Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not All Research Papers are Boring; This Student Researched the Underground Tunnels at Disney World

A Whole New World

By Larissa Wach (A dual-credit student from Hayes Center)

Why would someone tell a child Lightening McQueen can’t talk? It would be a downer to meet Rapunzel without her flowing blonde hair or see any Disney character beside Sleepy the Dwarf taking a snooze.  According to Krevin, Walt Disney decided that some needs would have to be hidden at Disney World.  To hide them, Disney built a nine acre network of tunnels for cast members to move around out of public view (hiddenmickeys). Disney World’s underground tunnels, also called utilidors, were created for costume storage, various transportation, technician commanding, employee necessities, and garbage disposal. 

At Disney World, not only do the characters we all know and love have costumes, but every ticket taker, waitress, greeter, and animatronic character have a costume as well.   Yet tourists never see a Donald Duck with spaghetti stains on his blue jacket or Princess Belle with dirt on the hem of her yellow ball gown.  As Hobbs states, the main wardrobe located in the “underbelly” of Disney World accommodates more than two million costumes, which are cleaned at Disney World’s own plant. It washes 110,000 pounds of laundry a day and every cast member exchanges a used costume for a fresh one daily (n.pag.).  A cast member includes anyone that works at Disney, even those in a business suit.

The most durable fabric can rip, tear, and snag.  It would be disgruntling to see a human knee poking out of Goofy’s leg as he walked the streets of downtown Disney.  These “offending” costumes are replaced daily before visitors arrive (Hobbs n.pag.).  Not only are costumes repaired each day, but new ones are being created.  Hobbs finds that 20 seamstresses work in an average garment type factory, located in the utilidor, designing new costumes for Disney people (n.pag.).   Disney world seamstresses also design costumes for people and parades outside of the Disney gates.   

The Disney World Magic Kingdom is divided into contrasting “lands” including Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland.  In Adventureland, visitors explore exotic and tropical places on a Jungle Cruise or meet Tarzan in Tarzan’s Treehouse.  Fantasyland is where young girls admire princesses such as Snow White and Cinderella.  It is home to the most common architecture known to Disney World, Cinderella’s Castle.  Tomorrowland takes visitors to infinity and beyond.  They explore the future, today with Space Mountain and Jedi-Training.  Frontierland takes a trip back in time to celebrate the Old West and is the most likely place to meet Woody, Jesse, and Bull’s Eye.

The underground tunnels were created as a place of safe keeping for the costume varieties.  A visitor would never see Mickey wearing a spacesuit in Frontierland.  Neither would a visitor see Minnie wearing spurs in Cinderella’s castle.  According to Greene, the costume department uses a computer system to manage the costume pieces issued to 41,000 cast members to ensure they have correct garments at the correct time.  Mickey has 175 different costumes and Minnie has 200 (34).  While I visited Disney World I saw Minnie in seven different costumes including a formal blue ball gown, red Santa coat and hat, red and white polka-dot-dress, and a green safari jungle suit. 

Disney World’s underground tunnel is not only needed for costume care and keeping, but also for various types of transportation.   Krevin believes that Walt Disney did not want an Adventureland Cast Member in Fantasyland (  Utilidors allow cast members to easily travel from place to place without walking through other lands.  Krevin states that walls are also color coded and include the names and pictures of each land in which cast members are under.  For example, the walls under Frontierland are colored brown ( Cast members are able to quickly know where they are without confusing the lands around.

Walking is not the only method of transportation in the tunnels.  Electric vehicles called “Pargo’s” are permitted (Wallace They are golf cart like vehicles operated by battery power.  Krevin claims that the daily cash pick-up is the only gas powered vehicle allowed in the underground tunnel.  The truck is driven into the underground tunnels from a service road and collects all of the Magic Kingdom’s daily cash from a secret location.  The truck driver has merely four inches on each side to maneuver (  Picture what damage could be created if the cash truck driver is not cautious enough as he picks up the cash.  In addition, few people are available to direct him because the cash office is in a secret location.

Imagine shopping for a souvenir, perhaps a snow globe of the castle, a spatula inscribed with Mickey Mouse ears, or a stuffed Nemo.  Then a delivery truck backs up to the front door to unload a stock of Mickey’s kitchen items.  According to Wallace, utilidors are needed for deliveries to be received, processed, and stored until use (  This way, visitors never see a delivery truck driving through the park or an employee pushing a cart full of Mr. Potato Heads’ for restocking.

