Friday, July 23, 2010

Disneyland - In the crowd

You've been in a crowd before.

Ever tried to control one?

With a pink plastic-coned flashlight?

And a Mickey Mouse nametag?

It is an experience feared by many and savored by a few.

Today's post is a brief reflection on guest control duty---and times spent as a guest, too.
World of Color (okay, it's at DCA, but it helps paint the picture).

As a guest, you surely have found yourself in the middle of a mass of people, each staking out their square foot of space in the hope of getting a VIP view of Tinkerbell or of Mickey fighting off Maleficent.
You have been gently coaxed and herded into specially roped off seating areas and firmly guided out of walkways in the middle of which you have vainly tried to plant yourself.
You have seen the scurrying cast members strategically stationed about you, smiling and waving their plastic batons or coned flashlights: "Right this way, folks! Please keep to your right, this is a walkway only!"

You sense at some point that the chaos about you has an odd rhythm or flow, almost a structure.
Your eyebrow raises and you think (in your best Haunted Mansion Paul Frees "Ghost Host" voice inside your head), "I am surrounded by 20,000 people, in the middle of Main Street, with no windows and no doors."
Talk about a "chilling challenge."
You are in a Disney flash mob.
This is almost anarchy.
Worse yet, as the parade/fireworks/show time nears, the crowd gets agitated and restless all around you.
People who have sat for two hours to get a good spot become like raving chihuahuas protecting the laps of their masters from anyone who approaches---you know the type.
The folks who wander up at 9:23 p.m. and wonder why there aren't any places left for them and their six children to see the fireworks.
The persons who feign ignorance of all language and Western customs and boldly step under the rope to stand directly in front of you.
The people with sharp and rude elbows who worm in on your patch of personal space, blissfully ignorant of your slowly boiling irritation.
Those with tall hats, or simply tall in stature, who appear at the last moment and slip in front of you to take in the fireworks---which now appear to you like sparklers erupting from someone's head.
The dads in front of you who suddenly shoulder their twelve-year-olds "so they can see the fireworks"---"There, honey, can you see now?"
The people who step on your fingers while you sit on the curb or ground.
"Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there."
What, does Disneyland make me invisible?
Sure, it's the Magic Kingdom, but...
That cold sticky dampness can only mean someone has spilled their Coke on you.
You know, they have LIDS for those things!
Sometimes you feel like Steve "Neil Page" Martin stuck in that hotel room with John "Del O. Griffith" Candy in "Planes, Trains & Automobiles."
The underwear in the sink.
The six pack that exploded on the bed.
The Cracker Jacks in the sheets.
The slow boil.

Then there's the kids.
Charming, polite, quiet and innocent.
Yeah...those ones are sitting on the OTHER side of the street.

You seem to always be stuck with Damien, Omen II, and his little sister Gehenna (and their parents).


"Mommy can't get you popcorn, sweetie, there's too many people and we'll lose our spot."


"Damien, Mommy has some Goldfish. Do you want some Goldfish?"


"Here, have some Go-Gurt from this morning."


"Damien get off the ground, you're kicking the nice man. Mommy will give you some of her Coke."


(The Father) "You want Daddy to hold you?"


(The Mother) "Damien, let Daddy hold you."


"Here, Mommy has gum, do you want gum?"


(Gehenna) "Damien got snot on me from crying!!!! WAAHHHHAHHAHHAH!!!!"

"Oh, Damien, now you've upset Gehenna!! Do you want Daddy to go get you both popcorn?"

You know how it generally plays out from here. (Is there ANYONE left on earth who can say no to a child? I mean, besides me).

I digress.

Where was I?

Oh, the crowd.

Guest Control (which is but a single consonant sound away from "Pest Control") involved tactfully and tactically inserting oneself into the foregoing situation, with the hope, goal and intent of getting people who are at the end of their collective theme park ropes to actually listen to you and move, sit or stand where you need them to move, sit or stand---while keeping them happy, or at least keeping them from killing each other.

Try it sometime.

Then, try doing it with courtesy.

Disney Cast Members are a special breed.

Indeed, the Flashlight is mightier than the sword, especially when wielded at the Hub by a seasoned veteran of Guest Control.

