/ Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Being a freshman in high school, I have just been dumped into this totally different environment.  Even though freshman year is almost over, the amount of freedoms and responsibilities are still growing.  I have received numerous different types of projects, from writing persuasive essays for English to having one shot to drop a ball down a ramp and into a cup in Physics.  However, no project has given me as much freedom as one from my history class.  So of course, with this newly given freedom, I immediately leaned towards Disney.  This blog is all about the Disney portion of the project:  what I did, how I planned it out, and the overall outcome.  This project was so big that there were four separate due dates for different sections of the project, and so the blog will also be split up in four sections.

At this point you might be wondering what the project was.  We were in charge of a museum.  We had to design it, pick the artifacts that go in it, create an attraction and a lot more.  Mr. Connolly (my teacher) is aware of this blog (hello, Mr. Connolly!) and knows that I love Disney, so he expected a museum that would be dripping with Disney.  Oh, did he get one.

April 29, 2013:  The Proposal

This is basically the outline for the rest of the project.  We were role-playing as people writing to Smithsonian and trying to convince them to build our museum.  We had to list a few major artifacts, describe our attraction, name our stores and restaurants, and share the design and size of our museum. I named mine “Nifty Fifties and Swinging Sixties” because they were nicknames for those two eras.  I explained that it would be unique in many ways.  My museum would appear to be made out of ordinary bricks, but as you got closer you would see that they IMAG0294were very unique.  30,000 bricks would be used in construction, and when you visit the museum, you get to pick a brick and engrave your name in it.  This is included in the price of admission, but your name can only be engraved once (so if you come three times, you won’t have three bricks, but instead only one brick).  At night, lights are placed inside the bricks so that they glow, similar to a jack-o-lantern effect, and people can check the Times Guide to see when the lighting will be.  To clarify, you don’t RECEIVE a brick that is later placed on the building, you select one that has already been set in stone (no pun intended).  Once your name is engraved in the brick, it will stay there forever.

The museum uses the wheel and spokes technique, similar to Magic Kingdom’s.  It would be a two floor museum with four spokes on each level.  Each spoke would be a separate wing, which is split into the thematic elements.  The museum will be about 351,000 square feet, which is a little bit larger than the Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

My museum also has two restaurants, The Museum of the Weird and Club 56.  Walt Disney originally had plans for the Haunted Mansion to be a restaurant that would have had the “museum of the weird” feel, so you could eat will watching the DoomBuggies pass by.  Well, things didn’t go as planned, and now you are invited to relax and dine in The Museum of the Weird.  But be warned:  some happy haunts and Ghost Hosts still might be trapped inside the restaurant.  DISCLAIMER:  It is not our fault if a ghost follows you home.  Almost an exact model of the one in Anaheim, down to the menu items, this Club 33 cloned restaurant that we call Club 56 is open to the public, unlike the one in California and serves as our second restaurant.  Walt Disney created a secret restaurant on the second floor of one of his amusement park buildings dedicated to his sponsors, all 33 of them.  Walt sometimes would personally join them for a meal, and its top secrecy is equivalent to the White House Oval Office.  Some of the past chefs who have worked at Club 33 even work in our kitchens.  56 stands for the 50s (the 5) and the 60s (the 6).

The attraction (explained more in detail later) is the centerpoint of the hub.  It connects the two floors together, and is the only mode of moving from floor to floor in that particular passage.  People who want to make it to the second floor but not ride the attraction can take teleporters that are located around the museum, with one in each wing.

In this section I also talked about the attraction details, artifacts, stores and more.  But I decided to split this up into different sections.  If I didn’t do this, this section would be SO much longer than the other three sections.

May 6th, 2014: The ArtifactsIMAG0291

Of course, I included some other artifacts like JFK’s sunglasses and the I Have a Dream Microphone, but for this blog I am just going to go through my Disney themed ones.  The first artifact integrated in my museum was a Haunted Mansion sign that has an interesting story behind it.  When Disney was testing molds for the Haunted Mansion sign, they made over 50 mini versions of it.  Marty Sklar decide to host a banquet for all of the upcoming Haunted Mansion Cast Members and gave away the little signs as a party favor.  ONLY 50 lucky Cast Members were admitted to the party, and when everybody left they received a little plaque.  I actually own one of these plaques, and I brought it in when a turned in a separate part of the project.  A few other self-explanatory artifacts like a piece of Cinderella concept art, one of the hats that Julie Andrew’s wore while filming Mary Poppins, a Club 33 pin, an original Davy Crocket hat, Walt Disney’s Lamp (the one in the second floor of the firehouse in Disneyland), the Sherman Brothers’ piano bench and a Dapper Dan hat found their way into my displays.  One that might require a little bit of an explanation is a piece of cement from Disneyland’s opening day.