Disney World has underground tunnels for a central command station.  A computer room in the utilidors called the Digital Animation Control System (DACS) controls everything in the park.  Greene finds that this control room ensures that hundreds of audio-animatronic figures appear on cue, “orchestrating” more than 72,000 individual functions every second (34).  Animatronic figures surround each Disney World ride and attraction.  They include famous stars like John Wayne featured on the Great Movie Ride, Aerosmith on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Coaster, and the newest addition, President Obama in the Hall of Presidents exhibit.  Disney engineers and animators studied photographs and video of Obama to create an audio-animatronic Obama that can pronounce its b’s and p’s in a “frighteningly evocative of the real one” (Steinberg 12).  When I toured the Hall of Presidents exhibit, chills crept up on me as each president from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Barack Obama stood life-like on the stage.  For a split second, I thought President Obama was on stage.  It talked, moved, and looked just like him.  Shoulders would shrug, mouths would move, hands would be raised, and heads would nod all on cues sent from the command room below.  As Greene states, this command center controls the singing of birds, speeches of pirates, opening of theatre doors, operation of lighting and curtains, and monitoring of fire protection, security, equipment failure, and power loss (34). Everything appeared to move and run efficiently and effectively while being controlled someplace else.

Fast passes and digital clocks above each attraction and ride informing approximate wait time help control the line length for visitors, but Disney technicians in the underground tunnels find ways to speed up the fun.  “Deep in the bowels of Walt Disney World” the operational command center uses video cameras, computer programs, and digital park maps to stop waiting before it forms and affects real time (Barnes 1). When I visited Disney World on Christmas Day, the park had to lock its gates at noon because it was up to its limit on the number of visitors.  Little did I know technicians in the tunnels were creating small ways to control impatient visitors.  For example, Barnes finds employees watch flat-screen television depicting various attractions in green, yellow, and red outlines representing wait times.  If Pirates of the Caribbean blinks from green to yellow, the center responds by alerting managers to start more boats or contact Captain Jack Sparrow or one of his pals to the line to entertain people while they wait (1).  These minor changes help the entire park.  Barnes also explains that other technicians monitor restaurants, sending requests that additional registers need to be opened or menus need to be handed out to people waiting to order (1).  The park was able to open the gates back up by 4:00 because the flow of people had been controlled.    

Aside from park functions, control, and storage, utilidors were created for a place of relaxation where the employees can be themselves away from the public view.   According to Wallace, utilidors contain all the major utilities: locker rooms, offices, break rooms, lounges, rehearsal rooms, and employee cafeterias (   The utilidor was fashioned as a place where employees peel off fur suits, ridiculous wigs, and phony shoes in the summer heat to find a well-earned rest.

Lastly, Disney World’s underground tunnel system was produced to maintain waste.  Utilidors are “essentially an elaborate basement providing out-of-sight access to sewer lines, pipes, and cables (Greene 34).  At Disney World, I never saw trash cans overflowing.  Wallace finds that at 17 different locations, all the garbage is literally sucked into an AVAC (automated vacuum collection system) that moves garbage at 60 miles an hour through tubes.  The 20” in diameter tubes are located in the utilidors.  The garbage moves to a central collection point where it is processed, compressed, or recycled (   Visitors never see a garbage truck or hear the rattling of waste baskets. 
Just as telling a child Lighting McQueen can’t talk spoils the magic of Cars, seeing Disney characters in anything beside their costume would spoil the magic of Disney.  Disney World’s underground tunnels, like the rest of Disney, are part of the magic behind it all. 

Works Cited
Barnens, Brookes. “Disney Technology Tackles a Theme-Park Headache: Line.” The New York Times 28 Dec. 2010: 1. Lexis-Nexis. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Greene, Walter. “Over at Mickey’s Place: Maybe you think you’re too old and too cool for all that Disney Fantasy stuff, but look out.  Heed the tale of a born-again believer.” The Financial Post  17 July 1997: 34. Lexis-Nexis. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Hobbs, Pam. “Disney’s Secret World.” The Globe and Mail 5 Sept. 1987: n. pag. Lexis- Nexis. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Kremin, Kelley. “Under the Magic Kingdom.” Hidden Mickey 12 July 1999. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
Steinberg, Jacques. “Going to Disney World with High-Tech Style.” The New York Times 22 May 2009: 12. Lexis-Nexis. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.
Wallace, David. “Magic Under the Park-Walt Disney World’s Utilidors.” Disney-o-Rama 15 June 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Collection of Photography, Las Vegas, by Karen Currie

Some relations are like Tom Jerry. They tease eachother, knock eachother down, irritate each other But they can't live without each other.

