Thursday, February 11, 2010

Disneyland Musings - Volume VI - Matterhorn Way

All right, I've been bad. Very bad.
I have been dealing with a lot in my other life and have neglected my blog.
What's strange, though, is that I've actually picked up more followers during this "frozen screen" phase.
Perhaps the best way to increase readership of "Jungle is 101" is for me to stop writing...

No such luck folks.

Today I muse about my first shift as a spry, young custodial host in brilliant sweeper "whites" in May 1984. As the title of this post indicates, I was assigned "Matterhorn Way" in Fantasyland for my first shift "on my own" after training.

It is an area of the park (like I need to tell any of you Parkophiles) that runs from the northeast corner of the Hub on Main Street (to the right of Sleeping Beauty's Castle if you are facing the Castle from Main Street) and northeast toward the Small World (on one side) and more easterly toward the queue for Finding Nemo (on the other side---Matterhorn Way splits at the base of the Matterhorn---the Alice side and then the Tomorrowland side). See the photograph from 1985 (note the 30th Anniversary logo on the light pole).

It is a section of the parade route for most every Disneyland parade. The main section of Matterhorn way runs between the Matterhorn and the Fantasyland restrooms just south of Alice in Wonderland. It is an open area that is usually not too crowded. It is shaded along its western edge by the trees and the castle wall facade that run along the southeastern edge of Fantasyland.
It's a great place to be a sweeper.
Plenty of foot traffic.
Lots of guest interaction.
The bathroom is easily located and most guests can be directed there without a map or a 20 minute geography lesson.
The bullpen for the Matterhorn runs in a single line along the base of the mountain---easy to sweep. Just jump in line with your pan and broom, ease along with the guests, sweep as you go and jump back out when you get across from Alice.
There are sunny areas but also blessed shade. July and August are rough if your area is a place largely devoid of shade like Tomorrowland or along the Rivers of America (between the River Belle Terrace and Tom Sawyer's Rafts landing).
Matterhorn Way is a travelers' zone---people who are going through it are moving to and fro on their way to other places.
They usually know where they're going, too, because once one rounds the corner from Main Street, the Small World unmistakingly beckons in the distance, with Alice very obviously to the left and a great, big, white mountain to the right. The echoing roar of Harold sounds from inside the mountain and rolls along Matterhorn Way rhythmically.
Sure, you'll get the occasional, "Can you tell me how to get to the Matterhorn?"
But there is something deeply satisfying about being able to put on your best Disney smile for the guest, slowly turning toward the megalith behind you, and answering with a two-fingered point, "Why you're almost there! It's that white mountain to my left!"
Most smile embarrassedly and nod a thank you as they step into the line.
As that young sweeper on his first shift, Matterhorn way was perfect.
First of all, for your lead, it was an easy spot to keep track of a newbie.
There's nowhere to hide (or get lost). It is also an easy area to point out ("I want you to start at the popcorn cart---hit that area often, by the way---over in front of the Matterhorn and then sweep the area all the way past Alice down to the Hub, and then the back side of the mountain and back along the Alice side to the popcorn cart again, you got that? Don't forget to hit the line every half hour or so and don't forget the restrooms!")
It's a spot "between worlds" within the Park. It's a little Main Street, it's a little Tomorrowland, it's a little Fantasyland---all within an area that takes about 15 minutes to cycle through with a pan and broom.
Guests enjoyed (and still do enjoy) sitting along the concrete benches south of the restrooms. They are themed to be part of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and are smooth and usually shaded.
I often met the most pleasant people seated along there. They were happy to have a conversation with a sweeper. Many were seniors---resting their legs while the rest of the family scurried elsewhere in the Park.
"How are you today?"
"Just fine," I'd answer. "Where are you from?"
"Oh, we're from "X"---we're visiting the grandchildren. What a lovely day! Not too warm for you is it?"
"No, I keep moving and there's shade. Besides, those restrooms over there are cool and air conditioned---and they need sweeping!"
"I hadn't even noticed. I'm glad you pointed them out! Thank you."
Et cetera.
I couldn't believe I was actually getting PAID to stand in Disneyland and talk with people! Or to walk through my assigned area with my pan and broom and keep the place Disney clean! (I was pretty gung-ho, I'll admit; you know, even later on the Jungle Cruise, I was quick to pick up trash in the queue or in the boats).
For your next visit, your assignment is to take a seat along the concrete Castle benches on Matterhorn Way and people watch for a while. Grab a corn dog or a churro or a turkey leg and take a seat. Watch the guests going by.
Better yet, take some time and watch for the sweeper.
Be sure to say hello.



Okie said...

Great post Mike. Thanks.

As a guest with young kids, we often stopped by the restrooms/benches/fountains etc you mention. As you point out, it's close enough to Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street for a quick and easy bathroom detour. Better yet, for a parent with excited kids, it was never too crowded and had fun things for the kids to look at (and sometimes climb on) while waiting for the rest of the family to get out of the restroom...and there's no gift shops or restaurants for the kids to crowd into while they're waiting.

It's a nice casual location that is light enough in theme to be less crowded and relaxing and yet still definitely Disney.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a picture of the rookie is warranted!

New Skipper said...


I'm a new skipper at Jungle and I came across your blog by accident one day, just surfing the web. This is a pretty sweet run down of Jungle in a different time and I thank you for it! I'm sad we don't have a motorboat waiting for us to use though... haha.

Just to keep you posted, here is some new info: Ganges keeps 6 shotting at C curve, and now even the upstairs is looking into it. Fun tid bits of information!

Keep it up with the blog, it really is very entertaining =]

Mike said...

Hey New Skipper!

Thanks! The Ganges wasn't doing much better when I left LAST April! Read this blog from first post to last and put at least some of that stuff into action---Disneyland and your guests will thank you, I'm sure!

Love every minute in the Jungle! I know you will! Skippers are always, always welcome here!