Sunday, September 11, 2011

Disneyland - September 11, 1984

The 1980s era had many things going for it.
Big hair.
High-top Reeboks.
Indiana Jones.
Oingo Boingo.
Alex Keaton.
Back to the Future.
The Los Angeles Olympics.
Mall rats.
Valley Girls.
Ray Ban Wayfarers.
One thing it DID NOT have, which I miss terribly in this present age, was a date in September (other than Labor Day, perhaps) that really stood out in the national consciousness.
Tuesday, September 11, 1984, for example, was like many September 11ths before it.
The Angles lost to the Indians 4-2.  Rod Carew was 1 for 4 off winning pitcher Don Schulze.
Bucky Dent played his final major league game as a Kansas City Royal.
Pope John Paul II was in the midst of a visit to Canada and held a Mass for the beatification of Sister Marie-LĂ©onie Paradis.
Three's Company ran a repeat on ABC at 8:30 p.m. and was up against a repeat episode of The A-Team over on NBC.
Woman's Day asked on its cover "Who Makes the Best Second Husband?"
President Ronald Reagan met with NATO Secretary General Lord Carrington at the White House.
Reagan also declared in 1984 that, "There is renewed energy and optimism throughout the land.  America is back, standing tall, looking to the 80s with courage, confidence and hope."
He was right.  
In November of 1984, Reagan would rout Walter Mondale--who only won his home state of Minnesota---in the Presidential Election.
Born in the USA got plenty of air time on the radio for Bruce Springsteen.

The UCLA Bruins were preparing to take on Long Beach State at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, September 15th.
The Go-Go's put on a live show at Western University in Macomb, Illinois.
There was a war in Afghanistan, but it involved Soviet troops, not Americans.
Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It? moved to the top of the charts.
The September 11, 1984 New York Times reported that Apple Computer
had just introduced a version of its Macintosh personal computer that, with a suggested retail price of $3,195, will feature 512 kilobytes of internal memory - four times the 128-kilobyte memory on the existing Macintosh.
Apple also said it was cutting the price on the existing machine to $2,195, from $2,495, and would begin selling a $995 kit to enable current Macintosh owners to upgrade their machines to 512 kilobytes of memory.

Not quite an I-Pad, but the Apple company showed promise.

Sure, terror existed then, too.

A year earlier, in 1983, a Korean Air Lines civilian airliner was shot down by Soviet interceptors over the Sea of Japan.
On September 20, 1984, the U.S. Embassy annex would be car-bombed in Beirut, killing 23.
We lived in a chaotic world.
The Middle East was, as always, in a state of near boiling.
Another great superpower threatened us with Mutually Assured Destruction by way of its atomic arsenal.

But life somehow still went on. 
It had hope, promise.
We did regular things.
We lived without an ever-present shadow of vague uneasiness.

The September 11th that followed 17 years after that Tuesday in 1984 ripped up the old world, almost to its roots.
I realize now, ten years later, that the whole world has become weird.
Stuff I thought would last forever is gone.
A world economy - gone.
The United States I knew then is vastly different.
Disneyland, of course, has changed.
But enough remains the same to provide some comfort to bewildered travelers, who have awakened in what seems to be another dimension - today - September 11, 2011.
My heart is with everyone this day.
All of us lost someone or something 10 years ago.
No one has come out of it unscathed.
What I would not give to return to a world when September 11th was just another day.

Pax vobiscum.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Disneyland - CHOC Walk


October 16, 2011 is CHOC Walk at Disneyland.

An event no true Disneyland fan will want to miss, CHOC Walk supports a great cause while allowing you novel access to the Park in the earl morning hours, including great "behind the scenes" views.

Here is the website, sign up today!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet...


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Disneyland - I could really go for...

Right about now, I could really go for:

  • a mid-theater seat on the comfy benches of the Country Bear Jamboree, waiting for the show to start;
  • a stroll through Harbor House to grab my time card on my way under the trestle to Wardrobe;
  • a hot Monte Cristo sandwich at Carnation on Main Street;
  • an elephant ride (make it an African Bull, and be sure to wave at the Jungle boats as they drift by);
  • my old (metal) pan and broom at my side and a Main Street opening shift;
  • a leisurely wander through the old One-of-a-Kind shop in New Orleans Square (just looking!);
  • some Plaza Inn pot roast;
  • a tram ride through the 100-acre parking lot to the Main Entrance drop off area, with a tram-ful of eager guests;
  • craning my neck and scanning the area for whoever just sounded a "Sweeper's Whistle" in my direction;
  • a view of Cascade Peak and Big Thunder Falls from the top deck of the Mark Twain;
  • fifty cents and a Shootin' Arcade rifle;
  • a stick to wake up Jose (the bird, not the busser who used to work nights at the Cafe Orleans);
  • an early morning canoe race (cast members only, sorry);
  • a squeaky Donald Duck hat (not for me, for the kids)...okay, I'll try it, but just one or two squeaks...;
  • a pre-opening walk-through of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad;
  • checking the schedule in the old Custodial offices behind Plaza Gardens (ahh, good ol' Dept. 336!);
  • a refreshing dip in the Submarine Lagoon (it always looks so inviting);
  • a walk past the lightning-filled windows and spooky paintings in corridor of the Haunted Mansion just past the elevator doors;
  • a bench on the Hub; and
  • a whole day ahead of me at the Park.
How about you?