As for the pavement, Disneyland was in such a rush to meet their opening day deadline that they didn’t even wait for the asphalt to completely finish drying before opening the park to the public.  Add to that the blistering hot temperatures and the asphalt was soft.  Women wearing high heels (people dressed very dapperly to go to the theme parks back then) actually sank INTO the passageways and left holes where the back end of their shoes sunk into the ground.  They had to quickly repave some sections of Disneyland.  Our display is a portion of the original roadway that was removed during the repair.

I actually own some of these artifacts, like the Club 33 pin (which was given to me by a very dear friend) and, as I mentioned earlier, the Haunted Mansion sign.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

floor 1May 13, 2013: The Design

The next part of the assignment I worked on was the design.  We could have done it electronically or by hand, and I choose electronically.  I found a website online was makes floor plans, and I got to work.  I started with the first floor, which would be the most difficult because it had more attractions and details.  Now I will give more details about my attraction.  The description of the attraction is “Hop on a flight with the original Peter Pan through the museum.  Explore all eight wings from a new perspective that you can’t get anywhere else.  Oh, and one more thing.  You are lying on your stomach.  Of course, that is how you fly to Neverland!  But beware; things might not go according to plan… DISCLAIMER: Don’t board if you have head or neck injuries, heart failure, nausea, or an allergy to pollen (the ride goes outdoors).  The ride also turns you upside down.”

The layout of the ride is very unique and something you can only find in this museum.  As mentioned before, the center of the hub contains a portion of the ride, and you board your “Pixie Plane” and get ready to go on the adventure of a lifetime!  You slowly enter the center of the main lobby, which will have you going around three times to reach the second level (similar to the way a spiral staircase works) with Pixie Dust swirling around you (the same technology as a wind tunnel).  The ride takes you pretty slowly through all eight wings of the museum, then into a separate room that you can only get to if you are on the attraction.  Things get a little out of control from there.  The amount of pixie dust starts to diminish, and you start to plummet down.  You can’t control where you are going anymore!  You swerve, bomb and dodge things in the special edition to the museum added just for the attraction.  In fact, things get SO out of control that you fly OUT of the building and into the open air.  The ride ends on the roof of the museum and you must take a spiral escalator (yes, another one and only for The Nifty Fifties and Swinging Sixties!) down to the ground floor.  The overall ride is about a 6 minute ride through, but that is only because you are going very leisurely through the museum before the mayhem ensues.

There was a separate room for my attraction, and this is where it also went outside.  You got into your ride vehicle and started your adventure in the separate room, and you conclude thefloor 2 ride by shooting outside of the building.  The bathrooms were also located on the ground floor, and this is the only place you can find them (they can teleport to the bathrooms from anywhere in the museum).  The four wings on this level were the presidential wing, the America on the home front wing, the political wing and the Cold War wing.  The second level had The Museum of the Weird Restaurant and Club 56 where the bathrooms and the ride room were.  The wings up here include the social wing, the economic wing, the foreign policy wing and the one you have all been waiting for:  The Disney wing.

May 20, 2013 – The Brochure

I promise this description won’t be lengthy.  Mr. Connolly always wants us to do more than what he tells us to do. To be creative.  To think outside of the box.  Perfect-that’s exactly what I specialize in.  I decided that instead of making a brochure, I was going to make a website!  You guys can check it out HERE! 

So that’s it.  One month in the making. Even though it was a lot of work, with a little imagination, I got it done and had a lot of fun.  We were definitely given a lot of freedom, which I thought was great because there were so many different ways that people could have taken this project.   I am proud of what I did.  And before you ask:  no, I did not get a one hundred on it but I did learn a lot about an era.  What more could I ask for?

Okay, now for some great news.  I can finally reveal that I will be going to Disneyland in November!  The other girl who is going just found out a few days ago (but THAT’s a story for another time), which means I don’t have to hide it anymore!  WOOHOO!  This also means that around the middle of November and a few months after that, I might be comparing rides from WDW to DL, do a few dining reviews or maybe even write a trip report.  Only 157 more days!

See ya REAL soon!

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Quote of the Week:  “You sure this is the right blind voodoo lady who lives in the boat in the tree in the bayou?”  ~ Louis, Princess and the Frog


Makena is a 14 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.




1 thought on “Who Said Homework Couldn’t Be Fun? A US History Project With A Disney Twist”

  1. Tony E (BacksideOfWater) says:

    AWESOME project Mak! Have a blast in Disneyland 🙂