It all comes down to:
  • Tone of voice.
  • Authority.
  • Clear body language.
  • Stance.
  • Smile.
  • Firm footing.
  • Iron will.
  • Grit.
  • Determination.
  • Impeccable timing.
  • Delicate statesmanship.
  • A keen eye.
  • The ability to anticipate a situation.
  • A sense of humor.
  • A visible costume that helps distinguish you from the crowd.
  • A voice that carries without being entirely irritating.
  • Eye contact.
  • Warmth---FIRM warmth, but warmth nonetheless.
  • Coned flashlight.
I will leave you with that for now.
Please keep this area clear. This is a walkway. If you want to watch the fireworks, you will need to move under the rope.
The fireworks start at 9:25 p.m., but get here EARLY.
No, you cannot have my nametag.
Sure, I'll take your picture.
If you have a clear view of the Castle, you should see everything just fine.
Sorry, we can't have you sit there, this is an emergency walkway that we must keep clear. There is excellent viewing in the street.
What's that, sir? The popcorn cart?
It's at the southern end of the Hub there and you'd better hurry!
Sounds like Damien over there sure wants some...


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Disney World---Polynesian Pool Pining...

Today's post is dedicated to pining for our times at Disney's "other" theme park in Florida, and, more specifically, the Polynesian Resort.
Even more specifically, I pine for the Volcano Pool and its white sand beach overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon and the majestic Cinderella's Castle.
These photographs from our last trip (alas two long years ago) pre-date the global economic collapse. The five of us were able to fly east. We checked into the Polynesian in mid-June 2008. A dig through the Jungle is 101 archives will turn up a report from our trip back then. Happily, we received an unexpected upgrade to a Concierge level room as part of the Year of A Million Dreams promotion or something like that.

This meant wine, cheese and beer in the evening and free cereal and coffee in the mornings. It meant a lagoon view room in the Hawaii longhouse. It meant a short walk to the Volcano Pool.For an Adventureland and Tiki fan like me, the Polynesian and its grounds are a true paradise.

Hawaii is nice, but last I checked it has no FastPasses and is utterly devoid of any semblance of a Disney theme park. There is no Monorail on any of Hawaii's islands that can whisk you to EPCOT or the Magic Kingdom. Such a luxury can only be found at the Polynesian, nestled as it is near the Transportation and Ticket Center ("TTC") and also along the Magic Kingdom Monorail track.But the Volcano pool is its own mini destination. It shimmers with crystal blue waters along its own white sand beach. It has a water slide that goes through a volcano. It is a dream for swimmers young and old alike---but especially five and ten year old daughters and a 13-ish son. When the Florida heat and humidity took it out of you by mid-day, the Volcano pool was a Monorail ride away, where you could splash, hot and tired, into a cool, tropical dream come true.

Oh. And it has the Barefoot Bar.

A Mai Tai with a float of 151, please. Keep the change.

Dear Volcano Pool:

I miss you.
Wish I were there.
With an umbrella firmly planted in the pineapple wedge at the edge of my drink.
Write if you get a chance.
Better yet, just wave.



And to close out today's post, here is a shot of a humidified former skipper, lost in a far off corner of an Animal Kingdom in 2008.
A flash of photographic proof that you can take the skipper out of the jungle, but you'll never get the jungle out of the skipper.
Nice outfit.
Heck, all it needs is a name tag and a boat.

Stay fabulous, readers (or at least stay awake),


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Disneyland - Jungle Cruise - A telegram from Mike

Jungle is 101 fans!


This is Mike.


Happy to report, still alive.


Presently held in small hut.


Natives outside dance continuously in a circle.


Have to go to the bathroom. (Not me, the natives.)


Promise to post something substantive soon.


Must get past Schweitzer Falls and the piranha first.


Oh. Trader Sam says hi.


Stopped by his village cafe for lunch. Prices have gone way up.


He wanted to charge me an arm and a leg.


Please, somebody make me stop.

Love you all.

Miss you.

Wish you were here. This hut's lonely and those natives' incessant war chant is starting to drive me a bit wacky---er, um, wackier.