Sunday, October 30, 2011

Disneyland - My 8 Year Old and the Disneyland Game

After one too many sessions of "I Spy With My Little Eye," I begged my youngest for a moment or two so that I could try to come up with something of my own to keep us entertained during the occasional down time (a long drive, a boring line, nothing on TV, etc., etc.).
Given our family's connection to the Park, the Disneyland Game was born.
It is really nothing all that original, but my daughter likes it and that's enough for me.
The game is a variation of an old time-passer a third grade teacher of mine shared with us.
The youngest person goes first, naturally.
They call out a word associated with Disneyland.
Then it is the next person's turn (there's no limit to the number of participants).
They must call out another Disneyland word, but the word they use has to being with the LAST last letter of the word that the youngest had first called out.
Play moves from person to person until you can't think of a word.  First person who can't think of a word is out.
It is a good idea to set a time limit for responding, say one or two minutes.
So, my daughter says: "Castle."
Now it's my turn.
"Emporium!" (I have to use the "e" at the end of "Castle" to start my word).
"Mickey!" she counters.
"Yeti." (Ooh.  I'm good.)
"Ice cream.  You've got an M."
"Orinoco!" (Ah, Jungle boat names sometimes come in handy).
"Octopus."  A smile.
"Slue Foot Sue!"
"Never mind, she's before your time, but trust's a legit answer, kid!" (Dad always has the final say on this particular subject).
"E...hmmm...oh, I know...Eeyore!"
"Elgin clock - on Main Street."
A look of consternation.  "All right.  N.  Oh, Nana, from Peter Pan!"
"Adventureland.  This is too easy!"
"Donald Duck!"
"K.  Hmmm.  Duh.  King Arthur's Carousel."
"Lion King!"
"Omnibus!?  How'd you know that one?  Good job, Miss Muffet.  So what do I have, an "S"?  How about, Star Tours?"
"Sleeping Beauty."
"Yangtze Lotus."
"Small World."
"Dinosaur Gap."
"Peter Pan."

I am sure you get the picture.
The game can be varied.
For example, you can use the 3rd or 4th letter of the word and make the other person have to start their answer with that letter.
You can limit the responses to certain Lands within the park or even certain attractions (which can be very challenging).
You can make a rule that you can't use the same letter twice in a row (so I can't offer "Orinoco" as an "O" word because it ends with an "O" and then the other person would have to use "O" again).
It goes on.
It sure beats the living heck out of "I Spy" for the thirteenth time in a row!
For adults, it can be a drinking game (especially for adults who've been forced into "I Spy" with an eight year old on one too many occasions!).
Can't come up with an answer in 30 seconds?  Drink!
If your word ends with a "D," drink!
Use a character name for your answer, drink!
Repeat an answer that has already been used---drink twice.
Use an answer that is NOT associated with something inside the berm --- you buy everyone a round!  ("Tower of Terror???"  Really?!!)

"Jungle is 101" has now ended it's normal operating day.  Main Street will remain open for an additional hour for your shopping convenience.  For those not choosing to shop, as we say on the Jungle Cruise: "Ride's over.  Get out."


Friday, October 28, 2011

Disneyland - Some Recent Photos and Sample Guest Interaction Test (for Professionals only)...

It's a Friday here in the Jungle and, digging through some pictures, I thought I'd share some with you fine folks. . . 

We'll start with the one above from our recent trip. 
It shows the cottage where we stayed with a sweet, little Italian family.  We had a fine time. 
Close to the water, but not far from the main village, the place was clean and the merchant and his wife who lived there treated us as family.  The quarters were cramped, but that made it all the more enjoyable. 
We walked the cobbled streets of the tiny town nearby. 
We stared in the shop windows, ate way too much pasta and savored the Chianti---perhaps a bit too much.  We tried to hitch a ride home with the local coachman, but he was already full and we had to stumble along on foot. 
Too bad, because that group of kids in the coach looked like they were ready to hit the town and have the time of their lives! 
Wish we could've joined them. 
Maybe next time.  
Above is a little known break area in Frontierland. 
It is not well lit, but at least it's cool and out of the elements. 
The wooden vending machine takes for...ev...ver to dispense snacks, as this guy from New Orleans/Bear Country Attractions found out the hard way. 
Hey buddy, next time try the Pit. 
It is not as difficult to get to (you don't need a raft, for example), and the grill cook gets you out of there in 10 minutes or less.  Bon appetit!
Above we see a rare view of walkway pavement --- seldom seen in modern Disneyland. 
I can only count about 14 guests or so in sight. 
Can you tell where this was taken? 
I had to do a double take, but immediately got my bearings when I realized that this area was the site of my very first sweeping assignment in Day Custodial. 
I thought of a quick "Guest Interaction Test" to pass along to you cast members, would-be cast members or curious guest-types. 
Here it is.  Hope you pass.

