Monday, March 31, 2008

Comping DCA

What in the world...? you might be thinking. Well, this was a T-shirt I was going to make for myself (and others who wanted it), but laziness got the better of me and it was never produced. (You can also see why I wouldn't be designing graphics for a living.) This may surprise some of you, but during its first summer Guests at Disney's California Adventure weren't always the happiest bunch. It seems they were concerned that there wasn't enough to do, and it was so hot because of the lack of shade, and there was nothing for the kids. And yet I had to play along like DCA was really a kid's park, and there was lots to do. Often, offering the Guest the option to spend the rest of the day at Disneyland placated them. Hence, comping the Park through its first summer.

City Hall training is kind of a big deal, as it follows training at the information locations and usually Lost & Found. (Trust me, latch on to whatever hope you have for escaping Lost & Found!) My City Hall training occurred May 11-13, 2001. There's a lot to learn in terms of procedures and things we can do to assist Guests. Add to this the fact that Guests can and do come in irate and you can see where experience in the location pays off. The following weekend I had a closing shift at the Guest Relations Lobby in Disney's California Adventure, which I recall being very slow (it often is over there). In the quiet times, one has ample opportunity to answer all of a Guest's questions or concerns, and frequently another Cast Member is free to help a newbie.

Then I wasn't scheduled in City Hall or the Lobby for seven weeks, meaning I pretty much forgot the procedures for everything. July 5 was my first City Hall shift, for which I was pretty excited. I had spent a bit of time in City Hall as an annual passholder observing things. At any rate, it was nice to be back in Disneyland after weeks at the Information Booths. It wasn't a shift for which I was originally scheduled, but one I either picked up or had been changed on me. Much to my dismay, upon arriving at City Hall, my Lead said that I was actually working the Lobby, 12:00-20:30. (I don't know that I was originally given that information... I'm pretty good with details!) I walked over there with trepidation, to discover an awful situation.

Things were kind of frantic in the office behind the Lobby, but On Stage...! Well, there were about five Cast Members, including managers, behind the counter, and a line of Guests extending out the door and almost out of the alcove entirely. I really had no idea what was going on, nor did I even remember what to do! (One of the managers didn't even think I was trained there and I hoped that would get me off the hook, but I was stuck.) Apparently California Screamin' had been down much of the day (and the week, as I recall). There were the additional problems mentioned above, plus crowds. (July 4 fell on a Wednesday, so I think there were some extended vacations.)

I have never been more tired in my life than after those eight hours! Most days, there are short periods here and there were the Guest flow calms down, but on this day the traffic did not let up until about my final minutes. There were a lot of angry people, but I was able to turn at least a few of those concerns into compliments by trying to figure out exactly why the Guest was upset and how we could fix it for them. That day was really a battle test. You always think things could be worse, but on this day, they really got worse! At 8:15 it was my walk time and the Lobby was empty. I wished Pat (one of the Cast Members closing the Lobby that evening) well, but it looked like the bulk of the storm had passed. Ha! I got home to read on MousePlanet that a transformer behind "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" had blown at 8:35, plunging the Park into darkness and thus shutting it down. (You can read about it here and here.) According to my records I worked in the Lobby the next day, from 8:45-16:45, but I have absolutely no memory of that day.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Disneyland, Day-By-Day

The very first Disneyland history research I did concerned opening and closing dates for various things throughout the Park. In 1995 I came upon this Chronology of the Walt Disney Company. (Though there is now also a Chronology of Disneyland, I do not believe that existed back then.) The result was a rough Disneyland Timeline, which became much, much better as I went through The Nickel Tour and with the release of Disney A-Z. I worked on it up until around 2000. A somewhat bastardized version of it can be found here, including additions/changes not done by me.

In the course of my research for the encyclopedia, I've continued to come across mentions of Park operating hours, entertainment, promotions, and events. At first I glossed over the hours; I wanted to get to the exciting articles! But one of my goals with this project is to give due importance to the operational aspect of the Resort, and what's more fundamental to that than the operating schedule? Moreover, I became convinced in the theoretical possibility of knowing the operating hours from all 20,000+ days of its operational history. I realize, of course, that this could never be perfect. At best I would have a record of its scheduled hours--and even at that, scheduled at one point in time. Inclement weather and attendance could change the operating hours that day and would likely not be recorded in any source I'd ever see.

With that goal in mind just the same, I embarked on a week of tedious work to add all those dates to the thesaurus database. In addition to just the dates, though, I also went to the trouble of making sure they were linked to the appropriate days of the week ( provided just the tools I needed to find that information). The days are additionally linked to holidays. So, if I eventually want to find out at a snap the Park hours for all Easter Sundays, I'll be able to do that. (Please, somebody give me a reason!)

Simply creating a day-by-day chronology with hours wouldn't have been enough for me to add all those dates, though. Putting in dates allowed me to associate the other terms in the thesaurus with the various days--opening dates, closing dates, debuts, air dates, etc. I made the decision to not include specific performance information in the date terms for regular performances. That is, Party Gras has a debut date of 1/11/1990 and an end date of 11/18/1990, but every day in between does not indicate that Party Gras performed. This is partly because I did not feel that level of detail was knowable... and I also didn't want to kill myself trying to find out! Very short-term promotions are linked to the specific days on which they occurred.

