Disneyland and What It Means to me, and so many others

By Lynn Barron

Sometimes we look at the past and smile, sometimes we look and cry, but it is what's going on now that is important. I have a hard time realizing that, and coming to a conclusion that life has its struggles, but it also has its blessings. Sometimes we focus on the struggles, it is good to not forget the past, but most of the time if you learn from the past you wont remember it being so badly. Disneyland for me is that. I have fond memories going to Disneyland as a child, and feeling like I was in another world. It was the best feeling, going on attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and being afraid to go down the dips, but so involved in the scenes that my eyes saw. I thought those pirates were actually real people. I was probably only 5 years old, but I do remember that. I remember going on Peter Pans Flight and thinking I'm really flying above London. One fond memory I have along with a picture I have, is going on the Mother Boar Cruise with my Dad. I now that attraction was not really the most thrilling at all, but to me we were really driving that boat and exploring the waters just me and my dad. I have great memories with my dad who passed away very shortly after that day at Disneyland, he died of leukemia, I was 5 and he was only 34 years old.


 Later on I would then go to Disneyland with my mother and sometimes grandparents. I just loved Disneyland, because sometimes life was rough, even as a child we worry about what kids at school think, or do, sometimes not very nice things, but when your at Disneyland it seems like your problems are put aside for the moment and you are taken into another world another time, both that do not exist in our real world today. I remember getting the homemade fudge they would make in the Candy Store on Main Street, and sitting on the curb waiting for The Main Street Electrical Parade to begin, and then the fireworks afterward. Those memories are fond and fun.


Later as a teenager I remember being dropped off by my mother or a friends mother or father and staying by ourselves all day at Disneyland. It didn't take much money then to go, and I think my mom would give me $20 and that was for spending money. That was enough for lunch, dinner and a souvenir. Those were such great and fun times. My friends George and Scott were my best friends. We had a blast there, my friend Scott even dropped his magic rings which he bought at the magic shop into the Rivers of America by accident, and we laughed, well Scott didn't.


In high school I was in the marching band at Lakewood High School. I played drums and our band would march down Main Street each year. That was amazing to be able to do that, a place I had went to and seen many other bands perform at and this time it was me performing. my Junior and Senior year my friend Jon who is no long with us, would go to Disneyland many times together. We had annual passes and his brother Erick worked there on Westside attractions. Jon and I would go to Videopolis. remind you this was about 1988, or 89. We would go there to look for girls, but both Jon and I were both too nervous to ask girls to dance. I am not sure I would have danced anyway, because that is something I just didn't do. When I went with my friends I started to discover that there is people behind all these amazing attractions we saw. There was imagination behind it. It was amazing to me, and I wanted to know how they did it. I remember George and I would draw track layouts for rides on paper and imagine different scenes within that attraction, or dips and turns. I bought a book around that time at Disneyland, which I still have. It was a souvenir book. Inside it was a picture of Walt Disney in the front. I didn't know there was a man behind all of this great imagination that we experienced. There were actually men people, but I didn't know there was a Walt Disney, who was a real person. I wanted to now about this person who created this wonderful place I enjoyed going to so much. I checked out books at the library at school and the public library. I then discovered that Walt Disney was an amazing person with such great imagination and talents. I admired him for the things he did , and for the person he was.


 In 1991 I went to work at Disneyland. I worked in the Plaza Inn restaurant. I was a busser and I had a great time, and finally was able to start to se what was going on behind the scenes at this place. I was only as a busser for almost 2 years. I left and then bought a annual pass, which I had until I worked in Custodial in 1998. I would go with my friend Neil so may times, we went probably twice to 3 times a week. We enjoyed just hanging out there. Yes we looked for girls too.


It was then in 1996 I started dating my wife Erin. We both had passes and would go every chance we could, those memories are the greatest. We would sometimes just go to eat and go on a few attractions and stay just a few hours or stay all day. It was so much fun, and we bonded with those times. She actually bought me my first behind the scenes book for Christmas that year in 1996. The book was Walt Disney's Imagineering. Such a great book. That started my collection of Disney books, which is now at about 150 today. The addiction began.