Question: If the lady on the cell phone to the right of the picture were to walk up and ask, "Where is the Matterhorn?" would you:

A)      Point toward the left side of the photo, along the row of benches?

B)      Use a two-fingered Disney pointing gesture to the right side of the photo, around the corner of the tree planter that is seen just behind the lady on the cell phone?

C)      Shrug helplessly and act like you speak only in clicks and pops, then wave your arms in grandiose and mysterious patterns like a deranged Shaman?

D)      Ask her if she'd rather try Disney's California Adventure---it's a wonderful, family-style theme park for people of all ages!

E)       Smile politely, remain in place, but rotate 180 degrees and grandly hold out your arms and make a displaying gesture like Vanna White, while saying, "This grand geologic formation directly behind me is Matterhorn Mountain and a thrilling bobsled ride awaits those who dare challenge its icy, and, some say---haunted---peaks!"

If you answered E---and were very careful to not at all be a smart aleck when responding to the guest---you would be absolutely correct, and could qualify as a helpful, cheerful Cast Member.  (Remember: don't be a smart aleck---the mountain is almost directly behind you and towers 40 stories overhead---it's hard to miss, but that's okay, guests sometimes still need a little help finding their way).

Well, that's about all the posting I've got in me today, as there's a place near and dear to this old prospector's heart that is calling to me from up yonder hill just past ol' Dinosaur Gap...
Have a great weekend, Adventurers and Adventurettes, Junglers and Jungleteers, Skippers and guests, CMs, former CMs and CMs-to-be!!  I'll drink to that!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Disneyland - Where's My Flashlight?

Perhaps one of the hardest habits I've had to break when visiting Disneyland in my present post-Cast Member state is the overwhelming urge to step in and take control when the crowd gets backed up, lost or just a bit clueless.
This occurs most often before or after a parade. I look ahead at a jammed walkway and spot a "rookie" Cast Member who has yet to learn the power of an authoritative voice coupled with clear hand gestures and body language.
My heart drops. Come on, come on! Sing it out! Get 'em moving!! Don't let the herd have its way!
I bite my lip.
My left hand instinctively grabs for a non-existent flashlight hanging from a phantom holster on my left hip.
The voice inside me shouts - "Get these guests wrangled and move 'em out!" and I must consciously restrain the innate need to step ahead of the throng, climb atop a  bench or planter, locate the guests who are plugging up this arterial walkway and GET THEM MOVING!
"Folks!  This is a walkway and I need you to keep to the right and walk forward!  That's it! Excellent! We can do this! There you go! Laughing, happy, glad to be at Disneyland!
Stay to your right and don't stop!  This is a one-way walkway, keep following the people ahead of you and do NOT turn around unless you want to channel your inner salmon and fight the mighty current! Listen to me and we'll all make it out of here!  Come on!  You want to be the first one on the parking lot tram, don't you?! Keep moving this way and I'll bet there won't even be a line for the tram!
You! Love the Goofy hat! Thanks for continuing to move toward Main Street and for staying to your right! Everyone! Follow this young man in the Goofy hat! He knows where he's going! Perfect! Follow my waving flashlight and I'll have you out of here before you know it! OH!  You are all doing so well! It looks like the 57 freeway! We are moving now! Last one to Main Street buys popcorn for the rest of us! Repeat after me: it's the Happiest Place on Earth, it's the Happiest Place on Earth! Good! Look at this walkway! It's like a mighty river, flowing to the sea---or at least to Main Street! Stay to your right, hold hands and keep together! Don't stop for stragglers! I understand he's your husband, ma'am, but you'll always have your memories of him----ooh, look, he's caught up---well, better luck next time! Right this way, folks, right this way!"

My daughter's voice calls me out of my manic Guest Control mode.
"Dad!  People are looking at you funny, stop!"

I thought that seemed a bit too real.