As you might imagine, this part of the project (recording operating hours) is still very much a work-in-progress. It's complicated by the fact that many of my sources only give the current general operating hours, without a hint of when they changed to something else. So, my current thinking is to arrange the information provided by all of these sources chronologically and figure things later.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lakewood Day(s)

Van Nuys Days certainly seemed like a big community-building event, right? All that sense of community and a visit to Disneyland (or at least the big circus tent next to it)! I do not know if this inspired the city of Lakewood, but they tried for their own day in the sun. In honor of the fourth anniversary of the city's incorporation in March 1954, Lakewood arranged for a party at Holidayland for Saturday, March 15, 1958. Residents were able to pick up free tickets to the Holidayland event at City Hall, city parks, and some businesses in the city. Featured at the party were to be performances by the Mouseketeers at 11:30 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

I say "were" because this day in the sun never happened. Rather, the skies opened up and buckets of rain began to fall before dawn on that day. The city's public relations director Guy Halferty stated he "wanted to go into hiding" because of the mess the rain caused the event. He arrived at Disneyland around 9:45 to find 100 Lakewooders under the Holidayland tent. Because of the rain, Disneyland closed at 2 p.m.(!!), but not before 575 Lakewooders had visited the Park and been treated to two hour-long shows at The Golden Horseshoe, by the Mouseketeers and "other Disneyland entertainers" (the Golden Horseshoe cast?). I think they were granted free admission because of the inclement weather.

Lakewood Day was rescheduled for Saturday, May 3, 1958. The party was again to be held at Holidayland, with free tickets distributed around the city. The Mouseketeers had scheduled performances of 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m, the first performance following an introduction and "community sing." I wonder what a community sings at an event like this, anyway? Disneyland that evening was open until midnight, with three dance bands performing, but their free tickets didn't get them in there! Suckers! In addition to the Mouseketeers, Lakewood provided some of its own entertainment, with the Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps, the Legionettes and the Drillettes parading through the Park and performing in Holidayland.

I imagine if Lakewood Days were a bigger success, we would have seen photos from it turn up. There were no follow-up stories to the second Lakewood Day, so I have to assume it went off without a hitch.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Van Nuys Days at Disneyland

"'Disneyland welcomes Van Nuys'? That's mighty neighborly of them to welcome a whole town."

The above is from Gorillas Don't Blog on August 15, 2007 (to whom, thanks for the photo!). What is Disneyland doing playing host to Van Nuys? This 1955 promotion was a fairly big deal in the district and well-coordinated with Disneyland. First Disneyland went to Van Nuys, and then Van Nuys went to Disneyland!

As the culminating event of the annual "Back to School" sale, the Van Nuys Business Men's Association arranged for a grand event on September 17 along Van Nuys Boulevard (that's the real one, not what they called Main Street, U.S.A.). In addition to the events I'll get to in a moment, twenty free trips to Disneyland were awarded in a local drawing, registration occurring at more than eighty local merchants. Also, thousands of tickets to the Park were given away to youngsters. I've included a couple of ads from the Van Nuys News. I've left them large so you can patronize those business that are still around and helped to make Disneyland such a success. Somebody was a little type happy, though, and changed Spaceman K-7 into Spaceman XK-17:

And another one:

The breadth of the rest of the rest of the events was, well, breathtaking. They included:
  • Spaceman K-7 flew in on a Navy helicopter. Upon landing in a parking lot, he then got into an Autopia car (Walt's car?) to drive up and down the boulevard.
  • Spaceman was joined by Indian actor from Disneyland "Little Sky" (more on him in a future post), riding on horseback.
  • For those wishing to pay homage to local "celebrities," honorary mayor Andy Devine, Miss Van Nuys Claire Weeks, and chamber of commerce and Business Men's Association officials paraded in a buckboard from the Park.
  • Appropriate "back to school" sales at a number of different shops.
  • I don't even know what to make of this, but would love to see a photograph: "Some 400 store clerks will wear Disneyland sun bonnets."
  • Disneyland music played from loudspeakers along the road set up just for the occasion. Additionally, the voices of Davy Crockett (Fess Parker) and Donald Duck (Clarence Nash) were heard urging people to attend Van Nuys Days at Disneyland. (Creepy!)
Finally, Devine read a proclamation declaring the next weekend (September 24 and 25) Van Nuys Days at Disneyland. This was accepted by Jack Sayers (in lieu of Walt Disney), acting on behalf of the Disneyland Operations Committee. If only Isaac had been alive to see this!

The paper promised "special surprises" for Guests at the Van Nuys Days, but is frustratingly short on details. (I guess they wouldn't then be surprises, right?) They added some entertainment--such as an orchestra to play on Main Street for a "Van Nuys Days Dance" and had a special showing each weekend day of the Golden Horseshoe Revue. An article mentions a "special treat" inside the Frontierland entrance stockade, but I can't fathom what that might be.

