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A Tour Of Facebook's Disneyland-Inspired Campus Where The Shops And Restaurants Are Free

Facebook campus visit 09Business Insider/Julie Bort

A few days ago, news broke that Facebook was building
a $US120 million, 394-unit housing complexfor its employees near its Menlo Park, California, offices.

When that story hit, Business Insider was literally touring Facebook’s fantastical Menlo Park headquarters, opened in May, 2012.

Company housing may sound strange in this modern day. But once you’ve seen Facebook’s Disney-inspired campus, Facebook’s plans make sense. The campus was designed to look like a cross between Main Street Disneyland and downtown Palo Alto (the quaint town where Facebook got its start).

Here's the highway sign that indicates you've arrived Facebook's Menlo Park campus. The campus is in the heart of the Valley, but surrounded by open space, so it feels like it's out in the country.

Oddly, this doesn't look like a corporate campus. It looks like an apartment complex.

That's because, it's really a cluster of buildings. Enter one and walk through it and you arrive at ...

... a hidden town, complete with shops and a main street. This used to be a Sun Microsystems campus. Facebook hired two consultants from Disney to make it look like a town.

On this day, Facebook was launching a 24-hour hackathon. Lots of products came from hackathons including Facebook Chat and the new Facebook WiFi launched with Cisco. People gather by the yellow crane ...

... because the crane is the traditional gathering place for hackathons. Hackathon leaders Pedram Keyani and Bob Baldwin explain the rules: Don't work on your day job. Don't be afraid to experiment even if your creation fails.

Here's a 'secret' about the crane: Facebook found it in the basement of the former building they leased in Palo Alto and they snuck off with it when they moved into their new headquarters.

This pedestrian crosswalk, painted Golden Gate orange, was built as a fantasy. In Palo Alto, when Facebook grew to two buildings, employees had to cross a busy street. They wished for a crosswalk, so on their own campus, they built one.

This is the main plaza. The giant screen flashes various mottos. Look down at the ground ...

... the grey and white stripes are letters. They spell out 'Hack' and you can see it from space or an aeroplane. (Go back to Slide 3 and see for yourself.)

Because Facebook wants its campus to look like Palo Alto ...

there's a lot of fun, fancy architecture on the buildings. This doesn't really look like Palo Alto, but there's a definite vibe here.

The buildings even have garages with real garage doors. The garages host temporary offices for group hacking projects.

Facebook has nine restaurants and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, Monday-Friday. All of them are free except the Sushi place (and Facebook subsidizes that) and a Philz Coffee shop, a hang-out from the Palo Alto days.

Epic is famous for its floor, which is designed like a computer circuit board. The main processor says 'Eat.'

We gave Google a hard time for putting 'Google' on everything, even its drink coolers. Facebook puts the word 'Hack' on everything. But here's a drink cooler in the Epic labelled Facebook lest you forget where you are.

The main campus isn't just trying to be cute. Shops are for useful errands. Like a health center where you can see a doctor ...

... a bank ...

... a barber ...

... a music studio to play and take lessons ...

and a video arcade. All free.

For the artists, there's a full-service graphics design shop cutely called the Analogue Research Lab.

It prints up all of the flyers with Facebook mottos, as well as signs, T-shirts, other stuff.

Because Facebook is a company filled with engineers that like to build things there's also a complete woodworking shop.

Full-time builders will teach others. They also make stuff for the campus like shelves and garbage can surrounds.

One employee was in the wood shop building kitchen cabinets for his house.

Maybe the best perk of all is free laundry and free dry cleaning. Just drop it off and pick it up.

The most popular shop is the Sweet Stop.

All the food on campus (even the bread) is homemade. This shop has homemade ice cream, yogurt, candy, pastries. New employees often suffer from the 'Facebook 15.' Free food makes them gain weight.

You don't have to eat at a free restaurant. You could use the micro-kitchens filled with snacks.

Employees normally work at long tables in open rooms.

If you've been hit with the Facebook 15 you can do penance in these glass rooms with treadmill desks.

With cement floors and exposed florescent lighting, some offices have an industrial feel.

But there is art everywhere, like this table in a micro kitchen. The art is mostly from employees and the Analogue Research Lab.

There is also a lot of writing on the wall ...

... it's all part of an inside joke, where people can write on the actual Facebook Wall (get it? The 'Wall' is what Facebook used to call your Facebook page before they rolled out Timeline)

Here's a close up of what one person wrote on the Facebook Wall.

Sometimes, employees use the wall to post photos, too. This is a private joke about an employee named John McKearnan.

A few art installations are from professionals, like this one. An engineer asked the artist what it represented. The artist said, 'Coding.' The engineer shook his head and said ...

... 'That's not code. This is code,' and he gave him a snippet of real code used by Facebook. And that's how this real Facebook code got onto this wall.

Humour is everywhere. Here's a phone booth with a superman cape.

This little hang out space is actually in the middle of a large room. Note the figurines on the table.

This is something ingenious. People work all hours at Facebook, but IT doesn't. If employees need tech supplies like batteries, chargers, headphones, they can get them off hours from vending machines all over campus. The supplies are free, but Facebook shows how much they cost.

Another way to get rid of the Freshman 15 is to ride a bike to work. You don't have to buy one. Facebook loans bikes to its employees.

Naturally that means that there's a full-service bike shop on campus, too.

They'll tune your bike, fix a flat, help you upgrade parts or let you use the tools yourself.

The bike shop's vending machine has bike parts like tire tubes, brake pads, chain links.

New Menlo Park Facebook legends have begun like this yellow brick road. Building maintenance saw pictures on Facebook of people cutting across the grass here so they built a brick path. Someone painted it yellow ...

Someone else added the Wizard of Oz house complete with dead witch and ruby red slippers.

The newest legend is the Facebook foxes. A Fox mum gave birth to some cubs in the center of town and they became the Facebook mascots.

Facebook is truly living in its own, very nice little world.

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