Despite my sudden outburst,
Despite my lack of a name tag,
Despite having no coned flashlight,
Despite the puzzled and befuddled stare of the "rookie" Cast Member in the red vest standing before me,
Despite the size of the crowd that moments before had oozed to a lumbering stop there on the Hub,

...the walkway was now clear and moving, the guests obediently complying with the verbal commands of this former CM.
Heck, even the "rookie" seemed to enjoy it, as he was now at my side, waving his fashlight and raising his voice with polite but firm authority:

"Stay to the right, folks and keep moving, please!"

Kid, I think you're gonna do just fine from here on out.

My work here is through.
Guess I'll just mosey along.

"Hey, mister!" called the rookie, "I never got your name!"

"Mike. Tell 'em it was Mike."

Roll the credits as a slow, whistling western theme is played.
The camera pans slowly up and away from the Hub and follows the crowd marching down Main Street for the exit.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Disneyland - Back Areas

Ah, the back area.
Tucked away, a bit on the dirty side.
Offstage.  Backstage.
Realm of the Cast Member.
The place people disappear into through gates, doors and passageways.
Where else can you catch Snow White on a lunch break?
Disneylanders know many of these back area locations all too well.
Perhaps the largest (if we ignore TDA and the Parade Building, train and Monorail storage to the north) can be found behind the facades on the east side of Main Street.
Here one finds the old Admin/Wardrobe building, the Inn Between, the real Disneyland Fire Department, the world famous Disneyland Security Deapartment, the Cast Member training center, Custodial area lockers, the Zoo Crew's HQ and a large holding area for parade floats, visiting bands,  the Disneyland Band, etc.
There are many ways to get back here from "on stage."
By the Space Mountain Restrooms.
Behind the Corn Dog Wagon.
Through Harbor House.
The alley between the Berm and the south wall of the old Bank of America.
Way over by the Pizza Port and Innoventions.
Through a tunnel that runs beneath Tommorowland from the old Coke Terrace.
By way of a gate at the end of East Center Street on Main Street.
And various other doors and adits.
Back here you would see blue uniformed maintenance crew members, custodial whites, dwarves and mice, Jungle Skippers,
Candy-striped Emporium clerks, yellow Outdoor Vending types, red and black guest control folks, orange-clad Tomorrowlanders and a rainbow of other costumed characters.
It was a place of comraderie.  You would wave at friends coming on shift or heading home.
"Hey, what's the "In Park" right now?"
"35,000, things are hopping in there."
Or "Thunder's down. Last I heard they were almost done cycling trains, but the one on A-lift is still stuck."
Or "Guess who's here today? The Gloved One is over by Small World and is getting mobbed again." (Michael Jackson was a frequent visitor in the 1980s).
There was usually activity in the back area---always people going to or coming from some on stage location.  It was easy to find a friend or workmate to sit down with for a break or for lunch.
It felt good to be part of the show.
So today's Jungle salute goes out to the back areas of the Park.
May they ever be peopled with characters!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disneyland - More Nooks and Crannies

Park-going regulars have their spots within Disneyland.
Places to head for when the crowd closes in.
The porch of the Plaza Pavilion.
A table along the railing in the French Market shade.
Perhaps a bench in a corner of Fantasyland.
Or along the wooden bridge in the midst of Thunder Trail.
Places within the Happiest Place where they can catch their breath.
Where they can recall a memory from childhood, young adulthood, or maybe last week.
Sometimes it's simply wandering the twisting streets of New Orleans Square, or sitting near Dumbo, watching the people fly as the carousel music floods the background.
There along the railing of the Rivers of America, you can lean and watch the Mark Twain steam by, her decks full of people, hear bell clanging, paddlewheel churning.
A curb on Main Street, with no parade in sight or even close to starting, can be a people-watching perch like no other.
The fine wooden seats of the cars of the Disneyland Railroad welcome guests to sit back, take it all in, as the edges of the Park click by before you.
The smooth lava rock benches of the Tiki Room lanai are perfect seating for the Tiki gods garden show.
Browsing knick-knacks in a corner of the Bazaar.
Watching Jungle boats float by along the walkway just past the exit to Indy.
A table inside the Plaza Inn, surrounded by leaded glass and turn-of-the-century decor.
Stopping along the bridge leading to Plaza Gardens and watching the stream flow beneath.
Clomping over the wooden walkway in front of the Golden Horsehoe.
Inhaling heady aromas near a popcorn cart cooking up a fresh batch.
Sunshine sparkling off the crystal waters of the Submarine Lagoon, while you stand at the rail.
Waiting for a skewer at the Bengal Barbeque.
Peering down through the leaves of the Treehouse at the throng marching through Adventureland below.
Wandering a dusty foot path along the reedy shores of Tom Sawyer's Island.
Taking in a few log drops at the foot of Splash Mountain - vicariously enjoying the laughter and dampness of the guests as they splashdown.
Looking up Main Street from the top of the Disneyland Railroad station's main entrance.
Saluting the flag during its ceremonial lowering from the pole in Town Square.
The beauty of the place is rooted in its immersive environments, its fine details.
Perhaps a nook or cranny of the Park is among your favorites.
Where do you go to experience Disneyland when you're "inside the berm?"