So why weren't there more people there? Well, as evidenced by the "back to school" tie-in, the kids had just gone back to school. The thousands of free tickets awarded were good beyond just the Van Nuys weekend, so perhaps the special surprises were not enough to pull people in. Or perhaps Major's photographer just got there really early? As a subtle nod to this event, 46 years later Imagineers included Bing Crosby's "San Fernando Valley" on the Sunshine Plaza area music at Disney's California Adventure. (Yeah, that's why they did it...)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's a Thesaurus?

I expect many of you would react with blank stares if I exclaimed, "I'm building a Disneyland thesaurus!" (That's been the extent of my real-world experience, anyway.) Well, I am in fact working on a Disneyland (Resort) thesaurus, so I need to start the education process. Most are probably familiar with the type of thesaurus sold by Merriam-Webster that provides synonyms, antonyms, and related words. In the information world, thesauri (it's a great plural world, I think) have a more precise (yet expansive) definition. At various times I'll refer to it as a thesaurus or index language and--in fact--the encyclopedia will be output from the thesaurus database.

So, what's a thesaurus? It is a resource useful in indexing that includes both approved subject descriptors and the lead-in vocabulary. The subject descriptors form the index language and can be applied to documents; the lead-in terms (as you sharp-witted ones may have already guessed) point to the approved terms. As an example--and as sacrilegious as it may seem--Disneyland is not an approved term in the thesaurus. Rather, because Disneyland can really mean several different things, that term refers to Disneyland (television), Disneyland Park and Disneyland Resort. The three latter terms are subject descriptors; Disneyland is a lead-in term. Each term record can include various types of notes (definitions, scope notes on usage) and show hierarchy and other relationships between the terms.

But a thesaurus can have additional functions beyond indexing. For a great overview of these (for those who really want more information!), I recommend a document written by my professor Dagobert Soergel. The key one for this project is the first one he mentions: "Provide a semantic road map to individual fields and the relationships among fields. Map out a concept space, relate concepts to terms, and provide definitions, thus providing orientation and serving as a reference tool." There will be a significant amount of information in this database and it will serve to relate the various parts of the Disneyland Resort together. The process of constructing the thesaurus is the conceptual first step in doing the encyclopedia. Kevin and I will have a sense of how terms relate to one another and be able to choose the terms we want. (The specificity of the thesaurus and the encyclopedia will not be the same; while we'll likely have an attraction posters term in the encyclopedia, we also have terms for all the individual posters in the thesaurus.)

Now, I think this Disneyland thesaurus is really something of a super thesaurus, with a lot more information for each term than is typical. As relative to the above definition, this thesaurus contains an index language and lead-in descriptors. Terms have hierarchy, relationships, and occasional scope notes on usage. Many thesauri have brief definitions and note literary warrant. The Disneyland thesaurus includes the definitions from all the various sources I'm consulting and notations indicating the sources where a particular term is found (this is the nomenclature part of the project). From the example given in my first post--of the House of the Future--the subject descriptor and lead-in terms show what I'm talking about (more sources to be added as I research them):
[preferred term]

House of the Future
SRC: Walt Disney's Guide to Disneyland (1958)
Walt Disney's Guide to Disneyland (1960)
Disney A-Z (2006)

[lead-in terms]

Home of the Future
SRC: Disneyland Dictionary (10/1959)
Disney A-Z (2006)

House of Tomorrow
SRC: Hayward Daily Review (6/12/1956)
Los Angeles Times (6/13/1956)

Monsanto "House of the Future"
SRC: Disneylander (September 1957)

Monsanto Chemical House of the Future
SRC: 1958 souvenir Disneyland wall map (A)
1958 souvenir Disneyland wall map (C)
1962 souvenir Disneyland wall map

Monsanto Home of the Future
SRC: Disneyland Dictionary (10/1959)
Your Guide to Disneyland (ca. 11/1965)
Disney A-Z (2006)

Monsanto House of the Future
SRC: Los Angeles Times (6/9/1957)
Disney A-Z (2006)

Monsanto's House of the Future
SRC: Walt Disney's Guide to Disneyland (1960)

Monsanto's House of Tomorrow
SRC: Los Angeles Times (6/17/1956)
The preferred term may change as I do more research. Frankly, for the early Tomorrowland exhibits, I'm inclined to believe that there's no "right" name--they were referred to by so many different names in so many different authoritative sources. In that case, it would be more important that those exhibit names be consistent. Perhaps "Monsanto House of the Future," "Monsanto Hall of Chemistry," and "Kaiser Hall of Aluminum Fame" would be most correct.

I'll have a follow-up post very soon on how this thesaurus contrasts with folksonomies. I began to put that in here, but the post began to run far too long! In the future I'll also tell about my early attempts in 2002 to create a sort-of index language and the genesis of this particular instance. I'll also have additional posts about the conceptual problems I've encountered in this construction process. Depending on your inclination, these future posts could be a lot of fun or extremely tedious! As I make these posts, I'd appreciate feedback and questions if things are unclear. I'm still determining how to clearly and succinctly explain this!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Disneyland and Freeways

One of my non-Disney interests is roads. Their planning, construction, and aesthetics fascinate me, and much of my academic writing has concentrated on opposition to and public problems with various road projects, including the Beverly Hills Freeway (to which Walt was opposed) and the road to Mineral King (oh, wait, did I say this was my non-Disney interest?). The history of Disneyland is intimately bound up with the freeway culture of Southern California, from its origins, to attractions found within and the Park's very success.

