Sunday, July 10, 2016

Random Uggies

Today I have a few genuine "uggies" for you! These are not often seen in the wild, so we are all very fortunate.

Here's an OK "you are there" photo taken aboard the Nature's Wonderland Mine Train as it was about to pass beneath Big Thunder Falls, tumbling down Cascade Peak. I can almost feel it and hear it! Back in 1972, people were very blurry because of the hippies. Notice the pack mule in the distance.

Man, those topiaries were a popular photo subject! Ya got yer teddy bear (?), a roly-poly elephant, a giraffe, and a... um... er... a totem pole? 


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I believe that Pack Mule is actually Teeter Totter Rock over on Tom Sawyer Island!

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

If the truth be told, that's actually a 'Teeter Totter Pack Mule' - only seen in the Park for a very short time - right around 1972... (It was a very exciting ride, let me tell you-!)

Scott Lane said...

Definitely not a mule. To quote a non-Disney property from my youth (amazingly there are still some), "I got a rock."
And for the record I like that pic.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Only on rare occasion do I download these pics and scour them for details, but are you sure that “pack mule” is not a case of “the Emperor has a new pack mule”? I can only see a small configuration of pixels that (could) resemble a rider just above the boy there. I still like the shot for some reason.

I’ll take your word on the teddy bear, but my first thought was “frog”. That pic would be a great portrait of the elephant if it were cropped just a bit.

Enjoyable pics Major, Thanks!

K. Martinez said...

That could've been a mule sitting on the teeter totter rock. Wasn't there a smugglers cove nearby?

Mark H. Besotted said...

I'm up past my bedtime, so it took me a good two minutes to get that last pun. And now I'm fascinated that without mules, sMUggLErS just become sggr.

Yep, definitely time for bed.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Hey TM! I’m now referring to a post you made the other day (Marineland post): It REALLY makes me sad that you let your annual pass expire. You of all people, it’s like the end of an era. I hear they are not going to renew them once they are expired. I let mine go many years ago now, and it still breaks my heart just thinking about it. Just the notion that all the APs are gone forever :(

I guess on the plus side, there won’t be anyone singing along with the Pirates theme, and yelling “to find… a way out!” at the appropriate moment.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, ha ha, that’s what I get for barely looking at the 2” thumbnail! I was in “Let’s write as many posts as I can today” mode.

Nanook, actually that sounds like a pretty fun attraction!

Scott Lane, yes, I think I’m not going to live this one down for a while! The “I got a rock” joke from the Charlie Brown Halloween special is one of my favorite gags because I wind up thinking of the mean grown up who would “randomly” choose some kid to humiliate. Ol’ Charles Schulz knew human nature!

Monkey Cage Kurt, emperors are famously fond of pack mules. I SHOULD have looked at the full-size image, since I am the blogger - but I was lazy that day. Oh well.

K. Martinez, mules do play on teeter totter rock, but only by the light of a full moon.

Mark H. Besotted, you are blowing my mind.

Monkey Cage Kurt, unfortunately I am sure there are still many thousands of people who will be more than happy to pay the high prices and fight the crazy crowds every day; surely the Disneyland folks think they can do no wrong. And oh my gosh, the people who are in the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion, talking loudly, looking at their cell phones, or saying the lines along with the Ghost Host… argh!

Monkey Cage Kurt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monkey Cage Kurt said...

OH MY GOSH, Major! It’s been twelve years since I’ve been to the park and it has never crossed my mind that the cell phone pandemic would have infected a place like that. I mean you are at DISNEYLAND for crying out loud! LOOK UP!!!

I think if I still lived in OC I’d be an AP holder. If for no other reason than to just walk around. I just compare it to the price of a gym membership. D-land is a great workout; My friends and I were in great shape back then.

Chuck said...

As a former APH myself, I pains me to say that APHs are a large part of the problem that has hurt Disneyland in recent years in terms of gridlock and overall guest experience.

Unlike our National Parks, we don't "own" the Anaheim properties, but we're still loving them to death just the same. DL's infrastructure - even the stuff built within the past 20 years - wasn't designed to accommodate an unpredictable flow of singles or couples visiting for just a few hours at a time, which creates a parking nightmare for guests and a staffing nightmare for management.

And then there's the "APHs behaving badly" phenomenon MC Kurt and the Major mention above. It's one thing to have a little kid singing along with the Winnie-the-Pooh or the Tiki Room themes. It's something else entirely when 15 adults who have been idly chatting with their companions over the soundtrack in the stretching room suddenly start chanting in unison that the room has no windows and no doors. I understand that they have already been on the attraction 127 times and the scene no longer holds any magic for them, but that doesn't absolve them of the responsibility of respecting guests who have never experienced it before, or those of us for whom the entire experience is still a thing of delight. I wonder how many of these people hold conversations in darkened movie theaters. The Park has become as familiar to them as their own family rooms, and they just don't see the impact they may be having on others.

