Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disneyland - More 80s Nostalgia - Jungle Cruise - Tiki - Orange Polyester - Merry Christmas!

Ok. Ok. I know---it's been a month since my last post. I have been, shall we say, remiss.

But hey, this isn't "Julie & Julia," or even "Mike & Walt." I never promised to post every single day or to cook every dish in Julia Child's first cookbook over the course of a year.

Still...if you're gonna be a blogger, I guess you have to actually blog occasionally. Even if you have but four (4), count them, four(4) readers to your name.

I have seen somewhere that "Jungle is 101" is described as being a bit on the nostalgic side. That's like saying the Boy Scouts are a bit on the "help-an-old-lady-to-cross-the-street-and-learn-how-to-tie-really-good-knots" side.

I confess, when it comes to the Park, nostalgia is my game (though I do seem to recall a post or two relating to my most recent stint as a cast member!).

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I've been able to come across many old photographs from my first tour of duty at the Park. Today, we peek at a few more, starting with the Jungle Cruise crew from 1986-87-ish (thanks to Sue B. for originally sharing this photo). Two of my favorite old skippers (Jimm and Dougg) (they insist on the double consonants) a pictured in the group below (Jimm to the far left and Dougg smack in the middle). See? The hats, the costumes, the canopies, the old seat cushions, 7 cast members on a single boat (doing absolutely nothing but posing for a picture)---Jungle at its finest!
I remember the macrame-style belts were a bit cheesy, but overall, we cut a fine form in our Jungle gear, eh?

In our next photograph we have old-time skipper "Wally" taking a zip around the rivers of Adventureland on the world famous "skiff." I worked a lot of parade shifts and Mark Twain with Wally. He was a great Jungle captain. Back in the day, they actually trusted us skippers (at least a few of us anyway) to pilot a boat through the Jungle that was not connected to the riverbed. Imagine.

Of course, our old lead (Don) was known to pilot an unwitting skipper or two (seated at the front of the skiff) directly under Schweitzer falls for a ceremonial jungle baptism (one of several preferred forms of the ritual---others included: the squirter, the falls, the Spur side, the unload, the front switch, the rear switch, the "it's clear to cross the bow! (and then throttle into reverse suddenly)" to name but a few).

Of course, after several times around the Jungle (or more, if the rest of your rotation was mad at you for taking an "extended" break), you would retire to one of the many premier break areas available to Disneyland Cast Members.

Each break area came stocked with: (1) a 40-year old vending machine (complete with 40-year old snacks inside), (2) an inoperative change machine (that would instantly spit back any type of bill one attempted to feed into it---from a crisp, newly minted greenback to the more common crumpled single), (3) a bench or table (usually orange for some reason) and (4) a videogame.

In a photograph below (originally shared byfrom Lee S.), we see a fellow Thunder cast member (Henry D.) enjoying a few mushroom-shooting moments with Centipede (with an inoperative brown change machine in the background). The old Thunder costumes were also pretty cool (though the boots would absolutely KILL your feet after a typical shift).
Some attractions actually permitted the cast member to be both on the clock AND taking a break AT THE SAME TIME. This wonder of the modern workplace was available in many forms around the Park, but none so perfect as the Tiki Room:
Here (in another Lee S. photo---thanks Lee!), we see a graphic demonstration of the work/break principle in its purest form, with Dave P. as our Tiki Room attraction operator. Uh, Dave, first you wake up Jose and now THIS? By the way, I think that same chair is STILL at Tiki (though now it's in the "office" in the back and not on stage as depicted above).

The photograph of Dave also brings back memories of the Tiki costume. Slacks and an orange Hawaiian shirt made entirely of polyester. Those pants would literally tear the hair off of your legs. They also would not breathe! Nice combo once July and August hit, let me tell you.

We close today's post with a 1986 photograph (again thanks to Lee S.) of Jeff Cravello at the turnstile position leading to the Tiki lanai. It looks like the sun is setting and the lights are coming up in Adventureland. Soon Jeff will be hearing the drums of the Tahitian Terrace show rumbling into action behind him. Very 80s specs Jeff is sporting, no?Okay, there is one thing I do NOT miss about 1980s Adventure/Frontier Attractions: Tiki polyester.

