Friday, February 11, 2011

Disneyland - Bits of Adventureland, Autopia ala Jungle, Ned and the Old Dock

The haunting figure above lurks within the tropical confines of Adventureland.  Any idea where?  Here's a pretty darn obvious hint.
A skipper and his crew approach the "first sign of Danger" in the Jungle.  They've just turned past the rain forest and are chugging toward the Monkey God and the Ancient Cambodian Shrine.  The Skipper is probably reminding guests to keep their hands and arms inside the boat and watch their small children.  A large part of any trip through the Jungle consists of the Skipper facing aft---completely unaware of what is ahead of him.  During a breakdown once, a Skipper, who was in mid-spiel and deeply enthralled with his own performance, did not hear the 6-shot signaling a derailed boat up ahead.  My boat was stopped just abreast of the African Veldt when the boat behind me rounded the bend.  The other Skipper, who shall remain nameless (way to go, Doug!), was pointing out the "Mother-In-Law" elephant and not looking ahead of him.  He realized, all too late, that my boat was stopped in front of his.  He tried to slam his throttle into reverse.  Nope.  Too much forward momentum.  He rear-ended us like an Autopia car.  Everyone in my boat lurched back and then forward in their seats with the impact.  I somehow kept my footing.  With hands on hips and much overacting, I proceeded to chastise him over the P.A.  We parried back and forth and the guests on our boats seemed to enjoy the exchange. 
"Why don't you watch where you're going!?" 
"What's the idea of stopping in the middle of the River?!  River hog!" 
"I hope you have insurance!" etc.  It was actually one of my better breakdown experiences, because we had two skippers and two boatloads of guests to pass the time until the attraction was up and running again. 
I worked with Ned, above, in 1987.  He was our closing lead for most of the summer until one day when we completely lost track of him.  He was last seen aboard the skiff, puttering around the bend on his way to help with a rumored native disturbance and uprising.  Ned started as a skipper in '55 and was one of the few cast members who could sport facial hair---having "grandfathered in" along with one of the original sweepers and a security guard or two that were permitted to keep their plumed mustaches.  Nice guy, Ned.  Good head on his shoulders.  Quick witted.  Sporting fellow, actually.  Favored hot tea on muggy days.  He always kept our boats loaded and cycling without a hiccup.  Sure miss him.

Drifting back to the Jungle dock in 1968 (with thanks from Gary Bowden who originally posted this one), we get a clear view of the loading area and one of the old striped-canopied launches.  Seat cushion, anyone?  You can see the quaint old queue, with its thatched roof of palm fronds.

A happy Friday to the four (4) of you (Hi, Mom)! 



Annie said...

I Love, love, love all of your posts. It makes me feel so excited when I see something new up in my blog feed :)

Thanks for taking us back to when cast members actually enjoyed and looked forward to going to work. I know I was severely disappointed when I was there tho I do think it would have been a lot different if I'd been hired in another area. Still, I'm not sure I'd want to go back to the parks as a cast member.

Anne said...

Mike you share with us a time when anything goes, and it's not as strict as we have now. But I still wish to become a cast member just for the experience. Thanks for so many funny and enlightening stories!!

Connie Moreno said...

I've often wondered if boats ever ran into each other and now I know. Too funny!!

Anonymous said...

OMG..Gary Bowden. Now that's a name I haven't heard for so many years. I hope Gary is doing well. Looks just like when I started in 1970. Reader #4.

Mike said...

Annie: love, love, love my readers! I deeply appreciate your feedback. Helps to keep me posting! Approach this blog with low expectations and you'll never be disappointed!

Anne: (it must be the day for Annes and Annies to pop by) you are quite welcome. Be sure to live out your goal of being a Disneyland Cast Member! You can bring to the role your talent, enthusiasm and personality and get an inside look at The Happiest Place on Earth ("THPOE"). Do it while you're young. You'll be glad you did.

Connie: that's why the boats have bumpers on the front (disguised as a large bundle of rope). Bumping boats has always been discouraged. Rookies have been known to bump boats while at the dock. Bad show!

Anon: welcome to a true Skipper. The '70s were an amazing time. Some of the greatest Jungle lore came from this period. You four (4) readers make my day!


Anonymous said...


Having no other decade to compare it against, it's interesting to get your opinion. It was the Happiest Place on Earth for us skippers. I see many of the names of my former 'mates' listed in Mice Tales. It was a fun time where we worked hard and played hard. And while some of management was up-tight, there was still an underlying theme to push the envelope and look the other way. And so we did! :)