Monday, March 23, 2009

Disneyland - Jungle Boats, Heigh Ho and An 80s Skipper!

Greetings Adventurers and Adventurettes!
Aloha to you from Adventureland (just outside of the Tiki Room)!

Today a we have couple of unique views that you might not run across too often.
First is a shot of the Jungle Cruise boat storage area---and the backside of Main Street---as seen through the gates that open to let a new boat come online into the Jungle. The area you see in the photograph to the left of the boats is the overflow walkway that is often used as an alternate route to help guests make their way out of the Park after a busy fireworks show or parade.

Next we have the photograph below. It appears to have been taken through the open gate at the far east side of the park, just along Harbor Boulevard. It shows Harbor Pointe, one of the cast member entrances to the Park. You glide over this area on the Monorail and also pass by the large Wardrobe or Costuming building (not pictured, but to the left of the location in the photo), where cast members collect their tidy costumes before going on stage. Looks like its "off to work we go" for these cast members!

Lastly, let's wrap up today with a blast to my Jungle past and a photograph of old skipper Chris Jenson from 1985 aboard the proverbial "Leaky Tiki." (Love the old striped canopy and skipper costume! Man, I need that hat!).Thanks to Sandi Miller, the longtime Disneylander, for originally sharing this photograph.

By the by, if you hit the park tomorrow evening, you might just make my boat!

Happy Hippo Hunting!



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Disneyland - "Celebrate! A Street Party" Coming Soon

Well, the new parade is scheduled to debut next Friday, March 27, 2009.

Celebrate! A Street Party will move along the normal parade route but will have a few "show stops" in which the performers will dance, sing and invite guests to join in. There'll be conga lines, balloons, streamers and plenty of guest interaction from what I've heard.

The new parade has been officially announced, so it's not like I'm giving away the Company store here.

I understand the show stops could run up to 10 minutes and that the gate-to-gate parade time could approach an hour. Yikes! Holy Guest Control, Batman! I ask you to imagine trying to keep pedestrian traffic flowing through and around a fairly lengthy parade event occurring in the middle of the Park. Now do it twice a day!!

I am quite sure that the current team of cast members assigned to assist guests on the parade route will ably respond to the challenge. I can't guarantee that someone won't steal your coveted curb-side seat if you and your family get up to dance in the parade, however!

You may run into me working in the Plaza or on the Hub, so be sure to say hello.
I'll be wearing the "Mike" name tag.
Can't miss me.
Oh. And a straw hat.
Hey, it's Main Street what else would you expect, Jungle khakis?


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Disneyland - Saw Johnny Hodges at Coke Corner this week; Photos of the Day

I was heading from Jungle to the Inn Between for a cup of coffee this past Sunday, March 15, 2009, when I stopped in my tracks as I rounded Coke Corner. There was Johnny Hodges at the piano! He was performing a four hand piece with today's Coke Corner Pianist "Ragtime" Robert.

It. Was. Fabulous.

Who says you can't go home again!?

It is somewhat surreal to me that I'd happened upon that scene more than 20 years after the last time that I saw Johnny at the piano on Main Street.

Dressed in full Jungle regalia on Main Street (remember, I was on a break and headed to the Inn Between), I turned to a guest watching the performance and mentioned that the guy at the piano dressed in civilian clothes had been the Coke Corner pianist for decades before dropping by today for an impromptu show. The guest's eyes opened a bit wider as he watched the two players' hands fly across the keys.

"It's really something," I told the guest, "I last saw Johnny here when I was a cast member back in 1987, and here he is today just as fine a player as ever! You have stumbled upon a rare treat."

If I had not mentioned it, the guest would never have realized just who the mysterious "guest" piano player really was. Regardless, it was for him a moment of Disney "magic" that I'm sure will be fondly remembered. A classic example of a hidden gem stumbled upon by a guest on a "typical" day at the Park.

It is truly heartening to see that such moments keep happening at Disneyland!

Thanks to Johnny and Robert for sharing their talents!