Have a fine Wednesday, my friends!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Disneyland - Mickey's In The Well --- Where's Lassie When You Need Her?

"I'm wishing.."

"I'm wishing..."

"For the one I love.  To find me..."

"To find me..."


"Today.   Today.  Todayyyyyy......"

Assigned to the castle forecourt area of Fantasyland, I swept my rounds.
Hello to the pretty young clerk at the Tinker Bell Toy Shop.
A brush across the cobblestone toward the Tomorrowland side of Sleeping Beauty Castle. 
I nod to the balloon vendor in her yellows.
She stoops to pull down a pink balloon for a brown-haired little girl with eyes like half-dollars.
"Excuse me, where's the Small World?" a guest asks me.
"Well, you're in the right Land, so your battle's halfway done.  Turn around and head back toward the carousel and veer to your right, past Mr. Toad, past Monstro the whale, past the Mad Tea Party (you know, the one with the big teacups) and make a left at the Storybookland Canal Boats.  The Small World has a large, white entrance can't miss it."
"Thanks!  Carousel, Toad, Tea Party, Storybook.  Got it."
"Have fun!"
My eyes scan the ground and spot some scatters of popcorn in the passage beneath the archway bearing the sign "This Way To Tomorrowland."  I move my pan and broom to it and it is swept up in an instant.
While standing in the passageway, I hear a child crying ahead of me.  Continuing on, I step out from under the castle and into the walkway area known as Snow White's Grotto.
There by Ms. White's wishing well is a mother holding her small son (about 4 years old).  He is in tears and seems inconsolable.  They look together into the well and then the mom frantically looks about for help.
I approach them.
"Is everything okay?  Was your son hurt?"
"He isn't hurt, but we've lost his Mickey.  It's the one he sleeps with every night.  He takes it EVERYWHERE."
"Where were you when you last saw Mickey?"
"He isn't lost really, we just can't reach him.  My son was holding him when we made a wish at the wishing well.  He went to toss in his penny and dropped his Mickey and..... fell into the well!!!"
Approaching the side of the well and peering over its edge to the sunlit area below, I see Mickey, half-floating in the shallow water rippling above the grate which covers the bottom of the well.
He is about five or six feet away.
Turning to the mom and her son, I tell them, "Mickey will be back with us in a moment.  Stay right here and I'll be back!"
I bolt south toward Main Street, cut a hard left up Matterhorn Way and another left into the area locker located at the Fantasyland restrooms along the west side of the Matterhorn, hoping.
Hoping a grabber tool is in there.
From my keyring, I locate the locker key and open the door.
Scanning the locker area, I see squirt bottles, a mop and bucket, stacks of paper towels, toilet paper, supplies and....the green-handled grabber!
In an instant I have locked the door behind me and am flying back to Snow White's Grotto.
By now, a small group has gathered about the mom and her small son---his eyes still wet with tears, but curious.
I run up in my sweeper whites, carrying pan, broom and grabber tool.
"Excuse me folks!  I'll need you to step away from the edge of the well for a moment, this is going to require a little balancing!"
Hoisting myself up to the edge and bending over it at the waist, I hang headfirst down into the well, holding the long-handled grabber tool in my right hand ahead of me.
Squeezing the trigger, the pinching "grabber" end squeezes around one of Mickey's ears.  Holding tight, I back myself up over the edge, keeping my right arm below me in the well.
As my feet hit the ground, I stand and slowly raise my arm from the interior of the Bullwinkle Moose pulling a rabbit out of his hat.
The grabber tool clears the side of the well to reveal Mickey Mouse, his feet and bottom dripping, dangling by an ear from the claws of the tool.
The small crowd erupts in spontaneous applause!!
The mother smiles broadly, her eyes flashing a thank you.
Taking the white towel from my belt and quickly swaddling and squeezing Mickey with it, I am able to soak up a good amount of the water.
Now comes the part I've been waiting for.
I kneel like a grand knight appearing before his lord and look across at the 4-year old boy with shining blue eyes that are still a little red around the edges.
With both arms extended, I hold out Mickey before him in an offering gesture.
He bolts forward and grab-hugs the plush mouse from my hands, in a flash of reunion and joy.
He and Mickey twirl together in a small, circular, foot-hopping dance of excitement, and the small group claps and cheers.
All the while, Snow White's sweet voice floats to us from inside the well...