Walt's initial plans for an Americana kiddie park across the street from the Burbank Studio got paved over by the Ventura Freeway. That probably worked out best for us Disneyland fans; it was only a 16-acre site! (As an Orange Countian, I wouldn't have fought traffic to get there!) To determine the proper location for Disneyland, the Stanford Research Institute looked at a number of factors, including smog, future population growth, the prospect of government support--and freeway accessibility. The Park sits beside a freeway running from Mexico to Canada; I'd say that's accessible! It's also not too far from the Orange Crush spaghetti bowl (Disneyland in upper left):

The projections of future growth and transportation networks did nothing until such links were operational, of course. The Santa Ana Freeway (then US-101, now I-5) was literally under construction as the Park was opening and required valiant efforts from Disneyland people and local government officials to get it to a usable state. Van France recounts his role in getting the Harbor Boulevard off-ramp finished in Window on Main Street:
By the authority I give myself for doing this history, I'll also give myself credit for completing the Harbor off-ramp two days before opening. Cars would come down the freeway and hit a boulevard stop. Wood warned us, "Without that off-ramp, traffic will be backed up to San Francisco!" The problem was that the contractor's agreement stipulated that no overtime be paid by the state. I went to meet the Superintendent of the job. Fortunately, he was a young guy who understood our problem. Without any paperwork, except [C. V.] Wood's okay, I said we'd pay for any overtime involved. I also threw in a lunch if they could complete it before opening day. That off-ramp was completed two days before opening. A crisis had been averted. We celebrated over lunch and cocktails. I got my off-ramp, and a hangover to boot.
I recall a version of this story where liquor was used as an additional inducement to the construction workers, but I wasn't able to locate it. In an interview I have, Van France argues that there were a lot of things which came together in 1955 that allowed Disneyland to be a success. One such development was the growing freeway system.

It's pretty well known that many of the trees used in landscaping Disneyland for Opening Day were salvage operations from freeway construction projects throughout the Southland. In the words of Morgan Evans, Disneyland's landscape designer extraordinaire, "California's projected freeways, routed unavoidably through residential districts, afforded an unusual opportunity to salvage full-grown trees. Former owners can take some comfort from the knowledge that many fine specimens were literally snatched from the jaws of bulldozers, then packaged and transported to Disneyland for a new lease on life." His window on Main Street reflects this practice: "Evans Gardens / Exotic & Rare Species / Freeway Collections / Est. 1910 / Morgan Bill Evans / Senior Partner."

Evans himself later engaged in the landscaping of freeways. The State of California hired him in 1968 to act as a consultant in landscaping Pasadena's freeways. The one contribution I could find from Evans--oddly enough--was the suggestion that it would be cheaper to buy trees from nurseries for replanting along the freeway than to move and save trees in the freeway right of way. If only there were a Disneyland to take them in!

Freeways plowed right through landscaping, but they also went through structures purchased by the state--and Walt was there to capitalize on it. In Disneyland's early days (to a much less extent today), there were mechanical music machines scattered throughout the Park. One of the few left is the Welte Style 4 Concert Orchestrion in the back of the Penny Arcade, pictured below:

A significant portion of these came from the collection of Albert Clifford Raney, who had a large assemblage of mechanical music machines. In 1953, California was building the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) through the Raney estate and Raney's widow, Ruby, decided to sell the collection. Walt was fascinated by the objects and bought thirty of them for the Park; Ruby felt they had found a good home. (Raney was also a collector of saloon art, which went to Knott's Berry Farm.) More can be found about the origins of this collection and the history of one specific piece of it here.

The Autopia's relation to freeways is almost too obvious to bear mentioning. The attraction, of course, re-created the Southern California driving experience for locals and tourists alike. One Guest--I wasn't immediately able to find the article in which this quote comes--was amazed Walt could get people to pay to park, pay to visit, and then stand in line to do what they had to do to get to Disneyland! The attraction's name--Autopia--suggested the idyllic possibilities of an automobile society, although at this time resistance to the freeway construction was growing and smog was choking Los Angeles. (And hey, Walt Disney later opposed the Beverly Hills Freeway!)

The Autopia has a fantasy element, to be sure, but there is also a very concrete link to reality. The James I. Barnes Construction Company, of Santa Monica, served as general contractors for the $6 million Disneyland '59 addition. This means that they not only oversaw construction of a Swiss mountain, an undersea adventure, and a futuristic transportation system, but also the reconstruction/expansion of the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland Autopias. They were well acquainted with road construction. In a linkage too perfect to make up, the Barnes Co. built the four-level interchange in downtown Los Angeles between July 1947 and July 1949--an icon of the Southern California car culture. Major Pepperidge over at Gorillas Don't Blog astutely opined that the Autopia overpasses and intertwined monorail track resembled a four-level interchange. Well, now we know why! What better way to interject a little reality into the fantasy by bringing in the very people who built the original? From the collection of the Historic American Engineering Record:

All of the above doesn't even get into the Monorail's perceived potential use as a solution for urban traffic ills--like the footage created for "Kodak Presents Disneyland '59" that shows a monorail paralleling US-101 through downtown L.A. Various officials toured Disneyland to see the monorail and they were proposed for use elsewhere in Southern California every few years, even connecting Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm! I may get into these monorail proposals in future posts.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We've Been Scooped!