The beauty of the fast life.

Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks--it says, 'Goodbye.' -Frank Sinatra

Whre there is love there is life.

Las Vegas looks the way you'd imagine heaven must look at night.

Las Vegas-myfavorite desert mirage.

Monday, December 12, 2011

NPCC Softball Strikes Again

Thursday, December 8th, NPCC Softball put on, yet again, another night full of fun for young children. The girls all worked different activity booths and helped children decorate there own cookies, make tree ornaments, and fish for prizes. It is always a great feeling inside to see the smiles on the kids faces while they have fun doing the smallest activities. Softball also preformed a puppet show, singing Christmas songs and dancing along with the Christmas music that everyone can enjoy. The night was a success leaving NPCC softball with another good deed on our side. 

The All-Star Game, the alignment of divisions, and Wild Cards: How it has affected World Series outcomes

By Evan Troxel

This article will be about Major League Baseball and how the All-Star Game, the alignment of divisions over the years, Wild Card teams, and expansion teams have affected the outcome of the World Series. 

 For this article I chose three years: 2004, 2005, and 2007.  Why did I choose these years?  It was the years that formerly “cursed” Major League Baseball teams broke their “curses” by winning the World Series.  Okay, the Boston Red Sox were no longer “cursed” in 2007, but it’s worth noting how they fared without the pressure of having to put up with a “curse.”

Starting in 2003, the winning league (American or National) or (AL or NL) would have home-field advantage for that league’s team representative in the World Series.


The Boston Red Sox ended up having home-field advantage in the 2004 World Series because the American League won the All-Star Game that year.  That would not have happened if the National League had won the All-Star Game.  The Red Sox would have been the home team in the 2004 World Series even if the rules that started in 2003 were not implemented.

 Before 1969, the team in each league who won the most games in the Regular Season advanced to the World Series.  If that was the case in 2004, the New York Yankees would have gone to the World Series.  On the National League side of things in 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals (105-57) made it to the World Series anyway.

 Before 1994, the two teams who won their respective divisions within each league faced each other in the League Championship Series (LCS).  If that was the case, the New York Yankees would have faced the Anaheim Angels (92-70) in the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALCS) instead.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals would have faced the Atlanta Braves (96-66) in the 2004 National League Championship Series (NLCS).   

 The Red Sox Regular Season record of 98—64 in 2004 was the second best record in the American League and the third best in Major League Baseball.  If the divisions hadn’t been realigned and the implementation of a Wild Card didn’t take place, the Red Sox would not have even made the playoffs in 2004 and ultimately not have broken the Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series.  Fortunately for Red Sox fans, they ended up making the playoffs and winning the World Series. 

What actually happened:

AL: Boston Red Sox (98-64), Anaheim Angels (now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) (92-70), New York Yankees (101-61)

NL: Atlanta Braves (96-66), Houston Astros (92-70), St. Louis Cardinals (105-57)

Boston Red Sox win the American League Championship Series (ALCS) over the New York Yankees.  St. Louis Cardinals win the National League Championship Series (NLCS) over the Houston Astros. Boston Red Sox win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals.

            Before 1969’s Rules applied to 2004:

World Series-New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Before 1994’s Rules applied to 2004:

ALCS-Anaheim Angels vs. New York Yankees

NLCS-Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals


The All-Star Game did have an effect on the National League Champion Houston Astros (89-73) in that they would have had home field advantage in the World Series had the American League not won the All-Star Game. 

Before 1969’s rules, the Chicago White Sox (99-63) would have faced the St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) in the 2005 World Series.  Before 1994’s rules, the White Sox would have faced the New York Yankees (95-67) in the 2005 ALCS.  The Cardinals would have faced the Atlanta Braves (90-72) in the 2005 NLCS. 

What actually happened:

AL: Chicago White Sox (99-63), New York Yankees (95-67), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (95-67)

NL: Atlanta Braves (90-72), Houston Astros (89-73), St. Louis Cardinals (100-62)

Chicago White Sox won the ALCS over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Houston Astros won the NLCS over the St. Louis Cardinals.  Chicago White Sox won the World Series over the Houston Astros.