"To find me."

"To find me."



Funny.  There are some people who think a sweeper's job isn't glamorous or rewarding.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Disneyland - "Hang On To Those Hats And Glasses...!"

Thunder, 1987.
BTMRR opening shift.
Track walk.
In the quiet moments before the Park opens, a small crew of mine train operators walks the track on a safety inspection.
The charcoal pants, rose shirts, blue bandanas, full boots, vests and wide brimmed hats make up their outfits.
This team of dedicated miners are looking for lost items and signs of trouble.
What kind of trouble?
Cracked welds, broken wires, leaking hydraulic fluids, failed animation, any other obvious indications of mechanical problems.
This post focuses on the lost items.
The myriad of objects that bounced off of guests during their harrowing runaway train rides.
The obvious ones are here: sunglasses, an occasional hat, Disneyland merchandise bags (often with merchandise and receipt still inside), random children's shoes (never in a pair), pens, gum, false teeth.
False teeth?
Oh yes.  Found the uppers from a set of dentures just past the spinning opossums.
What's this?
A camera bag.
A baby bottle.
A t-shirt - used.  (Hmmm.  I don't remember any guests coming back into the station topless...)
A diaper, also used.  (Really? We have trash cans just past the exit.)
A cup.  (Hey, no food or drink, please).
A belt.
A belt?  (I'm not going to posit how this managed to fly off the ride).
A plush toy.  (What are the chances?)
$20.00 bill.  (Better hang on to that...)
Coins. (Plenty of 'em tossed by the dynamite goat).
An umbrella stroller - kidless.  (Thank goodness---they're usually out of sorts and not too cooperative on the trip to Lost and Found).
Souvenir Guides.  (They're everywhere!).
Large, swirling, circular, multi-colored sucker.  (Looks like it came from the Candy Palace over on Main Street - wow, still in one piece).
Grad Nite button. (From 1985? - how'd we miss that for so long?)
Purses and handbags.  (Lost and Found again - hopefully someone's ID is inside so they can be contacted).
A women's size 5 flip-flop (left foot).
Sippy cups.
Earring (never a pair).
Hair piece.
A complete hair piece.  (How'd you like to have been the person sitting behind THAT guy!).
A shoe, I can understand.
A sock?
What ARE these people doing while on this ride?
At the back side of the mountain, by Thunder Trail, the outside edge of the circular turn has a stream of strewn bits and pieces.
Videotape cartridge.
Handkerchief.  (These are just gross.  Who blows their nose into a small cloth and THEN sticks it right back in their pocket for RE-USE later????).
Coonskin cap.  (Hey!  We still sell these?).

It was always interesting to see the things that flew off our guests or from their grasp.

Truly, the wildest ride in the wilderness!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - Unload

If you work Jungle, you will work "Unload."
Sounds like a bad psychology textbook or potty euphemism.
Actually, it is more about hanging out on the end of the dock between boats, waiting for the next one to chug around Trader Sam.
You and a partner have either the front or rear unload position.
I preferred working unload at the rear position, because you could stand along the easternmost edge of the dock on one leg, balancing precariously over the murky Jungle river water.
Just for the heck of it.
You get to tease the incoming skipper and vice versa.
Face it, the skipper has a live microphone, a P.A. system and a captive audience who has just been forced to spend 9-12 minutes with him, puttering through the wild.
You are slightly outgunned.
Still, the banter is usually worth every moment --- with the proper Skipper/Unloader combination.
Both, for instance, must have a sense of humor.
Both must have impeccable timing.
At least one must have incredibly thick skin and/or little sense of personal dignity or outrage (usually, this is the Unloader's role).
Ah.  To be the butt of the joke.
The straight man.
The fall guy.
The one who stands ready to help each guest out...
by the rear...
Of the BOAT that is!
(One of the oldest Jungle lines in the spiel).
We had many routines of skipper-unload interplay:
  • "You'll be helped out of the boat today by the Lee brothers...Ug Lee and Home Lee!  (Ug is on the left)."
  • "And ahead there along the dock are two prime examples of why some animals in the jungle eat their young at birth.  Don't stare, folks!  They might become aggressive and start touching your elbows as you exit!"
  • "Assisting you from the boat today are two of the largest hairless African Albino pygmy gorillas in captivity --- they are on loan to us here from the Zambezi Zoo.  Aren't they adorable?"
  • "Ooh, LOOK!  Boat unloaders!  Two of the most feared animals in the jungle!  You know folks, each of them weighs over 800 pounds!  They can leap over 20 feet! (some of my favorite animals).
  • And ahead, on the dock to our right---two living and extreme examples of why it is SO important for you young folks to stay in school!

