Monday, June 30, 2008

Rosa Brooks - "Resist The Princesses" A Witty Insight

Belated applause for the Los Angeles Times' Rosa Brooks and her stunningly insightful essay "Resist the Princesses," which appeared back on March 27, 2008. Loved it the moment I came across it at the breakfast table. I immediately shared it with my wife. Our youngest daughter is a headlong victim of the new "Cult of the Disney Princess." She dresses primarily in pink. She is blonde (like Cinderella). She has seen "Cinderella" umpty times. She fits the profile outlined by Rosa Brooks in her article. Or maybe we fit the profile as parents of a modern "Disney Princess!"

America Sings - 1985 - "Choir Practice"

A tradition was established among the sweepers in Tomorrowland in the mid-1980s. It involved the unique access we in Day Custodial had to certain "back stage" areas that were otherwise "off limits." Our friendship with maintenance crew and ride operators (as well as a healthy amount of curiosity) earned us access to many unique places, including the central theater stage of the "America Sings" attraction.

There was an underground access tunnel that connected the attraction, the Tomorrowland Terrace (Coke Terrace) and the Tomorrowland stage. Some sweepers were able to get to the stage area of "America Sings," which was stationary. The outer portion of the building rotated around the stage. Sadly, in 1974, a young female ride operator, Deborah Gail Stone, was killed when she was caught between the center stage and the large rotating theater portion of the building.

By our day, however, that danger had been addressed and when a group of sweepers went into the attraction, they were nowhere near the rotating wall located off the center stage. "Choir Practice" involved three or four sweepers crowding in the wings near the right side of the stage where "Blossom Nosed Murphy" sang "Sweet Adeline," along with the quartet of geese who were stationed on the left side of the stage. The song went like this:
MURPHY: (drunkenly) Sweeeeeet Aaaaaaaaduuuuuuhliiiiine.
GEESE: (echo) Sweet Adeline.
MURPHY: Mmmmmmmmy Aaaaaaduuuhliiiiiiiiiine.
GEESE: My Adeline.
MURPHY: Aaaaat niiiiiiiight, dear heaaaaaaaart.
GEESE: At night, dear heart.
MURPHY: Ffffffffffforrrrrrrr youuuuuuu I piiiiiiiine.
GEESE: For you I pine.
The covert sweepers would sing along with Murphy during his supposed "solo" portion of the song. They sang loudly and badly. The poor ride operator (who could see and hear the sweepers from her position) would be practically on the ground laughing during the performance. The guests never seemed to notice (maybe they thought it was part of the attraction), though I'm sure they wondered why the ride operator found the "Sweet Adeline" segment so amusing. The guests could not see the sweepers from their seats in the theater, but the sweepers could definitely be heard.

If you rode the attraction back then (about three years before it closed down and was replaced with the essentially worthless "Innoventions") and you thought something was amiss during "Sweet Adeline," you were right. Below is a video of this section of the attraction's show (thanks to scottof83 at YouTube. Check out time slot 2:15 through 2:45 on the video.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Polynesian Resort - Saying Aloha On Our Last Day

We are leaving today and boarding our Disney's Magical Express bus at 2:45 p.m. It is almost noon and we are going to stop by the Concierge Lounge one more time for a little lunch/snack on the way out of Dodge. I will leave you with a few more Polynesian photos until we get back home and can post more from the parks!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Greetings from the Polynesian Resort!

As I write this I am sitting in Room 3511 of the Hawaii longhouse at Disney's Polynesian Resort, on Day 8 of our 9-day trip to Walt Disney World. As promised, I am sharing a few photographs from our stay. It is currently humid and about 88 degrees (surprise). The morning was warm and clear with full, white Florida clouds in the sky. About an hour and a half ago we had a nice thunderstorm. It was nice for us because we were boarding the Resort Monorail at Magic Kingdom as the storm rolled in. It rained hard but we were comfortably inside the air conditioned Monorail and delivered to the Polynesian. The fountain in the main lobby was bubbling while outside the thunder was booming. Fortunately, thanks to the Monorail and good timing, I'm still dry. Quick story: When we arrived we were informed by our hostess upon check in that we had been "upgraded" to Club (i.e., Concierge) Level by way of some "Disney magic." I don't care what the magic was (Year of a Million Dreams??), but we went from Lagoon View to Magic Kingdom view in Hawaii with Concierge Lounge privileges. This was a pricey upgrade to say the least---especially since we debated going Concierge and had priced it out. We had opted to be "economical" and had resigned ourselves to a "regular" room, albeit "Lagoon View." We were absolutely thrilled with the Concierge upgrade. We've made the most of the Concierge during our trip, too! Pictured above is the entrance to the Hawaii Longhouse and Concierge building---our "Home" for the past week. Here's the door to our room and a quick shot of the interior as it appeared upon our arrival last Wednesday. Things at the Polynesian as as beautiful and as relaxing as ever! If you happen to be heading there in the next few weeks, you will not be disappointed! Aloha! In any event, here's Room 3511:
Room 3511 --- interior shot, June 23, 2008 --- see below.The views from the balcony of Room 3511 (first, a view toward the Magic Kingdom and Contemporary Resort):
Above: looking toward the Grand Floridian. I was up early most days and got some shots of an empty Volcano Pool---a June rarity (except during electrical storms!). These shots were taken on June 24, 2008:Very serene. The Barefoot Bar in the background was where "Steve" the bartender and I discussed life's mysteries over some "custom" Mai Tai's---151 floater on top of the Myers' Rum and Steve's mix as opposed to the standard mass-produced Mai Taim mixer. I tipped him well. But (if I may overuse an overused segue), I digress.'s another photo:Did I mention we ate at "Ohana" on our first night here? It was fabulous as always. We generally agreed (my son is the exception) that the new noodle dish they added as an appetizer was not the greatest. Otherwise, the skewers of turkey, pork, steak and shrimp were fabulous! The salad was great. The dessert (bananas foster) was fabulous---for those who had not gorged on all the prior courses!