Did you know there is a Disneyland Encyclopedia coming out on May 1? Neither did I! Its full title is The Disneyland Encyclopedia: The Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Event in the Original Magic Kingdom (phew!). You can find it on Amazon here. This is the publisher's description:
Spanning the entire history of the park, from its founding more than 50 years ago to the present, this fascinating book profiles 500 attractions, restaurants, stores, events, and significant people from the history of Disneyland®. Each of the main entries in the book examines in detail the history of a Disneyland® landmark, including how many of the most popular attractions went through several incarnations before becoming what they are today—Tomorrowland’s Hall of Chemistry and Hall of Aluminum were transformed into the groundbreaking Adventure Thru Inner Space in 1967, and then became the popular ride Star Tours 20 years later. Read about unbuilt concepts, including Rock Candy Mountain and Chinatown, and delight in fascinating trivia about the park, such as ride statistics and attendance records. With a daily list of events, openings, and closings in the park's history, a yearly summary of attractions that came and went, simple and clear maps that correspond to the book’s 500 entries, and sidebars with additional information on each ride, this is a comprehensive and entertaining book overflowing with detail on the most-renovated, most-loved, and most-visited theme park in the world.
The author is Chris Strodder, a name previously unfamiliar to me. You can find a listing of 442 (or so) of the 500 terms and a little more description here. It looks like it focuses almost entirely on proper nouns, though there are a few generics, like restrooms or fireworks (though the latter is undoubtedly about the specific shows). I'm a little skeptical about the claim to cover "every event"--I currently have 236 events, promotions, and programs listed in the thesaurus (and I'm just getting started!). I'll be interested to see the length and scope of the entries and what sources were used in the creation of this encyclopedia. It covers just Disneyland Park--no Disneyland Hotel, Downtown Disney, Disney's California Adventure, etc. Anybody out there know more about it? Or the author?

Lincoln at Rest

January 7, 2001 was the date of my first tour. I only had one actual Guest on my tour, but a party size of six. In addition to the Guest (a first-time visitor from Malaysia), there was my "big sister" (to verify I was capable of giving an adequate tour), a Tour Guide trainer and three trainees, some of whom mouthed along as I utilized portions of the spiel from the script! That's not the subject of today's post, however. That day also marked the final day of Walt's Lincoln.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln has been revised a couple times in its history. In 1984 a newer figure was introduced and the show was shortened. Additionally, the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" ending was replaced with a song written for American Adventure at EPCOT Center--"Golden Dream." The Lincoln speech, though shortened, retained the recording made by Royal Dano in the 1960s and narration by Paul Frees. I like to think of the pre-2001 Lincoln as Walt's Lincoln, as contrasted with Haircut Lincoln. I spent many, many hours at The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in 1997 and 1998. One day I saw the Lincoln show 13 times in one day! That experience forever imprinted the show in my memory.

The show was closed without much fanfare. I wouldn't have known about it, except I saw it show up on the refurbishment schedule within a week of that closing date. After my shift was over, I hung around and wandered over to the Opera House around its closing time. I knew the Cast Member working and, after watching the final show with only a few others, got to take a few last looks at Abe (including a photo with him that I have at my desk at work). The following image is not suitable for young children, particularly when viewed at full resolution. I'm not even sure it's suitable for adults!

I'm also sharing some glass slides from the show. These were slides that were being replaced with fresh copies during a refurbishment. I think they're pretty neat; I just wish I had them all! Thanks to Chris for scanning these for me several years back. The first image (these aren't in show order) is Lincoln at the end of the slide show, as we hear part of his Second Inaugural:

The full-size original can be downloaded here. The second image, I think, is from the "our nation's greatest crisis occurred when Abraham Lincoln was our President, and our protector" line, but am not sure:

The next two are from the Lincoln-Douglas debates (well, just Lincoln here!). "Come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence...":

Fifth slide is the very first one in the show. "We the people of the United States," etc. Thanks to my repeated viewings of the show, I can recite that and know offhand that the Civil War started April 12, 1861:

The final two slides are from the "Two Brothers" portion of the show:

Did you know the song was written by Irving Gordon, he of "Who's on First?" authorship? You can hear John Denver sing it as part of a Civil War medley, starting at 6:26:

Denver, of course (of course!) performed at Disneyland (but probably not this song!).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Newspaper Advertisements, May 1956

I do not have too much commentary for what I am offering today--a series of newspaper advertisements that ran in local papers in May 1956. Some of these are only text; some include an angry and/or demented Donald Duck. Somebody needs to ask Jack Lindquist what they were thinking with these things! Given all the other newspaper advertisements I've seen, I was surprised to not only find these tiny, tiny text blocks, but to see the logo and all directional information missing. Were they cash-strapped as they were opening the Skyway, Tom Sawyer Island, Rainbow Caverns and Storybook Land, and maybe couldn't afford larger/more graphic advertising? Has anybody seen anything like these before?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

View from Walt's Apartment

I didn't take nearly as many photos of Disneyland while I was a Cast Member as I should have. Nevertheless, on a few occasions I did bring in my camera to take some photos before the Park opened or after the Park closed. Because I worked in Guest Relations, most of those photos are from Main Street, U.S.A. Luckily, there's something really timeless about seeing an empty Main Street. For reasons I'll explain in a future post, I also got to spend quite a bit of time in Walt's Apartment. While I'll likely share those photos here in the future, be aware that many turned out a slight bit overexposed. I think those of you who like the vintage photos will enjoy this one:

This is a view from Walt's Apartment window onto an empty Town Square, September 3, 2002. I can imagine Walt waking up and looking out... and then feeling anxious for the Guests to arrive so he could see their excitement and happiness!

