You Disneylanders know the large wooden gates that are on either side of the walkway where Thunder Trail connects to Fantasyland. The northern gates lead to an access tunnel under the berm and into the back area.
The southern set of gates lead to the back area behind Village Haus, Pinocchio, Snow White, Carnation Plaza Gardens, Rancho de Zocalo and Big Thunder. There is a makeshift break area back there, with a picnic table. Also, if you head into the Village Haus building, you can grab a snack at the employee window and then head downstairs to a break area deep under the building.
The open air break area is unique because your 15 minutes is spent with the howling coyotes of Big Thunder just to the other side of the fence, who set off in chorus each time a train rolls past. You can also hear them clearly as you walk along Thunder Trail near the Thunder Ranch Barbeque, but they are particularly noisy for the cast members on their break.
I remember an early morning Fantasyland opening shift in November when the night crew were still in full swing at the end of their shift. As I was coming on before Park opening, both sets of gates near the break area were open, and along came a chain of vehicles and lift trucks, parading through on their way from the backstage area north of the Park and off toward Fanstasyland and Main Street and regions beyond.
It is particularly awesome this time of year, as the Disney crews get ready to spruce up the place for the Holidays. You can imagine the small army of folks who scurry around after normal operating hours in order to hang miles of garland, strings of lights, thousands of wreaths and, of course, Main Street's massive Christmas tree on Town Square. We are about a week away from Disneyland's debut of its Christmas season decorations---which go up about 10 days before Thanksgiving and remain for the duration of the season.
I must say, modern Disneyland does an amazing job of decorating the Park, both for "Halloween Time" and for Christmas. If you have not made it here during either of these seasons, you must make it a priority to do so; you will not be disappointed. Annual Passholders and locals are well aware of this---which is why there are so many block out days during the Christmas season (as they'd pack the Park 'til the ground could no longer be seen). Christmas is actually as busy as, if not slightly busier than, the summer season. Well worth it.
Bundle up, grab some cocoa and hie thee hence to Disneyland for the decorations. Believe me, hundreds, if not thousands, of cast members are scurrying around as we speak to get the Park ready. You should see Disneyland's attic! Boxes and boxes of bulbs, ornaments, strings of lights, wreaths, etc., etc. It must be fun to have to drag that stuff down and begin the long process of decorating...
Allow me to be among the first to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas. Darn, looks like the malls already beat me to it!