advance), the account also posted updates on the rare occasion of a change. Additionally, I brought the weather information in the thesaurus up to date through 2017.

Finally, I made some progress on cleaning up the hierarchy. This is a never-ending battle as new terms and (especially) concepts are introduced. I know some parts of the thesaurus desperately need work. It is very difficult to see the hierarchy from within the thesaurus construction program itself; I was lucky to have a friend create a way for me to expand and contract the hierarchy at various levels to help me as I make decisions in this vein.

What's next for 2019? Well, tying up some of the loose ends I mentioned (in particular the 50th Anniversary Cast Members and Disney A-Z) will be a big help. I intend to continue improving the hierarchy and going through more sources in the new way detailed above. I would like to finish saving the Disney Parks Blog and bring my newspaper corpus up-to-date. There's still a lot of work to do.

Peter Mark Roget (of Roget's Thesaurus) and I share a birthday, so I have kind of looked to him as a model. Roget began work on this thesaurus in his mid-20s, but didn't publish it until he was in his 70s. (Never mind that I have the benefit of a computer, of course.) That would put me on track to complete it by Disneyland's 100th birthday in 2055. Maybe a preview edition could be ready for the 75th in 2025.

Happy New Year!

Friday, October 26, 2018

100,000 Years

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this post's title referred to the expected wait times next year for the attractions in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Or the amount of time before the Disneyland thesaurus will have a reasonable amount of information. Instead, it refers to another thesaurus milestone.

While it is hard to convey how much information is in the thesaurus, one (incomplete) measure comes from the quantities of certain types of information. There are currently 93,730 terms in the thesaurus and 370,665 relationships among them (hierarchical, equivalent, and associative). Not all terms are created equal, of course. Some will have many relationships and some will have few (possibly because of the sources I have and haven't examined).

One thing that has been very important to me for as long as I've wanted to create the ultimate Disneyland reference work has been recognition of the Disneyland Cast. Back in the late 1990s, there was very little information published for the public from the Cast perspective (with Van France's Window on Main Street autobiography as the best source). When I began the thesaurus project in 2007, I had a feeling that the sheer number of Cast Members would be overwhelming. But I didn't set any sort of a significance threshold for entering names and information about the Cast into the thesaurus as I came across it—and I'm glad I didn't.

As I continued to go through internal sources such as the Disneyland Line and Backstage, I found that some names showed up over and over. It was small reward to occasionally find a reference to someone starting at the Park, another mention years down the road, and finally a "Golden Ears" retirement profile. (I have also sometimes run across their obituaries in the newspaper articles I've saved.) Listings in telephone directories through the years have helped to build profiles of individuals through the years.

As of this writing, I have 24,224 Cast Members in the thesaurus. With this many individuals, and with the small amount of information I often have, it is likely that some people appear under more than one name (such as if a maiden name changed to a married name) or if I had inadvertently lumped two distinct people with the same name into one term. I have tried to take these considerations into account, but sometimes I just have to take a guess. Here is how the Cast is broken down by decades:

1950s Cast Members: 2,436
1960s Cast Members: 3,782
1970s Cast Members: 4,272
1980s Cast Members: 3,471
1990s Cast Members: 4,942
2000s Cast Members: 13,669
2010s Cast Members: 4,315

A different way to quantify the Cast information is to look at the service anniversaries I have documented in the thesaurus, which brings us back to the post's title. This morning I reached 100,000 years of service anniversaries. ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS! That accounts for the anniversaries recognized by Disney at five-year intervals. I have gone off published service lists. I have also used retirement mentions if they include the years of service. I have not assumed service anniversaries, even if I see that somebody has worked at the Resort in different decades. Here's how they break down by length of service (I only assign the longest anniversary):

5-year Cast Members: 949 [this category has not been published in the Line in years]
10-year Cast Members: 2,955
15-year Cast Members: 1,483
20-year Cast Members: 706
25-year Cast Members: 413
30-year Cast Members: 301
35-year Cast Members: 126
40-year Cast Members: 88
45-year Cast Members: 44
50-year Cast Members: 5
55-year Cast Members: 1
60-year Cast Members: 1

If you've ever worked at Disneyland, thank you for your service!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hey, That's My Scan!

Do you remember my blog post from April 17, 2008? Good. It showed what the very second publication of the Disneyland Line looked like. Unfortunately, I still have been unable to track down the very first edition of this longstanding publication. And I recently learned that perhaps Disney doesn't have it available easily internally, either.

The January 13, 2011 Disneyland Resort Line featured this item:

This could, of course, be from any scan of the April 11, 1969, publication. It's cropped a little more than my scan, the color balance is different, the bleed-through from the second page has been corrected, and the hole punch in the "Disneyland" is not there.

What is apparent, however, is the evidence of the lower two hole punches and the overall fading around the edges. (The logo hole punch could have been corrected because it was more visible.) The first thing that caught my attention here was that they "chose" to use an image of the second issue published, rather than the first. When I first saw the item, I was hoping to finally see what the very first issue looked like! It wouldn't make sense to choose the second if you had the first. And then I began examining it and found similarities to the scan I had posted almost three years before this issue.

What do you think?