As a super high-resolution bonus counterpart, I present this photo from the other side of Town Square:

It was taken from a moving Fire Engine on the morning of Friday, March 7, 2008, transporting me and others to the window dedication of one Bob Gurr. I had my family choose the Fire Engine because that was Bob's addition to Disneyland. The other vehicles were Walt's idea, but the fire truck was all Bob. Bob explained it to the Walt Disney Imagineering Fan Club in April 2000 as follows, after relating how Walt had earlier suggested an Omnibus for Main Street: day in the spring of 1958, Walt comes into my office as he usually does and he just sort of sits there and I looked at him and I said, "Walt, you know there's one thing we haven't got in Disneyland! We don't have a fire engine on Main Street!" And he said, "Yeah, we don't have a fire engine." Privately, I wanted a fire engine and I knew that everybody else told me that the only thing that ever goes into Disneyland…those ideas come from Walt, they don't come from anybody else. But I wanted a fire engine. Anyway, he goes away and a little while later Accounting phones up and says, "The charge number for the Fire Engine is…" so I knew that Walt had gone to Accounting and had decided we're going to have a fire engine. That's the only attraction in Disneyland that's my attraction.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sources: Newspapers

I am a completionist by nature. That can be handy from a research standpoint--I doggedly pursue leads--but also assuredly time consuming. What this means for the encyclopedia is that I am trying to identify and acquire (sometimes merely as digital surrogates) as much of the vast universe of sources about Disneyland as possible. I've been summarizing the types of sources for years, back to the first proposal Kevin and I had for the Disneyland Compendium. Periodicals (such as The "E" Ticket Magazine, Vacationland); books (Disneyland: The Nickel Tour, Disneyland: Inside Story, Window on Main Street (you'll get it back, Jim, really!), etc.); Cast Member publications (Disneylander, Disneyland Line...); and interviews are among those sources. I might have future posts in-depth about each of these various sources (and others), but today I want to talk about newspapers.

Newspaper articles--while sometimes (often?) factually in error--can provide a starting point for research into some aspect of the Park's history. I've used them (and newspaper advertisements) often in response to questions posed by other Disneyland bloggers. The historical (and current) Los Angeles Times is available via ProQuest subscription (through an institution like a local library or university); other California newspaper articles can be found at, which targets a popular audience (and has personal subscription rates that aren't too bad). Both of these services have as their source microfilm copies of newspapers, so the scans often leave something to be desired (color, for one thing!).

The ProQuest search interface is wonderful, very clean and customizable, and the search results are usually good. The elements of each newspaper page are broken up into various categories--articles, display ads, obituaries, etc.--and individual articles usually (though not always) show up as individual results. The scans are usually moderate to poor and their unit of searching is one page of the newspaper. Unlike ProQuest, they have not split up the page elements, sometimes leading to erroneous matches. The OCR, additionally, is poor on those scans. They've scanned some newspapers multiple times and their search interface seems really dumbed down and does not allow for a user to enter complex Boolean queries. Until recently, it was not even possible to sort results chronologically!

Despite all this, I have persevered in trying to save every Disneyland article of substance/interest from these services for research in the encyclopedia. There are a lot of red herrings, like when Disneyland is mentioned in discourse as a means of comparison, or when some social group is going to have a get-together at the Disneyland Hotel. (I don't know how many thousands of DLH convention articles I have glossed over.) But if I find even one statement in an article where I think, "I'd like to know that later," I'll save it. I currently have about 4,000 articles and advertisements up to the late 1960s and the search continues each week. Not all of these are unique--some advertisements appeared in more than one paper, and while I often excluded multiple copies, sometimes I couldn't determine which scan I liked better, or it seemed notable that they had advertised an event far off in the Oakland Tribune or the Fresno Bee.

Not every newspaper is fully or partly available in digital form, of course. There are surely articles in the Anaheim Bulletin and the Santa Ana/Orange County Register (pre-1987) that would not simply rehash a press release or repeat a wire story. I do plan to look through clippings at the Anaheim History Room as circumstances allow in the hopes that that will fill in some gaps.

Some of the things I share on this site will be stories that come from these articles and advertisements. Disneyland has appeared in the newspapers quite a bit over the past 50-odd years and been the subject of many stories--some of which I even believe!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Dollar

I had a post all set to go for today and then realized the date. I would be negligent if I did not address an anniversary happening today. Redd Rockett's Pizza Port opened ten years ago this morning, March 21, 1998, at 11 AM. I remember, because I was there! I had gone to the Cast Blast in February, where previews of the New Tomorrowland were offered. Pizza Port really caught my attention there because of its location-specific packaging. (This was at a time when the Park was undergoing homogenization, as with distinctive merchandise being replaced by plush EVERYWHERE.)

