The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

October 25, 2013

Disneyland Facts that are Not True: The Complete Collection (so far)

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:01 am

Update 4/24/14:  A few more of these have been posted from other recent visits to Disneyland.  Please see this post for some more Disneyland Facts that are Not True.

Yes, I am aware that posting has been light again recently.  I’ve actually got a more substantial post on the way soon, but it’s looking at this point like that will be coming sometime next week.  In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to consolidate all of my various Disneyland Facts that are Not True into one place, which will be this post.  For a bit of explanation of what you’re reading here, when me and my friends make trips to Disneyland (which happens quite a bit these days, since we have Annual Passes now and a place to stay when we go down, which makes it relatively inexpensive for us to go)  I try to post one of these for each day we spend in the parks.  As the title says, none of these are actually true, but as we go through the parks we have a tendency to make up our own little stories about things, and over time a sort of improvised fiction comes out of it, and occasionally even manages to stick (whenever we go on Pirates of the Caribbean we still debate whether the real-water version or the fake-water version was better, for example.)  Sometimes these come out of various incidents that might occur.  Sometimes they just sound ridiculous enough to be vaguely plausible.  Other times I just decide to make things up out of thin air in a (usually futile) effort to sound like I know what I’m doing.  Either way, sometimes it’s just more fun to make things up than to talk about real ones, so here you go.

And yes, you may have seen some of these before, either in earlier Blog Posts or on my Facebook feed if you happen to be on that.  Mostly I just wanted to consolidate all of them into one place for future reference (although I have no idea why the heck I’d ever need to refer back to any of these.)  Anyway, without further ado…

Disneyland Facts That Are Not True:

  • Due to declining bird population, most birds in the skies over Disneyland are now animatronics that fly around the park on pre-programmed flight paths throughout the day. Occasionally one wanders away from the park; if you find one and return it, you will be rewarded with a free churro on your next visit to the parks.
  • In order to avoid having to put a State of California Proposition 65 warning on the ride, in 2007 all of the water in Pirates of the Caribbean was removed and replaced with an innovative new nitrogen-based substitute fluid. Most people do not notice any difference between regular water and N-273 (the less-than-inspiring code name of the new substance), but Disney junkies endlessly debate whether the real-water version is better than the fake water version on Internet forums. Ironically, if water gets into the “water”, they have to take the ride offline for cleanup. Real boats would sink in this substance, so the boats had to be specially modified.
  • As a show of Disney’s commitment to alternative energy, King Arthur’s Carrousel has recently been converted to be powered by four oxen.  A herd of twenty-four oxen have recently joined the horses, goats, sheep and other livestock that live at the Circle D Ranch just outside the park’s outer perimeter.  Teams of oxen work three-hour shifts during the day to power the Carrousel,  A recent report cited a reduction in energy usage by the ride of nearly 40% since this was implemented, prompting Disney to consider the use of similar animal-powered propulsion systems for the Mad Tea Party ride.
  • In order to move the phases of the Moon to a more convenient time for photo-taking opportunities within the parks, Disney has created an artificial moon over California Adventure which keeps its phases eight days out of alignment from the real moon, but can also be modified on the fly as necessary. On October 27th 2005, the fake moon malfunctioned, and for roughly three hours there were two separate moons over the park.
  • Although many theories have been made about the origins of the name of Disneyland’s exclusive Club 33, the club received its name from the fact that when it opened in 1967, the cost of a meal at the club was $33. Among the many special benefits that Club 33 members enjoy is the fact that they are each allowed to bring home up to six of the park’s feral cats each year.
  • For a number of years, among Disney Cast Members there has been an underground “scene” devoted to tuning and customizing Autopia cars. Twice a year after hours, they hold races on the Autopia to determine whose car is fastest. The current record was set in 2008 with a time of 2 minutes 28 seconds, with a top speed of 11.78 miles per hour. Unofficially, a car in 2003 reached a blistering 18 miles per hour on the main straightaway, but was disqualified when an illegal nitrous system was discovered.
  • As a cost saving measure, several of the floats used in the parks’ iconic daily parades are built on top of riding lawnmowers. This allows them to be repurposed to mow lawns throughout the park when Disney creates a new parade. In order to make sure guests do not find out about this, they only mow lawns in the parks late at night.
  • In 2009, the American Chiropractic Association honored the Matterhorn Bobsleds with their coveted Amusement Ride of the Year award, in recognition of its 50 years of exemplary contributions to the Chiropractic profession.