I'll post more later. For now, I must run downstairs and get with the Concierge folks to check in and get boarding passes for tomorrow's flight home. Don't even make me think about it! Leaving is tough. We have had a great stay. Mahalo, Polynesian! Aloha!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Mile Long Bar - 1980s - Max, Buff & Melvin

I used to sweep through the "Mile Long Bar" in my Day Custodial whites back in 1984-86. It was still "Bear Country." The new moniker "Critter Country" gives me a headache and has way too much of an "Eisner" feel to it. Winnie, we love you, but you've quite possibly destroyed our beloved Bear Country. Silly old bear.

A hot pretzel at the Mile Long Bar was a great way to enjoy the heady afterglow of a "Country Bear Jamboree" performance. Located just outside the Country Bear Theater exit (and next to my second-favorite Disneyland water feature---the waterfall at the Country Bear Theater exit), the Mile Long Bar had mirrors at either end (hence the name). On hot days, it provided welcome relief. On cold days, coffee or a hot chocolate helped stave off the damp chill of Bear Country.

At the opposite end of the building that housed the Mile Long Bar was the "Cast Member" entrance to the Bear Country back area. A covered break area, along with a vending machine and a picnic table, was where I spent many breaks (perhaps too many on slower days). Here is a video of our favorite bodiless quadrupeds from the wall of the Mile Long Bar in the Magic Kingdom in Florida---thanks to Mike of widenyourwold on

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse - mid 1980s

Jungle Cruise 1985 - Video

Early 1970s Disneyland Magic Key Tickets - Grad Nite 1984 Admission Ticket - The Little Old Town of Rainbow Ridge

Here is a partial "Magic Key Book" of tickets that somehow survived one of our family's trips to the Park in the early 1970s. It is missing its cover, but the coupons are still attached and the back of the book has a nice listing of attractions "back in the day."This is the back cover. Whoa! You could ride 10 attractions for less that $5.00! Not quite Main Gate admission prices today!
Finally, we have the back of the Magic Key Coupon and rear page of the coupon book. Tink looks great, as always.
One of the attractions available in the days before Big Thunder was the Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland. The little town of Rainbow Ridge, where you boarded the train, is pictured below. Most of these buildings made the transition to Big Thunder when it opened in 1979.
So that we might move ahead from the 70s, enjoy this 1984 Grad Nite admission ticket, front and back. Careful not to violate those stringent Disney Grad Nite rules, you party animals! By the way, why weren't men allowed to wear a turtleneck sweater? (I mean other than the obvious fashion violation: "Freeze, Fashion Police. You in the turtleneck, show us your license and registration.").

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Disneyland - 30th Anniversary Passport - Mike Fink Keel Boats - Sunken Raft To Tom Sawyer's Island

Back in 1985 the Big D turned 30 and I must say she looked pretty good given the mileage. I remember working Main Gate as a sweeper. There was a long display of GM vehicles that guests could win if they were lucky enough to hit the jackpot. I'm not sure if a 1986 Fiero was all that much of a grand prize, but it beat the heck out of a plush Goofy. Anyway, there's a ton of stuff out there on the 30th Anniversary. I share my slice of Disneyana in the form of this authentic 30th Anniversary Passport (dated June 23, 1985---a little less than a month from Disneyland's actual 30th anniversary date---July 17, 1955---I worked Main Street that day!).
Since we are cruising down Memory Lane like it was the Rivers of America, it is fitting and just that I should drop in a photo of my mom and me (circa 1970). We are aboard the now defunct Mike Fink Keel boats. Ah, the Gullywhumper, how we miss you!
Fortunately, I wasn't on the Rafts to Tom Sawyer's Island when the following mishap occurred. When I was working at Disneyland in the 1980s, swamping or sinking rafts was not all that unusual. This is not to say that swamping was ever intentional, but some cast members were fond of maximizing the number of guests on board before making the attempt to cross the Rivers of America. The slightest wake during the crossing would quickly splash over the deck of the raft and the guests would soon have moist ankles. Doh!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

1984 Day Custodial Schedule - Dept. 336

In 1984 the main Custodial office was located behind Plaza Gardens at the top of Main Street. This "Back Area" off stage was basically surrounded by Big Thunder to the west, Plaza Gardens to the southeast, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade to the south, the rear of the Snow White attraction to the northeast and the backside of the Village Haus restaurant and Pinocchio attraction to the north. A large set of gates led from this back area across Thunder Trail and through a tunnel to the large back area north of the Park where the Parade Building was located.

