July 29, 2018 / 22 miles
I decided to play tourist for a day by heading over to the new Apple campus called Apple Park. Some call it the spaceship. Or a halo. It’s pretty famous around these parts if you’re a techie or a Macolyte. I figured I could ride around the campus on nice quiet Sunday morning. I mean, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get on the campus itself due to security, but I thought I’d be able to see the main building and just have a nice suburban ride.
I noticed when researching the route that there’s a visitor center. I thought it was for people checking in for meetings and such, and that it was probably closed on a Sunday. It was across the street from the campus along with some other Apple office buildings.
When I got to the campus I turned into the empty lot across the street and stopped for a snack. It was a warm day and the shade of the trees was welcome. A guy in a security car drove by me slowly, giving me a friendly wave.
While I was munching my apple (ha!) I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of activity in the next parcel. I couldn’t see clearly because of various types of vegetation. As far as I remembered it was a condo development near those buildings. Busy place, I thought. My phone had locked up so I couldn’t check the online map for a bit. When I did, I saw that I was actually not where I thought I was. The visitor center was next door. Oh.
I was wrong about a quiet Sunday in an office park. Oh so wrong. That visitor center is a destination. A mecca. A tour bus heaven. The visitor center was teeming with people. I was glad I was on my bike because then I didn’t have to circle the parking lot looking for a spot.
I was gobsmacked by how wrong I was. I mean, I was really surprised. I could not get over it. I walked around with my mouth hanging open.
It’s very cool building, actually. It’s also very Apple. Well designed with its usual attention to detail.
The main attraction is a model of the campus but it has no detail, it’s blank, grey. I was laughing to myself at all the people taking photos of the model with their iPads. Then I looked closer. The iPads were inscribed with the Apple logo and the word “Park.” And I looked closer still. The iPads have a VR app so you can tour the campus virtually. Ooooh. So that’s what the line is for. Well, I’m not a line person so I moved on.
I learned that the model takes up about a third of the ground floor. The store takes up the middle. The cafe takes up the rest. Of course there’s a store. All the cool Apple products. You can even get Apple Park t-shirts etc. In the cafe I went for the $5 latte to have the complete experience. Apple Pay or credit card, no cash. I don’t know who designed the tables and chairs but I even loved them too.
The second story has a seating area and gives you another view of the halo across the street. Of course you can’t get into the campus itself unless you’re an employee, so that’s the best you can see it unless you do the iPad thing.
When I went back downstairs I saw the line for the model was much shorter since a couple of tour buses had loaded up and left. I decided to line up. There was an amazing amount of staff. One gal was in charge of herding the lines, one person was at the head of the line with a stack of iPads, one person walked me over to the model then handed off me and an iPad to another person who explained how to use the app. The app was pretty cool. If you swipe up you can pop the roof to see the office and cubicle layout. There’s a time slider so you can see the campus at different times of the day and night, and with animated traffic. You walk around the table to view different parts of the campus.
In addition to the seven or eight staff at the model, there was the usual crowd of people in Apple T-shirts in the store. There was lots of security, including watching people leave the doors near the model to make sure the iPads didn’t leave too. There was janitorial staff busily cleaning the glass doors over and over again as visitors came and went. I talked to one staffer about how amazed I was; she said it’s had been like that since the place opened last November. All the staff were suspiciously cheerful, as if they lived to help people love Apple. I wanted what they were on.
I took a pleasant way home, laughing almost all the way about how wrong I was about a quiet Sunday near Apple.