  • Since the mid Nineties, Disney has had a genetic engineering program devoted to creating topiary bushes that grow into and maintain specified shapes (programmed into the plants’ DNA) with little to no maintenance. A number of the simpler topiaries on It’s a Small World have now been replaced by these modified bushes.  Disney has been tight-lipped about the program, but current rumors suggest that maintenance costs of the plants in Fantasyland have been reduced by at least 27% through the use of the self-shaping shrubs.  The topiary buffalo found near the ride, planted in 2008, represents the current state of the art in self-shaping bushes, and has been replaced on at least three occasions with newer (and more advanced) versions since the program began.
  • Anyone who has been visiting Disneyland for long enough knows that the old Mine Train ride Through Nature’s Wonderland was replaced in 1979 by the much more thrilling Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but few people know that the creation of BTMRR was prompted by an accidental discovery of a significant deposit of rare earth minerals underneath Nature’s Wonderland in 1975. As the ride was being built, a small but productive mining operation was commenced several hundred feet below the attraction, and continues to this day. For most of the past year the ride has been closed, ostensibly to facilitate a replacement of the tracks, but in addition to the work above ground, an exploratory shaft is currently being dug toward the Matterhorn in hopes of finding even larger deposits.
  • Although the Haunted Mansion is widely advertised to house 999 Happy Haunts (with room for 1,000,) in reality Disney’s internal standards allow for a variance of plus or minus two percent on any given day to account for scheduling conflicts or other issues that might arise among the attraction’s spook population. Although they do manage an exact count of 999 on most days, the Mansion can be considered to be operating normally with as few as 980 Happy Haunts or as many as 1,019. On March 14th 2009, a mishap in scheduling resulted in a record 1,143 Happy Haunts inside the Mansion for a short period of time before the problem was discovered by cast members and the ride brought down to rectify the problem.
  • In July of 2009, the Captain Jack Sparrow animatronic in the final scene of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride suffered a major malfunction. Rather than risk extended downtime to the ride during one of the busiest parts of the year to make repairs, Disney hired Johnny Depp to replace the broken animatronic in the ride for three days. He did such a good job of staying in character that the ruse was not discovered until several weeks later by Disneyphiles reviewing YouTube videos of the ride and noticing discrepancies in the motions compared to the existing figure.  To this day, Disney denies that this ever happened.
  • Although it is rarely seen by park guests, there is in fact an alternate path on the Indiana Jones Adventure ride that does not lead you to the Gates of Doom. Naturally, you get there by not looking into the Eye of Mara, which is nearly impossible to get 12 tourists on a ride car to cooperate on at once. If you are fortunate enough to reach this alternate path there will not be untold riches or eternal youth, but you may get free t-shirts, snacks, Disney gift cards or possibly even free admission to the park. Naturally, the ride is considerably shorter than normal along this alternate path.  In order to minimize operating costs, Disney does not advertise the existence of this alternate path, and swears all who manage to find it to secrecy.
  • In spite of the fact that the new version of Star Tours has been running since 2011, this has had little effect on protracted litigation that has been ongoing since at least 1992 between the Walt Disney Company and Reubens Robotic Systems, manufacturers of the notoriously unreliable RX-series pilot droids that led to numerous incidents in the original version of the ride. Although this has become a well known case study in many prestigious law schools, no resolution to the ongoing case is expected anytime soon.
  • A recent deal between Disney and Starbucks has recently resulted in a brand new Starbucks location being opened in the former Market House on Main Street USA, as well as the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe which opened along with Buena Vista Street in California Adventure last year. In keeping with Starbucks’ standard expansion strategies, there are currently plans for at least 12-18 more locations within Disneyland Park to be opened by 2016, and another eight planned for California Adventure.

  • Visitors to the Disneyland Resort soon become aware of the green tape is used by cast members to make improvised queues as needed for rides, shows and other various purposes. What they may not be aware of is that this tape is the product of years of research by Disney Imagineering. The current version in use in the parks was introduced in 2011, and represents some the very latest innovations in adhesive technology. Shortly after the new version of the tape was introduced, a cast member on his last day on the job decided to randomly create a queue out of the green tape in the middle of Fantasyland. Such is the power of the green tape that the improvised queue attracted as many as 300 visitors, some of whom spent nearly an hour  waiting before they finally managed to figure out that they weren’t actually in line for anything.
  • As a result of the recent government shutdown for lack of a budget, the National Parks Service advised Disney that they must shut down the Grand Canyon diorama along the Disneyland Railroad between Tomorrowland and Main Street USA until the government was back in operation. Orange cones were hastily placed along the route, and during the shutdown guests were being advised to look in the opposite direction as the train passed by the diorama. Naturally, little actual enforcement of this edict happened, and most visitors just assumed that the cones were there for maintenance purposes.
  • Although haunting duties at the Haunted Mansion are typically handled by a team of roughly 1,550 rotating Happy Haunts (typically 999 at a time, give or take a handful,) for three months out of the year the Haunted Mansion becomes the Haunted Mansion Holiday, a Nightmare Before Christmas version of the mansion that requires far fewer spooks to operate than the standard version. During this time of year, several hundred Happy Haunts are assigned to other attractions throughout the park, including It’s a Small World, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and even the Matterhorn on occasion. Perhaps the most visible manifestation of this policy takes place on the Autopia, where during HalloweenTime you can opt to let a ghost do the driving for you by controlling only the gas pedal in the car. Naturally, the ghost drivers aren’t very good at it.