It took 25 years, but the hair finally has grown back on the front of my thighs. Sheesh.

Oh, and in case I don't post between now and then, may each of you have a safe, happy and Merry Christmas!

"Jungle Bells! Jungle Bells! Jungle all the way! Oh what fun it is to run...from an elephant about to spray! Hey!!"



Anonymous said...

And happy holidays to you along with a thanks for continuing to post.

A break area with video games. That was before my time. Best we'd get was a ping pong table and the 25 year old vending machine occasionally being inadvertantly unlocked for free snacks!!! Of course we'd try to keep that quiet for the others going on break after us.

Otherwise the skiff was always a challenge. As for me, I went down with it under the Falls when the motor failed one afternoon...closing the ride for 2 hours to have it raised by maintenance.

Oh those were happy days indeed.

outsidetheberm said...

Fun post!

dmorrone said...

Four or four hundred, it's the value those four take from your posts.

The late 80's were the highpoint of my family's vacations to DisneyWorld, and more than likely I crossed path with this denizens in my mid-teens.

The pictures and stories bring me back there in an instant, and keep me smiling.

Thank you, and have a Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...


Once again, great memories. Oh how I remember the Jungle Cruise 4-man rotation. Dock, three trips around the jungle, dock, break. Jungle Justice was swiftly served to those who lagged in the break area, forcing their co-skipper to a very unwanted 4th trip in the boat!

Great to see that old pic of the skippers and Jeff at Tiki. All of whom I enjoyed working with very much!

Jon Woods

Adam said...

Hi Mike,

I found your site yesterday, and I was instantly hooked! I just now finished reading through all your old posts, and I've added it to my list of must-read feeds.

I've been going to Disneyland as a guest since the early 80s, and I've always wished I could have worked as a cast member. My son wants to be a Jungle Cruise skipper one day, and even comes up with his own variations on the spiel! Your behind-the-scenes stories help give those of us outside the berm (a new term I've learned here!) a taste of what it's like on the inside, and I'm very grateful.

I really appreciate the fondness and respect you show to the spirit of the park, and what it's meant to be. That sort of thing is in short supply these days.

Anyway, thanks for a great blog, and I look forward to reading more!

Mike said...


Thanks for stopping by! Merry Christmas!

OTB: Great to see you! Thanks for the comment. I think you are one of my top 4 readers. A notable distinction! Merry Christmas!

Dmorrone: Ah, kind words for a beggarly writer. My thanks to you! Merry Christmas!

Jon Woods: Thanks for stopping by and sharing your memories! Those were the days, eh? I've got a bunch more old pictures to get to, but didn't want to use them all in one post! Merry Christmas and don't be letting getting back from your break or it's "round the Jungle" with ye!

Adam: Thank you sincerely. It is rewarding to hear from someone like you who took the time to let me know that this blog does something more than take up a few bytes of cyberspace. Not much more, of course, but if the stuff I've shared brightens a single person's day or helps them rekindle a favored thought or two of Disneyland---then I labor not in vain. I'll try to keep coming up with things to share. Feel free to drop by and post anytime.
As for all my other readers (hi, Mom), I promise that Adam is NOT my brother-in-law or a paid spokesperson. Adam, Merry Christmas!


Adam said...

I'll definitely be coming back often! I realized I've got a question for you. Due to a series of scheduling problems, I'm going to the park by myself on Christmas day (which also happens to be my birthday!) The upside is that it's going to give me an opportunity to explore what I want, when I want, without having to plan out the day with a group.

Here's my question: What's the one thing you think is the most overlooked part of the park? I really want to use this opportunity to see parts of the park I generally don't get to see.

Hope you and yours have a merry Christmas!

J Kam said...

Just got back from Asia and I can't sleep. Stumbled across this and I'm rolling. The Jungle from '79-'83 was a blast. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

Jeff Kambak