I'm a new user here, but I've been following the forums and reading MiceAge articles for quite a while, so I finally decided to sign up and join the fun! Having lived in So Cal all my life, I've been around Disneyland since early childhood, and have since become a seasonal cast member at Splash Mountain.
More recently, I've devoted some thought to the intricacies of the park, leading to several interesting insights. At one point I decided to follow up on one of these insights, write a short essay on it, and post it on my blog. I felt that this essay might make an appropriate first post, so I have replicated it below:
"One of the great things about being a Disneyland cast member is slowly understanding the little intricacies and details of Disneyland, in operation, in design, and so on. This was particularly effective at Splash Mountain, since I spent most of my time there, but at the same time I came to know more about Disneyland in general as well. Perhaps one of my greatest discoveries was the importance of tunnels to both the park and individual attractions.
This was something I first discovered on Pirates of the Caribbean actually. For quite some time I had known that the placement of the waterfalls in the attraction was a practical application, as it allowed the Imagineers to take guests below the park's railroad berm and out into a much larger show building. However, it wasn't until this summer that I realized that these drops (particularly the first one) were actually incredibly effective storytelling techniques.
Consider things in this light. Pirates of the Caribbean is located in New Orleans Square. French quarter versus Caribbean town. That's quite the juxtaposition, and in my opinion it doesn't work very well. So how did Walt Disney get away with putting pirates in New Orleans? Simple. Guests enter the attraction and begin the ride in New Orleans. Suddenly, they pass under a bridge where they discover a mysterious skull and crossbones mounted above them. After being warned that "dead men tell no tales", the guests unexpectedly plunge down a waterfall into the darkness, essentially, a sloped tunnel. After emerging, they suddenly find themselves in a dark grotto full of skeletons and treasure.
So why does this tunnel device work so well? If nothing else, tunnels are disorienting. It doesn't matter where you were before you entered the tunnel. After passing through the dark for a few seconds, you have no idea where you are, where you're headed, and where you came from doesn't really matter any more. Combine that slight confusion with the added disorientation of the drop, and, well, you could be anywhere by now. Were you in a Louisiana swamp a moment ago? Who knows? You just plunged down a waterfall in the dark, and now you're somewhere else entirely.
At this point, I realized that this tunnel concept was utilized throughout the park. Many E-ticket attractions have some sort of tunnel, including Indiana Jones Adventure (Chamber of Destiny), Space Mountain (launch tunnel), Splash Mountain (second lift), and even the Submarine Voyage (bubble curtains). Some of these attractions even utilize two "tunnels", placing one in actual attraction as well utilizing a second, minor tunnel for the line. Space Mountain uses a good portion of its line space as a tunnel of sorts, causing guests to wind around inside the mountain and making them feel as though they're descending into a space station. Indiana Jones also uses a tunnel by taking guests deep into the Temple of the Forbidden Eye before they board their transports. These tunnels are incredibly immersive and allow guests to feel more and more like they're actually in a space station or jungle temple, so that by the time they've boarded the attraction, they actually believe that they are where they are.
Finally, two of the most effective as well as the earliest tunnels can be found just beyond the park gates. As guests enter, they see before them Main Street's train station, beyond which lies the Magic Kingdom. In order to truly enter the park, they must pass through one of the two tunnels underneath the train station. These tunnels are not dark or foreboding, but rather serve as portals. A plaque mounted above each tunnel reads "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy." As guests pass through, they truly do leave behind the world of today, and quickly find themselves in Main Street U.S.A., the timeless turn-of-the-century town.
Two tunnels, dare I say portals, simple, but effective.
And now you know the importance of tunnels to Disneyland."
I don't know if anyone here has made mention of that in the forums before, but even if so, I hope that was enjoyable for all.
And, once again, it's great to finally have joined up with MiceChat.