And then there's the howl of complaint that comes from the APH community every time Disney changes the price or open date structure. It's not the frustration with higher prices that gets me - I find that perfectly understandable - but the sense of entitlement and offense and the assertion that APHs are the economic engine that drives the Parks' and, in turn, the Anaheim Resort District's profitability. In reality, APHs actually spend less money in the Parks per visit than day visitors, largely due to the fact that they are there for a shorter time period, often already have the souvenirs they want, and rarely stay in the hotels, but their presence still requires DL management to spend money to maintain staffing at a higher level to handle the crowds. And funding for new attractions has to come from somewhere. As frustrating as it is to have to pay higher prices (one major reason I haven't been able to afford to take my family in years), if you look at the whole picture it really isn't that unreasonable for Disney to raise prices to maintain profits in the face of increased expenses.

This isn't aimed at anyone who's commented today, and I don't intend this as a blanket condemnation of APHs. Most of us bought our APs because we love the Park and just want to continue to have the experiences we love more often and more affordably than we might otherwise if we were forced to buy day passes. But the roughly tenfold increase in APHs over the past 20 years - from around 100,000 in the mid-'90s to up to 1,000,000 today - has had its impact, and the larger sample of APHs means that while the percentage of "bad actors" has probably remained the same (and relatively small), your chances of running into one have probably significantly increased.

If I haven't completely alienated you by this point, for further reading I stumbled on an interesting Masters thesis on the impact of APHs on the DLR:

K. Martinez said...

The proliferation of tech gadgets and trying to enjoy an indoor attraction with people holding up their iPhones and digital cameras constantly has pretty much ruined most interior attraction experiences for me. Even watching the fireworks show lots and lots of people hold up their cameras with screens glaring and distracting the eye.

And then you have the tiered privilege's, FastPass, and special party passes that the standby line can move slowly. Whatever happened to first come first serve with stand-in-line equality? Even in the non-FastPass attractions there were people who came to the front of the line with special privilege passes. And it happened with regularity.

My last visit in 2012 pretty much finished Disneyland for me unless they come up with something amazingly spectacular to bring me back. Now I'm not even sure Star Wars Land will do it It's become too complicated and non spontaneous and it wasn't even that crowded in early summer when I went.It certainly isn't the Disneyland I remember.

And personally I think some of those the APs are underpriced. It's become a cheap babysitter and cheap entertainment for the locals. Disneyland used to be a special family event. They should just stick to the top tier pass and dump the others in my opinion. That way if you really want to go to Disneyland on a regular basis that badly then pay a high price for it.

Personally I think Disney theme parks are headed for a slump as quite a few people even in regular non-Disney comment boards say they don't like to go to DL or WDW anymore because of the expense, the overcrowding and low quality experience and the fact that the quality has been cut back. I've come to the point that if I don't ever go to Disneyland again, I won't be that upset. I've just glad I had my time there and enjoyed it while the quality was there.

Chuck, When I brought my sister and her kids to Disneyland for the 50th Anniversary fireworks show, larges groups of people in the crowd recited the entire show script verbatim at the exact time as the narrator did and my sister gave me the funniest look, like the people in the crowd were nuts. I sort of agreed with her.

Anonymous said...

Wow, those are some sad APH stories. I guess I'm lucky that in our few trips since resuming "regular visits" (i.e. less than a decade apart), we haven't encountered that much unpleasant APH behavior, other than just cramming the place with multiple times the design loading.

I confess I spend some time in line fiddling with my phone, but talking with my family while waiting in line is now part of our experience. It's great now because we all reminisce together.

I'm with MC Kurt, if I lived in the neighborhood, I might get a pass to just come and sit on a bench and watch people having fun. But folks look at me like I'm a creepy old man because I'm in line for Casey Junior by myself, so maybe I wouldn't do it even if I could.

But a lot of the old spontaneity is gone, for sure. Now, my daughter has the Disney Iphone app and she runs us around to hit the maximum number of attractions between Fastpasses. It's nice to have my own personal trained "maximizer", but it was kind of fun to just hit things as you thought of them.

Next time, I'm definitely going to the hotel room after lunch for a few hours, coming back after the fireworks show. And paying more attention to the dratted parade schedule.

I'm looking forward to SWL for my next big "decade" birthday, but that's a ways off yet. Disney Parks isn't getting any of my money till then.


Monkey Cage Kurt said...

@JG, I’ve lost touch with most of my old AP friends, and I always imagine myself having to go to the park by myself. But if I did ever move back there, I’d just go on line and find a D-land AP group that I jived with. They may all be strangers at first, but after all, you all would have at least one thing in common.