Working at Disneyland in custodial was such fun and many friends and memories happened during my 10 year stay. You can learn all about working in Custodial at Disneyland and more at my podcast The Sweep Spot, that I have with my good friend Ken Pellman, who is one of the many friends I met while working at Disneyland.


After moving to Utah and the birth of my son Luke in 2007. We began to take him as a baby. He wont remember those early years, but I certainly will. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at Disneyland. Somehow the memories of working there and going with my father growing up was behind me and I was focused on what made him smile, laugh or even cry. When Luke was a bit older going with him and my wife to Disneyland was a big thrill. I wanted to experience all these attractions with him that I enjoyed as a child. He would laugh, smile, and was even scared on his first roller coaster at age 3 Big Thunder Mountain. Luke is 6 now and he loves watching You Tube videos of Disneyland attractions.


When I go now to Disneyland I do remember those memories from my past. I remember the last time I went there with my mom which was in 2009, she then passed away a year later. I remember going with my sister Keri on those early days. She was 5 years behind me so some of the attractions she didn't go on with me, but she was there to experience the fun. She did have the chance to share it with her children before she passed away in a car accident way too early in 2008. She was 32.


So my conclusion is Disneyland is a special place a place to forget about this crazy world we now live in and getting crazier by the day. We need a place like Disneyland in our lives. Whether it be In California or Florida or the other parks around the world. Disneyland parks are special and continue to bring back memories for many and start memories, and in many cases new memories that go along with the ones from the past. I think Disneyland is special for those reasons because parents who went their as a child wan to take their kids there and on and on. I don't live near Disneyland anymore, but I go to my "Disneyland" every other Friday night when I record with my good friends Ken and Tommy, and the many great guests we have had on our show. I want to share those memories, joy and history with others on The Sweep Spot. Disneyland is and has been a blessing to many people over the years, and if Disneyland is so much fun and so carefree, then I cant wait to see what heaven will be like.


The Rising Prices

By Russell D Flores

Posted 6/3/2013


One of the big news stories last week was the new prices for Disneyland. Everyone knew it was coming and wondered how much it would be. If you haven’t already gone to their web page and checked them out, here is a link to the Disneyland’s new prices.


Disneyland Resort Ticket menu Efffective June 2, 2013


The price increases are actually not that high. Hoppers passes increased in price from $4 to as much as $10, with two going up $12 each. That makes a 1 Day, 1 Park pass $92.  Wow. For a family of 4 going to one park for one day, they will now pay $368. For Annual Passes (AP), they went up a bit more. AP increases range from $10 to $30 each.  The big increase was the Premier passes (good at Disneyland and Walt Disney World). It went up $103 this year. This is on top of the $105 it went up last year.


That brings me to what is creating the outrage. Last year saw large increases in all passes. Our Premium passes went up $150.  This year they added another $25, bringing the new total cost for each pass to $669 each. It use to cost around $1200 to get our 3 passes when we first started getting our them in 2003. Now it costs $2007. If it weren't for the fact that we live in California and get interest free financing, I’m not sure I could even consider renewing our passes this year.


Using the Five Day Hopper price, we need to go to Disneyland 11 days to make the cost worth buying the Premium pass. But actually, that is not a good comparison. With our 15% to 20% discount at most locations at the resort, there is quit a bit of savings. We normally spend between 8 and 15 days at the park each year, so the price is still beneficial to us. But are the prices justified for everyone?


Only you can really answer that question for you. But let me point out a few things before you rush to judgment. The first complaint is that Disneyland is being run as a business. Well welcome to the real world. If it didn’t make a profit for its investors, it would be long gone, and that would be a tragic loss. We love living in a capitalist country with all the goodies and freedoms, but we jump on the “greedy corporate” mantra every time a company actually trys to make profit. It’s all about supply and demand. If you don’t think it is worth it, then don’t buy it. If enough people agree (democracy at its best), the company will lower the price or go out of business. This is true of Disney too.


My next point is whether Disney is just greedy or is there some justifications? We all love the Parks, the cleanliness, the maintenance, the Details that I love to document, and the wonderful cast members. We love the new Carsland new attractions like Ariels Undersea Adventure, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Star Tours 2.0 . Even the parades and fire works are plusses today. Have you been to some of the other parks? Many are disgusting. At some theme parks, the employees don’t seem to care about the guests and just stand around or are unfriendly. Another park only opens half its rides in order to save money and moves the ride operators around opening and closing rides through out the day.  Every time we have tried one park, we have fun, but we come running back to Disneyland.  We watched a parade at one theme park last year and the costumes were so old, they were falling apart. We could see the employee inside one costume of a major character because the seam in the neck was completely broken open. Most parks in California do not have fireworks. Disneyland has them almost every night. Twice if you count Fantasmic.


