Thursday, November 6, 2008

Disneyland - Opera House - Where's Mr. Lincoln - The Parking Lot Cone

Enough time has passed.

Bring back Mr. Lincoln.

A truly classic attraction has been mothballed for far too long now at Disneyland.

Ostensibly removed "temporarily" so that its theater could be used for a showing of a film involving Disneyland's 50th anniversary (ahem, three years ago!), Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln has yet to return.

Abe never goes out of style. Indeed, whatever your politics, Mr. Lincoln has been called back into service by our president-elect, Barack Obama, and we can expect to see several more references to him as we press toward the inauguration, I'm sure.

Too many of our young students are unaware of the person who is quite possibly our greatest President ever.

The Lincoln attraction provided a historical context and a three-dimensional view of a President who would otherwise sit voiceless on pennies and five dollar bills. Walt Disney loved Lincoln and the Lincoln exhibit had Walt written all over it. The detail, the patriotism, the elegance---it was a pure and simple tribute to a great man.

For now, Lincoln has left the building. Sure, you can still catch him in Florida at the Hall of Presidents, but that leaves the entire West (Left) Coast without an opportunity to experience this attraction. Young and old alike would be well served to have Abe back in action at the Opera House at Disneyland.

This, of course, reminds me of another story.
The story of the cone.
And poor Honest Abe.
In the mid-1980s (aren't all my stories from then?) a certain sweeper was famous for pranks and shenanigans. No, it was not me. I was way too "S.O.P." (Standard Operating Procedure) for that.
Anyhow, this sweeper friend of ours was the kind of guy who would, after hours, somehow make his way into the Submarine lagoon and come out with a fish or other memento (seriously).
He was the one who led the "choir practice" at America Sings.
If you got hit with a water balloon backstage on a hot day...this is the guy you would first suspect.
He was always up to something, but was good at covering his tracks. To my knowledge, he was never caught.
He found himself a nice orange parking lot cone one day while he was working a sweeping assignment on Main Street.
The joy of custodial is that, with our sweeper whites, we were pretty much able to go most anywhere in the Park and not appear out of place. Try doing that in a Pirates costume (the striped socks and floppy hat were dead giveaways). This included the "back areas" of attractions.
Sweepers would buddy up with attraction operators, or, better yet, with attractions maintenance personnel. They would learn where to get in and how to safely access "backstage" areas.
Our friend with the parking lot cone had such prized knowledge---and an intent to use it.
He stole away back stage at Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln between shows.
He placed the bright orange cone on the head of the Lincoln audioanimatronic figure as it was seated in its chair.
He then left the premises.
The young female ride operator followed guests into the theater for the next performance.
She gave her welcome and safety spiel into the microphone as the stage remained curtained.
After reminding guests of the ever-present prohibition against flash photography, she welcomed them to enjoy "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" and hit the show's start button.
The music queued up.
As did the narrator.
After all the intros, the fanfare blared and the curtain raised elegantly and majestically,
revealing Mr. Lincoln's feet and legs as he was seated in his chair.
It raised further to reveal his torso and neat black suit.
Finally, it raised above his head.
The audience (and the ride operator) were presented with our 16th President, seated in his beautiful antique chair, wearing a coat and tails.
And an orange parking lot cone.
Probably not the "Great Moment" everyone was expecting,
but yet another great moment in the history of sweeper pranks.
The show was stopped, I hear, and the cone removed.
I think the young ride operator is still laughing.

If you were part of the audience, I'm willing to bet that you've never forgotten that show either.