You get the picture.  I could go for some "dock abuse" right about now, actually.

Happy Thursday, 101-ers!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disneyland - Whoa. Is It October Already? Shuttle Bus Blues and Aromas...

Gang, things have been a bit busy in the realm outside the Jungle is "101" administrative offices lately.
I posted on September 11 and then next time I looked up, it was a month later!!!
I hate it when the real interferes with the virtual world and keeps me from posting my deeply insightful prose.
C'est la vie.
Where to start?
How about a story of a modern Disneyland cast member's experience?
Namely: the shuttle bus.
In my day, we parked in the employee lot, walked through Harbor House, and went off into the Magic Kingdom to start our shifts.
Today, the employee--ahem---Cast Member--parking lot is, for most folks, located some distance away from the Park.
Indeed, one of the main CM lots is located off Katella, across from McCormick & Schmick's Grille and the Cheesecake Factory.  It is known as, oddly enough, the Katella Cast Member Lot ("KCML" or "K-Lot").
It is quite large.
I favored parking along the fence on Katella, east of the main entrance to the K-lot during my recent Cast Member sojourn.
I would then amble over - in full Jungle Costume - to the...Bus Stop.
Yes, the Cast Member Shuttle.
Imagine a locker room on wheels.
Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but I will say that the shuttle had a certain "air" about it that was unmistakable.
Sweaty folks returning from their shifts or bringing soiled costumes to exchange over at Wardrobe, combined with the the endlessly recirculating air conditioning system of the shuttle, to form a heady atmosphere aboard.
At the end of the night, after a Parade guest control shift let's say, a crowd of Cast Members would fill the shuttle to capacity over at the Harbor House gate.  We'd ride shoulder to shoulder, pit to pit, arm to arm---back to K-Lot.  I think that's where the stronger aromas were cultivated initially.
Then they would infiltrate the ventilation system of the shuttle where, like spirits in the Haunted Mansion, they were doomed to haunt the shuttle inhabitants forever.
The ride in from KCML to begin a shift was much the same, though typically quieter.  Folks were plugged in to I-pods, I-phones, cell phones, I-pads, you name it.
Some stared off through the windows as we made our way from KCML to the eastern entrance of Disneyland, along Harbor Boulevard.
The shuttle buses looked like they were shipped from a Holiday Inn in North Carolina, hastily outfitted with Disney logos, and gassed up for delivery of groups of Cast Members to the Park's doorstep.
It was about a 15-25 minute process to get from the Park onto the shuttle and back to KCML.
The union made sure everyone got paid for this extra commute time.
Believe me, that $0.84 made all the difference!
I don't know.
I mean I understood the logistical reason for locating the Cast Member lot so far from the Park.  Where the heck else were they gonna put Disney's California Adventure?
I just know that starting and ending each day with a bouncy bus ride was a bit less magical than the old days when we literally parked our cars outside the Park's gates.
In many ways, we shared the guests' experience.  We parked in the same 100-acre lot (though our section was cordoned off over on the northeastern edge, near the Monorail track along Harbor).
We left its wide grayness and entered the Park to a world that was quite colorful (once we were onstage).
From outside the berm to inside in a few minutes.
No waiting in line for a bus.
No huddling in a crowded shuttle, hanging from straps.
No thick, musty smells.
I am sure in my younger days, the shuttle would not have seemed quite so unpleasant.
At the end of our shift, my friends and I would have enjoyed the ride back to the parking lot to joke with and tease each other; to plan post-shift activities; to lambast leads and managers, etc.
Perhaps that is how the 20-something Cast Members of today experience the shuttle ride.
I saw some indication of it during my recent stint on Jungle.
As for me, I'll take the 100-acre parking lot of old.
For readers of these lonely bits of data in cyberspace, I expect that last sentence is hardly a shock!

Stay happy and savor the promise of the future my friends!

---Mike (your wayward Captain, guide and dance instructor)