The Innocents Aboard

If you come to Disneyland with me, you will have a dull time. Since I can go at any time, any attraction with a line is out of the question. I avoid the parade after seeing it for the first time. I prefer a slow and easy experience. I like sitting on Main Street, riding the Disneyland Railroad, and the Mark Twain Riverboat.

It’s not that the attractions with lines aren’t worth the wait. I typically say, “Oh, too long. Let’s do that next time.” So, you can see, after walking around the park with me passing every attraction, you would not be happy.

Here’s the secret to sitting on Main Street: get some popcorn, or ice cream and sit on a bench at the Railroad Station. If you buy ice cream, never go to Gibson Girl. Use the Main Street Cone Shop, which is on the side street behind the Market House. Don’t sit on the curb, unless you're watching a parade. It’s like being homeless at Disneyland and people may step on you.

When you ride the Mark Twain, head for the Promenade Deck (the second floor for land-lubbers) and the bow of the ship. Everyone else will race up the stairs to the top Texas Deck, or scramble for the chairs on the Main Deck. Relax, and take in the scenery. There’s no need to race around the ship like a headless chicken; you can ride it as many times as you like. And go to the bathroom before boarding. You don’t want to be on the far side of Tom Sawyer Island and tugging on doors hoping to find a restroom. There isn’t one.

The Road Less Travelled

Disneyland WEDway Peoplemover, 1967

I went to the Apple store last weekend to get a new iPhone. When Alex, my helpful sales guy, was doing the transfer, he noticed my phone screen-saver. It’s geeky, but I have an image of the Peoplemover at Disneyland. Alex, who was young and groovy, said he loved the Peoplemover and wished it were still there. This is a sentiment I hear all the time. The Peoplemover was a fine piece of design, functionally and aesthetically. The cabs were just the right size, the materials were durable, and the color palette was wonderfully slightly shifted from primary colors.

The Peoplemover opened with the Tomorrowland redesign in 1967. This version of Tomorrowland was the bight future, gleaming white, a world on the move. When Tomorrowland was refurbished in 1998, Rocket Rods replaced the beloved Peoplemover. Since Rocket Rods was retired in 2000, the tracks have sat empty.

When friends back east hear that I have a Disneyland Annual Passport, they are mystified. “What do you do there? Do you go on all the attractions?” they ask. Of course I don’t. Like every other Southern California resident, I use my passport to have lunch, sit on a bench, and walk around the Park. If I go on an attraction, it’s the slow ones: Disneyland Railroad, the Mark Twain Riverboat, maybe Pirates. The Peoplemover was a favorite slow attraction. It was wonderful to leisurely tour Tomorrowland and yell at guests from above. Noreen always had good advice for the guests walking below us. She would yell at them, “No matching outfits!” or “No running! Slow down Sir!” or “No holding hands. No touching.” Perhaps this is the real reason for the Peoplemover’s retirement.

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The American Experience in Living Color

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When I’m asked, “if you weren’t a designer, what would you do?” I answer, “I would work on the Disneyland Railroad, or I’d study American history.” The Disneyland Railroad obsession is another post, this one is about the title sequence for the WGBH program, American Experience. For me, American history is a remarkable subject. Don’t worry; I won’t turn this into a “Salute to America” blog, yet. Perhaps because so many members of my family were involved in this history since Jamestown and Plymouth, it is alive to me.

The title sequence for American Experience, designed by Alison Kennedy and Chris Pullman, tells a rich history with success, failure, justice, and injustice. It does this poignantly and smoothly. There is a clear subtext that this is all of our history, whether you come from a family that arrived on the Mayflower or arrived at LAX yesterday. So much could have gone wrong with this title sequence. It could have been a sequence of images cataloguing each racial and socio-economic group. It could have fallen into the sappy and nostalgic. However, it doesn’t.  The montage shows us a rich and diverse nation made stronger by our differences, and our shared idea and vision. It does this beautifully, and is about our feelings, not just events.