Chuck, I read that article you linked to. Quite a much more highly complex dynamic to it all than I ever thought. I always wondered how Disney made money off the APs. As for my friends and I, we always did our best to spent as little as possible wile in the park, eating dinner or lunch before or after our D-land time (for the most part), and I personally never bought souvenirs.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck & @ Ken-

There's little I could add that hasn't already been said - and said well. Sadly, "success begets success" and in spite of rising prices, the 'guests just keep on coming'. (Kinda like Casey Kasem, but without the hits). I moved-away from the LA area back in 2000 and up to Seattle. And in my (somewhat infrequent) visits back to LA LA, I never even thought about making any time to spend at DL - in spite of never having seen California Adventure - in any of its iterations.

Oddly-enough, I have visited WDW twice since 2000. Go figure. I'm certain one reason has to do with the fact I grew up in So Cal and DL was "in my backyard". So although it may have required a 45 minute drive to get there, it could be had on a whim. Obviously, not so with WDW. So heading eastward feels more like a vacation - because it is. And although my 2012 trip there was certainly fun, and the moment we were driving back to the airport, I wanted to turn the car around and return, that feeling was not really apparent while actually there. Go figure - again. Part of it has to do with having been at both parks many, many times and the whole "theme park experience": planning; rushing around; the crowds; and yes, even clueless, rude guests, is no longer fun anymore. Chalk-up a part of that to age, to be sure, but there are other experiences in life which can be had more easily, cheaply and quite frankly - often produce better results. (And I'm not picking on Disney - it applies to all theme parks). I know - blasphemy; but that's sometimes just how it is.

Nanook said...

@ M K C-

Being particularly lucky in befriending several folks who just happened to work "for The Mouse" for many years - they unknowingly, became my AP. And we often would just go to the park for a quick shop-around, perhaps a meal, and on a few occasions - actually experience an attraction, or two-! Just being able to walk around in Walt's world, with all its atmosphere, sounds and smells was often swell-enough - especially when not being concerned about how many attractions you could pack into one visit, etc. Not to mention the countless times I've been backstage, attending special parties and allowed to just walk-around after-hours, even had un-official tours of some attractions. I've been very spoiled - am well-aware of it - believe me-! And am so thankful for all those experiences, that millions of folks would easily give their eye teeth to have.

So for me, the whole DL experience has been cockeyed: Often loaded with privileges afforded to CM's, but at the same time, I'm just a regular guest - who perhaps knows a bit too much.

K. Martinez said...

@Nanook, Not blasphemy. I agree that it applies to all the theme parks and not just Disney. What used to be a beloved hobby and interest for me isn't quite the same anymore. I still keep up with what's happening at all the parks because I still love the industry, but rarely do I go to those places anymore. There are plenty of other things I now do which are less of a headache and more enjoyable. I'm sure age plays a factor in it too.

And I don't really blame the APH for the problem. Disney created it. I'll admit that if I was a local I probably would've had an AP too. I have used the single-rider line but that is filling in empty seats on the attractions which probably does make the lines more efficient. I was kind of surprised how low some of those AP price points were and thought Disney was practically giving the park away for overuse. It's funny, because I was really enthusiastic for Star Wars Land and now not so much anymore when I think of the headache and cost it will be to see it.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, darn....not only did I miss out on riding on a Pack Mule, but I also missed out on riding on a Teeter Totter Pack Mule!

Kurt, thank you, but don't be sad for me! I'm not sad! So far I'm enjoying the break! The place is not the same anymore and it was slowly becoming less enjoyable. I've taken long breaks from having a pass before. My last break was right after they destroyed Tomorrowland in 1998. I didn't get another pass for seven years after that! As far as them not renewing expired passes, I think that was only one of the pass levels that they eliminated and you could only get it if you kept renewing. I would be just fine though if they never offered passes again. I have had my fill of going and as Ken stated, I feel fortunate to have been able to visit the park so often during the "good years" when the quality was there. I have my pictures and my memories......and Major P.'s pictures and everyone else's memories that get shared here! Gorilla's Don't Blog is the New Disneyland! And if anyone is holding their phone up in front of their face while they are visiting, I can't see it happening!

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

TM! I never got tired of the place, NEVER, but I was an AP for only about 4-5 years. It’s hard to imagine ever getting tired of it, but then I suppose after 11 years even Disneyland could get a bit old (I suppose). And after all I did let my AP laps at some point as well. I still respect you TM!

Remember I haven’t been there for 12 years, so is the park really all that bad nowadays, and why?

Anonymous said...

@MC Kurt, my two big bites on the current Disneyland stem from the same cause: Maximizing profit at the expense of the visitor experience.

My biggest complaint is the grotesque overcrowding, made worse by incessant parades and special activities that block circulation and make it next to impossible to get around, let alone enjoy yourself.

The second complaint is the destruction of good old attractions and the failure to replace with equivalent quality. Some of this is me being a curmudgeon, but on the whole, a lot of nice old things have been removed, either to maximize profit, or to be replaced by something less good, partly cheaped out, and partly because the designers are out of ideas and talent.

The design quality issue is improved in recent years, but not enough. And the crowds just get worse and worse.