Another complaint I hear is the price of food. No it is not cheap. But we spent $55 at a another park for 1 hamburger, 1 individual pizza, 3 french frys and 3 drinks. Three full meals at Rancho del Zocalo’s costs us about $40 with our AP discount.  We also could not find a place to sit, not because they were busy, but because they had not cleaned the tables.


There’s an old saying, you get what you pay for. When I come to Disneyland I expect a working and clean park. I expect courteous cast members who help you get into attractions, answer questions, and just hold friendly conversations. I expect quality food, professional parades, and great fireworks. I expect a safe and working ride. People complain about when one of the rides goes down for a while, but Disneyland does not hesitate to stop a ride for safety. I expect a great atmosphere where I don’t have to worry about criminals.  I want a place I can just relax and not worry about the outside world.  All this cost Disney money to produce. Is Disney charging too much? Maybe. Do I get my money’s worth out of my passes? Absolutely!  Again, you have to decide if Disney is charging too much, but consider all the facts and not just a knee jerk reaction to a price increase. You wouldn’t do that when buying a car or a house. They cost about the same as Disney tickets now. Just kidding. So take the time to look at the realty of the cost of the tickets and your expectations for what kind of product you want the Disney company to produce.


How to enjoy the park more and see those details?

By Russell D Flores

Posted 5/17/2013


I get a lot of questions along the lines of, how do you find / see all of these details. The quick answer is obviously, you need to stop and smell the roses. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” That’s the real trick to finding Disneyland’s many details. That’s all there is too it. Thanks for reading this post. What? You want something a little more specific? Ok, I’ve still got a little space Lynn and Laura let me have. Here is what I do to apply this principle.


First of all, I literally stop and look around. I look up, I look down, but most of all I look backwards. Especially in lines. The Imagineers know most people look the direction of the line’s movement, so they will put some of their best stuff behind you. Sometimes things peek my interests right off the bat. Other times, I look at something and think, is there something here and just take a picture I can look at more later. I will use this techniques in areas such as queues where you can’t stop for long periods of time to just look at something. I will then look at it later and do research to see if there is something there. I did this with the Mule Engine in the Thunder Mountain queue. I looked at them every time I went and took several pictures. Then one day I found the answer I was looking for.  I learned that the one in the queue and one behind Thunder Mountain were used in the movie Hot Lead, Cold Feet staring Don Knotts.


Another way to find these hidden secrets is to do research before you go. Read books or cruise pages on the internet. Shameless plug, my book would be great for this. There are many great books out there. Books by Jeff Kurtti, Jeff Heimbuch, Dave Smith, Sam Gennawey, Kevin Yee, Tim O'Day, Joshua Shaffer, and The Disney Imagineers just to name a few.


Be careful though, especially with the internet. The internet is self feeding, so one person posts something, another copies it, and before you know it, it is on several sites and everyone is taking it as the truth. You see this a lot with “quotes” from Walt Disney. Another is the spike behind Sleeping Beauty’s Castle being the center of the park. This is a classic example of such a Disney Urban Legend. There is also the clock on the back side of the castle being set to the time of Walt Disney’s death. This one is quickly dismissed by looking at the clock and then looking at Walt Disney’s obituary. I’m not saying be a total negative nelly, just be aware while cruising the internet. Use multiple resources like an internet source and a book.


Another great way to learn about many Un-Seen treasures is by listening to podcasts such as The Sweep Spot, Dis-Geek, Mousetalgia, Communicore Weekly, Dis-Unplugged, DL Rage, and many, many others. Find one or more that are entertaining and/or informative. Listen to them while driving to and from work like I do, while working, or even while exercising. These shows can be very fun, entertaining and informative.


