Saturday, July 27, 2013

Because Paul C. said to do this...

This post is Molly and Paul's fault. Paul posted a link to an article about 16 unusual Walt Disney World facts on Facebook. However, the facts were (mostly) just flat-out wrong. Then Molly said that I could come up with 16 better ones. So, now I'm under pressure to come up with 16 facts that are both true and entertaining. So here goes...

1. That the buildings on Main Street, USA are built using forced perspective is pretty common knowledge. If you DON'T know this, what it means is that the first story of each building is of "regular" size. The second story is shorter than normal and the third is shorter still. This means that the buildings look much taller than they actually are. (This is also true of Cinderella Castle). Less known is that Main Street ITSELF is created with forced perspective. By making the street wider at the Town Square end and narrower at the castle end, it makes the walk up to the castle LOOK much longer. Conversely, when you're leaving at night and have tired feet, it looks like your walk is much shorter. This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that approaching the castle Main Street is on a very slight incline--so you're walking up a hill when you enter and down when you leave.

2. I like Main Street trivia so here's another one. The windows on Main Street are filled with names. Most people know that these names are people who are in some way important to the Walt Disney Company and especially to Walt Disney World. The "business" with which their name is paired is often a further nod to either the contribution they've made or to some personal interest they have or had. (My favorite is that of former Disney President, the late Frank Wells which is for Seven Summit Expeditions, a nod to his desire to scale the highest peak on each of the seven continents.) But there's a deeper meaning to the windows. The Magic Kingdom is a show. Main Street is like the opening credits. The train station, which hides everything behind it, it like a curtain. The windows are the credits. The last window you pass (and the only one that faces the castle) is Walter Elias Disney. Just like in a movie, the last credit at the beginning and the first one at the end is the director. This is also represented by the statue of Roy Disney (the "producer")in Town Square and Walt Disney (the "director") in the Hub.

3. Aaaaaaand another Main Street fact. The sidewalks on Main Street are a deep pinkish-red. There are two reasons for that. The first is relates back to the idea of a show: the sidewalks represent a red carpet. The second is that the Disney Imagineers and Kodak worked long and hard to discover an EXACT shade of red paint that, in pictures, makes the Florida sky look exceptionally blue on a sunny day.

4. Two of the monorail loop resorts are connected with moments in history that are, if not historically significant, then at the least, historically interesting. President Richard Nixon made the his famous "I am not a crook." statement to reporters while in the ballroom of the Contemporary Resort. Meanwhile, in a room at the Polynesian Resort, John Lennon received the voluminous legal paperwork necessary to officially dissolve The Beatles and signed it in his suite, thus ending The Beatles at the Polynesian.

5. The outlying buildings which contain the guest rooms at the Polynesian Resort are called longhouses, inspired by the similarly named dwellings in the South Pacific islands which thematically inspired the resort. The longhouses are named for South Pacific islands. In the late 1990s the buildings were renamed so that the way they are geographically laid out in the resort mirrors the way they are ACTUALLY laid out geographically in the South Pacific.

6. If you stayed in a different room at a Disney resort every night, you would be able to stay in every room currently on Walt Disney World about 60 years.

7. When you are in Liberty Square, the architecture is indicative of the East Coast--the Hudson River Valley for the Haunted Mansion, a New England fishing village for Columbia Harbour House and colonial Philadelphia for the area around the Hall of Presidents. As you walk further and enter Frontierland it's like you are traveling deeper into the American West. The Diamond Horseshoe building is based on the architecture of St. Louis, MO during the heyday of its time as the jumping off point for thousands of American pioneers. The next set of buildings become more rustic--log buildings with wide plank floors--and finally Pecos Bill's Cafe is an adobe building representing the Spanish influence of the American Southwest with the buttes and mesas in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad being the silver mining boomtowns.

8. Almost of the buildings and streets in the Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard areas of Disney's Hollywood Studios are based on real locations in and around Hollywood. Of course, geography and size have been fudged a little bit, but it's meant to evoke Hollywood, CA at a very specific point in time--1947.

9. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, the restrooms all have very large, reinforced outer doors with bolted locks. That's because in the EXTREMELY unlikely event that an animal escaped from one of the habitats, there's enough space in the bathrooms, theaters and restaurants for a capacity crowd at the park to be safely behind closed and locked doors.

10. The American Adventure building in World Showcase at Epcot is situated directly across from where you enter World Showcase, on the other side of the World Showcase Lagoon. Colonial buildings, like the those on which the American Adventure is based (it's not a specific one, but an homage to several buildings), were small, generally not more than two stories tall. A two-story building would be very insignificant from a long distance and almost completely hidden by the America Garden Theater. It would also be too small to accommodate the enormous theater where the animatronics are lowered from the stage and then moved on tracks and stored UNDER house of the theater while the other "actors" are performing AND which houses the largest rear-projection screen in the world. The Disney Imagineers employed REVERSE forced perspective on the American pavilion. It's actually five stories tall, but it only LOOKS two stories tall. It's built from more than 100,000 handcrafted Georgia red clay bricks.

11. Walt Disney World is the largest single site employer in the world, employing almost 70,000 cast members.

12. Disney horticulturists (of which there are more than 750) maintain a tree farm so that if a tree which is "onstage"--that's Disney for in a guest area--is damaged or sick, they can replace it with one that is almost an exact duplicate. They do this overnight. They can also completely change out the onstage flower beds, etc. This means that you can go on Monday and the Mickey floral is one set of colors and then go on Tuesday and it's completely different.

13. Since the day it opened on October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World's maingate parks have been completely closed--as in never opened at all--a total of three times. There had been days when the parks closed early due to weather (read that as a hurricane) and in 2002 there was a day when Epcot never opened because there was a power outage caused by a transformer fire overnight (although all the other three parks opened.) That said, in 1999, during Hurricane Floyd, for the first time in its 28 years of operation, the Disney theme parks ceased operations for a day. WDW also closed completely (although, obviously, resort guests weren't ousted into the storm) twice in a period of three weeks when Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne made almost identical landfalls causing significant damage in the Orlando area. On September 11, 2001, the Disney parks had already opened their gates--for a regular 9 a.m. rope drop, the turnstiles usually open at 8:30--when the first plane hit in New York. The public address system in Walt Disney World is the stuff of legends. It is almost NEVER used. That morning at 11 a.m. an announcement came over the public address system stating, "Due to circumstances beyond our control, all Disney parks are now closed." At that point Cast Members ushered all guests out of all shops and attractions and custodial Cast Members cleared and closed the restrooms. With all guests in the streets, Cast Members joined hands, forming human chains backed by Disney security and slowly walked to the front of the park herding the guests out in front of them. It took thirty minutes for all four parks to be completely cleared.

14. The only Disney theme park that has two gated entrances is Epcot. Most people use the main entrance at the front of Future World, but there is a second, much smaller set of turnstiles in World Showcase, between France and the United Kingdom. Boat transportation to Disney's Boardwalk Resort and Villas, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Swan and Dolphin (and eventually Disney's Hollywood Studios), as well as a walkway to and from the Boardwalk Resort are available.

15. The Streetmosphere performers at Walt Disney World are actors, particularly at the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios, who interact with guests while remaining completely in character as various persons who are either Citizens of Main Street or Citizens of Hollywood. The Citizens of Hollywood have been around longer and, in fact have been a part of the experience in the park since it opened as Disney-MGM Studios in 1989. Kathryn Joosten, who is probably most known for playing President Jed Bartlet's secretary, Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing, was a later-in-life-getting-started actress. Her first acting job outside of community theater was as a Streetmosphere performer at the Studios when she was in her 50s.

16. Anything taller than 200 feet tall must, according to FAA regulations, display a blinking red light at it's highest point to alert low flying small aircraft. (There is, additionally, a no-fly zone that extends 3000 feet above and in a 3 mile radius from Cinderella Castle). Because Disney feels that a blinking light on top of the attractions would detract from the show, none of the attractions at WDW are taller than 199 feet--Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest are each 199 feet tall, the Castle is 189, Spaceship Earth is 180.

1 comment:

Jenny Ryan said...

you should change your name to Disney