First let's travel back to 1976-ish and see how things are going at the construction site of that new attraction in Tomorrowland. It is scheduled to debut in 1977 and looks like it still needs some work. Look! There in the background! What the heck are the Rocket Jets doing in Tomorrowland!!! Somebody should move those things down from their platform and out to the entrance of Tomorrowland. That would be really cool.

Gack. [Thanks to Rudy Bermudes for sharing this construction photograph].
Next, we have a pre-Nemo view of the Submarine Lagoon, sans the lagoon. Taken from the extinct Skyway, and also showing the extinct Peoplemover, the old Monorail platform and Autopia, this shot captures a Tomorrowland that has been sadly moved into yesterday. It is good to have the Subs back, at least.

Some nameless and faceless mucky muck(s) apparently thought that the Peoplemover was not cool any more and it was replaced by this:
Funny. I haven't seen many "bring back the Rocket Rods" blogs, websites or posts among the Disneyphiles out there.

Can't imagine why.

Oh, and speaking of faceless mucky mucks, here's a final photo of our friends in the Mansion when they are not "grinning." They may still be grim, however, but it is rather difficult to tell.
[Thanks to Josh Sudock for originally sharing this picture].

Until next time, remember:

Remain seated until the vehicle comes to a full and complete stop!

Truly timeless advice.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Disneyland - 1970s, 1980s & 1990s

Greetings, Adventure lovers. Today we take back up blogging with a return to yesteryears---the 70s, 80s and 90s. Life for me continues as a Cast Member---in fact I spent yesterday evening on Jungle Cruise, skippering both the Nile and the Hondo. I had a most enjoyable shift and no breakdowns (mechanical or otherwise). About a week ago, we went "101" and it seemed like old times. We had a derail at the Hippo Pool and yours truly manned the rescue boat, backing into the Jungle from the dock and giving the maintenance crew much needed help in the form of an "on-track" boat to help get the disabled boat back into action. I also took the first boat into the Jungle after the breakdown. No problem. Except for the fact that the animation had not been turned back on. I simply worked the lack of noticeable movement into my spiel and the guests and I had a grand time.

But I digress.

Above is a shot (originally supplied from longtime Disneylander Bruce Nelson---many thanks!) from the mid-1970s of the Pearly Band in front of the old Mad Tea Party before it was moved closer to the Matterhorn. You can see the Fantasyland Theatre in the background. I used to love to go in there on hot days and watch the classic Mickey cartoons. As I recall, The Band Concert and Mickey's Trailer were playing the last few times I went inside. The theater was torn down in 1982 to make way for the "New Fantasyland" and it sat near the old Welch's Juice bar in the area that has since become Pinocchio's Daring Journey and Village Haus (my sincere thanks to Progressland over at Disneyland Nomenclature for his piece on the teardown of this area of the park---here's a sincere plug for his blog! Take a moment and follow the link. If you are disappointed, well, perhaps you really aren't the Disney aficionado you may have first fancied yourself to be!).
Keeping with the 1970s, above is a night photo (with thanks to old timer Rudy Bermudes, who originally shared it) showing the opposite side of the Fantasyland courtyard---with dear old Mr. Toad's Wild Ride glowing in the background. The Mad Tea Party is festively aglow and spinning away. As a former sweeper, I must also give thanks to the Paint Shop for their fine work on the waste can in the center of the picture.Next is a photograph of Main Street during 1975 (thanks to Gary Moore for sharing this with us originally). I was at the Park often during this time and it is great to see it again. Look at how CROWDED the place is compared with today. See that stuff around the horse's feet---that's pavement. You don't get to see it much in today's Annual Passholder guestfest that is Disneyland. I miss the days when the Park was less crowded. This used to happen more often. Don't get me wrong---it's great to see guests in the Park. It's just that there used to be a bit more breathing room and isolated little corners where you literally felt like no one else was around. I get that now only during opening shifts, when I walk across an empty and expectant Main Street on my way to Adventureland.
Next, thanks to Sandi Miller (who worked EVERYWHERE at the Park and for a good long while---I'm not giving out any more details as Sandi is ageless!) we have a photo of the guy who played Merlin during the Sword in the Stone ceremony that was a daily occurrence in the mid-1980s after the New Fantasyland debuted. I was a sweeper in 1984-85 and spent many hours in this part of Fantasyland---literally coming to know every nook and cranny as I sought out bits of popcorn, cigarette butts and other debris.