(I apologize for the low-resolution of these photos. Some are screen captures from video, some are scans of photographs I borrowed in 1999 and didn't scan properly, and others are my own photographs which are not immediately accessible to me.)

On Sunday, March 15, the restaurant had a Cast Member preview. Thanks to some CM friends, I was able to sample some of the food:

I knew a soft opening was planned for the following Saturday and showed up about half an hour before the restaurant was scheduled to open. There were some management types talking, but I really should have just slept for thirty more minutes!

At about 11 AM, they selected a small child to be the first Guest in the restaurant. This offended me greatly, but what could I do? I took small comfort in the fact that Disneyland is a place for families to have fun together, etc., and here I was as an individual. It must have been at a couple minutes past eleven that they took down the barrier:

Having already been inside the restaurant the previous month for Cast Blast, I knew my way around. The salads seemed convenient; I picked up a Celestial Caesar Salad. I then picked up a Coke and looked around. "Can I help you?" a cashier inquired. I guess so! I forget how much my meal came to (I had the receipt in my backpack for months afterwards but believe I have lost it forever), but it was a little under $10. I tried to pay with a $10 bill, but they wanted a dollar bill too--and luckily I had one! It was at this point I realized at 11:05 AM I had become the restaurant's "first dollar." I got my picture with restaurant manager Rona Kay, who to my knowledge is still at the Resort:

Note how the lights in the background blur to form a Hidden Mickey! I have no idea how that happened. The dollar was framed and hung in the manager's office and is likely still there. This is the first Guest and family with her brand-new Opening Cast T-shirt:

I didn't know that that Guest had gotten a T-shirt at the time, but I certainly would have wanted one! The next weekend I did find this information out through the grapevine. I sort-of knew a Cast Member who worked there and I inquired... Rona soon came out with both a license plate frame AND the shirt! I still wear the shirt frequently--and always when I eat at R2P2 on its birthday. I ate there every March 21 from 1998 through 2005 (and many, many more times in between), but my distance of several thousand miles the past several years have kept me from celebrating the anniversary at the restaurant. So, if anybody reading this visits the Park today, raise a glass (cup) at Pizza Port for me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Shipley-Lydecker House

I don't remember what I was searching for back in September--perhaps information on Yale Gracey or Claude Coats and the Haunted Mansion. My search strategy brought me to a blog post on from 2006, provocatively showing the exact source upon which Ken Anderson's early rendering was based. The architecture was copied almost identically from that photograph. The book--a reference work found in Walt Disney Imagineering's Information Research Center--did not identify the name of the building, only that it was in Baltimore; apparently nobody had dug up any more information on the structure.

The confluence of circumstance, I modestly believed, made me the perfect person to ferret out information on the house. I had my obvious interest in Disneyland history. I am currently in Maryland for graduate school, so if need be I could drive up to Baltimore or consult with local historians who might know something. Additionally, for the past several years I had been working on a California gazetteer and was familiar with the types of sources that often contained information about geographic entities like the unnamed mansion. I set out with the premise that the house probably didn't still exist, or some Disney fan would have taken notice of it.

For my first order of business, I checked out the book, Decorative Art of Victoria's Era by Frances Lichten, 1950, from the library. It was with trepidation that I gazed at the page with the photo of the house--if there were no other identifying information, I wasn't sure where to turn! I was pleased, then, to find a citation: "Photographs, Courtesy, Index of American Design, National Gallery of Art." There was no further information to identify where in the collection this photograph might have come, but I nevertheless sought out information on the IAD. I grew a little confused to learn that the Index was mostly a project to record decorative artwork in watercolors; where did the photographs come in, I wondered? I did eventually find that the collection held a small number of photographs where it was felt watercolor renderings wouldn't do the items justice.

So, I sent off an e-mail to the National Gallery of Art identifying my source and crossing my fingers that that meant anything to them. Meanwhile, I consulted about a dozen Baltimore architecture books, flipping through page after page, photo after photo, hoping to stumble upon a new view of that building. Nope. I also looked through volumes of indexes of the Index hoping to find something, but struck out there, too.

Charlie Ritchie of the NGA soon got back to me with as much information as I could have hoped for! Photographs were taken on May 26, 1937 by Christopher Schindele. The real subject of the documentation was the cast iron grillwork; who knows what the Haunted Mansion would look like if the ironwork had not caught the attention of somebody back in the 1930s! The house address was listed as 2550 McHenry Street, Baltimore, and the owner as Mr. Phillip Leydecker. The grillwork was dated to 1805. He provided a photograph reference number of MD-ME-I-59 for the overall house and MD-ME-I-61 and MD-ME-I-62 for close-ups of the iron work. (Though I have not done so, reproductions can be ordered from the National Gallery of Art.) I let Charlie know the reasons for my inquiry and he said the staff was "delighted and amazed" at the local connection to the Haunted Mansion.