As you can see, Day Custodial had a work schedule that provided sweeper coverage for the entire Park during operating hours. After that, the Night Crew would come in and take over. Night Crew were easily recognized by their blue uniforms. Day Custodial---like all the "good guys"---wore white.

Our Custodial Manager back in 1984 was Ray Sidejas. The Stage Supervisors for the Department were Charlene, Gary, Luke, Judy, Jim, Vanessa and Larry.

Several of my old sweeper friends are listed here on the schedule. This document was hung on a clipboard in the office. You would come into the office, drop off your timecard, check your schedule and head out to your area. By the time you arrived at the office, you were already in costume and ready to go. Typically, sweepers would enter the Park for their shift at Harbor House, walk under the Disneyland RR tressel and head to Wardrobe to pick up a clean costumer (if you hadn't done so the last shift). You would then change and head over to the Custodial Office, usually by way of the Cast Member entrance near the Inn Between. You would cross the Hub and enter the Custodial back area through a door at Plaza Gardens.

Once you saw where you were assigned on the schedule, you would go out to the "Area Locker" for your area. Main Street's locker was located behind where the Main Street Lockers are presently located. Adventure/Frontier's was located behind the current "Bengal Barbeque" and the River Belle Terrace. New Orleans Square/Bear Country's was near Fowler's Harbor. Fantasyland's was behind Village Haus. Tomorrowlad had a locker near Space Moutain (between Space Mountain and the Arcade), there was also one over behind America Sings.

After arriving at your area, you would check in with your lead and see what part of your area was assigned to you. In Frontierland, for example, you could be given "Thunder Trail," the long main pathway that lead behind Thunder, past Thunder Ranch and to the back entrance of Fantasyland. You were expected to cycle through your assigned area about every fifteen minutes. Sweepers developed keen eyes for drink spills, popcorn, cigarette butts, vomit, diapers, food wrappers, etc. We also became masters of moving swiftly through crowds, developing what I termed "the Disney walk." The Disney Walk is still helping when visiting the Parks today. It is a slightly faster pace than that of the average guest and involves quick in and out passing of "slower traffic." It is sort of like being a running back in football, only there's no straight-arming your opponents (on most days). You see, the "Crowd" never knows exactly where it's going, but YOU do. Sweepers know the shortcuts and the best ways to get from one area of the Park to another.

We will have more on the fascinating world of Sweeperdom in future posts. This is the kind of riveting material that drives novelists.

Disneyland 1987 - Welcome to Adventure/Frontier

I was quite happy to receive my letter advising that I would soon be a Jungle skipper back in the Spring of 1987. They were in such a rush to hire me, they did not even bother to type in my name, but just scrawled it across the form letter. Ah, the Disney Magic.

Cast Members from the 1980s will certainly remember these little reminder slips. Hope you jotted your shift down correctly!
And how about those cool gift bags you used to get at Disneyland? I must say, the artwork on the gift bags has gone downhill a bit lately. The bag shown here is an example of the fun and very Disney graphics that were used. Oh yeah, back in my day the Park was called by its proper name: "Disneyland." "The Disneyland Resort" is weak. I still don't get why they had to change the name. Come to think of it, I kinda miss the old parking lot, too. Disney's California Adventure has still got a long way to go. At least the "new Disney" is pouring about a billion dollars into DCA in an effort to make up for the penny pinching nonsense that brought us all the first iteration of that park. Here's a thought---try adding some SHADE!

Polynesian Resort - Back to the Beach

Here's a photo of my son's sand castle on the sandy shores of the Polynesian Resort in June 2005. The contemporary resort is off in the distance to the right. We are heading back for another Polynesian stay this summer. We are hoping to get into the Tahiti longhouse this trip. It is very close to the Transportation and Ticket Center ("TTC") and, of course, the Polynesian itself is a Magic Kingdom Monorail Resort. Our last stay three years ago was completely enjoyable. We are dying to get back to Ohana for dinner!
In the image above, it appears that the entrance to the Magic Kingdom is not too far from the end of the rainbow. June thunderstorms in Florida are actually quite refreshing. Last trip it seemed the rain came just in time to knock back the rising heat a bit.
As demonstrated by the shot above of the Polynesian taken from the Monorail, thunderstorms often add to the day by creating a beautiful Floridian sunset. What the heck, we had our ponchos at the ready throughout our stay. Besides, for Californians rain is a welcome sight.
In the photograph above, you just might see a cowboy hat or a sombrero formed in the clouds of a late afternoon sky in Florida. This was taken at EPCOT in front of the Mexico pavilion.
You can take the Skipper out of the Jungle, but...never the Jungle out of the Skipper. Yours truly at the helm of a Boston Whaler in the wilds of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Notice, my crew appears to be missing---again. I hate it when that happens. We'll be sure to post shots of our latest trip in the near future. Only 11 days until we hit the skies for Florida!