The last source I’ll write about is looking at DVD’s / Blu Rays and videos. Especially the ones of people who worked on the various projects. You’d be surprised how many videos of the great imagineers such as Tony Baxter, Rolly Crump, Bob Gurr and many more are out there. Many have books too. Check out the bonus material on Disney DVDs / Blu Rays. As Jeff Kurtti recently said on one of my posts, “Did no one watch the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs I produced?” These are a great series with a lot of great information. They are a must for the true Disney fan. Also check You Tube.


There are additional ways to get information such as attending Disney related events, emailing Dave Smith at Ask Dave, Talking with Imagineers you have the opportunity to meet, or fellow fans. And don’t think I’m just talking about Disneyland. You can find these Un-Seen treasures at all the parks and even the Walt Disney Studios. I find great joy in finding and sharing these hidden treasures that Walt Disney and his imagineers add to make the Park that special place we call Disneyland.


Safety

By Russell D. Flores

Posted 4/28/2013


Many of you have seen all the news stories, Facebook posts, Twitter posts, and heard the podcasts on all the changes Cal OSHA is imposing on the Disneyland Resort. Now let me say up front, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, I do think there needs to be a government watch dog for this, and they need to have some teeth. That said, I think the safety laws need to be reasonable. I also think that Cal OSHA needs to understand the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. In other words, there needs to be a healthy dose of common sense.


Many of the changes were good for Disneyland and the cast members. There has not been any reports of concerns for issues with guest safety up to this point. But some of the laws seem a bit to strict. You can’t nanny safe everything. Case in point, the 30 inch employee safety rule. No employee can be more that 30 inches off the ground without safety gear. That’s not even 3 feet. This rule has lead to the Disneyland Rail Road cast members no longer being allowed to use the water tower because its use requires them to get on top of the tender car which is clearly more than 30 inches off the ground. Well by the strict interpretation Cal OSHA is taking, no cast member should be allowed on the steps in front of the train stations after about 3 or 4 steps. They are clearly above 30 inches. Now the argument no one has been hurt yet is not logically valid. But is the use of the 30 inch rule here reasonable? It has been argued that this is part of the Rail Road cast member’s performance and therefore exempt. Are you going to stop Cirque Du Soleil because they are performing over 30 inches off the ground?


Now let’s look at the other edge of this sword. Since they can no longer use the tower, they have to use high pressure water hoses to fill the tank. Since it takes longer, they have to complete filling the tender at two different stations. That phrase “high pressure” just sounds like an accident waiting to happen. The hose could knock them down or worse break free striking them and / or other cast members. Having worked for the fire department for a number of years, I know what damage a high pressure hose can do and how hard they can be to control. Next, two of the tenders are so tall that a special ladder that is 30 inches of less has to be used. Sounds simple, but now instead of risking one cast member, three are required by Cal OSHA rules. One to climb, one to foot the ladder, and one to hand up and take down the hose as you can not climb with the hose. Now the additional dangers of the high pressure hose are amplified because the cast member is on a less stable platform. You also have to multiply the danger by two because instead of performing this evolution one time every hour or two (sorry not really sure how often they actually refill the tender), it has to be done twice in order to completely fill the tender each time. Not looking like this rule was applied with much common sense.


I don’t know how they came up with the 30 inch rule. There may be good reasons behind it. To me though, it doesn’t sound reasonable. And whatever height they would have come up with, I’m sure it would be lower than a tender car. There needs to be some built in breathing room. There should be a way for Disney to appeal the initial decision and ask for a reasonable waiver. Maybe a good compromise might have been to add an anchor point in the middle of the top of the water tender and the cast members wear a belt that has a line attached to the anchor point. Or maybe better, a reasonable review board could take a look at it and realize that the top surface of the tender is large and that even though it is over 30 inches off the ground, for the majority of the evolution, they are no where near the edges and not really in danger. Probably far less than trying to control a high pressure hose on a ladder.


Again, I am not saying all the requirements are bad, just thinking there needs to be a little more balance. What are your thoughts. Let us know.


Why all the details?