Upon receiving this information, I first went to Live Search Maps to see an oblique aerial photograph of the address... and found no Haunted Mansion. This is the area as it exists today in the western part of Baltimore, with the previous location of the Shipley-Lydecker house within the white box:

Now that I had a name and an address, I could try to answer some additional questions. Who built it? Who was the architect? When was it torn down? Google Books allowed me to find several guidebooks that gave brief mention of the house, and the descriptions are charming and humorous in light of the completely different context the house's architecture has at Disneyland.

Maryland, A Guide to the Old Line State, compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Works Project Administration in the State of Maryland, had the following to say on page 251:
The SHIPLEY-LYDECKER HOUSE, McHenry St. and Franklintown Rd., is a pretentious three-story, square, brick structure built by Charles Shipley in 1803. It has a two-story addition at the rear and a flat hipped roof surmounted by a cupola with a gilded weathervane and three round-arch windows. The typanum of the two-story columned portico is decorated with rays radiating from a half sun. The elaborate cast-iron grillwork of the two-story gallery porches, extending around three sides of the house, is notable.
Hulbert, Footner, author of Maryland Main and the Eastern Shore (Hatboro, PA: Tradition Press, 1942) couldn't make up his mind about the structure (pp. 70-71):
One of the butcher's houses standing in a plot at the corner of McHenry Street is without doubt the quaintest, the most absurd, and the most picturesque dwelling in Baltimore. It is said to have been built in 1802. Originally a plain, square dignified structure of that good period, some later owner of a taste less pure, has embellished it with a double gallery all around, decorated with cast-iron work more fantastically elaborate than anything in Baltimore, which is famous for its cast-iron balconies. All this iron lace-work is painted white, and the effect is dazzling.
The architectural evaluations were interesting, but I still wanted more on the history of the house. There was very little information turned up with a general web search, but I did find that the West Baltimore Post 476 Veterans of Foreign Wars had converted the house into a living memorial to the dead of World War II. I have not contacted them to see if they have any records concerning the house or know when it was torn down.

A classmate of mine, Megan Dwyre, put me in touch with the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Jeff Korman graciously pulled some things together from their files in a PDF which you can download here. This is what he was able to find:
...a photo of the house as it appeared in The (Baltimore) Sun Magazine, March 27, 1949. A history of the mansion that was given to me for our files by Isabel Shipley Cunningham. A portion of the 1914-1953 Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas for Baltimore showing the block the house was situated on and its orientation with regard to the surrounding streets, and a few pages from the 3 volume family history, The Shipleys of Maryland showing Charles Shipley and his issue- and a drawing of the house.
There must be more information out there; I imagine the Baltimore Sun would have had an article when the house was finally torn down, but I have not looked. (The Washington Post did not.) I wonder if the two buildings existed simultaneously.

Note: Not every post will be like this! I had just done quite a bit of digging in this particular case and thought it a good story with which to kick off my blog. I hope the story of my research didn't come off too tedious--I want to include some information like that in some future posts. If I've overlooked something, someone can step in and point it out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


There are some really great old-school Disneyland blogs out there. I well-remember the day I emerged from the darkness last August to discover Stuff from the Park, Gorillas Don't Blog, and Davelandblog all on the same day! While I do have some neat older photos taken by others and more modern photographs taken by myself, this will not be a photo blog. And while I do have some ephemera stretching back decades, this will not be a vintage paper blog. My stock-in-trade is information. I have recently been coming across the arcane, the bizarre, the trivial, the interesting and everything in between and wanted a place to share such stories of Disneyland.

The blog name is "Disneyland Nomenclature," but don't worry that my sole focus will be the tediousness of approved names or the correct terminology for a location or show. (House of the Future? House of Tomorrow? Monsanto Chemical House of the Future? Monsanto Home of the Future? Monsanto House of the Future? Monsanto's House of the Future? Monsanto's House of Tomorrow??) Rather, I really want to talk about the myriad details of Disneyland. I'm neither omniscient nor particularly old and thus claim no dominion over every bit of Disneyland history. It is my hope that you fans will find it interesting and entice you to share your own stories and bits of Disneyland lore (I'm looking at you Mike Cozart!).

So, what will you find on this blog? There will be stories. There will be trivia. To liven things up, I will also include photos and other documents from time to time. The Disneyland Resort is the organizing focus, from inception to the present day. As with many others, the old days hold particular appeal to me, but I have my own experiences and memories from visiting modern Disneyland that I'd like to share, too.

I must give great thanks to the photo blogs I already mentioned. My interest in Disneyland had lain dormant since my "retirement" from the Disneyland Resort in 2003. After spending so much time learning about Disneyland, I began to feel that the rewards I was getting from finding out new information didn't match up with the effort I expended doing so. And then I found loads of extraordinary photos and information presented daily by several different people! It rekindled in me a long-held desire to do a comprehensive reference work on Disneyland.

Together with Kevin Yee (with whom I have authored two Disneyland trivia books), I am engaged in research on the first part of that collection, a Disneyland encyclopedia. We are targeting the first copies to go on sale in July 2010 at the NFFC Convention. There will be more posts on the research effort in the future, including the construction of a Disneyland thesaurus/index language that is helping to keep all of our research straight.

I look forward to sharing what I know. Thursday I will have a post on the Baltimore mansion upon which the exterior of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion is based, which to my knowledge has never before been identified by name.