            Before 1969’s Rules applied to 2005:

            World Series-Chicago White Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals

            Before 1994’s Rules applied to 2005:

            ALCS-Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees

            NLCS-Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals

I like the idea of teams who have a better record than any of the division champions within the American or National League or perhaps entirely in Major League Baseball (outside of a team’s own division) automatically get to make the playoffs.  For instance, if the Boston Red Sox are in second place in the AL East with a record of 100 wins and 62 losses and the Detroit Tigers are division champions within the AL Central and have 90 wins and 72 losses, the Boston Red Sox should get to automatically go to the playoffs since they have a better record than the Detroit Tigers.  Perhaps division champions should not be going to the playoffs if teams in other divisions win more games than they do.

The problem with about all sports is that they are obsessed with having a fixed number for something.  For baseball (like a lot of sports) their fixed number is the number of teams who can make the playoffs each season. 


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Major League Baseball Post-Postseason 2011: What’s new?

By Evan Troxel

This article will be about what has been going on around Major League Baseball since the end of the 2011 World Series.
The Houston Astros will be moving to the American League (AL) West in 2013.  What do I think of this?  I think it’s stupid.  I’m not upset that when the Astros join the AL there will be 5 teams in each division for both the American and National Leagues.  It’s that the Astros will be in the same division as the Texas Rangers.  Notice, that the Houston Astros are from Texas and the Texas Rangers are obviously from Texas.

That’s saying like that the now Miami Marlins (previously Florida Marlins) would be in the same division as the Tampa Bay Rays…in the same league (American or National).  It would also be like saying that the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Creighton Bluejays are part of the same conference.

Historically in Major League Baseball the Milwaukee Brewers are the only current team part of the National League who was once part of the American League.  The Brewers have been part of the American League two times.  The first was in 1901 which that same franchise to this day is now the Baltimore Orioles.  The Brewers were also part of the AL from 1970-1997.  Since 1998, the current franchise has been a part of the National League.  It doesn’t make sense to put any other current National League team into the American League besides the Brewers.

What I think Major League Baseball should do instead is move the Milwaukee Brewers into the American League Central.  Then, move the Kansas City Royals from the American League Central to the American League West division.  There would be 15 teams in both the American and National Leagues and 5 teams within each division in both leagues.  The real reason for moving the Royals to the AL West is so that when you look at the American League divisions, then you see that all the most eastern teams are part of the AL East, all the most central teams are part of the AL Central, and the most west teams are part of the AL West.

The real shame here goes to Commissioner Bud Selig.  This problem would have been solved years ago had he not specifically and “indirectly” moved the Brewers from the American League into the National League.  If I had to hate Bud Selig for one reason this would be it.

As far as playing baseball goes in my opinion for the Astros and Brewers (as of the past several seasons), the Brewers play like a National League team and the Astros play more like an American League team than the Brewers but they still play like a National League team.

Some good news about the MLB is that the collective bargaining agreement is settled for the next 5 years.  I’m glad this is settled because the MLB won’t have to suffer any lockouts for the next five years unlike the NFL and NBA who already have suffered lockouts this year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a lockout for Major League Baseball in five years though.  That means that the next potential lockout will start in 2017.
There will be one more playoff team in the American League and one more playoff team in the National League.  This probably will also start in 2013 as a result of the Houston Astros moving to the American League.  It would be exciting though just for next year if they had 5 teams in each league make the postseason since the divisions aren’t perfectly aligned with the same number of teams in all divisions.

I think this is okay but I don’t like it a lot.  The two teams who get the Wild Card slots for the American League (as well as the National League) will end up playing each other in the first round of the playoffs for their respective leagues.  Currently it is set up as a one game playoff.  I’d rather see these two teams meet in a three game series instead of a one game playoff.  The reasoning I read (you can read the link at the end of this article) is that so the teams who finish in first place within their division don’t have to wait almost a week to play the ultimate wild card winner in each league.  A three game series would take five days (with two days for travel to the stadiums) and it would take even longer if there will be rain (or a rain delay) at the city the wild card teams were playing at.


by Ashley Miller

Tuesday the 29th our North Platte Knights played Garden City, Kansas in the most intense game of basketball I have ever watched. Being down for most of the game our Knights ended up pulling off the victory with a score of 60-55. Going into half we were down 32-22. Garden City had a 16 point lead after the half. Reath Jiech turned the game around with a follow up slam dunk, the crowd went wild and jumped to their feet, giving the boys enough adrenaline to turn the game around. Ben Wilson stole the ball from the Broncbusters to tie the game by a slam dunk! With little time on the clock our amazing North Platte Knights pulled through to win the game. Leaving them with a record of 5-1.