December 29, 2008

Disney World Trip Report – Part 1: Getting There is Half the Fun, Right?

Filed under: travel, Wanderings — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 5:08 pm

For the three or four of you who actually read this Blog on a regular basis, you might have been wondering when I was going to get around to writing out the trip report that I promised for the Disney World trip that I went on a couple of weeks ago.  I have actually been working on this, but between the fact that I managed to land just hours in advance of what was predicted to be a possible major windstorm (that fortunately didn’t turn out quite as bad as it could have been) followed by a week of relentless snow and solid ice on the roads with Christmas thrown in there somewhere along the line, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for the Blog in the last week oro so, but now with things settling down (at least until Thursday when the next possible major windstorm and potential snowstorm is set to arrive)  I have some time to start on this.  Those of you who have been reading this Blog for long enough know that I’m notoriously slow with some of this stuff (Crossroads Profile part 2?  What Crossroads Profile part 2?) but I plan to get this done fairly soon, or at least before I end up going to Disney World again, whenever that might be.

I have actually begun writing this in a thread over at, although I will try to keep things free of the jargon that seems to be common in the trip reports ver there.   This particular post here will consist of the first three parts that I have written over there as follows:

  • Part 1:  The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men:  The planning (or lack thereof) of the trip
  • Part 2:  Slip Slidin’ Away (in which the vacation very nearly gets put on ice before I can even make it off the ground…)
  • Part 3:  Who Have I Gotta’ Bribe to Get Outa’ This Town? (Goin’ to Chicago, and putting way too much stuff on a hot dog in the process)

Note that some of the material here is background info for the DISboard readers, and may be redundant to some of the people here.  In fact, some of this might actually be nearly identical to a couple of the Blog posts below. 

That said, please remain seated at all times, keeping your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the vehicle, and please no flash photography.  After the jump, we’re off to Never Never Land.  Or Outer Space.  Or wherever it is you’re supposed to go (well OK, this post will barely even make it to the hotel, but I’m sure we’ll get to some of those places eventually, right?)


November 18, 2008

Selling Out to the Mouse

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 11:08 pm

Eighty years ago today on November 18th 1928, a film by the name of Gang War played in the 79th Street theater in New York City.  This particular film was accompanied by an animated short known as Steamboat Willie, which featured a full-length synchronized soundtrack, an innovation that had not been seen previously in an animated cartoon.  The feature film which played that night is now all but forgotten, but the animated short seems to have proven quite popular, and the star of that short has managed tostick around for a while.  To celebrate what is recognized as the official 80th birthday of Mickey Mouse (although Steamboat Willie was actually the third Mickey cartoon produced, it was the first to be widely distributed,) I booked a trip to Disney World in December today. 

If you’ve been reading this Blog for any length of time, you might have noticed that it seems like every time someone goes on vacation around here, I seem to end up staying here and dogsitting for my parents.  This has been mostly the result of a work schedule which seems to alternate between having nowhere near enough time to go take a vacation or way too much time on my hands (it all comes with the territory as part of working as a contractor.)  Since I will shortly be approaching the latter portion of the cycle in which I need to take three months (and change) off before being eligible to return to contracting at Microsoft, I decided that now would be a good time to sneak off and take a few days of vacation in December during the week before Christmas. 

Although this will be my first trip to Disney World, I’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times already (once in 1987, and most recently at the beginning of 2006.)  From the first trip I only have vague memories, which is mostly because I was nine years old at the time, and also because I ended up spending a significant portion of the trip sick with one form of galloping crud or another.  The second trip in 2006 is a little bit better documented, and I still have quite a few photos and even a detailed trip report that I posted on one of the Disneyland fan boards.  Although there were a number of weather related issues during that particular trip (yes, even at Disneyland it rains every once in a while) it was still enjoyable.  At some point I’ll have to post the trip report here, but it’s just a tad jargon-filled in its current form (When in Rome…) so I’ll need to clean it up a bit in order to put it into a form suitable for posting here.  In the meantime, I’ve got about a month to figure out my plans for the upcoming trip.  I’ve got flights and a hotel booked, but so far I haven’t figured out anything else yet.

One thing about me and vacations is that in spite of best efforts, I just plain can’t relax on vacation for some reason.  I have this annoying tendency to think I need to be doing something practically every waking moment (or at least until I find myself completely zonked out after spending all day running around the place, at least.)  I also have a tendency to be unable to suspend disbelief, so often if I’m on a ride like they ones they have at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom, I’ll find myself forgetting to follow the story and trying to figure out how they managed to create the special effects.  To me, places like these are as much a museum as they are an amusement park, and although to some observers it may make it look like I’m bored when I’m there, it just happens that I have a slightly different definition of “interesting” than they do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch a few more YouTube videos of It’s a Small World, just to make sure I’ve completely lost my mind by the time I actually get there…

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