The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

April 24, 2014

More Disneyland Facts That Are Not True

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:50 am


When you spend as much time at Disneyland, you start to learn a few facts about the place (you also have people that start wondering about you, but that’s another story for another post.)  Just about everywhere you look, there’s a story lurking around somewhere.  Perhaps it’s rooted somewhere in the past, telling a tale of rides and attractions long gone, but still remembered today.  Perhaps it’s somewhere in the future, whether an imagined future that probably never will be, or a very real future soon to come.  Perhaps it’s a story of fairies, magic and happily ever afters, or a tale of adventure in a time long forgotten.   And sometimes the stories just pop out of thin air for no apparent reason at all.

Those are the types of stores I deal with.  As you might know if you read my Facebook posts or have read my previous compilation of these from previous visits, when me and my friends go to Disneyland we tend to make up little stories along the way.  Sometimes it’s just little throwaway one-liners here and there to explain away some minor inconsistency.  Other times we’ll just decide something isn’t quite what it seems, and we’ll need something to explain it.  Other times, it’s just more amusing to make something up.  One way or another, we end up with these little stories and completely made-up facts, and somehow they just stick.

If that’s not clear enough, I’ll throw in this disclaimer:  ALL OF THIS IS COMPLETELY MADE UP.  That’s why they’re Facts that are Not True.  If they were true, Disneyland would probably be either a far more magical place or a much weirder place, and I’m not sure which.  Probably a bit of both.  Anyway, without further ado, some more Disneyland Facts that are Not True.


  • Most Disneyland visitors are aware of Disneyland’s practice of honoring Disney legends with windows on Main Street USA. What most people don’t know about is that cast members in Adventureland have established their own similar practice with the pile of skulls found in the canoe in front of the headhunters’ camp on the Jungle Cruise. Over the years, a number of notable cast members have been honored with skulls added to the pile in their honor. In recent years, advances in medical imaging technology have allowed Disney Imagineering to now create anatomically accurate representations of the skulls of the cast members being honored.
  • In 1967, following a number of notable incidents of bad driving on the Tomorrowland Autopia, Disney briefly experimented with adding several “police officers” hiding behind billboards on the ride to pull over misbehaving drivers and issue them “tickets” for their infractions. This move proved to be unpopular as almost immediately a number of children claimed to be traumatized by the experience, thinking they were about to go to jail. Finally, the experiment came to an end about a week later, after the Anaheim Police Department claimed jurisdiction over the Autopia.
  • In recent years, Disneyland has sought a number of different ways to put special overlays on existing rides, which has resulted in such favorites as Haunted Mansion Holiday. In addition to Rockin’ Space Mountain (which has been run primarily during Grad Nites) and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy during Halloweentime, Disney also briefly experimented with running Space Mountain with the cars placed backwards on the track. Although the ride functioned surprisingly well in this configuration, ultimately the concept was sunk by difficulties in loading passengers and the fact that people tend not to buy photos of the back of their head, No formal name was ever decided on for the concept, but in testing, Disney Imagineering generally referred to this as “Backspace Mountain”.
  • For over 20 years now, the Brotherhood of Mechanical Performers and Artists (BMPA) has been attempting to unionize the animatronics at Disneyland following successful efforts in a number of smaller parks throughout California. In spite of a campaign promising shorter working hours, more breaks during the day and upgraded mechanical components, a vote among the animatronics in 2011 went overwhelmingly against unionization, with 88% voting no. Since this time, the BMPA has filed grievances against Disneyland with the NLRB, claiming that they somehow manipulated their animatronics to vote against them.
  • Most people know about the popular RunDisney events that take place at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but in recent years, Disney has explored the possibility of expanding to swimming events as well. Last year, RunDisney extended invitations to a select few runners from the Tinkerbell Half Marathon to a special before-hours event where the Storybook Land canal in Fantasyland was opened for swimming. Although the participants were enthusiastic about the opportunity, it was ultimately determined that a large-scale event would be impractical. Although the Rivers of America seems like the most obvious place for an event like this, Coast Guard regulations designate it as a navigable waterway, which prohibits swimming.
  • (Note:  This one was posted on April 10th, the 50th anniversary of It’s a Small World.)  Today Disneyland is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of It’s a Small World at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York City.  Although the ride as it is currently designed promotes global friendship and harmony, what most people don’t know is that design of the ride is based off of an early rejected concept for the Haunted Mansion where creepy looking animatronic dolls would have filled the roles now taken by the various ghosts within the Mansion. This design was quickly rejected for being too scary, but only minor modifications were required to transform the original concept into the It’s a Small World ride we know today.
  • The fleet of parking lot trams that services the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure at Disneyland cumulatively travels over 150,000 miles in a year, a half mile at a time. This is enough to make a trip at least halfway to the Moon, leaving a trail of lost hats, glasses or other loose possessions that may fall from the tram in its wake.
  • It is well known that parrots and many other types of birds commonly kept as pets have the ability to learn how to mimic human speech and other sounds if exposed to them often enough. What is less well known is that crows and other Corvids have a similar ability. In 2012 a pair of resourceful crows found a prime spot to build a nest just inside the entrance to Star Tours. They went undetected for quite some time, and by the time a cast member spotted them several months after they had established a nest, they were able to make sounds that almost exactly matched those of the R2-D2 animatronic in that portion of the queue.

  • In spite of the fact that the mailbox in front of the Haunted Mansion does not have an actual mailing address, this does not stop people from sending over 75,000 pieces of mail to the Haunted Mansion every year, mostly containing death certificates and other applications. Although Disney originally responded with a form letter about the high volume of applications for the coveted 1000th Happy Haunt position, eventually they just had to start marking all the letters as “Return to Sender: Deceased”.  In an attempt to try to stem the tide of mail, Team Disney Anaheim has reportedly given consideration to creating a website to accept online applications for this position.  Which will promptly be ignored, of course, but at least it might save some paper.

  • Recently, Disney Imagineering has been working on a secret project to develop a set of fairy wings that will allow performers to actually fly for short distances. Early prototypes have proven surprisingly effective, but many logistical challenges have hindered their integration into performances. The project was nearly derailed when one of the prototypes was accidentally sold to a young child in a gift shop. They eventually caught up with the child and brought her down safely, but she had made it nearly to Irvine before they did. The FAA is still investigating the incident.

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.

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