Stay thirsty my friends!!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disneyland - A Break

Greetings, Jungle lovers!
Pecking out a post on this old Underwood.
The keys are sticking in this moist heat, greatly diminishing my words per minute and sapping my energy.
Perhaps I should take a hot tea.
Our British companions swear by it.
I suppose the goal is to get one's insides close in temperature to the outside.
This creates an illusion of "cooling off," when, in fact, you have merely "heated up."
Boiling a kettle over a camp fire in an Indian jungle is a treat.
Dry heat and smoke mingle with the sopping dankness to create a miniature hell.
The fire keeps the mosquitoes at bay---somewhat.
Wish I could catch a break.
A break.
That reminds me of many moments spent in tucked away break areas of the Park.

Adventure/Frontier Attractions cast members had several options, but perhaps the most convenient was the break area just outside the Adventure/Frontier offices located above the River Belle Terrace.
I remember pushing through the door to the back area, the wooden "gate" tucked between the Bengal Barbecue and the Riverbelle Terrace, and strolling through the narrow alley past kitchen carts and racks to the base of the stairs.  They were a bit rickety, with a wood railing, and they led up to the area office.
At the top of the stairs was a covered porch, with vending machines along the wall to the right, picnic tables to the left and the door to the offices straight ahead.
Beyond that door was the world of "Operations" and area managers.  Scheduling was done in there.  The schedulers never had to buy drinks when our crew went out after work.  Keep your scheduler happy, was my motto.  The person who had a role in assigning shifts was indeed a good friend to have.
Sure, there were seniority and union contract issues, but after those variables, the schedulers and the managers with whom they worked laid out the weekly calendar in every detail.
Want a closing shift?
Need a day off?
Last minute trade of a shift so you can make your final exam?
The scheduler could help---or hurt---you.
That is why I would walk past the vending machines, step through the door and say a cheery "Hello" to our friendly scheduler before turning around, heading back out onto the porch, and grabbing a Cherry Coke from the vending machine.
I would then sit down at an open picnic table or grab a seat with any of my friends who might have the same break schedule.
After hours on one's feet at the helm of a Jungle boat or loading passengers, those 15 minutes of break time were sublime.
I best recall the cold, damp nights in winter, bundled in my jacket and scarf, sitting in the break area over a cup of bad coffee or hot chocolate. 
Sometimes I would be the only one up there. 
It was cool.  I was in this little hidden world "backstage."
I could hear the Mark Twain's whistle and the Jungle's drums and animal sounds.
Down below, I could see the backstage area of the Golden Horsehoe and the dacning girls would click by in their heels and fishnets.  Ah.  It's good to be here!
Those cups of coffee in the cold nights still warm my memory.
My feet would get cold around mid-shift and that was it.
They would not warm up until I got a hot shower or bath on my return home.
No problem.
The worst day working at Disneyland beat just about anything else I had ever experienced.
So I would sit in the break area and let the steam from my cup warm my face.
I might get involved in some trite conversation, lighthearted joking or involved planning as to post-work activities with my comrades in nametags.
The time would fly.
A glance down at my watch would reveal that 14 minutes had passed!
Uh oh.
I would leap to my feet, bolt down the stairs, burst through the gate and hightail it through the heart of Adventureland back to the Jungle dock and my rotation.
Heaven help you if you took a long break!
The justice that would be meted out by the other skippers in your rotation was swift and severe.
It usually involved keeping you in your boat.
When the time would come for your dockmate to step in and take over the helm, he would not be there!
Or he would smile, along with another member of your rotation---and your lead!---as the two of them bumped each other to break after break while you were stuck in the boat for another trip (or six) through the Jungle!
Breathless, I would tap my fellow cast member on the shoulder as I made it back to the dock.
"You're bumped!  Enjoy your break!"
I am pretty sure he did.