By Russell D Flores

Posted 4/3/2013


I’ve been asked many times why did Walt Disney insist on all the extra detail? Most of the other parks that exist today don’t have so much detail. The amusement parks that existed at the time clearly didn’t have so much detail. Those two sentences answer the question. Disneyland was not to be like any amusement park that existed at the time and was not meant to be like an theme park that might follow.  Walt Disney wanted his park to be better than that. He wanted his park clean, he wanted it to revolve around family enjoyment, he wanted his “guests” to be treated professionally by his “cast”, and he wanted people to have a smile on their face. Walt is quoted as saying to the original WED designers (later called Imagineers), “All I want you to think about is that when people walk through or ride through or have access to anything that you design, I want them, when they leave, to have a smile on their face.” (footnote 1) For Walt Disney, it wasn’t primarily about making money, it was about building a place where a family could really enjoy themselves together.


When they were building the Storybook Land Canal boat attraction, Walt Disney insisted on small details in the miniature houses, including stained glass windows.  When he was asked by one of the builders, who would know if they didn’t include all the details, Walt Disney said I’ll know (footnote 2). Walt Disney knew from his experience with animation that along with a great story, great characters, and great artistic ability, you needed details. If you had a scene that took place in a bedroom, you could just draw a wall and a bed. But if you really wanted the audience to feel like they were watching a scene in a bedroom, you needed to include all the details. Night stand, water glass, cloths, etc. He had his artists watch live action models (people and animals) so they could get the movement correct. He wanted his characters to move as the human mind would expect them to.


I think even the development and use of the multiplane camera was apart of this attention to detail. Walt Disney could have continued to animate his films like everyone else did when they went into or through a scene. Walt Disney knew that in the minds of audience, they knew what was gong on, but that it didn’t look like real life. Different objects should move at different speeds based on their relation to the person moving.


All of this experience was used in the development and building of Disneyland.  It is commonly accepted today that in part, Disneyland was Walt Disney’s next step in the evolution of movies. A true multi-dimensional experience of the story. This theory even holds that the layout of the park corresponds to the structure of a movie. So going right along with this theory is that Walt Disney would want all of the details to make the story more believable. And since you couldn’t hide any missing details from this live movie, you would need to include it all to maximize this wonderful experience called Disneyland.


1. Bruce Gordon and David Mumford Disneyland, The Nickel Your: A postcard journey through 40 years of the Happiest Place On Earth. (Santa Clarita. Camphor Tree Publishers, 1995), p. 16.

2. Mouse Planet, The Story of Storybook Land (4/1/2013).


Introduction

By Russell D Flores

Posted 3/10/2013


I was asked by Lynn if I would mind doing a regular post on The Sweep Spot <L> web page. At fist I was thrilled, then I started thinking what have I done? I’m not a writer. I’m no where near in the same league with people like Keith Gluck (The Disney Project  / Mice Chat), Jeff Heimbuch (Communicore Weekly Podcast / Mice Chat), or the great Ken Pellman (kenversations ). And I’m not even in the game with people like Jeff Kurtti or Tom O’Day. So why me? What makes me the qualified to do a blog post? Then I decided, why not me? I love Disney. I go to the Parks regularly, listen to many podcasts, read about Disney related things, have many friends who love Disney, and even have a book published about Disneyland called “Seen, Un-Seen Disneyland” (ok shameless plug).


So who am I? I have been going to Disneyland for over 47 years. My family and I go to Disneyland at least twice each year for week long trips. I am a member of D23, DVC, Disneyana, and the Walt Disney Family Museum. I’m an also an Annual Pass (AP)  pass holder. I listen to many podcasts and am friends with many of the hosts. I truly love Disneyland and as I already mentioned, have even written a book about Disneyland.


So what will this series of posts be about? First of all it will not be a news feed. That is well taken care of by my friend TommyPix (The Sweep Spot podcast / The DisGeek Podcast) and several other great podcasters. I decided I would handle it like I handle my Facebook page . I will write about things that interest me. I’ve found that instead of burying people in information that can be found on lots of Facebook pages, web pages, news feed feeds, and all over Twitter, I post about the things that catch my eye and interest me. I don’t even post everything, just those that really grab my interest. So every couple weeks or so, when something grabs my eye, I’ll write a little post. It may not be a Keith Gluck, Jeff Heimbuch, or especially a Jeff Kurtti. You may even find a typo. I’m not a writer and as most of you are aware spell check delivers some interesting results sometimes. But I’ll do my best to find and write about some of those interesting and maybe even “Un-Seen” things about Disney.