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  1. #1

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    The Importance of Tunnels

    Hi MiceChatters!

    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.

  2. #2

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    One of the best first posts I've read on this forum or any other. Welcome, welcome, welcome! You're absolutely right, and while I've thought about Disneyland's tunnels quite a bit, I was focused more on the utilitarian aspects. But they do indeed make fascinating story devices, connecting disparate worlds in ways that manage to be believable.


  3. #3

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Thanks, Datameister. I have given thoughts as well to the utilitarian aspects of the park, and I'm always amazed at how the practicality of something is always veiled in aesthetics, as though it was meant to be beautiful and not useful.

    Oh, and I love the TIE fighters under your user name. Star Wars forever!

  4. #4

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    That was a really great first post.

    Welcome (sorta, since you've already been here) to micechat.

  5. #5

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Welcome Legacy! A great first post and something I too have given great thought too. Though I daresay you articulated it much better than I could have. A welcome addition to the MiceChat family. Hope to see you around the threads.

    It is true that they always tried to give something utilitarian some sort of aesthetic / story purpose for being where it was. Anything as simple as the tunnels in Pirates right down to the tunnel from the Hub into Rancho del Zocalo.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  6. #6

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Quote Originally Posted by Legacy View Post
    I have given thoughts as well to the utilitarian aspects of the park, and I'm always amazed at how the practicality of something is always veiled in aesthetics, as though it was meant to be beautiful and not useful.
    I know, innit great? Always amazing.

    Oh, and I love the TIE fighters under your user name. Star Wars forever!
    Haha, thank you. That makes two people who've gotten it and said something about it!


  7. #7

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    I agree with your accessment of the POTC tunnels. It is well thought out and I think completely accurate. ...And yes the berms are portals. Sure. But the others? Quite a stretch to make a point about tunnels being important. Are hallways equally important at Disneyland? I think they are. The que for Indiana Jones is as much a hallway as it is a tunnel. Its purpose is to get people to the show building as much as it is a place-holder for all the people in line to ride the attraction. Is it well themed and immersive? Yes. Is it a tunnel? No, not really.

    BTW I'm obsessed with lots of stuff. You with tunnels. To each his own. Welcome to MiceChat.
    Permanecer sentado por favor...

  8. #8

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Zoe Necrosis
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    http://potterday.org

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Wow! Thats really amazing and insightful! I never had thought about the subtle use of tunnels in that way before, but now it makes a lot of sense! Certainly something to think about!

    Welcome to MiceChat! I'm glad you took the plunge and joined us!!




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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    One of the best first posts I've read on this forum or any other. Welcome, welcome, welcome! You're absolutely right, and while I've thought about Disneyland's tunnels quite a bit, I was focused more on the utilitarian aspects. But they do indeed make fascinating story devices, connecting disparate worlds in ways that manage to be believable.
    Disneyland? Tunnels? I knew Data would be the first to post in this thread...

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Welcome to the "Happiest Forums on Earth", or you may prefer "Where posts come true", either way, Welcome to MiceChat!

    That was an awesome first post, and you really informed me about how useful and important the tunnels are to Disneyland. I never would of thought of how they can add to the theming and "magic" of an attraction!

    Have fun posting and I'll see you around the forums!

    -DisneyPro

  12. #12

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Brilliant first post. I totaly agree, the tunnel and drops does get your heart pumping enough that you are willing to accept your new surroundings. From the first drop in Splash, to the 2nd hill on POTC to the doombuggy tipping you backward leading you into a "lifeless" graveyard, Disney sure knows how to twist your senses into believing the unbelievable.

  13. #13

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Nice, Zoe.


  14. #14

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Welcome to Micechat! And some very good observations. A very unique way to look at POTC for sure, but one that makes sense.

    One thing though. Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain never took an E ticket to go on them. And I don't know what tickets those would take if the ticket system was in use today.

    Just a little nitpicking here. Sorry about that. Great post though!

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    Re: The Importance of Tunnels

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyIPresume View Post
    One thing though. Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain never took an E ticket to go on them. And I don't know what tickets those would take if the ticket system was in use today.
    But "E-ticket" no longer refers just to attractions that actually took E tickets at one point. Doesn't matter if we're talking about the public or Disney itself--the term just refers to attractions that probably would have. And I'd say that such expensive and popular attractions as Indy and SM would easily require E tickets back in the day.


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