Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Disneyland - Jungle Break Area Blues

One thing has remained the same between my Jungle days of old and my most recent stint on the attraction last year: the break area.

It is at the end of a little corridor behind the old stage of the Tahitian Terrace and the Aladdin show. It consists of a few discarded chairs, a trash can or two, a computer terminal (for accessing the Cast Deployment System - "CDS"), and a walkway next to a railing next to the Jungle boat storage area. You can see the storage area to your right as you round the final bend of the river just past Trader Sam. Two large doors swing open to allow access to the back area. When they open, if you look hard enough and believe strongly enough, several skippers at various stages of ennui will appear, lounging for their break on old chairs or leaning on the railing.

Hey. It was our break area.
Not perfect, but a small oasis in the Jungle.
You bumped there from your rotation. Perhaps you literally ran from there to the Inn Between and back in order to get a quick drink or snack. Perhaps you hit the vending machines located near the "dancing natives" in the access alley behind Main Street.
You would share a quick hello with fellow skippers.
"Any good boats today?"
"Nah. Pretty dead."
"Is that because of your sorry spiel?"
"Shut up. Your last boatload looked like the cast of a George Romero flick."
"Really? The last laugh I heard from one of your boats was YOU laughing at your own jokes."
"Yeah, thanks. Last night I had a great group. They loved me!"
"It's nice when relatives come to the Park, ain't it?"
"Rookie? I've been on this attraction for six months straight! I hear natives chanting in my head at night!"
"Six months? Rookie."
"How long have you been on the Jungle?"
"Well...I started in 1987..."
Shocked silence.
Of course, there are a couple of old skippers who have truly been on the Jungle since the 1980s. If you should see Randy or an old foreman named Gerry on the dock, dust them off because they have literally been working the attraction for more than a quarter century.
Talk about old jokes!


The break area is not glamorous, but it suits its purpose.
There you find a few quiet moments during your shift.
You actually get off your feet for a while (heck, between skippering the boat and working the dock, you are on foot for 6-7 hours per shift! No wonder I lost all that weight when I returned. I might have to publish a book: "The Jungle Cruise Diet."---I'll let you know).
Most breaks consisted of a diet Coke and bad vending machine fare.
With the advent of cell phones, most skippers sat and texted or played games. Back in the '80s, we would while away the time by teasing each other or playing practical jokes. Most such hijinks are strictly verboten in today's Disneyland.
Ah, workers' compensation and the Labor Code, such grand enhancements to the modern workplace.
No more cups of water poured down the back.
No more cigarette loads (tiny sticks of white gunpowder strategically inserted into fellow cast member's smokes when they weren't looking).
No lying in wait as a group for the next guy coming off on break (man, we scared the hell out of so many skippers!).
Not so much psychological warfare between skippers (good natured, but devastating nonetheless).
That is not to say the banter died completely.
We still would try to joke around a bit.
But in today's workplace---shackled by political correctness, "hostile work environment" claims, the dangers of a joke being misunderstood or taken wrongly, etc., some of the fun simply had to go to the wayside.
The real fun typically started off site, after one's shift, at "Charley Brown's" or "Acapulco" or the pub or wherever.
This is a family blog, so we will leave the off-site shenanigans for another venue, perhaps.

To the poor old Jungle break area and the skippers sitting there right this moment: Cheers!!

For those of you who did not enjoy your trip with me today, the address and telephone number of our complaint department is right over there on the wall to our right as we approach the dock. Feel free to comment there as often as you wish. (You Jungle Cruise lovers know exactly what I'm talking about---if not, take a look at the writing on the wall over there the next time you come to the end of a cruise through the Jungle).

Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company.




Anonymous said...

And for some of us back in the day, the spot above the Bazaar was the choice to kick back and watch the world...the dock activity...and your boat go by. Great place to get a few ZZZZs or discuss the planned night starting out at HoJos.

Tim Kulinski said...

Wow, is that Jerry York?? If so, Jerry and I started a long time ago!

Ah the break area in boat storage, good times were had back there. I remember when terrace still used to do shows that the big Hawaiian fire dancers used to take it over and we could not go back there.

Love your blog man, your bringing up many a memory of my JC days. Remember, Move it Up Skip!

Mike said...


Ah, HoJo's. Did you ever get suckered into a late night Tommy's run to Los Angeles? Long way to go for a chiliburger, but we did it. Still not sure why. Charley Brown's over on State College had Long Island Ice Teas that they served in large mugs (let's call them steins). Two of those would change your perspective. That's what I understand anyway.


'Tis the very Jerry York himself! Read this blog about the famous "Blackfooted Rockhopper" incident when it comes to Tahitian Terrace dancers interacting with Jungle skippers back in my day. Thanks for the kind words---I'm always looking for material, so don't hesitate to drop me a note or share a story from your time in the Jungle. We skippers are a rare breed. Kinda like those hairless dogs. Rare breed, indeed! Stop by anytime! Stay thirsty, my friend!! (We were saying that WAAAAYYYY before the Dos Equis guy!).

Anonymous said...

Mike: Can't say that I did. My "time" on the JC was between late 1970 and mid 1977 (yeah, I know, I wasn't always assigned the JC but once a JCer...always one). Often, our 'runs' were more like heading off to the beach for a late night BBQ or improptu date :). Those were the days when you could park the car between Seal Beach and HB along the side of PCH for free and unfettered access. There also was a pizza joint that was popular near Katella and West St. whose name escapes me. And of course the 2 big bashes...Custer's Last Stand at the Union Hall in Santa Ana and the Banana Ball somewhere... it's all a wonderful foggy memory that's also bittersweet when considering the time passed.

Anonymous said...

And if only this medium came with spell check, I'd have caught that typo 'impromptu'.