I remember watching Merlin and his supporting crew (a band of guys who played instruments in support of Merlin's spiel over the Sword ceremony---wherein one brave, honest, loyal subject would be crowned king or queen for the day once they pulled the Sword up from the stone, though not ALL the way out). I remember Merlin always seemed a bit too young under the white beard and hat, but the guy played the character quite nicely. He certainly brightened the day for many youngsters who were lucky enough to be selected to pull up the Sword. There are also a good many dads out there who were deemed "unworthy" (in front of the gathered crowd) and failed to get the Sword to budge---making the young ones all the happier when they were able to magically get it to move.
And to close out our post for today, I offer you a good old fashioned cookout above (with thanks to Jim Egelston) from along the Rivers of America. This is apparently how those canoe guys built up their biceps---with a hearty meal of Rivers of America Trout shared with the friendly local Indian---ahem, Native American---tribe. At least the Indians didn't catch their home on fire like that old moonshiner over on the island!

For now, I bid each of my three readers a fond adieu and apologize once again for posting about once a month!!! Doh!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back On Jungle

Well, I've been back on the Jungle for quite a while now.

Love it.

Always have.

So many things have changed for me since 1986-87.




Law School.

Legal Career.

The Internet.

Cell phones.

Reality TV.

Digital cameras.

Reagan to Obama.


Global economic collapse.


Mortgage crisis.

You get the picture.

But I still have a Mickey Mouse watch---you know, the classic, cheap one: red shorts, yellow shoes, gloves on the hands.

And I still have the Jungle. Sure, we lost the hornbill and the Swiss Family Treehouse, but the Jungle has remained pretty timeless.

There's a deep serenity in piloting its twists and turns. The familiar roll of the spiel and the hum of the engine as I throttle past elephants, gorillas, lions and hippos are links to a couple of wildly different points in my life: from being in my early 20s to my early 40s; from apartment dweller to homeowner; from childless to parenthood; from idealistic to realistic; from party-goer to breadwinner; from almost grown-up to fully grown-up (wondering what the hell happened); from die-hard energy to lower back pains; from a long time ago to now.

But you know what? I put on that name tag and costume, grab the microphone and throttle, and I'm back. Back to yesterday---in the middle of today! The same old jokes (for the most part), the same old boats (sans the colorful canopies and white hulls), the same old Adventureland (again, for the most part) and the same look of joy on the faces of the guests (not all of them, to be sure, but I've even managed to eke smiles from some grizzled Park veterans of late). For a few hours I'm a skipper again and the disparate ends of my life link together like being in a time tunnel. I'm still me. I still feel like that 20 year old on the inside. I still have the sarcasm. Still have fun hauling a captive audience into the Jungle and back. In many ways, today is even better. I have the added benefit of experience and perspective. I see more than ever the need to bring a little happiness into people's lives---to help them escape the everyday for just a few moments. This is a very good thing.

Hell. Life is an adventure. Stock markets are terrifying. Pink slips can call into question one's courage more than a charging rhino or a tribe of headhunters. But in Adventureland, the guests and I get to indulge in a little old fashioned playtime. We step together, literally, into the same boat and steam off into a "jungle" to risk life and limb. We need each other. I drive the boat, I guide them through the dangers and they listen, react and absorb it all.

Here's to the Jungle Cruise! Here's to life!

The more things change...
...the more they stay the same.

If you get the chance, stop by the Jungle and jump on board. We can share a cruise together!

If you enjoy the trip half as much as I do, then I'm the lucky one because that means I'm having twice as much fun as you!

Now, come on board! Better yet, as we are wont to say at the loading dock: Come on excited!! Better to be over-excited than over-board!

See you in the Jungle!