I had no column last week because I was in California. Among other things, I got to see plenty that was new for me: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in DCA (Verdict: not mind-blowing, but good…it reminds me of the Finding Nemo ride out here in more than a few ways), Trader Sam’s bar at the hotel (phenomenal – can we have this here please?), and the bonus Star Tours room (I love the music, which adds something missing out here for sure).
The real eye opener was Splash Mountain, where the Laughin’ Place put Orlando to shame, not only for having all the effects working, but just to see how the show lighting makes such an enormous difference! After riding Orlando’s version 30 or 40 times since sampling Anaheim and then seeing the Disneyland version again, you cannot help but think that Orlando’s is way too overlit and too reliant on simple white lighting (rather than using colored lights).
I was in California for the launch party of a new book. I’ve got no fewer than THREE books coming out this holiday season, but the other two aren’t ready to be announced yet. Today’s book (like another of the yet-to-be-announced ones) was written with a co-author. It’s called Jason’s Disneyland Almanac, and it’s nothing short of a complete history of Disneyland from 1955 to 2010. I’ll let the official description do the talking:
Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? We have, too. You're on your own for acquiring the time travel device, but this book will help you choose the best days to visit Disneyland. With Park hours for 19,484 of the 20,257 days covered here, plus weather for each day, Disneyland attendance from July 17, 1955 through December 31, 1966, openings, closings, debuts, endings, events, and famous visitors, Jason's Disneyland Almanac provides detail on every day in Disneyland's history through the end of 2010.
From the low attendance during Walt Disney's life of 389 visitors on the rainy January 20, 1962 to the Walt-era high of 60,917 on July 4, 1964, the Almanac is the first compilation to begin to reveal the daily history of Disneyland's 55 years (and counting). More than the sum of its parts, the Almanac puts the important events in Disneyland's history in context-whether that circumstance is a lonely, rainy February day or an event in the crowded heat of a peak-season summer day.
Disneyland's history is punctuated by high points like the June 14, 1959 opening of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage, and Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System, but more Guests are familiar with the Monday (and later Tuesday) off-season closures that continued from fall 1955 through February 6, 1985. Although it began as a thought exercise in whether it would be possible to know Disneyland in its daily complexity, the present Almanac shows the rich possibilities such an opportunity presents.
For most visitors, this compilation will capture the basics of Disneyland on their first visit: the Park hours and the weather. But we hope that it will also show that one day at Disneyland is not interchangeable with any other; each day is in some way unique and different from every other.
Now you can look up any date in Disneyland history!
In short, every noteworthy event that occurred is captured here. When a ride opens or ceases operation, the event is noted on the date in question. That’s true also of shops, restaurants, and major entertainment. We chronicle the important visitors. And, amazingly, we have the weather for each day in park history: high temps, low temps, and recorded precipitation. We even know the park hours for a vast majority of the dates.
We added a short paragraph or two that introduces each year in the history of the park, usually highlighting just one aspect of what changed that year. We then did the same thing for the decades, to provide a different layer of overview.
I’m happy to report that there is not only a comprehensive index, there are two of them. One is for just people, and the other for places and things, so it should be simple to find the information you need at a moment’s notice. The other highly useful reference table in the back of the back is an alphabetical listing of the attractions at the Disneyland Resort that shows on that page their opening and closing (if applicable) dates.
Jason and I have been working on this book for a long, long time. Several years have gone into this project, which began life as “The Disneyland Compendium” and was to include a pantheon (stories on important people who have contributed to rides in the park) and an encyclopedia just for Disneyland. We may yet see these other elements of the Compendium in the future.
Much of the heavy lifting of data entry was shouldered by Jason, who has been building a digital thesaurus holding just about every fact about Disneyland in it. I cannot stress how monumental that task was. We are talking thousands of hours (and no, I am not exaggerating). Even after hearing about how much work it all was, anyone who sees the thesaurus comes away impressed. The book we are now selling represents an “output” of part of that database. Speaking as someone who has a Ph.D., I think I can legitimately evaluate how much work Jason put into this. And yes, it’s equivalent to a dissertation. Maybe more.
Jason has been chronicling much of the effort over the years at his blog. Read Jason’s story of the book’s origin, how he got the weather data, and you might also like his explanation of the cover design (yes, that’s a Back to the Future reference…Jason and I really miss the late Bruce Gordon, an Imagineer who loved that film trilogy, and this cover is kind of an oblique homage to him).
The finished product is 334 pages long, softcover, and in an 8x10 format. Even at such length and physical size, we had to keep the font small to make it all fit! It really is the ultimate reference for Disneyland, and the definitive source for information about the park’s first 55 years.
The book costs $24.95. Here’s the link to buy it at Amazon, though if you would like to help the authors the most, please buy it from our CreateSpace store, as we get the maximum royalty that way.
Sunday Meets in WDW
Join us on Sundays for a weekly meet at WDW with regulars, locals, and first time visitors. This coming Sunday is a special 1pm meet at the Magic of Disney Animation, with the idea being to cheer on one of our regulars (Miles) as he tries out for the American Idol Experience. We’re meeting at 1:00 because we don’t know the exact timing of everything to follow, but we’ll certainly stick around for the day (many of us will hang out until the Osborne Lights, in fact). Newcomers are always welcome.