Friday, February 26, 2010

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - 1980s - "Last Day Dip"

It is a tradition lost to the ravages of time: launching a Skipper into the river on his last day on Jungle.

Our thanks to Ed Cunningham, fearless skipper of the early 80s---and (thankfully) someone who bothered to document the antics (and keep the photos). Ed originally posted these pics of what was no doubt his last day on Jungle (even then, Management was not keen on Cast Members swimming in attractions during Park hours).

The initial push into the river by a fellow cast member was clearly quite effective, as the victim made it all the way across to the catwalk!

Alas, this grand tradition is no longer in favor at modern Disneyland (ahem, "The Disneyland Resort"). This is probably for the best. We've heard tell that Ed suffered from the dreaded "Jungle River Slimepox" on and off for over 27 years after hitting the river. Yeeewwww.

By the way, I do not think I will ever tire of seeing photos of the Jungle boats with their striped canopies or the Skipper costumes with the leopard print hat bands.

These photographs also help to answer the time honored guest question: "How deep is the water?"

In the middle photograph, our victim has resurfaced and is standing on the mucky bottom, with his head and shoulders out of the water.

It's that deep.

For now, my friends, stay well, keep dry and remember, as Trader Sam used to tell me often: "There's no known cure for Slimepox."

So when next you cruise the Jungle, STAY IN THE BOAT!


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.